Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Play Day at EPCOT

Today was a warmer day and a play day. Off to EPCOT for some fun with Donna and Ron. We got started around 11:30, parked in the lot and walked right in the park. (I can’t tell you all our secrets). We had fish and chips in England and browsed all the Twinings Teas. In Germany, we saw some Werther’s caramel and chocolate covered popcorn with candied pecans and while debating, we were handed a chocolate covered marshmallow as a sample. Well, that took care of the sweet craving. We shopped in a kiosk that sold Swarovski crystals and I found a charm for my charm necklace. It was black enamel on one side and covered with small crystals on the other. We got 40% off, so it was a great deal! Lucky me!

We wanted to ride on Soarin’, but the line was 140 minutes long. Sheesh. So we went on the Living with the Land boat ride and marveled at the 10 pound lemons and 4 foot long sturgeons. If farming was done like this all over the world, we’d be so much kinder to our planet, and therefore us. Maybe in my lifetime, hopefully in my grandchildren’s.

We did go up in Spaceship Earth, the giant golf-ball looking thing at the entrance, and that is always fun and educational. So is the Universe of Energy with Ellen Degeneres as host. It’s difficult to make a ride appealing to very young and very old at the same time, but Disney is one of those businesses that can pride itself on doing that very thing. It’s also something that you never get tired of doing over and over. Curious. I won’t go on about my theories regarding that today, but maybe someday.

Where to go for dinner? EPCOT was too crowded and too expensive, so we headed out of the park. We all felt like Italian – Macaroni Grill? Way too crowded, so we ended up at Uno Chicago Grill. Gary and I had eaten here once in Gastonia, NC and it was pretty good. We had a sweet waitress and got in before the crowd, but they soon arrived and Kristen worked very hard with her tables. I had the lime-marinated chicken salad and Gary had a small pizza. Yummy. Donna and Ron had to work tomorrow, so we headed for bed so we would be fresh for New Year’s Eve. Hope you have some fun plans!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Bucket Day

We delivered the duvet to the cleaners – again. Even though we are annoyed that we have spent $200 on cleaning bills, we know that the end is near for Tasha, our cat. She is very lethargic, eating very little and obviously can’t make it to her potty in time. We knew she had kidney failure almost 2 years ago, and when the vet said she had 6 months to live, we began to prepare. But, she hung on. She played, ate, and managed her toilet very well. So we figure she’s on borrowed time. Even though it’s so cold out, she wants to go out during the day and lie in the sun.

Yesterday we hung out with Ron and Donna driving around to Kohl’s to return a gift, and Downtown Disney. The place was jammed with sweater and coat-clad tourists milling around with hot cups in their hands trying to keep warm. We decided to have some lunch at the Earl of Sandwich. I had a Christmas Roll: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and seasoned mayo on a tiny loaf of bread that was grilled. Yummy – and my meal of the day. We got a late start, so we didn’t get home until 7:30. We had some leftover veggies for dinner, and cozied up in bed. Around 11, Gary went out to detach the water hose from the coach, and cover our plants. It went down to 26 degrees last night. The high will be 54 degrees today, plunging down to 29 again tonight, and then it will start warming up. It should be back to beautiful Florida winter weather by Friday. Gary even wants to go to the coast and sit on the beach!
Meanwhile we’re making plans for New Year’s Eve. There’s a party planned here at the park, but we might go out to dinner and make our own party. Still in the planning stage…

Yesterday it was breezy and cold, so for our outing we decided to go see Tangled – something every Disney employee should do. It’s something every Disney employee should get a free ticket to see in my opinion. However, we did get a discount which helped with the $6 small popcorn and $3 drink inside. What?! We haven’t been to the movies in a couple of years and sticker shock was all over our faces. However since there were four of us, we bought a giant refillable bucket of popcorn (which we did not refill) and that was plenty. The movie was cute. We knew there would be little kids watching it, but they were pretty good – no meltdowns.

After the movie, we needed to return a couple gifts, and look for a Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner. Gary watched Rachel Ray cook some this morning on TV and said Mmmm. Lucky him - we found one and shared another bucket of chicken – the least expensive option, giving us all what we wanted. I’m not a big fan of fried anything, but once a year is OK. I ate my chicken breast, and it was moist and tender. OK. – I’m good to go for another year.

A short drive home and we snuggled in for the last cold night.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

We are back in our cozy home after spending Christmas Eve and yesterday in St. Pete with family. Brian, Michelle, Brian’s Dad, Bill, Tristan and his dad, Julian (my ex) five of the six kids (Lance flew to Atlanta to his dad’s on Christmas eve) and Lily the dog.

Fun, fun, fun. We had to take turns opening our gifts and the kids love that.
They are center of attention for a minute.

