Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

Amidst all of your joyous celebrations today, please remember the fallen soldiers who have died for our country's freedom...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pea soup and other fun (?) stuff.....

Memorial Day weekend is here and the cover has been taken off of my pool. My pool that has been sitting dormant all fall, winter, and spring except for some occasional chlorine tablets and a couple of hours/day with the pump going.

So, as you can imagine....the water now looks like thick, dark, pea soup. UGH.

In an effort to try and do it myself and save a little money, I have scrubbed, brushed,back-washed, and chemicalized it all.

It is still quite green this morning.

Ah, fun in the summertime for a pool owner!


Friday night Dave and I went to hear the Alabama Symphony Orchestra play and see a show called: "Classical Mystery Tour". It consists of four Beatle look-a-likes who tour around the world playing all of our favorite Fab Four tunes with the local symphony playing in the background. You might want to check it out to see if it comes to your will be worth it!

They sing, play guitars and piano as well as do costume changes during the sets to add even more authenticity to the music. Our 60+ (groan) bodies were (slowly) rockin' and a rollin' to the great old Beatles songs.

It was totally awesome and took us back to a time long ago when we were young...


I find myself still "fighting" with the backyard squirrels as they continue to find new ways to get to my bird food. My old "squirrel free" feeder was being held together by duct tape and love so I purchased a new one that has perches going up and down it at different levels. It also has a tray at the bottom to catch the falling seeds. The birds seem to love it....and so do the squirrels!

I sat in the house and watched a big ole squirrel just perched on the tray having his breakfast,lunch, or dinner of bird food. He looked quite content as he munched away...

So, I have now moved the feeder down the tree limb as far away from the tree trunk as I could so that the squirrels won't have a "jumping off" point. I will just have to wait and see if that works. So far so good....stay tuned!


As you can imagine, I am still trying to get back into some semblance of reality since my incredibly delightful Girlie beach trip. This reentry is not always so easy as life, laundry and other chores await me.

So, every once in a while I try to daydream about lazily relaxing to the sounds of the Gulf while the soft breezes cool me off from the warm summer heat. Care to join me?

Ahhhhhhh. : )

(view from the condo...)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Empty beach chairs....

Every day the lifeguards set up six chairs and two umbrellas for us. How wonderful to head out to the beach, knowing that this set up was ready and waiting for us. Some days a few of us headed down to sit and enjoy the wonderful Gulf breezes in the shade of the umbrella....A couple of us even ventured out into the water for a swim...but, mostly we would sit and talk about anything and everything...just enjoying our time together.

But, for this photo, I had to be satisfied just taking a picture of the empty chairs...because as the official "photographer" of the beach trip....the rule was that I wasn't to take any bathing suit photos of the Girlies for "publication", you will just have to use your imagination here...and, trust me that the chairs were filled with laughter, relaxation, and, especially, love.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

All good things must come to an end....

One last sunset...five and a half days of love with my dear friends....heartwarming talks....lots of laughter....mah jongg games....beautiful views....unbelievably delicious food...hugs, hugs, and popcorn on the beach...lying on our beach chairs and not wanting the day to end...this and so much more marked my "Girlie Trip 2010"...

Love you all...

The Girlies...and me.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

One more day.......

OK. We are trying not to think about it...BUT, tomorrow is our very last day here at the beach.

While everyone kind of did "their thing" today...I decided to head down to the beach since that isn't something that I can do at home. Sitting under the umbrella, I sat on the beach chair and relaxed...while "people watching" of my favorite past times.

One comes to realize that people come in all shapes and sizes...and, while at the beach...anything goes! Very interesting and amazing all at the same time. I can't help but wonder: "What are they thinking?!"

Of course, they could be saying the very same thing about me. : )

Monday, May 24, 2010

A sign that one of the other Girlies is up is when you smell the coffee brewing....

...and, then the day begins.

One by one we each make our way to the kitchen for a cup of coffee....or, a bowl of cereal with some fruit...etc.

It is such a nice way to start the day...

We sit and talk. Some of the talk is light and fluffy...and, then much of it becomes full of emotion as we recount many of the things that have transpired in the last few years.

Two of the six of us have had to deal with cancer and that still weighs heavy on our minds. There have been divorces and challenges that we have dealt with together...helping each other through some rough times.

We discuss our children, grandchildren, and the men in our lives. We talk about our dreams and wishes. We touch upon feelings that linger within each of us.

"Remember when...?" one of us will ask...and then the stories flow.

