Read Your Credit Card Agreement

When the booklet containing my credit card agreement came in the mail recently I did something I’ve never done before. I read it.

I didn’t just flip through it. I read it…cover to cover…and I learned about some benefits provided at no cost just for charging purchases on my card.

Here’s what I learned:

No need to purchase insurance when renting a car. Instead by simply charging the rental on my credit card Auto Rental Collision Damage Protection is included. However, the credit card protection is void if I agree to the insurance provided by the rental agency.

No need to purchase trip insurance. Charge airline tickets, hotel rooms, and tickets to events and all are protected in the case of Trip Cancellation or Trip Interruption. They even claim to offer refunds on accommodations that are unsatisfactory and cover problems relating to delayed flights.

Lost Luggage…covered. The benefit reimburses for the cost to repair or replace baggage and the personal property contained. Even Baggage Delays are covered at the rate of $100 per day for the purchase of clothing, toiletries, and charging cables for cell phones.

Travel and Emergency Assistance Services are available by calling a toll free number 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This includes medical or legal referral assistance as well as emergency transportation or ticket replacement assistance.

The Travel Accident Insurance includes a $500,000 benefit.

There’s also Return Protection which will reimburse me for the cost of an item purchased if I’m dissatisfied with the item.

A Price Protection guarantee provides reimbursement for the difference in price on a purchased product when a printed advertisement at any retail store advertises it for less within 90 days. Looks like something to keep track of for Christmas purchases.

The Purchase Protection covers replacement or repair of purchases in the event of theft, damage or accident.

Finally, it offers Extended Warranty Protection which adds one additional year to the warranty of products.

I can think of a several times I could have used these benefits…a stolen computer, a damaged piece of luggage, a vacation cut short due to the illness of a relative.

I’ve added the toll free number for the credit card to my contacts in my cell phone so that should the need arise I’ll be able to take advantage of the benefits provided.

Do yourself a favor. Read your credit card agreement!






Evenings are Special

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.

Evenings are Special

Evenings are special –

A time to renew.

I know – do you?

I need someone to reach out

And hold me tight –

So what’s new?

Meghan & Jon on the evening of their wedding, 10/15/2011
Meghan, Bettie Lou’s granddaughter, & Jon on the evening of their wedding, 10/15/2011

Wedding Treasures

Who would have thought preparing for a wedding would turn me into a yard sale fanatic? Since we need over 200 bud vases for Emily’s wedding, we turned to yard sales and thrift stores to meet our needs.

Vases, vases, and more vases…in fact over 150 purchased from yard sales and thrift shops. My parents found many of these vases…after all, my dad is the yard sale master. He taught me a couple of lessons resulting in finding the vases at bargain prices ranging from 10¢ – 50¢. We invested only about $50 and with a half dozen cans of gold spray paint we’re set.

In addition to vases, we picked up several cake stands we’ll use to display desserts. Again, with an investment of less than $20 we’ve collected  five or six gorgeous plates that we’ll add to the ones used at Meghan’s wedding to create an inviting sweets table.

And while searching for vases and cake stands we found plastic storage bins for only $1 each…something I planned to buy to transport items to Apopka for the wedding.

Then I found extension cords. Of course I bought all that I found. You can’t have too many extension cords, especially with the wedding taking place in an atypical venue like an airplane hangar.

The nearly new card table and 4 chairs for only $15 won’t be used for the wedding, but I won’t need to borrow a table and chairs for Christmas this year.

IMG_1102My best find by far was a Cricut machine for the low price of  $30. This personal, electric cutter didn’t appear on any of my lists of items to purchase for the wedding, but it’s going to be a life saver as we make signs. So many wedding treasures!

I know I’m hooked. Today’s plans include a trip to Apopka for some final wedding planning, but we’ll be hitting yard sales and thrift stores on the way.

I’ve caught the yard sale bug while planning a wedding!

Dining Alfresco

Why is it that while out of town, dining alfresco, in the fresh air, seems absolutely normal? In fact, we seek out restaurants that offer outside dining. But when going out to eat locally, we rarely eat outdoors.

That’s changed this past week.

