Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Here I sit in a McDonald's in the mid part of Florida. The rain is so loud on the roof of the roadster I could barely carry on a phone conversation. I watched from my dry seat inside the car, the other patrons skipping and dodging through the rain as they tried to get into the McDonalds and still stay dry. It didn't happen. Soaked and beneath the air conditioning inside the store, they shivered and ordered cups of hot coffee to try to stave off the chills that were shaking their bodies.

I got in line and got my own sandwich and cup of Joe and got seated to connect to the internet. When I rolled out of bed this morning, I thought about heading back west on I-10 and going home. Another 8 to 9 hours of driving in the rains from the tropical storm Beryl was just not so appealing.

Instead I changed my destination once again since my destination was never set in stone and being a Freebird allows one to be totally spontaneous. I moved on westward and when I got to I-75 Tampa, I took that direction. Somewhere out of Gainesville the rains hit and the traffic slowed to a crawl. A crawl on slick roads was alright with me. Hydroplaning sucks.

As exits off the interstate appeared, the cars made it their destination and escaped to sit it out somewhere for a while and that is what I am doing right now. I wasn't in a hurry to get into McDonalds or at least not so much that I wanted to dive out into the pouring rain as I watched the others doing. I waited it out for a while and crept in under a few random drops. Sitting under airconditioning in wet clothing is a miserable prospect and one I avoid.

This trip has been a bit different then most trips I embark upon. For one thing, I'm usually a bit more prepared. Oh sure, I knew the right rear tire had a real slow leak and I was planning on having it checked but time got away from me and I hit the road with my mini compressor and a tire gauge thinking I would watch it closely and reinflate as needed. That would have worked but for the big nail that was in the right FRONT tire, dead center. As I sat in a McDonalds' yesterday a man walked in and wanted to know who owned the little red convertible. "I do" I said with dread in my voice "Why? What's wrong with it?" Usually when someone walks into an establishment and inquires about ownership of a vehicle it bears the delivery of bad news. I've never had someone inquire and then say "Nice car' or "You're parked legally." so I was apprehensive.

The next three hours were spent at the only place open on a holiday to fix a tire. The rear tire with the slow leak could not be repaired as the nail/wire/staple was in the sidewall so it had to be replaced. The other tire could be plugged and three hours later and 200.00 lighter I was again on my way. I made it to Tallahassee and decided to call it quits for the day. The tires and the sunburn had put a damper on my fun little trlp.

This morning I woke up and dreaded another 8 hrs in the car. A friend contacted me to tell me the weather up the coast was full of heavy rains and would be for the next few days. Eyeing the 1/4 tank of gas and planning to pull over a few more miles down the road, I threw my belongings into the car, dropped the top and headed out.

The skies overhead were angry. Dark and smokey, and full of rain and it wasn't long before a few raindrops smacked against the windshield. I whipped over to the side of the road, pulled the top up and rolled up th windows. I'm against driving in wet clothing in the rain too.

My head was on the happenings of the past few days and when I remembered to check my gasoline, the little gold tank was lit up signaling I was in trouble or going to be shortly. Shortly came about a minute later as the little car went into a powerless glide. I sailed over to the side of the road. I was in a bit of luck though I was out of gas. A call box was within coasting ranged and I coasted up to it. Lifting the lid, I chose the button to press that said "This idiot let her tank run dry". (it didn't really say it quite that way but that's how I felt.) The last time I ran out of gas was when I was a teen and had to collect pop bottles to pay for a gallon.

Soon a huge white truck arrived and a very nice man walked up to my door. He was kind enough not to snear or laugh or do any other form of degrating behavior. I gave him the story about how I never run out of gas and how abnormal this is for me. He smiled and nodded and said  "It happens" and I wondered if he believed me. 42.00 later, I had 2 gallons of gas and enough to get me to a service station. Considering how quick the response was to my call for help, I didn't complain at all about the charges. I was just grateful for call boxes on the Florida highways. How KEWL is that?

The rain has let up at least for now so I'm going to hit the road again. Another 100 miles and I'm there!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

One Last Deck Installment

Drills were charged up and the chop saw was plugged into electricity. I had already made my trip to the home supply store for the balustrates. More of them to finish the railing and that's what we got done today. The damn deck is now pretty much finished. The roof needs to be added but at least the deck can be used for cookouts, lounging and fun. Carrie can entertain her little friends beneath the pine trees and dodge those big pine cones that occasionally come hurtling out of the trees. I got  bombed with one today and after I stopped screaming, I realized waht had hit me. Feeling a bit foolish, I grabbed it off the ground along with the other ones laying around and pitched them into the trash receptacle. 