But, most of all, we speak about the love and admiration that we all have for each other. Some of us are brought to tears...and some of us find laughter in the stories.

But, most of all, our hearts are open to each other and this enduring friendship that we have.

How lucky we are to be a part of this circle of love...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Another day in paradise...

Day two at the beach with the Girlies and all is well.

The morning was spent talking (what a surprise!)...and, then, we finally decided to go down to the beach.

Truth be told....none of us really wanted to put our bathing suits on ! That is always a difficult thing after a long fall, winter and spring.

Once down there, we settled in on our chairs...some under the umbrellas and the others out in the warm sun. It was absolutely wonderful.

The ocean was clear and warm and a couple of us ventured out into it...that is, until someone said that the saw some sting rays....and, that did it for our swim.

But, there is nothing like the ocean breeze to totally relax you and make you forget all else that is going on in the world.

I'm not coming back to reality for four more days.... : )

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Have you ever laughed so hard that you cried?!?!

We did today... as we drove down to the beach.

We covered every topic possible in the less than 5 hour drive and the laughter was a great endorphin rush.

Once we arrived at our friend's beautiful condo we had another good laugh as we tried to get to the 19th floor. We had a special code that we needed to use to get the elevator to our floor...and, no matter what we did, we couldn't get there. Instead, we continued to ride up and down to all of the floors with the exception of the 19th! As the elevator doors opened on each floor we kept seeing the same people who were trying to get on...they kept seeing these crazy women (us) who were laughing so much...that no one was brave enough to get on with us. The doors would close and then the journey would continue....up and down...up and down.....up and....

When we finally managed to get to our floor, we were greeted with a lovely lunch of crab claws, shrimp, jumbo lump crabmeat, salad, etc. etc. Delicious.

Chilled wine was opened...and, the beach trip began.


Friday, May 21, 2010

I turned my clothes pink in the washer today....and, I don't even care.

It is raining cats and dogs outside...and, it doesn't bother me a bit.

The carpenter accidentally ripped some of my new carpeting yesterday....and, I'm not giving it another thought.


Because tomorrow morning I am heading down to the beach with five Girlies for some wonderful relaxation, a little Mah Jongg, lots of good eating and drinking, a ton of good books to read, my "Miracle" bathing suits, and some much-needed GIRLIE TIME!

Tomorrow cannot get here soon enough!

Stories from the beach to come....xoxo

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Painting day at Grammie's!

...and the results that I proudly displayed on my wall!

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. ~Pablo Picasso

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I woke up this morning missing two little voices saying: "Grammie, I'm up!"

Around 6:00 a.m. every morning I would have the sweetest alarm clocks in my house. First, Owen would tip toe into my room and softly say, "Grammie, I'm up". He would then go into a complete description of what our day would be. "First, we will brush our teeth...then we will change into our clothes...then we will have breakfast....then we will play! Okay Grammie?" he would say.

Shortly thereafter I would hear Audrey's cute voice on the intercom saying, "Grammie, I up! Grammie, I up!".

I loved, loved, loved my mornings with the two of them...what a special time.

Oh, how I miss those faces....

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My grandchildren went on a vacation and all that they left me with were incredibly joyous memories...

What I learned from Owen and Audrey's visit:

  1. Not reading the newspaper for 6 days can actually be very freeing.
  2. Popping a small piece of bubble wrap can mean 15 minutes of entertainment.
  3. Popping a bubblegum bubble that Grammie blows can bring about a sticky mess...but lots of giggles.
  4. Being first is sometimes very important.
  5. Sharing is a hard, but necessary, part of life.
  6. Everyone needs to be spoiled once in a while.
  7. It's a big world out there and home seems like it is in another country.
  8. Nothing feels better than a great big hug.
  9. If you get an "OW-ey" you can kiss it and blow on it and it will feel okay.
  10. Life is an adventure.
  11. Even though we don't always want to take a nap, we are always happy that we did (and, so is Grammie!).
  12. Taking a bath isn't really that bad if one has enough toys in the tub.
  13. Putting our own sprinkles on a cup full of ice cream is worth having to eat all of our vegetables.
  14. Sometimes one needs to get a little "crazy" and act like a kid.
  15. Everyone should have a "blankie".
  16. The smallest objects can hold the most fascination.
  17. Singing the same song over and over again is okay.
  18. Wearing a t-shirt with a princess on it can make you feel special.
  19. Wearing a t-shirt with a shark on it can be cool if you just saw one at the kids museum.
  20. It is important to have a favorite color and stick with it.
  21. If we put the words "super, duper, pooper" in front of any phrase will bring about laughter.
  22. It's okay to be silly.
  23. Jumping on Grammie's bed is great fun, but jumping on a trampoline is "funner"!
  24. Be nice to everyone because you never know when friends are going to come over and bring you a special toy.
  25. Waking up at 6 a.m. gives you more time to do fun things all day.
  26. Always say your age with a fraction after it.
  27. Being a little older can have its perks.
  28. If you are really, really good before bedtime, you might get to have two books read to you.
  29. If you ask very nicely, you might even get a third.
  30. It's hard to get baby peas on your, fingers work just as well.
  31. If Grammie gives you an oatmeal cookie, pick out all of the raisins first.
  32. Smiling can keep you out of trouble if you do something that you shouldn't.
  33. Always apologize when you hit your little sister on the head with a big ball.
  34. You can be a Super Hero if you just believe.
  35. If you don't want to eat everything on your plate, just say that your tummy says that it is full....but, it can handle just a little more if it is dessert.
  36. If you are supposed to be painting on a big piece of paper, it is okay to paint your hand. You can always make handprint art and Grammie will hang it up on her wall anyway.
  37. Wonder about everything.
  38. Don't worry if grown-ups cry a just means that they love you with all of their heart and hate to see you go.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Meeshka, Mooshka, Mickey Mouse

Oh boy, I am having such a great time spoiling Owen and Audrey! One of the perks of being a grandma, I guess!

While watching the Mickey Mouse Club on television this morning, I let the kids eat in the den(sorry Mommy and Daddy) .

So, in keeping with the theme, I decided that the breakfast pancakes needed to be "Mickey" replicas. A little extra pancake mix and some grape jelly and....

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Items may appear larger than they actually are....

They were teensy, weensy ice cream cones with just a couple of sprinkles.... and a cherry on top that was already eaten by the time Grammie got her camera out...(Just in case Mommy and Daddy are checking my blog while they are away!)

I never realized that spoiling my grandkids could be soooo much fun! : )

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Friday, May 14, 2010

...and other tales of babysitting my grandchildren!

They're here! My two precious grandkiddos are visiting Grammie....and, it is lovely, heartwarming, delicious and absolutely exhausting JOY! (I can see all of the other grandma's out there shaking their heads with total understanding!)

The foursome flew in late Wednesday night...yesterday was spent playing in a park up the street, digging in Grammie's sand box, and splashing in the little backyard pool while Mommy and Daddy were still in town to enjoy it all.

In between all of this was a visit to the children's shoe store where Grammie promised Owen and Audrey a new pair of shoes. Owen went first...and, after trying on about 4 pairs, one was selected and he was content to run around the store with his brand new shoes.

Then, it was Audrey's turn. One month shy of turning two, this little diva got to make the decision about which shoes she liked the best. Her smart mommy said that if Audrey doesn't like something, she won't wear, I totally understood. We women have a mind of our own, don't we?

Now, Audrey's favorite color is pink, with purple coming in a close second. So, we basically tried on every pink shoe in the store. Shoe boxes were piling up all around us and luckily we had a very patient shoe saleswoman. Too big, too small, too wide, too narrow...or, Audrey just plain didn't like them...we tried them all.

We finally settled upon an adorable pair of white shoes with pink polka dots that had a special feature--they squeaked when she walked in them. I don't mean a "new shoe squeak"...I'm talking about a loud, rubber duckie squeak! She was delighted. I thought that this will be helpful in keeping tabs on where she is...

Huh? What was I thinking? Even when she is napping, I can still hear the rhythmic "squeak, squeak" in my head! Oh, oh, oh....

The Book Store Adventure

So, Mommy and Daddy headed to the beach this morning for a wedding...and, Grammie has the two munchkins on her own!

I am learning that going out takes a lot of work. Getting them in and out of their car seats can be a ten minute task. As we pulled into the local Barnes and Noble parking lot I accidentally turned my purse upside down in the parking lot and everything from lip gloss to money to individual eye drops to gum were spread out everywhere. My roll of mints began to roll under the car next to ours. The kids thought it was great fun. Grammie didn't. : )

I picked the bookstore because they have a cute little children's area. The main attraction was the train set sitting on a low table inviting the kids to come and play. The both enjoyed this immensely....and then we went to pick out some books to purchase. (!!)

