Day 278 – Rose Parade Day Four


We had the BEST time at the Rose Palace!  This is Haley after we had placed the last flowers on the float doing her best Jesus imitation.  The gentleman playing Jesus on the float was there too.  I think Hal has it just right though.  The theme for the parade is “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” from the Dr. Seuss book.  The Lutheran Ministries took that very seriously and chose Heaven as a destination.  You can see the stairway behind her in the photo.

Our evening got a little crazy, after the Lutheran float was done, we moved down to the HGTV float.  Lisa is one of my favorite crew chiefs, she is always a little frazzled, but appreciative.  We helped her fix some issues and about when she had it under control, the leads from the Petal Pushers stopped by to see what we were doing and if we could help.  Of course we could help.  It turns out the Wells Fargo float was called as being done, and the the owner of Phoenix Decorating came in and undeclared it.  Turns out she wasn’t happy with the results, there was a major design element missing, mainly flowers.  So for the next couple of hours we popped the heads off from mums and prepped them for the float.  The crew chief, Betsy, was awesome in her thanks.

I love the Rose Parade, the camaraderie, the excitement, the flowers, the detail.  As we were we working on the last float, there was a mom and her two teens who stopped by the Rose Palace, just to take a look.  We recruited them and put them to work with us.  By the end of that, they were convinced to volunteer the next year.  Anyone can do it.  There is no restriction except being over the age of 13.  The shifts are fun and the work is rewarding.  I had taken a break in the mid-afternoon and talked to a group of people waiting for a shift.  They had arrived late and all the spots were filled, so they were waiting for an opening.  I gave them this advice.

Arrive Early, you’ll get placed faster.

Be willing to split up your group if it’s a big one

If they still haven’t placed you, wait until after dinner time, this year that was at 7

Walk on in like you own the place.  If you have your Petal Pusher shirt on, no one is going to ask what your doing

Be observant, if you see a broom lying around and a mess around it, use the broom

Ask what needs done on the float, there is no self-assigning jobs on floats, Ask.

Smile and never argue.  Remember that the crew chiefs have been putting in 16+ hour days everyday, their patience level is a little low.

Stay through all of your shift, they are counting on you.

Tomorrow after the parade, I will post some photos of some of the great floats and if you are wondering whether to get up and watch the parade tomorrow, do it – the best coverage is on HGTV if you have that available.


Day 279 – Rose Parade Day Three


Saturday at the Rose Palace is full of people.  There are over 500 volunteers in the building, mulling around, trying to find work to do.  I was working with the Lutheran Hour Ministries float today, mostly slotting volunteers in to jobs.  It is fun to hear their stories, where they’ve come from, why they are here.  But most fun is seeing how eager they are to help.  I so enjoy working with people who have a passion.


In addition to all the volunteers, there is a wedding rehearsal dinner taking place.  The Farmers Insurance float is called the Love Float this year, on New Year’s Day will be a wedding on the top of the float.  That’s almost 20 feet in the air.  The bride and groom have to practice getting off the float, for safety reasons, in 45 seconds or less.  I can’t wait to see what dress the bride has chosen for that task.


And on top of all of those people, there are tours and parties that happen at the Rose Palace on a constant basis.  Tours go on all day and night, folks who dress in their very best to come tramp through a warehouse kept as cold as possible to protect the flowers.  Tonight was also the “sponsor” party.  This is where the VIP’s get an up close and personal look at the floats.  They get a catered meal and cruise through the fire lanes that we try to keep clear of people and things.  I love how the theme is carried out everywhere.  The tables at the reception had the prettiest centerpieces on them.  Everything here is a show, a place for people to say, “wow, how did you do that?”  It is exceptional and so impressive.  I love being a part of it.


Day 280 – Rose Parade Day Two

What a great day!  I felt appreciated!  Haley and I got to Pasadena about an hour early today, knowing we had a float to work on, we snuck in early so we wouldn’t be caught in the crowds that show up for the three o’clock shift change.  When you are with the masses, you kind of have to follow through with them.  So we beat the masses.  We went to work on the Lutheran Hour Ministries float, it’s the same place we worked last year.

There is a lot of dry work on this float and a lot of dry work to be done throughout the Rose Palace.  Our float area tends to be where all that is done.  There are tables set up with lots of chairs and the greatest little Fiskar scissors ever.  We had huge crews of people cutting everlasting, and when that ran out, we moved them to yellow straw flowers.  My job became to motivate them and appreciate them, which I do very much.  I demo’d how to cut the flowers and made sure they had the supplies they needed.  It’s very satisfying to work with volunteers, but that is something we do at every event too, so I know how to say thank you.

