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The Eclectic Garden

Making a little bit of everything look just right.


Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 10:34 am

It makes me so mad to think about those eight cowards that killed 129 people in Paris this weekend. I honestly can't comprehend what the survivors of that horrific terrorist attack are going through right now. I will be lifting up thoughts and prayers for them and for our world leaders that we can come together against a common enemy.

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Where has the time gone?

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Sun Nov 15, 2015 11:49 am

There are days when nostalgia just takes over and today is one of those days. As often is the case, I woke up somewhere around 5 am. Unfortunately, I can seldom go back to sleep. So, here I am sitting in a quiet house wondering how my children have grown up so fast.

This train of thought is being driven by the fact that my 23 year old son is getting married next Saturday. He completed Fire College last year and recently started a career with the local fire department. I remember him as a toddler when he used to crawl around on the floor with little stuffed toys in his mouth. I remember reading him stories at night, helping him with homework and driving him to soccer matches. I remember his first heartbreak, his first car and his first paycheck.

So many memories. Now he's starting another journey and, as I learned with my daughter who got married 7 years ago, it's one that sees me in a different role. I'm still Dad to him, but now I also get to be Dad to his wife. I haven't lost a son, I've gained a daughter. I know the relationship is different, but in a lot of ways its still the same. There will be peaks and valleys for him (and her) and I can be there to pray for them and encourage them along the way.

My family keeps growing... and I'm so thankful.

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The Menu Has Changed

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2015 12:34 am

So, I called a vendor the other day and got the standard recorded message. Why do they always say, "Please listen carefully as our menu options have changed?" Do they really think that I can remember the menu options from the last time that I called? I mean, I can barely remember them right after hearing them. And why did the menu options have to change in the first place? Is it absolutely necessary to have your customers press "1" for sales instead of "2"? For heaven sakes leave the menu options alone!

Last edited: Fri Nov 13, 2015 10:50 am

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Field of Phlox

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 10:49 am

One of the things I love about this time of year are all of the wild phlox that can be found along the roadsides and in many open fields.

Field of Phlox ( photo / image / picture from eclecticgarden's Garden )

Last edited: Mon Apr 20, 2015 10:50 am

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28th Wedding Anniversary

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 10:00 am

For our 28th wedding anniversary I surprised Donna by taking her to a play at the Ocala Civic Theatre last night. It was a comedy called "Tom, Dick and Harry" and it was very funny, but we had a few funny moments of our own along the way.

We got a later start to the evening than we intended so we didn't have enough time to go to the new Italian restaurant that I wanted to try. We decided that our only options were fast food or some kind of buffet. She had heard of a Chinese buffet near the theatre that was supposed to be good and neither one of us really wanted to go with fast food for our anniversary dinner, so that was the logical choice. Upon getting our seats I couldn't help but notice the woman to my right. Sitting in front of her was a huge plate of crab legs and she was steady breaking them open. It was as if she were on a mission to ensure that no crab should die in vain. We got our food and ate our dinner. The woman next to us got up and came back with more crab legs. Donna looked at me and whispered, "Did you see how many crab legs she's eaten?" I shook my head yes, enlarging my eyes to show astonishment. She finally finished the crab legs- then promptly headed for the dessert table. I know it was a buffet and people go to buffets to stuff themselves, but we were still amazed at the amount of food this woman managed to put away.

So, after the pre-dinner show we made our way to the theatre. As we were walking up to the door Donna said, "Look at all the older people here."

I retorted with, "Hello! Newsflash! We're not exactly young people anymore."

In her defense, she was right. Most of the people there seemed to be in their sixties or seventies, but we were in our early twenties when we got married and this was our 28th anniversary. You do the math. It is a rather somber moment when you realize that you are closer to the sixty and seventy generation than you are the twenty and thirty generation.

After getting our tickets I made my way to the restroom. I had just finished washing my hands, thrown away the paper towel and was walking toward the door when the father of an old high school friend walked in (he was definitely in his seventies). We recognized each other and both instinctively shook hands. It was at that precise moment that I realized my right hand was still a little wet. I could see in his eyes that he realized it too and a very awkward moment ensued. I'm sure he was wondering if I had just walked away from the urinal or if I had just washed my hands. There was no way for him to really know and I didn't exactly know how to handle it so I hastily said goodbye and made my way out of the restroom.

About halfway through the play the sodium from the Chinese food kicked in and I became extremely thirsty. When the play was over Donna told me that she was so thirsty that her tongue felt like it was stuck to the roof of her mouth. We decided to go through the drive-thru at Sonic and get some lemonade. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate ordering food from a drive-thru. I especially hate Sonic because there are so many blasted choices. We really didn't know what we wanted so I pulled up to one of the ordering stations first to look at the menu and decide before taking on the drive-thru. After what seemed like a very long time we decided on a lime limeaide and a cherry limeaide. I completely forgot about going through the drive-thru and pushed the button to order. Before I could back out and head to the drive-thru a voice came over the intercom, "Can I take your order?"