Audrey took off in one direction, her shoes squeaking with each step...and, Owen began to look for some super hero books. I found Audrey sitting on the floor playing with a huge basket of stuffed animals and dolls. There was Dora, the Explorer, Minnie Mouse, and an assortment of other book characters that delighted her. She is so verbal for her age and was able to name each one.

In the meantime, Owen found several (and, I mean several!) books that he liked..and then was off to play on the train tracks again.

Now, getting them to the cashier so that I could pay for the books was a whole 'nother story. Suddenly, Owen, the "big brother instigator" was gleefully running up and down the book aisles with squeaky little sister following right behind.

Grammie began to chase them down, which brought huge giggles and screams of silliness from the two of them as they continued to run away from me.

The people in the store were getting a kick out of all of this....especially when Audrey ran by squeaking! It was quite a sight.

So, you ask, how am I having time to post today?

Well, they are both sound asleep, having been fed lunch and read stories...and, Grammie is heading to her room to do the same! Naptime for all! : )

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

You rang?

I was concerned at 6:30 this morning when I heard my garage door opening in that I wasn't expecting anyone...

It turned out to be Dave who had driven over here on his way out of town to make sure that I was okay.

"Is everything alright?" he asked.

"Sure, are you ok?" I said, still drowsy from being awakened and surprised by his early morning visit.

Well, it turns out that Dave received a phone call from my house at 2:00 a.m. this morning. Now, unless I am doing things in my sleep, I knew that I didn't make any phone calls at 2:00 a.m. We checked "redial" on my bedroom phone and his number did not appear.

He left to go to work and the mystery remained.

Later on when I walked into my kitchen, I noticed that the phone was not in its charger...and, in fact wasn't anywhere to be seen. After searching the house, I walked outside (where I had spent some time yesterday afternoon) and called my home phone with my cell. Sure enough...I heard the phone ringing!

I finally located it out near the fence, covered in dirt and looking like it had been roughed up quite a bit.

I checked the redial on that phone and there it was: Dave's home phone number!!!!

The only thing that we can figure is that one of my backyard critters....probably a raccoon...made the now infamous call to Dave in the middle of the night! Since Dave was my last phone call received last night...the critter must have accidentally hit one of the redial buttons while playing around with the phone.

Mystery solved. : )

(One of my blogging friends just asked why it took Dave so long to check on me....and, I must say that my first reaction was how nice that was for him to be concerned...but, my second thought was that 6:30 might have been a little late if I was in trouble at 2 a.m.! Hmmmmm...we may have to talk about that when he gets back into town...or, at least work on his reaction time in case the raccoon ever calls him back!) : )

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Camera charged? Check.

Paper towels purchased? Check.

Crib set up? Check. Diapers purchased? Check.

Training wheel bike tire repaired? Check. Helmets ready? Check. Sandbox filled? Check. Car seats installed? Check. High chair borrowed? Check. Instructions from Mommy read? Check. Toys purchased? Double check!(ha ha) Electrical sockets plugged? Check. Cookies baked? Check. Etc. Etc. Etc.

My shopping list this week looks very different than it usually does. I have two new "little people" arriving who will be under my care for several days and I want to have everything ready so that I can just enjoy them!!!

Tomorrow night cannot come soon enough.

Grammie's arms ready for some grandbaby hugs? CHECK!

: )

Monday, May 10, 2010

The countdown begins.....

...until Adam and Jenny arrive along with these two!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday night marks the arrival of my Minnesota gang....and, I can't wait!

Until then I am off to do errands as I get things ready for this wonderfully joyous onslaught.

: )

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

(Mom dressed up for a tea party!)

"A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie." ~Tenneva Jordan

Sending out well deserved love and hugs to all of you blogging mothers out there...and, to my own, very special Mom!!!!


Saturday, May 08, 2010

The teal balloons were released into the air....

...just as the "Motherwalk" for Ovarian cancer got started.

I didn't have my camera with me so I snapped a few shots with my cell phone...thus the fuzziness.

It was a clear, sunny, and slightly chilly morning here in Birmingham as I walked with my friend and Ovarian cancer survivor, Sherri. We walked three miles in hopes of raising some much needed money for Ovarian cancer research. I couldn't help but notice the difference in this walk and the breast cancer walks that I have participated in. I am hopeful that the organization will strengthen and that the number of participants will increase more and more as the years go by.

Because it is referred to as the "silent killer", our race day t-shirts said: " whispers"...As women, it is important that we get this message out to others. Let's hope that further research will change those symptoms from whispers to shouts!

