In The Middle

Life, Family, Yoga, Stuff


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Nevermind the Haitians

I am still down here in Florida and although we are supposed to depart on Wednesday the 27th, it’s not looking too good as of today.  Serious storm Debby is hovering around wreaking havoc on our area with high winds, tornadic activity and lots of intermittent monsoon downpours.  I think the television said tornado warning 423 yesterday and the kids just about had heart attacks. I am on Pine Island where there are no storm signals so we are on a strict watch and listen type of deal here.  It’s all good.  We are not flooded out, we have everything we need and we know it won’t last forever.  But when this lasts for days, it feels like forever.

My sister is busy packing up her e-bay boxes and preparing for a pick up because we are not going out in this crap today.  She’s been unemployed for quite some time now.  I can totally write about her work this time while I’m here.  I learned a tough lesson last time I was here and I mentioned her previous employer in a blog post.  I didn’t say anything bad.  But she almost lost her job over that deal, so you never really know who might be reading your blog.

Since she’s pretty much self-employed I am not too worried this time.  She sells massive amounts of name brand merchandise online.  She’s doing what a lot of people are doing here.  She’s going to garage sales, estate sales and thrift markets and doing some serious online reselling.  She’s in a perfect area for it as this state has been hit hard with people who had money and then all of a sudden don’t have it anymore.  Lots of folks just close up their house, put their crap out front and drive off.  It’s unreal.

The Goodwills here are amazing.  We’ve shopped them for personal merchandise for years.  I’ve found several good things everytime I visit here.  My sister started looking for name brand stuff, shoes and handbags in particular.  Another great thing to find are wooden hangers with writing.  Those go for some serious bucks, especially if they say Flamingo Hotel from Las Vegas.

Goodwill has a store called Bargain Barn here.  I think Bargain Barn gets their stuff from Goodwilll after it’s sat on the shelf for awhile.  They sell the clothes by the pound, everything is tossed into bins and frankly, it’s a real pain in the ass to shop there.  The stuff can be dirty but you never know what you might find.  I went with my sister to Sarasota to the Bargain Barn there the other day.  We dropped mom and the kids off at Mote Marine.  My sister told me to get ready to fight the Haitians and I responded with a classic “whatever.”  We entered the store and headed towards the long bins of shoes, about 30 feet in length.  Half of the spaces were empty because they took the bins away and were preparing to bring out new shoes.  In a long rectangle surrounding the spots where the bins were to be replaced stood about 30 Haitians, my sister and one other white chick.  I was like whoa, what’s going down now?

The new bins were then wheeled into position and a whistle was blown and all hell pretty much broke lose!  Everyone started pushing and shoving (well the Haitians did) and loading up shopping carts with shoes.  The Haitians grab whatever they can and toss it into a cart and take it away.  They sort through it and then toss back whatever they don’t want.  This is sort of good because the Haitians tossed back a pair of Merrell’s and a pair of Ferragamo’s.  Score!  Some of the Haitians wear bags around their necks and just load up, walk off, sort and toss back.  One lady had a zip up mattress cover and pretty much just loaded that thing up until the zipper was about to bust open.  And then, she started her sorting.   Some of the ladies were really pretty and wore colorful turbans on their heads.  One lady sang a song, really loud, in Haitian (I guess) as she sorted her wares.  Soon enough they announced new clothing bins were being released so my sister and I decided it was time to shop for more shoes – in peace.

So the question to myself was this.  Are there no shoes in Haiti?  Are these Haitians citizens, illegals or just visting?  Why the push and shove for a pair of tennis shoes?  My dad recently returned from Peru where he spent some time in a very poverished area.  He said one would have to work for about 2 months to purchase one pair of shoes and that would only be if you didn’t buy anything else.  I realize folks are poor and need help, but how about playing fair?  But then I told myself perhaps they don’t know any better, maybe this is how they’ve always had to live.  To fight for anything, I just don’t know.  Maybe they should donate all the leftover shoes to Haiti.  I think that would be a great idea.  Perhaps after I finish this I shall do some research on Haiti and the people there.

So far my sister has sold shoes by Ferragamo, Pliner, Chanel, J. Crew, Teva, Shoeman Lau (handmade crocodile shoes) Cydwoq, Stewart Weitzman and then some.  We found a gorgeous pair of Chanel heels the other day.  They are patent leather with a gold, Chanel penny in the tongue, like a penny loafer.  Oh, did I mention that shoes of any kind at the Bargain Barn cost $2?  Well, they do!  The Chanel shoes fit me perfectly and were actually quite comfortable and I’m not into heels.  After she cleaned them up, I wore them around the house with my shorts until the heel cap broke off and I am now no longer allowed to model any of the shoes again.  I think her exact words were, “Kirsten, don’t touch anything!”

