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!

Too Much Whining

Dear Readers, I’m frightened. Donald Trump seems hell bent on destroying everything we as Americans have always held dear. The Constitution is under assault and his administration’s war on the separation between church and state is the stuff of nightmares.

Thank goodness for political cartoonists who are still churning out the truth one frame at a time. Here is just a small sampling from social media:

This deserves the seal of approval.

He’s a notoriously bad speller, so….

Surrounding himself with all the right people:

What he meant to say never jibes with what he actually says. And still his sycophants give him a pass.

He played us for suckers from the start.

Go away little Lord Trumpleroy.

Trump’s only exit strategy?

Sums it up nicely.

He does have some talents:

Sadly, not too far fetched.

And something I’d enjoy seeing:

And here’s a meme that has nothing to do with the Cheeto-in-Chief. This one just made me laugh. And if we can’t laugh, we might as well surrender to the bastards, right?

Peace, people.

“This Is Us” Virgin No More

For two years now I’ve listened to the buzz surrounding the television show, This is Us. Apparently everyone in the world, except for Studly and me, is hooked on this drama about a family’s highs and lows, triumphs and heartaches, accomplishments and failures. All I really knew about the show was that it made viewers cry. Every episode provoked tears, it seemed. Why in the world would anyone watch something so depressing?

As my regular readers might know, I’m visiting my daughter and her family in Illinois this week, and last night they forced me to watch This is Us. Handcuffs and leg chains might’ve been involved. As it happened, Wednesday night’s episode was the season finale. About midway through, I felt one tear, then another leak out from the corners of each eye.

“Could someone dab my cheek dry?” I sniffed.

“If you promise not to bolt, we’ll take the restraints off,” my daughter said.

I nodded and continued to cry as she freed my hands, then I folded myself into a modified fetal position. The tears felt good. Cleansing, if you will. And there was laughter, too, so the show never became maudlin.

I might not become a regular This is Us viewer, after all there isn’t a single zombie in the mix, but now I get why people like it. The acting gets an A+ and the characters felt real. Maybe I could suggest the inclusion of an occasional zombie. It could happen.

Peace, people.


Hurricane Irma is barreling down on the U.S., and I have to tell her she has really bad timing. I doubt she cares.

Here at Doright Manor we’ve stored up gallons of bottled water and my favorite survival snack, Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies. I have a pantry filled with canned chicken and Vienna sausages and enough cheese crackers to get us through the first hundred days of a zombie apocalypse. Now, it’s just a waiting game.

There’s still a chance the storm won’t hit us at all and might veer into coastal Texas, which is still reeling from Hurricane Harvey. As much as I don’t want Irma to come through here, I don’t want her messing with Texas even more.

Right now Irma is a category 5 storm, and anywhere she makes landfall is going to suffer tremendous damage. The projections we are seeing show that when she reaches Studly Doright and me in the Florida panhandle she’ll still be a category 1. Many things can change still, and we are praying she’ll weaken considerably before she reaches land.

Praying for the best, but preparing for the worst. Don’t be cruel, Irma.

Panama City Beach

Before sending the Texas grandkids on a plane home we had one last hurrah at tourist-y Panama City Beach.

We strolled out on the pier and watched the ocean do its beautiful thing.

I asked a stranger to take a photo of the three of us:

We visited Ron Jon surf shop:

Then we had lunch at Dick's Last Resort where the wait staff is rude on purpose. These hats made great souvenirs and Jackson wore his until we got to the airport.

But they'll still take a photo of you if you ask politely:

After lunch we played a laser game that revealed my extreme lack of ninja skills. We shot zombies in a 3D shooting game that revealed my extreme lack of zombie hunting skills. Finally we ate ice cream at which I excelled. No photos, so you'll just have to take my word for all of the above.

All too soon it was time to send the kids home. Notice Jackson's travel pillow. It's all he really wanted as we shopped today.

Their dad texted to let me know they arrived safely in Dallas at almost the same time I arrived home to Doright Manor. I'll sleep well tonight–and late in the morning.

Peace, people!

TV Marathon Dystopia

A couple of days ago I wrote about being addicted to sappy, family-friendly Hallmark Channel movies. On Saturday, though, I realized there was a Walking Dead marathon on AMC in preparation for the mid-season finale scheduled for Sunday night. So without hesitation I changed channels, and now my brain is having a heyday as evidenced by last night’s dream:

A beautiful young television reporter is caught on a live mic saying she hates Christmas–immediately following a segment on ways to spread holiday cheer. Her public reacts negatively, and in order to boost the show’s ratings the station manager sends her and her handsome producer to North Dakota where they’ll shoot a week of programs from a little town that bills itself, “The Christmas Capital of the U.S.”

Unfortunately, the duo arrives in North Dakota to find that the zombie apocalypse is in full swing. No one in the rest of the country knew about it because, well, it was North Dakota after all. Undaunted, although a bit confused, the couple gamely make their way to “The Christmas Capital of the U.S.” where they take refuge in an old hotel with a handful of other survivors. 

