Checking in!

anclotekey1

This is a VERY short post so no one worries about me, since it’s been almost a week since I last posted.

We are here in Clearwater Beach, FL having a WONDERFUL time.  I’m very frustrated at the moment though, because I just made my first little video of the moving Gulf water after sunset and the interesting patterns it was making, but even though it’s possible to post it here, it isn’t possible to remove my real name from the video (which I have never used on this blog).   So I won’t be able to post it after all.  Grrrr!    Trust me, it was very cool.   If I can find a way to remove my identifying info, I’ll definitely put it here.

I have about a gazillion photos, so I’ll be writing a longer post using some of those pictures in the next few days, or I just might wait until I get home on Sunday.   It’s so nice to see my son and swim in the warm Gulf waters again.

The picture you see above is from Anclote Key, a remote sandbar several miles out into the Gulf of Mexico and accessible only by boat.  More about that later!

I hope all of you are well. See you again soon!

 

I hate “soft” toilet paper.

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My roommate went shopping yesterday and brought home a 12 pack of toilet paper, which was a good thing because we were just about out.

But the toilet paper will be gone in less than a week, and it’s not because either one of us have some…uh, problem. It’s because the toilet paper she bought is the soft, puffy kind where one roll lasts about one day. Maybe less, if you ate a big, rich, greasy dinner the night before or come down with some bug.

toilet-paper-cartoon

It’s annoying to me. It’s not even worth putting the damn roll on the toilet paper holder, because it won’t last long enough to make that effort worth it, so I just set it on top, like this:

toilet_paper2

The toilet paper companies dupe you into thinking you’re getting a bargain but you’re really getting ripped off. A four-pack of cheap one-ply lasts about 4 times as long as that 12-pack will and costs about the same (and probably kills fewer trees too).
The softness of it bugs me too. Personally I prefer a little grit.

Bye bye, Charmin Ultra Soft! Hello, Scott 1-ply!

A happy ending to my DMV ordeal.

sunshine

I need an antidote for last night’s list 23 Things I Hate About My Life, so I think this might do the job.

Today was a good day. The first thing that happened was I didn’t have to walk the 5 1/2 miles back to the car repair shop. I actually got picked up by someone from there this morning and brought in to pick the car up and pay for the repairs. That’s another little blessing I might have taken for granted in the past. They’re almost always there if you are paying attention.

Anyway, in order to put enough miles on my car to see if the check engine light would come back on (it did after 60 miles–which means I failed the second inspection but was able to get a waiver at the DMV almost right away, which means I can go get registered tomorrow–FINALLY!), I decided to drive to the Light Center in Black Mountain. I described my experience there last year. I’m not a New Age sort of person at all, but I found this place special and instinctively knew it was a good space when I first went last year. Rather than working against my Christian faith, I felt like it actually enhanced it. So since I had to drive a long distance today, I decided to go again.

The light therapy room wasn’t open yet, so I spent a little time in the prayer room upstairs, which is held in a geodesic dome. The acoustics are odd–everything echos but not in an unpleasant way. I sat down and spent some time talking to God and I felt He was there with me and that everything was going to work out today. I felt a sense of relaxation come over me and I didn’t even notice the pain in my upper back anymore (I suffer from back muscle strain from my day job). I took this photo of the inside of the prayer room:

prayer_room

In the light therapy room (which is free–everything is free of charge here), I sat down in one of the soft partially reclined chairs, grabbed a small blanket, and focused on the lights. The room is lit in order by seven colors ranging from red to purple. Each one represents the seven chakras (which as a Christian I don’t have a problem with–I believe the chakras exist). Soft music played. I started to feel a bit sleepy but then it was over. I got up, stretched, and felt very peaceful and centered.

labyrinth2 labyrinth1
2 views of the labyrinth.

I wandered around the grounds until I came to the labyrinth. I’m not sure what spiritual purpose a labyrinth is supposed to have, but I walked through its maze and looked around at the trees until I came to the center, where visitors leave “offerings.” I pulled out two small items from my purse and set them there, then walked back through the labyrinth to the parking lot.

offerings2 offerings1
Can you tell from the pictures which two items I put there? The first is the Before picture. Click to enlarge.

I drove back through the mountains and into town and as the traffic began to build up, I felt the stress return and my back and shoulders began to hurt again. Back to real life.

The check engine light also came back on almost the same moment I felt the stress return. Was this a coincidence or not? My stress level rose. I prayed for the feeling I had earlier today.

I took the car to the inspection station and got a second Failed inspection, which I knew I would get. I drove to the DMV and to my shock, was seen right away by a very nice man who looked at all my paperwork and issued me the waiver. So tomorrow I take that last step–going to the DMV’s registration office first thing in the morning and finally getting my car legal. Call me crazy, but I’m actually excited about that!

Life is so wonderful and weird sometimes.

Little gifts on a crappy day.

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Latest additions to my rock and geode collection.