The tools used on Rose floats are very similar to what you have in your home, but I discovered a new one today that I think I just might have to have.  The Blendtec blender.  It was awesome, and what a workout it is getting at this venue.  Sometimes the flowers are bigger than what you need for the desired effect.  In my case, it was the Everlasting, a shiny white flower that is cut dry off a brownish center.  So I hauled my bucket to the other end of the building, threw in my Everlasting, selected Smoothie and hit the button.  It was a whirlwind of activity, the machine looked like it wanted to take off.  After two Smoothies and a Milkshake, it was
perfect.  Exactly what was needed to fill in the cross on the stained glass gates to heaven.

Haley spent her day gluing split peas to the cross above the gates.  When I cruised by to see how she was doing, she said, “mom, I peed on the cross.”  She makes me laugh.  Last year, we beaned the bible, so peeing on the cross really isn’t much of a stretch.

Real flowers come out on Saturday, it should be a fun day.  For more info on our Rose Parade experience, check out my blog from last year, there were four awesome days, this is the last one.  Trippin’ the Americas


Day 281 – Rose Parade Day One

I am a volunteer.  I drive 14 hours to volunteer my time to a worthwhile effort.  I give my money and time to make this little part of the world happen.  I will put in a 40+ hour work week to make sure that everything is ready at the right time.  I work as hard as anyone in the building for the entire time I am there.  I AM A VOLUNTEER!

I love volunteering, I hate complaining, but…just this once, I’m gonna bitch a little bit.  I want to focus this bitch because it doesn’t apply to everyone involved in this effort, no, it only applies to a single float.

We showed up for a shift at the Rose Palace yesterday, an experience that was completely positive last year.  We loved it.  The float we were assigned to today had a male crew chief and his daughter running the show.  This particular float is a representation of a volunteer organization, so I thought that would be cool.  I’ve run a lot of projects in my day, not always perfectly, but I know a lot about getting people to buy in to the work to be done.  These people obviously haven’t had the same experiences.  They didn’t bother to acknowledge the volunteers, they complained a lot about how the work was being done, they didn’t demonstrate the tasks well, by the sixth hour in to the shift, we defected.  I had had enough.  Anytime someone yells across the room at me, “Hey lady” – I’m moving on.  So, while what we did was good, I’m not going back to that float.

In fact, we moved down to our favorite crew chief, Jen, and we swept floors for her.  At least it was appreciated.

The Rose Parade is a great experience overall, especially if you show up early in the week.  You can see the floats at their naked best and watch them progress from day to day.  The last day when the flowers are added just changes everything.  We are at the Rose Palace all this week, there are nine floats in residence.  Many of them so completely elaborate you have to applaud the designers.  The Lion’s Club float is an architectural wonder, it represents everything from the Sydney Opera House to the Eiffel Tower.  The Nurse’s Float (a new one this year) is beautiful with animals of all forms on it.  The mama deer is my favorite, although Haley was partial to the turtles, big surprise there.

There are thousands of tasks to do, all of a small nature, every little task adds to the bigger picture.  At the Rose Palace, there are no small tasks, just small people.  We spent the first half of our night making 2” diameter curlicues from dried corn silk.  These curlicues were then added to a giant size teddy bear to form his face.  I’ve added photos so you can see the progression.  That’s kind of how everything works around here.  You start with a simple material, and then you chop it, or trim it, or cut it or twirl it.  Then you glue it to a part of the float.  Every part of the float that is visible must be covered with a natural material.  It’s really very impressive, I can’t wait to go back today, I just know that I will ask not to be assigned to that “one” float.

Day 287 – The Wedding

weddingPart One:  The Vows

Me:  It has been 1463 days since we were matched by eHarmony; 1388 days since we first met; 878 days since we were engaged; infinite days until we part.  You had me the moment you told me you were falling in serious like with me.  Today and always I need you beside me, always as my best friend, lover and forever soul mate.  I love you not only for what you are, but for who I am when I am with you.

I take you to be my best friend, my partner in crime, my companion for life, my everything, my faithful partner, my one true love.  I promise to…

…support your dreams

…travel all the backroads with you

…buy your first hoverround when you need it

…keep you guessing

…give you the bigger half

…treat you like the rock star you are

…return your Chapstick

…trust you

…not to keep score

…live a life of adventure with you

…love you always

…grow old with you

Him: I take you to be my best friend, my partner in crime, my companion for life, my everything, my faithful partner, my one true love.  I promise to…

…open your water bottle

…care when you cry

…pump your gas

…tolerate your snarkiness

…bring you butterfingers

…encourage your dreams

…recognize your contributions

…put the pillows back on the bed

…live a life of adventure with you

…love you always

…grow old with you


Part Two:  The Preparation

For two and a half years, we have been engaged, we laughed at people when they asked “when’s the big day?” and always answered with the same, “the day after the end of the world.”  I told folks that if the world does end, he gets lucky and doesn’t have to marry me, and we’ve saved ourselves a lot of work.  If it doesn’t end, then we still get a lifetime together.  So we planned the wedding for December 22 at 12:01 a.m.

