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You're About to be Redirected to the New Home of Ground Control to Major Mom: 5/15/11 - 5/22/11

Friday, May 20, 2011

Florida Discoveries 12: Mimosas in Bloom...or So I Thought...

The mimosa trees are starting to bloom....

...or so I thought...

I have loved these pretty trees since I was a kid in southeastern Virginia...this one is blooming right up the street.
I'll take my iPhone along on runs so I can listen to tunes, but about once a week I get distracted so much by the pretty flowers, I stop to take some pictures with the iPhone camera. It does a pretty decent job.

So I took several pictures of this "mimosa" tree and was all set to write up not just about the tree, but also about the delicious Sunday brunch staple: The Mimosa.  I'll get to that particular Mimosa in a minute.

In case you hadn't noticed after all these years, my posts about pretty flowers, cool trees or curious critters on this blog never lack at least a cursory round of research and web links for you to learn more.  This will be no exception.

Right away, I learned that these trees I've called "mimosas" for decades aren't really  "mimosas".  They're Persian silk trees.  The geneses Mimosa and Albizia are both in the family Fabaceae.  Many folks are familiar with the mimosa species whose flowers quickly contract when touched.  You might know it as the "Sensitive Plant", botanically known as the Mimosa pudica, seen in this video (you will get the gist of it in the first 10 seconds).

It seems so theraputic, doesn't it?

Okay, okay, since the point here is that this ISN'T a mimosa, let's focus on what this IS.

According to my buddy Wikipedia, the Persian silk tree is native to much of Asia, from Azerbaijan to China to Korea.  It was brought to the U.S. in the 18th Century as an ornamental tree and has become an invasive species in the eastern U.S., particularly in the northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.  It is commonly confused with both mimosas and acadia trees, because of the similar patterns of their respective leaves.

In true Internet-geek fashion, a short series of click-throughs led me to the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, whose mission is to manage the spread of invasive species in Florida's natural areas.  Every two years the Council publishes a list of Florida's invasive plants, placing each species in a Category I or Category II.  Category I is more dire, meaning the species is capable of altering a natural ecosystem if left unchecked.

The Persian silk tree is a Category I invasive species.

Nonetheless, I grew up thinking these trees are so pretty, and I won't change my mind on that.  What I WILL change my mind about is trying to get one for my own landscaping one day.

Let's shift gears and talk about another Florida Discovery my Dear Husband and I have made: The Mimosa.

(That's Mimosa with a capital "M").

Within a week or two of our arrival, our family had a hankerin' for some seafood, and ventured out to Pensacola Beach, where we were met with several choices.  We chose a touristy joint called Crabs -- We Got 'Em.  It was Sunday early afternoon and we were given a brunch menu that included several brunch-ey entrees, and all-you-can-drink Mimosas!  We ordered right up and the Mimosas were so delicious!

Now Dave and I want to keep a bottle of inexpensive Champagne on hand just so we can enjoy them on weekend afternoons.

So what is in a Mimosa?  Very simply put, mix equal parts Champagne and chilled orange juice in a Champagne flute.  Stir and serve with a light brunch.

Enjoy some history behind this drink.  Or this history, which also mentions the "Buck's Fizz", which is a very similar beverage.

In our house, we enjoy "Indian River"-brand orange juice, which is found at our local Publix supermarket, at a cost comparable to other national brands, but is MUCH more delicious!

Like the glass?  One of our Vegas souvenirs from 2006.  We stayed at the Flamingo.

I don't have any champagne flutes.

Enjoy one this weekend!

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MilSpouse Friday Fill In #41

This week's Friday Fill-In!  Enjoy!

1. What is one of the things you always do special when your husband returns from a deployment?  submitted by Keep Calm and Soldier On

I'm not sure if I can use "always" in these answers, since my husband has only ever had two deployments to come home from...and I've had two deployments to come home from also.  In 1998 we returned from concurrent deployments within a few weeks of each other, and we were able to squeeze in an amazing ski vacation in Taos, NM just before we PCSed to Korea.

Otherwise, we tended to spend the first days readjusting to a life that includes more than just getting a mission done.

2. What do you do to help your spouse and/or yourself re-adjust after a deployment or long separation?  submitted by Diapers, Dogs and Deployments

We try very hard not to plan a ton of stuff.  That sounds vague and all, but we want to make sure there's a buffer in there before we allow visitors to come into town, or we take big trips.

3. Are you a crazy coupon clipper (I’m becoming one, so share your secrets with me)? submitted by Married My Airman

Here's my take on "Extreme Couponing" and how much of it is incompatible with a military lifestyle.

That being said, I try very hard to strike that balance of taking advantage of coupons, but not buying things we don't need just because there's a coupon.  You all know what I'm talking about, right?

4. What’s your most treasured memory of you and your spouse (not counting your wedding – that’s a given)? submitted by Scrubs, ACUs and One Crazy Ride

I don't really know, we have so many.  Getting to see the joy on each others' faces when our children were born is probably at the top of my list.