Gary and I received a new tire cover for our jeep which needs to fit our new tires we will be getting next year,
and East and West Mountain Directories which show dangerous mountain passes, their grades and locations in the mountains. We now feel more confident as to which roads to take and, more importantly, not to take. We also received The Next Exit - a publication that shows what’s available at every interstate highway exit from coast to coast. Need a drug store? Exit 54. Need an Office Depot? Exit 72. Cool, huh? Wish I had thought of this. Gary's favorite gift was new eyebrows with a little mustache thrown in for good measure.

The weather was a perfect NORMAL winter day in Florida – 74 and sunny. The kids were running around in shorts and barefoot on their new bikes.

The mega deal was a trampoline that we needed to put together.
Foreign directions. Whew. It took a little longer to decipher part from part, but being DIYers for many years, we can almost read Japanese now.

I must say a trampoline is a great babysitter. All the kids can get on at once, and hopefully won’t crash too hard into each other. But that is part of the fun. Of course, big presents come in big boxes, and as usual, like magnets to steel, kids love big boxes. Here they are hard at work constructing their sky scraper.

The biggest surprise gift (besides the trampoline) was the entrance fee paid for Tristan to run in his first marathon in January.
We will all be there to cheer him on. Typically Tristan, he immediately began to research what he should be eating to get in the best shape, and scrutinized all the Christmas goodies. Now this was not a gift out of left field, so to speak. He has been running 10 miles regularly for a couple years. So he was very excited about this challenge. Another best gift was that Gary and I gave Michelle and Brian a coupon for 24 hours alone. They jumped for joy. Anticipation is the best thing, isn’t it??? With Henry being just two months old though, we hope they wait just a little while to redeem that coupon. We are kinda used to a good night’s sleep.

Last night was not one of those good nights, though. The wind started kicking up around 3:15, and so we decided to put in the awning. That entails removing the Christmas lights, extension cord and timer, unhooking the guy wires, replacing the fuse and pushing a button to roll it up. It took about 15 minutes, but then I had a hard time going back to sleep. The wind was whipping up and the temperature was dropping. Tonight it will be 26 degrees again. What is with this weather??? Where did Florida go?? My only comment is Bah, Humbug Mother Nature.

However, I am sitting here enjoying a Bloody Mary while Gary plays his guitar, so all is OK. We hope you had a Merry Christmas and here’s looking at a Happy New Year for everyone.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

This Christmas and Next Christmas

Thank you all for your well wishes for Gary. He is back to normal, his face and lungs are recuperating nicely, and he is back to my HH (handsome hubby).

Well, it’s that time of year again where people go crazy. However, since we are not in a stix&brix we don’t have that much to do. Decorating the coach took about 30 minutes instead of 30 days. Baking only two things instead of 22 since we’re not entertaining every other day was a cinch. I have wonderful Christmas memories, some of my childhood, but most of our years in Raleigh. Lots of decorating, family, friends, presents, entertaining. Because we are in Florida this year, we will be spending Christmas with my daughter, Michelle, and her family, and Tristan and Julian will be driving up from Miami. Gary’s daughter, Mandy and her family in Raleigh, NC are expecting us for a long visit this spring and we will have another Christmas with them. (I wonder if there’ll be a tree…)

We’ve been doing the usual last minute running around, baking some peanut blossoms and working a little on the coach. Freightliner said that we need to run her on the road. That entails disconnecting everything, and shifting into departure mode. Eehhhh, we don’t really want to do that, but we will lubricate the slides and jacks, check the roof for hairline cracks in the caulking and resealing, run the engine and generator to get things circulating again, and that kind of stuff. The worst thing, said Freightliner, that you can do is let things sit. Well we’ve been sitting for three months. Time to shake things up a little. It’s going to be 65 today, so Gary is already up on the roof checking for cracks. As soon as all the neighbors are awake, we’ll make some noise. No matter what you live in, you’ve got to keep it in good shape. We haven’t decided yet which is more expensive – the coach or our house. Or which is more fun to work on either. We have always been house dwellers, so we know what can go wrong and how to fix it. But totally different things go wrong with this kind of house – mostly mechanical, which is why it’s so important to ‘preventive fix’, if you know what I mean.

Yesterday I was on the computer researching places to work next winter in south Texas. Workamper News is a website/publication that lists places to work by state among many other things. It has been in business since 1987, and is very reliable. Workers peruse employers’ advertisements for positions and apply using the website’s Awesome Resume section or by phone. Sometimes the employers offer a ‘jobinar’ which is an online video portraying the worksite, workers’ camping area and other highlights of their property.

Talking with other campers here about south Texas proves to be a gathering place for snowbirds. They are also called Winter Texans. We won’t be alone in trying to procure jobs next winter. This is why I am thinking now. We’ll keep you updated. Of course, this means we will be in Texas next Christmas. Unless our family decides to fly out, it will be our first EVER Christmas without them. I wonder how that will feel?