IMG_0980First, we acted like we were on vacation last Wednesday when we went for a bike ride through the southeast part of town and then ended our ride at Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille where we dined alfresco overlooking the newly renovated square. The cooler fall air made eating outside enjoyable, and I must admit it somehow seemed special drinking a Hurricane and eating a shrimp Po’Boy while seated at a wrought iron table on the sidewalk. Not quite New Orleans, but not quite Ocala either.

After walking across the street to check out the square, we rode the short distance home on our bikes.

Then yesterday, I joined friends for lunch at Silver Springs State Park where we brought our lunches and ate at the picnic tables overlooking the spring. Again, this is more like a vacation activity than something done on a Thursday afternoon a short distance from home.silverspringsnew

October is the perfect time of the year to partake in outdoor dining whether it be at a restaurant, a park, or on the patio at home. There’s something about dining alfresco that makes the meal special. Maybe we’ll order a pizza and eat on the porch tonight.


Would that be 2:00 AM or 2:00 PM?

It’s been an incredibly crazy week at work.

I sent an email to a student asking that she set up an appointment so I could help her get started in her class. When she asked me to give her a call anytime, I responded that I’d give her a call at 2:00 on Wednesday. Her reply, “Would that be 2:00 AM or 2:00 PM?”

I know students may notice that I grade work at 2:00 AM or send email at 3:45 AM, but I promise I will never call a student after 8:00 PM or before 7:00 AM – and calls before 9:00 AM are only made when a student or parent specifically asks for an early appointment.Common Sense 2

However, this student is not alone in the belief that I take calls in the wee hours of the morning. On Sunday at 1:40 AM I received a call from a student. Fortunately, my phone is set to block all calls received after 11:00 PM each evening so my phone did not ring and wake me in the middle of the night. It’s a good thing! I would have been angry to be awaken from the few precious hours I’m able to sleep each night.

Believe it or not, a third student proved ignorant about basic phone etiquette this week. In the space of 4 minutes, she called me 9 times. I didn’t answer until the ninth call because I was on the phone with another student, and I only answered on the ninth call because it was impossible for me to have a conversation with the constant interruption of the clicking noise of an incoming call. When I asked why she called nine times in four minutes…I need to talk to you.

In a not so patient tone, I let her know that when she calls and I don’t answer she needs to leave a message with her name, class, and brief message so I can return her call (this information was sent in an email weeks ago), but this time she should just send an email. I’ll get back to her when I finish with my other scheduled appointments.

I’ve decided we need to offer another course  – Common Sense 101; and maybe it should be a prerequisite for all other courses.


Weigh-in Wednesday: Week 42

One year ago this week, FedEx delivered my treadmill desk and while I didn’t start seriously trying to lose weight for another ten weeks, this desk inspired me to start exercising regularly. After walking and working for two months, I was ready to commit to losing weight in 2013.

Most days, Monday through Friday, I walk at least one hour and on many days over two hours while working. Initially, I only walked while talking to students on the phone since I found it difficult to grade work or answer email while walking. However, by January the only tasks I found impossible to complete while walking were writing with a paper and pencil and drinking water. I solved the water problem by simply using a straw, but I still can’t write…at least not if I want to read it later.

Thanks, John, for a wonderful early birthday gift that motivated me to get into better shape and in turn motivated you as well.

Treadmill desk - a great birthday gift!
Treadmill desk – a great birthday gift!

No weight loss this week, but at least I’ve held steady…still working on the last five pounds.

Sensational Sunrise Search

In January when John and I created our 13 in 13 list, I insisted that we include watching the sunrise on the east coast of the state and then the sunset on the west coast on the same day. We accomplished this in June, starting the day in Miami Beach and catching the sunset in Naples. The day ended as it began…lightning, thunder, rain…but it stopped just long enough for us to catch the sun rising and setting.

Sunrise Miami Beach

Naples sunset




I’m not sure what happened to me, but I’ve been obsessed with photographing sunrises and sunsets this year.

Sunset Fort DeSoto

Sunrise Fernadina Beach

Sunset at Mark Light Field, University of Miami


Sunset and moon rise Lake Rouseau

Some of the sunrises on Lake Weir

Sunsets on Lake Weir


I loved watching the sunrise over the Atlantic and set over the Gulf the same day, but as I look back at the pictures, the ones taken from our yard can’t be beat. They’re truly sensational, but I’m still open to suggestions…where are your favorite spots for a beautiful sunrise or sunset?

