“You have GOT to be kidding me!  You’re going to blog about slugs???”

It’s been described as having a dry-tire surface to it.  I have to admit, as close as I got to the slug to get these pictures, I did NOT touch it!

LOL!  Yes I am!  Because I was so incredibly stunned when I saw this black stick start slithering across my driveway last week!

Meet a black-velvet featherleaf slug, which is a species of slug introduced from South America to northern Florida in the 1960s.  This website seems to have a good description, and I found some snippets of information at these other sites. 

Florida Slugs
Black-velvet featherleaf slug sightings in the Jacksonville, FL area.

The one I saw was pretty long and slender. About the length of my middle finger (3-4″?).

Here are the other pictures I got. Enjoy, if you dare!

24. March 2011 · Comments Off on That Wisteria Book I Was Looking For…."The Floatplane Notebooks" · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags:

On the post I just wrote a few hours ago, I mentioned a book I had read several years ago that involved a very old wisteria, and how the author had personified it in several chapters.

In my crazy search for the book’s title (which mostly yielded references to ABC’s Desperate Housewives), I found this forum that people use to find names of books they’re trying to remember.  Part of the AbeBooks.com website.  I submitted a request, put in what I remembered about the plot and within 6 hours I had two replies.

Thanks to Anna on the forum, I now can share the information with you!

The book my book club read in 2006 was called The Floatplane Notebooks by Clyde Edgerton.  One of the reviewers compares the literary style to William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying and they’re absolutely right!

19. July 2009 · Comments Off on A Barenaked Ladies Concert · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags:

Many of you saw the photo I’d e-mailed out yesterday — you can quickly post to your blog with your telephone and that’s what I did.

“What’s the big deal? So it’s a blurry picture of a bunch of guys playing on a stage….it could have been anyone”

You’re right, it could have been the band that was playing earlier, lots of classic rock covers…not bad. But it wasn’t, it was the best I could do with my phone camera. If you want better pictures, I’ll steal these.

Five years ago, Dave and I had tickets to see the Barenaked Ladies in Orlando. Unfortunately, I got really sick and Dave ended up going with one of our friends, Andy, instead. Dave is the bigger fan, but the concerts are a lot of fun and I’m sorry I couldn’t go.

While we were on vacation, we were listening to one of Dave’s live tracks from an “Everything to Everyone” concert and Dave said, “Boy, I wish we could see one of their concerts again, it’s a lot of fun.” So one day on the internet during our vacation, I checked their concert schedule and there it was: Council Bluffs, IA on July 18th. Whoa…that’s SOON!

With some further investigation, I learned that BNL was playing at a Ribfest outside of the Mid-America Center to launch the RAGBRAI bike ride event which started in Council Bluffs this year. And that if you used the promotion code “RAGBRAI” on Ticketmaster, the tickets were half price (although, with all of Ticketmaster’s fees and charges, it ended up more 2/3 the price). Whoo hoo!

Dave and I went and had a great time, enjoying some Tennessee ribs — some of the best I’ve ever had — and then finishing up just in time to get a decent view of the concert! BNL played for about 90 minutes, and by then many of the people were taking off to prepare to start their ride (I guess folks were free to start at midnight Saturday night/Sunday morning). We debated sticking around afterwards to meet the band, but we couldn’t figure out where on the Ribfest ground the band would be afterwards, so we ended up just leaving.

From 2009 07 18 RAGBRAI_Ribfest_BarenakedLadies

Their concerts are fun — a lot of improv and fun banter. Of note was Ed Robertson picking on the sign language lady standing in the front row with her very own spotlight, signing the entire concert, songs and all. He was trying to talk really fast, or use really strange words to try to challenge her. He then lauded her for doing so well with their two “brand new” songs that Ed claimed he didn’t even know the words for :-).

I was tickled at all the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese pasta that gets tossed up onto the stage during the song “If I Had $1000000”.

From 2009 07 18 RAGBRAI_Ribfest_BarenakedLadies

PS: I don’t get to go to music concerts a lot. I guess I average 1 concert per place I’ve lived, but I don’t even think I saw any when I was living in FL. In Ohio Dave and I went to a Stone Temple Pilots, Godsmack and Disturbed show that had us fearing a random urinalysis for the next 48 hours or so. The last famous act I got to see live was Harry Connick, Jr. in Cary, NC 2 years ago. That was amazing.


We’re looking to replace our time-tested, wonderfully reliable 2003 Honda Odyssey. It’s a great van, we love it still, it took us from here to the east coast and back last month without incident, which was great! But it’s starting to get a bit old, and every trip to the dealership for an oil change ends up uncovering numerous other problems.

