Joy is away this week so I hiked solo. Which means that I stayed on island. But it doesn't mean that I forgot to take pictures! No Siree! I walked for hours, with the camera which means it's time for: The Photo Safari Report!
I don't know how much of a safari it is when you are within shouting distance of assistance at all times. Ok not a photo safari this time. But it was still a nice long walk with a camera in my hand so ......................pictures :)
The weather was beautiful but the wind was fierce which sometimes made capturing a shot tricky. I would have the shot all lined up and perfect and then the wind would blow the subject out of focus once again. At first it was frustrating and then it was just funny. That's ok. I got some pictures anyway!
As you all well know, I never know what I'm going to end up with any time I set out with my camera whether I'm with Joy in a nature preserve or state forest or by myself wandering around loose in my own town. The same held true yesterday. And in the end, what I mostly got pictures of was flowers. Flowers of all sorts. Potted flowers, wild flowers, flowers in gardens and flowering blossoms on trees. It was glorious!
I took photos of flowers everywhere: at the arboretum, in parks, along the trails and sidewalks and even in people's yards! Well I didn't go into their yards, I have a telephoto lens! Nobody seemed to mind. Or at least nobody called the cops on me! Yikes!
And this is just the start of the flowering season! We aren't even to the most colourful part! Can you imagine? The City of Venice does a wonderful job of keeping stunning hanging pots and elaborate planters full of colourful and fragrant blossoms in the parks and around town throughout the year. But most of the rest of the posies have a definite blossoming season and it's only just begun.
I did capture a few folks hard at work. One is of a muralist who is working on the wall around our post office! Instead of a boring old brick and stucco wall, it's a delightful garden! Or it will be when she is done. The other photo is of some of the construction workers labouring over our new Fire Station! Woohoo!
There were a few architectural things that caught my eye along the way, but I held back a bit more than I normally would this time around. (Not sure why) Anyway, there are only a few things. Perhaps another walk will be mostly architectural and design elements and only a few flower? Hey anything is possible.
Even managed to capture some "wildlife" photos! I speak of course of birds. I didn't set out with the express intention of taking photos of birds, but the little critters are everywhere! A few times it was almost as if they stopped to pose for me. Very thoughtful of them! I"ll just include a few here for you:
Just in general, there is some pretty scenery here abouts. So many lovely places to walk just right here on island! And not all of it on the beach. Although to be fair, that is probably my favourite
And because it's my favourite place, naturally, that's where I finished my trek. At the beach. The wind being so fierce yesterday meant really good waves. But it also meant, wild and crazy hair and salt spray in my face and on my camera lens. So I did have to stop frequently to clean both the camera and my reader glasses. Totally worth it!
I needed a thorough wash up and a comb when I returned home, to say nothing of the amount of sand I poured out of my shoes! And that's just fine too. The price one pays for living in paradise I suppose. Just to give you an idea of the wind yesterday here are two photos of me, first tired but cleaned up and combed after the walk and the other taken while standing on the beach. Check out the hair! LOLOL!
At any rate, Joy will be back next week so the photo safari report ought to be more safari and less suburb. For now? Hugs all 'round.
Any idea what this is? It's a basket of kitchen towels. I use a lot of kitchen towels (rather than a lot of paper towels y'see). I would estimate that I use roughly a zillion kitchen towels every week. A slight exaggeration, yes, but I do use a lot of them. I keep them neatly folded in this cute little basket on a shelf in the pantry. Lately, this basket has been on the empty side. It was very sad. But now it's full to the tippy top! Hurrah!
And do you know what that means? Yes! It means that my dryer is fixed. Happy Dance! That means, no more hanging clothes all over the house to dry. No more flipping the clothes multiple times while drying so that the air reaches all sides. No more running out of places to hang wet clothes and using shower rods and interior doors just to get the job done. No more extra ironing because air dried clothes always dry more wrinkley than clothes dryers do. No more exfoliating towles! (although I will say that using the uber scratchy towels has done wonders for my skin!)
As soon as the repair guy left, I started playing catch up laundry with sheets and towels. Today I may do some blankets and quilts! Huzzah Huzzah!
The repair man was very nice and he got the job done so I am happy and have zero complaints about that. But I will say that there is a marked difference in the repair dude experience of days gone by and now. Not just a noticeable difference, it's more of a chasm, a crevasse, the Mariana Trench of differences.
First of all, in the olden days, if I called a repair person in it was me directly calling the repair person. I did not have to go through a third party. Even when we had warranties and extended warranties (because we always do), I was able to call the repair company of my choosing and the warranty was still honoured.
Next, the appointment was within days, not weeks. I was happy to have the appointment I got, which was, this time, only a week and a half from the day I called. Last time it was about ten days before they called back and then it was another 10 days until the appointment. Obviously I survived, it's not a life or death situation, but it was dang inconvenient.
I remember a long time ago the repair person showing up in a repair van. The name of the company emblazoned across the side of it and the wonders of the repair universe neatly compartmented inside. This guy drove his own personal vehicle which, while serviceable - I mean it got him here right? - means he had very limited space for repair related stuff inside.
Ye Olden Days repair guys usually wore a uniform shirt with his name stitched on it somewhere and, again, the company name, with either heavy duty kahki trousers or jeans and work boots. My repair guy wore regular people clothes with a pin with his name on it attached to his shirt pocket. I know that how he dresses does not have an iota of reference to how well it does his job, it's just another of the many differences that I noticed.
Both the repair people from my memory and the one yesterday were very pleasant and got right to work. But the new guy stepped out to tell me that the problem was the heating element had failed (I knew that and told them on the phone when I made the appointment so it was not a surprise) and then we went out to his car. He returned triumphantly with the replacement part and told me - and here was the most surprising part - that I was very lucky! The replacement part was for someone else who had the same issue but rescheduled their appointment. Repair Fellow said that if that hadn't happened, he would have had to order the part and it would have been another two weeks until it could be fixed. And then he cheerfully went back to work.
Excuse me what? It used to be that the olden days repair guy would have A) listened to what I told them on the phone and made the appointment B) figured out the possible reasons for the problem and had the parts On Hand in his massive repair van when he showed up to the call. There would not have been a second two weeks out appointment necessary because nobody would need to order anything! It would already be there! Geez! That's why they always ask for the Make and Model number. Which is why I always have that information In My Hand when I make the call.
AND I hate to say this because I sound like a dusty, crusty, antique of a crone when I do, but I honestly do remember that the repair guy from days of old, would also check to see if anything else needed to be done while he was there anyway. Sort of like how, a million years ago, the guys who pumped your gas (and they did) also cleaned your windshield, checked your tire pressure and made sure your brake lights were working at the same visit. It's just so very different than the way it used to be.
Again, I really have nothing to complain about. My dryer is fixed, the repair man was very nice and did a great job. But! I just cannot help but notice the difference in how it used to be. Not everything from the olden days was good. In fact there was a lot that was bad. But there were some damned nice things too.
Way back in 1970, Graham Nash wrote a sweet song for Joni Mitchell. It was called, "Our House". It's how I feel out, well our house. It may not be everyone's cuppa tea, but I really do love our home. Recently, while I've been just doing my usual daily things, I have been noticing specific things that reminds me just how much I love it and why.
We have all spent so much time in our homes over the past year, more than usual. And since we have recently passed the one year mark of this whole pandemic thing, I suppose hearth and home has been on my mind lately. I suppose usually I just take my home surrounding for granted. But lately, it's been very much on my mind.
To start with, our house is hard to see from the road. We have a semi-circle driveway which is awesome for driving in and out, and the middle part of the semi-circle is filled with trees and shrubs (some of which bloom and smell amazing) and the house was, at some point, painted a light green. All of these things make the house nearly invisible. We kind of like that.
One of the things you might notice as you approach the house is the courtyard which I really love. Not sure why, but I've always been a fan of front porches and really a courtyard is a just a big front porch. It really does feel like another room. An outside room to be sure, but it is definitely another living space for the house.
There are actually two courtyard entrances, one is the open entrance that everyone uses. The other is an adorable little wooden gate that nobody ever uses but me. There is a comfy place to sit and read and have a cold drink or conversation. My potted garden has taken up most of the table. Sorry about that.
We recently bought the flowers in the pot by the front door. The cashier remarked that it was the most unique flower selection she had ever seen. I think that was a polite way of telling me that the colours didn't "go" well together. I don't care a bit. I like 'em.
Once you step inside the front door, you are unexpectedly in a front hall of sorts and I really love that. Most older homes here do not have any sort of foyer. I suppose since the weather is almost always pleasant, there is no need to protect the rest of the house from cold. But I prefer that little transitional space between the outside and the inside as opposed to walking smack into the living room. Just a personal preference. And bonus points, in late afternoon the sun comes in the front of the house and makes rainbows in the front hall. Love that.
The "wall" between the door and the kitchen, which is the only thing that makes it an actual entry way, has this decorative metal work. I wasn't sure how I felt about it when we first moved in, but once we painted it white, I decided that I loved it and obviously therefore, it has stayed. I also love that, as small as our little house is, we were able to have a little "landing zone". A table with drawer for things like sunglasses and a shelf for hats. There was room for an umbrella stand (which turns out to be very useful in the rainy season) and the mirror that the Minocks gave us which was the first thing we hung in the house. And I really love the artwork that Tim hung in the front hall which makes it sort of a gallery wall.
I know that you already know how much I love our kitchen. From the big windows by the table to the massive counter tops, the glass front cabinets and of course my pantry. I know you have heard me rhapsodize about my pantry ad nauseum so I won't beleaguer it. Just suffice to say that I still adore it. Not everyone appreciates a galley kitchen but, while it may not be the only good way to set up a kitchen, it works just fine for me.
I love the window over the sink with the view of the courtyard, the big deep farmhouse sink and the door at the end that allowed yet more light into the room. The kitchen is my happy place for sure.
Just on the other side of the kitchen counter is the living room with a comfy red leather sofa, the even more comfortable barrel chairs and the massive coffee table with plenty of room to put your feet up if you so wish. The big black display cabinet was one of the few pieces of furniture that we brought with us from Colorado. It's probably technically too big for the room, but we don't care.
I especially adore the bookcases that flank the opening to the family room. The go from floor to ceiling and I have used every inch of space in them. Books are one of the coziest things you can have in a room as long as there is also a perfect chair to sit and read those books.
Anyway, those are just a few of the things that I am madly in love with about our house. Just being in my house is a pleasure. When we are away, even for a short time, and we come home as soon as we step into the courtyard, it's like a hug. Home is such a small word for such a big feeling.