They film their segments about Christmas while gamely shooting zombies and subsisting on canned foods they’ve scavenged from abandoned homes. The beautiful young reporter learns to love Christmas and falls in love with her handsome producer. Unfortunately, they’re both attacked by zombies and become walking dead themselves. 

Now that’s a dream one could sink their teeth into. Am I right? 

What to Read? What to Read?

After weeks of dragging my feet, on Sunday evening I finally finished reading the eighth, and thus far, final book in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Fittingly, my well worn Kindle Paper White e-reader bit the dust with less than 3% of the book remaining as if it knew I didn’t want the story to end. Thank goodness I have the kindle app on my iPhone, though, so I was able to cry myself to sleep with Siri comforting me.

She’s a rock, that Siri. Salt of the earth, and all that.

As soon as I was able to leave work on Monday afternoon I drove with cautious haste to Best Buy and bought a new Kindle Paper White. The relative ease with which I registered the device and downloaded my virtual library restored my sense of well being. Once again all was right with my world.

Except that now I had no idea what to read next. At random I chose a book with a catchy title. The Shelf Life of Happiness by David Machado. In contrast to the weeks, nay months, I’d spent with the Outlander books, The Shelf Life of Happiness took exactly four hours to read. It’s a good book, totally unlike the Outlander series, and I found that comforting. The last thing I needed was a poorly written replica of a cherished series. 

Currently I’m looking for my next great read, and I’m open to suggestions. My tastes are eclectic, but I greatly enjoy science fiction/fantasy and post-apocalyptic novels, (zombies are a plus), as long as they’re well written. Outlander was a bit of a departure for me because it was a historical, albeit, time-travel romance.

So what are your suggestions dear readers? I’m eager for some new perspectives. The world is my library, and this is my motto: Have Kindle; Can Download.
Note: I still purchase physical books, just in case of an apocalypse, lest anyone should fear for my reading soul.

Peace, and happy reading, people.

Shoes and Zombies

One might wonder what possible relationship could be found between shoes and zombies. 

On the surface there seem to be few, if any connections; however, for one such as I who periodically stops to ponder survival in a zombie apocalypse, shoes, or more specifically, types of shoes, might have a real bearing on one’s chances of surviving a zombie horde.

I’ve never been a shoe maven. Oh, in my younger years I enjoyed putting on a pair of heels with a short skirt and watching heads turn as I sashayed into a restaurant. I was never a great beauty, but my legs were more than adequate as such things go.

Not long after I hit my mid-30’s, though, I realized that the leggy look enhanced by a pair of heels in no way made up for the resulting back and foot pain, and except for a couple of notable occasions (both weddings) I’ve steered clear of shoes with anything higher than an inch of heel since then.

I credit this common sense for giving me exceptionally nice feet for a woman of 59, feet that can walk for miles with no complaint. And that’s where zombie survival kicks in.

Apparently the zombies pictured above have found easy prey, presumably one who was unable to outdistance the walking dead due to poor footwear choices.

While this pair of Louboutin’s might help one strike a stunning pose on the red carpet, chances are they’ll only slow one down when survival matters.

On the other hand, this waterproof boot by Merrell would provide protection, comfort, and traction in all terrain. 

Selfless Vampire

Sometimes my dreams are so vivid and so weird I have to write them down. 

Last night I dreamt that vampires were living among us. They attended sporting events and parent teacher conferences, did laundry and went for long walks. They did their best not to infect others, feeding selectively and carefully so as not to kill or turn humans. However, vampire nature being what it is, inevitably there were lapses and new vampires would be made. Everyone was aware of the danger, but life carried on. 

In my dream I was a young girl with a younger sister. We lived with our parents and an aunt. My mother gave birth to a precious baby girl and she named her Felicity. Everyone cherished Felicity. She was precious in a time of unrest. 

Soon after Felicity’s birth I was turned by a reckless vampire, and I turned the rest of the family sparing only Felicity. Our family guarded the baby night and day against any vampire who might attempt to take her. I was the only one who could actually hold the baby without feeling hunger, so she stayed with me constantly.

Now here’s where it got weird(er). My vampire family took a cross country trip in an old truck to watch a college baseball game. We arrived at the stadium and found our seats in the section reserved for vampires. I suppose none of the normal folks wanted to end up being snacked on during the seventh inning stretch.

Of course I was caring for Felicity, but the vampires around us noted her presence early on and began moving closer to our group. I knew if they ganged up on my family that we would surely lose our precious infant. I decided to take the baby to a neutral place–the concessions area, where she might be safer.

Seated on a bench near the hot dog stand I kept up with the game through the announcers over the stadium speakers and the roar of the crowd.

A normal man came and sat beside me and started asking questions about the nature of vampirism and how we expected to keep the baby safe. I wept. I told him I thought the task was both necessary and futile.

A group of hungry  vampires approached and the man fought them off, sparing himself and the baby. That’s when I knew what I needed to do. I asked the man if he would take Felicity and care for her, if he would protect her from vampires. He gave me his solemn promise, and I knew Felicity would grow strong with him.

When I rejoined my family no one even asked about the baby.

I was going to ask for interpretation, but I think I’ve figured this one out. I’d love to hear your thoughts, though.

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