Vote! Save Our Drive-In!

driveinOcala’s the home of one of only 368 drive-in theaters remaining in the U.S. However, due to a change to digital equipment at the end of the year, Ocala’s drive-in and all drive-ins are in danger of closing.

With the exception of an eight year period from 2003-2011, the movies at the drive-in have been a regular feature of the Ocala landscape since 1948. The Ocala Drive-In offers a double feature for only $5, and these are first run movies. This week families should be delighted that Monsters University and Planes are back for a repeat showing and last week The Butler and Elysium entertained adult audiences. Two movies for $5? What a bargain!

Project Drive-In, sponsored by Honda, provides an opportunity for you to save a beloved drive-in. You can vote once everyday for the next week to save our drive-in. Grants of $80,000, the estimated expense of updating to digital projection, will be provided to the five theaters receiving the most votes so vote today and vote often.ocaladrivein

While you can only vote once a day, that’s one vote per device so I’ve been able to vote on my computer, tablet, phone, and I also text 444999 with the message Vote 20. That means my “one vote” is actually four. In this case, voting often is allowed! Help save our drive-in and vote!

Crock Pot Success

Before returning to work I prepared and froze seven meals ready to drop in the crock pot for an easy meal on a busy day. The first week back to work I cooked the Mediterranean Pork Chops. A disaster. On a scale of 1-5, I’d give them a 1. The meat was tender, but I could only stomach two or three bites.

This experience made me reluctant to try another meal, but on week two I selected the bag labeled Teryaki Chicken and set the crock pot for eight hours. More disappointment. The meal was gray. Gray chicken. Gray pineapple. Gray onions. Gray broth. Only the carrots avoided the gray color of the other ingredients. The flavor was a major improvement over the previous week’s pork chops, but I’d only give it a 2 1/2. I did eat most of the meal, but I wouldn’t eat it again.

I’m beginning to dread Tuesday since it’s the day designated as the crock pot meal night, but this week things went much better. The package with Taco Chicken Bowl scribbled on the bag made its way to the slow cooker. Finally, a meal I’ll make again! Chicken breasts, black beans, corn, salsa, and a variety of spices…a tasty meal served over rice. I’d give this one a 4, and even without freezing in advance it’s an easy meal. IMG_0813

  • Ingredients:
  • 2 frozen chicken breasts
  • 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 can shoepeg corn (drained)
  • 16 oz. salsa
  • 1 packet taco seasoning (Great substitution for spices and speeds up preparation.)

We served over yellow rice, but I ate leftovers with white rice. Yes, we actually ate the leftovers! It definitely made enough for 4 servings.

I’m still a little leery of the four remaining bags in the freezer, and I can’t say I’m looking forward to Tuesday’s crock pot dinner; but at least I have a little more hope after success with the Taco Chicken Bowl.

It’s Football Season in Florida!

IMG_0778Tonight Meghan, Jon, and friends will join UCF fans as the Knights kick off the college football season in their game against the Akron Zips. It’s a big night, not only for fans of the Knights but for college football fans everywhere.

Then on Monday night Sarah and Daniel will cheer on the Seminoles as they take the field against Pitt closing the opening weekend of the 2013 season. It’s officially football season.

I’ll have my eye on Friday night’s game. Usually you’ll find me cheering for the Miami Hurricanes, John’s alma mater, but tomorrow will be a different story since my alma mater, FAU, Florida Atlantic University, takes on the Hurricanes in their season opener…a first!

My closet is full of orange and green Hurricane attire, but tomorrow I’ll don my one and only red FAU shirt and cheer on the Owls, something I couldn’t do as a student since FAU’s 2001 inaugural season  came over twenty years after my graduation.IMG_0735

Friday, for the first time we’ll be a house divided.

Recently, Emily (another Hurricane alum) sent an email entitled 40 Signs You’re a Miami Hurricane…a fun series of photos which bring Hurricane fans together.

Well, the Hurricanes aren’t the only ones with bragging rights in the state. In response I’ve put together a series of photos which bring Owl fans together.

Sure, Hurricanes flash the universal “U”, but Owl fans…including the President…show their “owl fingers”

FAU is the ONLY university in the state undefeated in Bowl Games with an all-time record of 2-0 and with the first bowl win coming in only the sixth season.

And speaking of Bowl Games, the Owls were the ONLY Florida team to win a bowl game in 2007.

  • New Orleans Bowl: FAU 44 – Memphis 27
  • Liberty Bowl: Mississippi State 10 – UCF 3
  • Sun Bowl: Oregon 56 – USF 21
  • Music City Bowl: Kentucky 35 – FSU 28
  • Capital One Bowl: Michigan 41 – UF 35
  • And UM? Oh, they didn’t make it to a bowl game in 2007.

Like the Hurricanes, we hate this man too…so much so that we’ve never let him stand on the sidelines during a game.ShapiroAnd like the Hurricanes we love this man…he chose FAU over UM.Howard Schnellenberger

Finally, we have something the Hurricanes will never have…not at the Orange Bowl…not at Sun Life Stadium…FAU has a stadium on campus.