What on earth do these photos have in common? It is a weird collection, I admit. Especially since you've already seen them in the photo safari reports. So why do I have them here, again? And why these particular photos?
Well, it's to illustrate one of the other weird things about my demented brain. Once long ago I wrote about how I see heart shapes around me all of the time. Well "see" them. Of course I see them, they do exist, they are there. What I meant was that I notice them where other people might not. Heart shaped leaves, or blossoms, or rocks or raindrops or broken bits of sidewalk that happen to resemble the valentine associated heart shape. I am not seeking that shape out, I just notice it. A lot. Like everytime I'm out and about. They are everywhere!
It so happens that another thing I notice a lot is letters. You know, alphabet letters. Usually upper case. Why? I have no idea. But there it is. A lot. I kind of sort of can't not see them. I'm not sure what that says about it, but whatever it is I'm not it's nothing horrible. It's not like I'm trying to see letters, the are just there. You know, there is a chair, there is a lizard, there is a letter K. It just is.
The above photos are just some quick examples. I see EVXOLTW in those photos. Of course I also see the birds and the pretty grasses and the trees and so forth. But when I'm choosing to take a photo, there are a zillion or so thoughts going on in my head all at the same time. Some of those thoughts are about lighting and composition and focus. I'm also thinking about the best angle for the shot. And the subject matter itself. The actual subject - perhaps the bird - but also the V shape of the tree he was perched upon. I most likely also have a song playing in my mind, a grocery list being worked out, a memo to pick up a birthday card for someone, a debate about what I'm fixing for dinner that night and a passing thought about how hot, cold or perfect the weather is at that moment. But that's for a different post. This one is about the letters.
I've always done this. Noticed letters, I mean. When I was very young, I thought that if I put together all of the letters I had noticed that day, it might spell out something important. Like a message from the universe. But of course, it never was. What a silly notion. But I went right on noticing letters in the most unexpected places.
Then, somewhere along the line, I ran across a book by Arlene Alda. An alphabet book. It was a wonderous thing. She took photographs of all sorts of things that made letters until she had compiled one photograph for every one of the 26 letters of the English alphabet! Wow! It was so cool! Of course I bought it. That was not even a question.
At the time, I collected alphabet books. A strange thing to collect perhaps. But perhaps not! I am after all a reader, a writer and a person who already notices letters everywhere around her. So maybe collecting alphabet books is not such a stretch. Perhaps it's not a common thing to collect but then, perhaps I'm not a common person?
When we we getting ready to move here, we had to get rid of a lot of our belongings before we left Colorado. One of the things I had to sacrifice was books. So Many Books!! And part of that was my alphabet book collection. (In truth, the collection had kind of gotten out of hand). I donated nearly the entire collection to a children's literacy program. So while I kind of miss my books, I feel really good about where they went.
I did say that I donated nearly the entire collection, didn't I? Yeah. There were a couple that I just couldn't let go of. One is a Christmas Alphabet book that my sister gave me a long time ago that I just could not part with. (I also used to collect Christmas books) and the other is called, "The Peter Pan Alphabet" by Oliver Herford. It's a very old book (1907) and in delicate shape. I knew that it would not survive much handling so I held on to that one. Well, I also adore the story of Peter Pan so even if it were in excellent condition I might have had trouble letting go of that particular book.
ANYWAY, so big fat hairy deal, right? I don't see "dead people" like that poor tortured kid in the movie "Sixth Sense", but I do see letters that are meaningless and spell nothing in particular. What was the show that had the regular segment on Stupid Human Tricks? Was that David Letterman? I think so. Anyway, I suppose that's one of mine. It's useless but it's something that I do. And thanks to Arlene Alda's book, I also know that I am not the only one who does. Nice to know that I'm not alone.
They say everyone has some inherent and ultimately useless ability...what's yours?
What an exciting day I've had so far (not). Just as I do every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings now, today I got up and immediately headed for my computer so that I could stare at a little blue dot for roughly 45 minutes. Thrilling eh?
I know that every state and even sometimes individual counties within states are handling things differently so I can only tell you how it's working here. To get the COVID vaccine, (and why wouldn't I want to do that ?), first you have to be eligible which means a Florida resident and proof of such (I have that) and age 65 or older with proof of that (I am and I have). Then you have to register on the various sites available.
Some of the sites contact you when there is an opening. To date, nobody has contacted me. Or I can use the above site which is online. Cool. It involves logging on at a specific time of day and then starring at a little blue dot entitled, "waiting" until the blue dot moves over to "book the appointment". Then, as instructed, I would click on the the book appointment and, actually book the appointment. Simple enough.
And it is simple. It is way way way simple. I'm just sitting in a queue, waiting for my turn. Hum dilly hum. The only hard part about it is paying continual attention to that blue dot, to be prepared, the instant it turns blue, to click my mouse button as if I knew the correct answer for the final question on Jeopardy! And to do that I need to keep my eyeball on that dot. Which I am finding increasingly difficult to do. This is what happens.
First of all, it's early in the morning. I haven't even showered and changed yet. So I'm sitting there in my jammies, barefoot, wrapped in a blanket because while the weather is beautiful most of the day now, in the early hours it is chilly. While I did mange to brush my teeth, I have not had anything to eat or drink, my eyes are not completely focused and my brain is definitely fuzzy.
Once I have settled onto the chair in front of my computer and logged into the site, I stare at the screen for about 10 seconds and immediately realize that my feet are cold. Trying to keep one eye on the screen, I fuss with my comfy, warm blanket to try to cover my feet. Once my feet are covered I resume starring with both eyes.
Which lasts another ten or fifteen seconds and then my cellphone blips to let me know that I have received in email. Now the beautiful thing about emails is that they can wait. They will sit there very patiently until the owner of said emails is darned good and ready to read them. I have good about ignoring emails and other cell phone blips while driving, bathing, reading, doing most housey chores, having a walk or a hike or enjoying a meal. But since I'm not supposed to take my eyes of the screen, suddenly more than anything in this world I want to know what that email is.
I try desperately to ignore it. But the more I try the more I am positive that this is The Most Important Email Ever Received By Anyone Ever. Of course I give up and check it, taking eyes off the screen for the two seconds necessary, all while trying to keep watching the blue dot peripherally. Hmmm Wayfair is having a sale. Not important. I put my cell phone back down a resume starring at the blue dot.
I sing to myself a little to entertain me and eventually break into a little chair dance. The song is Super Cali Fraglistic from Mary Poppins. I don't know why. I nearly fall out of the chair in my exuberance and in catching myself, my eyes have left the screen for mere seconds once again. So I go back to sitting still and watching the blue dot.
I don't sit still particularly well. I glance occasionally at my desk calendar even though I already know what is and is not on it. I re-arrange my pencil jar. I probably pick up and put down every single item on my desk. All while trying to keep on eye on the screen. hmmmmm.
The blue dot has not moved. I realize that I am both hungry and thirsty. I think about what I want for breakfast. As I consider various ideas, I keep my eyes on the dot. But I'm not really thinking about the dot. I'm thinking about food. A few more minutes and I am more thirsty than hungry and I cannot think of anything except how thirsty I am. This continues until I realize that I also need to pee. Dang it. I must distract myself.
I concentrate hard on the screen and begin playing word games with the text. How many words can I make out of "Vaccination"? For example (Not that many is the answer) I start counting the number of letters in every word of each sentence, first separately then cumulatively. All while at least peripherally watching the blue dot.
I fall into a fugue state and a minute or so goes by without having moved, or even blinked. However, I realize that although starring intently at the screen, I really wasn't paying a single bit of attention. I move the chair and stand for awhile. I march in place and do side bends, while watching the screen. I make note that when I do side bends instead of the blue dot being on the left it is now either on the top or the bottom. Neat.
At some point, it occurs to me that I ought to check and see if my county actually has any appointments left. So I scroll down to Sarasota County and yes there are some left. At that moment only 44% of the appointments are filled.
But in scrolling down, my eyes were off the dot!!! Oh NO! What if the blue dot moved while I was scrolled down? Crap! Ok. Back to starring at the dot.
I know that I'm not alone. I am not the only person doing this and yes I want the dang vaccine. But for a wiggly fidgety person such as myself this is torture! I suppose I am building some sort of positive personal growth by doing this three times a week, every week, until I finally get an appointment. Yeah, let's choose to believe that.
I kept it up until there were no more appointments available and I will try again on Monday.
Yesterday was hiking day so you know what that means, right? Photo Safari Report! Woohoo!
And a big thank you to Joy for the photo at the top of the page - it's one of hers :)
So I am calling yesterday hike the No Drama Hike. Nice! It was a gorgeous day. Really perfect for hiking. We started out with a wee bit of a chill which we walked off quickly and while it did warm up, it never got uncomfortably warm. Beautiful blue skies, sunny and perfect.
The preserve we chose for yesterdays expedition had exceptionally well marked trails, which is very helpful in not getting lost. (for a change). Of course the fact that we brought a map along helped too. We never worry about getting turned around a bit. To date, we've never had to be rescued; we always, eventually, find our way back. But never having a moments doubt about where we were, was nice too.
We knew it was going to be a really good photo hike before we even reached the head of the first trail. There were birds everywhere! We were completely surrounded by bird song. It was literally coming at us from every direction. Of course it was a little tricky to actually find the owners of those songs now and again, but we got enough photos to satisfy.
And it wasn't just a birdie hike either. We also found other creatures to snap
Of course, as always, there were flowers. And as spring evolves, there will just be more and more of them. Which also means more butterflies, dragonflies, bees and other bugs in hikes yet to come. I'm already excited at the prospect!
And green. Loads of green. Layers of the colour. Carpets of it, skies full of it, greens of every shape and texture and fragrance. I never knew how much I craved the soothing colour of green until I spent time in the desert. Don't get me wrong, the desert has it's own particular beauty, but when we returned home from that trip and I first saw green things again, I couldn't get enough of it. Well, there is green aplenty here. And I notice it especially in early spring
We spent time on the many trails but also by the water. The water level in the river was much lower than usual, but it was still lovely. Hard to imagine right now, but there are times when that river floods.
As always, my favourite category, the photos that cannot be categorized:
And here we are, doing what we do, taking pictures, hiking, goofing around and having one heck of a good time!
I suppose you've noticed that Joy and I tend to take a few snapshots of each other every time we hike. We don't do it just to play pranks on each other . (although we aren't above that sort of thing), And we don't do it because we are covert narcissists' who cannot get enough of our own images. Nope.