Well, enjoy your holidays. Our best wishes to all of you!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Animal Kingdom and Eclipse

Gary ran over to the cleaners with our duvet to get it cleaned once again. The conversation went like this: Cleaners lady: ‘Duvet?’ Gary: ‘yes.’ Cleaners lady: ‘Moore?’ Gary: ‘yes’. Cleaners lady: ‘ Wednesday’. Gary: ‘Darn cat…’ This is the FOURTH time this cat has caused a $40 charge….grrrrrr - ’nuff said. I know you are all asking “WHY????” Anyone want a cat?

This afternoon we spent with the grandkids, Michelle and Brian in Animal Kingdom. The kids behaved really well, as you can tell at the lunch table:
Henry was a gem, and loved interacting with his Poppy.
Lance studied the map for the direction of Mt. Everest.
Some kind people gave us their fast passes, and they were redeemable immediately. Gary and I looked after Henry and Graham who was, alas, too small to go on that ride.
I should have taken a photo of Graham after he ate an ice cream sandwich, but I’m sure you can imagine. He really enjoyed it! We headed to a ride for Graham, and everyone wanted to go on it, too.
The Dino-Dig was next and we spent a happy 30 minutes in here. Graham was intrigued with ‘real’ dinosaur bones and teeth.
Lance was up in the aerial section when this photo was taken of Lauren, Charlie, Ellie and Graham.
It was a cool place for kids to let off steam and this they did. It was starting to get dark when we got to Dinosaur – a thrill ride through time encountering many loud and scary dinosaurs. Graham was allowed on it, but hid under my arm the whole way. It was very intense, rocky and loud, but a pretty cool ride. Our photo showed some pretty interesting expressions. I would like to visit a real dinosaur dig somewhere out west next year. That I could handle a little better…

It was dark and cold and the park closed at 8, so we headed to Mt. Everest one last time to use our Fast Passes. Gary and I kept Henry and Graham entertained with light sabers and other toys for what seemed an hour, but at last they arrived. Walking to the exit, we came upon a people-jam on the bridge. Visitors were looking at all the ibises asleep in the trees. I got a good shot of them – there must have been at least 75.
Our tram came and the kids all sat in one seat on the way to the parking lot.
We walked them to their van, said our goodbyes and headed to our Jeep for our ride home. Fun.

At 3:15 this morning, there was a total eclipse of the moon, which happened last in 1700 something. I didn’t set the alarm clock, but woke up for some reason. I lay there deciding if I’d get dressed and go out to find the moon, and decided not to. But then I remembered it wouldn’t happen for another 400 years or so, so I did get up and go out. It was awesome and worth seeing for about 10 minutes as the orange glow of reflecting sun’s rays off particulates bounced around in the atmosphere surrounding the moon. I was glad I saw it when I did, as it reached 37 degrees last night. I can’t believe this weather…

We even felt sorry for the cat, which I declared an “OUTSIDE CAT” from now on, but we softened and let her sleep on the bed. Well, the duvet is still in the cleaners. Grrrrrr, ….

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Through the Air...

Friday was a recon day. We decided to take advantage of the good weather and drive to Longview RV sales and service because last spring we noticed a banner advertising Newmar authorized service available. We like to trust our coach to an authorized dealer because they know the nuances particular to each model. They were very nice, because they told us that we would be better off going directly to Freightliner to have them fix the leak we’ve been suffering with since May. Cummins, in Pennsylvania, took a look at it and determined it was a Freightliner issue. They would also have fixed it for us, but, again, it’s a Freightliner chassis, so who better to fix it than them? We trusted Longview for that advice and will visit them to have some other work done for their honesty. A few minutes after we arrived, a little blonde Chihuahua trotted into the room and right up to us. Joe, following him, said, “Don’t jump, RV, stay down..” When Joe reached us, he bent down and scooped up RV and put him up on the counter. RV proceeded to wiggle his rear and try to lick us. It turns out that RV just showed up one day, and the owners of Longview adopted him, gave him the name ‘RV’ and feed him a lot. RV is a little rotund for a Chihuahua, but so cute.
We got some prices for various items we’d like done from Julie, and then left, promising to come back.

Off to Freightliner, where the problem was discussed, diagrams printed off the computer, explanations, scenarios, and then the bad news: prices. Why is it the hardest, most expensive thing goes wrong? It couldn’t just be a seal that needs replacing, which would be bad enough, but it seems the fan motor needs to be replaced and it would take 6 hours to do it. I won’t bore you with the $$$details$$$, but we’ll manage. But we have heat (we stilllllllll need it) and electricity, water and a beautiful view, so Life is Good.