I must say, I'm not embarrassed about the job we did on the deck. I still want to chock up a few of the posts and add a few more screws here and there on it but all in all, it's safe now to have guests visit. In a month or so it will be stained a light brown and then be bathed in Thompson's water seal. If taken care of yearly it should last for many years.

If nothing else, I learned a lot from this project. The roof will be another learning process too. 

It's time to take a little "me" break and that's exactly what I intend on doing tomorrow. I'm going to disappear for a few days and wander around on the eastern seaboard. I don't have a destination in mind nor do I want one. I don't have a plan either and when I get tired of roaming, I'll return and that's the only thing I'm positive of at this time.

It's time to pack. I'm tired. It might be time for me to get into bed.'s time. Night all..

Friday, May 25, 2012

Chicks for Decks

We started this past Monday and today is Friday. The reason I mention the days is because yesterday was the first day that we could actually note any visual progress from when this deck was initially started a few weeks ago. We had to go back and "fix" a few things such as all the structual support "stuff".  We had to brace the bottom of it, place joist hangers and more support posts; all things that aren't noticeable to the casual observer. We were excited when yesterday (Thursday) the railing started to happen and it was a noticeable difference in the appearance. Now it is beginning to look like a deck instead of a "stage". 
I am no carpenter. My brain is exhausted after a day of working on this. I don't think like a carpenter so fixing problems and coming up with a solution takes a lot of brain cells.

"Hey" I yell to the daughter who is standing at the opposite end of the deck from me. "It measures 3 1/2 inches plus two hash marks." She is standing beside the saw and understands perfectly what I need. She picks up the saw measures the wood to  3  1/2 inches plus the two hash marks and makes the cut. You see neither of us can read a tape measure past the full inch or the 1/2 inch markings. Anything past that and we just count the little lines and call out that number of "hash marks".  Did I mention neither of us were carpenters? So far this has worked for us. 

I'm putting up the railing and the balusters while the daughter will deal with taking down the stairs and adding another stringer and putting them back together again. I could finish up on my portion of this job today if only I could talk the daughter into allowing me to work on it and helping me a  little with it but yesterday  she had a little melt down and may need to take today off.

I've already started researching information on adding a roof to it which will be the next thing we have to do and which is something I am not looking forward to. If I get more then 3 feet off the ground, I get dizzy and disoriented. My fear of heights kicks in and working on a roof is not on my list of things I want to do.

I'm off to ring my daughter's house and hope she answers the phone. I think she is monitoring her calls and me. Could it be that she really doesn't want to work on that deck today?

I'm gone!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Decked Out

It was going to be a straight forward simple little project. I would supply the money for the materials and the labor would be delegated.

The work began. The deck at my daughter's house began from posts embedded in cement. I watched as the thing seemed to erupt from the ground, a beauty in honey colored wood. It looked good. It looked like a deck and then the trouble began.

I tuned in to You Tube videos to watch deck building by professionals. That little niggling feeling I had as I watched the deck rise from the soil was solidified by the videos I watched.

I have learned a giant lesson. A DIY (do it yourself) person is not a professional carpenter. The more You Tube I ingested, the more nervous I became about the safety of the deck that was being constructed. It was time to step in and halt the progress. Progress without safety is not progress at all.

For the past week I have been shoring up that deck, and exercising all the knowledge I have accrued from all those mind numbing videos on deck building. Lag screws, carriage bolts and joist hangers are now firmly insconsed in my every day vocabulary. I talk the carpenter talk but sadly still can't read a tape measure. The daughter and I just pass the tape back and forth between us with our fingernail delineating the little hash marks between the numbers on the tape to show where we need a cut to be made with the saw.

My mind is tired from trying to figure out how to fix the work that has already been done on that deck. It would have been easier to build it right the first time then to try to figure out how to fix the errors that plague this deck. We are getting there. Today we started on the deck railing. The drill would not drill through the 4X4 posts and not only did it squat down and refuse to twist that drill bit through the wood, but it wouldn't let us removed the bit. The blade broke on the jig saw and the carriage bolts would go through the holes that were drilled for them.

Within the first few hours in the sun  with sweat dripping down my rib cage, I was ready to weep.

What else do we do when the going gets tough? We take a nap and to the house I went to think about a solution to my problems. I was trying to set a post into the deck for a railing and I failed miserably.

