Well, I've finally gotten some sleep and I'm rested and ready to write about my trip!
I left Friday night to go to Florida and of course, I got stopped at the security gate, and my toothpaste was confiscated. The Colgate mafia is probably looking to bring down planes all over the country, and they can't be too careful, so my beautiful tube of toothpaste is now consigned to some level of airport hell.
On the plus side, my flight arrived early, and since I didn't check any bags, once I found my mom, we were able to walk right out and head for home! The Orlando airport is a lot easier to navigate than the Tampa airport, in my humble opinion, so I was feeling pretty good.
Although I was still pissed off about my toothpaste.
So we get home and I got to see BUSTER the wonder cat, who now weighs, I would say, a minimum of 20 pounds, and I bet he's pushing 25. For anyone who doesn't know, Buster was the cat I took in when I lived in Arkansas and since Michael's allergic, I decided he would move to Florida. And I have to say, of all the cats I COULD have rescued, Buster has been 150% personality and just a fantastic choice. We all just love him. Plus his two sisters, Bianca and Hermia, but I must confess, I did not see Bianca in 4 days with the exception of about 15 seconds where she gave me the eye and fled back under the bed. Hermia has become quite affectionate--she used to be the "hide under the bed cat" but now she's all purring and cuddles, which is nice. And my mom's new dog, Sidney, is just the most hilarious little dog. He's a chiuhuahua (however the hell you spell that) and he is Mr. Personality in a 4 pound package. yes, Mom has a 4 pound dog and a 25 pound cat. Go figure.
So anyway, Saturday dawned bright and clear, and we decided we'd spend the evening at the beach to go check out the space shuttle launch, but first a tour of the beach! So we went over to Mom's favorite IHOP and then went down to the beach.
Let me tell you something about Vero Beach.
For some reason, the waves come in to a point, and then they stop. And what happens is a big, 2 foot wall of sand builds up, and then there's a plunging cliff. But since it's made of sand, it's not particularly sturdy.
So we decide to shoot some video of me, in the ocean, in December. I give Mom the camera, walk down to this cliff and it crumbles beneath my feet and down I go and the waves are coming and the beach is full of jelly fish, and I get up and run into the oncoming water, and hop back out and yell to find out if mom got the footage, because there was a jelly fish swimming over my foot (how stupid are jelly fish? Every time I go to the beach, I see dozens of them washed up on shore. Can't they navigate?)
So I look up, and Mom's coming down the stairs and I'm trying to climb back up this cliff, which you guessed it, continues to crumble, and she's standing there, laughing, and I'm covered in sand, plus I'm wet, which is charming. (And the water was absolutely FREEZING) And Mom says she's not sure, she could only see herself in the camera. Hmmm. So we get back in the car, and I turn on the playback feature and discover that my mom has video taped her feet.
Oh, there's a bit of footage of me, from the waist up, but you can't tell really that I'm in the water, and then mom drops the camera to her side and films her feet.
It's a minor masterpiece. I may leave the thing in its entirety and post it on YouTube as is. An artistic view of my mother's feet, and not my own.
So we spent the rest of the day shopping for Christmas decorations and then Mom decides what she really needs is a new computer. Christmas is generally a good time to get a deal on a computer. So we go to Office Depot, where we disappoint the little old man who is the greeter, by not purchasing anything after he merrily points us in the direction of computers, and then go to Best Buy, where a very nice guy talks us almost into buying a computer there, but it doesn't come with a monitor that's flat and mom only has a small desk and the upgrade is a teensy bit more than she wanted to spend. But the General gives his blessing on that particular machine, so we tell him we'll be back if Circuit City has nothing better to offer.
So we go to Circuit City. And we find a machine that looks plausible--a bit cheaper than Best Buy, and a bit more bang for the buck. Plus for only $70, you can upgrade to a flat panel. So we're waiting, and 3 salesmen are wandering around helping ONE GUY, and ignoring us. And Mom's getting hot under the collar, all "I guess they don't like serving women" and all and I was getting a bit cheesed, but then this young guy comes over and asks if he can help us. Now, I'm telling you, this kid looks like he's all of about 10 years old. So we point to the computer we're thinking about (which also gets the general's approval) and ask about it, and the sign says it costs $349, and we tell him we want that, plus the $70 upgrade to the flat panel monitor. So he pulls all the stuff out of the shelves, and we go up to the cash register, and he scans it all in, and the bill comes to $813.
So our eyebrows shoot over our heads and we're kind of like, "Wait a minute, this sign says $349."