Saturday, we woke up to RAIN. This is the first rain we’ve had in three weeks. We were supposed to go to Hollywood Studios with our neighbors Ron and Donna, and take Terry and Sherry and their son, Casey, to get them in for free. (one of the good perks) But Terry came over and declined walking in the rain all day, so perhaps they will go on Monday. We continued with our plans of lunch at Sweet Tomatoes, shopping at Disney Marketplace and then to Cirque du Soleil! We had good tickets (half price – another perk we took advantage of) and we were early, so we had a drink at the House of Blues first. It had cleared a little, but still heavy gray clouds hung around, and I was glad I had my sweater and fleece with me. I have never been a fan of clowns (in fact it may be my only phobia) but there were only two men dressed as clowns and I just closed my eyes the few times they were on stage. But the rest of the show was spectacular. It’s a good thing they use safety ropes, because the high wire artist fell off his bike and his balancing pole nearly hit the ground. The audience's gasp was loud, and he must have lost his nerve, because he didn’t try it again. The trapeze artist tried twice to do a back double flip (which is a blind trick – meaning he couldn’t see his partner's catching hands) and fell to the net below.

My favorite acts were The Diabolo, or a children's game of Chinese yo-yo. This entrancing act features four young Chinese performers. Holding two sticks linked by a string, they slide, juggle and toss a musical wooden spool while performing acrobatics in the air. Also awesome were the trampoline artists. Areas of the floor rose up to create little buildings with windows. These people fell to a trampoline from the roof (maybe 15 feet), bounced on the trampoline and actually entered the windows on the way up, or landed on the roof so gently that it seemed as though it had been all an illusion. Crazy costumes, too. It was all amazing talent and that will satisfy our circus quota for quite a few more years.

When we arrived home last night we were VERY displeased with Tasha, who had, yet again, ‘decorated’ our bed – all the way to the mattress. Sheeeeesh. I had a clean bottom sheet to put on, but the duvet will need to stay in a trash bag until Monday when the cleaners is open. Meanwhile, I had a couple throws that we slept under and we cuddled to keep warm. So this morning at 7:30 I was at the laundromat washing all our linen - again. Today it was supposed to clear up this afternoon, but it never got above 56 and drizzled on and off. We did do a little more Christmas shopping singing carols all the way with the songs we recognized on the radio. Some of these stylized carols are really far out…

Michelle and family are on their way to Orlando to visit Disney World with the 6 kids. They played ‘Wheel of Fortune” this morning and the puzzle answer was ‘we are going to Disney’. When I talked to them at 3 pm, they hadn’t left St. Pete yet, no surprise as getting 8 people organized takes time. We’ll plan to go to Animal Kingdom with them tomorrow.

Well, sorry there are no photos today. I would have loved taking some at the circus, but they were not allowed. We are semi-planning our trip out west, which is exciting, and we’ll let you know as our plans unfold. Be careful out there…

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Catching Up With Us Again

Well, by now you must have thought we died. Gary is out of the hospital dragging his little nebulizer and a half dozen prescriptions with him. It’s funny to see what albuteral does to him. He kinda shakes his feet in a jingly sort of way. Very keeping with the season. He is feeling very much better, and looks better, too. He’s only got a little booboo under his eye and he says he can see perfectly again. Yippeee.

He officially retired from Disney today. They didn’t offer any apologies, but did accept his resignation without too much objection. Our friends, Bob and Mary, called today from Massachusetts to chat. They have been working at Disney for years on a limited basis, but just enough to get the benefits. They agree that sometimes it seems that Disney gives with one hand and takes away with the other. But getting into any park for free is a really big perk.

Late yesterday, we felt like going with Donna and Ron to the Yacht Club to see the chocolate carrousel. I hear you asking ‘A what??’ Yup, it is a carrousel made from chocolate and gingerbread. Here is a photo.
I wish you could smell what we did.
See those happy faces? That’s what chocolate does for us. Here’s even a beautiful white chocolate horse named for our grandson, Jack.
Then we took the monorail from the Contemporary Resort to the Grand Floridian to see the 45 foot Christmas tree,
the Gingerbread House

and listen to the orchestra play Christmas Carols. Ten dollars for a martini just wasn’t going to happen for Gary, though, so we ended up going to Chile’s for dinner. Two-for-one beers was more his style. It could have been the beers, or maybe that he has pneumonia, but he was pooped, so it was early beddy for us.

Today I returned all my Disney costumes and made sure my check had been direct-deposited. We left the parking lot a little sad that it hadn’t really worked out for us. But, you know my policy: it happens for a reason.

