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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Imagine That

Five weeks.  That’s how long my daughter got to spend away from home on vacation.  She is lucky to be 13 and to have the awesome grandparents that she has.  She actually flew to Florida with me on June 22.  That’s where my folks live.  They’re a skip to the beach and have a decent pool at the house.  I flew home on July 8, back to reality and a big project which involved a complete room revamp.  More on that later.

On July 7, my kid took off with my mom and dad in their camper and headed to Titusville to view the last take off of Atlantis.  The weather was looking pretty iffy and we just knew it would be delayed.  But nope.  It took off right on schedule.  It was quite the site for her to see.  The next day she met my sister, brother-in-law and niece in Orlando for her first trip to Sea World.  She loved it.

My folks even spent some time at this cool reptile farm.  They said all of the animals were well cared for and looked very healthy.  The alligators were obviously well fed.  I don’t think this dude would be wading in this water if the gators weren’t fed well.  What do you think?  Lauren also held a large snake and a tarantula while she was there.

After they left the state of Florida, they were heading to Duluth, MN to visit some relatives.  They stopped in a small town in Georgia at a campground as they were pulling their camper and it was time to rest.  It turned out that Billy Bob Thornton was at the campground with quite the crew working on a film called Jayne Mansfield’s Car. 

This is the imagine that part of the story.  Lauren loves Billy Bob Thornton.  And since my family had video stores for 20 plus years (I had one for 12) they had several Billy Bob movies at the house.  We’d spent the last week cueing Lauren in on all of his films and letting her see the ones she hadn’t seen yet.  She totally loves Billy Bob and well, I’m just going to go with it.  I have to be in the mood for some of his stuff, but I think he’s pretty damn funny most of the time.  I know what you’re thinking.  I let my kid watch Bad Santa, Bad News Bears and Mr. Woodcock.  And yes, yes I did – all in one day.  But first I hooked her up with some weed and a bottle of Jack just to get her in the mood for the raunchy sarcasm.  Just kidding about the weed and the Jack. 

From Georgia she sent me a text to tell me that Billy Bob was at their campground and I was all like, whatever sure he is.  Not only was he there, so was Robert DuVall, Kevin Bacon and Patrick Sherman and someone else that I can’t remember.  The next day Lauren got to meet Billy Bob and told me that this was the best vacation with grandma ever.  I know, imagine that.  She got her autograph and went back the next day to ask if she could have the pen that he used as well.  They gave it to her.  She said everyone was very nice.

My mom with Robert DuVall.  It was hot, check out his sweaty back.

I’m sure she’s met him before at one of the VSDA Conventions that we used to go to.  I know she wouldn’t want this posted but too bad.  I think it’s a good photo.  After all, she’s camping.  No maintenance allowed.  She also said they had to wait for 4 hours for the crews to come back up the hill after they were done filming. 

I think they stayed an extra day at this campground due to all the excitement.  Then it was onward to the north.  They enjoyed a great visit in Duluth and arrived here in Springfield on Monday, July 25. 

It’s great to have her back home.


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My Journey in Photos

My beautiful niece Ava.  She’s six and way too smart for her own good.  While swimming in the gulf we saw some dude working out on the beach.  After his workout, he broke out into a dance.  Ava swam over to me and said, “Hey Aunt Kirsten, I hope that guy doesn’t capture me in his dance.”  Oh the hilarity, who talks like that?

Ava and my daughter Lauren at Pine Island Sound on the 4th of July right before we shot fireworks over the water.

Pine Island Sunset on the 4th of July.  Bugs were bad, seriously bad.

My dad’s bee hives.  We went on a rescue mission to Little Gasparilla Island while I was there.  The ferry ride was real nice.  The bees weren’t.  More on that later.

 

 

 

 

 

Lauren and Ava at Gracie’s Cup Cake Store at Bell Tower in Ft. Myers.  My sister works here on ocassion.  We got snacks, and they were really good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bag of sharks’ teeth and fossils that I found walking the beach at mom’s.  That’s really all I like to do when I go there for a visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Missing the beach already.  Until next year I guess.


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Rested and Ready

I’m home.  18 days really flew by.  I know.  That sounds totally selfish.  A few days into my vacation, I came down with bronchitis.  I feel like it’s still lingering and I don’t like it.  I’m hoping it will disappear on its own.  I won’t wait too long to find out though.

My mom and dad headed out of the house with my kid on July 7.  They camped out and saw the shuttle launch on July 8.  I watched it on TV right before I headed to the airport.  And what a drive that was.  The drive is only about 1 1/2 hours from my mom’s.  But 30 minutes into the drive I ran into rain.  Not rain like we have here, but monsoon Florida rain.  The sky was incredible but I didn’t take any photos with my phone since I was driving and in these conditions, no way. 