Both Joy and I are now the official family photographers. I think Joy has been in her family for a Very Long Time. Tim was the shutterbug in our family for quite awhile. But I have noticed that once cell phone cameras starting improving, my picture taking starting picking up. And once I started taking lots of photos, Tim began taking fewer. So I guess it's just my turn now. And that's fine with me. Absolutely fair ;)
But the thing about being the family photographer is that the person with the camera is usually behind the camera, not in front of it so in general, there aren't a many pictures of that person. And honestly, it's not that I need to be front and center 100% of the time. Or even 50%. Or even 10%! But I'm learning, as I get older, how important having photos of people and places and events become. Everyone (at least everyone I've ever known) enjoys looking through old photographs and reliving moments and memories.
My dad was the family photographer when I was a kid. And he took that role very seriously. But that consequence is that there are very few photographs of him. There aren't many of my mother either, but that was by her choice. She despised having her picture taken and managed to avoid it most of the time. It's a shame because when I look through old photographs, I mean the really old ones when I was a kid, those two very important people are missing even though I know that they were actually there.
I am not especially comfortable having my picture taken either, but I understand the importance of allowing it now. I want to be present in my own story. If in the future other generations are going through piles of pictures, I will be represented.
While my photography skills are improving, I'm still not very good at taking pictures of people. It's a special skill set. One that I am lacking, sadly. But Joy is game and a good sport and never takes offense when I mess up and take a truly terrible photo. So when we are hiking, it's a terrific opportunity to get some practice in. Some of the pictures even turn out okay.
And then Joy returns the favour by snapping shots of me.
(As an aside yes, I am aware that I wear nearly the exact same thing every time I hike. Those are my official hiking clothes)
And all of these kind of silly pictures that we take of each other say, we were there, we were part of life, we existed in this time. We aren't just a name and some dates in our family history, we were real people. And nothing makes history come to life quite like a photograph.
My dad was very interested in genealogy and spent years writing up his own family history. And while, yes, I enjoyed reading the names of people from years gone by, every once in awhile my dad would also find a photograph. And then that person became real. My own Father's great (or perhaps great great, I'm not absolutely certain) Aunt Victoria for example. She was referred to as Queen Victoria. Well excuse me! But it made perfect sense when I saw the old daguerrotype of an imperious looking woman all gussied up with her fancy hat and fur muff, looking quite elegant and directly into the camera. Yup that woman is Queen Victoria Hurley. You Betcha.
I was surprised to find a particular photo of my own maternal grandmother, Ethel Howard, better known as Nana to her many kids and grand kids and great grand kids and honestly anyone in the vicinity. In my memory she wore dresses every single day. I never saw her dressed in anything except a dress, most of them some shade of blue. Going through some very old slides one day, I found a photograph of Nana wearing shorts. There was nothing wrong with the shorts, they were perfectly respectable looking. I wear shorts, my own mother wore shorts, but I had never seen Nana wear anything but a dress. I couldn't get over it! That slide of Nana wearing shorts I will never ever forget. And if someone had told me that Nana ever wore shorts without the benefit of that photographic evidence, I would not have believed them.
Other wonderful snapshots come to mind immediately: All three of my boys at various ages, pictures of our beautiful daughters in law, my dad in a cowboy hat, my sister in a dance costume, various weddings, holidays, parties, babies, vacations, pets! Moments frozen in time, supposedly forever. But without the pictures, sometimes the memories fade.
Joy and I hiking is nothing like a big event where there are lots of cameras and now cell phone cameras with so many people snapping away that there are bound to be pictures of everyone. Hiking is just an ordinary thing. We aren't dressed up fancy, we aren't looking our best, but twenty years from now, it will be a wonderful memory. And we will have the photographic evidence to back it up.
This is my dryer. It is currently on strike. I have received no word about possible talks or negotiations yet. So it's a waiting game. Dang!
It crapped out on Friday. I had one load of wet things in the dryer and one in the washer. When the dryer timer buzzed I went in to do the old switcheroo and found a load of clothes just as wet as they were when it started. What? I checked to make sure the filter was clean (it was) and that I had the settings right (ditto). Hmmmm. I tried a few things like adjusting the settings from regular dry to more dry and changing the sort of load it was from delicates to normal and got the exact same results. Double Dang.
I got a distinct feeling of dejas vu. It couldn't be more than six months ago that we went through this before, but that time the issue was no tumbling. We had plenty of heat then. This time the tumbler works fine but there is no heat. Get your act together dryer! So Frustrating. This large piece of machinery is less than 5 years old. Seems to me that, for the ridiculous price of them, they ought to work properly longer than that.
But I had to deal with what was, not what I wish was. So the immediate issue was a washer AND a dryer full of wet clothes. Back to the draping wet things all around the house trick. And honestly, since there was only one load left to do, I went ahead and threw it into the washer. May as well. In for a penny, in for a pound.
And when I say there were wet things all over the house, I am not exaggerating.
I brought the rolling rack which is normally in the utility room by the dryer for easy access into the living room. Why? Well the "utility room" was, once upon a time, a small one car garage. Which means that while it has the space for such things as washers, dryers, rolling racks and storage, it has no windows for air circulations and very little by way to HVAC. Which is not good for drying. It is however, excellent for hanging up things that ARE dry so that they do not wrinkle before putting them back in the closet.
Most of the clothes went onto the rolling rack with only a little bit of creative thinking. But trousers and shorts were awkward so they ended up being hung over the backs of chairs. Towels too were tricky until it occurred to me that the shower curtain rods in the bathrooms were an excellent spot, as were the towels rods. And any leftover towels, such as kitchen towels? Well the laundry baskets have edges and that worked too.
My second step, once all of the wet clothes were draped here and there was to call the repair person. Now as it so happens, both washer and dryer are still under warranty (Tim is a very smart man) so the protocol is to call the place where we purchased the appliances and they would notify the repair person who would then call us to set up an appointment. And since it was a Friday when this entire thing began, I was advised that the repair person probably would not get 'round to calling until sometimes the following week. And that is fine.
The way this worked six months ago when the tumbler chose to stop tumbling was that a week went by with no repair person call so I called the appliance place again so that they could jiggle the handle. I then waited a few more days for the call. When the call finally came, our repair went on the books but for another ten days out. So it was three weeks with no dryer last time. Which was three visits to the laundromat. And that was three visits more than I care to do again. Ever.
Tim got a call from the repair place saying that if the problem turns out to be a clogged vent, they would not be happy and we would be charged for the visit because clogged vents are not warranty approved issues. Tim checked the vents. They are not clogged. So it's something else. Probably a heating element thing? I'm just guessing. I have no idea. I'm not mechanically inclined. But it seems logical to me. Just the same way when the tumbler not tumbling last time I guessed (correctly) was some sort of belt issue.
But having a clue and fixing the issue are two entirely different things. I blame computers. By making all of our appliances "smarter", we have also made them more complicated and harder to fix. I remember my dad easily fixing nearly anything in our house that wasn't working when I grew up. TV on the fritz? No problem. He would whip out a screw driver, some replacement tubes and some electrical tape. Alakazam, by the end of the day the problem would be solved. It was the same thing with our cars, my dad could fix nearly anything that went wrong with any of our cars. Hey they were all American made giant honkers. You could practically climb inside the thing to work on it. Everything was right there in front of you. Easily accessed, easily addressed. Any normal toolbox held exactly what you needed. Every dad person that I knew could fix broken stuff and most of the teen guys too.
Even I could fix a few issues. I drove my mothers' car, a Rambler, when I was in high school. It had a sticky butterfly valve that occasionally acted up. If I couldn't get the car started I would just hop out, pop the hood, remove the top of the carburetor, put a pencil in the butterfly valve, get back behind the wheel and turn the key, it would start and I would remove the pencil, put the top back on the carburetor, shut the hood and go on my merry way. No Big Deal. I didn't even get dirty.
And then in college, I bought a Fiat. Why? Well for one thing, I could afford it. Just paid for it outright. And I learned very quickly, that none of the tools in my dad's toolbox fit. Metric tools required. My dad had no metric tools. Why would he? So the car had to "go to the shop" when ANYTHING went wrong. And that was the beginning of the end.
Cars got smaller, it was harder to reach things, specialty tools were required. And then computer chips were added and it was game over. Same goes for home appliances. Now instead of fixing things yourself, you need specialty tools and a degree in computer science to repair stuff. I'm not sure this is progress.
Meanwhile, I will be draping clothes and towels around the house until the repairman finally fits us into his schedule. Sigh.
I suppose I should be grateful that it's the dryer that isn't working. I am absolutely capable of drying the clothes inside the house, especially on a really nice day when the windows are open. But if the washer isn't working, I really really really do not want to have to hand wash everything. Then I really would have to go to the laundromat and I truly do not want to do that. I will be grateful for the little things.
And I will live with wet clothes draped around the house to dry for awhile once again.
Since that is Joy holding a camera in the above photo, it must be time for another Photo Safari Report! By the time we finished our nearly 6 mile hike yesterday, we were filthy, sweaty, smelly, muddy, tired and more than a little thirsty. In other words, It. Was. Great ! Because those are all indicators of a terrific day.
It was unseasonably warm which certainly explains the sweaty and therefore smelly part. But dirt came largely just from being outside tramping around the forest. The mud? Well there were soggy parts. Tired? Hello, nearly a six mile trek! And neither of us remembered to bring water so naturally we were thirsty.
But it was still a glorious hike which shall be known as the yellow flower hike because when I went back through my photos I realized that I had more photos of yellow flowers than anything else! You doubt me? See for yourself:
Although this is a preserve we've hiked many times before, we found new, unfamiliar, trails and that is always a bonus. It also means that sometimes we get a little turned around. Every time there was an intersection of trails we would stop and gaze ahead in all directions, trying to decide which would be the best way to go:
And since we made these decisions rather arbitrarily, after awhile it's hard to keep track, in our heads, of how many lefts or rights we took. And of course all of those lefts and rights on the return trip are actually rights and lefts. It can get a wee bit confusering. But no we did not get lost, per se. We did get a little turned around and while we were 100% correct about the general direction we were headed in, meaning that we did end NEAR where we began, it wasn't the exact same spot. No big deal. We laughed and hoofed it a little farther to get back to the car.
There were flowers other than yellow naturally. Bear in mind that I have no idea what any of these flowers are. I just like 'em.
