Tag Archives: Jacksonville

Merry Christmas!

It’s been a nice, but somewhat busy few days here around Casa Poolman.

Most of Mrs. Poolman’s family came up from Jacksonville to visit over the weekend. This included both sisters, a brother-in-law, a niece a great-niece and a large boxer. Only two nephews and a girlfriend were otherwise occupied. We ate a lot, drank a lot and talked a lot. We had not all gotten together since sometime last summer, so it was a nice visit. Niece Ansley was down in the dumps because her husband is in the middle of a nine-month deployment on board a guided missile destroyer in the Persian Gulf. She was able to have a video conversation with him via her new smart phone. Not too shabby.

The gang headed home on Monday. Mrs. P and I went to Christmas Eve Mass at 6 pm. Some of my CCD children were the narrators for the Christmas Pageant which was part of the Mass. They did a great job. I’m proud of them.

Last week, I mentioned one of my students whose mother is somewhat frustrating. The problem is that she never can seem to get her son where he is supposed to be and when he is supposed to be there. This child desperately wanted to be a part of the pageant, but “Mom” couldn’t seem get him to any of the rehearsals, even those that were held during our regular class sessions. Unfortunately, the child is dependent on the Mom to get him where he needs to go. We can’t get too angry at the child, but the mother is another issue. He did show up for the first of our two programs during the regular CCD time slot last Wednesday and we allowed him to read. “Mom” promised me she would have him there for the Christmas Eve Mass. All the other kids were there by 5:30 as directed.  Jack was a no-show. My co-teacher, Sherry, and I were steaming, but we had a Plan B for the rest of the team. Then, at 5:55 pm, just as we were ready to walk the kids from the school to the church for Mass, young Jack came running up. Sherry and I shared some not-very-Christmas-like thoughts about “Mom.”

Christmas Day was fairly low key. Our children and their “sig-others” spent the first part of the day with the other sides of their families. They came over here around five o’clock for a Christmas dinner and opening presents.

Mrs. P is working today and tomorrow. I was pretty-much a slug today. Leftovers for dinner. Not to bad.

 

“Jersey Boys” and Bahama Breeze make a great evening!

We had a busy and very good weekend.

Mrs. Poolman and I headed down to Jacksonville for a quick overnight with her sister and brother-in-law, Bonnie and Rick, and to see the touring production of “Jersey Boys.” It was a lot of fun. Another couple, friends of Bonnie and Rick’s, also joined us. We started the evening with dinner at Jacksonville’s new “Bahama Breeze” restaurant. That is well on my want to becoming my favorite restaurant chain. It was really good! I had the grilled chicken with cilantro crema. Oh my! I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

I spent most of the dinner getting up and checking the Florida-Louisville “Elite Eight” game in the bar. Unfortunately, the Gators blew an 11 point lead in the last seven minutes to lose out on a trip to the Final Four. It was the only downer of the evening.

I have wanted to see the “Jersey Boys” for several years and have been on the look-out to find a touring group that would come close to Savannah. The show follows the story of the musical group, the Four Seasons (Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, etc.) I’ve been a Four Seasons fan since I was in high school. The production mixes drama scenes with many of the groups musical numbers. The music starts off a little slow as the show tells the story of the group’s early years. However, once they got their first hit in “Sherry,” their careers and the production took off.

This show is all about the music. The actor / singers did an excellent job. The actor who played Frankie Valli stole the show with his solo of “Can’t take my eyes off of you.”

If you like the music and have a chance to see the show, it’s definitely worth the price of a ticket.

Children, movies and a holiday week coming to an end

The rest of our holiday-vacation week has gone fairly well. Mrs. Poolman and I have been kept busy entertaining an easily bored, and somewhat difficult-to-please 11-year old.

On Thursday, we visited the Georgia Railroad Museum (aka: The Roundhouse Museum.)

The turntable at the Georgia Railroad Museum

A friend of ours is the curator there and we thought it would be a good outing. I enjoyed it. Mrs. P was neutral. Christine the Younger liked the short train ride, although the complained about being uncomfortable in the tight seat most of the time. Sigh.