Just as I paid my toll and was about to go across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, it started raining harder.  I drove over the bridge in a total white out only viewing the hazard lights of the car in front of me.  I’ve driven over this bridge many times before and it’s always been a scenic pleasure.  Not this time.  I had a strong grip on the steering wheel and I could feel my chest tighten.  I sat up a little taller, loosened my grip and tapped into my yogic breathing.  Life saver.  No one had to peel my hands off the wheel in the rental return lot at the airport.

It was still raining as I pulled the rental into the car return.  And I had a large suitcase, my purse, a laptop and a carry on.  Nice.  If I would’ve had an umbrella I wouldn’t have been able to hold onto it anyways.  I waded through ankle keep puddles with all of my luggage and stood in line to return the car.  After that I headed to the check-in line.  I had to pee but couldn’t because I had all of this stuff.

After I ditched my luggage I breezed through security and headed to the bathroom where I took off my sandals and dried them with the hand dryer.  One lady walked in and said she couldn’t believe I’d take my shoes off in a public restroom.  I told her I pretty much lived my life barefoot as I was a yoga teacher.  Several other people decided to dry their shoes as well.  I’m glad a few people thought I had a good idea.

My plane took off in the storm and I arrived to sunny Springfield right on time.  My kid is staying with my folks in the camper as they are traveling up north.  My daughter loves Billy Bob Thornton.  I know what you’re thinking.  I let my kid watch Bad Santa.  Not only that, we also watched Euro Trip as well.  How many kids can say they watched that with their grandma?  It’s all good, she’s smart kid and has a sarcastic sense of humor.  My kid called me today.  They are camped out in some small town in Georgia and get this.  A film is being shot at the place that they’re camping at.  Guess who’s there working on the movie?  Billy Bob Thornton.  My kid enjoying the trip of a lifetime with my parents until the end of this month.  How lucky is she?


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Antibiotics and Narcotics

Well.  I  ended my last post on Pine Island with Dayquil and hot tea.  I was hoping all I had was a bad cold, but nope it was more than that.  Lauren and I left Pine Island on Monday afternoon and headed back to mom’s beach here at Englewood. 

When I awoke on Tuesday morning I decided to head to a walk-in clinic in Venice.  I got there early and was only the second person in line.  I’d called our insurance company ahead of time and I can use this new insurance that Frank has anyplace with any doctor.  Wow.  I don’t even have a co-pay.  I got in right away to find that I didn’t have strep throat, I had bronchitis.  Nice.  I left with a prescription to Wal-Greens which is the place I use at home.  It also happened to be conveniently located not far from the clinic I just left.  I exited there with $18 worth of drugs in the form of a 5-day Z-pak of antibiotics and some heavy duty cough syrup that I’ve only been using at night. I know.  Go ahead and don’t believe me.

It stormed most of the day yesterday and I was pretty happy about that.  Later that same evening we took in a couple of movies that I hadn’t seen.  First we watched the Social Network.  I liked it.  Perhaps the star was a bit of a jerk, but he was also damn smart and a super hard worker while the others were – well out rowing boats (I know rowing a boat is hard work too) and going to parties.  Quite the driven dude if Imust say.  After that we watched True Grit.  I loved that and surprisingly enough my daughter liked it as well.

I took a short walk on the beach last night with my mom and my kid and inhaled the humid sea air.  I swear it’s better than any humifidier I’ve ever used.  We found several sharks’ teeth and headed home as it started to rain again.  I woke up today feeling the best I’ve felt in days so naturally I headed to the beach.  I walked too far.  Why you say?  Because when you walk a long ways you have to walk back.  I found some great teeth and fossils today and when I arrived back at the house I ate lunch and floated in the pool.

I’ve been a busy wizard with the jewelry wire wrapping sharks’ teeth and using up things I’ve been meaning to use.  Frank’s family has a huge auction at the big family reunion and my sutff goes fast and sells for decent prices.  It’s really fun.  All the money goes back into the reunion so I don’t receive any of it.

My sister and her daughter will come to Englewood tonight to spend a couple of nights.  I think we’re going on a picnic by boat tomorrow to our favorite sand bar.  One side is the Gulf the other the intercoastal.  There’s also a lot of sea urchins there.  It’s a secret.  I don’t want the Asian eateries boating over there.  Just kidding.  I have no idea really what the longititude and latitude of the place is.  On Saturday Lauren and I will head to Ft. Myers to get her hair cut by a girl with purple hair and lots of jewelry in her face.  After that we’ll spend another couple of nights on Pine Island.