But it's fairly obvious that spring is well on it's way. We did see a lot more butterflies and dragonflies. I got photos of exactly none of them. But I did manage to snap a few birds. There were sooo many others that I did not get but I'm satisfied with these.
There were such a wide variety of environments too. Heavily wooded, open fields, marshes, lakes, ponds... A little something for everyone. That's nice :)
One truly bizarre thing we found was a bone. Yup, something that appears to be a leg bone in fact. Ick. I know that is how nature works, but I really only want to see the pretty part. And then there was the plant completely engulfed in webs. And, well here are the other rando shots: (including the icky bone)
So anyway, that's it for this weeks' hike. Hope you enjoyed the travelogue!
Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend! See ya back here on Monday!
Hugs all 'round
You may recall this photo from yesterdays Photo Safari report. I honestly have no idea what this is. I'm guessing a sort of moth primarily due to its shorter, thicker body and general fuzziness but on the other hand, it is a little more colourful than the average moth so I cannot be absolutely certain. Perhaps it is some sort of butterfly/moth hybrid. A Moth-erfly or a Butter-oth if you wish. Or maybe it is of an altogether different category, as yet unnamed. That would be cool. New creatures are discovered all of the time and somebody has to name them. And I don't mean name them regular names like, Harry (or perhaps in this case, Hairy) I mean the newly discovered species requires an identifying name.
There is a word for everything. And considering how many things there actually are, it's an overwhelming notion. Somebody (actually many people) had to think of a specific, unduplicated, identifying word for every single thing that exists in the entire universe. And as more things are discovered, new words. Holy Cats!
There are the names of things you already know, like table, dog, apple and greeting card. But there are also things that you perhaps never considered having an actual name, which of course, do have one. Like that little plastic bit on the ends of shoelaces. That's called an Aglet. The facial lines that run from the nose to the mouth we refer to as "smile lines" but actually they are the Nasolabial Fold. A Placket is the part of a shirt or skirt or trousers that forms the closure. It's the bit that always needs to be ironed flat but when closed nobody sees.
I love that I actually knew those things right off the top of my head. So many delicious and amazing words! It is wonderful and astounding and frankly, I want to learn them all. Which is not to say that I will remember any of them when I need to.
I am the person in this household most likely to refer to something as a "thingie" or a "doohickey" or "jobberdo". My Nana was big on a "Thingumabob". My mother was more the sort that would gesture in the general direction of the object in question until we figured it out for ourselves.
My dad didn't start to now and again forget a word until probably his early 80's. His brain was incredible. He was razor sharp 99.9% of the time even as he got older. But every once in awhile he would blank on a word, and there would be a long pause followed by, "Damnit, I know that!" And we would rush to fill in the empty spot. It was very frustrating for him. Which I totally understand.
My difficulty with words began much much younger. I actually remember a morning when I was in what is now called Middle School (then called Junior High) when I was informing my father, over breakfast, that my clock radio wasn't working properly. I was trying to ask him if he would please take a look at it when he had time. Only I couldn't think of the words, "Clock Radio". So the conversation was sort of:
Me: "Daddy, if you have time later would you please have a look at my....ummmmm..... My.....ummm... it's not working properly."
Dad; "Your what isn't working?
Me: "The ummm...thingie..." I began miming changing stations and the general size and shape of the object, "Ummmmm.... it plays music and tells time...the...ummmmmm"
I remember that conversation vividly. Mostly because I got teased about it a lot. But it was also of concern to me as I got a little older and had small children. I do recall a cold snowy afternoon when I was kneading bread in the kitchen, one baby sleeping, one toddler playing around my feet and the oldest boy just past toddler age asking where a particular stuffed toy was. "Oh honey, I think I saw that in the...ummm...in the....you know..the...ummm..." And I lifted one floury hand and pointed toward the living room. My son happily tottered off to the living room to retrieve the toy. I internally cringed. I could not think of the words, "Living room"? That's scary.
When it was still happening, not every day but here and there, once in awhile, by the time I reached my early 40's, I asked a doctor friend of mine if I needed to be concerned about this being a sign of early senility. She went from being a friend to a professional is .6 seconds and then she began asking some excellent questions. At the end of our conversation she laughed and said it was nothing to concern myself with. She said that it was a kind of aphasia and apparently it's just the way my brain is wired. Nothing to worry about. Whew! That's a relief.
And while it has continued, it hasn't gotten any worse. But it hasn't gotten any better either despite eating properly, drinking loads of water, exercising and having rockstar blood pressure and cholesterol levels. I read voraciously, I do those "brain games" on the computer, I have engaging conversations with interesting people. And still, I find myself occasionally supplementing my conversation with "whatchamacallits" and "doodads" now and again. Or perhaps it's just a long pause until the proper word I'm looking for pops back into the gap. Its unsettling.
And it's how other people now perceive it. When I was a kid and I couldn't think of the word, people thought it was funny. When I was a young woman and I was calling something a "what'sit" people thought it was cute. But now I am a (ahem) mature woman and the assumption is that I'm just old and forgetful and well on my way to the Memory Center of the local Skilled Nursing Facility. (what an ironic name). When in fact, my occasional inability to immediately recall the word for which I am searching is no worse now than it was when I was 13.
That's the part that is frustrating. And if I even attempted to explain it away, I would see a whole lot of doubt on their faces and hear oh so dubious agreement. Have you ever heard that incredibly sarcastic, "Sure" from someone who does not believe you? It is so aggravating.
Other than talking less (which would certainly hide it), I am not certain what the answer is. I just know that I cannot possibly be the only person with this issue.
Last Friday's hike will forever, at least in my mind, be known as The Hike of the Unexpected. I mean, even just to begin with, we hiked on a different day than usual. Friday instead of Wednesday. That's because of scheduling conflicts. We are flexible so it's not a problem. However, we were unprepared for the much larger number of other folks on the trails. Generally, we are pretty much out there alone so even one other person is more than usual. Perhaps it's because it was a Friday and I know that sometimes people will take a Friday off to have a long weekend. And the following Monday was Presidents Day and some people have that day off so what the heck, make it a 4-day weekend woohoo! No matter the reason, there was an unexpected number of other people out hiking with us that day. Not crowded, please understand, but certainly more than expected.
The next surprise has to do with the photo at the top of the page. Hiking along, minding our own business when much to our surprise, there was a rusted out, old tractor trailer abandoned on the side of the trail! What? Why on earth was that ever there? And why was it abandoned? Mysteries abound! We found no answers but had a great time speculating! And taking lots of photos. Joy was secretly hoping to find a little mousie nest tucked in somewhere but, alas, none to be found.
The next unexpected find was a bit of serendipity. We know that this particular preserve has both hiking trails and biking trails. Everyone is allowed on both but generally speaking each sticks to their own.......except where they cross. Every once in awhile, the bike trail will cross the hiking trail so we always knew it was possible for a bike to come zooming across in front or or behind us, but we had never actually seen it happen before. Until this hike. And it happened right near the sign. And in the proper order just like on the sign! Too Funny! HAHAHA!
Then we saw this, which was certainly unexpected. Because I was spying it through the trees I wasn't absolutely certain what I was seeing. And in fact my first thought was, "That's not a tree....is it?" It was initially just a peek a boo view through an area thick with very large trees, but eventually as we came closer it became clearer that it was definitely NOT a tree. Not sure just what it was, but definitely not a tree. AND there was no path through to it either. So maybe those who use it just materialize on top of it at their whim? No idea.
We were surprised, but pleased to see that dragonflies have returned! Yay! Haven't really seen many in awhile but there were a few that day. Most of them were very small, very quick and nearly impossible to capture. But there were a few larger (and slower) ones. I managed to get these. Yay!
Two sad unexpected things I came across were this squished but very pretty bug and a pile of feathers. I don't want to even know who that pile of feathers originally was. Yucky.
As per usual there were lots of birds:
And of course you had to know that there would be flowers and other flora. I'm seeing more flowers now that it's "spring" here and that always makes me happy
I suppose the next surprise might be the new trails we found. We always think that we have pretty much hiked them all, but lo and behold, new trails! Coolio! And of course some truly awesome trees. They go hand in hand.
And a couple of other uncategorizable things, which are always unexpected:
So there you have it, the hike of the Unexpected. Oh, I suppose every hike reveals things we didn't expect, which is part of the fun. But this was exceptionally unexpected stuff. There were actually more surprises, things I did not manage to capture on camera. Like the deer that crashed across the trail so quickly that neither of us had time to even lift our cameras to attempt a photo. It was just crashing noise and then a deer butt disappearing into the forest on the other side. Or the heron that we could hear but not see even though we kept looking and then suddenly there it was, flying over head and poof gone. Dang! Too Quick! Stuff like that.
Anyway, thanks for coming along. Always enjoy your company.
Hugs all 'round
Happy Day After Valentine's Day! Are you fully recovered? Did you have a nice day? I did ;)
The above photo is of the dessert I made to celebrate the day. Every year I make something special for Valentine's Day dessert. I try to come up with a different idea every year (though I admit there have been a few repeats here and there). This year I made Brookies! I know you have at least heard of them, if not tasted one or two. In case you are unfamiliar though, the bottom (in this case at least) is a chocolate chip cookie, atop which sits a brownie with walnuts and of course the cute little Dove chocolate to clearly illustrate the Valentine's-ness of it all.
I had never made Brookies before but I must say that I am fairly pleased with the results :)
But of course here I am starting with the end of the day instead of the beginning. Oh dear, I'm sorry. We started the day with a lazy sleep-in. And that is a wonderful way to start the day. Because we were fortunate to have Valentine's Day land on a Sunday this year, we took full advantage! Eventually there was a French Toast Breakfast :)
We read the big old Sunday paper equally leisurely which is always a treat and eventually decided to get out of the house for a bit. It was a beautiful day though a bit windy, but that just made for a more exciting visit to the beach.
We wandered about for quite a bit of the afternoon, a little here and a little there, making very random decisions about which roads to drive down, just having an explore. We made discoveries too. Such as a Preserve I was unfamiliar with (and I've made a mental note to check it out further) but we did not do a hike. Although I did have my camera with me and my feet were itching to go, but there were signs posted about a hog hunt in progress and warning hikers away. So we thought, perhaps not. Excellent Choice!
It was a very pleasant meander, I didn't know where the heck we were half the time, but the sky was getting dark with ominous clouds and cooincidentally about then we began to get tummy rumbledy so even though it was not even 5 o'clock yet, decided that dinner was in order. Because I was a slacker and did not plan a special Valentine's Day dinner Take Away Chinese food became the plan! Yay! That is a treat!