Friday will be a first. I’ll be cheering for the Hurricane’s opponent. May the best team win!


Weigh-in Wednesday: Week 35

IMG_0814I somehow lost 2 tenths of a pound this week, but is that too little to count? In any case, I didn’t gain weight so I’d say that makes the week successful.

I need to curtail my desire to snack while working from home. It’s not realistic to just resist the temptation so this week I shopped for some healthier or at least lower calorie options.

Grapes, bananas, apples and yogurt instead of those beloved chips is a logical place to start; but instead of the total elimination of chips I plan to buy a variety of 100 calorie packages of chips. I know it would be better to just stop eating them altogether. However, I’m not ready to go cold turkey.

This week’s plan: healthier snacks!

11 Down; 2 To Go

Last month we walked and rode the beach in Fernandina observing the sea turtles nests hoping to see hatchlings emerging. While we were not successful in July, we studied the dates on the nests and looked at our calendar to determine when we could return for a second attempt.

Since many of the eggs were laid between June 20th and June 30th, the weekend of August 23rd seemed like time to try again. Another bonus, the tides during this weekend would allow us to ride our bikes on the beach so we could cover more territory. We made reservations, packed our bags, loaded our bikes on the car, and took off Friday afternoonIMG_0742

in the pouring rain. Another weather impaired 13 in 13 adventure.

We arrived slightly before sunset so we were unable to check out the nests and their progress Friday evening. Our plan…get up at 5:30. Begin riding north on the beach by 6:00 (in the dark since sunrise was at 7:00). We rode to Ft. Clinch, past the pier.

We encountered hundreds of critters scurrying across the beach, but they were ghost crabs, not turtles.

We came across a number of horseshoe crabs.IMG_0745

Then in the distance we saw an adult turtle on the beach. Maybe we’d see one laying eggs. IMG_0759

But to our disappointment, we found that a boat propeller had sliced its shell. No egg laying turtle. A dead one.

On our way back down the beach we stopped at every nest, noted the date, and looked for evidence of activity for a return later that evening. Many of the nests, especially in the park, had been covered by screens. Something we’d never seen before, an effort to protect the eggs from a predator, possibly a fox.

Not discouraged by the lack of hatchlings we decided to attend two excavations that evening before an evening ride in which we’d see if the nests we’d identified as promising were beginning to hatch.

The excavations eliminated two of the nests we’d identified since the turtles had emerged from them three days earlier. The Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch volunteers don’t remove the stakes after the hatch instead waiting for three days at which time they complete the excavation.

During the excavation the volunteers dig out the shards as well as any unhatched eggs. Since about one third of the excavations produce an unhatched turtle, we were hopeful that we’d see at least one hatchling make its way to the ocean. The first excavation produced 121 hatched shards and the second 79 with only about a half dozen unhatched eggs in each nest. No live turtles remained in either.

We continued with our plan riding north checking nests but didn’t notice any changes from our earlier ride. As the sun set we headed south to check out our final prospect only to find it surrounded by onlookers and a volunteer, red light in hand, explaining the hatching process.

The sand “boiled” with activity as the turtles made their way to the surface. We joined twenty or thirty people patiently watching the nest for about thirty minutes when the first turtle emerged. Once the first one escaped the nest, dozens of others quickly followed. The nest emptied in less than a minute and the hatchlings fanned out toward the ocean.

We provided a human shield to block the light from the condo behind the nest and serve as a barrier to a couple of hatchlings having difficulty orienting toward the ocean, but eventually all made it to the water.

I expected this to be a slow journey to the water, but in less than ten minutes no turtles remained on land. I can hardly believe how lucky we were to not only see the turtles hatch, but to see the hatching process.

The only disappointment…no pictures. No lights permitted. No flash allowed. I did try to take pictures without a flash…nothing! But the experience is better than a picture.

Eleven down! Two to go!

Use Your Vacation Days!

Last week Dad was talking to one of his colleagues and the conversation turned to their vacations. This person told your Dad that he was unable to use his vacation (P.T.O. or paid time off) days this year and as a result “lost them”. That’s right lost them…the county has a use it or lose it policy, and he decided to work instead of taking some time off.

How can anyone let this happen? I know you have many responsibilities at work and frequently it’s necessary to put in some extra time or effort before or after a vacation in order to keep from being swamped and overwhelmed once you return; but don’t let this prevent you from using EVERY day your entitled to take off.

So why should you use your allocated vacation?