Pine Island has a 4th of July parade every year on the actual holiday.  They’re totally old school VFW and I love it.  The kids will decorate a tandem bike and we’ll have a feast all day.  Of course we’ll do fireworks and Lauren and I will probably head back here late that same evening.  I’ll finish my week up here and then head home. 

Hard to believe how fast 18 days away from home can go.

Sorry for the lack of awesome photos.  I brought the old laptop and I can’t insert the card from camera directly into it.  Last year, someone from an online magazine in Ft. Myers contacted me and asked if they could use some of my photos.  I didn’t get anything for it, but I didn’t care.  It’s nice to know that someone took the time to view them.


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It’s Hot Down Here

I headed to Florida with my daughter Lauren for a few weeks last July and it was so great, that I wanted to do it again this year.  My husband has a new job this time.  He’s the Director of Public Safety at the Landing in Branson and he really likes it.  Summertime is really busy down there so he stayed home.  Our son is participating in off season track and he has meets every single weekend.  He’s an amazing athlete.  More about him, graduation and college later. 

My vacation actually started early with a quick and spur of the moment journey to St. Louis last weekend.  Someone in my family isn’t feeling too well.  He’s been hanging out at Barnes Hospital and hopefully he’ll be going home soon.  My mom flew in to St. Louis and I picked her up at the airport.  A few other family members showed up as well.  It was wonderful to see everyone, circumstances set aside.

We left Springfield on the 22nd.  Allegiant Air rocks and offers a straight flight into St. Pete.  We picked up our bitchin’ Ford Focus and hit the highway.  An hour and 15 minutes later we arrived at my mom’s.  My sister and her daughter were there when we arrived so we had some snacks and a couple of Stella Artois poolside.  I wasn’t feeling too hot.  Some time within the last few weeks, I’d been bitten by something.  The site screams spider and it was totally screaming by Thursday.  I’d purchased some “drawing out salve” before I left.  Have you ever used that stuff?  It looks like black tar and smells like it too. But hey, it worked.  Sort of.  Neosporin is pretty much kicking it now and I am so glad.  I really didn’t want to spend time sitting at a walk in clinic while I’m here.  But.  It’s not healed yet so we’ll see.

My parents invited their friends over for dinner on Thursday evening.  She’s from Cuba and came over on a 3-day boat ride.  Her husband is from Peru and oddly enough, they met in Oklahoma.  They have two adorable little kids.  The Cuban lady helps my dad do the whole bee rescue thing.  They went over to this lady’s house after dinner to check out her bee invasion.  Turns out the bees were actually yellow jackets.  No honey bees happening there.

The next day we hit Manasota Beach which is a hop, skip and a jump from mom’s place.  Like a 10 minute walk to be exact.  We walked down the beach and saw some bearded man, in good shape, working out.  After several rounds of push ups and what nots, he broke out into this ecstatic dance.  Maybe he didn’t receive the memo that the flash mob was canceled.  It was really funny but he seemed to be having a good time.  About this time, my niece Ava (she’s 6) swam over to me and said, “Aunt Kirsten, I hope that man doesn’t capture me in his dance!”  Who talks like that at the age of 6?  She does and she’s damn funny.

After a day at the beach, the pool and a few thrift stores, we loaded the Focus and shoved the kids in the car.  We arrived here on Pine Island (at Jeanine’s) Friday evening.  The mosquitoes are the worst I’ve ever seen in my life down here this time.  The planes have been flying over spraying who knows what for bug control.  It’s also much hotter this year. Extreme temperatures so we’ve been staying inside.  Last year when I blogged here from Pine Island I mentioned my sister’s workplace by name.  I also mentioned the fact that she’d sold me something from her workplace at cost.  Bad idea.  Don’t ever think that nobody reads your blog, because they do!  She was greeted at work with a hard copy of my blog a few days later.  It made for a crappy rest of the vacation as we walked on egg shells wondering if she was going to lose her job.  To make a long story short, she didn’t lose it, but did quit later. The merchandise she sold me was stuff she had purchased for herself that she actually had duplicates of.  It’s not like I walked through the store and picked out a bunch of stuff.  So know that pina coladas, corporate names and blogging are not a good combination.

We headed to town yesterday and hit Target and A.C. Moore.  We don’t have one of those at home and Jeanine always has great coupons.  The kids scored some indoor art activities and I got some things for jewelry.  I haven’t made any in a long time so I shipped all of my beads and things ahead of time.  We attend a large family reuinion the end of July and we raise money for the next reunion with an auction.  My necklaces with the sharks’ teeth always go the fastest and I have nothing to offer this time so I’d better get busy.

I think I got through this without the mention of any corporate names.  I’m drinking chamomille tea and taking Day Quil.  Better combination?  I guess so.

