A Redhead State of Mind

I am a redhead. I have always loved having red hair; it’s part of what makes me unique. Not only is red hair the rarest hair color, but my combination of red hair and blue eyes is the rarest hair/eye color combination. Now, I am aware that I am aging and that my hair color is fading. I like to say I’m “going blonde”. Most redheads don’t go straight from red hair to gray/white; we go through a blonde phase in between.

Even though I know my hair color is fading, I still think of myself as a redhead. However, a couple of recent interactions have made me wonder. At work, one of my coworkers was going to show me how to do something new and I asked her to give me a minute to grab my shirt and sun hat. (Being fair-skinned usually goes along with red hair. In addition to wearing sunscreen, I also wear a long-sleeved shirt and a big sun hat when spending time outside.) As we walked out of the building, the coworker glanced at me and then my hair and then said, “You have… red hair, right?” I chuckled and told her that yes, I do even though it is fading. We then began a discussion of some of the unique traits that tend to accompany red hair.

Several days later, I went to my appointment to get my employee ID. (I’ve been working for a little over two months, but better late than never I guess.) I had my photo taken and a lot of my data was transferred from my drivers license. The technician verified a few things such as eye color. When she got to my hair color she looked at me, then squinted at me and asked, “What color is your hair?” When I said “Red” she said “Really?” Once again I explained that yes, my hair color is getting lighter and will eventually become blonde. She said that she really didn’t see the red so my hair color will be listed as blonde on my ID.🤷‍♀️🙄

So, dear readers, I am now asking you: what color is my hair?

Large Headed Ladies

I think the time has come for a new song in the vein of Queen’s classic, Fat Bottomed Girls. The new song should be titled Large Headed Ladies and I volunteer to star in the music video. I look in the mirror and I see a normal, average human being. However, looks can be deceiving and I’m apparently a living chibi or Funko Pop. (Both are characters with large heads.) I generally don’t wear hats for the simple reason that most don’t fit. One size fits all? Ha! Not hardly. Between a large head and extremely thick hair, most “one size” hats just perch precariously on top of my head.

During our visit to Wall Drug, we found a western wear store that sold hats that came in (gasp!) actual sizes. Since that day, I have been the proud owner of a genuine Stetson cowboy hat.

Yee haw!

When I started my part-time job, I needed a sun hat. It took two attempts to find the one pictured in the linked post. I bought the first hat based on a Facebook ad with reviews which mentioned the hat fitting larger heads. Ha! It was so small I gave it to my nine year old grandson. Fortunately, the next hat was a success. Not only does it fit, but the vivid orange makes me easy to find when I’m working out in the orchards.

The most recent hurdle has been trying to find a bicycle helmet. Several months ago, Kenn purchased collapsible bikes for us to take with us when we camp. Sadly, we have yet to use them. We decided a few weeks ago to remedy that situation but that meant finding helmets. Of course it was a cinch for Kenn but for me, not so much. I carefully measured my head and made sure to purchase an appropriately sized helmet. Guess what? It didn’t fit. 🤦‍♀️ So, it was back to the drawing board. Thank goodness for LtMacDaddy and his amazing Amazon review. I purchased the same helmet and he is correct; the helmet also fits my fat head!

Success!

It’s a shame that adults don’t get to wear sparkly multi-colored helmets like kids do. (I’d wear a unicorn helmet in a heartbeat.) While the red is nice, it’s boring. I may apply a coat of my Lisa Frank nail polish to give it a little sparkle. Another downside to owning a red and black helmet as a resident of the state of Georgia is that it will be assumed to have been chosen in support of the University of Georgia Bulldogs. Spoiler alert: it was not and I am not a Bulldogs (or any other team) fan.

So, are you a member of the Large Head Club? If not, what is it like to be able to purchase hats off the rack (so to speak)?

