Unpacking to Repack and Freaking Out

I might’ve used this title before. If so, my apologies. Surely no one is keeping tabs, least of all me. It just seems that my life is divided into two unequal parts: 4/5 a yawn worthy routine and 1/5 “holy cow I’ve got back to back events, and I’d better freak out a little.”

Freaking out is my go to mode when the routine is broken up, and since I’ve had the same reaction for as much of my life as I can remember I recognize it for what it is and just roll with the feelings. Sometimes I can even use them to help me focus on the task at hand.

Studly Doright and I broke up our normal routine and spent Friday night in Orlando, FL, so I’d packed an overnight bag with just the essentials. Of course in freak out mode the essentials ended up being the entire contents of my cosmetics drawer and enough outfits to have stayed for a week instead of just one night.

Saturday was used to recover from a Friday night spent at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, and once we were back home I slept much of the day. Getting scared silly multiple times for five straight hours is exhausting. Part of me knew there was something I was supposed to be freaking out about, but I was too tired to care.

So on Sunday morning, I’m back to full on freak out. I’m flying from Tallahassee to our daughter’s home in Illinois on Tuesday to stay for a week, hoping to help out around the house after she undergoes surgery. I say “hoping” because sometimes I’m more of an annoyance in those situations than I am a help. I have given myself pep talks, and made promises to myself not to be a nuisance or a hoverer. Hovering is my unwanted super power.

At least my bag is still partially packed from the trip to Orlando, but if I needed seven tops for an overnight trip I’m going to need at least 49 for a seven day trip, right? And at least 40 of those need to be sweaters because it’s way colder at her house than it is in Florida this time of year. And boots. I’ll need boots and socks. No flip flops! Maybe just one pair, you know, just in case the temps warm up, and a coat. Will I wear the coat on the plane or should I try to pack it in my carry on with the 40 sweaters? Everything has to go in the carry on. I’m not checking a bag! That’s an extra $60 both ways. Well, maybe I should just pay the extra, but wait, what if my luggage gets lost and I have to go buy all new clothes while I’m there? Better to cram as much as I can in my carry on. Or not. Argh!

See? Freak out mode. BUT, I get to see my daughter and my Illinois grandkids in a few days! Totally worth the freak out. Right?

Now, where is that other pair of jeans? No, not those, the dark blue ones.

Peace, people!

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

Studly Doright and I left Doright Manor early Friday morning to enjoy a night at Universal Studios in Orlando. But, after months of waiting for our Halloween Horror Nights adventure it appeared that we might have to contend with a few little inconveniences such as thunderstorms and tornadoes.

The skies in Tallahassee were a dreary gray, and we hadn’t driven five miles before the clouds opened up and made driving hazardous. I’d been checking my Weather Channel app for the past week, and thought that our weather would clear up as we turned south. Nope. If anything it had gotten worse.

Surprisingly the drive down went smoothly. Most drivers on the busy interstate were mindful of the rain slicked roads, and we made it to our hotel way before check in time. When we’d booked this trip I told Studly I wanted to stay on property at Universal, so we could stay out a little later, take a shuttle bus back to our hotel, and not have to worry about driving to an off property hotel in case we’d indulged in a drink or two. Or in my case, three.

I picked the newest Universal hotel, the Aventura. Picture a scene from the Jetsons and you’ll have a good idea of the Aventura’s accoutrements.

The following are their websites’s photos, but our room looked exactly like the one pictured below. Studly wanted to know why the woman pictured wasn’t part of the deal:

All afternoon we watched the storms fume around us. At least twice we received warnings on our phones to take immediate shelter. And there we were in a huge building of chrome and glass, sitting ducks for a tornado. When we left to take the shuttle to the theme park, the palm trees were swaying deliriously and rain was blowing sideways. It was not an auspicious start to the evening.

We had plans to meet a couple I hadn’t seen in years for dinner at Cowfish in the City Walk section of Universal, so we dashed through the rain, taking shelter under any canopies we could find. I’d brought along my rain coat and Studly had on a hooded sweatshirt, so neither of us was terribly drenched when we reached the restaurant.