It was a surprise wedding, well, a surprise for all of our guests.  We hosted an “End of the World” Party at our favorite local restaurant, back in my home town, Tommy Vaughn’s.  I had called Tyler earlier in the week and asked him if we could have a private party after they closed on Friday night, just a small, intimate affair with 20+ people, I wanted the party from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.  No problem.

At 12:00, we sprung to action, our minister, Andrew, stood up and announced that since we were all gathered there, we might as well do some knot tying.  It was perfect, eight minutes later we were married.  No fuss, no stress, just some wonderful people to share our moment with.  One of my girlfriends was priceless, there are photos of her looking around trying to figure out what was happening.  I think she finally got it the next day.  One of the young girls there told me later that she wants her own wedding to be like ours, everyone was happy, there was no stress, I told her it’s more important to put the work in to the marriage, not the wedding.

I laughed when the next day our media girl put out a “press release” of sorts, I guess ours was a celebrity wedding.  Who knew?  we only took pictures with our iPhones, so it was just like the paparazzi did it.  Life is good.  I faced one of my biggest fears, re-marrying, and I did that with a man who understands me.  Bonus, I get to wear the beautiful ring we picked up months ago.


Day 291 – Overwhelmed

I just realized it’s December, I know I’ve seen signs of it around me, hell, I’ve even written about it.  But it just occurred to me that Christmas is next week, and there are about a thousand things I have planned before our “season” starts again and I’m running out of time.  Between now and New Year’s alone, there is too much on my plate.

Let’s start with the current Project – or should I say nightmare?  There is so much to do and no time to do it in.  Every room needs something more, I got brave and called a contractor last week, he showed up on Monday.  The big things I couldn’t manage, he is whipping right out.  Did I mention it’s my ex-husband?  He and his wife are here helping and thank God for them, we were drowning.  The plumber and the carpet layer were also here on Monday, so the place was really busy.

Now, lets move on to the rest of the week.  On Friday there’s a party – we aren’t headed back until Thursday, I’ve got a hair appointment with my favorite hair dresser at 6 a.m. on Friday morning, and then that party.  This is an End of the World as we know it party.  We will be celebrating so many things with some of our favorite people.  I can’t wait to share the details, but that will have to wait.

Then, of course, there is the Christmas celebration with my family, the big turkey, the presents, all the fixin’s – thank goodness it’s at my daughters house.

But, wait, that’s not all – then we are headed to Pasadena to the Rose Parade.  All week long we will be building floats with volunteers from across the country.  This is our second year and I am so excited.  So, who’s ready for a busy could of weeks?

Day 292 – Authors you might like

authorI got the opportunity to hang out in a book store the other day, how much fun was that!  I miss book stores, while I might read on electronic devices, there is nothing like hanging out around books.  Libraries are fun, but book stores are awesome.  Imagine my excitement when some of my favorite authors had newly published books.

When someone asks you…Who’s your favorite author?  How do you respond?  My first response is always Jasper Fforde.  He has a series of books set in an alternate universe that is based on all of our favorite books, Thursday Next is his heroine, and she is awesome.  His novels make you think and also make you thankful that you are a reader. He has two other sets of books that are as good, one is referred to as the Nursery Crimes series, and recently it was Shades of Gray, all about colors – not the seemingly all-encompassing Fifty Shades (which I have not read), just the one.

My next favorite is Sarah Addison Allen, her books are magic, well, and about magic too, but most importantly, they are feel good books.  I’m always racing to the end to see what happens next.  I love how her books make me feel.

From there, I will read just about anyone.  I enjoy Janet Evanovich, Daniel Hecht, John Dunning, and so many more.  I’m sure I’m forgetting someone important, but who do you say is your favorite?

Day 294 – You Might be in a Small Town If…

smalltownWe’ve been hanging out in the small town of Conrad, Montana for about two and a half weeks.  I bought a house here a while back and we are renovating it.  We don’t frequent very many places, there is the Hardware store, the coffee hut, five restaurants (not including Subway or A&W) and the motel.  That’s about the extent of our travels.  Not that there are many other choices, but that’s it for us, we are either at the house or at one of these spots.