On the way home, we stopped at Publix and, I swear (usually I don’t) they are soooo nice there. Everyone. We passed the manager, Adam, in an aisle, and he asked if we were finding everything OK. We asked where we might find Tahini (sesame paste for Gary’s hummus) and he took us right to it. Awesome. If he gets hired, I think Gary will like working there. Amazingly, while I was getting my hair trimmed next door, the stylist said that the shopping center was actually built over a mobile home/RV park. Apparently the management put a notice on every door one night that said that the property had been sold and they needed to vacate the land within a week. Imagine! They gave no notice other than that, took the money and ran. There are some sorry people out there.

Our freezing temps last night should be the last for a while. This is a photo of our outside temperatures at 7:15 Tues. morning. Yea, that's 28 degrees fahrenheit.
It’s going up to 75 tomorrow, but down a little to 65 over the weekend. We really need rain – the fire hazard rating is way up there. We might get a sprinkle on Sat. Maybe we’ll put the awning back out and hang up our little lights again.
The hooded merganzer ducks, blue and white herons, mallards and ibises were all cavorting in the low water today.

Can you spot the male belted kingfisher in the tree? - a little to the left of the middle of the photo.
We haven’t seen the alligator (fine with me – as long as he isn’t keeping warm under our coach!)

Well, there you are. You’re caught up. I can’t believe Christmas is next week. I hope you are all getting in the spirit, even though some of you are digging out. Please drive safely. HoHoHo

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Some Big Changes

I apologize to all of you for taking so long to write again. You must have thought we fell off the earth. We have been sick – me with some kind of 48 hour flu and a three week long cough, and Gary with a fever, aches and pains and a cough that he is right now having a Dr. look at in the nearest Urgent Care. Of course, because of his radiation, he sees a Doctor EVERY DAY, but no, he has to go to an Urgent Care and pay another Doctor. There are quite a few Dr. bills coming in on a regular basis, and with our thousand dollar deductible with Blue Cross, it seems like we should have met that already. A call to them tomorrow just to check it out is in order.

Other than that, the weather is not cooperating. It has been down to freezing temperatures here in Kissimmee more than once, and is planning to dip to 27 tonight. The forecast for today is thunderstorms and 25 mph winds, so I took our little Christmas lights down off the awning and put it up. The winds are already pushing 19 mph, and it’s getting colder and the sun had gone behind huge dark clouds. Oh, joy.

Yesterday we decided to drive to St. Pete to return Michelle’s car and then head over to Sarasota for my most favorite thing: Girls Club. Michelle was getting ready for the Historic Candlelight Tour of Homes in her Old Northeast neighborhood. It is a beautiful old area that schedules a tour of willing homeowners asked to open their homes to people on the tour. Sounds labor intensive – especially with five kids and a newborn. But that’s Michelle. We arrived while she was putting the final decorations on the outside of the house. I would have taken a photo, but all the packing boxes were still all over the lawn. Inside, Brian was busy putting an electric train ON the Christmas tree. I never saw one that went around the middle of the tree, but he did it and it was adorable. (should have taken a photo). I hope it goes well for her tonight.

Then on to Sarasota to see all my dear friends. I missed the last meeting, so we had a lot to catch up with and, of course, the food – red beans and rice, jalapeno cornbread and brownies a la mode – was delicious. Thanks to Jean. We exchanged our little gifts to each other, had our photo taken by Gary at the end of the evening, and I drove back home as Gary was still feeling puny.

Now, for the big news. We have been deliberating this for a couple of weeks. Basically, Gary is unhappy in his job. He was mis-cast, and has let Disney know on several occasions and to several people this situation. No one has helped in the least little way. He felt trapped, and overwhelmed by having his face look so bad, being in pain and having difficulty with his vision. When he got sick this past Tuesday, that was the last straw, and he has been calling in sick to Disney everyday. We sat down and talked about it and, sadly, we have decided to end our jobs there. It is too difficult, and we really are treated not quite like slaves, but with no consideration. We have always had jobs where people cared about us, and we feel just like a number. Also, there are some people our age, but most are young college kids or in their 30s able to work long, hard, late hours. So, it is with great regret to say that our jobs at Disney just didn’t pan out. But, at least, we can say we worked there, if just for a little while.

Friday, Gary decided to put in an application at Publix which is on 4 miles away and 7 minutes, instead of an hour each way. I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t pay better, too. Even though it is open until 10 pm, that’s better than 2 am and an hour commute home. So we’ll see if that is more to his liking. Our friend Debbie has been working there for a couple of years, and she loves it. I’m trying to get hired by the campground, or at least get a couple hundred off the monthly rent as it goes up by more than two hundred dollars next month.

Well, Gary just called to say he needed to go into hospital as he has pneumonia. Oh, joy. I’ll be updating soon as I get more information. Later….

