FLORIDAYS #4: This, that and the other thing!

FLORIDAYS #4: This, that and the other thing!

The dreaded YUCCA plant ready to slice and dice "The Slice".

The dreaded YUCCA plant ready to slice and dice “The Slice”.

We’ve been vacationing at the in-laws Retirement Park (Saddlebag Lake Park) for over 20 years now. We’ve discovered that retirement park living is a life on its own, very reminiscent of life on another planet. Think about it, populate over 1000 homes with feisty set-in-there-ways senior citizens, throw in a bunch of rules and regulations and bingo – you have Grey Power Armageddon. Once you are inside those gates things can get really interesting. You can take this to the bank, because Grumpy is now a card carrying, pension collecting old fart that has an opinion about just about everything.

Just ask him!

Here are a few observations about trailer park life in sunny Florida.

 The Coconut Telegraph and the Hot Tub Time Machine


 There are two things that are as real as rain in Florida Retirement Parks: gossip and controversy. Grumpy compares this phenomenon to Jimmy Buffett’s “Coconut Telegraph” or the children’s popular game called Telephone. Get a rumour started or drop a tidbit of controversial gossip and it spreads through the park faster than a Florida wildfire.

 Of course, each and every rendition is added upon by the communicator (based on empirical evidence), with a lot of personal opinion thrown in, until many mountains are constructed out of mole hills.

 This causes every word you speak and every action you complete to be put under park scrutiny. In this regard, you must watch your “P’s and Q’s” and be sure that park rules (either assumed or written down) are followed to the letter. Otherwise, your words or actions are not unlike “poking a hornet’s nest with a stick” when it comes to Park social interaction.

 As you walk through the park you might find conclaves of conferring couples exchanging the latest bits of chin-wagging chatter in soft whispered tones. However, because of hearing loss, these conversations are most likely to be loud and easily discernable.

 “They can’t do that!”

 “Someone has got to do something about this.”

 “I heard that Bob plans to build one, too!”

 Grumpy has discovered that the best source of park bafflegab is the hot tub at the pool. This 12+ seater is like the CNN of Saddlebag news-dom. Slide yourself in there with a gaggle of residents and you get the Reader’s Digest view of everything going on in the park.

 All you need to do is sit and listen.


 The ladies seem to share their “guarded” information either poolside or in the water. Of course, the notorious “Coffee Klatch” makes a Park Newspaper totally out-of-date and obsolete.


 Visitors to the Park, like the Grumpy’s, must be cognizant of their behavior because anything untoward would spread through the community like the flu. This may cause embarrassment and angry stares to be cast upon your relatives, the ones that actually hold property there.

 Here are a couple of faux pas that must be avoided.

 1. Carry a flashlight at night whilst walking.
2. Don’t let your kids be loud or splash water in the pool.
3. Walk on the proper side of the road.
4. Lights out and be quiet after 9 pm.
5. Don’t forget to wave when passed by a person, golf cart or motor vehicle.
6. No getting jiggy at the pool with your spouse. No getting jiggy all week.
7. Drive your motor vehicle at 15 mph despite residents roaring around in golf carts and mopeds like the park is a Grand Prix racetrack.
8. Never slather suntan lotion on your same sex buddy because you will surely be labelled as a person who has switched teams.
9. Speak only when you are spoken to and remember that you have no opinion that really counts. Comply with all requests from residents. Remember your place in the pecking order and never “poke” the bear.
10. Dress appropriately and keep all the naughty bits covered even if your naughty bits are still worth exposing.

There you have it. Knowing all of this will keep you out of the “Coconut Telegraph” gossip pipeline and make your holiday nothing but fun in the sun.

The Latest Controversy


Every time we visit the park there seems to be a current controversy buzzing around the double-wides. This year it involved the placement of a new double-wide home.

The builder had dropped the two pieces on the lot with what appeared to be a deck on the front side. The builder had forgot to follow, as outlined in guideline #9 above, that you don’t poke the bear.

The controversy involved many dynamics.

1. What is the definition of a deck as opposed to a porch? Could this deck really just be a big porch? Or is it a deck? Apparently, unlike other aspects in life, size matters in this situation.

