Belle of the Ball

My brother-in-law was given the position of Potentate of the Shriners in the Alabama area. My sister, Jackie, invited my family to go to the ball in his honor. I asked her what to wear and when she said "formal" all I could think of was the cost of a formal gown. But then she told me I should wear the gold dress that I wore to my daughter's wedding in July of last year. Wonderful!

I felt like Cinderella when I tried that dress on. It has a gold underskirt with a gold foil over it. The bodice is an overlay made of gold thread which looks like it is crocheted. A crocheted sweater of the same delicate thread is worn over the dress. I found gold shoes which look like ballerina slippers and a cute little purse that matched. I felt wonderful at the wedding in it but when I wore it to the ball, I felt I finally had attended a prom (which I hadn't in high school).

The Alcazar Shriners started off Friday night with a buffet style dinner (which was really great). After the meal Randy (my brother-in-law) thanked everyone for honoring them with our presence. He then said "Forty years ago we were blessed with a little girl. Tonight we would like to say Happy Birthday to her." Out walked my nephew with an over-the-hill cake with forty candles blazing.

I became excited and grabbed my camera case strap which was on the floor near my feet. The strap was hooked onto the coil of my shoe (ZCoils) and I couldn't get it off. I lifted my foot up to my husband and asked for help. He couldn't get it off either so he took my shoe off. I grabbed the camera out of the case and hobbled over to Shelly's table to snap pictures. Of course by then the candles were blown out. She asked me why I was limping. I told her about the shoe episode and she laughed. Back to my table Steve is still struggeling with my shoe. It took him 30 minutes to get the strap off of the coil.

Shelly, Steve, my sister, Sue, and I were sitting at my table by this time. Sue asked if I could take three baskets home with me since we were driving and they were flying back to Iowa. (Sue, Nancy, our cousin, and I were given gift baskets for coming to Alabama to the ball.) I asked Steve what he thought as our car was pretty packed. He said "Oh, we could probably get more organized, or if not, we could always wrap the handle around your shoe!" Everyone got a laugh out of that. Then Sue said "Wait a minute, she has two shoes! That just leaves room for one more basket!" Ok, you guys are really funny, "I suppose you want me to carry the third one around my neck!" "No," my husband said, "one of your shoes could do double duty!" Sue told me "Kathy, this is going to go down in history like the celery and cream cheese!" Ok, that's a story for another time.

We had a great time Friday night. My family had rooms at the Drury Inn just a few blocks away. The place was fantastic and breakfast was included (scrambled eggs, french toast, sausage, bacon, fruit, yougurt, and make your own waffles...yummy!) Saturday afternoon took us back to the shriner hall to watch the presentation of gifts. Shriners from all over the South came and presented beautiful gifts to Jackie and Randy. Of course, there was another buffet to eat and drinks galore. It was a fun time for everyone. At one point a shriner was going from table to table taking pictures. I grabbed my purse off the table and went to put it down by my shoes when I jerked to a stop saying "Oh!" Sue noticed it and said "It's ok, Kathy, you have flip flops on, not the ZCoils!" We both got a laugh out of that.

Back to the Drury Inn to get ready for the ball. When we entered the hall, there was a huge moon lit up in the first room. It was beautiful. My sisters and I all collect moons because our mother's maiden name was Moon. We signed in and entered the main event. Oh my word! The whole room is decorated with little sparkly lights and there are moons here and there. The stage where the band will play has an even bigger moon behind them.

We went through the buffet to get our food and when we walked back to our table, it felt like a scene out of a movie. The room was dark except for the little sparkles everywhere. After everyone ate, Potentate Randy and his Lady Jackie walked down the center aisle to be presented. It was so beautiful. All of the visiting Potentates were presented with their wives. I truly felt like I was at a prom.

The next event was Randy and Jackie's grandsons coming down the center with white roses for their NaNa. Beautiful. And finally, dancing! Jackie and Randy led off and I can't remember the name of the song but it's a slow one that says "You're my Lady". It was so touching, Sue and I had tears in our eyes. I love to dance but because of my back injury, I was only able to dance one slow song with my wonderful husband, Steve.

The couple who sat at our table clogged to a fast song. He had clogging shoes on and the taps just rang out to the beat. That was fun to watch but the couple who took the show was an older couple (I'd say in their 80s, atleast) who danced like a dream. They had taken dancing lessons togther and he whirled her around and dipped her. You could tell they loved each other and their movements were perfect.

Time to tear up again, Buddy is dancing with his mom (Jackie), then again later when Mike dances with her. Jackie has been through a long battle with her health. She fought and won breast cancer, then breastbone cancer, congestive heart failure, a hip replacement, surgery again when the rod in her hip broke in half, she is one little fighter. She needs to have shoulder surgery but that was delayed when her colon burst. The doctor said he nearly lost her four times. She has struggled from a wheelchair to a walker, then to a cane. She fought hard so she could walk down the aisle with Randy with no walker. But she did it! I am so proud of her.

Although I felt like Cinderella that night, Jackie was really the Belle of the Ball. She is Randy's lady and he is her man. He still calls her his bride, although they have three grown kids and many grandkids. What an example they set for the rest of us! Halfmoon

Use Buzzfuse* to easily rate, review, and share this item

Timeshare Nightmare

We have a timeshare in Kissimmee, Florida that we bought about 18 years ago. We never go back there but you can exchange your week for a week anywhere in the world that is connected with RCI. Thus far we have taken our family to the Bahamas, Tijuana, Horseshoe Bend in Arkansas twice, and Alpine Bay which is in Alabama twice. We've always had a wonderful time.