Friday, May 07, 2010

The doorbell rang and there stood my dear friend and a bottle of wine...

It had been way too long since the two of us had visited with each other. She and her husband had moved from Birmingham to Atlanta many, many years ago...but, we have always stayed in touch and our friendship has stood the test of time for all of these years.

There are two things about our relationship: We never run out of things to talk about and, we always seem to have some wine when we are together. This time was no different.

The wine that she brought was quite pricey and needed extra special care. We were to chill this bottle of Pinot Noir for 30 minutes before we took a sip. No less-no more.

While it was chilling a bottle of Pino Grigio was opened and poured...and the conversations began. It's always wonderful to play catch up...especially with old friends of 34 years or so.

After eating lunch out earlier, we had decided to stop at the local seafood market and pick up some fresh shrimp and crabmeat for dinner at home. While sipping our wine and enjoying some white bean dip and hummus, I prepared a large salad, crabcakes...and began to boil the shrimp. Cocktail sauce was made...the table was set and dinner was served.

The thirty minute chilled wine was opened and, I must say, it was absolutely incredible. Smooth and mellow...a really enjoyable treat. It was so good that we didn't even wait for it to "breathe"!

We both talked about the fact that this was a relatively healthy, low fat, low calorie meal....that is....UNTIL....

...the dishes were cleared away and we both began to think about something sweet..... like chocolate (of course) ! Throwing caution to the wind we began to eat some of my warmed up homemade chocolate chip cookies by dipping them into some creamy milk chocolate that I had melted in the microwave. We snorfed these delicacies down and laughed out loud at our lack of self-restraint.

Wine, chocolate and doesn't get much better than that.

Diets begin tomorrow... : )

Thursday, May 06, 2010

My "mama" bird.

As I previously posted, a nest was built in the hanging planter at my front door.

Some of the plants inside the planter have slowly died as I haven't wanted to disturb the nest...even though I have thought that the comings and goings from my front door may have caused the "family" to move on.

However, yesterday, as I was walking back inside my house, I let out a little gasp as I saw a little pair of eyes staring at me. It was the mama bird who was resting comfortably inside of the nest keeping her eggs warm, I suppose. (Or, maybe it was the papa bird if they are a progressive bird species!) : )

So, for now, I will try to only go in and out of my side door...that is until the babies are born.

After all, I guess that this makes me a grandma again, right?

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

As the rain came down in Louisville on Saturday...

...we all sat comfortably dry in Lexington at Dave's friends' home...the guys enjoying their Mint Juleps and keeping a close eye on the Derby goings on....and the women sipping wine and chatting in the other room.

Normally, we would have gone to Keeneland and enjoyed the Derby there...but, the rain was equally as torrential there in, we stayed put.

That being said, we all did decide to write down our bets for the Derby race and have the guys go out and place them for us. Believe it or not, the Keeneland track even has a drive through betting booth...making it quite convenient for its patrons to spend their $$$$.

Meanwhile, back at the house, the Derby programs and various and sundry tip sheets were being studied. Now, I generally go by my gut and dismiss all of that prognastication...but, I did pay attention to the television when they reported that the favored horse---Lookin at Lucky was going to be starting in the gate one position that hadn't seen a winner in over 30 years--the one closest to the fence.

With that in mind, I took note of a dear friend's comments about his choices as the Derby winners: Lookin at Lucky, Super Saver, and Ice Box. I decided to eliminate Lookin at Lucky from my bet and placed a $2 Exacta box bet on #2 (Ice Box) and #4 (Super Saver). For those of you who might not be familiar with the better terms, an exacta box bet means that you are betting that your two numbers will come in either first or second.

So, the race began on the very sloppy track. As I expected, Lookin at Lucky started out in front and quickly moved to the back of the pack due to his unlucky gate position. Miraculously, Super Saver began to move towards the front...and crossed the line first! At this point I realize that I am holding half of the winning combination...however, all of the excitement was focused on the jockey who had now broken a record by winning 3 Derby's in a row...and nothing was said about who came in second.

What seemed like hours went by and finally it was announced that Ice Box had crossed the line in the second spot!!!! My picks had come in first and second...I was a winner!

I excitedly won $152. for that was a great moment....and, a memorable way to end my 2010 Derby experience.

(...and, of course, I thanked my friend, Tony, for his great tips!) : )

Watch out....I'll be back next year!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Back home.