After the train museum, we took her to a movie, “We Bought a Zoo!” The movie wasn’t at all what I expected. Instead of a silly, children’s comedy (Think Kevin James.), it was a pretty decent flick, based on a true story. At times, the movie had a few too many story lines running simultaneously, but I would still give it a strong recommendation, especially for someone looking for a PG rating for kids and “tweens.”

Actually, the evening before, we rented another movie that turned out better than expected – “Letters to Juliet.” It was a cute, feel-good movie that was entertaining. It won’t be up for any Academy Awards, but it was certainly worth the $2 rental fee. I was the only one in our group who picked up on the reunion of Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero as the older-generation, reunited lovers. The pair played Guinevere and Lancelot in the 1967 film production of “Camelot.” The movie was just the beginning; their relationship continued beyond the ending credits.

Note: After having a son, the pair went their separate ways. Years later, Redgrave and Nero reunited personally and were married in 2006.

Redgrave and Nero in "Camelot."

Writer Princess joined us for a dinner of homemade lasagna (my sauce, Mrs. P’s “construction.”) Son-in-Law was fighting a bad cold, so he stayed home. (Thank you!)

Friday was scheduled to be our last day with young Christine. It was a gorgeous day, so we headed out to the beach. Obviously, it was too cold to go in the water, but it was a nice day for a walk on the sand.

Tybee Island beach, December 30, 2011

Both our children, SIL and Poolboy’s girlfriend were heading to Jacksonville Friday evening, to spend the New Year’s weekend with their cousins. That worked out well. They were able to give Christine a ride back home.

All told, it was an interesting week, but we’re glad to have our house back.

We’re planning a quiet New Year’s Eve. Our neighbors have invited us and a few other folks for game-night evening. We may make it until midnight, but I’m not taking any bets. In any case, it’s just a two-house walk home. I don’t think we’ll get into any serious trouble.

Happy New Year!

A few more Georgia jokes

Tomorrow is the Florida-Georgia game, so I need to get a few more Georgia jokes out of my system. After tomorrow’s game, I may not have the opportunity again for a year.

There was a couple who were getting a divorced, so the judge said to
the child, “Who do you want to live with? Do you want to live with
your Dad?”

“No,’ said the child, “he beats me.”

“Do you want to live with your Mom then?” “No, she beats me too”.

“Well who do you want to live with?”

“I want to live with a Dawg fan,” said the little girl,. “Because they can’t beat anybody that’s good.”

*    *    *

A Georgia grad was hunting in the woods. He came upon a
beautiful woman laying naked in the grass. “Are you game?” He
asked. The women said “yes”. So he shot her.

*   *   *

Did you hear that they can’t have any more parties at Georgia?

The guy who knew the recipe for ice graduated.

OK. It’s out of my system…for now.

Go Gators! Let’s  make it 19 of the past 22.

 

Florida-Georgia game this weekend

In honor of the annual Florida-Georgia game, I need to get a few shots in. We will have our usual viewing party, but I’m not real confident we will be happy about the game’s outcome.

So for all my Georgia-fan friends,here is something to think about.

One old dawg fan brought his prized rooster to Jacksonville last season to show him off before the Florida/Gawja game. The dawg fan wanted the other dawgettes to see how talented the rooster was. He yells to the rooster, “The dawgs just scored.” The rooster started strutting down the sideline crowing as loudly as all the dawg fans had ever heard a rooster crow. His head tilted back and his eyes rolled way back in his head as he bellowed…..”cock a damn doodle dooo” ……after which he almost passed out from exhaustion. One of the bullpups excitedly clamorred, “Wow, what does he do if we win the game?” The proud rooster’s owner said, “When we wins the game, the damn rooster runs around in damn circles and tries to fly around the field while bellowing “cock a damn doodle doooooooo….”

“Hot damn,” said the excited bullpup. What does he do when we win two in a row??”

“Well, I don’t exactly know,” said the puzzled owner. “The rooster’s only 20 years old.”

