Did Lucille Ball Ever Drive a U-Haul?

A good friend moved to a new home recently.  Boy, was I happy when she hired professional movers.  I would have gladly helped her, but I sure do hate moving.    I hate the packing, the loading, the unloading, the unpacking.  And I hate the U-haul trucks.courtesy of Uhaul.com When I moved from an apartment into the first house I ever owned, I had accumulated so much life junk that I needed a big truck.  One of the cumbersome ones that doesn’t shift well and can’t get above a crawl on the highway. I had wrangled a group of friends into spending the entire day schlepping furniture and boxes down 3 flights of stairs, and I didn’t even get mad when they lost their footing and dropped my huge armoire desk unit down one flight of stairs. The U-haul truck didn’t fit in the new house’s driveway, so when it was empty we decided to go and park it by the community’s clubhouse until time to return it the next morning. I ordered pizzas for my hungry gang and then left with my friend who was driving the truck.  (We’ll call him Ethel for reasons forthcoming.) Once at the clubhouse, Ethel had the brilliant idea to go ahead and take the truck back to the rental facility then so I wouldn’t have to get up so early in the morning. I am ALWAYS up for any plan that prevents getting up early, so we set out for the rental facility about a mile away with me following close behind him. I had rented the truck from a local storage place, and I figured I would just leave the truck with a note for the owner.  I didn’t remember the large fence around the facility, or the locked gate after hours. I figured the idea was a bust and we needed to just go back home before the rest of the group had finished off the pizza.  But Ethel saw a couple moving around in a unit towards the back and suggested I try to get them to come and let us in. If you really want to startle someone, try appearing out of the darkness at 11 o’clock at night and calling out to them through a fence when they think they are completely alone in a deserted storage unit.   Probably not the best way to make friends. I explained what we were trying to do, and the guy was ready to help, but the woman did exactly what I would have done in that situation and told him they should not get involved.  I tried to reason with her, but I have to admit, I agreed with her.  There’s no way I would let two random strangers into a locked storage facility late at night. The dude was trying to decide between helping me or heeding her when suddenly the loudest, most obnoxious alarm I have ever heard started pealing through the night. I turned to see Ethel running from the gate back to the truck.  “Let’s go! Let’s go! Come on!” he screamed at me, swinging his arms wildly as he motioned for me to get to the car. I waved a polite goodbye to the couple as I took off running, ignoring the fact that she was loudly telling him “I told you they were up to no good!” “What did you do????” I screamed at Ethel, who was already turning the key in the big truck. “I tried random codes to see if I could get the gate to open.  Hurry up, we have to get out of here!” As some of you may remember, I don’t exactly spring into action well in emergency situations, and I was lost in thought processing what he had done, why the alarm was sounding, and why he was panicking. It suddenly dawned on me that it would look as though we were trying to break in.  And I was sure that the Nervous Nellie lady would be glad to tell the cops of my ill intentions.  I was also sure that we would never make a clean getaway at a max speed of 40mph on the highway. But EtheI was already in the truck, grinding the gears to make a getaway.  I was parked behind him, so he went forward and swung wide, almost striking the gate as he tried to turn around to head out. It was at that moment that I noticed that Trusting Tom had ignored Nervous Nellie and driven his car to the inside of the gate.  Perhaps he was tired of hearing the alarm sound.  Or perhaps he didn’t want the cops there any more than we did. I don’t know and I don’t care; I was just happy to see the gate magically slide open. But now Ethel was in a predicament because the truck had pulled forward too much to be able to go in the gate as it opened, and he couldn’t back up as I had yet to move my car from behind him.  He realized the gate would not stay open long enough to accommodate all those maneuvers.  So he gave me a simple command.  “Keep the gate from closing.” I jumped from my car and ran with that one command sounding repeatedly in my head. “Keep the gate from closing.  Keep the gate from closing. Keep the gate from closing.” It was not a gate that swung open, but rather one that slid back and forth in line with the fence. I got in between it and the brick column and tried to be as big as a vehicle.  I waved my arms, jumping up and down, frantically searching for the sensor.  Ethel was grinding the gears to find reverse as the gate started to slide toward me.  I jumped higher, waved more frantically, and even shouted to seem big, but the gate didn’t care.  It kept closing. Ethel got the truck backed up and grinded into 1st, but then he popped the clutch and the truck died.  The gate was still closing. I grabbed the gate with both hands and tried to hold it back.  But the gate kept closing. Ethel got the truck cranked again and lurched forward.  But the gate kept closing. I quickly realized there was nothing I could do.  He wasn’t going to make it.  The gate was going to close.  And I was going to be smashed between the wrought iron gate and the brick column. So I acted in self-preservation and jumped clear of the gate.  I JUMPED INSIDE.  Yep.  I was now locked IN the facility.  With the sirens screaming.  With the police surely on their way.  With Trusting Tom retreating to his storage unit and Nervous Nellie already screaming at him. Ethel looked at me incredulously from inside the truck and held up both hands in a gesture that clearly said “What the hell did you do that for?”  I had no answer. I looked nervously around me to see if there was any place low enough for me to scale the gate or the fence, but apparently they take the security of people’s belongings pretty seriously at this storage facility.  It was inescapable.  For me at least. Ethel jumped down from the truck and started screaming at me, over the sirens.  Now it just so happens that storage facility was only a block from Dr. Smooth’s dad’s house. Oh goodie.  My son and his other parents would be able to watch me get arrested from their front porch.  What a pinnacle in parenting achievement for me! As I nervously waited for lights turning on for my impending humiliation, I noticed a strange car parked in front of their home.  As I watched, the headlights came on, and the car rolled slowly forward. It was the storage facility owner, who lived in the same neighborhood.  The alarm triggered a phone call to her home, and she had come to investigate from a safe distance while she waited for the cops. She got out of her car wiping her eyes and laughing hysterically. “Why on earth would you jump INSIDE the gate???” she asked as she laughed. “Um, I don’t know.  I was just getting out of the way.”  I answered meekly. She put in the code and released me from my imprisonment as she continued to laugh. “That was just about the funniest thing I’ve ever seen,” she said.  “I just watched theTV waiting for moving whole thing, and it was like watching an episode of I Love Lucy and you’re Lucille Ball.”  (hence my clever choice of Ethel’s name) “I was trying to return the truck tonight so I could sleep late in the morning,” I offered. She turned off the alarm and called off the cops and we got the truck returned. The group had saved us some pizza, which was the least they could do, considering we left the house an hour and a half earlier to drive the truck one block away from the house, and NO ONE EVEN BOTHERED TO COME LOOKING FOR US. So yeah.  I hate moving.