Monday, December 6, 2010

St. Pete and Morocco

I think Friday will be the last time I need to get up at 5 am to be at work at 7. Gary and I haven’t seen each other the last two days except for one minute in a parking lot. Didn’t count on that happening. We really need to get our hours together and we are working on that. It’s tough to move a big machine like Disney, but we’ll persevere until we hit a brick wall.

On the way home I deposited my first two paychecks – ooooo, that felt good! While I was in line, there was a cute little 3 year old at a teller’s window. He was looking at me (in my costume) and so I reached into my pocket and brought out a Mickey Mouse sticker and held it out to him. He smiled at it, but was very hesitant to take it. I asked him if he knew who this was. He nodded yes, and then reached out and took it. What a smile! Makes my day, just makes my day.

Saturday we did a few chores in the chilly morning, and then drove to St. Pete to have a combined birthday dinner for Gary and Brian (whose birthday was Dec. 2). Brian’s mom, Sharon was visiting from Iowa and all six kids were there, too. When we arrived, it was only Sharon who was waiting on the front steps as the rest of the family went to a Christmas tree farm to get their tree. We had about 15 minutes to introduce ourselves and then they arrived home. Chaos ensued, and little Henry was hungry, so I took charge of him most of the evening. We had a delicious meal (except I had to run to the store for the forgotten birthday cake that you see here – mmmmm, Red Velvet.)

We tried to get Henry to sleep a little bit, but he was having none of it, and pretty much cried the whole evening. Poor little guy. I wish he could say what was wrong.
The guys opened their gifts (booze and cigars) and a car detail appointment for Brian.
We finally took our leave for our hour and half ride home listening to Christmas carols all the way. Peace on earth – well, at least in the Jeep.

Sunday we wanted to play. Off to EPCOT with our friends, Donna and Ron next door. It was a very pretty day with a high of 71 and low of 42. The first order of business was to find out where we could eat using our coupon for 50% off our meal. We found the Restaurant Marrakesh in Morocco and made reservations around 6 pm to see the belly dancer show. Then we walked around the World Showcase and over to the Living Seas watching the sharks and my favorite, the seahorses. Closer to six, we took the boat back across the lagoon and landed in Morocco. Here’s Donna checking out the menu.
They had never had Middle Eastern food before. Promptly at 6 we were seated. The Harira soup was excellent, but the combination appetizer for two was very interesting. Beef and chicken were wrapped in thin layers of phyllo pastry, baked then sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. The salad had an interesting dressing, and the baklava for dessert was yummy. Sure enough a beautiful belly dancer performed for us and then invited the children up on stage where they received a lesson. Adorable.

We were very chilly around firework time, but it was worth it. Those are some of the prettiest fireworks I’ve ever seen. The park closed at 9:30 and no one hung around – it was too cold. However, we did see lots of people in shorts and t-shirts. I guess 50 degrees feels balmy compared to 20 degrees at their homes. Did anyone remember where our car was parked? Believe it or not, not one of us had noticed our parking sign. We guessed at the area and then with the remote key opener the chirping took us right to our spot. Oh, boy, that heat felt good.

Tomorrow, Gary has a day off, then works Tues, and Thurs through Sat. I work Wed and Friday and have all next week off. Can’t figure out Disney no how. I’m going to be very brave and get my hair cut at a local ‘Hair Cuttery’. I just can’t wait any longer. Wish me luck.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Happy Birthday, Gary

Poor Gary. Between his sore face and the job he doesn’t feel is his ‘dream job at Disney’, it’s been pretty tough on him. Wednesday was his birthday and I had to work from 7 am to 3:30. But when I got home, he opened his present from me. I had decorated a red Mickey Mouse ornament while he was out at Home Depot. Here is the front, and the back says ‘May all your wishes come true’.
I do hope all his wishes come true from now on. He is waiting for his recruiter to call him back with some good news.

My job is running the rides in Fantasyland. Yep, I’m the person who will push the buttons to make the cars go on Snow White’s Scary Adventure, The Mad Tea Party, and Winnie the Pooh’s Adventure. I could also be taking your Fast Passes, or showing you which line to stand in. The most important thing for me to remember is Safety First. And there are a billion ways that WDW instigates safety features. I don’t like getting up at 4 am (today I had to be at work at 6 am) but I do get off early.

Tonight Gary met me in the parking lot as I got off the bus so that he could get my parking spot. So we got to kiss hello and goodbye as he won’t be back until tomorrow morning around 1:30 am. This will happen tomorrow, too. But then we are off for a few days together.

It has been very dry around here, even though we were supposed to get rain. Only one clap of thunder was heard around 4:30 am, but no rain. The ponds are so low, there are islands popping up and it’s now so cold (high of 62 today) that the gators are out on the banks getting warm from the sun.
I did get my paychecks today – boy it’s nice to get paychecks again. I just wish you didn’t have to work for them…

I’m really looking forward to the Rally in Tennessee in April and then heading out west. The CG Office Manager has taken a leave of absence, so I was asked if I would like to learn the computer system. When we checked in last September, I made it known that I would like to learn this on a volunteer basis, but the rent goes up next month, so maybe I can work something out.

