Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Facebook Newsfeed Is Not News

Sometimes it feels just like this
For that matter, most news stations, either. They’re a skewed commentary on a situation with distorted facts to keep you thinking a certain direction, which is more than likely far from the truth. That’s probably why it’s now called news and no longer known as journalism. However, it’s sad how much junk fills my Facebook status stream. It simply boggles the mind that someone shared it to begin with, but it does make it believable that the Salem witch trials could happen even today. Most of the time I don’t even think people read what they are sharing or watch the videos they are passing along. They just quickly share it because on the surface it falls in line with their prejudiced way of thinking. For some, Facebook is the only source of news they receive and, to be honest, that’s truly sad.

It’s not new, however. Since the World Wide Web infiltrated our homes, gullible people have believed everything that came across the computer screen, no matter how ludicrous. People don’t check the validity of a story before passing it on. Furthermore, they don’t realize that all they are really doing is hindering the truth from getting out and that’s exactly the point behind the slanted story. It’s a diversion tactic to keep you focused in one direction so that you don’t notice what’s really happening elsewhere.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Florida Heat Comes Inside

Last week was the week for gremlins, not that car of the sixties or seventies, but those tiny little creatures that like to sneak in and tear up perfectly fine machines. Friday morning, while taking Char to work, the electrical system of the new van decided to shut our van down. I couldn’t switch gears. I couldn’t steer. I couldn’t even get the key out of the ignition. We called the warranty people and had it towed for repairs. They don’t work weekends like the rest of the universe, so we’re still waiting.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Breaking Out of the Comfort Zone

But I'm comfortable
The Comfort Zone ~ a safe place where we have fun, feel confident and safe, and can pretend we’re really accomplishing our dreams. The truth of the matter is that dreams are accomplished outside of our comfort zone, where we are nervous about taking the risk and exposing ourselves–and our fears– to the world. We don’t always feel confident. Most of the time we’re too nervous to know we’re having fun and we leave the world of pretend for the reality of do or die. The time for talking is over. It’s now time to muster up the guts and jump. However, you don’t need to drop blindly into those deep waters.

During your stay in the comfort zone, you should use that security to build the skills and strengths you’re going to need to finally break past those barriers. The more knowledge you acquire and abilities you develop, the more confident you will feel stepping out. You won’t know everything, because there is quite a bit we learn as we move forward. That’s growth. However, we can gain a solid foundation upon which to build. This way, you may wobble, but you won’t fall down; you won’t be overwhelmed. That is one of the main feelings that keeps us in our comfort zones, the feeling of being overwhelmed as we try something new.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Not Everything Is Bullying

Stop bullying
If you’ve followed the Mess for any length of time, then you know that I’m pretty vocal about bullying. It has always been a crime with lasting scars that really needs to be stopped. A friend shared on their Facebook that instead of crying about bullies, we need to teach our children to stand up for themselves. It’s not always that simple. Many kids do stand up for themselves, but many times it doesn’t change anything and sometimes even makes it worse. My response was that they should teach their kid not to be a dick or when that bullied child goes to the school with a gun to stand up for himself you will wish you had spent more time teaching the  bully how to be a decent human being.

Monday, August 4, 2014

It’s All about Mindset

Recently, we took our annual family vacation. This is different than a trip the girls and I take or one of our getaways with friends. This vacation involves all of us–the girls and I, all of the children and their significant others and an “adopted” child or two. A destination is picked, a house rented and then the planning begins. This year, we visited historic Savannah. This has actually become one of my favorite locales–outside of Disney, of course–and I’m even considering it as a backdrop for some of my stories.

Now, part of the reason I love the historic district so much is that you park your car and walk everywhere. For a man who hates traffic, it’s the perfect area. Everything we need is right there, including a grocery store. And the crazy part is I look forward to walking each day. We’d wake up, have breakfast and then go exploring. We averaged ten miles a day just in that little area that takes about fifteen to twenty minutes to cross. We also had the added hurdle of avoiding tour groups and trolleys. By the end of the day, our legs were sore and we were exhausted, but it felt great.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Extortion of Gratuity

For most of my thirty years in the work force I have worked for tips and for the most part I made a great living doing it. Of course, there were always those times I received a tip that just left me shaking my head at the inconsiderate nature of people. I mean, a fifteen cent tip is more of an insult than not leaving a tip at all. It’s rude and offensive and the server will remember you in the future. Why piss off the person who handles your food?