This time only Steve and I went so we could attend a Shriners Ball because my brother-in-law was made Potentate (which is like the head of the whole Shriner area in Alabama and other southern states). Our kids were unable to take time off work to go with us. The first two nights we stayed at a Drury Inn in Montgomery which was wonderful. That way we were able to be close to the events that were located at the Alcazar Shrine in that city.

Sunday night we drove to our timeshare which was nearly two hours away. It felt funny having just the two of us in the car but it was very peaceful on the drive down. Usually there are kids excited to begin with, then they are whiney because the drive is so long (Are we there yet?). Sometimes outright fights start and it dampens the desire to take the whole family along. Steve and I talked more to each other than we ever have before. We arrived at the resort at 10:00 pm and met the security guard at the office. He handed us the keys to Unit A6. When we walked into the unit I first noticed the dirty towels and sheets on the kitchen floor. (This is what you normally do when you check out.) Then I saw the crumbs on the counter. Walking into the bedroom on the main floor, there were no sheets on the bed.

Both Steve and I were upset. He called the office praying the guard would still be there. (He was having his lunch in the office when we arrived.) Luckily he answered the phone. When Steve explained the situation, he said he thought A10 was cleaned, but he'd go check it out and then bring the keys to us. The resort was supposed to have our unit ready on Saturday night. This was hard to comprehend.

The guard knocked on our door and gave us the keys to A10 which was clean and ready to go. Thank goodness! So we got back into the car and drove to that unit. It was beautiful, something like we've never lived in (which was what sold us on buying the timeshare). There was a bedroom and bath on the main floor with the kitchen, dining area, living room which had a fireplace, and a deck off the dining area. The upstairs had a huge master bedroom and bathroom with a separate room that had a jacuzzi that at least three people could sit in, another sink, and another living room with a deck off of it.

I was in a lot of pain with my back so we slept downstairs the first night. The next morning I woke up in severe pain so I went up the stairs pulling myself up by the handrails. I started the tub with the water temperature what I use at home (which is pretty hot). I then went downstairs and fixed my tea and cereal and took it up the stairs to eat breakfast while the tub continued to fill. When I checked the tub again, the water was lukewarm. It still hadn't filled enough water to cover the jets. I let it continue to flow until it was ready.

I was pretty upset when I got into the tub and it was cold. After sitting down in the water I started searching for the button to turn on the jets. There was no button. You had to turn it on by a switch on the wall about four feet away. This was getting rediculous! I got out of the tub and dried somewhat, walked over and turned on the jets. Water started flying everywhere (still not enough water to cover the jets sufficiently). If I were sitting in the water, the level would be perfect but I couldn't reach the switch. I added more water which by this time was almost ice cold, turned on the switch, and got into the tub. Brrrrrr!

I knew I needed to grin and bear it because without the massaging action of the jets, I find it hard to move around. If you've read my blog before, you are aware that I have five herniated disks and a bulging disk in my back, along with a bulging disk in my neck. Lets just say that I didn't sit in that jacuzzi for the normal 1 1/2 hours that I do at home. Also, with the water being cold, my neck and back stiffened up. I'm not sure if the bath helped me or made my back and neck worse.

Of course, by the time we returned to the timeshare that night, the office was closed so we couldn't report the problem. The next morning after again having a cold bath, and before leaving for my sister's in Prattville, we waited until the office opened and reported it. They had a maintenance man come turn the pilot light up on the water heater.

The third morning I went through the same actions only I put strictly hot water into the tub to begin with. I wondered how I was going to get to the faucet to add cold water as it is in the farthest part of the tub. There is a ledge around the tub but in my condition, I wasn't sure I could crawl on it to add cold water. As it turned out I didn't have to worry about it, by the time I checked the water, it was tepid. Another day with disappointment. We again waited for the office to open and reported the situation. The maintenance man came again, only this time he said the hot water heater needed a new element. Since he had to drain it, we left him there and asked him to lock the unit when he was done.

While driving home that night we decided to stick a couple logs in the fireplace and create a romantic atmosphere. We arrived to find two notes on the door of A10. The first one said to call the office (which closed at 6). The second note stated "No water, water is turned off." This is great, now we can't even take showers, brush our teeth, or use the toilets. After sitting up at the office for 1 1/2 hours, hoping the security guy would see us and hopefully have a key to another unit we decided to go back to the unit and try again to get ahold of someone. Steve left a few messages at the office number, we left our number on the beeper for security, all with no response. We were so angry we just went to bed. By morning we decided to pack up and go home. I had had six days with my family and felt that would have to make do. We still had two nights left in the timeshare but I couldn't handle moving again.

We were packing up the car when the office finally calls us at 8:30 am. They wanted to move us to another unit. The manager told me she was sorry, but they tried to get ahold of us the day before to let us know they couldn't get the hot water heater fixed and they would move us to another unit. I told her "Sorry doesn't make it. I need to be in a whirlpool or jacuzzi for 1 1/2 to 2 hours every morning. I'm now in so much pain, I can barely walk." I handed the phone to Steve and listened while she tried to talk him into moving again. He remained steadfast in that we were going home and we wanted a refund.

The manager finally told us she would give us a free week at any Crown Resort with no exchange fee. We accepted this, but their resorts are in Tennessee, Mississippi, Pensylvania, and Alabama (the one we were at). Assuredly, we will not be staying in their resort in Alabama, which is really too bad because that is the closest to my sister's house.

Jackie really wanted us to stay on an air mattress at her house, but I hurt so bad I just wanted to go home. We've been considering selling the timeshare and this made us certainly want to. It's too bad, though, as all of the other places we have stayed have been fantastic! Time will tell. Halfmoon

Use Buzzfuse* to easily rate, review, and share this item