Dinner was terrific, and we enjoyed playing catch up with Paul and Amy over good wine and burgers. That, however, was not the night’s focus, and soon we were ready to explore as many of the ten haunted houses as we could jam into seven hours. Now if only the weather would cooperate.

Miracle of miracles, the rain tapered off, and I never needed my rain jacket after dinner. There were some sprinkles every now and then, but the night was about as pleasant as anyone could ask for. I’ll shut up now and share a few photos that I took with my trusty iPhone. We only made it to seven of the houses, but I screamed myself hoarse after the third one. And today, oh, do my knees and hips hurt! I’d go again tonight, though, given the chance. Studly, not so much.

Below, Paul, Amy, me, and Studly:

During HHN, Mel’s Drive-In from American Graffiti becomes Mel’s Die-In.

Around every corner there’s something to frighten or delight the unwary visitor.

Before we left the park we stopped for a snack at Voodoo Donuts. I was tempted to buy the t-shirt, but really, does a woman my age really need a shirt that says, “VOODOO DONUTS, The Magic is in the Hole?” I don’t think so. Still, I was tempted.

Above and below are photos of the donut carousel. It’s a rotating 3-D menu of sorts that had me jonesing for a sweet when I had no idea I really even wanted one. Clever.

Now to recover!

Peace, people!

Is 62 Too Old for Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights? Asking for a Friend

For Mother’s Day, or our anniversary, or some other holiday Studly Doright bought us tickets for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios in Orlando. He knew that would thrill me more than just about anything else. Even at 62 I still enjoy such foolishness, and I hope to enjoy it for many years to come.

Tonight (Friday) will be our fourth trip to HHN, and each time has been a hoot. Think of the scariest, most elaborate haunted house you’ve ever experienced, multiply it by ten and add another 50 on top of that, and you’ll get an idea of how incredible Halloween Horror Nights is. The makeup, the costumes, the vignettes–all are based on movies or television shows and are incredibly realistic and spooky as hell.

Tough guy Studly gets every bit as scared as I do. And if there are fake snakes involved, he really freaks out, and I get to be his protector.

Hopefully I’ll have some photos for the blog tomorrow. If we survive, that is.

Peace, people.

Nary a Trick-or-Treater

This is either our fifth or sixth Halloween at Doright Manor. Every year I buy candy. Every year I leave the porch lights and walk way lights on. Still not a single trick-or-treater has graced our door in all the time we’ve lived here. I can’t imagine why.

Nice home:

Friendly neighbors:

Upscale neighborhood:

Studly:

And me:

What’s not to love? C’mon over. It’ll be our pleasure to entrail-tain you.

Pieces, people.

S.D. Phone Home

Yesterday was interesting. I’d had a good night’s sleep, albeit with a somewhat frustrating dream, detailed here https://nananoyz5forme.com/2018/10/29/library-dream/ to top it off.

Studly Doright called from work mid-morning to tell me he was going to Panama City after noon to look at a motorcycle, and that he’d need me to accompany him in case he decided to buy the bike. I happened to be at the mall when he called, so I finished shopping and hurried back to Doright Manor, where I waited, and waited, and waited. In retrospect, I guess I should have had him clarify what he’d meant by “after noon.” Unbeknownst to me Studly had a dental appointment to attend to before he could get away for the day.

When he was finally on his way home Studly called telling me to be ready, that he’d just run in and grab his riding gear to put in the back of my car. I’d already filled the car with gas, so we could head to Panama City without that worry. His goal was to look the bike over, pay the seller if he liked the bike, and get on the road in a timely fashion in order to avoid riding too far in darkness. My goal was to leave him with the bike and drive home, keeping my phone near in case I needed to double back to offer aid.

I know, to non-motorcyclists that sounds odd, but a car following a motorcycle at night can be a dangerous annoyance. I never want to be that, and Studly certainly doesn’t want me driving behind him. The system has worked for us for many years. He’s only needed me to come back for him once, and that was a long time ago in a galaxy far away.

On our separate ways home I took the interstate while he traveled backroads. The new bike didn’t have a windshield, and he didn’t want to drive in 70 mph traffic without that protection. I stopped at a McDonalds for a sandwich, and somehow Studly arrived home minutes before I did.

He looked a little sheepish when I came through the door. “What happened?” I asked.