I chose what I always get, vegetable fried rice (yum!) and Tim selected dumplings and General Tsao's chicken. We ate it all cozy in the family room while watching a marathon of the Divergent film series while the sky opened up and the rain poured down. Hey, you choose your sort of romance, we will choose ours.
There were flowers and cards and chocolates, a frog and two people who, after all these years, still love each other. Awwwwww.
It was a perfect Valentine's Day!
Practice Makes Perfect. Here is a picture of me being Not Perfect. I am a human being and therefore flawed. I don't know about you, but no matter how hard I try, I will never be perfect.
And yet, how many times have you heard that in your life? Over and Over and (OVER) again. Parents said it, teachers said it, neighbors said it, total strangers said it throughout my childhood. And well, if you hear something enough times, you start to believe it. But you know what, it dawned on me the other day, that, it ain't necessarily so.
There are a LOT of things that I have done for a long time with no visible signs of improvement. Or things I tried to do for a long time with no progress and eventually gave up. Like say, playing tennis or parallel parking. Everyone was glad I stopped trying to parallel park I think. Probably the entire city voted on it. Did you know that when I got my very first drivers license, way way back with I was 17 years old with was...what fifty years ago? (holy crap I'm old!) I failed the parallel portion of the test? Yup. I didn't just fail it, I failed it spectacularly. The only reason I passed the test and actually was given my license is because I aced everything else. I haven't improved a bit since then either.
And here is another example, tennis. Yeah, I totally suck at tennis. No matter how hard I try, I simply do not connect with the ball. As it turns out I have very poor depth perception. I always think I have the ball and the racket lined up and I never do. If I connect with the ball it is an accident. This applies to any sport that involves a me and a ball or ball-like objectg. Which is most of them. And now that I think about it, probably why I cannot parallel park worth a damn either.
So you see, all the practice in the world isn't going to make me perfect at either of those things.
Another thing I'm very bad at and I have no idea why is cleaning windows. I don't mean that part where I don't' want to do it a t all. No, I mean the part where I actually move my arse, collect the necessary equipment and get out there and do the dang job. I make the effort, I mean I really get in there and Do The Job and afterwards it still looks bad. Streaky. And the funny thing (to me) about it all is that when I do bother to wash the windows, inside and out, I always think I did a great job. And then later in the day (or early the next day) when light streams through those windows in just a certain way, THAT is when I see the streaks. And it really ticks me off too. I have no idea what I'm doing wrong. But whatever it is, I've been doing it wrong for a Very Long Time.
Let's see what are other times that the old "Practice Make Perfect" fails? Hmmm. Ah! Sewing. Yeah. I cannot sew worth a damn. Takes me a minimum of 15 minutes just to thread the damned needle and then once I've done...whatever I felt compelled to do...it looks awful and rarely lasts very long. But my Nana was and my sister is a whiz at sewing, so you'd think it would be typed right there on my DNA. But nope. Clearly not. And a lifetime of sincere attempts have not improved my sewing skills one dang bit.
Another things I'm no good at is lying. I learned very early on in my life that I'm terrible at it.
I've been told that my face is an open book. It shows whatever I am thinking or feeling regardless of what words are coming out of my mouth. Which also means I should never try to play poker or be a successful criminal. As I understand it, lying plays a big part so I'm out.
It's not like everyone should go around lying on a regular basis. That would be a bad thing. But every once in awhile, as life goes on, we are called upon to tell a falsehood now and again for some reason. Like, "Did you like those vegan, fat free, dairy free, sugar free, chocolate-substitute, eggless, cookies I gave you?". Oh man, that is a tough one. I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings and it was so nice of them to make that "treat" for me but it was awful and I threw it out. If I said that I liked it first of all, they will know just by looking at my face that I'm lying and second, if for some reason they actually believe me, despite the obvious lie, that might encourage them to make me more which would not be good at all. What to do? What to do? It's a terrible dilemma . *I ended up saying that they were very interesting and while I greatly appreciated the opportunity to try something new, they weren't really quite my thing*. I thought that was the road to take but trust me here, feelings were hurt. I'm so sorry :(
Another thing that not only have I always been bad at but I am actually getting worse at despite a lifetime of practice, is penmanship. Mine is appalling! In primary school, all of my grades were very good, A's and B's. Except penmanship. And yes I am so old that that used to be a graded subject. I got terrible penmanship grades. And I was, therefore, was made to practice, endlessly and it did not help one single solitary bit. I am not sure why I have never mastered that particular skill but there it is. At this point, if I ever have to sign something I write very slowly and carefully and put all sorts of effort into making it look like something a real person who have written as opposed to say, a seal or a platypus. When I write something just for myself, like the grocery list for example, usually I am the only person who can read it. And sometimes even I have to stop for a second and ask myself, "What on earth does that say?"
My mother also had terrible penmanship. She would write us lovely long notes in the cards she would send and Tim and I and the boys have to sit down and puzzle out what she wrote. It was like a terrific family mystery game! Letter from Gram! Hurrah! Let's Play! And now that 's me. Sorry kiddos!
Oddly making pancakes is something else I've never mastered. And it's so bizarre because I can cook or bake almost anything else. But pancakes? Just not very good at it. And I have no idea why! They are edible (usually) but not great. Tim, on the other hand, makes terrific pancakes! So in this house, if you are in the mood for pancakes, Tim is the guy you want at the helm.
So that's just a few examples of why I think the old "Practice Makes Perfect" saw needs to be amended. I'm all for practice. It's how I have gotten good at anything that I actually am good at! But perfect is a pretty lofty goal. I am not perfect at ANYTHING. Is anyone perfect? You can be really good at something. In fact you can be the very best of anyone in the world at something. But are you Perfect at it? I'm not sure perfection is even achievable.
How about this instead, Practice makes Better. That one is at least true. Even the things I am the worst at (see list above) at this point in my life, with the notable exception of penmanship, while I'm still terrible at all the things I listed, I am at least better than used to be. And that is so sad it's nearly tragic.
Uhoh. Everybody watch out. Sam is doing a craft project. Holy Crap! Calm down. Nobody was hurt in the making of this project. It doesn't look professional by any stretch of the imagination. Heck it doesn't even look amateur! But I'm proud of myself anyway.
Some of you may remember that about a month ago I wrote about needing to tidy up my desk. And really it did need it. What an unholy mess it was. Was. Past Tense. It's so much better now. But there was one last part that needed doing. That giant Microsoft bag that held the rest of my "office supplies" had to go.
I managed to clear enough space in the bookcase next to my desk chair to squish the bag onto the shelf so if nothing else, it was off the floor and space was cleared by my feet (and it just looked nicer) but the ultimate goal was to get some sort of containers for all of the pens and paperclips and hole punchers and markers and...well the usual desk drawer detritus that I have no drawer for.
Originally I had thought that I would go to the container department of Target or Walmart or who knows maybe the Dollar Tree to buy various containers. But my frugal little heart told me to look around the house first and see if there are things here that can be repurposed. And there were! I found various baskets and boxes and tins for lot of the desk stuff. But not everything. Dang. So the Microsoft bag remained on the shelf for a few more weeks while I considered.
Today Tim brought a few empty boxes out of his office with the intention of breaking them down for the recycle bin. "Stop!" I said, "I can use those! " He handed them over without a single question (we've met) and went back into his office.
First I checked to see if the boxes would fit. They did! Then I loaded them with the remainder of the Microsoft bag contents to see if there was sufficient space. There was! Then, once the boxes were loaded and on the shelves I thought I was done. I threw the old Microsoft bag into reycyle and went on my merry way to the next chore.
But every time I passed the shelf and gave it a glance assuming I would be tickled with the results, instead I was frowning. Ugly old boxes with logos on them. Almost as bad as the old Microsoft bag. Perhaps I can do better. I came up with a plan.
So my idea was that I would cover the boxes with pretty wrapping paper. Except the only wrapping paper I have is Christmas paper. I reallllllly like Christmas, but no. Okay, I thought to myself. Maybe I will check out the gift wrap at the grocery store. It's a small section but maybe they will have something that isn't birthday or wedding or anniversary or valentine's day or..... no? hmmmmm. Maybe I'll think of something else.
As I went about my day, suddenly it dawned on me that I currently had several brown paper bags. Now, why would I have those? Well, every once in awhile (in fact twice in the past two weeks) I forget my re-useable shopping bags when I go grocery shopping. Which is so embarrassing because usually I have left them on the kitchen counter especially so that I will not forget them (sigh). Anyway, as I check out, when they see that I have, once again, forgotten my bags, they ask, " Paper or plastic?" I always respond, "Whatever you please". Partly because whatever they give me, I will find a use for, but also partly just because I'm so embarrassed and annoyed with myself that I'm willing to agree with nearly anything. Usually they give me plastic, but the last few times, it was paper.
I could use the paper bags! We used to cover our school books with paper bags! If I can cover an enormous American History text with a paper bag, surely I can cover a box! Right?
I gathered my supplies:
And I got to work. Very Slowly, I began to remember how to do this. Or at least how I used to cover books which is in the neighborhood. As it turned out, the regular scotch tape was fine for holding the paper in place temporarily but for long term holdage I resorted to packing tape. It may not be pretty but dang it works well! I folded and cut and measured and snipped and adjusted and re-adjusted and used a lot of bags and a ton of tape but ultimately the job was done.
I have no right or reason to be as pleased with myself as I am, but I am. The finished product:
The important part is that the shelf is tidy, I can find whatever I'm looking for, the dang Microsoft bag has finally been put to rest and I pushed the limits of my own lackluster art & crafts skills quite a bit which is a very good thing. I think maybe the boxes need a little more decoration as they are a little, dull. Plain Brown Wrapper indeed! Some stickers? Some crayons? Some Glitter? I will think of that for a bit before I decide for sure.
But in the meantime, if you remember how the old desk area shelves looked, see how much better this is now !!!
And before you comment, please remember what your grandmother once told you, "If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all."
On behalf of all non-crafty, non-artistic, people everywhere, Thank you :)
Apparently this is my new doctor's office now. Very Interesting.
I experienced my first Tel-Med appointment today. I don't know if you have done this yet. It's kind of wild. Since it was my first time doing this, it was a little rocky at first. I had some of that anxiety around wanting to do correctly (read that as perfectly) something I had never attempted before. That's natural enough. They clearly tried to make is as easy and straightforward as possible.
Here is how it went. At a pre-arranged time and date, a nice lady at the doc office called me. She asked me some very ordinary basic doctor office questions, the sort that usually I would be filling out on paper in the office waiting room. Then she emailed me a link to connect with their office.