Saying Goodbye

I haven’t posted for the past couple of weeks because honestly, the past couple of weeks have sucked. We lost two family members. One had been in hospice care for several weeks so it was only a matter of time. The other was more traumatic; you never expect to say goodbye to someone younger.

Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

Kenn’s family is quite different from mine. I grew up next door to my maternal grandmother who was one of eight kids. Aunts, uncles, great-aunts, great-uncles, and cousins galore were a big part of my life. The first time Kenn mentioned cousins, I was shocked. I had known him for years and he had never mentioned them before. I didn’t even know that his mom had three sisters.

Two of Kenn’s aunts lived up north and I never met them. I didn’t meet the remaining sister until after the death of Kenn’s father. The family was gathered at Kenn’s parents’ apartment and his aunt and uncle came to offer their condolences and Kenn introduced me. His aunt said “Oh Linda, it’s so nice to meet you. We’re so glad to have you in our family.” And she meant it. Y’all, I almost cried. At this point, I had been a part of Kenn’s family for nine years and no one had ever welcomed me. My in-laws didn’t like me and I spent my time walking on eggshells whenever I had to be around them. The fact that this woman I had never met before saw me as worthy of love and acceptance blew my mind. I hid those words in my heart for years.

I longed to tell Aunt Ellen how much her words meant to me but was hesitant to do so. I firmly believed that if I thanked her and it got back to my mother-in-law, it would just give her something else to hold against me. (I was already guilty of the heinous crimes of hanging pictures too high on our walls and having the wrong people in the background of the photos I took.🙄) My mother-in-law passed away five years ago so, when we learned that Aunt Ellen had cancer and had been placed in hospice care, I knew time was running out. With Chick-Fil-A in hand, we went and had a lovely visit. I told her how much her words meant to me and she said “I was just being sincere.” I told her that I knew she was and that made it even more special. That was the last time we saw her. It was a good day when she was still herself. Her condition deteriorated quickly over the next few weeks and she left this world on August 18th.

The second loss was my oldest niece. Ami was only 48. Not only was she my niece, but since she was only eleven years younger than me, in many ways she was like a younger sister. We shared a love of cats, books, reading, writing, color, and all things sparkly. We had actually grown closer over the last few years. When my Daddy’s health began failing in late 2015 it was hard on both of us. We began sharing memes (usually animal related) on Facebook to keep our spirits up. Six years later, we’re still doing it. At least we were. Ami had a severe peanut allergy and over the years she’s had a to make a few trips to the ER. All of those trips have ended with her returning home – except the last one. This last hospitalization resulted in her being placed on a ventilator and then an ECMO (heart/lung machine) before her wife made the difficult decision to end life support. When we got to the hospital on August 16th, Ami was non-responsive. They say that the hearing is the last thing to go so I hope that she knew we were there. But, I know that she knew that we loved her. I had hoped to visit she and her wife later this year and maybe even visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando together. (Ami had been, I hadn’t.) Now, that will never happen. I began missing her regular memes while she was hospitalized and now I have to content myself with seeing the ones from the past when they show up in my Facebook memories.

So, dear readers, hug your loved ones while you have them and tell them all of the things you need to say for you never know when that opportunity may slip away. (I promise, my next post won’t be so gloomy.)

Dante. Was. Wrong.

According to Dante’s Inferno, there are nine levels of hell. I’m here to tell you that Dante was wrong; there are actually ten levels. The tenth level is August in the state of Georgia. True, here in the South we don’t have four seasons, we have two-ish. But August… August is special.

Image from ifunny.com

August is the month in which we need gills. We open the door and step outside only to hit a wall of air so thick it’s hard to breath. And no, you never get used to it. I’ve lived in Georgia my entire life, which is rapidly approaching sixty (!) years and August always sucks. It’s easy to check the temperature and think “Hey, it’s only 79F this morning!” However, when the humidity level is over 90%, even 79 degrees is miserable. When the humidity level is high, sweat doesn’t even have its normal cooling effect because it doesn’t evaporate. Now that my part-time job has me working outside most days, I wear a long-sleeved shirt to help prevent sunburn. (The shirt is in addition to sunscreen. Fair skin is no joke.) Yes, the shirt is light-weight and a wicking material. It doesn’t matter. Wearing long-sleeves in the summer is the pits. When I get home at the end of the day, every stitch of clothing is soaking wet.