2. The same sex couple building the home wanted their bedroom to be at the back. The residents are up in arms because if they turn the trailer around – now the bedroom will be at the front. According to gossip this would be just disgusting. The Duck Dynasty boy’s, especially Phil, would be proud of the resistance movement here, I’m sure.(The infamous Corinthians Paraphrase Quote)

3. Many residents when they put in their new homes were not allowed to put a deck at the front. Now they don’t want anyone else to have that privilege. A tour of the park will find large “porches” on many fronts, porches that really are decks – a few are even screened in.

4. Misery loves company, so even if this doesn’t affect a resident directly, most people are dead against this or have an opinion because they want to be part of the swarm as opposed to be the focus of the buzz.

Grumpy really has no opinion other than, something that improves the park and possibly increases the value of your own property, should probably be welcomed. And, he also knows that sexual preference has nothing to do with porches or decks.

What he finds amazing is that wherever he went and whomever he talked to this topic inevitably came up. He is sure that he heard everyone’s view several times over: loudly and with adamant hand gestures included. As days went on, these opinions became stronger and brasher. After all, several community “Town Halls” were being well attended. The buzz” was becoming a “roar”.

The lesson learned is all of this is, if you want to be happy for the rest of your life, “Keep your nose clean in retirement parks. Toe-the-line and never poke the bear!”

We’ll have to see how all of this turns out.

Golf Cart NASCAR

Drivers start your engines!

Drivers start your engines!

Last but not least, Grumpy would like to press the case for new driving rules in retirement parks. Motor vehicles are required to move at 15 mph, which is about as slow as you can go without stalling your big internal combustion gas guzzler. Walkers pass you by with ease, even though you aren’t even in a School Zone.

 Should you deviate from this norm and travel faster, you will at the very least be chastised by “the look” or be given the single-finger salute. If, by chance, there is an Official Sherriff’s Office Golf Cart patrol in the vicinity, manned by two octogenarian’ deputies, you might find yourself in further hot water.

 “Pull over, buster.”

Pull over, Buster!

Pull over, Buster!

 However, when it comes to golf carts, mopeds and bicycles these speed rules seem to not apply. Some people have “pimped” out their gas powered golf carts to resemble race cars and sports utility vehicles. These people drive them as if the trails of Saddlebag Lake are a NASCAR Track.

 Zoom Zoom

 One guy zipped past our trailer at about 45 mph. His creation was bright yellow fiberglass and resembled a 1940’s Roadster.
“Hey, buddy, slow the heck down, you moron!”

 Grumpy has been nearly been impaled by seniors roaring by on their pedal bicycles, some of which are super powered bicycle’s built for two.

 “What the . . . .?”

 And, the bikers in the park, those of mopeds and motorcycles, often roar past you as if they’re driving drag bikes. Grumpy half expects them to yell, “Yee Haw!” upon their passing.



 Grumpy knows that his very own Uncle can hardly wait until he can remove the “speed governor” on his new gas cart in a year’s time.

 Zoom Zoom

 So, in parting, Grumpy would like start a game of “telephone” with the residents of Saddlebag Lake Park. Let’s get the ball rolling, folks.

 “Somebody’s got to do something about these speeding golf carts, bikes and mopeds.”




The Key to Good Driving is Taking Care of Your Car Keys

The Key to Good Driving is Taking Care of Your Car Keys


Well, as you would surely expect, Grumpy was involved in a few incidents in Florida that caused a little consternation with the Good Wife. You see, Grumpy has a genetic flaw when it comes to his vehicle. Quite often old-timers disease sets in and this forgetfulness puts him in the doghouse. This happened on two occasions in Florida.
Both incidents involved his car keys.

Now, Grumpy has a possessive only-child-syndrome relationship with his car keys. He will not allow anyone to touch them, use them nor come close to touching them.

They are HIS keys, plain and simple!

He only feels secure when they are safely ensconced in his pocket.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: No one is allowed to touch Grumpys flashlight in Florida. Hey, he has his name printed on it for crying out loud.)


 In the beginning it was a beautiful sunny day.

 The Good Wife was asked by our niece to help Great Grandma watch her two young lads aged three and one – going on terrible two. It was felt that two Grandmothers were better than one. This would be a tag team matchup.