To his credit, even he appears a bit confused, so he hits a button on the register and unfurls a pile of register tape and starts making calculations on the paper, and during the five minutes he is figuring out the price of everything, he actually (I swear to God I am not making this up) stands there and counts on his fingers.
Well, I guess the Yankee in me starts getting a little uppity, because I was getting impatient and I grab the $349 sign and I ask him, "What about this price right here? Can you just tell us what we have to do to get this price?"
And he looks at me just as angry as he can and says, "Wait, I'm not finished yet" and grabs the sign out of my hand and starts counting all over.
I look at my mom and she looks at me, I just about lost it. I was laughing that silent laugh when your whole body shakes from the effort of not bursting out laughing. Her mouth dangled in disbelief and then she had to try and hold it in too.
So eventually, he finishes up his complex set of calculations, and shows us how to get the $349 price, sort of. There are 2 mail in rebates worth $240, which drops the price to $573. The $349 + $70 upgrade is $419, and the rest is apparently made up in various taxes and whatnot, although frankly this is never made quite clear.
Well, not surprisingly, Mom doesn't have $800 to drop on a computer, so we tell him "Thanks anyway" and head out.
We go back to her house in time to get a phone call from the General who has considered the situation and says "Don't buy the Circuit City computer, it's not good" after all. So we dodged a bullet.
Mom's friend Judy comes over, and they decide to go be nosy. The town where my mom lives is getting all built up, although for no apparent reason, since at the moment no one is moving in. There is a place nearby where they are building homes that "start" in the $400's, and the two of them have been dying to go check them out. So we go on over there.
The realtor was a snot, and while the model itself was beautiful, I'm not sure I would have bought one. Some of the tiles had fallen out of the tub, there were various small flaws in the construction that I think they should have been embarrassed to show the model with those flaws showing. So Mom and Judy are busy exclaiming over the decorating and I was sitting there kind of fuming about it, because frankly, their furniture was way nicer than ours and it's just for display and that really gets me pissed off that they can afford to buy nicer furniture than I can and their furniture is not ever going to be used for anything. So I decided that if a couple of bars of their fancy French milled soap happened to fall off their granite vanities and happened to land into my pocket, I wasn't going to do a thing about it, and that is precisely what happened.
So we got back in the car, and Mom and Judy were hashing it all out, and I just burst out, "Well ladies, we can't afford their house, but it looks like we can afford their soap" and handed each of them their own little souvenirs of the place. Mom almost drove off the road.
Saturday night we went down to the beach and watched the space shuttle take off. It was an amazing sight. We were about 60 miles or so south of Cape Canaveral, and it was night time, and it was windy and cloudy and we were hopeful that the launch would happen, but we couldn't sit around at home and wait, since we had a little bit of a drive to the beach to start with, so we sat in the car and listened to the NASA transmissions on the radio and then hit the beach. Wow. When the thing finally lifted off, what an amazing sight to see. All of a sudden, the northern sky lit up like a brigh orange sunrise, and then this flaming dart shot out of the middle of it. Unfortunately due to the cloud cover, we were only able to see it for about 15 seconds before it disappeared, but it was mesmerizing. Definitely cool. And I shot the footage on that, so you won't see Mom's feet. :-)
Oh, and we went back to Best Buy and bought the computer there, which in total, with a flat screen monitor, came to $510. And God bless Best Buy, the guys who work there are all gorgeous.
On Sunday, Mom had gotten us tickets to see "A Christmas Carol" on stage. We spent the day channeling our inner Kathy Bates, yelling "TOWANDA!" and pulling down all the crappy blinds and shades in the house and letting in the sunlight. We installed curtains, cleaned out the garage, decorated Christmas trees, put up lights, listened to Christmas music, and put up the new computer and changed all Mom's old passwords. All of this is helping Mom reclaim her life from Asswipe, and I was only too glad to be a part of the transformation. Particularly when I got to wield a hammer.
So, we drive to the school where "A Christmas Carol" is being held, and Mom all of a sudden stops dead in the parking lot and says, "Did you see that?" Nope. She backs up, and there is a huge crab skittering across the lot. He/she was definitely lost. So we parked and stood around it until it safely reached the grass, figuring that was the best it was going to do. It was really neat to see, though!
So, we were given seats up in the "stadium level" of this school's auditorium. It made me weep to see what a state of the art facility they had. If I'm ever a quadrillionaire, I'm totally refurbishing Clifton Fine's auditorium. This place was gorgeous. So we people watched for a while, and then this dude in a tweedy coat goes down to the front and says in the most condescending voice you can imagine, "Now what's the first rule of going to the theater? We must do what?" and everyone replies like a bunch of stupid apes, "Turn off our cell phones." I rolled my eyes. I couldn't believe this guy was going to get away with that. Then he says, "And remember, no pictures, and only record your memories in your mind."