5. If you could live anywhere overseas, what would you pick and why? submitted by Little Moments Like This

I've been chomping at the bit for Dave to get assigned to Germany for as long as I can remember!  For some reason, it's never happened...

[And NO, rotator flight layovers at Ramstein and Rhein-Main ABs don't count!]

As Dave gets older and higher in rank, his opportunities in Europe really dwindle.  Since around 2000 we've put off any kinds of European vacations, just in case the powers-that-be feel Dave and Germany could commingle for a couple years.  But it hasn't happened yet.  Oh well...

One thing I do know, we're planning our 2020 trip to Obergammerau NOW!  We'd have a 17- and 15-year-old sons and I couldn't think of a more special trip to take with your kids...when they're old enough to understand/appreciate the Passion Plays.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Why I Fly in my Uniform

Folks find it strange that I travel to and from my Reserve duty in uniform. In this week's case, I didn't have an official appointment as soon as I landed; I didn't have to report to duty as soon as I landed either. Nonetheless, I have found it beneficial in so many ways.

1.) Air Force Airman Battle Uniforms (ABUs) take up a lot of space in a suitcase. Those boots take up the same space as 2-3 pair of civilian shoes! Wear the boots, bring more civilian shoes with me!
2.) Airlines that waive baggage check fees for military members take one look at you in a uniform and don't ask any more questions. Military members don't get charged to check a bag on a lot of carriers (such as Delta). You can produce travel orders and get the waiver even in civilian clothes, but one can just save the time by wearing the uniform.
3.) In the security line, most TSA personnel won't make a military member look foolish by stripping off his/her coat and boots in front of everyone. Unless you have steel-toed boots, but then they ought to let you go through the aircrew line. Again, it saves time.
4.) When the airline loses your luggage and won't deliver it until the following morning, you can report to your first day of duty in a uniform, instead of in the civilian clothing you wore on the flight...and probably slept in that night.
5.) There's nothing to be ashamed of and I'm not wrong in wearing them. The Chief of Staff of the Air Force set guidance in December 2008 allowing official travel on civilian commercial airlines in ABUs. Some don't agree with that guidance for assorted reasons, but since it's allowed, it's just easier for me.

A lot of people thank me for my service during these trips. Folks also say "Welcome Home" to me...assuming I'm coming off a rotator flight or something. I used to REALLY be embarrassed by those statements, particularly before I took my own post-9/11 deployment (albeit a short one). I used to think I didn't deserve those statements, but since folks only see me as a representation of the entire US Air Force, I tend to take it more as their thanking the Armed Forces in general. Now I just say a simple "Thank YOU" back -- since they're paying my salary and all.

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Now I Remember Why I Haven't Rented From Avis Lately...

This is what happens when I rent from Avis for the first time in over 10 years!
Greetings from yet another soon-to-be-fun-filled week of Reserve duty :-)

Today has to have been the best flying experience I've had in a very long time.  Perhaps since the trip TO Disneyworld in late 2009.

0.) I fly in my uniform (that's for another blog post) so Delta didn't charge me for a checked suitcase.
1.) Free WiFi at Pensacola Airport.  Worked on my first-ever guest blog post for a friend, which is coming soon!
2.) Despite arriving staring at a 45 minute delay when I arrived at the gate for my Pensacola-to-Memphis leg of my trip, for the first time in my life I experienced an "un-delay" of 30 minutes of that!
3.) I arrived in Memphis at Gate A6, the next leg of my trip was at Gate A7!
4.) I arrived in Omaha 20 minutes early.

So by about 3:30pm I had my suitcase from baggage claim and was at the Avis desk to pick up my rental car.  Everything was as I reserved, but then I was asked to initial this "Fast Fuel" charge clause in my rental contract.

I read the clause.  I don't have the contract with me as I'm writing this (it's in the rental car out in the parking lot), but it reads something like this:
"If you drive fewer than 75 miles, save time and do not refill the tank. Avis will automatically add a $13.99 charge to the rental for fuel."
To NOT get that charge added to your rental costs, you have to present a receipt showing that you filled the car so that the fuel gauge needle isn't at the bottom of "F", it's at the top of the "F" or something like that.

I vented at the poor Avis clerk for a few minutes about the principle of assessing a charge that the customer has to work at to not have charged, i.e. making sure said customer obtains and presents the fuel receipt.  I called the charge "pure evil" and was on my way.  It wasn't her fault.

Apparently this charge started up in September 2007 (back when it was only $10.50), and I know I haven't rented from Avis since then.

I'm sure for those who have rented from Avis routinely, this is old news.  Perhaps you know the routine and present the receipt every time...or you always drive more than 75 miles just to ease the hassle.

Chances are, I won't be driving more than 75 miles, although a trip or two to Trader Joe's might do the trick to put me over the edge...

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