  1. According to a study conducted by State University of New York, those who take a vacation from work live 20% longer.
  2. Remember how excited you were as a child when you had a vacation from school? Well, a vacation from work is an opportunity to be a kid again.
  3. What better way to relax than to get away from your day-to-day routine?
  4. If you enjoy waking up on Saturday more than on Monday then you’ll be happier if you take time off.
  5. Time away from work provides an opportunity to focus on interests and hobbies or projects. While these activities may seem like work to others, there’s a difference between working on a project for yourself as opposed to one for your boss.
  6. Vacation days help to relieve stress. I can’t think of anyone who can’t benefit from a little stress reduction.
  7. When you’re away from work, your brain has time to recharge and therefore many people get their best ideas when away from work according to Robert Kriegel, the author of How to Succeed in Business Without Working So Hard.
  8. Spending time with friends or loved ones provides opportunities to build bonds and memories.
  9. You earned it! If you’re lucky enough to work for an organization that offers time off, by all means take it. Not taking vacation days is no different than telling your employer they can keep your pay!

Don’t be one of those people who are so busy or think they are so important that they can’t possibly get away from work. Take a break. Change your routine. Relax. Use your vacation days as a way to take care of yourself and have some fun!







On Sunday’s I’m posting poetry written by my mother-in-law, Bettie Lou. Writing poetry was a form of therapy after losing her husband and then her youngest son in 1985.



You are so aloof.

No one touches you –

            Unless –

You meow, “Yes!”

I love you, cat!

You breathe so heavily –

            Lie down and sleep.

Don’t hold your head

            So high.

Others can keep watch –


Maybe I.

Bettie Lou died in February, 2010 from Alzheimer’s disease. We’ve organized a team to participate in this year’s Memory Walk on Saturday, September 7th to raise funds for research and awareness of Alzheimer’s in her honor. If you would like to donate, please visit Team B. Lou.

B. Lou...the reason we're walking!
B. Lou…the reason we’re walking!

Go, Marco, Go!

My thirty-something cousin, Tobi, was diagnosed with melanoma after being cancer free for nearly five years. Since her diagnosis, she’s had PET Scans, MRIs, and an EEG the last couple of months. Her team of doctors have developed a treatment plan, and she’s completed radiation and began chemo last week.

Tobi describes her chemo, Yervoy, as playing a game of Marco Polo in her body. She says the Yervoy calls out “Marco” and listens for the cancer’s “Polo”. We need Marco (Yervoy) to find, attack, and win this game.

Help us cheer on Marco and keep Tobi in your prayers.

Oh so Gouda burger

cheddarjacksWe found another good, local restaurant on our weekend travels. This time in Winter Park. After a morning of moving furniture from Ocala to Meghan’s and Emily’s houses, we stopped at Cheddar Jack’s for lunch before returning home.

Located on Aloma, Cheddar Jack’s serves breakfast and lunch. The breakfast menu included monkey bread and apple fritter French toast. Two interesting sounding dishes, but since we were there for lunch we gorged ourselves on sandwiches and fries. John gave his Philly cheese steak sandwich high marks and I enjoyed the “Oh so Gouda burger”…two fresh beef patties topped with Gouda, caramelized onions, and bacon. It really was oh so Gouda!

We topped off our meal with a slice of coconut cream pie. Delicious, but I wonder why they felt it necessary to top the meringue with whipped cream and drizzle it with chocolate syrup? It would have been perfect without these additions.

I just love finding hidden treasures like Cheddar Jack’s.


Restless Brain Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome garners much attention. Commercials warn viewers to see their health care professional if suffering from uncomfortable or unpleasant feeling in the legs. They warn that Restless Leg Syndrome may disrupt sleep and cause drowsiness during the day.

My inability to sleep has nothing to do with my legs or pain. Instead, I have what I’ve coined “Restless Brain Syndrome”. While not a real condition, it’s very real for me. My restless brain refuses to settle down and relax so that I can sleep. I can’t predict how I will be affected on any given night, but I can pretty much guarantee my sleep will be interrupted by an overactive brain.

Some nights Restless Brain Syndrome makes it impossible for me to fall asleep. At midnight, one, even two o’clock I wait for sleep to come. Other nights I fall asleep quickly but sometime between one and four find myself wide awake. On the very worst nights, I fall asleep in the wee hours of the morning only to awake an hour or two later. Restless Brain keeps me sleep deprived.

Instead of resting I can’t stop thinking. I think about things I should have done during the day. Things to do in the morning. Writing. Work. And I can worry about absolutely nothing so my brain has plenty of activity.

Suggestions for getting a better night’s sleep abound and I’ve tried many.

  • Make a to do list before you go to bed so you don’t think about what needs to be done.
  • Keep paper and pencil next to the bed so you can write down thoughts and get back to sleep.
  • Don’t drink caffeine.
  • Keep the bedroom cold.
  • Move electronics out of the bedroom.
  • Get up and do something quiet if you can’t fall asleep after 30 minutes.
  • Exercise so your body’s tired.
  • Drink a glass of wine.

None of these have worked. I need to install an off switch so my brain can shut down and let me sleep.

I’m anxiously awaiting a solution to Restless Brain Syndrome. If I could only follow the advice of W.C. Fields,

The best cure for insomnia is a good night’s sleep.

I wish it were so easy!