 

Gettin’ ready for a cruise

Earlier this year Poolboy decided he wanted to organize a family vacation.

We have been on so many we can’t count them all a number of cruises and that is Poolboy’s all-time favorite activity. He did the research back in the winter and came up with an extremely good deal on a five-day Carnival cruise out of Tampa in the fall.

The group grew to 16 people (all adults), including our entire immediate family, Son-in-Law’s brother and sister-in-law, and a good group from Mrs. Poolman’s side of the family in Jacksonville.

A number of the group will be on their first cruise. As we get closer the excitement is building. We are going to have a pre-cruise preparation gathering this evening at Casa Poolman to bring all the newbys up to speed and to coordinate travel and shore excursion arrangements.

Like many enjoyable activities, half the fun is in the anticipation and the memories after it’s over.

Vacations gone awry Part II

In the early 1990s we were living in Oklahoma, far from both our families in Pennsylvania and Florida. We wanted to combine a vacation with a visit to Mrs. Poolman’s family in Jacksonville. The plan was to have the opportunity to visit, but not necessarily have to deal with family 24/7. (If you want to hear God laugh, just tell him your plans.) Our solution, which we thought was brilliant at the time, was to rent a beach-front condo in Jacksonville Beach, about a half hour drive from the in-laws home.

“Gee,” we said to ourselves. “We can combine a beach vacation with a family visit without being totally inundated with family around the clock. This is perfect.”

We were wrong. We totally miscalculated Mother-in-Law’s guile and talent for conspiracy.

I need to say that I loved my late in-laws. I really did. Overall, we got along fabulously. FIL was laid-back to a fault. MIL, on the other hand, made up for her husband’s low initiative by being a fanatical planner and instruction-giver. She was always well meaning, but occasionally got carried away with her plans. That summer was one of them.

A few days before we flew to Jacksonville, Mrs. P was talking to her mother on the phone about the upcoming trip. MIL enthusiastically told Mrs. P that she had come up with a wonderful idea. She had rented another condo in the same building for the same week. She thought our idea of a vacation sounded like such fun she decided they would join us. And she had invited her brother and sister-in-law, and her three other grandchildren, ages roughly seven to 13, to spend the week with them.  And so they did.

Of course, the cousins all wanted to spend every waking moment together. The result was that rather than having a quiet week at the beach with our two children, we “enjoyed” a large group vacation with just about Mrs. P’s entire extended family.

It wasn’t terrible; I wouldn’t classify it as a “vacation from Hell.” But it certainly wasn’t what we had planned. I don’t think my mother-in-law ever really figured out why we didn’t appreciate her scheme.

We never “vacationed” in Jacksonville again.

Easter Weekend

We had a furlough day on Friday, so this was a three day weekend. That was fortunate, because we never would have been able to cram it all into two days.

Mrs. Poolman worked on Friday, gave me a day at home alone, which was a nice break. I love my wife, and I love doing things with her, but sometimes having a day entirely to myself is a nice change of pace. I didn’t get as much accomplished as I intended, but that is the same song stuck on re-play. I started with a trip to the doctor’s to get an antibiotic for my three-week old cold-turned-bronchitis. Having taken steps to get rid of the bacteria in my chest, I then spent the better part of the afternoon trying to clear a virus off my home computer. I also fixed the garage door opener.

As non-mechanical as I am, I am, as always, proud of myself for fixing the garage door opener.  The problem was that the door kept “bouncing” back open and it usually took three or four tries to get the door to stay down. We had our handy guy install a new opener about a year ago. I have no idea whatever happened to the directions and trouble-shooting guide. So, knowing as little about automatic garage door openers as I do, I thought about the problem.

“Suppose the door ‘thinks’ the end of its track is actually an inch or two lower than it is, and so when it hits the floor, it actually ‘thinks’ it is hitting an obstacle,” I thoughts to myself.

Lo and behold, when I examined the door, I discovered an adjustment screw. I adjusted the screw back about an inch. Now the opener ‘thinks’ it is at the end of its track when it hits the floor. It stays down. Someone who actually knows how garage door openers work would probably say, “duh, dummy.” For me however, I have once again fought the mechanical dragon and prevailed. A moment of triumph!