 As it turns out, Grumpy was conscripted to go along with Great Grandma to the pool, seeing as the good wife, being a redhead, is not one to spend much time in the sun. This would be someone in their seventies and Grumpy in his mid-sixties attempting to entertain two children whose cumulative age was less than five. No matter, by and large little kids think elderly people are pretty funny.

 Well everything went very well, considering there was a light rain and a severe wind. Grumpy was totally involved in imaginative play with his great-nephew. They were making toast and mushroom meals, splashing the water to make soup and swimming the width of the pool to gather broccoli from their other “house”. There were plenty of giggles and guffaws.
Meanwhile, great Grandma took the little on to the showers to give him a good scrub.

 ALI VELSHISuddenly, Grumpy notice two women sprinting across the pool deck towards the gate. At the same time the wind suddenly gusted to a hurricane force blow. Turning around, he saw the incoming sky approaching as black as night and as threatening as a thunder storm. In minutes the prevailing atmosphere was about to morph into a Florida squall of Armageddon proportions.

 Grabbing his charge by the hand he hollered, “We gotta run for the pool room door. Drop your broccoli, put the mushrooms and toast away. Grab the soup! Let’s boogie!”

 Hand in hand the waddling senior and the almost three year old burst through the door just as the torrent began. It was raining cats and dogs and maybe sheep and cows as well. Raindrops were bouncing high off the pavement like thousands of super balls.

 That little boy and over-the-hill Grumpy ended up being trapped in the pool room for about 30 minutes.
Now, upon returning to the in-laws doublewide an hour later, Grumpy was greeted by that “look”. You know that look. It’s the one your spouse has refined to perfection. It would be the one where you’re thinking retreat and capitulation are your only option. Running and hiding might just be you’re only choice.

 GOOD WIFE: “Where are the car keys, Grumpy?” (Foot tapping and crossed arms are not good signs.)

 GRUMPY: “Well, of course, they’re right here in my pocket!” (Looking down at the floor seemed like a good thing to do.)

 GOOD WIFE: “Well it might have been nice if you left them here so we could have closed the car windows during that downpour.”

 You see those automatic windows don’t work without the keys in the ignition.

 The stare that she stared had now morphed into the stare of death. If Grumpy had a tail it would surely be between his legs.

 All that he could emit from his parched dry mouth was a whispered Homer Simpson-like, “Doh!”

 Apparently Grumpys wife and father-in-law had scrambled in the pouring rain to seal up the open windows with towels, sop up the water on the car mats, as well as sponge off the seat so they wouldn’t become saturated. They did all of this whilst the rain came down in buckets. Grumpy is sure that they were both soaking wet when all was said and done. Two eyes staring like daggers confirmed this to him – in spades.

 As is his strategy when “Jimbo Moments” occur, and life and death situations evolve, Grumpy turned to his little great nephew for a diversion and asked, “Do you think there’s any broccoli out back on the deck?”

 When the little one responded with a resounding, “Yaaaa!”, Grumpy knew that an almost three year old had just saved his bacon. Well, at least for the moment, because sooner or later Grumpy would have to return to 101 Beaverkill, and you guessed it, his tail would be firmly ensconced between his legs.

 For the time being he confidently declared, “Let’s make soup, buddy!”



 The Good Wife and Grumpy always venture out to their favorite Beall’s Outlet Store on the last morning of their Florida vacation. This year they scored big time, purchasing $200 worth of items with listed price tags of well over $500+. For example, Grump picked up some Dockers Denim jeans (List price $58.00) for less than twenty bucks.

 Upon their return to 101, the Good Wife suggested that Grumpy leave the windows down, seeing as it was sunny and getting hotter. He complied even though he recalled that stare of death from a few days before. He did not want another window incident to complicate his day. But, what the heck could go wrong?


 He did have some trouble getting them adjusted – he must have zipped them (The Windows) up and down about 20 times to get them properly orientated. A few expletive deletives were used to assist in this process.

 Satisfied that he had accomplished a job well-done, Grumpy took off for his final tanning session and gabfest at the pool. He gave himself an hour and half timeline, given that he had to pack, load the vehicle, take the mountain of beer cans to the recycle bin and complete various sundry tasks. He is, after all, a dutiful husband.

