Saturday, February 19, 2005

Weekend Warriors

The honeymoon is over.

Once upon a time, coming to Celebration for the weekend meant an escape from our everyday routine. It was a time to play...sort of an extension of our vacations. Sure, there were things to do around the house, but most of the time we bummed around at Disney World and did fun things. Celebration wasn't officially our primary home yet, so coming here was still something of a treat. When you hop on a plane to get somewhere, it feels special. Sure, the flights became routine, since we were doing them an average of twice a month, but the sense of reality hadn't yet kicked in.

Now things are different. Celebration is definitely our home; we love it, but it doesn't feel like "vacation time" anymore. We work Monday through Friday; even though we don't have to commute (my husband used to face an hour-long train ride, while I only had a five minute drive), worktime still makes a day seem more routine. Add to that all the housework that never seems to be done and the other responsibilities of day-to-day life, and time becomes a scarce commodity. I know that Disney World is right down the street, but it might as well be 1200 miles away when you have so many other things that need to be taken care of.

Fortunately, there is still something called "the weekend." Just as it was in Chicago, it is very precious here in Florida. It means that most of the job resposibilities can go on the back burner, and we can devote ourselves to fun, fun, fun.

This weekend, we were actually pretty busy with routine chores, but we also found some time to unwind. On Friday night, we went to visit some friends for margaritas and a movie. Since nothing is too far from anything else in Celebration, we rode our bikes rather than driving. We watched "Mars Attacks," one of the few Tim Burton movies that I have never seen. I am a major Johnny Depp fan, and thus, by extension, I have become a fan of Tim Burton's since so many of his movies feature Johnny. My all-time favorite is "Ed Wood," the black-and-white semi-biography of the worst Hollywood director of all time.

Johnny Depp plays the title role: Ed Wood, an enthusiastic but clueless cross-dressing writer/director/actor who created some of the worst movies of all time, including the (in)famous "Plan 9 From Outer Space. He also befriended horror actor Bela Lugosi, who had gone from stardom to drug addiction and financial ruin in the twilight years of his life.

Ed featured Bela in several of his movies, and also befriended a motley assortment of "misfits and dope addicts," as his girlfriend Dolores characterized them. While I think that Johnny Depp does a fantastic job, Martin Landau steals the show as Bela. See the movie and you'll understand why he won the Academy Award.

Johnny wasn't in "Mars Attacks," but there was plenty of star power, including Jack "You Can't Handle The Truth" Nicholson and Glenn Close, among many others. The movie was hilarious, and it was even more enjoyable due to Tim Burton's ecletic taste in sets. His movies always have a 1950s/1960s flare to the set decor, no matter when they are supposed to actually be taking place. The movie was a total send-up of 1950s grade B alien flicks. I'm sure that the real Ed Wood himself would have loved it. There was something for everyone...lots of laughs and lots of "quality kills."

After the movie, my husband and I mounted our bikes for the ride home. I was wearing a t-shirt and shorts, and the night had turned quite chilly. Thankfully, I haven't lost my Midwestern hardiness yet so it didn't phase me. To someone from a northern climate, anything above 30 in February feels downright balmy.

It was around midnight, so the bike path to East Village was virtually deserted. Once we reached the street, we heard lots of voices. There must have been a party at one of the houses that had just broken up. There was a gang of people tipsily making their ways to their cars. This was right next to where a group of townhomes is currently under construction. Most of the construction sites around town have Port-A-Potties for the workers; just as we passed the one by the townhome, the door burst open and (presumably) one of the party goers staggered out! I have no idea why he would choose a dirty, chilly outhouse over his host's restroom, but obviously I didn't know the full story.

We rounded the curve and reached our home, where we were greeted by hungry cats demanding their delayed dinner. Our spoiled creatures have dry food out all the time, but they think that they'll starve to death if they don't get their daily supplemental can of Fancy Feast.

We slept in this morning (Saturday), then dragged ourselves out of bed because we had lots of things to take care of. Routine things, not fun things...we hate going shopping in and around the mall because it's always so trafficky. But there were several things that we needed, so we decided to finally take care of them.