I was committed now, "Yes, I'll take a large lime limeaide and a large cherry limeaide."

There was a long silence and then finally, "Can you repeat that please?"

"Yes, I'll take a large lime limeaide and a large cherry limeaide."

Once again there was deafening silence. Finally, after about thirty seconds I said, "Did you get that?"

More silence. Then, "Was that a large lime limeaide and a large cherry limeaide?"

Now I'm starting to get a little agitated so I kept my answer as simple as possible, "Um- yes."

"Okay, that will be $4.86."

Then the wait began. I realized rather quickly that there was only one person running food out to the cars. We sat in the car and talked to pass the time. It literally took ten minutes to get our order of two drinks and when they finally arrived the poor kid delivering them apologized, "Sorry it took so long but I'm the only one who is making the drinks."

We weren't really mad about it, just a little inconvenienced, but we were spending time together so it really wasn't a big deal, "It happens sometimes, I can tell you guys are busy."

The kid left on his roller skates and we both promptly took a drink to quench our undying thirst- but the drink order had been wrong. Instead of a lime limeaide and a cherry limeaide we had both gotten a cherry Sprite. There was no way we were going to tackle getting that straightened so we left Sonic and drove home.
All in all, it turned out to be a nice 28th anniversary and I am looking forward to many more- although I may stay away from Sonic for a while.

Last edited: Fri Apr 08, 2016 10:00 pm

This blog entry has been viewed 241 times

Winter in Florida

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 10:25 pm

It felt like Summer in Central Florida today. The mercury was resting at just over 80 degrees all day long. Even now, at 5:15 in the evening it is 79 degrees. My wife longs for cooler weather, but I love the warm Winters.The picture below was taken about 3:00 in the afternoon.

1/3/2015 ( photo / image / picture from eclecticgarden's Garden )

This blog entry has been viewed 192 times

Fire College

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2014 11:09 am

Well, my son graduated from Fire College last week. It's been an intense four months for him. We got to visit in October and witness some of the training. I can say that I now have a greater respect for firefighters.

Here are a few pictures from his training. The last one is graduation day.

( photo / image / picture from eclecticgarden's Garden )

( photo / image / picture from eclecticgarden's Garden )

( photo / image / picture from eclecticgarden's Garden )

Graduation Day ( photo / image / picture from eclecticgarden's Garden )

This blog entry has been viewed 225 times

That Didn't Work Out As Planned

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2014 1:09 am

Sometimes the simplest task can turn into a real nightmare. For example, on the way home from church this past Sunday our car overheated. I won't even go into the ordeal that it took to get it home, but I finally managed to get it there. I checked the radiator and the coolant level was good. It didn't take a lot to surmise that the thermostat was the culprit. I thought to myself, "At least it shouldn't take very long." Boy was I wrong.

I made the ten mile trip to the auto parts store and purchased a thermostat, gasket and a gallon of antifreeze. Once I was back home I pulled out the two screws holding in the thermostat housing and removed the old thermostat. I cleaned off the old gasket material, put in the new thermostat and screwed everything back together. It only took me about twenty minutes. At this point I was pretty happy with the outcome. I didn't even lose any coolant so the gallon of antifreeze wasn't needed.

My first mistake was not checking for leaks before test driving the car. I got down the road and the temperature gauge shot over to hot. I turned around right away and headed back home. By the time I got there steam was boiling out from under the hood. I popped the hood and could see that water was shooting out from around the thermostat housing. After things cooled off a little I took a closer look and found what was wrong. Apparently I had torn the gasket when I put it in.

So, I made another ten mile trip to the parts store and bought another gasket. Back home I pulled everything back apart, installed the new gasket and put everything back together again. Since I blew out all the coolant in the first go round I also filled the radiator back up. This time I checked for leaks before I drove anywhere and found a trickle of antifreeze coming out from behind the thermostat housing. Ugh! So… I took everything back apart again, cleaned both surfaces really good and then put it back together. The leak was still there!

Thankfully, it was about this time that my wife let me know that dinner was ready. I sat at the dinner table frustrated and aggravated and while I sat there a funny thing happened. It started getting dark. I had completely forgotten about the stupid daylight savings time and how darkness was going to start coming one hour earlier. I don't have lights under the carport and I wasn't about to struggle with a flashlight to get the work done so I realized that my work on the car was over for the day. I can't say that it hurt my feelings either. I called my boss and explained the situation and he didn't have a problem with me staying home to get the car running. That's about the only good thing that came out of this experience; I got to stay home from work.

The next day I started with a fresh attitude. I took my time and pulled everything back apart again. I gently removed the thermostat housing and watched in utter disbelief as the gasket promptly ripped in half. So, here I go once again on a ten mile trip to the parts store. I picked up the $1.29 gasket and headed back home (I spent more than that in gas). I started to buy an extra gasket just in case, but my stubbornness and pride wouldn't let me.