Anticipating ahead of time, the speaker and camera were already on. Cannot have a video appointment without them. I already had my email page opened so I gave it a moment or two and then, when nothing came in, I refreshed the page. When nothing came in again, the nice lady sent the link again. I refreshed again. We did that little dance 6 times. Not joking, 6 times with no link arriving. While we, unsuccessfully tried to connect, we chatted a bit to pass the time. Finally, I shut down my email altogether and opened it again. And there it was.
There I was in a little box at the top of the page. Now it was just a matter of waiting until the doctor was free. I am accustomed to waiting in doctor offices so that's not a problem. At least while I was waiting for this doctor, I was fully dressed. Frankly, a nice change.
I hummed a little hum while I waited. I talked with Tim for a few minutes about this'n'that, I considered my finger nails and wished I had a nail file nearby. I fiddled with things on the desktop and debated what I was going to make for dinner tonight. Suddenly, there he was. My doctor, right there on the screen!
We exchanged hello's and then got directly to the matter at hand. I like that. No dinking around. Just get to it. Direct and to the point. It took no more than ten minutes. And ultimately was simple enough. But, weird nonetheless. The video connection was less than ideal at least what I could see. I have no idea of how I appeared on his end but he was a little fuzzy. That can be problematic for me because I rely somewhat on my eyes to understand on what people are saying, especially if it hey are saying thing I didn't expect to hear or if they have an accent. In this case, both things came into play. Occasionally the doctor would say something and I would have to think about what I thought he might have said before responding. The pause, while brief, must have been unsettling for him because then he would start talking again. But by then, I had finally figured out (I hope) what he was saying and had begun to respond. So once in awhile, we were talking over each other. Awkward.
But it's done. I have had my first Tel-Med appointment so if and when I need to have another, I will be a little more comfortable with it. I will already be aware of the possible pitfalls and I will be prepared.
But here is my scorecard for the experience over all in case you wondered:
Things I didn't care for:
1. The fuzzy video making it hard for me to read faces/lips/expressions and so forth
2. Because we were on video, the person on the other end can see my house! I know we are not supposed to judge people on superficial things like messy bookcases in the background, but we all do it.
3. Just that bizarre feeling of living in a Sci-fi book or movie. Ever since the pandemic started I periodically have that feeling come over me.
Things I did like:
1. I didn't have to drive there. Always a bonus with me
2. It was very convenient. Just before the call started, I was filling the dishwasher. It was a better use of my time.
3. It kind of harkened back to the old days of medicine where doctors always came to the patient, not the other way around.
4. I didn't have to wear a mask.
5. Home Court Advantage. Always a plus. Doesn't everyone feel more at ease in their own space?
6. I didn't have to get on the scale at the doctor office!!! (big bonus there)
Over all it was fine. It got the job done. There were more positives than negatives. I wonder if, when this whole Covid thing is over if we will go back to the way it used to be or is this just how it is now?
I guess we will find out.
Perhaps it started the first time I read the story, "Peter Pan". In the book, the dog, Nana, captures Peter's shadow as if it were a real and separate object and of course, as I'm sure you recall, Wendy sews it back on for Peter. It was a charming concept and something I certainly had never considered. I honestly do not remember how old (or actually young) I was when I first read the story, but I don't recall a time when it wasn't part of my memory banks. The book was first published in 1911 so I know it was on the shelves at the library which means, I read it.
I probably noticed shadows before I read the book, but I am positive that I saw them differently afterwards. Not just as a passing acknowledgement but as a real and separate thing. I was a fanciful child anyway, the sort who could (and did) pass an afternoon laying in the grass seeing "pictures" in the clouds, or gazing into my mother's garden envisioning a secret world of elves and fairies living there. So creating an imaginary world surrounding shadows was a reasonable, to me, step from there. And I did. During a rather lonely childhood, books, music and imaginary worlds sustained and entertained me. Sometimes, I confess, the edges between reality and fantasy got a little blurry.
And then of course, I grew up. Dang. It happens to all of us. Life became pretty straight forward and those fantasy/realty edges became crystal clear. They had to. That's part of being a functional, responsible adult. And that's how I was until I had children of my own. And then, as I introduced them to the wonderful stories from my own childhood, and taught them to see pictures in the clouds and use their own imaginations, I began to notice shadows again.
But it wasn't until I had a camera in my hand that I started to really have fun with it. Shadows really do seem to be an alternate universe. An ordinary, very real concrete and steel staircase becomes a work of modern art at certain times of day when the shadows come to call. It goes from plain to fancy. How much prettier is this:
The drawbridge is adorable on it's own, in a very industrial sort of way, but the underside is even more interesting
A fence is practical, functional and useful. But a shadow fence is more. Perhaps you are thinking, positive/negative, dark/light. And I get why you would. But the shadow of a fence isn't the opposite. Nope. The opposite of a fence would be no fence at all. A shadow is more. A shadow reveals the other, secret side of the object
The shadow cleverly expands the object rather than diminish it. It works with everything, people, animals, fences, railings, grates and gardens.....
Of course in literature, a shadow is a very negative term. Fore-shadowing, or the subtle suggestion of things to come - nearly always bad things - for example. The old radio show, 'The Shadow Knows" which was so creepy that even the theme song music gave me goose bumps. The radio show was based on a novel that was equally creepy by the way. In horror movies the monsters tend to hide in the shadows and haunted houses always have plenty of dark spider webby corners. It all makes shadows sound very evil. Yikes!
But a shadow also brings to mind a cool lemonade on a hot sunny day, a place to rest and relax. A shade brings to mind glade, an umbrella, a pergola, the wide welcoming spreading branches of a very old oak tree. All very very good things.
There is an art form called Silhouettes that was very popular in the 17 and 18 hundreds, you know, before everyone and their Uncle Fred could whip out their cellphone to take a zillion photos of everything. The only way to capture an image was to have a picture painted (or drawn) which was costly or to have a silhouette cut. Silhouettes were cheaper. And Faster! I have a cherished silhouette done of my kiddos a long time ago.
So there you have it, my obsession with shadows. And whether you find that creepy or fanciful, they are everywhere on a sunny day.
Well yeah, it's just me this week. Sadly, Joy wasn't able to hike this week. Disappointing of course, but I get it. Life happens. Heck I have had to cancel before too. But I decided that rather than skip the photo safari altogether, I would head out on my own this week. And just for a change I thought I would just wander around the island to what's happening. Why not?
And if I was going to entitle the theme of this hike it would be, "Planes, Trains, Automobiles, Boats, Golf Carts, Trucks, Bicycles and a lot of other stuff." Almost like the movie but not really. Well Sort of. Oh I'll just show you:
Planes. There were a lot of them flying but I only thought to get a photo of one of them. Venice Island is small, but apparently it's big enough for a small airport. It was built here in the early 1940's by the US Government to train Pilots for World War II.
Trains. It's not technically on the island but it's just on the other side of the Venice Avenue Bridge. So up and over I went. There are not one, not two, but three drawbridges to access Venice Island. I do love a drawbridge. Yes, they slow down traffic a bit now and again, but they are so darned charming. And on the North East side of this particular drawbridge is the old Venice Train Station. Built in 1927, it was the last stop of the Seaboard Air Line Railway that went south from Tampa, through Sarasota and ended in Venice. In 2003 it became a bus station! But the refurbished building and the surrounding park are all about trains.
Automobiles. Well we are know they are everywhere. And parking is at a premium during High Season on the island so the town as gotten very creative with providing parking spaces. Many of them under the bridges. Well that's dang clever!
Boats. It's a beach town. Of course there are boats. Lots and lots of boats. Boats in the water, boats out of the water, boats at piers at the marina. Boats of all sizes, shapes and colours. Something I enjoy is walking through marinas reading the names of boats. I know, I'm very strange.
Golf Carts. Yes that's what I said. There are street legal golf carts here. Most of them only come out during season but they are legion. While I was walking, I saw so many of them, but I only thought to take a picture of one. But that's fine. It can represent all of them.
Trucks. Most of the trucks here are either delivering something or business trucks. Lots of business trucks. Landscapers, plumbers, construction etc. LOTS of them. It seems as if there is always a lot of construction going on here. Either building a new house (where an old house used to be) or remodeling. Loads of remodeling. Driving down an typical road here on the island is like slalom skiing. But it's just part of the charm. But there are also the trucks that haul boats behind them. And right now, we probably have almost as many of those as the other sorts of trucks. You know what trucks looks like, but here's a few anyway:
Bicycles. One of the things about this adorable little beach town that we have chosen is that they have bike lines and bike trails and bike repair stations all over the place. I love that this is such a bicycle friendly place. Most bicyclers and most automobile drivers are very thoughtful and considerate of one another. But every once in awhile there is a jerk, so you need to keep your eyes and ears peeled at all times. Cars that don't keep their proper distance from the bikes or bicyclers who don't obey the rules of the road. But mostly, it's all good ;)
A Lot of Other Stuff. This is already kind of a long post so I'll just give you a little taste of some of the other things I saw on what turned out to be a Very Long Walk. By the time I was done, it was more than 7 miles. And the day warmed up so I ended up tying the sweater 'round my waist and did various strange things with the scarf to get it out of my way. Still, it was a great day, a great walk and I hope you enjoyed coming along. Next time, Joy and I will be back at it together in a forest preserve taking more nature photos. But this was a nice change of pace. For me anyway.
And just to round this out with a nice circle, beginning to end, here's me toward the end of the hike
This is the guest room in our house. Most of the time it just sits quietly, anticipating a visitor. I tend to use the closet as a great place to hide Christmas Gifts and hang bulky clothes like pea coats and other chilly weather outerwear that frankly doesn't get used often here. (But when you need it you are glad you have it and therefore cannot dispense with entirely). We use the guest room bathroom occasionally, but otherwise it's just a rarely used, extra space in the house.
It's a small room (with an even smaller but attached bathroom) and there isn't much in it by way of furniture. The bed, obviously, and a nice 3-drawer side table is about it. And there are a few nice pieces of art on the wall. It is a very simple, pleasant and mostly unused room. Normally, the bed isn't pushed up against the wall like this though. Most of the time the bed is in the center of the room so that anyone staying in the room can get in and out of either side of the bed with ease. Just logical y'know?
So why oh why, would I shove the bed to the wall? Well, because Tim had an Excellent Idea! A way to utilize this room better, get more use out of it. Heck the mortgage is for the entire house, not all but one room, so we may as well use the entirety, yes?