One pair of pretty heels we found are made of suede with a pattern.  They fit me too, but I didn’t walk around in them.  They were made by Tokio Kumagai, a Japanese designer who is now deceased but several pairs of his shoes are actually on display in a museum.  She has also sold a vintage baby alligator purse and a small purse, called a camera bag by Chanel.  Totally cool.

I have looked for merchandise of this caliber where I live, but found pretty much nothing of this nature.  I too, have sold several items on e-bay.  It’s really fun to do.  The search though can be exhausting and if you’ve ever done it, you know what I mean.  It’s pretty time consuming.  Once you’ve made your purchase and you’re not sure of what it is, that inital research can kill some serious time as well.  And of course if you bought something that needs cleaning that’s time consuming too.  I am really thankful that folks here ditch so much great stuff because if they didn’t, my sister and her family would be in some serious financial trouble.  My sister also sells things for lots of other people.  One of her friends actually worked at Chanel in NYC.  She has several clothing items with price tags still intact.  I just checked them out in her closet.  Pretty fun to look at.  And no.  I didn’t try anything on.

Guess I’ll go down some more coffee and watch the wind.  Speaking of coffee.  My sister scored a Nespresso C190 for $5.  Only because she worked at that fancy kitchen store that I blogged about year before last year did she know what this was.  All of the pieces were strewn about in separate bins and she took the time to find every last piece.  It works perfectly.  We’ve already steamed and frothed but we don’t have any Nespresso coffee capsules.  That fancy kitchen store won’t sell you any as you have to be in the Nespresso club and order them.

A pine tree just bent pretty low and the wind about sucked open the french door that opens to the outdoors.  The kids are still asleep.  We were supposed to head back to mom’s today, but I think we might have to wait until tomorrow.  I suppose there are worse places that I could be stuck.  We had several great days on the boat and on the beach and in the pool.

If you want to check out my sister’s wares on ebay, her store name is Material Green Design.


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Family Affair

I fly to Florida at least once per year.  My mom and dad and my sister all live down here.  This year, my brother flew in as well.  We all decided that the last time we were all in the same place at the same time together, was back in 2004.  Whoa.  That’s way too long!

My brother was supposed to bring his girlfriend and we were excited about meeting her.  But unfortunately, she broke her leg the week prior to the flight.  He left Florida early to go and be with her and return to work.  I figured she broke her leg while they were biking on a mountaintop in Colorado.  But no.  They were on a concrete bike path and she was riding a cruiser bike.  It was a bad break in three places, so she is laid up for a few months, or more.

Our flight departing Springfield was an hour late.  Nothing new this time of year with storms here and lightning at our destination.  When we landed, my brother and sister and my 7 year old niece were in route to pick us up.  We were totally excited.  We stopped for a 12-pack of Bud Light Lime, got the kids some junk food (I know, we’re awful) and headed to mom’s.  Once there the kids jumped in the pool and it didn’t matter if it was midnight.  We stayed up late and had a great time.

The following day we loaded the boat and headed to Stump Pass.  All of us.  All 7 of us fit in the boat comfortably.  The boat launch is just 5 minutes (or less) from mom’s house so really no time at all.  It actually took longer to get the boat ready than it did to drive to the launch and launch and load it.  Stump Pass is a short boat ride from the launch.  It’s a nice sand bar with a coastal waterway on one side.  A short walk across it takes you to the Gulf side, so the best of both worlds.  My dad caught 3 catfish while we swam, ate sandwiches and drank a few sodas.  I got totally sunburned on my shoulders so no sun for me for a few days!

We enjoyed the boat and the water for a few hours and had a great time.  We headed back to the house and my brother asked me to go for a bike ride.  Of course he had rented a pretty nice road bike and brought his own pedals since he has the snazzy shoes and all.  I hopped on my mom’s cruiser and off we went.  We rode about 8 miles down Manasota Key to Middle Beach almost to Englewood.  There’s a great picnic table there and we watched the sun start to set.  I was totally tired of pedaling by our return, as my bike had like no gears.  I felt like Mrs. Gulch in the Wizard of Oz.  My cruiser was black with a basket on the front.  Hilarious.  Pretty comfortable ride though.

When my brother was 10 years old, I came home from work one summer day to find him sitting on the couch all alone.  I was 16 at this time.  I asked him where all of his buddies were and he said they were out riding bikes.  I asked why he wasn’t with them and he said it was because he didn’t know how to ride.  I was like what in the hell?  How did this happen?  I said ok, let’s go right now.  So we did.  He learned to ride on my bitchin’ green Schwinn with the ape hangers and the banana seat.  He learned in no time flat.