 Upon his return, Grumpy gathered the beer cans and headed for the car, hoping to take care of those recyclables. Tapping his pocket, he stopped dead in his tracks


Now when Grumpy loses something near and dear to his heart his usual response involves a lot of arm flapping and boisterous blasphemy. Before long, he was running around like chicken with its head cut off!

 “Honey, I can’t find my keys. Where are my keys? Where the heck did I leave them? # % $ # @!!!!!!”

 The Good Wife, for the most part, ignores Grumpy’s antics. Indeed, she calmly said, “Don’t worry they’ll turn up! No worries!”

 Minutes later, Grumpy’s voice had risen to a crescendo, not unlike the squeal of a little girl. Just then, a soft knocking came from the trailer’s metal door.


 Grumpy stopped firm in his tracks. Gingerly he opened the door. There stood a nicely dressed grandmotherly lady with a pleasant smile on her face. He had no idea who this woman was!

 “Hi, I’m your neighbour from next door. I heard you calling out that you’d lost your keys. (EDITOR’S NOTE: These trailer’s walls are as thin as paper.) I heard a ding-ding sound about an hour ago. I checked your car and the keys were in the ignition. I hope you don’t mind that I took them out and left them on the seat. I thought your battery probably was running down.”

 Grumpy was so happy he felt like giving that lady a smackeroo-type kiss right on the lips. But, of course, in the interest of self-preservation he did not.

 Thanking the lady profusely, Grumpy hustled out to the Clown Car, turned the ignition and, guess what? He got nothing but a putt-putt sputter and a buzz. That battery was deader than a door nail and then some.

 Before Grumpy could begin another arm flapping boisterous blasphemy attack he heard these words.
“Hey, Grumpy how are ya?”

 There, on a big red bicycle, peddled Grumpy’s Knight in Shining Armour. Darwin, his father-in-law, had just made the turn onto Beaverkill.

 You see the main modes of transportation in Saddlebag Park are by foot, by golf cart, by moped and by bicycle. (Speed limit 15 mph)

 After explaining his most recent embarrassing “Jimbo Moment”, Darwin peddled off saying, “I’ll be right back with the van and some jumper cables!”

 Needless to say, within minutes Grumpy was back on track, heading out to the bin to dump his mountain of beer cans.

belt Grumpy realizes that age, if not beer, is starting to take its toll on his memory and thought processes. That’s why he’s heading out to Crappy Tire today to purchase one of those belt-held retractable tether thing-a-ma-bobs to attach his car keys to. As long as he’s wearing his new Dockers Denims with a belt, his keys will never again remain in the ignition when he walks away.

 Oh my, this solution could cause other problems. Grumpy has visions of face plants dancing in his head!

No doubt, he’ll be writing a BLOG about that incident in the not too distant future.

 Until then, stay classy, my friends.


Co-inky-dink or not Co-inky-dink: Is the Cult of Tim Horton’s for Real?



Co-inky-dink or not Co-inky-dink: Is the Cult of Tim Horton’s for Real?

RODSERLINGGrumpy spent his misspent youth watching a lot of television, an object his father, Joe, referred to as the “boob-tube”. Of particular interest were episodes of the TWILIGHT ZONE, a series that showcased odd events of fantasy, science fiction and the supernatural. Rod Serling called this unusual place another dimension, “. . . a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man.” He described it as a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity; the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition.

Today Grumpy calls this middle ground Tim Horton’s Donuts and Coffee. He believes that the cult of Timmies surely has equal power to that of the influence of anything found in the TWILIGHT ZONE.

This trip to and from Florida exists as a case in point.

Grumpy will set the scene this way.

One of the last acts the Grumpy’s complete before they cross the border at Windsor is to hit up the Timmies near the University of Windsor. (Grumpy has a Tim Horton locator-app on his cellphone.) The Grumpy’s know they will not likely have an opportunity for a “Roll-Up-The-Rim” until one week hence. Believe me, that last coffee is sipped down to the very last drop.

timmiesIt goes without saying that upon the return trip north, the closer one gets to the Canadian border, the more the Grumpy’s begin to crave that long lost cup of Java.  As we drove away from Saddle Bag Lake the father-in-law remarked, “By the way, there’s a Tim’s the second exit on the I-90, going east to Buffalo!” You see we decided to avoid the traffic of I-75 and head back to Canada via another route. (I-95 to I-77 to I-79)

Indeed, upon making the big turn at Erie, PA that Timmies sign bloomed like a searchlight, drawing us in like a powerful electromagnet. Neither the car, nor the driver could resist.