Kenn has a new coworker this summer. He asked her a couple of months ago if she was prepared for a Georgia summer. She responded “Oh, yeah. I’m from Washington state. It gets hot there too.” Little did she know… By July, I think she was beginning to re-think her life choices. “OMG! Is it always like this in the summer?” To which the answer is a cheery “Yes, but its just getting started. Just wait until August.” A dry heat really is different. (Cue Hudson from Aliens.)

If you need me, I’ll be over here counting the days until September when the weather begins to change and the hope of cooler temperatures keeps me going.

What is your least favorite season and why?

Cutting the (Keurig) Cord

Recycling is important to me as is reducing my plastic footprint. One of the areas that I’ve had the biggest struggle with is my Keurig. I loved my morning cup of chai latte but I couldn’t continue justifying the continuing daily use of multiple non-recyclable k-cups. So, I did the only thing I could do – I went cold turkey.

Image courtesty of depositphotos.com

I switched to a powdered chocolate chai latte mix and heated water in the microwave. I didn’t enjoy the mix as much as I did the Cafe Express brand k-cup mix I was using, but that turned out to be a moot point because it irritated my acid reflux which made it a no-go. I also tried a couple of different teas with the same result – my acid reflux wasn’t happy. However, I do enjoy a warm cuppa something in the morning to help me wake up. So, what to do? Well, it turns out that I just went back to having a cup of coffee. Years ago, I started having problems with coffee giving me indigestion so I made the switch to my beloved (and still mourned) chai latte. I used the Keurig for my morning fix while Kenn continued using the coffee maker. As the years have passed, we’ve changed brands of coffee and what we’re using now doesn’t give me indigestion. (Yay!) Now we just have to find a travel-friendly coffee maker to replace the Keurig in the travel trailer.

One thing has helped make the transition easier. I always used a travel mug for my chai latte but now that I’ve gone back to coffee I use a regular coffee mug. This means that I now get to use the mug my youngest son’s girlfriend gave me last Christmas; she knows how much I love John Hancock from the Fallout 4 video game. Now I get to spend every morning with him!🥰

Ghoul of Goodneighbor image by Crystal Fae on Redbubble.com

So, any recommendations for a travel-friendly coffee maker? Or acid reflux-friendly teas, etc.?

Chipmunk vs. Squirrel

It doesn’t matter if you live in the city, the ‘burbs, or the country – squirrels are everywhere. You can’t swing a cat without hitting a squirrel, sometimes literally since one of their favorite pastimes seems to be running into the road and then losing their furry little minds. I do my darndest to never harm a living creature, but squirrels make it difficult. Kenn affectionately refers to me as the Squirrel Bellower for my tendency to yell at both the squirrels who are in the road unable to make a decision as to how to proceed and the ones beside the road trying to decide whether or not they should go for it.

As suicidal as Southern squirrels tend to be, we decided during last year’s road trip that Northeastern squirrels were even worse; they like to dart in front of you at the absolute last second. We even saw a few running across the interstate. At some point during our trip Kenn made a statement along the lines of “I prefer chipmunks over squirrels.”

Image created in Canva

Of course a statement like that begs the question of why the preference for chipmunks over squirrels.

. Per Kenn, “When a chipmunk makes a decision, it commits; there’s no running into the middle of the road and being overwhelmed by indecision. Nope, the chipmunk just goes for it.” Since then I’ve paid attention on the rare instances a chipmunk crosses the road in front of me. It seems that he is correct. Chipmunks just go for it and race across the road with no hesitation. But, for the record, I yell at chipmunks too – just in case.😉

Are there any other Squirrel Bellowers out there?