Anyhow, I’ve been up for 13 hours now, so I need to relax a little before I get up and do it all again.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas is Coming!

Friday morning was another pretty day, but I was coughing more than ever. Gary went off to work, and then the phone rang. It was Deployment wondering where I had been the last two days and today. What? I was not scheduled to work until Dec. 1. I haven’t even been trained yet. Well, after 15 minutes of being switched to this person and that person, I talked with Ellen who excused Wed, Thursday and Friday, but she said I needed to work tomorrow. Alrighty, then!

Saturday morning was cloudy and humid. Even though I didn’t start until 10 am, I arrived early to see if I could remember my way around. Employees are very friendly and when I started looking lost, a couple stopped, asked if I needed help and then proceeded to walk me all the way to my starting position and then out ‘onstage’ to my coordinator. I started to relax. My job - all day - was to park strollers. There were three of us assigned to only one ride: the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. It was hectic, but fun. I love helping the guests. They usually want to know where something is (like their stroller). I worked steadily and before long it was 5 pm. I caught the bus to the parking lot and found my way out the correct way (this time) and was home within 30 minutes! Oooo, my sore feet. Quick into my jammies and into the fridge to decide what was for dinner. Looks like some pulled pork and coleslaw. Gary got home at 7:30, we ate, fell into bed, read for 10 minutes and our eyes started closing. End of Saturday.

Today was sunny and climbing into the 80s. We headed out to Sarasota to find some Christmas stuff in our storage units. We have two storage units that hold all the household things that we could fit in case we decide we don’t like this lifestyle.

Because I grew up camping with my family, but Gary had never camped before, we decided not to give up the house and essential contents just yet. We gave ourselves a year to explore this lifestyle including the tight budgeting that goes with it (at least for us) and that year is up in April. So far we love it. He loves driving this 50+ foot long vehicle (I close my eyes), and we love making new friends. We both love discovering new things along the road (preferably a red road). Family is always an issue for fulltimers, and I’m so grateful that we have the support of ours.

Everything I needed was in the back corner of one unit and it took us a couple hours to remove, open every container and find what was needed – but we did! We had to break into suitcase (no key), but a few hours later, I had everything I needed to make Henry his first Christmas stocking. It’s made from felt and is a family tradition since I was a kid. When it’s finished, I’ll take a photo of it.

Off to do some wash now, and then dinner. Gary’s going to do steak on the Barbie. Yummy. Sleep tight!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hollywood and Thanksgiving

I’m glad I got a post out on Monday, because Monday evening I started feeling sore all over and sprouted a fever. Hubby tucked me in, gave me some medicine and turned out the light. Whoa – did anyone get the tag number of the 16 wheeler that hit me then ran over me a couple dozen times?? I usually have a high threshold pain level, but whew. Where did I pick this up? Surely not the Magic Kingdom?? When I talked to my daughter, she mentioned that her little one, Graham, had been sick with a fever and 'a ache'. Ahh, so that’s where I picked it up.

Gary had to work Tuesday night from 5-10pm and only had a 15 minute break. He was slammed. I said “wait till Thanksgiving Day”. He has to work from 11 to 11. OMG. I hope he survives. His eye looks terrible (he won’t let me take a photo of it) and it hurts and waters all day. I keep reminding him it’s temporary. Still, he doesn’t want to scare the guests. They keep putting him on the register, though, so perhaps no one thinks it’s as bad as he does. But it's bad, and going to get worse before it goes completely away.

No one had to work Wednesday. We decided to have a little fun, so Donna and Ron and we headed over to Hollywood Studios. Before long it was dark, and time to walk down the streets of New York to see the lighting of the Osborne Lights. The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights started modestly in Arkansas as a single home's annual display. Every year, Jennings Osborne and his family set up an elaborate collection of holiday lights and over the years, the collection of lights grew, and grew... and grew! By 1993, the display had over three million lights. The display was, however, not as popular with the Osborne's neighbors. They claimed that the display created massive traffic jams near their homes and loss of electricity. In 1995, the Osborne family decided to share their magic with the world, and Walt Disney World Resort happily offered to become the new permanent home for this exceptional exhibition of holiday cheer on the Streets of New York. The display is made up of over 10 miles of rope lighting connected by another 30 miles of extension cords. The extension cords and lights are held together using two million ties. It takes 20,000 man-hours to install the display each holiday season, starting in September. The lights are turned on at dusk each night, starting in mid-November and running into the first week of January, and require 800,000 watts of electricity.