I made Mrs. P a dinner of saute’d tilapia filets, sweet potato fries (frozen) and a salad for dinner, for which she was most appreciative.

On Saturday, despite still trying to cough up a lung, I attacked the incredible amount of biomass that has fallen in our yard. We have a fairly large corner lot, with a number of sweet gum and oak trees.

Just a few of the piles, before bagging

An unsuccessful attempt to add an extra layer of protection against a blister under my work glove.

With the amount of crap that falls from those trees in the spring, we really could go into the alternative energy business. Poolboy came over and helped a little. Mrs. P did some work in the back yard. However, it was mostly Poolman vs. The Leaves. I ran out of both steam and time before I ran out of leaves, but there are still 41 bags of leaves stacked by the curb and awaiting pick-up later this week.

A solid day's work

Earlier this year, a friend of mine who is joining the church asked me to be his sponsor. It didn’t require much on my part, bit it did require our attending the Easter Vigil mass Saturday night. It was a very nice liturgy, and a big event for David and his family. But it was also more than two hours long. No big deal.

On Sunday, Mrs. Poolman and I had been planning to drive to Jacksonville for a lunch with her two sisters, along with various other family members. Somewhat to our surprise, Poolboy, Writer Princess and SIL wanted to come along. All five of us crammed into my Accord and made the trip. We had beautiful weather; a very nice lunch; and lots of “visiting.”  We got back home around 9 pm. I took a half-dose of Nyquil and hit the bed.

Ode to a green Gremlin

I ran across one of those on-line “top ten” lists the other day. This was the top-ten worst automobiles, broken down by time periods. As scanned the list, sure enough, there it was, the 1970 AMC Gremlin.

In the fall of 1970, I was a freshman in college, and living at home. It was time to replace the family car, which up until this time had always been a full size station wagon. With two children driving (my brother and I) and a third coming up shortly, my parents decided rather than getting one large car, they would buy two small ones. I remember us walking into a Ford dealership, and when no one spoke to my father in what he considered a reasonable period of time, turning right around and walking back out the door.

My parents must have seen this ad. Note the back window on the nearest car -- no hinges or release handle. Why are these people so happy?

The next stop was the American Motors/AMC dealership. We had owned a number of “Ramblers” as I was growing up, so this was a brand we were familiar with.  When my father told the salesman we were interested in looking at Gremlins, the salesman replied, “Oh, a Gremlin!” His jaw dropped when my father replied, “No, TWO Gremlins.”

We drove off with two Gremlins. The first was very “stripped down” by today’s standards. It had automatic transmission, but that was pretty much it. No radio, no AC, no carpet, no power anything, etc. However, that Gremlin looked like a luxury car compared to the second one. Painted metallic green, that baby was as spare as you can get. The salesman told us that AMC wanted to be able to advertise a Gremlin for less than $2,000 and so they had one model that was stripped to the bone. It had a black vinyl interior and a “three on the tree” standard transmission with a clutch that took about 50 pounds of force to depress. No radio. “Two-fifty air conditioning” – roll down two windows and go 50.  Here is the real kicker – to cut cost, they eliminated the back seat. There was just this big empty well behind the front seat ands the rear hatch-window did not open.

Imagine it's dark metallic green, with a thin white "racing stripe."

This became my primary car for the rest of my freshman year and when I was home from college in Florida over the following three years. A couple of years later, when I was a senior at Florida and my brother and his girl friend were students at Penn State, the Nittany Lions were in the Orange Bowl. We talked my parents into letting the three of us drive the “stripped down” Gremlin from Pittsburgh to Miami for the game. The idea being they would drop me off at school in Gainesville after the game. That was an interesting trip. With no back seat, we piled our bags in the back. Either my brother or I would sit-lay-sleep on the stack of luggage.