 


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Sedona Then Las Vegas = Bad Idea

We left Sedona, sadly.  We drove the scenic route through Oak Creek Canyon on the way out and stopped at a couple of scenic view points to drink it in.  Once we were out of there, Flagstaff was approaching.  We were up high on the mountain and this time we stopped.  Several Indians had set up a bunch of tables at this one point and they had some of the coolest crafts for sale.  I’d packed my big jacket away and man I wished I’d had it for this stop and this stop only.

It was cold and it was windy.  And I had my camera and wanted to walk this long walk way of vista points.  I had on a t-shirt and jeans.  My friend had on capri pants and flip flops, but at least she had a jacket.  The Indians were bundled like Eskimos.  They knew what they were doing.  My friend purchased two beautiful Christmas ornaments made of white clay.  They’d been carved and decorated.  She gave me one for making all of the trip arrangements and using my credit card.  My ornament has a dream catcher inside it.  It’s pretty cool.

The kids had on shorts.  They decided to stay in the car with their iPods and their cell phones.  So we let them.  Don’t tell anyone we’re bad parents, OK?

Once back in the car I cranked the heater on high to thaw out my hands.  I’d shipped those fingerless gloves back in a huge box of dirty clothes the day before at the post office in Sedona.  Lighter luggage makes for happy travelers.  As we approached Las Vegas, I noticed a black Chrysler 300 in my rear view mirror.  I was doing the driving this time.  It was going way too fast and I thought to myself that I hoped he didn’t crash.  Well, about 20 minutes later he did.  I saw a cloud of dust in the median and a black hood in the air.  I pulled over and the driver was lying on his back in the middle of the highway on the opposite side of the road.  Welcome to Las Vegas.  There were a lot of people stopped by now and since this was a one car accident and we didn’t actually see what happened, I decided to keep us on track.  I knew the highway would probably be closed if we hung around for long and we all needed to pee.  We said a little prayer for that guy on the highway and drove onward.

I booked us the Stratosphere from my phone in Sedona and I’m glad I did.  I thought about finding a place to stay when we arrived but then I remembered. 

Oh, we’ll be in Las Vegas. 

Our friends had never been there and I don’t think they want to go back.  Too much noise, too much commotion, too much everything.  Not the ideal place to land after Sedona that’s for sure.  My friend’s daughter wanted to ride the rides on top of the Stratosphere, so that’s the reason we were there.  My kid would never ride a ride like that, or any others actually. 

The wind was blowing so hard that day that one of the three rides were closed down. The daredevil child decided to ride anyways and her mom wouldn’t watch her.  I went outside on top of the building to shoot photos.  A few times I thought that I was going to get blown off the landing.  I’m not kidding it was that windy.  She rode the two rides and they lasted about 3 minutes each.  I’m not kidding, these were the shortest rides I’ve ever seen in my lifetime that’s for sure. 

The hotel also has a mall inside of it so if you’ve been to Vegas, you know you can pretty much spend a week there and never leave your hotel.  The show that the hotel was hosting was called Bitten or something like that.  The girls cracked up at the huge video monitors that were located everywhere with advertising for the show.  It was pretty risque’ if I must say so myself.  The previews featured topless chicks with vampire teeth wearing leather collars with studs and toting whips and sporting hot shorts and thongs.  The girls made several comments about how that did not look like Twilight at all.  I cracked up and told them to quit laughing about it because I’d got us all tickets for that tonight.  The girls responded with an “Oh mom, you’re way gross.”  We didn’t go to the show.  My mom had given me a speech about how we’d better not leave the kids in the hotel room alone.  Please.  Like we would do that.

We had to rise around 3:45 a.m. to catch a plane in the morning.  A plane home that is.  I don’t think we slept much at all.  The change of atmosphere and the stimulation of Vegas is enough to keep anyone awake for days.  That’s why people go there I suppose.  I know, I’ve been there a few times myself for work and play combined.

We got to the airport the next morning to find the Allegiant Air check in line 6 miles long.  I mentioned to an airline  worker there that there was no way we were going to make our flight.  She informed us that they’d call our flight number and pull us out of line when it was our turn.  She was correct.  That did happen.  But only after we stood in line for a tad over one hour.  We still had to hit security and we did with flying colors.  We got to our gate just as the plane was boarding.  We had a great tail wind and made it home almost 40 minutes early.  When I got home my husband had put the hickory bead board on the front of our counter in our kitchen that we tore apart in 2007.  Every time I take a trip he finishes something.  I’m trying to figure out how I can afford to take a week long trip once a month.  I have several other projects here I’d love to see completed.  In time and in patience.  All is well.