Life can be surprising. On the whole, today has been a crappy day, but there’s always something to make a bad day more tolerable, if you just pay attention. God doesn’t forget about you even when things seem hopeless and you’re ready to either pull out all your hair or kill someone.

My day started like this. I’m trying to get my car legal but everything about it has been so hard. It failed inspection because of the emissions test. I go through this crap every year. Because I’m off work this week I finally have time to get this shite taken care of, but after everything I need to do is finally done, it’s going to eat up half this week. Cars require more maintenance and cost more than kids, I swear. Especially if you are too poor to buy a new one and are forced to drive an old beater like mine.

Sitting in the repair shop at about 9 AM and feeling put upon and surly, I posted this on my Facebook wall:

So i’m sitting here at the car repair shop trying to get my 13 year old junker fixed so it can pass the emissions inspection…or i can at least get a waiver from the dmv so i’m not driving this pos illegally anymore…gonna spend some time at the library or the rock shop while i wait. Then tomorrow probably going to have to wait around at the dmv all day for the waiver if i still fail inspection. This state just wants to suck money from you any way they can…if i lived in south carolina, florida or tennessee i wouldn’t have to put up with this shit, spend money i don’t have, and waste half my vacation on this. Sorry about all the lower case letters but i’m trying to type this on my phone.

They told me there were 5-6 cars ahead of mine and they probably wouldn’t be able to get to it until late this afternoon and I didn’t want to wait that long, so I decided to start walking home (I had no access to a ride and taxis are way too expensive). The walk home was 5 1/2 miles, in the burning hot sun, along roads with no sidewalks. I will NOT walk back today, but am prepard to walk back there in the morning to get the car early in the morning when it’s cooler (I’ll be sure to wear better shoes instead of the flip flops I wore today).

But it won’t be over. Not anywhere near it. Once I get the car, I have to take it back for a second inspection. If I don’t pass, I can take the second “fail” inspection plus all the receipts for the work I had done (you are required to spend at least $200 to prove you at least tried to get it fixed) to the DMV and stand in line for a waiver so I can drive the car legally. THEN I have to take the waiver to the tag office and tax office (two separate buildings) and pay for the registration and taxes. This crap is going to eat up most of my vacation week.

My court date is August 6th (I was pulled over last month for a expired tags because of the failed inspection) but this week is the only time I have to get all this crap done. I probably won’t have a day to just relax and do other things until Thursday. It really pisses me off because the car is safe to drive, and would pass inspection anywhere else. It’s a waste of time and money in my humble opinion.

But there were a few small things that happened that made this ordeal a little less aggravating and even made me smile. Before I made the decision to walk home from the repair shop, which is in an area with a lot of funky shops and outdoor eateries, I decided to get coffee and a muffin from one of the cafes. I sat down at one of their little outdoor tables, read a book I brought with me, and ate the muffin and drank the coffee, which were both delicious.

I happen to collect rocks and geodes, and across the street was a rock shop. Most of their rocks and geodes are indoors, but some of the less expensive ones are displayed on tables in front of the store or in little fountains. I found a large geode filled with white crystals that kind of spoke to me. The shop wasn’t open yet but an employee was just pulling in. I asked him how much the geode was and he said he thought it was $5. I was shocked such a big, beautiful rock would be that cheap. He said he’d have it held for me and to come back in 15 minutes.

When I returned, the woman in the store told me I’d been quoted the wrong price and it was actually $15. I guess she saw my disappointment because then she smiled and said since $5 was the price given to me that she would sell it to me for that price. I was overjoyed. I selected 3 small colorful stones (the red one in the photo is actually a piece of glass) from one of the outside fountains. So I walked away happy, prepared to trudge the 5 1/2 miles back to my house.

Along the way, I saw a dead bush whose branches intrigued me because of the pattern they made. This is not a black and white photo but looks like one:

branches

About 45 minutes later (when I was about halfway home), I had to stop and rest and refill the water bottle I was carrying. I found a Shell station that had a little sitting area next to it complete with a bench to sit on near the curb. I placed the rocks down on the curb and took the beautiful photo of them you see at the top of this page. When I looked up, I saw something else–a magnolia tree in full bloom, so I decided I needed a couple of pictures of that too:

magnolias1 magnolias2

I walked the rest of the way home thinking about the post I was going to write and suddenly the issue with the car seemed a little less aggravating and overwhelming. I even felt that these little gifts from nature were God’s way of letting me know he was always there no matter what.

ETA: About 15 minutes before the shop closed, I called them and was told they were actually able to FIX the problem and I should be able to pass inspection, but was told to drive about 100 miles first to make sure the engine light doesn’t go back on.

So I got the idea to go back to The Light Center in Black Mountain tomorrow, which will put about 100 miles on the car. I found this place to be very peaceful and healing when I went there last September and wrote this post about it (this blog was exactly one week old!) I’ve been wanting to go back anyway while I’m off. (I don’t think this is incompatible in any way with my Christian faith). If the light doesn’t go back on, then I should pass inspection and will be able to bypass the waiver thing at the DMV and just be able to go get the car registered and that will be the end of it, God be willing.