Saturday Through My Lens: Caribbean Cruise

This week's Saturday Through My Lens takes us on a Caribbean cruise.  I've really been wanting to cruise lately, and I thought I'd invite you all to come with me.  I can't afford to take all of you--heck, I can't even afford to take me right now--but I'll share these photos from our last cruise with you and we can pretend we're there.

Palm Tree, cruise, Caribbean, Turks and Caicos, Margaritaville

There is something so relaxing about a palm tree.   If you concentrate hard enough on this picture, you may be able to smell the tanning oil and feel the warm, tropical breeze.

Palm Fronds, Cruise, Turks & Caicos, Margaritaville, Caribbean

Listen closely and you'll hear the wind whisper "RELAX.  COME STAY AWHILE" as it rustles through the leaves.

Palm frond leaves at Margaritaville during our Turks & Caicos cruise

Palm leaves provide the perfect shade at the beach. As the wind moves them, tiny bursts of sunlight break through and cascade down on your skin, giving you just the right amount of warmth between the shadows.  But then the shadows move and the light changes, so nothing gets too warm or feels left in the dark.

The brilliant blue water of Turks & Caicos during our cruise.

But no worries if you get too warm.  Just follow the sound of crashing waves into the cool refreshing Caribbean waters.

Fish swimming beneath the surface on our Turks & Caicos cruise.

You'll encounter plenty of other swimmers in this crystal clear water.

Jellyfish in the Caribbean during our Turks & Caicos cruise

But if the other swimmers are as clear as the water, it's best to leave them alone.