However, as much as I have grumbled in the past about lousy tippers, the act of tipping is based upon the person actually doing it. It is a reward for great service. Since I have worked for tips before and know that feeling, I tend to tip more than I should, even if the service wasn’t exactly worth it. It has been an extreme case when I have left a poor tip or not tip at all and in those cases the server had completely pissed me off. At that point, however, they’re lucky I haven’t tried to have them fired.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Look Down Generation

The Look Down Generation. It’s what people are calling the young people today, but really it spans several generations as more and more people grab hold of technology and all of its gadgets. You see, it has nothing to do with low self-esteem or a bad case of shyness. It has everything to do with the smart phone or iPad that seems to be glued to everyone’s fingers. Their neck is bent at a 45 degree angle as they stare at the screen catching up on Facebook or crushing candy. They rarely look up.

Furthermore, it doesn’t matter where they are or even what they are doing. They could be riding in a car full of people or even driving, sitting at a dinner table whether at home or in a restaurant, or just walking along the sidewalk, destination in mind, but the journey ignored. The contraption is in their hands and their fingers are pressing keys frantically.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Full Room to Empty Echo

We had just set this up
We’re in the process of moving as you may have heard, but we’ve been able to take it nice and slow, which my back appreciates. That was the idea when we started. Move one room or area at a time and avoid the chaos of a stacked box maze in the new house. It’s hard enough to rearrange furniture without the room being full of stuff you have to maneuver around. So, we created a plan of attack to optimize our efforts and create a semblance of organization. First area to be moved over was the garage, which just so happened to be the most discombobulated space in the old house outside of my desk area. We figured if we could move the garage first, organizing it as we did, then if we had to store other boxes in there temporarily, then nothing would get lost in the shuffle.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Four Stars for The Between World by Stephanie Ingram

Author Stephanie Ingram has always had a passion for language and people, which, lucky for us, has translated into storytelling. At the age of nine, she began writing and, after years of studying languages such as Portuguese, German and French, found her path back to creating vivid stories. The between World is one of those tales.

Nina Strident is almost killed in a car accident. She is rescued by Yalen, a mysterious man from another world who breaks all the rules to protect her when others want her dead. From there, we are thrown in to a battling world of humans, guardian angels, and those Between World. There is something about Nina’s survival that threatens t toss the worlds out of balance. Or is there? The reader is kept guessing with every turn of the page. You are also left wondering who the real bad guy is that they’re fighting–human or something else. The story has romance, mystery, magic, and a little bit of intrigue. Stephanie does a great job with her descriptions and story-telling, although I would have preferred more from the Between World to get a better grasp of what was going on within it and how it functioned.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Learn Something New Every Day

The hat helps the learning process
I want to learn how to play the guitar. I also want to learn how to play the saxophone, how to speak French, and how to finally use my Excel spreadsheets. I know I’ve joked in the past about not doing research for a blog post, but one of the things I enjoy most about writing is the research that has to go along with it. I’ve heard where some writers have become so obsessed with their research that they’ve forgotten to write their books. Some have found new interests or hobbies. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy reading biographies and history books, to learn something new, which I probably should have read about in high school if I wasn’t so busy doodling.

Learning something new helps stretch our mental capacity and sharpens our mind. It also helps us push past our comfort zones. Sometimes, we even discover that our comfort zones aren’t as narrow as we originally thought–except for roller coasters. Those are way outside of my comfort zone. It’s our fear of the unknown that quite often terrifies us, but learning can push us past those frightening barriers. The more we expand ourselves, the less of a foothold fear will have in our life.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Where Did the Wipers Go?

Not the picture that should go with this post.
We own three vehicles, two vans and a Dodge Caliber. We mainly use two of these, because one of the vans has become the “old” vehicle, without all of the cool gadgets of the others, and so it gets chosen last to play on the team. Actually, it is only chosen when it’s a necessity and I need to go somewhere and the girls have the other two vehicles. There isn’t anything really wrong with it. It’s just not as fun as the others. To be honest, I prefer driving it to the Caliber, because I hate my ass so close to the pavement underneath me. I prefer being high up where I can look down on those poor drivers who piss me off.

However, with the new move in motion, the old van was called into action as a pack mule and I was the designated driver. They used the term designated driver, that is. I would have chosen forced, but tomayto, tomahto.

Friday, July 4, 2014


By now, you’ve noticed the girls and I love Disney and if you haven’t, then your powers of observation need some serious exercise. Part of our annual passes to everything Disney includes admission into their giant arcade at Downtown Disney called DisneyQuest, five floors of video games and interactive fun. We had never been before, so when Sarah’s cousin, Lisa, was vacationing in Orlando, we decided to meet there for a visit of fun. Adults could talk and we could all play. Sounds like a good time, right? Well, it was.