Here’s a shot of Old Faithful when she was just a pup, still in the lot at Space Coast Honda, Rockledge, FL, on March 17, 2003:

From HondaOdyssey

I love the Odyssey for its smooth ride, spacious bucket seating for the boys in the middle row, and the option for a 3rd row of seats when you want to carry EVERYBODY, such as my boys and my 3 nephews on a road trip with my sister to Florida in 2007:

From 2007 08 03 VollmerBabaTriptoOrmondBeachFL

Dave loved that when the 2nd and 3rd rows of seats were removed, he could transport his train layout:

From HondaOdyssey

Cool, huh?

We also like having the flexibility to tow stuff, if need be. We’ve used the van to tow trailers, including this nifty camper last September:

From HondaOdyssey

(Mind you, it was horrible not being able to see behind us for the 4-hours-each-direction drive between Omaha and North Platte.)

But I have to admit, I’m getting a bit sick of driving a minivan. It was fun for a bit, but I’m not sure I want to continue. Those newer vans are pretty nice, though — perhaps I can stick it out for one more vehicle cycle? Bottom line, the minivans can hold Dave’s layout for a train show, and that’s a very convenient thing for our family. Not to mention transporting the boys’ friends around if need be.

What if I didn’t have to get a minivan again? What do I want? THIS! The Hybrid version. I had a chance to ride in one earlier this year — thanks Louise — and it was so so so so nice!

Pros of a Highlander Hybrid:

1.) It’s a sexy SUV. I don’t have to feel quite so — um — matronly driving around town.
2.) It’s a hybrid — what can I say? We absolutely love our Prius and might be willing to invest in another Toyota hybrid.
3.) It has an option for a 3rd row of seats, many SUVs don’t have that…
4.) We can still tow stuff with this particular hybrid, up to 3500 lbs. on a Class II hitch…not all hybrids can!

Cons of a Highlander Hybrid:
1.) Price — the version I’m interested has 3 rows of seats, and it’s the “Limited” version. Of course it’s the most expensive…it’ll hover right around $40K. We haven’t had a car payment in quite a while, so we need to make sure we can sustain the payment with our budget.
2.) Having a hybrid, as great as it is for the environment and gas budget…takes a certain amount of faith. Thanks to years of watching my Dad with tinker with his ’70-something Honda Civic, I know minimal amount about automobiles. (Don’t look now, but that’s my 1989 MULLET!)

From HondaOdyssey

But with a hybrid, so much of it is computerized, you can’t merely open the hood and see/smell/hear a problem. Instead, you have to take the vehicle to the local Toyota dealer and pay for a “diagnostic” test. Where the maintenance guys merely plug in the vehicle to a computer and the computer tells him/her what the problem is. With our Prius, we would get this red exclamation point that indicates a host of problems…only this “diagnostic computer” will tell us the real problem. That type of troubleshooting isn’t necessarily for everyone.
3.) We’d get the 3rd row of seats and a towing capability with the Highlander, but we’d lose the immense cargo space. That’s something Dave and I have discussed quite a bit — how many more times does Dave intend to show his layout? He’s in the midst of expanding the layout, meaning his ability to transport the layout in the back of the van might have some problems soon…who knows?

Running a close 2nd behind the Highlander Hybrid (in my opinion) is a 2009 Odyssey. Yep. Another minivan. I think Dave is leaning more towards the Odyssey — after all, we love the one we have, why change, right?

Jacob got his top tooth knocked out playing baseball last night during
our Memorial Day BBQ. At first he was spooked by it- the tooth is in
our yard somewhere – but after we assured him that the tooth fairy
will come anyway, he felt much better.

He found four quarters under his pillow this morning 🙂

Dave and I took a splurge and got a small fire pit for the back
porch. There's no shortage of sticks and branches in the yard to burn
up right now. I can't wait to use it this fall and teach the boys to
roast marshmallows!

I don’t consider myself an extremely proud person. I’m proud of my boys, my husband, even my well-behaved puppy dog, but I don’t often get too proud of myself.

A couple weeks ago, I know, I was proud of my clean house (which isn’t that clean anymore)!

Here’s something else I’m pretty proud of: Maryann’s Birthday Cake! Click on the photo for the step-by-step in how I did this.

What Maryann probably didn’t realize was all the brainstorms her husband and I went through: a cemetary, the USS Enterprise, flowers, and a red velvet Darth Vader cake had crossed our minds.

From 2008 05 10 Ma…

I guess it was after spending $35 for Timmy’s “Thomas the Tank Engine” 1st birthday cake that I felt that I could decorate my own cakes for a fraction of the cost, all the while doing something special for my boys and for friends. So for my birthday in 2006 I asked for cake decorating lessons at the local A.C. Moore craft store.

The class was fun and I learned SO MUCH! See more of my hand-decorated cakes here.

Chef Duff Goldman I am not, but I still have fun!

13. February 2008 · Comments Off on Do you like Nip/Tuck? I sure do! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags:

This show is SO twisted…it’s like a car wreck on I-95…you can’t help but watch!

Nip/Tuck, Tuesdays at 10pm on FX