“I think I might’ve left my phone in my back pocket….”

“And it might be somewhere between here and Panama City?”

“Yep.”

We went out to check the interior of my car, and found the phone stashed in the storage area of my car next to the shoes he’d exchanged for riding boots. So much for our plans of staying in touch. Thank goodness he didn’t need to call me.

I was too lazy to walk the 75 yards to his shop this morning to take a photo of the new bike, but this one is almost identical. It’s his first Harley, something I never even knew he wanted.

Peace, people.

Library Dream

Last night I dreamt about a vast library. Oddly enough the dream was set in New Salem, North Dakota, a town Studly Doright and I, along with our two children, lived in briefly during the early 90’s. I don’t remember the town of fewer than 1,000 souls having a library other than the ones at the town’s public schools; although, a quick google search shows there is a small one.

In my dream, the New Salem library was housed in a modern log cabin with soaring beamed ceilings and shelves that required ladders at least 20 feet tall to reach the top rows. The aisles extended so far in every direction that one could not see the far walls from the library’s center.

During my dream visit, members of the library guild were hosting a membership drive. In every nook and cranny of the building there was some vignette set up–a play or live music or just a visual display–enticing visitors to join. For some reason oversized boxes of Kleenex tissues were stacked decoratively in key places, as an overarching theme for the event.

I desperately wanted to become a member of the library guild. I wanted to be part of this grand building with boxes of tissues stacked in the shape of the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building. But when I finally found a guild member and completed the necessary paperwork I realized I didn’t have the amount of cash on hand to pay the $94.00 joining fee, and the guild didn’t accept credit cards.

Frantically I began working odd jobs within the library itself in order to raise the money. I carried patrons’ books for a quarter. I shined shoes and moved the card catalogues. I stacked tissue boxes. After what seemed like many hours had passed I realized that I had raised $93.95, and I had one nickel in my pocket. I eagerly handed over the money to the nearest guild member, and abruptly awakened to the sounds of Studly Doright brushing his teeth.

Since I didn’t receive my receipt am I a member of the New Salem Public Library Guild or not? Seriously.

Peace, people.

Stumped

We had a lovely and dear friend from Virginia spend the night with us at Doright Manor on Friday. She and I stayed up late drinking wine and solving all the world’s problems, and I have to admit I had no time to ponder, let alone write, a blog post.

After our visitor left for further adventures along the coast on Saturday morning, I took a nap thinking perhaps a blog idea would come to my subconscious. Nope. When I awakened I noticed that Studly was out in his shop working on one of his motorcycles. I joined him, still hoping for some inspiration, but came up blank.

As I walked around the house, skirting hurricane debris, fallen leaves, and upended trees, trying my best to latch onto an idea, I finally came to the conclusion that I was stumped.

Completely and

utterly

stumped. Oh well. I’ll try again tomorrow.

Peace, people.

Volunteering

You know how Facebook reads your posts and all of a sudden your feed is magically filled with content that is in some way related? I’m hoping you do, because if it’s just me that happens to that might creep me out.

Anyway, after I returned to Hurricane Michael ravaged Florida from Texas I posted on FB that I was looking for opportunities to volunteer in some way. Voila! Within mere minutes a post seeking volunteers for storm relief miraculously popped up. The group, Operation BBQ Relief, made it easy to sign up.

As soon as I’d answered a few simple questions their website told me I’d be contacted with a place and time to volunteer. I kept checking my email and text messages all Monday evening, but hadn’t heard anything by the time Studly Doright and I went to bed last night.

First thing on Tuesday morning, though, I saw that during the night I’d received three emails. The first one told me I’d been “deployed” to help on Monday morning the 15th. Hmm. That boat had sailed. I figured better late than never, though, and hurriedly dressed to drive into Tallahassee. The second email just told me what to wear and where to go, and the third told me I’d been okayed to help. I might’ve read them out of order, but I figured everything out.

When I arrived at the staging site around 7:30 a.m., things were already hopping. I signed in, got a hat and a name tag and tried to find my niche. I hadn’t been there long when a man with an official looking t-shirt on tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I knew of a laundromat in the area that would pick up and drop off clothes. I’d just been to the closest one a couple of days ago and knew they weren’t doing that at this time. One would think this would be THE time for such services, but what do I know? I volunteered to take the items and launder them. Soon, I had a large trash bag full of gloves, dish cloths, and aprons. I was cool with being the laundress. Once everything had finished drying I hurried back to see what other tasks were in store.