We entered on the third floor, which was street level, and it was recommended we start at the top and work our way down by the cast member guarding the front door. We had an hour and a half to kill before Lisa and her family arrived, so we decided to explore. We found the nearest elevator, because I only exercise when the girls force me and walking stairs is classified as exercise in my book. We piled in and pressed 5.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Crossing Genres

One of the many things I enjoy about being an indie author is that I’m in complete control of what I write. My brain is not wired to think along one track. I hop trains of thought continuously just to explore an idea that has caught my attention. I started with a crime drama of sorts with the short story, Circle of Justice, and then I published my urban fantasy novella, Reaping the Harvest. After those came a collection of creative nonfiction in A Confused Life, based off of posts right here at the Mess. The next book to come out is going to be an erotic novel. Losing Faith is the first in the Rutherford Series and my attempt of steamy romance with sizzling scenes.

And the projects continue from there. Holiday Hindsight a collection of nostalgic essays about those last three months of the year, should be out in September and I am currently working the first draft of Fields of Harvest, the second book in the Warrior of the Way series. I have more fantasy novels simmering on the back burner as well as some murder mysteries, short stories and even more erotica. As I said above, my mind loves to jump around.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Friend Requests and Their Acceptance

Friendship denied...next!
On Twitter, people just follow you if they want and, likewise, you get to follow whoever you want in your Twitter stream. Unless everyone starts blocking everyone else, nothing can really be done about it. Besides, on Twitter that’s really the goal, to gain as many followers as possible to assist in whatever it is you’re wanting to achieve.

Facebook, however, is a completely different ballgame. This social media is not about networking so much as it is about friendships. Thus you don’t just follow people, you have to send Friend Requests and they have to be accepted. You, therefore, with the help that can be found in settings, have some control over who is able to see what you post. I suppose it’s because of that sharing of personal lives that many corporations have guidelines concerning social media and its employees. I’ve never been very big on anyone–government, businesses, Santa Claus–telling me what I can or cannot do on my own time. I also don’t like people telling me who I can or cannot be friends with. I want to make those poor choices on my own.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Why Are You Telling Me?

Some people love to talk and they’re favorite topic is other people. They just can’t wait to give you the dish on everyone they know and most of the time it’s never good. As a matter of fact, the dirtier the dish, the faster they want to pass it around. They’re faster with the news than the Internet. And there will always be people who want to listen. They thrive on hearing the gossip as much as the others relish spreading it.

I try my best not to be either of those people. I may not always be successful at it, but I try very hard. And for several reasons.

I believe that it says something about a person who can’t wait to tell you all about someone else’s crimes. It says they’re angry, bitter people. They don’t feel good about themselves and so they have to make others look bad in an attempt to make themselves look better. It’s a distraction ploy, hoping that if they can point your attention elsewhere, you won’t be looking at them. Little do they know, it rarely works.

Monday, June 23, 2014

He’d Make a Lousy Dog

As I watch people, I am always amazed at how many would make lousy dogs. Man’s Best Friend would make a better human than these homosapien mongrels and the only trait they have in common is the ability to lick their own asses. They just don’t get it, especially those humans who fail in the parenting or friend departments. These people are worse than felines when it comes to believing they’re gods and the rest of the world is merely there to cater to their whims. They need to be put outside and the recliner given to the dog.

In order to get a better understanding of what I’m talking about, let’s take a peek at just a few of the canine’s personality traits. I’m sure you’ll understand what I am referring to and will soon be dropping some of the parents and friends you know at the nearest animal shelter and picking up a dog.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Disney Infinity Game

It begins
“To infinity and beyond!” Okay, c’mon, the title had infinity in it. Plus it’s Disney. You know I had to say it. I don’t know if you are familiar with Disney Infinity or even if you are into video games. It’s an elaborate video game based around Disney characters such as the Incredibles, Jack Sparrow, Monsters Inc., and more. I’ve noticed it in the stores a few months ago and finally asked the girls to get it for my birthday. They weren’t surprised that I requested something about Disney. However, they were surprised that it was a video game. I don’t play video games.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. I used to play Angry Birds on my phone constantly. Then the 9-year-old asked to play it and tripled my score. I just stared at her. “Big deal. Can you do calculus?”

“Of course not, Robbie. I’m only nine. Can you do it?”

“Well, no, but that’s beside the point.” I then went and sat in my rocking chair.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Day at Animal Kingdom

It was the 9-year-old’s first visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom and my second. The reason we were going was because I needed a break from reality for a bit. We had all been going strong for a while and stress was weighing our shoulders down. We needed a time out from life and, like my mom always did when she felt that way, we hopped in the van and headed to Disney.

Well, it wasn’t exactly a spur of the moment event. We had been planning it for a month as if I knew when our breaking point was going to hit. Char had already put in for our Fast Passes and the little one was almost as excited as I was. Of course, no one is ever as excited as I am when we go to Disney.