As is their routine, the Grumpy’s visited the rest room first, emerging refreshed and with bladders capable of holding a large double D!

As Grumpy walked to line up at the counter he heard these words from the Good Wife.

“Oh my God, Doug, what are you doing here?”

Say what?

Turning around he saw his brother-in-law’s father and mother, his brother-in-law and his nephew coming through the door. The Grumpy’s and the Wilson’s had arrived at this Tim’s at the exact same moment, over a thousand miles from where they had holidayed together in Lake Wales, Florida.

Now this event was remarkable given that, the Wilson’s left Florida much earlier, stop more often than the Grumpy’s, and take full meals on their breaks. As it turned out, they had stayed overnight one exit apart from the Grumpy’s in West Virginia the night before.

To arrive at the Timmies in Erie at the exact same moment in time had to be more than a mere co-inky-dink. It was really quite EERIE!

Stare at this and repeat, "I love Timmies Coffee! 50 TIMES!

Stare at this and repeat, “I love Timmies Coffee! 50 TIMES!

There were so many factors that would suggest this was impossible – traffic delays, weather, number of stops, highway speed, and Grumpy’s propensity for getting lost. This had to be a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity; the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition – THE TWILIGHT ZONE!

Nonetheless, there is real science to prove this magnetic cult like effect Timmies has upon us. This is why the Grumpy’s were drawn to Erie and why after over 1000 miles two independent drivers with different driving modes ended up in the exact same place at the exact same time. Let’s call it the “TIMMIES EFFECT”.

Researchers describe this as “(a) company’s decision to present itself as an essential part of the practises of Canadian life has successfully created traditions that link the firm with individual, daily activities.”

Stated more academically (bafflegab) this approach leads to an “appeal (that) helps to solidify the feeling that Tim Hortons is an essential part of a project of nation-building precisely because the schematic narrative can be understood by most citizens across the country. In so doing, Tim Horton’s has gained the reputation as one of the most, if not the most, Canadian companies in the nation.”

Say what?

In a nutshell we are drawn to Tim Horton’s because it’s the Canadian way! It’s our habit, eh!

You can read the whole darned thing here.

 History as social memory assets: The example of Tim Hortons: William M. Foster, Roy Suddaby, Alison Minkus and Elden Wiebe: Management & Organizational History 2011 6: 101 http://moh.sagepub.com/content/6/1/101.abstract

 And, Grumpy would add that their coffee is damn good, too! A sip of Timmies Coffee makes its American counterpart seem as if you’re drinking sewer sludge by comparison.

But did you know there is a ridiculous urban legend that suggests “a sinister ploy by the coffee company to ensure that customers return, by adding nicotine to the coffee.”


 Oh, really? If so – get me the Coffee Patch, STAT!

 Anyway, whether it was a co-inky-dink, a habit or a cultish obsession, meeting up with the Wilson’s made our day, particularly since we had missed an opportunity back in Florida to wish our nephew, Justin, a safe trip home. We did it then and there with a hug in Erie PA. – despite the fact we were only a hop, a slip and a jump from home.

GRUMPY: “Safe trip, Justin!”

JUSTIN: “Thanks. Hey, by the way, I never got to ask you. How did you get all of those scratches on you arms, Uncle Grumpy?”

GRUMPY: “Let’s just say a little too much Agave tequilana, buddy!”

JUSTIN: “Huh?”

GRUMPY: “Never mind. See ya in Canada!””

So, that is the rest of the story. You know that Grumpy will continue to stumble through the Twilight Zone, just as he has continued to do through many a “Jimbo Moment” in these blogs. Really, Grumpy’s life is all about the unexplained and the bizarre and then some.

Do-Do-Do-Do……….. Do-Do-Do-Do!

Floridays 2014: Grumpy and the Good Wife’s Excellent Adventure

Floridays 2014: Grumpy and the Good Wife’s Excellent Adventure

Florida2014 017

Wow, it’s been awhile. Grumpy has been busy-busy and has had no time to tinkle the keyboard and put out a BLOG.