Sealife at Princess Cays on our Caribbean Cruise

It's always fun to meet the natives when you visit exotic locales.

Jellyfish on a rock in Turks & Caicos during our Caribbean Cruise

Some natives should be avoided though.  They are beautiful to look at, but can really cause a lot of pain.  Just like some people I know.

Princess Cruise Ship at Princess Cay

It's tempting to just let the boat leave us behind and stay in this tropical paradise forever.

Sea grapes at Princess Cay

Would we ever tire of greens and blues and want to sail away home?

Playing in the wind on the beach during the cruise

Is it possible that we would ever want to hang up our towels and leave the sun and sand behind?

sunset from Princess Cruise

Eventually the sun sets on all vacations.  Because if we stayed there, it would become normal and routine. It wouldn't be so magical if we saw it every day.  So we'll sail home.   But I'm going to keep a bag packed, just in case you want to go again.

What if My Life Really is a Sitcom?

Years ago, a very close friend told me she is convinced that my life is a sitcom, and we are all just playing the parts that are written for us.  She continued on about no one being able to actually have this much drama and comedy in their lives unless it was made up.  So it became a running joke, long-running still many years later, that my life is a sitcom. Something like that old movie The Truman Show with Jim Carrey, but with a movie titleshumorous spin.  Other people in my life (the show) get their scripts and know what’s going on.  But me?  I’m just living it and trying to survive.  Like Truman, I wasn't aware it was just a show. But after she pointed this out, I began to notice times when it truly felt like it must be sweeps week or something.  Like the amount of drama or the hysterical absurdness of life in those moments could not be reality, and had to be the result of a bunch of crazed writers sitting around a table saying, “Let’s see how she gets out of this! The fans are gonna love it!” We’ve even joked throughout the years about popular characters being brought back, plot lines that seemed to follow current events, and cliché characters that needed to be written off the show. It’s been fun sometimes to realize that we’re doing a crossover with the Travel Channel or some wedding show.  And thankfully, we’ve never done a crossover episode with COPS or Celebrity Rehab. As funny as this storyline is, and as far as we have been able to take it and apply it to my life, it has also become somewhat of a coping mechanism.  If I am having a particularly bad day, I will joke that it must be a high ratings day.  If I am stuck in traffic for an abnormal amount of time, then those stores along the road must have paid high product placement or advertiser fees. television set If someone really hurts me or makes me angry, my friends will comfort me by saying  how upset the viewers must be and how the ratings will soar.  I actually had a friend tell me one time that she didn’t want to travel with me (in real life) because she was worried she may become a recurring character (in my imaginary show life) and she didn’t need that much drama. Even now when things start to get completely crazy around me, I find myself thinking, “Oh, wow.  We must be on camera.  And me without my lipstick on and my hair not combed.” Take this morning, for instance.  Dr. Smooth is attending a state conference for the Technology Student Association.  We had to be at the hotel this morning for a 7am event.  Now, in case you didn’t know, I am NOT a morning person.  I believe God made sunsets because not everyone wants to watch it rise.  So to be ANYWHERE before 7am is a bit of a stretch. And I may as well admit that I am ALWAYS late.  It is one of my biggest faults, struggles, defects, whatever you want to call it.  I am notoriously 10-15 minutes late.  No matter what I do. Dr. Smooth, on the other hand, is meticulously on time.  And to say that it irritates him for his mother to be late when he needs to be somewhere is an understatement of understatements. So I had planned to leave the house this morning at 6am for the 20-30 minute drive to the hotel, arriving no later than 6:30am for the aforementioned 7am event.  Piece of cake. Do you realize at what ungodly hour you would have to get out of bed in order to leave your house at 6am? Do you realize how unfair it would be to have a dog wake you up by throwing up in the bedroom exactly one hour prior to that?a digital clock showing 4:04 in my life Let’s face it.  If something wakes you up a couple of hours before the alarm, you can usually go back to sleep.  But when you lay back down and see that the alarm will go off in 45 minutes, it ain’t happening.  