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Parent with No Regrets

Yesterday was Father’s Day here in the States, a day where children, no matter their age, made calls, sent cards, and gave small gifts as tokens to express their love to the man who raised them. It’s a day for barbecues in the backyard and picnics in the park. On Mother’s Day, the ladies are taken out to dinner, so that someone else gets to pamper them for a change but on Father’s Day, men have to man the grill. That’s okay, however, because we don’t like other people touching our grill. That is our domain.

Besides enjoying being surrounded by our family, Father’s Day is also the day dads look back and do a little soul searching about the job we have done so far in guiding our children through the confusion called Life. I’m sure it’s the same for mothers on their special day, as well. For children, we’re just celebrating the fact that our parents never killed us, even though we probably deserved it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

“You Judge Too Hard”

Stop the nonsense!
“I really don’t like him. He’s an idiot.” To be honest, I probably dropped an f-bomb or two in there.

“That was harsh, don’t you think?” She looked at me with a shocked expression as if I had never said anything like that before.

“He’s rude and arrogant. He’s obnoxious and needs a foot up his ass to teach him how to behave like a real human being. No, I don’t think I was being harsh. I was being honest. I don’t like him being around.”

“You judge people way too hard,” she said.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Changing Taste Buds

When I was growing up, one of the rules of the house was that we had to at least try a spoonful of everything that was on the dinner table. The saying that usually followed this was, “You never know when your taste buds are going to change.” I’d look down at the cooked spinach on my plate, which always resembled regurgitated grass, and know beyond a doubt that my taste buds would never change enough for me to eat spinach.

And it hasn’t.

However, it has for other things. Corned Beef Hash is another one of those dishes I dreaded as a child, but enjoy it now that I am older, unlike the spinach that looked like it had already been eaten once. Corn Chowder, Potato Soup, and Great Northern Beans are more examples. Black Eyed Peas–the vegetable, not the musical group–can be added to that list, as well. My stomach churned when I saw them sitting on the table. I knew I was going to go to bed wishing we had ordered pizza, instead, and would definitely be needing a bedtime snack. My taste buds triggered my gag reflex when I was younger as I forced these dishes past my palette. I couldn’t wash the taste away fast enough.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Summer Zones are now in Progress

I don’t know about in your area, but last week was the last day of school around here. The kids came running out of the classrooms, tossing homework papers into the air that they never wanted to see again as visions of three months of freedom filled their heads. It’s on the same level as sugar plums at Christmas. They earned it and are eager to get the fun underway. No arithmetic. No writing. Of course, there will still be reading. However, science and social studies are now put on hold for the next twelve weeks.

Of course, that also means that the school zones can be safely ignored, those twenty or thirty foot sections of road where you have to slow down to 15 miles per hour for the safety of school children. Usually there’s a crossing guard somewhere about helping children get safely across the street and avoid those people that don’t realize there are such things as school zones. To be honest, they are quite easy to forget, even for those of us with school-aged children. We get busy talking to whoever is in the car with us or jamming out to the Fall Out Boy and have to slam on the brakes at the last minute as the School Zone sign comes into view. The crossing guard scowls at us as he waves his heavy STOP sign. We pretend we don’t see him as we inch along.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I Survived My First 5K

The red thing goes in our shoe to track us in case we don't come back
If you joined us a couple of posts back, then you recall that for my birthday weekend the girls signed me up for a 5k run/walk followed by some CPR training. For the inquiring minds out there, we did go and I obviously survived since I am able to write this post. I thought that I’d take this opportunity to share my experience with you as it happened so that you can see how I was tortured by those who claim they love me. What you will find below is a timeline of my punishment and please remember, this is how they made me celebrate my birthday.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Separation Withdrawals

I miss them on Mondays...even the frog
I dread Mondays. Not because of the work week beginning or the weekend ending. Well, not completely anyway. My schedule and career choice makes every day seem like a combination workday and weekend. That’s part of what I love about being a writer. It’s always one adventure after another, even if I never leave my little corner in the backyard.

No, Mondays are hard because I go through separation withdrawals. The girls have surrounded me for three days, their laughter filling the house. I’ve been able to touch them and talk to them whenever I wanted and vice versa. If I get an idea, I can share it right then. If we want to go messing, we hop in the van and simply go. We’re always together and we’re always doing something.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Health First’s CPR and 5K Run/Walk

I think I can, I think I can
I call foul. No really, it’s not fair. Last weekend was Char’s birthday weekend and what did we do? We lounged around the pool, drank pink lemonade with strawberry vodka, listened to music, played cards and never left the house. Now that’s a nice, relaxing birthday. It’s even what she asked for and since we’re nice sometimes, we gave it to her.

This weekend is my birthday weekend. Don’t worry about how old I am. Just allow the gray hairs to talk for me. However, guess who didn’t get asked what he wanted to do? Now guess who was told he was going to the Health First CPR and 5K Run/Walk? Now you see why I call foul? This is a totally unbalanced system of celebration! I want birthday cake and ice cream, alcohol and cigars. I do not want exercise!