Bikes have been a huge part of my brother’s life.  Once he graduated from MU and moved to Boulder, he worked and managed University Bikes in Boulder and Performance Bikes in Denver.  Today he works for Yakima, which is a serious bike rack (amongst other things)company.  He had to fly home two days after my arrival.  It was super great to see him and have our entire family at the same place at the same time.

Today I am lounging on Pine Island with my sister who is still seriously unemployed.  She’s making ends meet with e-bay.  They have great thrift stores here and the best ones require lots of patience and digging as I experienced yesterday.  She found 10 pairs of shoes for $20 and a few purses for $1 each.  In the shoe lot were one pair of Birkenstocks, one pair of Donald Pliner sandals, one pair of J Crew fancy sandals, 3 pairs of Ferragamo’s (not kidding).  I was blown away.  The purse lot included a red leather vintage Fossil purse in perfect condition, a baby alligator purse (needed some TLC) from Mexico made in the 1940’s, two purses from the same era that are crewel (needle work) and beautiful with change purses inside still intact.  She also scored a pair of Teva sandals for herself for $2.  When we got home I raided her e-bay shoe stash and found lots of stuff I loved, but only purchased a pair of Teva sandals.  They were totally like brand new.

Tomorrow we head back to the thrift shops and then back to my mom’s to celebrate my dad’s birthday and Father’s Day.  I’d better go.  My sister just handed me a frozen margarita and I know better than to drink and blog.


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Seriously Sushi

I am still cleaning.  And I am cleaning more than I ever thought that I would. 

When I started cleaning the IMAX theater, it was just Saturdays and Sundays.  That’s now turned into Fridays too.  I also clean there on Thursdays whenever needed.  I’ve decided that I have a tendency towards craving and aversion with the theater.  Total love hate relationship for sure.  When I wake up at 4 in the morning and drag myself out of bed, I often ask myself, “What was I thinking?”  But that goes away pretty quickly.

I don’t have to look good and I can wear whatever I want.  I have also lost 11 pounds since I started this job.  Woo Hoo!  I am getting an amazing workout and I am getting paid to do it!  Very cool.  I can pretty much run up and down the IMAX stairs now, without the fear of tripping over a cord and breaking my neck.  I’ve learned what I can and cannot sweep up.  For instance, napkins, straws, soda pop bottle lids, licorice and the plastic that 3-D glasses come packaged in, can pretty much wreck your day.  What I can sweep up pretty much and a lot of, is this.

I mean really.  This is actually a minor popcorn spill compared to some that I’ve seen.  I do realize accidents can and will happen.  I think otherwise.  So bascially, I hate to admit it, but yes.  I’ve developed a bad attitude towards 80% of the movie going public in general.  Some people leave everything they bought or brought inside the theater.  The stuff that people bring in there is mind blowing.  Curious?   I thought so.

Bottles of liquor – all sizes.  I even found an empty fifth of 7 & 7.  If it wouldn’t have been empty, I would’ve been tempted to finish it off.  Granted it would’ve been like 5:30 a.m……just kidding.  Cans of beer in lots of cool and interesting varieties.  Lots and lots of Skoal, in cans and unfortunately in spit cups.  Gross!  Packs of cigarettes, brand new and opened.  Some folks don’t/can’t eat the popcorn shell, or kernels.  So they chew up the popcorn and then just spit out the kernels on the floor!  I know, gross.  The kind people put it in a napkin and leave it there for us.  The really kind people, take it to the trash can on the way out.  Lots of candy, some of it brand new in the box.  All I know is this.  If I paid $5 for a box of candy, I’m taking it with me when I leave that place!  Jackets.  Cell Phones.  iPods.  Hats.  Debit and Credit Cards.  Spare change.  Thank you all for the tip.  Please leave more, we totally deserve it! 

The list goes on.  Wallets.  Hair bows, bobby pins and headbands.  Dirty kleenexes.  Fingernails.  I know.  I guess 50% of the public actually bite their nails at the movies.  I suppose they think that those things just disappear when the lights come on.  Food wrappers from Subway, Steak-N-Shake, McDonald’s (fries still intact).  The biggest and funniest thing I’ve found so far was this.  A round sushi tray, complete with chop stix and two artifical flowers.  Awe.  What a sweet date night!  But really, that thing was the size of a pizza pan.  Speaking of pizza.  One time we tossed out 14 pizza boxes from the IMAX and found pizza slices on the floor.  I often wonder what was the average age of the people who saw the movie the night before.  Is it only kids who trash the theater in this way?  I don’t think so.

Let me tell another little story.  I am in line at the grocery store.  Some ladies are talking about going to the movies.  They said they took their grandkids and just told them to leave all their crap in the theater because it was so incredibly expensive.  Nice.  I was very tempted to say, “Hey.  The theater has to pay a cleaning company to pick that crap up and maybe that’s why the treats are so high!  The longer it takes us, the more it costs them.  But I get paid by the hour, so go ahead, leave it all.  Please drop a $5 with that mess if you don’t mind.”  But I kept my mouth shut.