Never Say Never

There have been a lot of things that I swore I would never do. I have done them all.🤷‍♀️Now, I’m doing it again. Once I retired, I had zero plans to ever go back to work. Writing and blogging, sure; those things bring me joy. A structured, on-a time-clock job? No way. I’ve had enough of living my life around someone else’s schedule, not being able to travel, etc. However, almost three years ago, Kenn landed the perfect retirement job; it’s an “intermittent” position with extremely flexible hours. (Intermittent means that it’s part-time, but has a cap on the number of days and hours that can be worked over the length of the position.) His boss didn’t bat an eye when Kenn told him that he would be gone for the month of September last year. Kenn usually works two or three days a week and spends most of his time driving heavy equipment; he loves it. I told him that if I could find something similar, I might give it a go. He talked to one of the other supervisors and one thing led to another.

I started my new “intermittent” position as a Biological Science Aid for an entomologist last week. As of this writing I’ve only worked three days but I have enjoyed it. Getting out of the house and getting a lot of exercise has meant that I’ve slept better at night, LOL. Of course, working outside in the Georgia heat and humidity has been kind of rough. I coat myself in sun screen and wear an SPF-50 over shirt for added protection. Basically, the clothes I would normally wear when hiking are the clothes that I now wear to the “office”.

Now that’s a sun hat!

My new supervisor was on leave the week I started so one of the other full-time employees showed me the ropes. She greeted me with a stack of supplies including a master key that will get me into virtually any office and a key to my very own work truck.😮 I was not expecting that! However, since I already drive a big honkin’ truck, driving one at work is no big deal.

My work truck

One of the new skills I’ve learned is how to drive a John Deere Gator. I feel all kinds of fancy driving across the fields in a utility vehicle.😂

Gator image from http://www.deere.com

Unlike Kenn, I don’t see myself working this position for more than a year or so. In the meantime, it’s flexible enough that I can live my own life and we can still travel all while I bring in a little extra money. I may be turning 60 in a few months, but I’m not to old to try/learn new things!

What would be your “perfect” part-time job?

Bamboozled

Kenn is the plant person in our relationship. He has always done a great job of keeping our yards looking good. However, we’ve learned the hard way that some plants are the gift that just keeps on giving – and not in a good way.

Our last house had a terraced yard which included a few raised beds. One of the beds at the front of the house contained azaleas which gave a nice pop of color in the spring. We planted lantana in the other to add color in the summer and fall. Kenn decided that he wanted to plant bamboo in the beds to the sides of the house, I was a little concerned about it spreading because invasive plants such as kudzu love the climate here in the southeastern United States. Kenn said not to worry, he would be taking steps to keep the bamboo contained so the planting commenced.

We moved out of that house almost five years ago but still maintain it as a rental property. Over the years it has become obvious that the attempt at bamboo containment failed. Not only did it fail, it did so spectacularly. Our property now has a bumper crop of bamboo and it is busily spreading throughout the neighborhood. Oopsie. Our bad.😬

Yep, the bamboo is thriving

I would say that bamboo grows like kudzu, but if you’ve never lived in an area with kudzu that means nothing. Kudzu grows several inches per day. So does bamboo, which is another fact we’ve learned the hard way. The growth is most noticeable in the spring when the new sprouts begin pushing through the soil. The next day, those sprouts are six inches tall. By the end of the week, they’re six feet tall. We’re now taking steps to reclaim the back yard at our rental property from the bamboo jungle it is becoming but it’s going to be a never ending battle. Wish us luck!

Do you have any experience with bamboo? If you have any tips on how to kill the bloody stuff, please let me know!

Thank You to 100+ Followers!