We always take 417 to Orange Blossom Trail (or sometimes to Boggy Creek if we feel like coming in the "back way" to the mall area). This was one of those days when we were grateful for our Sun Pass. The line-up of tourists heading to the airport stretched like a backwards conga from the manual lanes. It was so nice to whiz right through the automated lane.

First stop was Home Depot, where we wanted to see how much it would cost to have a whirlpool installed. We have been bouncing back and forth between getting a hot tub outside and putting a whirlpool into one of our bathrooms. We have a powder room and two full baths, but one only has a shower and the other has a micro-tub. My husband and I are big "bath fans" who love to soak for hours, and whirlpool jets are the cherry on the sundae. Granted, we don't have much room, but they make whirlpools that fit the footprint of a standard bathtub, so we want to see if that's an option.

We wandered aimlessly around Home Depot, trying to find someone to give us information. In front of most items, there were optimistic signs proclaiming, "We can install this for you!" But those signs were conspicuously absent from the area in front of the tubs.

Finally we caught a worker who pointed vaguely to the front of the store. We headed off in that direction, where we found the contractor desk. There was one woman shuffling papers and a man punching some numbers into a computer. Eventually, we caught the woman's attention and asked if they install whirlpools. She didn't know, so she asked the man. At first she ignored him; then, when she asked again, he snapped, "I'm going home, and I have no idea who's coming to replace me." Good customer service attitude. Finally the woman made a couple of phone calls and said, "I don't think we do that."

We started to head out and found another desk at the other end of the store. It had signs about installing all sorts of things, but tubs weren't one of them. We asked, and sure enough, the answer was, "No." My husband pointed to the signs and said, "Look! One of them is turned backwards. I'll bet tubs were on that." Sure enough, if I squinted, I could make out backwards letters that spelled out "Showers and Tubs."

One chore aborted. Oh well, on to our next stop. My husband needed a filing cabinet, and he'd found one he liked on the Sauder website. Sauder makes assemble-it-yourself furniture, and we have a ton of it already. He'd found that Kane's Furniture stocked the piece he wanted, and Best Buy supposedly did too. He'd gotten a price from Kane's over the phone, but rousing a live person amidst phone menu hell at Best Buy had proven to be an impossible task. Since it was on our way, he figured he could check in person. We were also in the market for a big-screen television; we'd found a nice, reasonably price model on the Circuit City website, but we figured we could see if Best Buy had anything comparable.

On the way, I spotted a Valvoline Oil Change garage. I am very judicious about making sure that Canyonero gets regular oil changes, so I pulled in. The bays were all filled, but we were the next in line so we figured it wouldn't take too long. Sure enough, within a few minutes, one of the bays opened up.

In the Chicago area, you turn your car over to the attendants, and then you have to leave the garage area and go to a designated waiting room. There are signs everywhere, stating, "Insurance Regulations DO NOT Allow Customers To Remain in the Work Area." Conversely, in Florida, all of the customers hung around their cars, watching the work in progress. Some of them even stayed in their cars while the work was performed!

Happily, our oil was very clean, meaning that Canyonero is in good working order. We treated the vehicle to synthetic oil, since the valves have been tapping a bit on start-up. Hopefully that will take care of the problem; at least we're all set for another three months or three thousand miles.

Amazingly, the traffic on Orange Blossom Trail wasn't too bad for a Saturday The road was crowded, but at least we were moving steadily, and soon we arrived at our next destination. But just as we'd been shot down at Home Depot, Best Buy was also a disappointment. Turns out the Sauder website had lied; they didn't carry the filing cabinet and couldn't even special order it. Also, their big screen televisions were at least $500 more than what we'd found at Circuit City (which was planned as our next stop).

At Circuit City, we quickly located a floor model of the television that we wanted. However, the price was a hundred dollars more than what we'd found on the internet the week before. Fortunately, we'd brought a printout, which also indicated that online orders receive free delivery. We showed the salesman, and he said that the stores will match the online specials. Unfortunately, the online price had expired; fortunately, although the price had gone up by $100, you also received a "free" home theater with your purchase (speakers, woofer, and radio/DVD/CD player) that coincidentally was a $100 value, and the free delivery deal was still going on. We needed another DVD player anyway, so we decided to purchase the t.v.