Pilates is the reason. I started taking Pilates classes a few years ago. The classes were local. Really local. I could walk there and did! And the teacher is a friend of mine - which is how I heard about it in the first place. Normally I am not an exercise class sort of person. I do not do particularly well in crowds even when there is not a potentially deadly virus circulating the planet. And honestly, I'm not at all graceful. It's downright scary sometimes. Far worse, whenever I tried taking any sort of exercise class, I never felt as if I was getting any benefit from it. So I was doubtful when I began but Pilates turned out to be different.
First off, the classes were smallish. It differed throughout the year of course. During High Season there were a lot more attendees than the peak of summer, but it was always manageable. The workouts made me feel as if I was actually working out. In time I could actually see the benefit I was getting from the class. I really enjoyed it. So much so that when the instructor was away on vacation, I did the workouts on my own at home. On Purpose! That was a first!
I had the mat, the ball, the bands and even some ankle weights (which are not Pilates related but sometimes I use them anyway). What I didn't have was a good place to store all of this stuff. I've mentioned before that our house is an adorable little beach cottage. Which suits us right down to our toes. Except for the lack of storage. There is a utility room which holds Christmas stuff, washer/dryer, tools, and everything else under the sun and is packed to the Max. There was no room for my Pilates stuff. So I ended up tucking it here, there and everywhere around the house.
The matt was rolled up and shoved into a corner of the Family room. Likewise with the Pilates Ball. Though occasionally it was shoved into various closets. The bands and the ankle weights ended up in a carrybag slung over the back of my desk chair most of the time but not always. So anytime I wanted to work out, I spent a little time hauling stuff out from all of it's hideyholes, finding an empty spot big enough to spread it out before even starting my workout. Then of course doing it all in reverse to put it away when I was done. Every time. Which, at first, was no big deal. I was attending class at least twice a week (sometimes three times) so I didn't feel the need to do home work outs most of the time.
And then last March we were suddenly in lockdown and, no more Pilates Classes. Dang. At first I was pretty good about dragging stuff out and putting it back, but eventually I would just do the workout on the family room carpet which is less than ideal by the way because it involves moving furniture. And ultimately, I found that I was working out less and less frequently just because it was all a big pain in my gluteus maximus - which was getting maxier and maxier as the shut downs continued.
My old Pilates class eventually became a Zoom class but my computer is in the living room, right in the middle of the house. There is NO room there to do a workout. And the noise of the Zoom class could be distracting to those folks in this house who actually work for a living. Sooooo no zoom class. I was determined to do this on my own. After giving myself a thorough scolding, I have been back at it.
It's not as good as an instructor driven class of course, but it's better than nothing. I continued working out on the family room rug after pushing the giant ottoman to one side. Tim observed this quietly one day, unknown to me, and later made a suggestion that kind of made me embarrassed that I didn't think of it myself.
The Guest Room! It is rarely used for anything else so with a little furniture rearrangement I now have a permanent spot for all my stuff! The mat stays on the floor, the ball rolls easily into the corner when I'm done and my bands and ankle waits are handy there in the bottom drawer of the side table. Taadaa! Brilliant!
I find that I am working out almost every day now, which is awesome. And sometimes several times a day. Not the full workout multiple times, but I can do 20 minutes in the morning while I'm waiting for the dryer to be finished. I can knock out another 20 minutes when I have that extra bit of time before I need to start dinner. You see? It's Perfect!
The dictionary? Oh I use that as a weight. It's the heaviest book we own.
So there you have it. My own home gym of sorts. I am so tickled with my new workout room! And if in the future we should actually have a guest? Easy to tuck it all into corners and closets like it was before, just for the duration. I'm not going to be working out when we have a visitor anyway. Nope, I will be enjoying our guest, cooking and touring and entertaining and all the things a good hostess does. But afterwards, when they've gone on their way with a bag of home made cookies, sand in their shoes and memories in their hearts, that guest room will go back to being my Pilates Room! Yay!
"What A Difference A Day Makes". Do you know that song? It was the first thing that came to mind when I realized that these two photos were taken only 24 hours apart. Well twenty-four hours and about twenty miles.
On Sunday, in the course of running errands and just in general getting out of the house for a bit, Tim and I somehow ended up in Sarasota at Bay Front Park. I've written about this park before. It's a lovely bit of green and a cute little walking path right in the midst of down town Sarasota. Surrounded by a combination of marina, enormous buildings and ocean, it is a happy surprise to first time visitors and a delightful place to pass some time to those in the know.
It was a pretty sunny day, the water was fairly calm and the park was teeming with visitors. Everyone was either masked and/or socially distancing while enjoying a nap, a walk, or a meal. Kids were playing, safely corralled in the fenced playground, visitors (and folks like me) were walking and taking photos, or just watching the boats and the seabirds, dogs trotted loyally at their sides. It was a lovely little respite in our otherwise busy.
One day later, the temperature had dropped, the winds picked up, the sun took the day off and the surf was high. Here on the island, right in the midst of high season (meaning tourists, visitors and snowbirds galore) the beach parking lots were nearly empty (unheard of!) and the only thing in the water were surfers and a few pelicans.
It was awesome!
Tim and I stood out there, buffeted by the wind (I was nearly knocked over by it a few times!), covered in sea spray, chilled to the bone and mesmerized by it all. And frankly kind of wowing over those surfers who braved it all just for the excitement of battling the waves. (I hope those wet suits kept them warmer than my jacket!) I suppose I was standing there snapping away for the same reason they were in the water with their boards: for the thrill of it all.
It was so completely different than the previous day at Bay Front Park. Which was also beautiful but in a calm and serene sort of way. There was nothing serene about the second day, but I loved it just as much.
I guess the lesson here is twofold. First you just never know what's going to happen next. And second, there is more than one kind of beautiful.
Checker/Chess, Scattergories and Scrabble. Those are the only games in our house. And in all honesty, we don't play any of them very often. It's mostly my fault. I don't especially care for games. Not card games or board games or relationship games. Just not a fan. It's not that I'm a sore loser or a poor winner for that matter, it's that I just don't find them very interesting.
I just do not understand the appeal of games in general. Card games in particular do not interest me. Probably because I have Zero competitiveness. I just do not care who wins. I do not care if I lose. And yes I have been told, so I already know that I'm a big old party pooper. But I mean, if everyone else in the room wants to play, generally I will play and be pleasant about it. But you will never ever find me initiating a game.
So knowing that about me, you will not be at all surprised to learn that I am especially annoyed when my computer decides to play games with me. And yes it does. Oh sure, when things go wrong on my computer I almost always assume that it's my fault, another operator error. But sometimes, as it turns out, it is not my fault at all. Which is shocking to me first of all. Then a relief. And then, hey...if it's not me then who? And I hear my computers evil chuckle in the background.
What sort of games you ask? Well for instance, you may recall that about a week ago suddenly there were no blogposts from me. That was because I was so annoyed with my computer that I could not even look in it's face. I had done what I do nearly every morning. I sat down and composed a blog post. A lot goes into these silly little posts by the way. It's not just a matter of cut and pasting stuff other people wrote. Nope. It's all me. If I quote someone else, I tell you. I have integrity! I have pride! And I have a trickster computer.
That day, the post I wrote I had been thinking about for awhile. It took several days of thinking it through, then making little notes to myself over several more days, then coming up with the supporting photograph of course. Once I was ready to actually begin writing, I had to spend some time finding the approach, selecting my words with care, doing my research and then going back and editing. All the things I normally do. I will admit that occasionally I am in a big rush and I do not edit. When that happens, I always regret it.
When I was finally ready to commit my work to the blogosphere, I did what I always do. I gave it one last quick glance and then used my mouse to hit "post". The instant I did that, clicked on the "post" button, the entire screen blinked and all of the words disappeared. Every last comma, each carefully chosen phrase, all of my work was gone. Completely totally entirely poofed out of existence. I nearly screamed with frustration.
But I didn't want to scare Tim so instead, I just growled a little with narrowed eyes, shut everything down and walked away. What happened? Not a clue. Why would my computer do that? Just to be a pain in my butt!
Also recently my computer ate every single photograph that I took in January. All of them. Alakazam......gone.
I keep my photographs in files by month and year. Every photo I took in January of 2021 was in a file marked Jan21. And that particular file was suddenly not there. It no longer existed. Just gone. Every other photo file was still there as it always was, just not Jan21. I looked everywhere I could think of and when I ran out of ideas, I asked Tim to look. He couldn't find them either. Sigh. So annoying.
Oh days later he found the pictures hiding deeply inside of a different file within a file within a file within...well you get the idea.
Another great trick my computer likes to pull is to not show me my pictures. I mean they are there, but only by their identifying number. I cannot actually see the photo. You know how they usually look? Teeny tiny little square miniature photos (like the paint chips at the hardware stores). And then I can usually select, drop and drag that tiny little square into whatever document I wish. But if I cannot see it, I cannot select to to attach or drag or edit or anything else.
Oh and when does it play this game with me? Only when I'm trying to attach or drag or edit. If all I want to do is Look at the photos...it's not a problem. So I end up pretending to just look and then write down the identifying number of the photo I want and selecting my photos that way. I can still get the job done, it just takes a lot longer.
Every once in awhile there is a game my computer plays where I cannot do anything with my emails except read them. I cannot delete them or respond to them or even compose a new one. I can only read them. So I end up doing all of my emailing from my phone for awhile which is not ideal. I am a terrible typist on my cellphone. And then suddenly one day, it's all good again. My computer is a happyhappy machine and everything works correctly again.
It's weird. It's wild. And it is what it is. I have almost no power and no control over the situation. Clearly my computer is in charge and it has a very strange sense of humour.
Frankly I am not amused.
That would be Joy and I fighting our way through the tall grass while on our photo safari this past Wednesday! To be totally truthful, there was a perfectly good trail we could have been walking on, but sometimes we just find it absolutely necessary to go off-trail for a bit. This clearly was one of those times :)
This most recent hike was, without question, dubbed The Foggy Hike. Man oh man, we just couldn't seem to shake it for more than a few minutes at a time. I woke to some pretty thick fog in the wee hours just as dawn was peeping over the yardarm (I can usually see a few boat masts from the bathroom window and that morning I saw a whole lot of nothin'!). A very short time later when Joy swung by to pick me up we decided that, well the first part of the hike might be a little challenging, photo-wise, but soon enough the fog would burn off and then it would be fine.