Back home I took a look at everything one more time before putting it back together. It was then that I finally found what was preventing everything from seating properly. There was a very small piece of the old gasket almost cemented to the housing. I had to work pretty hard to get it off, but once that happened and I got everything back together the mystery of the leaky thermostat housing was finally put to rest.

When everything was said and done it took me two days and three trips to the parts store to complete what should have been a twenty minute job. And who knows what my blood pressure was reading all that time? Sometimes it's easier to just let someone else work on the car.

Last edited: Sun Apr 17, 2016 1:35 pm

This blog entry has been viewed 267 times

Farm-ly Feud

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Sun Oct 12, 2014 3:42 am

So, my wife, my youngest son and I went to a pumpkin festival on Saturday. My daughter, her husband and the baby met us there. My daughter always wants to get involved in something fun. They had something called Farm-ly Feud going on. It's the same thing as the game show Family Feud... just a lot more low tech.

Anyway, we signed up to participate. The family we went against was nice. In fact, before it started the mom was hooping and hollering like she was having a good ole time. But things changed when we ended up winning. After the game I walked over and shook hands with them. I went to shake the mom's hand and she said something that I can't write here and stormed off. I can tell you that it included a four letter expletive that begins with the letter "f".

You know, the game was all for fun and it wasn't like we beat them out of some great prize. Why in the world would someone get so upset over something so silly?

I didn't let her stupidity ruin our day. We got our picture taken and collected our high dollar prize... an empty, cloth bag with the name of the farm printed on it. Eat your heart out Miss Potty Mouth.

Last edited: Sun Nov 02, 2014 10:56 am

This blog entry has been viewed 211 times

Selling The Ranger

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 4:50 pm

Yesterday I made the decision to sell my 2001 Ford Ranger. It's not running, but I'm fairly certain it's got a bad fuel pump. In addition, the water pump also needs to be replaced. I could do all that, but I really don't want to, especially since replacing the fuel pump requires dropping the gas tank. So, about 6:00 last night I posted it on Craig's List for fifteen hundred dollars. I couldn't believe the response. By 10:00 I finally had to shut my phone off. Originally I was willing to go down to one thousand dollars, but the very first person who texted me kind of ticked me off. I know that everyone wants something for nothing and I posted it knowing that people were going to try and haggle on the price, but to try and get the price down before asking about the truck itself? Uh… no. Let me explain.

Here is the first text that I received: You still have Ranger

My response: Yes.

His response: You take 800

Now, I am somewhat anal when it comes to structuring sentences and I really have a problem with the text speak that our culture has developed. I ignored the grammar in his first text, "You still have Ranger", but I couldn't ignore the second one. There wasn't a dollar sign in front of the number or even a question mark at the end of the… do I dare call it a sentence? To make it worse there was no asking about the mileage or what size engine was in the truck. No questions about the tires or the last time that it ran. Only, "You take 800". From my perspective this text was saying "You will take 800!"

So, in response to his insulting offer and pathetic grammar I sent my own grammatically incorrect text: I take 1500

After that he asked a couple of questions about the truck. I answered all of them and then once again he came back with: You take 800

Same insulting offer, same bad grammar. My wife had been following the text conversation with me. At this point she said, "Give me that phone!"

Before I could even utter a protest she had texted back: You on crack?

His response: You are

My wife's response: No, but I should be… LOL

His response: God bless...750… LOL

So, I took the phone out of my wife's hands and deleted the conversation…. LOL (honestly, I have a problem using LOL and have never used it in any text, but it seems to fit right in here).

Then I got the first phone call. He had a thick Spanish accent and I had difficulty following his conversation. He finally got to the price and asked, "What the lowest, lowest price you willing to sell?"

I'm not the best negotiator, but I know that I'm not going to throw out my lowest price right at the beginning of the negotiations, especially since the person asking me has never even looked at the truck. So, I answered him with a version of the same question he had just asked me, "What is the highest, highest price you willing to pay?"

This kind of threw him off and the phone was silent for a few seconds. After my words finally sunk into his brain he said, "Ummm, one thousand dollars."

That was the amount that I was willing to take, but at that split second I changed my mind and decided that I wanted at least twelve hundred dollars. So, I went high, "I'll take thirteen hundred."

His answer was, "You call me when you ready to sell at one thousand."

That remark helped me decide to never, ever call him back… even if I didn't get another interested party. But there were plenty more people interested and it sold at 8:00 this morning for twelve hundred dollars, less than one day after posting it on Craig's List.

I had a few other interesting phone calls and texts. One guy wanted to have it shipped to Canada and pay me with PayPal. Definitely a scam. Another phone call was a recording that wanted me to give all of my personal information and they would buy it sight unseen. No thank you. Nearly everyone asked me my "bottom dollar" and most of them didn't even read the description in the listing. I made it very clear that it wasn't running, but at least three different people asked me if it was running. Hello? If it was running I wouldn't be selling it for fifteen hundred dollars.

All in all it was an entertaining exercise. I don't think I want to do it again anytime soon though.

Last edited: Sun Apr 17, 2016 1:36 pm

This blog entry has been viewed 212 times

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