Pick People Over Gadgets

Oops! If this looks familiar that’s because I inadvertently scheduled it to be posted on September 30th! I didn’t follow my own advice from the 30th to slow down, and as a result I posted Pick People Over Gadgets before I intended. I recently heard Dear Abby’s daughter, Jeanne Phillips, describe her mother, the famous advice columnist as a “do as I say” person who rarely followed her own advice. Just for the record, I try not to be that type of mom…but today proves I need to take my advice and SLOW DOWN! It’s embarrassing to make mistakes that could easily have been avoided by taking the time needed to do it right the first time. Now I hope you’ll not only Slow Down, but Pick People Over Gadgets!

This is meant as a reminder to me as well as you. It’s not uncommon to be in a room with more gadgets than people, and each one offers another form of distraction.

On too many occasions each person is engrossed in their phone, tablet, computer, or even the television instead of interacting with one another. I think it’s even worse that each person isolates himself on his own individual screen because while watching TV has long been a distraction at least everyone was watching the same program and then discussing the game or movie or program.

Unfortunately, with individual screens there’s little reason to interact with the people with whom you share the space. One reading, one playing games, one watching videos, one surfing the web, while another works. No conversation. No common experience. No interaction.

I guess what really caught my attention was an article I read (on my iPad, but when I was at home alone) that described pajamas with dots than can be scanned using an iPhone so that a story can be read. How sad! Instead of a person reading a bedtime story, a child scans his own PJs and listens to the story on the phone?

I’m not advocating no screens when accompanied by others. I know we’ve always read the newspaper or magazines or books with others in the room and since it’s really no different now that you’re reading on a device instead of the traditional paper versions. Electronic games really aren’t much different than crossword puzzles or other paper and pencil games from the past and the distractions created by television haven’t changed much in the last 50+ years, but what has changed…the screens are with us everywhere! Let’s all work to give them a break.

Make people the priority. No screens at dinner…especially when at a restaurant. No screens at the movie. No screens at athletic events, concerts, or other entertainment events. And when you have guests or visit others, turn off the screens. Be in the moment. Enjoy your friends and family.

I know this is difficult, but it’s worth the effort. Our employers demand more and more of our time now that we’re always available on a device, but we can exercise more control. I won’t be leaving my phone behind because I’ll still be taking way too many annoying pictures, but I vow to turn off the screens and pay more attention to people.

I hope you’ll join my and choose people over gadgets.



Strong People

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. Today we’ll be thinking about my father-in-law, Johnny, since he was born on this day 94 years ago.

Strong People

Strong people are like volunteer palms.

They bend with the wind.

They are flexible.

They grow with balance and beauty.

They live to multiply.

Bettie Lou and Johnnie Sketch by Bettie Lou's brother Bud
Bettie Lou and Johnny
Sketch by Bettie Lou’s brother Bud


I think we’re a clan of volunteer palms!

What’s a Mother To Do: One Month and Counting

Today Emily and I are spending the full day together for the final fitting (fittings) of her wedding gown. The two of us meet Tami in the morning and after making adjustments, Tami will send us on our way awaiting her call to return so Emily can try on the dress again…more pins, more adjustments…and then we’ll leave Tami to her work again. We’ll repeat throughout the day until the dress is complete.

In between our visits with Tami, Emily and I will look for garage sales, pick up wedding items in the craft stores, make lists, lists, and more lists, and shop for shoes for me to wear to the wedding. Since we’ve been told this final dress making process may take ten or more hours, we’ll have lots of time to take care of items on our to do list, but at the end of the day, the dress will be complete and Emily will be taking it back to Orlando.

The last couple of weeks we’ve been busy taking trips to the wedding venue at the Apopka Airport, placing calls to vendors confirming details, making items to add a personal touch, and tracking RSVPs. It will be nice to spend the day together putting the finishing touches on plans for “the best day ever”.

Who knows? We might even be able to sneak a movie in if we have a little down time.

It’s hard to believe the wedding is only a month away!