One nap later, I headed back to that deck with a new plan. Removing two deck boards allowed me access to where I need to place the post and a few lag bolts later, I had a post secured to the rim joists that was now plumb and firmly in place. I didn't get as much done today as I had planned. Tomorrow I will be back at the deck but the first thing I'll do is visit the building store for a few new deck boards to replace the ones I butchered today.

Hot, tired and dirty and short of any major accomplisments today, I'm now showered and off to bed. I would prefer to be an observer in this deck fiasco but that is not to be. Those You Tube videos insured that I couldn't sit back and watch this work be done amateurishly.

I am not a carpenter. Carpenters can read tape measures. I can't.

I'm tired and I'm struggling to keep my eyes open right now so I'm off to bed to get rested up for tomorrow!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Congratulations Teddy!

These pictures are two of the happiest times in April's life. She is so supportive of her children!
Here it is...almost 19 yrs to the date that I exited college with my degree in hand. I was totally burnt out and sick of the stress of school. I still had to sit for state boards but at least I was out of the class room and away from the tests that would determine each semester if I would proceed to the next semester. I needed a break and a short one it would be until time to sit for the board tests.

The year of my graduation and in the Month of May this  my grandson was born. Just a few weeks after I graduated from college, Ted made his appearance. 4 months after graduation Ted would accompany his older sister and his parents on their migration from Norfolk, Va. to Lafayette Louisiana where he would grow to his current age of 19 yrs.

Yesterday afternoon I watched as Ted (whom we previously called "Teddy") marched into the Cajun Dome and took a seat for his commencement ceremonies. Soon enough he stood and filed toward the stage clad in his blue robe, mortar board, stole and tassel to hear his name called as the principal of the school shook his hand, handed him his diploma and then both turned to smile into the camera as a bright flash exploed. Clutching his diploma he continued his walk back to his seat with his peers.

His mother sat beside me, tears collecting in her eyes. She was so proud of her son as I was of this grandson. Carrie sat between April and I with her own tears for her beloved brother. He has made it through his first session of schooling. Sadly, many of his friends didn't.

I'm astounded at the number of young people that don't reach this milestone in their lives. It's not a question of money as it was in our parents time. Even when I graduated from school, some of the young men at that time would quit school to take a job to ease to ease family burdens. A high school diploma may not be much in the way of acquiring a good paying job but it does show any propective employers that this person stuck with it.

Ted is planning on starting college this fall. Though he doesn't know what he would like to concentrate hi studies on, he has the first two years to decide while he takes  his core classes. I'm hoping he decides on a math major as math is his strong suit and a much in demand field for employment. I'm hoping that May 2016 will have us back in an auditorium celebrating another graduation with him.

Congratulations Teddy. We love you and we are so proud of you!
Signed: your family.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Oh My..A New Look Here

No, it's not me that has a new look but this blogger site! I haven't been here in a while and popping in this morning to tap the keys left me being a bit surprised at the new format. Ah change..don't we get pitched into a tizzy with any sort of change? Before I start complaining or whining, I promise to check this stuff out and give change a chance.

It's after 0300 and I'm awake. I slipped out of bed and to the living room to turn on the TV and watch the tube until it was time to go back to sleep. Yep..I still have a tube TV so watching the tube still applies to me. I've tried the flat screens and determined they are crap especially after the expensive wonderfully wild and crystal clear pictured one bit the dust. The repairs would have cost more then buying a new one so I reverted back to the old style TV. I'm waiting for improvements on longevity on those flat screens before I invest again.

It is very quiet here lately. The husband's job is in a lull state so he has been home the whole month. Had I known, which we never do, that he would have the whole month off, we could have scheduled a long trip or a big project around here; neither of which we've done. I glide through my days accomplishing very little except the minimal amount of housework.
I need to find a job. It's not for the monetary advantage but for some reason to get up and get dressed and interact with the outside world. Do I want a job? Absolutely not. The problem is, I dont know what I want to do.

 In lieu of the doldrums, I've decided to let my hair grow "out". That is not to say in length but in color. I've decided to see what "au natuarelle' will look like.
I may find this depressing but nothing a bottle of hair coloring won't fix? From what I can see so far, it appears bearable or doable or wearable, meaning I haven't run screaming a crying for a bottle of bleach or a bottle of color. A few more haircuts and I'll be able to pass a better judgement and review on my feelings about being a natural specimen.

It's time to turn on the TV. Looking at this mess I've written has reafirmed my opinions on my own writing and why I have not written much lately. I'm boring myself back to sleep.