About a year after I graduated, I was working in Jacksonville for a TV station that paid well in experience but almost nothing in wages. I was without a car and got around by bumming rides with friends and roommates, and doing a lot of walking. My parents offered me the stripped-down Gremlin. I jumped at the offer. Within a few months, I moved to a station in Mobile where they did not have news cars. We were expected to drive our own cars and were paid mileage. For more than three years, I drove that Gremlin all over South Alabama and the Florida Panhandle covering news. That black vinyl interior and “250 air conditioning” worked well in the Gulf Coast summers. (Not!)

Mrs. Poolman and I were married by this time and she drove a new Toyota Corolla hatchback.  That was our “nice car.”

Just before we left Mobile, we came across another car and sold the Gremlin to a high school kid.

As I look back on it, that car was a cantankerous beast, but we did spend a lot of time and miles together. I’m glad to see she is now getting the recognition she justly deserves.

Final home game of 09

Mrs. Poolman and I took off Friday afternoon for the last Gator home football game weekend of the season. We stayed Friday and Saturday night with Mrs. P’s younger sister. When we arrived, we picked her up and went to Outback Steakhouse where we met up with other sister in law, brother in law, a nephew and a friend of his. Nice dinner. We beat the dinner rush crowd. Monday is my b-day. I don’t usually like any kind of fuss, but the sisters in law brought a couple of thoughtful presents and a tiramisu dessert, so all was very good.

We were off early Saturday morning with nephew Billy for the final tailgating session of the year. We had no trouble finding a spot in our usual area, but others did. I witnessed one minor altercation that brought up an interesting question.

In the section of campus where we tailgate, there is no organization or supervision. People park wherever they want, on a “first come-first served” basis. There is a group who fairly frequently tailgates very near us. They send a couple of people to “set up camp” fairly early. These “scouts” take yellow caution tape and tape off an area to park an additional six to eight cars. This is in a section of campus where tailgating is very popular, and parking spaces are at a premium.  Later in the morning or afternoon, depending on the game time, the rest of their group wanders in and parks in their “reserved” spots. Saturday morning, another couple of tailgaters were looking for a parking space. One passenger got out of their car and lifted the caution tape to park in the “reserved space.” One of the guys who was already there started yelling at them and told them they couldn’t park there because he was saving it for his family. They exchanged some words, and eventually the “interlopers” drove off to find a spot elsewhere.

I just watched the whole thing. The guy who was saving the spaces, “Dave”, came over to talk to me, and made a “Imagine the nerve of that guy,” kind of comment. He was surprised when I politely said, “To be honest, I think the other guy was right and you are wrong.” Surprisingly, he didn’t get angry. We had a very nice conversation, but I explained that I thought he was being very greedy to rope off that many parking spaces when there are so many people who are trying to find places to park. I told him that I didn’t think anyone would object to saving one or two spaces for later arrivals, but they had cordoned off an extremely generous section. If I had not found another space nearby, I would also have just lifted the tape and backed into one of his spaces.

You see this kind of thing a lot, at theaters, graduations, Christmas religious services, etc. You see a row or block of empty seats, but when you try to sit down, one person sitting in the row says that they have “reserved” that whole section for their family. My opinion is that it is a matter of degree. Saving one or two extra seats or parking spaces isn’t a big deal, but having one “early arrival” staking out a claim to a large section of seating or parking at what is expected to be a crowded event, is unreasonable. It annoys the heck out of me, when I’m the one looking for a seat, parking space, etc. What do you think?

In any case, the game went well.

The Gator Band

On our walk to the stadium we were joined by a couple hundred musicians, which was pretty cool. The introduction of the senior players before the game was actually quite emotional. Florida State didn’t put up much of a fight.

Tim Tebow's second-to-last snap in The Swamp

We left with about 5 minutes left in the game, so we could beat the traffic and get back to Jacksonville. However, I understand from listening to the radio in the car, that the post-game celebration was extensive, with a full stadium staying around to applaud Tim Tebow and the rest of the team. Sorry we missed it, but by leaving five minutes early, it actually put us back in Jax more than an hour earlier than we would have been otherwise.

Back to work tomorrow. It’s been a nice five-day break.