You can’t really tell it’s snowing, but it IS! Fabulous. And did you know that they throw out all these lights every year? I hear all you guys cheering out there. What a tangled mess that would make… Food is really expensive for guests, so we decided to have a bite at Buffalo Wild Wings on the patio. Mmm, spicy! We were all ready to hit the hay for tomorrow was Thanksgiving!

Gary got up and left for his 12 hour work day, but his poor eye was really sore and ugly. Even with bandages on, he was not a happy camper. I got up to drive to St. Pete to spend turkey day with Michelle and her family, Tristan and Lily. Lauren made place cards,
Lance made sweet potato casserole, Graham helped with the green bean casserole, I carved the turkey and here it all is on the table. Here's the Thanksgiving baby, Henry.

Chocolate cake and coffee completed our Thanksgiving meal.
When asked what I was thankful for, I said “reasons to get up each morning”.

After I thought about it, I realized it is so true. I don’t know about you, but I love things to look forward to. Anticipation is more than half the experience. I remember living in Toronto and looking forward to a winter vacation week in Florida. Things to do before reaching the big red circle on the calendar: booking plane tickets, finding the flip-flops and water-wings, hoping for good weather so our plane wouldn’t be delayed. Finally – the circled date! Off we went and fun, fun, fun. And then – before you knew it, the week was over. Back to the ice and snow for a couple months. But then there was Spring to look forward to. Was I missing all the days in between? No. Everyday was enjoyable (mostly), but there was always that special day to look forward to that gave me a little thrill just anticipating how much extra fun we would have. Now, my calendar is red circle after red circle. Something new all the time. Reasons to get up in the morning. Amen.

The hour and half drive home was quiet and dark. When I pulled up to the coach, I was surprised to see the Jeep parked in front. Gary was home! He was lying on the bed with and icebag on his eye. Poor guy. What happened? Well, his first job of the day was to sprinkle the powdered sugar onto the funnel cakes. He loves that job. He does a little bit, then looks at the guest with a ‘more?’ look. They shake their head yes, and he adds a little more. Another look. Another yes, and finally it’s perfect. One happy guest. However, my poor hubby did this for SIX HOURS STRAIGHT. Nobody came to give him a break, and his tears were running down his face. Since he couldn’t use his hands with gloves on, he had to use his white shirt sleeve. Well, the co-ordinator walked up and Gary asked if he could take a break now. Damien was so shocked that he had been standing there for 6 hours (and in such agony) that he told Gary to go home. Now that’s a good manager. Fortunately, I had made a Thanks giving plate up for him, and he gobbled that down (get it?). So we spent the rest of the evening catching up, until we finally turned out the lights.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope you have lots of red circles on your calendar!

Monday, November 22, 2010

All Kinds of Creatures

A slow start to this morning with a little washing, but we knew we were going to – you guessed it – the Magic Kingdom with the Monroes. Donna was making French Dip, I was adding veggies, and then we got changed for the drive over. We wanted to show Ron the lighting of the castle and see the fireworks tonight. Just before lunch, we noticed Wal-e Gator headed our way.
Maybe he smelled lunch. Or maybe he spotted Tasha who decided to walk up to the edge of the water. I guess she wasn’t that appealing, as he soon turned downstream and swam away.

After arriving at MK Gary wanted to square away his medical and time issues with a manager, so we headed to Sleepy Hollow first. A co-worker, Haley from Australia, was serving today, so Ron and Donna ordered a funnel cake. If I had had the camera, I would have taken a shot of the ½ pound of powdered sugar on this thing! Gary took care of his scheduling with his manager, then he joined us. What should we do first? We walked through the castle, which is 189 feet tall, into Fantasyland to show them where I work: Snow White’s Scary Adventure,
The Mad Teaparty and The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (which has just been renovated using interactive games in the waiting line. Have to try those out…)

We did the PeopleMover (one of my favorites), Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor (very funny), Mickey’s Philharmagic (a 3-D movie) ***and then moved into the Haunted Mansion. It was pretty busy last night, and we will run into some block-out dates this Thanksgiving week when we will not be allowed in the park at all. I’d rather be with my grandchildren enjoying a turkey dinner anyway! Soon it was dark and we had munched our way through a Dole Whip (pineapple flavored soft ice cream), egg rolls, nachos and a coffee. And after the Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the River Boat Ride (here we are)
it was time for the Electrical Parade, then the lighting of the castle. It was truly spectacular, and we took a million more pictures.
The Blue Moon (see Google) was shining down on us as we walked closer to the castle to get a better look at the lights they used. They looked like ordinary LED white lights, but some were brighter than others, which gives that glistening ice-covered effect. The park was open until 11 pm, but we were ready for beddy and headed for the monorail. Once it started moving I think every child was asleep in 20 seconds. Sweet dreams…