Basically, OBR prepares, cooks, and packages foods to be picked up by groups like the Salvation Army and local churches. These groups deliver to places without electricity and water. One of the team leaders told me that even yesterday they spoke with local folks who hadn’t had a meal since the hurricane hit last Wednesday.

I found myself packaging and labeling items such as red beans and rice, peas and carrots, and bbq beans. The meats were handled by a separate crew–those with food handling certification. As volunteers packed items, trailers pulled up to be loaded. Everything was well organized and efficient with permanent team members directing volunteers of all ages, sizes, and ethnicities. What an experience!

At lunch time, they fed us an amazing lunch. The country group, The Zac Brown Band donated the services of their huge kitchen trailer and a cook to feed volunteers. I got a quick tour of the trailer. It’s like a chef’s dream.

After working until two p.m. on Tuesday everything on my 62-year-old body hurts, but if I am able to walk on Wednesday morning I’ll go back to work again. It felt good to know we were there to help. Here are a few photos I took during some downtime.

One of the volunteers wrote little live notes on the box lids:

Pallets stacked with water bottles:

Peace, people.

Home, Baby

On Saturday afternoon I arrived home to Doright Manor after having spent the past week in Dallas. While I was gone a guy named Michael blew through the Florida panhandle and redecorated without asking permission.

We had our electricity restored on Sunday evening. Studly Doright said it had been out since Tuesday afternoon. We have a generator that kept lights on in parts of the house, but neither our hot water heater nor our stove were hooked up to it. Apparently they require too much amperage or wattage or something electricity based to be powered by the generator. At least the air conditioning worked! Soon after the power came on I enjoyed a hot shower. Best feeling ever.

Here are a few photos I’ve taken of the damage just in our neighborhood. And, we got off easy compared to folks on the coast. These were taken after a crew came through and cleaned up! We still have a lot of work ahead of us.

Peace, people.

Hopefully Homeward Bound

Hurricane Michael has been a total ass. He’s destroyed lives and homes and businesses all along the gulf coast of Florida, and Michael has kept on wreaking havoc as he’s slammed inland through Florida’s panhandle, into Georgia, and beyond. See, a total ass.

My home near Tallahassee seems to have weathered the storm fairly well. I happened to be in Dallas with my son and his family while my husband, Studly Doright, and our cats rode out the Category 4 hurricane at Doright Manor.

Studly’s job as an area director for a public utility company calls for him to make sure resources and people are in the right places at the right times. When I spoke with him last night before bed he’d just ended one conference call and was preparing for the next one. It’s non-stop.

Originally, I was booked on a Thursday flight from Dallas to Panama City Beach via Houston on Southwest Airlines. When Hurricane Michael, the ass, came in so quickly I changed the flight to Friday (today as I write this). It seems I might’ve been a little optimistic. Yesterday afternoon I received a text from the airline saying the flight from Houston to Panama City Beach was cancelled.

I knew I had other options, but I wanted to check with Studly before changing airports, since he’d need to meet me there. Of course when I called him he was on a conference call and just told me to do whatever I needed to do, and he’d make arrangements to pick me up at the airport I chose. It was an easy change to make with Southwest (bless them) and I am now scheduled to land in Jacksonville around nine this evening.

Studly, however, called me back when he got my flight information, and he won’t be able to meet me. I’d anticipated that, knowing what’s going on in his world right now. So, I’m renting a car at the airport and we’ll return it on Saturday to our local airport. (It just occurred to me that the Tallahassee airport might not be functioning right now. That could be problematic. I’ll check after I publish.)

Studly warned me to be careful coming home. He says I’m going to be shocked by the amount and size of the debris around Doright Manor. For safety’s sake I might end up staying overnight in Jacksonville so I can make the drive in daylight. I’m ready to be home, though.

Thanks to all of you who’ve expressed concern for us during this storm. We appreciate the positive vibes and prayers. Keep those in the gulf coast towns in your thoughts. The damage there looks devastating.

Peace, people.