Last night we thought we deserved, or was that needed, a couple of drinks with alcoholic content, I had a minor meltdown yesterday, so a cocktail seemed in order.  We went out to the Branding Iron, the local bowling alley.  So imagine our surprise when we knew people there.  Our hotel manager was behind the bar, the waitress from the only breakfast café was in the house, after we left there and went to Joe’s for dinner, our favorite barista was there.  I guess it might be a small town.

Earlier in the week we had been leaving the house to go for parts and as we drove out of the alley, we noticed a car behind us, Rich laughed that he thought we were being followed.  We made a turn, then another turn because we needed to u-turn to find a parking spot, and we were being followed.  A lady who works at the local medical center is looking for a home for the new Physical Therapist that is moving to town and our little old lady neighbor had told her we were renovating ours.  So she followed us to get more information.  Yep, it feels like a small town.

The last indicator we had that it is a small town was our next door neighbor.  Earlier this week she was moved out of her home in to a nursing facility, her son stopped by and told us “If you need any food, the kitchen is full, help yourself.”  Really, help yourself.  That’s awesome.  The house is unlocked, just like ours.  We’ve owned the home for two years and left the key in the mailbox for the whole time we’ve had it.  Did I mention, I love small towns?


Day 296 – Ropes Course

knotsStopper Knots:  Overhand Knot, Slipped Noose, Slipped Overhand Knot, Figure Eight Knot, Slipped Figure Eight Knot, Stevedore Knot, Double Overhand Knot, Triple Overhand Knot, Oysterman’s Stopper.  That’s all I’ve tried so far.

I’ve always been fascinated by knots, they can do so much, have so many patterns, but I’ve never known how to tie them.  Sure, I can do an overhand knot – but I didn’t know that was what it was called.  I could do a Slipped Noose or a Slipped Overhand Knot – not by choice, because I didn’t know the difference, but at least out of necessity.  The rest of my knots were just tangled messes.  Some had patterns, some did not.  Now I am able to practice knots and learn how they are used.

I even bought myself a book.  On my list of 50 new things to do this year, knot tying was on it.  Sometimes, I even surprise myself, I’m not sure how it came up, but it was something I added to my potential list last fall when I was trying to come up with 50 new ideas.  We walked in the door to Barnes and Noble and there it was, a book, complete with rope called The Handy Box of Knots.  So I’ve begun, it’s going to take practice for me to master the knots, to be able to remember which is which and be able to tie them on demand, but I’m determined.

Before I’m done, I should know how to tie stopper knots, bends, loops, and hitches; I should be able to tie knots that bind and knots that lash, even some decorative knots.  If I’m really good, maybe I can join the International Guild of Knot Tyers.  Did you even know there was such a thing?  Neither did I, for a mere 23 pounds, I too can be a member.  Might just have to do that.

Day 298 – No wonder they don’t let me use power tools

Band-aidIndex and middle finger are ripped off, butterfly bandage on the fleshy part of my thumb, it’s no wonder they don’t let me use power tools.  I’m a wreck.  Just two weeks in to our Current project, my hands are shredded.  Today it was the blade that I’m using to scrape up the vinyl tile that was laid on the cement floor.  Who knew there was glue made that strong in the 1950’s?  Every little piece has to be coaxed off with lots of muscle and a half inch blade.  I pushed and pushed, and was doing great, until the blade slipped and punctured my hand.  We’re not talking a utility knife blade, this little bastard is thick.  I sat in the kitchen (or what will be the kitchen) for a little while until Rich came in.  When I showed him what I’d done, he asked why I didn’t tell him sooner, fortunately a little electrical tape and I was good as new.

I used to pick up power tools as a joke, I knew as soon as I did, someone would take it away from me and I wouldn’t have to do the work.  My brain just doesn’t think real logically.  I tell people I’m packaging challenged, I can’t see how things go together.  The same is true of using tools, moving things, etc.  I will always try the hard way first.  I’m the girl who can’t open her own crackers, who can’t play Tetris, who can’t see how the door goes back on its hinges.  I’ve got no hand-eye coordination, my kids used to always want me to play video games with them because then they wouldn’t be the loser.  It’s pretty rough sometimes.

Once, I picked up a sledge hammer and swung it at a bathroom wall I wanted taken out, two strikes was all it took before my ex came running to see what I was up to.  Turns out I got to go sit in the easy chair for the next three days while he destructed my bathroom, he didn’t trust me to not hurt myself.  He was probably right in that thinking.