I like the job.  I do.  I also started cleaning another place, a commercial building.  It is sheer heaven compared to the theater.  I think cleaning anything would be heaven compared to the theater.  But I had no idea because this is all new to me.  Well.  I have seen that film Sunshine Cleaning, so that would be worse I guess!

Yoga is still rockin’.  I drove to Mt. Vernon yesterday and did a restorative class for 2 1/2 hours so that was pretty decent dough.  I am thankful I have yoga and I am thankful I can clean when I’m not doing yoga.  I love the idea of being flexible and getting into something I really never considered doing.  I have met so many cool people through this job. 

For instance.  I clean with one person that’s just about totally deaf.  I’ve cleaned with one person who’s also a probation officer and worked as a corrections officer.  I’ve cleaned with single mom’s, college students, high school students and people with a couple of degrees.   I totally think differently about people who clean for a living now, that’s for sure.

Off to enjoy the rest of my Sunday.  The theater’s clean, but I teach yoga at 4:00.  Did I mention that I don’t have a complete day off anymore?  Big deal.  I am heading to Florida on June 11th and will be gone with my kid until the 27th.  And I am really appreciating the fact that I’m going on vacation this year, much more than the year’s gone past.  My brother is flying to Florida as well and it’s been a couple of years since I’ve seen him so this is going to be a super cool and very fun time.


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Our Kids Rock

My daughter.  At 14 she’s into changing the color of her hair about once per month.  I told her we must stop this or it’s going to fall out!  She just went soft black, so I’m hoping this is the journey back to her beautiful brown.  She will start 9th grade this year.  Where does the time go?

She’s good in school, but she’s a bit on the lazy side.  I am always onto her about it.  When she truly studies and puts her heart into it, her grades are amazing.  And she doesn’t have to try that hard.  So far she hasn’t found anything she’s totally passionate about.  She took French last year and liked it so much that she’s taking it again her Freshman year in high school.  She’s also taking Drama.  I think that theater is going to be her thing.   Something arty for sure whether it be make up, set or costume design, (she’s expressed an interest in sewing) photograhy, film or something like that.

She is still volunteering through Wonders of Wildlife (WOW) and that’s a good thing for her to do.  I did slack and not get her over there like I should’ve so we are cramming some hours in before we leave for Florida here very soon.

We will return from our trip just in time for her to go to St. Louis to hit Warp Tour.  She’s really into alternative music, funky colored hair, skinny jeans, converse of the variety, band t-shirts, beanie hats in many colors and sleeping very late and staying up all night.  I was never much of a night owl, but – I have to remind myself that she – is not me.  She’s coming into her own person, with her own personality and we are pretty much black and white.  She’s very social, has a lot of friends and would rather be anyplace but at home.

She’s awesome!

Our son.  He’s on the left in the green shirt.  He’s downtown at Art Walk paying that guy $1 to write whatever he wants to write on his sign.  Good idea.  He said that guy had made like $30 in 20 minutes.   Hilarious!

He made it through is first year at CMU – Central Methodist University and he did really, really well.  He wanted to live off of campus next year, but you can’t do that there until you are 21.  Something we forgot to ask, silly us.  He disliked the dorm he was in last year and some of the silly people he had to live with.  He was also roomies with a football player, so when that guy had Fall practices going on, Jordan wanted to stay up late.  Then in the Spring when it was time for track, his roomie wanted to stay up late.  He did so well athletically that they gave him more dough and he can afford to live in a dorm in a private room with his own bathroom next year.  He’s really happy about that!  Oh, we are happy too!  No more money out of our pockets.

He hasn’t been able to work much because once track started he had to be out of town at meets every single weekend.  He worked a small job on campus in the art department (so unlike him) but he did well doing that and made a little money.  For the summer he landed an internship, a paid internship at that, with the University of Missouri.  He’s living in the woods for 10-weeks studying birds.  Next year he hopes to land another paid internship tagging sharks in Mississippi.  He recently passed his scuba certification so that was exciting and something he’s always wanted to do.  And we could afford it because it was offered at CMU.

He placed 11th in the recent track meet, the college Nationals.  He was actually ranked third in the nation in discus, but got beat on that day.  He is still able to qualify for the Junior Olympics for kids 16-19 and if he makes it, he will travel to Barcelona in July to compete.  Very cool.  So bascially right now, he’s trying to do an internship and do well in track.  He even hauled a big piece of plywood to the bird study so he could practice every day.  The kid is super disciplined and very dedicated.  We are very proud of him. 

Rock On Jordan!