Furthermore, I think it’s cruel to combine the CPR class with the 5K walk–notice I dropped the run part–because not only do I have to walk, I also have to learn something. Exercise and education on my birthday weekend. This is not a good gift idea. However, it is also probably smart because by the time the race is over I will be the dummy everyone is practicing CPR on, trying to revive me and bring me back to life. Hopefully the oxygen they bring to resuscitate me is birthday cake flavored.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Political Parties

Look at all of those crazy people down there
Anyone who has read The Mess for any lengthy period of time or who have spent any amount of time talking to me knows that I rarely discuss religion or politics. I don’t mind discussing them, mind you. I just prefer having intelligent discussions on the subjects and not debate with an asinine ignoramus who really doesn’t wish to talk about issues, but who wants to merely rant like an elementary school student on the playground. These people believe that if they scream louder than everyone else and use harsh language and negative comments then they’ll win their argument. You can’t argue with arrogant ignorance, so I don’t try. They may think they’ve won, but in reality I have because I have now discovered another part of the problem with our country.

Monday, May 26, 2014

An Interstate Tutorial

The girls and I take quite a few trips each year, traveling interstates and highways in order to explore new areas and bring back precious memories that we can talk about while we’re sitting in our rockers in later years. The one thing I have noticed in my travels–my biggest pet peeve, to be blunt–is that people simply do not know how to drive on the highways. There are rules that you need to adhere to on the interstates to make traveling safer and easier for all concerned. So, this post is a Public Service Announcement to those ignorant on the proper rules of the road. Please forward this link to any and all travelers so that I may keep my blood pressure in check. I greatly appreciate it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Spooky Stories and Ghost Tours

Ready to be scared
Are you one of those who like ghost stories and spooky tales? I am as long as I am the one telling them. I am not a fan if I am the one being scared. I know, it’s a double standard, but I tend to roll that way. Of course, two of the girls love ghost stories, cemeteries, and spooky adventures, so we tend to visit places that Teri and I would prefer to avoid. It’s all part of the compromise of relationships I’m told. I think it’s a trap personally.

Still we do it. A few years ago while visiting St. Augustine we took one of their trolley ghost tours to learn the eerie history of the city. Char lives for this stuff, as I said, and we had done it for her. Teri stayed well hidden behind the glass of the trolley while the rest of us were left with open windows and a sacrifice to whatever may jump out and scare us.

Monday, May 19, 2014

They Said to Tell You Hello

Our closest of friends
“Hey, I ran into the Jenkins today and they said they missed you and to tell you hello. They’ve been thinking about you and want to get together.”

I stared at him as my mind screamed “Bullshit!” My phone number is the same. So is my address. They know both and so if they really wanted to get in touch with me and say hello or get together for coffee and a game of Go Fish, they know where and how to find me. But they don’t want to do either of those things, so why say that nonsense to our children?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Trying to Do It All

Taking it easy
It doesn’t matter where we go on vacation, we want to see it all. We just don’t want to miss anything, because honestly, we don’t know when we will be returning. I watch people at the Disney parks do this all the time. They rush from one ride to the next, grumbling about long lines and a crowded park. They are only there for the day and they want to get in as much as they can so they can go home and brag to their friends about what they have done and seen. It’s why we stayed Sunday in Savannah after everyone else had gone home. We wanted a closer, slower look at City Market and River Street. We had been there already, but felt rushed to get it done and checked off so we could move on to the next sight that had to be seen. We walked for another five hours, slowly meandering the stores, enjoying some ice cream, snapping photos. We love snapping photos. I think it drives our kids and friends crazy at times when they go on trips with us. Yet, I look for things to remember in writing and the girls take the scenery and candid shots. It’s nothing for us to come back with over a thousand pictures on just one four hour excursion.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

City Market and River Street

Two of the main things we wanted to explore were City Market and River Street, which worked out well since several of our tourist trap spots were in both of those places. We explored City Market Friday as we were traveling from square to square and then the girls and I returned Sunday before heading out for a little more investigating in the shops and artists’ studios. What started out in 1985 as the rehabilitation of the four block area has resulted in a must destination for artists, shopping, dining and entertainment fit for locals as well as visitors.