As of this writing, I have 104 followers. Mind. Blown. 🤯 My thanks to everyone who found my “random musings of a redheaded rambler” and enjoyed them enough to follow. *blows kisses*

Image from depositphotos.com

I started this blog as a place to write about our travels and any other random thing that crosses my mind. In other words, the sort of things that I wasn’t interested in posting on my now much-neglected writer blog (isabellanorse.com). Yeah, I probably ought to start blogging over there occasionally too.🤷‍♀️

Stay tuned for more photos and posts about trees, rocks, shark’s teeth, and more.

In honor of my random musings I’m going to end with a random question: what is your favorite number? Mine is the number four.

Embracing Mayhem

Being an adult is filled with wonderful things such as making your own decisions, staying up as late as you want, and eating ice cream for breakfast. Of course, adulting also has its downside: bills, income tax, colonoscopies… you get the idea. One of the things that we have avoided is reviewing our insurance (home and car) annually. We have been with the same insurance company for decades in spite of growing dissatisfaction. This year, we reached the breaking point.

We purchased our current home, The Cabin, in 2017. We filed a claim against our homeowner’s insurance when Hurricane Michael moved through the area in October 2018 and ripped off part of the ridge vent on our roof. We’ve had several severe hailstorms move through the area since December resulting in damage to our roof (based on the pieces of shingles we’ve found). Kenn filed a claim with our insurance company. Following their procedures, we had our roof checked by several roofers who all agreed that yes, there was hail damage. The insurance adjuster came out where he met with our primary roofer. The adjuster apparently told the roofer that yes, there was hail damage but he told the insurance company that there wasn’t, so: claim denied.

A couple of months later another hailstorm moved through so Kenn contacted the insurance company again. If he had talked to me first, I would have asked him not to. I figured they would just deny a second claim and probably raise our rates to boot. Ah, if only it had been that simple. Yes, they denied our claim. Then, they added insult to injury by sending us a letter that basically said “Your roof is old, therefore it’s a liability. If you don’t replace it by July 28th, we’re going to cancel your policy.” To summarize, they won’t pay out on the policy that we’ve been paying on for years but they will threaten to cancel our policy because our house has an old roof. We have now submitted a letter from our roofer stating that yes, the roof is old and will need to be replaced in the next 2-3 years. We were notified this morning (finally) that the underwriter accepted our letter and our policy will be renewed for another year. We already have a plan in place to replace the roof next year.

Image from Depositphotos.com

However, this was the straw that broke that poor, much maligned camel’s back. We began the process of requesting quotes from several other insurance companies. Full disclosure: Kenn did lion’s share of the work; he spent hours on the phone with various individuals. Why? He is far more patient than I am. My skills came into play in reviewing the quotes, comparing them to our current coverage, and making recommendations. We selected a new company and began the process to transition all of our policies. But, that extra call to our current insurance company came back to bite us in the butt yet again. The underwriter for the new company won’t cover The Cabin because we’ve had three claims in five years. The fact that two of the claims were denied is immaterial.

We decided to go ahead and transition all of our policies except our homeowner’s. We’ll work toward moving our homeowner’s policy when the 2018 claim drops off in October 2023. In the meantime, it’s probably going to cost us a little more to have policies split this way (since we won’t be able to “bundle”) but we decided it’s worth it for us.

We got good, comparable rates from the new company but you want to know one of the things that made the biggest difference to us? Most of Kenn’s conversations during this process were with the actual owner of the agency. She was shocked to learn that in all of the decades we’ve been with our current agent, we’ve only spoken to him two or three times. Now, I get it. When dealing with an insurance company, or large medical practice, etc., you don’t always get to deal with the primary agent or physician (or whatever), but it shouldn’t be a choice that is actively discouraged at all times. So, our new agent’s personal touch meant a great deal to both of us.

So long Jake, your khakis are no longer enough – it’s time for us to embrace a little Mayhem.

Image courtesy of Allstate

So, how long has it been since you reviewed or updated your insurance?