Yup this guy was up for the Mark Twain Award.
So, OK, the show starts, and to tell you how great it was, the two old ladies behind us fell asleep.
It's not that it was bad. It just wasn't well written. The acting and singing and the sets were great. But there was no point to the way it was all put together. For instance, when Ebenezer and Belle break off their engagement, she says, "I release you from your obligation, Ebenezer" and then breaks into a five minute song about how he's broken her heart. I mean, dump him and leave. Or sing to him and then dump him.
Towards the end, when Ebenezer learns whose grave he is at, and his name flashes up on the tombstone, rather than dramatically cutting the lights with only the tombstone showing and the sound of his sobs, he breaks into a five minute song. It could have been one of the most dramatic scenes in the show, but it was ruined by some idiot's desire to have a song thrown in there. Now, don't get me wrong, I *love* musical theater, and I *love* "A Christmas Carol" but it just didn't gel well. The only times the singing was appropriate was when the Fezziwigs had their party (although, frankly, Mrs. Fezziwig's sole character trait appeared to be that she would wave her head in the air to cause her pigtails to waggle back and forth) and when the Cratchitts had their own celebration. But again, I certainly don't fault the cast, they sang the hell out of it. It was just not a great idea.
Monday and Tuesday were spent on more remodelling and decorating, and Tuesday also included a very healthy nap. Also on Monday, I was tremendously excited to go see Paula Deen do a book signing.
I had sent my mom to get a ticket after she found out that tickets were required. Now, the tickets were free, and all the signs said if you had a ticket, you could get two books signed. Two book per person maximum. No problem. I wanted one for myself and one for someone else. So Mom bought me a book there to get our ticket and then I went over to Borders and used my holiday savings and their 30% discount and got a second cookbook for 4 whole dollars. So we go over there and I told Mom we needed to go early, since I know how these things are, and we left home at 4:30 and got there at 5:00 and there was already a line. There was nowhere to sit, and they wouldn't let you inside for the signing--everyone had to wait outside in line. So I decide to go in and scope out the situation. No podium, no anything, just a table. So I was like "Well, I guess she won't be speaking." So I go outside and we're standing around and Mom's talking to the people in line, and she sends me around the back of the building to the strip mall to get some drinks while we're there. Now, I don't want to sound too crabby, but there was nothing back there so I had to cross the street to go to a nearby Panera. And it was a 5 lane highway, with no signals and no crosswalk. Fortunately, it was not very busy. But people are honking at me while I'm standing on the freakin' median. "Um, hello, I'm not moving, so just drive your car and leave me alone." It was ridiculous. All for 2 pepsis. hehe
So I get back and around 6:30, they start letting the line move into the store, we're wending our way around the shelves like the chutes at Disney World, and then this woman comes through to check tickets. She grabs my bag and tells me that since I have only one ticket, I can only get one book signed. I asked her "What do you mean? It says two books per person?" and she says, "No, you need a ticket per book" and storms off. Now, the people behind us didn't qualify, because they didn't buy the right books. So wound up that they had extra tickets and agreed to get my book signed for me. But it was just wrong.
So 7pm, and out comes Paula Deen and her husband, Michael and literally, you got 3 seconds with her. She said to me, "Hello, sweetheart" which I missed responding because I was trying to get my mom to take a picture, and then passed my book to her husband, and that was it. That was it. I stood in line for 2 freakin' hours to meet this woman and didn't get to talk to her. It was a complete waste of time. I was SO disappointed.
So next week I'm going to go meet Rachel Ray and it better be an improvement over that one, I must say! My mom said she would not go to a book signing again, and I was also disappointed about that, since as you know, I've been to many amazing book signings in the past year. I mean, even Alan Alda took time to talk with me and personalize my book, and there were definitely more people at that book signing than at Paula Deen's. But her goal was to be done with it in 2 hours, and it led me to wonder, "Why bother?" I mean, what a disappointment for fans. I wasn't a big fan of hers, but I do enjoy watching her show and she does make some recipes that I've used that have come out really well, and this left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. Oh well.
So now I'm back home and relaxing. Heading to Orange County today and I'm so excited to do some rural driving. :-) It's nice to know that the bunnies survived without me and it sounds like Judy, the General and Joe all had a lot of fun while I was away, so I'm glad it worked out--I was a bit nervous to be gone so long. :-)
Till next time.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Well, I've finally gotten some sleep and I'm rested and ready to write about my trip!