As we crossed through Ellis Square on our way to City Market I was impressed with the how clean and welcoming everything was. Fountains sprayed upward as children ran back and forth playing in the water, families played chess with life-size pieces, and couples lounged on the grounds soaking up the sun. The traffic was barely noticeable as we soaked in the sights, sounds and smells.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Eating Out in Savannah

Part of our enjoyment when visiting other areas is to savor the local cuisine. Besides, the girls say they are on vacation and deserve to be treated by others, so because I want to eat when we return home, I try hard to oblige them when we are away. The way we do our trips is to rent a house as opposed to a hotel room, unless it’s just the four of us and then a room is perfect. The reason we do the house is so that we can all stay together, enjoying a place to hang out and relax, and not have to wander the halls. We will usually fix breakfast there, but that is to keep us from having to rush out the door. We would much rather enjoy waking up at our own pace and it takes a while to pick out the correct hat for the day, anyway.

With our recent trip to Savannah, we arrived before the house was ready and too late for breakfast, so we had lunch at 17hundred90 Inn & Restaurant.  To be honest, it was my favorite dining experience of the trip outside of the few meals we had at our rental home. The 17hundred90 had a small but very friendly staff and we entered through their bar, which in itself was quaint with a local, homey atmosphere that I wish we would have had time to enjoy more. The inn is comprised of three adjacent residences, a duplex built by Steel White and a smaller home built by the Powers family in 1888. It was a short walk to River Street and to our rental property, which was a great benefit to everything we did on our stay. One of the pluses to this restaurant was that it is said to be haunted and the girls love a good ghost story. It wasn’t until we took our ghost tour the next night that we saw the figure that had been placed in the window that was said to represent the ghost of Anna who takes a great dislike to female visitors. Who doesn’t enjoy dining with ghosts, right?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Colonial Park Cemetery

What do you like to tour on vacation? There are always historical sites, new restaurants, or unique spots that you can’t ever find anywhere else. However, one of the things the girls and I like to tour through are the ancient cemeteries. It always fascinates me what you can learn about an area just by strolling through the local graveyards. Did a plague hit at one point? Some major catastrophe? How many people were of the same name? History is quite often revealed through the tombstones.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Vacation Hangover

Anyone who has been out for a night on the town with friends and cohorts knows what a hangover is because at one time or another almost everyone has had one. We don’t think about it at the time when it is possible to slow our drinking down and avoid the day after feeling of welcoming death. No, we can handle our alcohol at that moment and our sense of self-assuredness, as misguided as it is, keeps us ordering round after round until we know it’s too late, but don’t really care. We’re tough. We can handle it. At least, that is how the drunken pep talk goes until we wake in the morning and realize what a giant baby we are and want someone to shoot us. We suffer the pounding headache that screams even as the wind blows too loud and our stomach is on a permanent roller coaster. We are tired and suddenly our body does not want to move from wherever it collapsed the night before. The sun melts our eyes as well as our brains and our mouths feel as if we swallowed an entire cotton field. We swear we will never drink again and we stick to that promise–until later that night, that is.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Squares of Savannah

This past weekend, the girls and I joined six of our closest friends and headed to Savannah, Georgia for four days and three nights. Teri found us a house to stay in while we were there and early Thursday morning, we loaded up our van and made the four and a half hour trek north to the south. While Florida resides south of everything else, it is hardly a Southern state due to being made up mostly of retired Northerners and the rest of us born here who refused to move anywhere else.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Enhance the Experience

We are always in a rush. Not us exactly as in my family, but the human race as a whole. We want to hurry up and get things done, find the quickest route, the easiest solution. We want microwaveable popcorn and coffee that brews in 8 seconds. We want instant grits–well, some people do for some reason (yuck)–and shorter books. We are in a hurry to finish the mundane so we can quickly get on with the monotonous. Yet, faster does not always equal better. It’s just faster.

Life should never be lived in a microwave. It needs a preheated oven to allow the aromas to waft through the air and tantalize the senses, making the nose constantly sniff the air, the mouth to water, and the stomach to growl with eager anticipation. Life is about the experiences and experiences that are rushed are soon forgotten and rarely enjoyed. Slow down. Enhance even the simplest of experiences.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Melbourne Art Festival

This weekend our Messing took us to the Melbourne Art Festival in Downtown Melbourne. The event lasted all weekend and had score upon score of artists sharing their work with potential buyers. There was everything from the traditional art work to fancy photography, jewelry, painted dishes, fishes with giant lips, and even some pretty cool digital artwork with no photos being used. Sculptures and statues, metal work, and floral arrangements, all lined the streets and perched under giant white canopies. Some I understood and enjoyed and others I stared at and wondered why? Especially after I saw the price tag. I mean I can understand some of the amounts, but others I had to look at and wonder if these people realized they were in Melbourne.