That said; he and the Good Wife made their annual trek to Florida last week, a trip that is into its 25th year and counting.

These trips always provide fodder for Grumpy, being that there are usually many a “Jimbo moment” and a few observations to be had.

Here’s a list of those entertaining events of happenstance.


This is Why they call me SLICE

Some of the Phenom’s friends, particularly Coin, Juice and CVD, baptised Grumpy with the nickname of SLICE. This came as derivative of name of the fighter “Kimbo Slice” (Kevin Ferguson), given that Grumpy’s also goes by the name of Jimbo. Grumpy wears a ball cap to Florida that has D.K. Slice embossed on the front; the D.K. referring to a winter driving incident where Grumpy nearly bought the farm. D.K. refers to DRIFT KING, of course.

It turns out this trip to Florida just added to the legend of Slice because that is exactly what happened. There was a little slicing and dicing going on.

 On the first day of living in the little trailer at 101 Beaverkill, Grumpy noticed that he had blood spots on his shirt and his shorts. He had no idea where they came from. These spots and stains increased as the morning went on. Grumpy thought he’d sprung a leak.

 Later in the day he noticed a long scratch on his forearm. Grumpy thought that maybe he had scratched himself while unpacking the car. But, upon further inspection he found numerous cuts and scratches on his arms. It appeared as if he had a run in with rabid CAT. Because of the blood thinner he takes, he was oozing platelets and leaking all over the place. These scratches and cuts were of the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel.

 Grumpy was dumfounded until his mother-law remarked, “Oh, you had a run in with the Yucca plant by the trailer!”


 Grumpy remembers the soft brushing of that plant as he followed the path to the trailer. There was no pain or discomfort. That’s because the ends of those fronds included a small but elongated needle of mass destruction. Each of these protrusions was a sharp as a razor.

 As it turns out, Grumpy did have an encounter with a Yucca plant. Little did grumpy know that a dire warning comes with some of the Florida varieties.

While a yucca plant or tree is great to look at, they can be quite dangerous to little hands and paws. The ends of the leaves, or needles, can be razor sharp. Unknowing pets or curious kids can cause a lot of damage to their hands or paws by getting too close to them. Make sure your yucca is in a safe place to avoid this.


If you have children or pets it is probably not a good idea to grow yucca plants in the garden as they have razor sharp leaves that can easily hurt people and animals.

 Curiously, the warning doesn’t include dumbass senior citizens going by the scientific nomenclature of species D.K. Sliceamitris. Put one (D.K.) with the other (Yucca) and you’ve got blood loss of noticeable proportions.

 Grumpy is not surprised given the use of one particular variety of yucca.

Species such as Yucca filamentosa, in rural Appalachian areas, are coined as “meat hangers”, as its sharp spiny tips and tough fibrous leaves are used in puncturing meat as well as knotted in order to form a loop wherein meat can be hung in smoking houses or for salt curing.

 Grumpy’s sliced, diced and bleeding arms surely attest to that.

 Grumpy is happy that the Yucca is from the AGAVE family of plants. Most of you would be familiar with the Blue Agave drink, I’m sure. Actually the nectar from these AGAVE plants is used as a sweetener. And, you might know that the nectar of Agave tequilana is used as the base of the alcohol of the same name.

 So, when Grumpy took his shirt off at the pool and his fellow sunbathers saw those numerous scratches and abrasions, it goes without saying that many believed that Mrs. and Mrs. Grumpy had gotten into tequila big-time. There appeared to be the pervasive view that one thing led to another. Surely, that tidbit of gossip rolled through the trailer park to the point that daily walkers diverted there routes to pass by 101 Beaverkill, curious about the frisky goings on in that single-wide trailer.


The dreaded YUCCA plant ready to slice and dice "The Slice".

The dreaded YUCCA plant ready to slice and dice “The Slice”.

 Nevertheless, if someone ventured to inquire, Grumpy would just smile and remark that he had a slight case of Cat-Scratch Fever. (This is not to be confused with the Jackass Fever a condition that has become chronic and often leads Grumpy into many of his adventures.)


Stay tuned for more adventures from Florida. This, my friends, is the tip of the iceberg. Really, Grumpy has only scratched the surface.

Hi Ho!