But the Fates were still not ready to smile on us completely. Lo and behold, that television was out of stock at every single Circuit City in the greater Orlando area. We were still able to purchase it, but we won't receive it for several weeks. Worse yet, my husband's credit card was declined! We figured that something had somehow raised a fraud alert flag, but it was decidedly inconvenient. Oh well, no problem...I just whisked out another card and we completed the sale.

Next up was Petco to pick up some Tidy Cat Crystals cat litter and a new sisal scratching post. For the most part, the cats have been confining their scratching to their existing posts, but I wanted to get another one just to be sure. We usually shop for our critter supplies at PetsMart, but we didn't feel like swinging over to John Young Parkway.

Unfortunately, Petco's price for the litter was outrageous when compared to Petsmart. I did find a nice scratching post/perch for our formal room that will allow the cats to sharpen their nails and then climb on top to look out the window. There were actually three, and two were marked at $89, while one was marked $69. We couldn't see any apparent difference, other than the color, so we opted to save $20. I also picked up a cardboard contraption called an "Alpine Scratcher" to try on crazy Tooncinator, who I've caught clawing the carpet. Cardboard scratched are horizontal, so I thought we might like that.

Next up was Kanes, which was on our way home. After our luck thus far, I was afraid that the file cabinet might be out of stock, even though my husband had called ahead to confirm its existence. Or perhaps he misheard the price and it would be some ungodly amount, and then they would decline our charge card. Fortunately, the cabinet was in stock and the price was only $3 more than the quote, since there had been some sort of sale on Friday, when my husband had called. We completed the sale, tossed the box in the back of Canyonero, and headed toward 417 and home.

We had made reservations to eat at Cape May Buffet in the Beach Club at 5 p.m. We were going with our next door neighbors to celebrate our permanent move-in. I am not a big buffet fan; I've seen too many kids wipe their noses with their hands, then manhandle various food items and toss them back into the serving trays. But the food at Cape May more than makes up for the grossness/disease potential (I feel the same way about Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary and Boma at Animal Kingdon Lodge too).

We couldn't take Canyonero because one of the seats is still missing as a result of the Kitty Karavan. Leaving a seat behind in Chicago was the only way we could fit in the cat and bird cages. Our neighbors had never been to the Beach Club, so they said we could take their car if my husband or I would drive. My husband prefers to be chauffered on Disney property, so I agreed to take the wheel.

Cape May's buffet offers all-you-can-eat clams, mussels, and shrimp; I am not big on any of those items, but there are plenty of options even if you're not a seafood fan. I focused my attention on the moist, delicious baked chicken and fresh mashed potatoes, along with corn bread and a variety of salads. My husband adores the seafood options, so he took the opportunity to gorge himself. We are both good about eating healthy items all week, but weekends are our "treat days" when we can let the discipline slip. Everyone in our party had dessert but me. It's not that I was being dietary; I just prefer the ambrosia salad to the other dessert items.

Our neighbors had never been to Cape May before, but they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. After stuffing ourselves with a delicious meal, we went for a walk down to the Yacht Club and back so we could admire the lake and the sight of Boardwalk's neon just across the water.

Then we headed home so my husband could put together his new filing cabinet while I could do some travel agency work. Not a "vacation-like" weekend, but we'd managed to get a lot accomplished and also to toss in some fun, too. Tomorrow (Sunday) we'll have breakfast at Max's in downtown Celebration if we can drag our carcasses out of bed early enough and then pick up some fresh produce at the Farmer's Market. We'll probably find something fun to do, but we won't stay out too late because my poor hubby has to fly back to Chicago on Monday morning; he'll be stuck in the cold and snow until Friday night, poor man.

It's a far cry from our "Disney Days," but I'm happy that our lives in Celebration are settling into the comfortable rhythm of regular, every-day life. Florida is our home now, the place where we work as well as play. Living next door to Disney World just happens to be one of the fringe benefits.

You can send me email at celebration@mailblocks.com

My Celebration website is www.celebrationinfo.com

1 comment:

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