If you remember from a post I made a few months ago, Eye of the Beholder, you’ll already know that some art just confuses me. I am a simple man in my tastes of what I like in my art and the abstract and I do not get along inside of my head. I like the more traditional paintings and sculptures. I want something I can understand without having to sit and meditate on what it means. However, the art festival had it all and something for every taste.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Balance of Contentment

Last time we visited, I spoke about being content with your lot in life, with your possessions that surround you. Being satisfied is a way to find peace within oneself. Yet, that is also harder said–or typed–than done. Sometimes, we just aren’t satisfied with our lot. We want more. Well, not necessarily more, but better. We want better things and a better position in life. It’s hard to be content when you simply want something better with your life. So, how do you find that contentment?

There is nothing wrong with wanting to better yourself. Actually, I feel sorry for those who don’t want to better themselves. Life is a chance to improve who we are, to learn new things, to grow. The key is find that balance between being content where you are and striving to improve at the same time.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Contentment Leads to Peace

“I love my life.” It became a mantra there for a while. Not that I was trying to convince myself, but because it just bubbled up and had to be spoken out loud. I know. It sounds corny. Joel thought so as well when we worked together and he had to suffer my random outbursts of joy. Yet, it is true. Very true. Even more so now than it was back then a few years ago.

I truly do love my life.

And what is not to love? I am surrounded by the people I love and who love me and doing the thing I love to do. I have all I need and I am able to go wherever I want when I want. Even if I couldn’t, I would still love my life. The trips are a mere bonus, a pat on the back.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Don’t Stand in the Doorway

Greeted by shouts as she opened the door
Doorways are exciting things. Sometimes, you have absolutely no idea what rests on the other side. Even if you’ve walked through it a thousand times and are 95% sure you know what to expect, there can still be a surprise on the other side. We did it to Char a few years ago. I had taken her out for her birthday and while I did, Teri and Sarah put together a surprise birthday party with about thirty-plus of our friends. We approached the door and Char expected it to be like every other time she had opened it.

It wasn’t.

As she passed through it, shouts of “Surprise!” and “Happy Birthday!” bombarded her and scared her out of a few future birthdays. It also caused a few sailor-like words to come out of her mouth. It was worth it, though.

Yet, if Char had never passed through that door, she never would have known what was waiting for her on the other side. To experience all that was there, she had to not only open the door; she had to walk through it.

Friday, April 18, 2014

When Receiving a Bad Review

Do you read reviews before you purchase a book? I’ll be honest and say I usually don’t. Quite often when judging a product or a movie I have often felt the opposite of the critics. If they hate it, I love it and vice versa.

I also don’t want to have my reading of something skewed and quite often reviewers tend to give small spoilers during their reviews. I would rather be surprised as to what is coming next. Anything more than a back-of-the-book blurb and I feel the reading experience is slightly ruined. I want to feel every shock and twist the author has in store for me. So, I wait until after I read the book and then read the reviews to see if I agree with them or not.

As an author I love reading the reviews others take the time to leave for my work. I appreciate the depth as well as the viewpoints of each one, whether it is a good or a bad review. Okay, to be honest, no one loves to receive a bad review. We want everyone to be thrilled with our writing and spew out great praise that we took the time to put the words to paper–or screen with today’s age of electronics.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lights Out, Lips Shut

Last week, the 9-year-old participated in her school’s Earth Day Concert, a performance put on by third graders involving songs and recorders.  A recorder, for those of you who do not know, is a flute-like instrument given to young kids to attempt to interest them in band. That is what it is to me, at least. I’m not sure if I have ever seen one in an adult orchestra, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. The songs were written to assist the children and the parents to be more aware of conserving our natural resources. The kids did an amazing job and it was a fun concert to watch.

I’m not sure how many students were in attendance. There were five classes, so I am guessing between 80 to 100 children. That produces quite a bit of noise, even when not singing. Add to that the audience of parents, grandparents and siblings, some older and many younger, and you have a cacophony that drowns one lone music teacher, even if she came equipped with a whistle, which this one didn’t.

Monday, April 14, 2014

My Writing Process

Last week I was tagged by friend, blogger, and soon-to-be author, Stephanie Neighbour, to participate in a blog hop where writers share their process for creating the projects they write. Stephanie and I have known each other, thanks to Twitter and Facebook, for a couple of years now, at least, and together have pulled our hair out over the injustices of Twitter Jail and the crazy writing programs we attempt to learn in order to make our lives easier. Eventually, they do, but not until after watching hours of YouTube videos and lengthy messages sent back and forth. If you haven’t visited Stephanie’s blog, you are truly missing out and need to rectify that today, after you finish reading this one, of course.

So settle back as I attempt to answer some of the questions posed in the blog hop and maybe together we’ll figure out how I do this thing called writing.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Routines Free Up Time and Energy

I love lists!
I’ve been called a creature of habit. I don’t argue this because for the most part it is true. I like things done a certain way and I tend to do them the same way all the time. Routines. Rituals. Habits. Whatever you call these daily checklist items, they are not a bad thing. Actually, they are quite helpful.