Another Kentucky Derby has come and gone...this one a bit (!!) soggier than usual with lots of torrential downpours rain. Luckily, our tickets this year were for The Oaks on Friday when it was a picture perfect skies and lots of sunshine! People were decked out with their beautiful hats and touches of pink were everywhere as support was shown for breast cancer research. The Survivor's Walk was a touching part of the day as the breast cancer survivors made their way around the track behind signs signifying their years of survival.

Here are a few snapshots of our day at Churchill Downs...

More weekend stuff to come after the unpacking and laundry are done...

(and thanks to my sister for filling in for me while I was gone...she had some great advice for us all!)

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Adventures at the DMV

...or, How I Became a Man, and Other Cautionary Tales

(While Grammie is at the Kentucky Derby, her guest blogger is Owen, Audrey, and Celia's Auntie Sherri, a freelance writer, designer, and event planner in Florida.)

Following the theft of my wallet last weekend, one of my first priorities was to replace my driver's license. I first attempted to make an appointment online, but the earliest available date at any of the local offices was six weeks out. So I took my place in the line snaking outside the building where I first earned a driver's license 41 years (!) earlier. It actually didn't seem that long a line, but it didn't move much as we stood outside in a steady drizzling rain, collectively celebrating each small advancement -- to the steps, to the covered area, to the door, to inside, and finally to the check-in podium -- after which we got to wait some more, in chairs that lined the small room. Joy at my number being called was short-lived as I was then directed to yet another line, one of three color-coded "feeder" lines to the final step of this journey.

Unlike most of his stereotypically surly colleagues, the clerk who eventually assisted me was cheerful, but not exactly an electronics whiz with his "hunt and peck" method of typing and struggles with the scanner for all the documents I had to bring with me. As time wore on, he commented on what a "slow" day it had been for them, to which I replied with an incredulous smile, "Try telling that to everyone who has been on line all afternoon!" His surprise seemed genuine as he glanced at the coded number ticket I had been given at the podium and informed me that I'd only waited 21 minutes. "Sure," I told him, "Between check-in and you, but that doesn't include the two hours prior to that!"

I was disappointed when he took my picture, hoping that they could just somehow pull up the relatively decent 8-year-old photo on my stolen license as they had at renewal two years earlier, instead of capturing my older, "fluffier," current rain-soaked state. Although it's been at various lengths since that original 2002 shot, my hairstyle is even again close to the one on that license after my major cut for Locks of Love last December.

Unlike many in the room, I had managed to retain a somewhat positive attitude and sense of humor -- after all, I hadn't had to deal with them in person in eight years. But my patience began to wear thin as person after person was handed a license as we waited again in the seating area. When I ventured to the podium to inquire about my license's status after about 25 minutes (20 more than it was supposed to take), I was told to take a seat, like a child being sent to "time out." When my name was finally called almost 45 minutes later, I just took a quick glance and went on my way, anxious to get out of there. It wasn't until later at home that I discovered that Mr. Hunt and Peck had erroneously typed in my gender as MALE!

I hoped I could get the correction made online or by phone, as suggested by friends, but after a half hour on hold with Tallahassee, I was told I had to go back to the local office in person.

Needless to say, I have chosen to remain a man a while longer until I can find the time and energy to deal with the DMV again!

On a more serious note...

My wallet theft is proof that it can happen to anyone, no matter how careful you think you are, and I hope my experience will serve as a reminder to always stay aware of your surroundings and personal belongings. I encourage you to write CID (check ID) on all of your debit and credit cards, and thank those merchants who do check, no matter how small your purchase. "My" thief would have been stopped in the very store my wallet was taken had the cashier just asked for ID when my debit card was used there (yes, you read that right) before the thief and her cohort continued on their way. Those few seconds of inconvenience pale in comparison to the countless hours spent dealing with the aftermath of this seemingly minor incident, as one scrambles to issue fraud alerts, resolve the financial aspects, and replace everything, not to mention the emotional distress and sense of violation.

In addition to CID, avoid carrying any unnecessary items like checks or extra credit cards, and never keep your Social Security card in your wallet! Keep an eye (or even better, a hand) on your purse, and carry rather than wear your backpack in crowds -- and be sure both are securely closed. My theft occurred in a crafts store, so I thought nothing of being engaged in conversation by another shopper, who is now the prime suspect (my description of her matched that given by another victim a half hour earlier in a nearby store). I would love to see surveillance video so I could see how this actually happened -- I am still amazed and baffled.

I will continue to be friendly and trusting, but with a bit more vigilance. Mostly because I just can't bear the thought of another afternoon in line at the DMV!