I should have just gotten up and gotten ready right then, because sleep was done. Even so, we actually left the house on time at 6am. (you thought I was gonna fall back asleep and oversleep, didn’t ya??)  And I must admit, we left on time largely (fully) because My Knight got up and made breakfast and helped get out. I asked Dr. Smooth if he was nervous about the competition. He replied he was only nervous that we would be late.  I scoffed at the idea and carefully explained how much time we had to get there and how that was plenty more than what was needed. We pulled into the hotel parking lot at 6:28, a full two minutes ahead of schedule.  Dr. Smooth refused to admit he was impressed that Mom pulled that off. One of the only times I was on time in my life.As we headed across the parking lot to the convention center, he remarked that only five hotel rooms had lights on against the dark sky.  This should have been a noteworthy observation, but it was early and I was happy to be early and we just kept walking. We entered a completely deserted convention center, and for just a moment, I wondered if the zombie apocalypse had actually happened and we were the only survivors.  There was not another living being in sight.  (No dead ones in sight either, just to clarify).  We wandered through the hallways, scanning the marquees for any sign of the 7am meeting. His advisor was not answering her cell phone, but we had a schedule and a map with us, so we pulled it out to match it to the directional signs on the wall.  Oddly enough, there were no rooms listed on the wall signs that matched the name of the room on our schedule. We kept walking.  Soon we had traversed the entire length of the convention center, and we were ready to open the wide double doors into the hotel lobby.  For just a moment, my overactive imagination ran ahead of us, and I envisioned that we would open the lobby doors and find it completely deserted with only music playing a haunting tune in the background.  (Maybe a Walking Dead crossover episode???) I turned to Dr. Smooth and said, “I feel like we’re in some alternate universe where we’re at the right hotel but no one is here, or we’re at the wrong hotel, or we didn’t set our clocks right or something.” “It’s weird,” he said.  “Are you sure this is the right hotel?” “Yes,” I replied.  “I asked her if it was the same Doubletree we were at before and she said yes.” Luckily, there were other live human beings in the lobby, so we were able to find a hotel phone and ask to be connected to his advisor’s room number.  The operator asked me to confirm the name before calling a room at 6:30am. The name on the room didn’t match.  He said there was no one in the hotel by that name.  I gave him the other advisor’s name.  No one by that name either.  I gave him the name of the school.  The name of the convention.  He said he couldn’t pull up room information by that and he needed the name on the room. I was running out of time and options, so I tried her cell again.  She answered. “It’s the Doubletree we were in last time, right?” I asked. “Yes!” she answered enthusiastically. “The one by Universal?” (where we stayed year before last.) “NO!” she answered. “The one by SeaWorld.” (where she stayed a few years ago, but where I never stayed.)  Ahhhhhh.  Communication is a lovely thing.  Until it breaks. We rushed.  We ran.  We hurried as though the zombies had spotted us and we had to make it back through the convention center without being eaten alive.  (Need I tell you that Dr. Smooth was not happy with me?) We drove at the highest possible legal speeds (maybe a smidge over) to get to the correct hotel.  It wasn’t physically possible to be there before 7am.  But I tried. When we finally found it, (after two u-turns, because why on Earth would any part of this trip be easy at this point?), we found this hotel to be bustling with people and filled with lit guest rooms.  Stark difference. I called the advisor to say we were there, ask where we needed to be, and express my deepest apologies for the mix-up and being late. “Oh, you’re fine.  Calm down.  Come up to the room and catch your breath.  He has three hours.  He just has to be in there by 10am.” Say What?  Excuse me?  I got up at what time, and he has to be here when????  And at moments like that, it’s honestly helpful to say, “Oh wow.  We must be on-camera right now.  I hope my hair looks good and this skirt doesn’t make my butt look big.  ‘Cause you know the camera adds 10 pounds.”Happy Face Happy Life Those silly writers of mine.  I’m sure they got a good laugh over this one.  We’ll get her up early, allow her to actually get somewhere early, tease the viewers with a Walking Dead crossover feel, then make her late,  and then when it’s all said and done, she’ll actually have plenty of time. I hope my viewers are happy and the ratings are good.