Have you ever felt overloaded? Everyone is coming to you at one time wanting your input on this decision or that project from what you’re having for lunch to an outline for the next big project. Then you have those details at home that need your attention to add to the mix and even though the 9-year-old would love to make the decision all the time about what to prepare for dinner, you know better than to relinquish that decision. It would help, but you would be sick of McDonald’s and Mac & Cheese constantly. Although I do hear that some parents think this is a steady, healthy diet for children. It’s not. It’s the lazy way out of making smart choices.

Monday, April 7, 2014

By Rushing You Waste Time

Time. We are all given the same twenty-four hours each day. We are also given seven days in a week and fifty-two weeks in a year. However, we don’t all accomplish the same thing in the allotted time. Some people make every minute count. Others are fine squandering it away frivolously, not caring what happens with it. Of course, many times these are the same people whining later in life about wishing they could get the time back.

There are two time-wasters. One is not making proper use of your time, allowing yourself to get sidetracked into a million other non-essential things, such as Facebook updates or reruns of Gilligan’s Island. Instead of doing what you know you should be doing, you procrastinate, making every excuse you can not to do it. One of these rationalizations is that there will be time later, but then that time could best be spent doing something else.

The second time-waster is rushing to get something done, such as a book published. I have finished reading two books by indie authors who obviously did just that. They were in a hurry to get their work out, to “earn some money,” and slapped it together and hit publish. However, rushing hurt them by all indications of the reviews their books received. I withheld my review, because I will not give a bad review and that is what I would have had to give these two authors. Instead, I just skipped it.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Stories belong on bookshelves
You don’t have to be a writer to be a storyteller. As a matter of fact, all of us are storytellers, even if we do not realize it. Don’t believe me? See if any if any of these sound familiar.

“I have asked him to put his socks in the dirty clothes hamper a dozen times. He is purposefully trying to piss me off.”

“Why are they looking at me like that? They think they are better than me and can do whatever they want.”

“I’m the only one whoever takes out the trash. They just think I’m the servant in this house.”

“I told them to be here at ten, but oh no, they don’t care if I’m sitting here waiting for fifteen minutes. They only want to do what they want to do.”

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Disney Fast Pass Chaos

Scheduling our Fast Passes
By now you realize our family loves Disney. We grew up surrounded by it and it has always been a place for escape since I was in elementary school and all of our children feel the same way. We may not decorate our bathroom or kitchen in Disney, but it has been brought to the table for a vote.

There are many things that Disney does great. For example at the resort we stayed at, there were several food lines, each with only five or six entrees, so the choice was limited. This enabled the cooks to prepare the food quicker, which in turn meant you were seated and eating faster. The four days we were there, not once did we have to stand for an outrageous amount of time in line. The fast food industry could really learn something from what Disney accomplishes. It was the same way in the parks.

The girls and I fell in love with Disney’s Magic Bands as well. Our park passes, credit cards, room key, and Fast Passes were all attached to this wrist band, making it easy to access whatever we needed without having to lug fifty things around. I also hear they are on the verge of doing even more with the Magic Bands, which has us excited.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Middle Name Seriousness

Pretending I don't hear them...
“Robert John Cox!” I froze in my tracks, afraid to move another inch. Once that middle name came out, I knew I had stepped over the invisible line.

There are only two people who will ever use your middle name–your mother or your wife. Furthermore, the only time you will ever hear it is if you’ve ignored the first trillion times they have warned you that it was coming. Then, when you do hear it, you’re usually in enormous trouble and it’s too late to back pedal out of it. Don’t pretend you don’t hear it, either, because that will only make it worse. You don’t need it worse. Unless of course, you’re one of those rare individuals that has two or even three middle names and then you have a little more time to push those buttons. I only have one middle name, so my time was up.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bucket Lists—Have You Started Checking Items Off Yours?

Susanna Matthews
Good morning, my Messy friends. This Saturday we are once again visited by a talented author I have no doubt you'll take a liking to after reading her post. Living in Eastern Ontario, Canada, Susanne Matthews is a retired educator who enjoys writing romance novels and reading them too. In the summer, she gardens and goes camping—in a tent. In the winter, she hibernates in front of her computer or watches her favorite television shows while sipping a glass of red wine. Married forty years (That's an amazing feat right there), she enjoys her three children and five grandchildren as much as possible. She sounds like someone the girls and I would enjoy hanging out with and we are looking forward to checking out her books. I hope you do as well. Just click on the titles to be taken to the Amazon page.

Today she is going to talk to us about bucket lists and I must admit I am looking forward to it. I've been slowly checking things off of mine as I grow older. It's exciting to see those checks being added. So, settle in with your morning coffee and enjoy a great read. Don't forget to say hello afterward.