Day 277 – Rose Parade Day Five

These are some awesome pictures, at least to me, of the floats that we were up close and personal with.  Loved the experience, if any of you are interested, go to and sign on up.  Great stuff, Maynard!

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 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 307 – Current Project

houseOur December is being spent in Montana restoring a house built in 1903.  The address is 312 S Maryland, Conrad. It has three bedrooms upstairs, two baths, a formal living and dining room, large kitchen, family room, library and office.  It is 4,320 square feet, with a two car garage.  The place is humongous.  I bought it a couple of years ago, sight unseen, because it looked cool.  And honestly, it is cool.  I love the house.  Our plan is to flip it, but of course, our biggest challenge is finding time to spend here.  This part of Montana is not on our regular travel plan.  We tend to run I-40 and I-80, finding us North of I-90 is a bit unusual for us.

We’ve done all of our shopping this week, cabinets and carpet, tile and appliances.  All are purchased, now we just need to put it all together.  Of course, I want to do it NOW!  and all the stuff is still in transit, I feel a bit useless.  So, we are spending our time on paint and primer, getting prepped for the day it all comes together.  My fear is that it all shows up about the 20th of this month, and then that will mess up my after-Christmas plans.  That will be a bummer.

My plan after Christmas is the same as last year, five days working the Rose Parade, building floats.  Haley and I did that last year starting on the 27th and working right through the 31st.  It was an incredible experience, not only was it bonding between her and I, but it helped me to see the work ethic that young lady has.  I love doing volunteer work and this was a labor of love.  I blogged that experience on Trippin the Americas last year, if you are interested in how that process comes together, check this out.  It had been on my life list for a long time, I just wanted to repeat it again this year and I’m not feeling very confident about that right now with all the work ahead of us. 😦

Day 356 – BOOKS! Said like a swear word

Last Christmas we moved out of our house and in to our mobile unit.  We live in a 280 square foot converted furniture trailer, it has a bedroom with a queen size bed, a bathroom with a large shower and a living space.  The living space encompasses about half of the square footage and doubles as a kitchen and office too – I guess that means it triples instead of doubles.  The space is very utilitarian, wood floors that can be dirty or muddy, walls that could be wiped down – no glamour or opulence here, none is needed and I would just be disappointed when it got dirty, and it would get dirty.

When the house was being emptied, I left, I went to SoCal with my daughter to work on the Rose Parade and Josh came in from NorCal to help Big with the move.  I had a lot of stuff, most of it was being auctioned off, so the boys loaded it in to a storage trailer to be parked at the auction barn.  Part of my “stuff” was books, lots and lots of books.  Poor Josh got to move most of them.  I love books, all kinds, no specific genre for me, I’ll read it all.

Books 🙂

It was about 1995 when my Mom and I had a revelation.  We decided that we were old enough and mature enough to NOT have to wait for the paperback version of our favorite authors.  Thus began the acquisition of hardcover books, did I mention I had a lot of them.  By the time Josh had unloaded all the books from the floor to ceiling bookshelves in the “library” he had moved hundreds of pounds of books and replaced the F* word with the B* word.  When we finally met the boys at the Hammers for New Years, Josh just used Books! Whenever he swore.  It was hysterical.  To this day, I can’t get him to lift a book for me.

My love of books comes from my dad, he was always reading something, usually something heavy and historical, but always something.  My goal for the last several years has been to read 50 books a year, I’ve not accomplished it until this physical year, now for my 50th year, I have the same goal, I’m on number 2 and 3 right now and they are both so good, I can’t decide which one to pick up, generally it depends on the lighting, one is a physical book, the other is on my kindle (which I can read on my backlit Tablet.)

It’s funny, Josh doesn’t swear when he hands me my Tablet, I wonder if he knows how many books are on there?  What method do you like to use to read?