But the weather had other ideas! The fog would seem to lift a bit for a little while, sometimes we even saw blue sky and sunshine for a few moments and then, the fog would rise again and it would be swirly grey and mysterious again. Oooooooo. Like being in a spooky movie!
The effect for our photography was interesting and like I said, I like a challenge, but it made it difficult to find some of our preferred subject matter now and again.
Wednesdays foggy photo safari took us back to Oscar Scherer State Park to check on the eagles that we found there about 3 weeks ago. We found 'em. Or at least we found the nest and one eagle. The photos aren't as dramatic as last time, but the fog made it look different if nothing else.
It was the oddest thing hearing birds all around us but not seeing them most of the time. There was a very cool moment when we, again, went off-trail into a rather gloomy copse to track down the birds we could hear and there they were. Robins by the dozens zooming from tree to tree and branch to branch, making such a racket! Between the shadowy dimness and the fog, it was hard to make out exactly what sort of birds they were at first. We kept thinking we saw the colour red and therefore assumed they were cardinals but also thought that they were too big to be cardinals. Which was in fact the case. Eventually we saw one got close enough to determine for sure...robins! I got Zero photos of them but it was amazing to see. Sorry about that!
Saw a few other birdsthat I was able to capture. Let's see what I have here:
And a couple of squirrels:
Here is one of the things about photography in the fog that I learned that day, colours don't show up very well. So while the foggy effect is kind of dramatic the colours do not pop. Everything appears to be softly wrapped in gauze instead. I kept thinking that my lens was dirty and constantly cleaned it with no change. Normally these colours would leap from the page but instead they looked like this:
On the other hand, I FINALLY got some good dew on webs photos! Very excited about these:
But mostly, it was about the fog. And trees in the fog look awesome! Shouldn't we be hearing some weirdly creepy music right about now?
And as always there are the rando-photos that I save for the end:
Regardless of your weather, I hope you have a wonderful weekend! Do something fun! I will check in with you again on Monday.
Hugs all 'round
I walked out to the end of our driveway the other morning, as I always do, to bring in our daily newspaper(s) and was surprised to see this sign. "Men Working". Ok. Appreciate the Headzup. But I was curious because I saw no actual men working. Or women for that matter. Or giraffes or otters or any other creatures. I stood at the very end of the driveway, toes against the blacktop and looked all the way to the left and all the way to the right and, nope, nothin'.
For some reason, I'm not sure why, I assumed this meant roadwork of one kind or another. And since I saw no evidence of any kind of work, no trucks, no people, no equipment of any kind, I thought that it must be farther down the road around the corner that I cannot see. I shrugged and went back inside to get Tim's breakfast underway. And I began to go about my morning as per usual. Hum dilly hum. On the stroke of 8 am however, it began. And it was loud. It was Very Very Very Loud. It was the sort of loud that permeates your very bones. Not at all conducive to someone (in this case Tim) trying to work. He might be able to kind of block out the crashing, bashing some of the time but phone calls would have been a real challenge.
As I ran around the house closing windows (a shame on a beautiful day) I kept trying to see exactly what was making the gawdawful sound. It took awhile but eventually I came to realize that there was more than one thing going on. It was both behind us and beside us which is the same neighbor. Let me take a moment to explain.
The street behind us is a private road (excuse the heck outta me!) that ends at the house behind us. I mean literally the road comes to an actual halt at that house. It is a very narrow road with just a few houses, waterfront, on the bay. Very nice. Now as it so happens, we live almost on a corner, like about a half a lot to the actual stop sign. At some point, someone bought the property directly behind us (and remember the road ends at that house) and the lot next to us which kind of straddles the corner and turned it into one cattycorner property that goes front the road behind us to beside us. The main house is behind us, the guest house is beside us. And as it turns out, noisy stuff was happening in both places that day.
Behind us was something having to do with their pool. And the reason I know that is the Lucas Lagoons trucks that we saw. I don't know if you are familiar with Lucas Lagoons. There is a television show, "Insane Pools" which you may have seen, that centers around this company. It's a local (to us) company that builds these beautiful and very elaborate pools, patios and whatever else the client wants having to do with the general pool area. Because these "insane" pools are so incredibly complex, apparently, they require and insane amount of noise to build them. So that was part of the ear assault.
The other part of Project Noise I learned about when I was standing on the guest bed cleaning the overhead fan blades. (Yes occasionally I actually do clean things). While I balanced and sprayed and papertoweled alternately, I caught motion out the window from the corner of my eye. So I stopped what I was doing completely and saw several men standing on the roof of the guesthouse next door with large saws and ropes and other implements of destruction. Ahhhh! That is the other noise! They are tree trimming. Which also means wood chipping and sometimes stump grinding.
Wowza! No wonder we could barely hear ourselves think!
Oh well, if it's gotta be done, it's gotta be done. And perhaps it was good that both noisy things were being done on the same day. Get it over with and move on to peace and quiet once again.
The next day, as I again started my day walking out to get the newspaper I was bummed to see the Men Working sign again. I sighed and returned to the house and just went ahead and closed the windows ahead of time. I knew what was coming. AND I wasn't wrong. Once again, as soon as the hands of the clock struck 8 am the barrage of sound began. which means that despite the lovely weather outside, we were, one more time, inside with the AC on and the windows tightly closed, besieged by constant drone punctuated with occasion crashing, crunching, shouting sort of sounds.
During the afternoon of that second day, while I was ironing in the family room something caught my eye out the window that seemed to be on the corner of the house. So I went outside to check it out. It was tree debris. Lots and lots of branches and fronds and giant seed pods and other stuff, obviously cut from the neighbors trees that fell into our yard. Oh well, stuff happens. So I gathered it up into a pile knowing that our own lawn guys would pick it up on their next visit and take it away for us.
Out the front door was a different kind of tree debris which I addressed toward the end of both days. Dead leaves. Lots of them. Trapped in our courtyard and just waiting to cling to people's shoes so they could be tracked into the house. My favourite. These particular leaves came from Jacaranda trees. I happen to really love Jacaranda trees. We don't have any, but our neighbors do. And I can only assume that when the branches were trimmed and wind carried the very lightweight dead stuff through the air and deposited them into our courtyard where they were trapped by the courtyard walls to live forever and ever, amen, amen.
So I grabbed a broom and began to sweep. And sweep. And sweep. And...well you get the idea. The Jacaranda tree has small, narrow leaves so it takes a lot of them to be impactful visually. Here is just a small glimpse of the issue:
Most of our courtyard is pavered, but part of it is gravel. (And no, I have no idea why. The property came this way. I sept the pavers clean but gravel is another story. It's really hard to sweep gravel. I picked some up by hand, one little branch at a time, some parts were bigger gobs of it so I could use the dustpan to kind of handsweep the upper levels of the pile into the pan without getting too much of the gravel in there.
I did what I could and then walked away and left the rest for me to think about how to address.
Luckily for me our lawn guys came by on the 3rd day and in addition to their usual lawn type stuff, they noticed the dead leaves in the courtyard and blasted it with leaf blowers leaving the courtyard much as it was originally. Nice.
So there you go. The story of the Men At Work sign. Whether you wanted or needed to know it or not. Today, Blessedly, there is no horrible noise, the windows are once again wide open and peace again falls on our little island. Nice :)
The title, as it turned out, of last weeks photo safari, is, The Hike of Hardly Any Photographs. And not because I didn't take any pictures. I absolutely did. As you can see in the photo above, I was snap happy for hours. In the end, I took more than 200 shots! Wow! And once I had edited and deleted to my hearts content there were still a lot. And some of them were pretty good too. But something went awry and before I could write up my usual after hike report, they vanished.
Not joking even a little bit. It was like a really bad magicians trick. They existed and then blink, they didn't exist anymore. I looked every way that I knew how to look and then I called upon my in-house computer help desk (that would be Tim) and nope, the pictures are just gone. It's a mystery for sure.
Fortunately for me, Joy was kind enough to share a few photos with me (I will make note of which pictures are hers - the photo of me at the top of the page is one of them). Also I remembered that had already sent a few pictures to a friend of mine back in Colorado and I was able to retrieve those out of my sent box. Whew! So yes, there are a few pictures to share with you :)
So I guess I will start with the place where we hiked. There is a local hiking spot called Jelk's Preserve that we never visit. Well I suppose we had to have gone at least once, a long time ago because we kept making the intentional decision to go elsewhere every week. But this past hike we kind of asked each other if we remembered why we never go to Jelk's. And the answer was, "Nope".. Neither of us recalled exactly why we avoid that particular place. There had to be a reason, just it had been so long that we didn't know what that reason was. And we felt that was reason enough to check it out.
It was a chilly morning. And I know you guys who live in genuinely cold places keep laughing whenever I say that, which is fair. So I suppose what I ought to be saying it was a Chilly Morning for Florida. Better? It was cool enough that we could see our breath in the air when we talked and there was mist rising off the water. (the mist off the water photo is Joy's)
Because we are kind of crazy, we were wearing shorts! But we were also smart enough to be wearing sweatshirts to stave off the worst of the morning cold. One of these days I need to find a pair of fingerless gloves though. I found myself walking alternating hands in my pocket through most of the early hours. BUT the light was gorgeous. And you know I am a sucker for those pretty light moments. Here's the only one I still have:
Fairly early on in the hike we found a woodpecker squawking at us from the tippytop of a tree. We could only see his bright right head on and off as he circled and scolded and popped up and down. But the camera gods were with me and I did get one good shot of him!
Heeheehee, what a character! There were also some very impressive spider webs that if you stand just right and catch the light coming through at the exactly perfect angle are rather beautiful. Each web is a singular work of art. Just usually they are hard to capture. I got lucky this time.
It was a little mucky here and there and in a few instances water completely covered the trail but someone thoughtfully built some bridges! Some more elaborate than others. This one was a little precarious: (obviously Joy took the photos of me, like this one)
Joy trooped across with no hesitation at all. But because I am not nearly as graceful as she, I took my time and even stopped now and again as I crossed to catch my breath, settle my balance and to take a photo.
There were some rather photogenic flowers here and there and a striking leaf or two that caught my eye. And then my camera's eye.
But what we saw more of than anything was hog sign. And you know how I feel about feral hogs. No Bueno! There were those enormous hog traps scattered about and some sections of the trail that were so chewed up that you couldn't really tell where the trail was. Thank goodness we saw no actual oinkers, but I know that they were lurking nearby. We can feel the lurking. It's a little distracting from the hiking and the picture taking when out of the corner of your eye (and ear) you are always on alert for the actual piggies and not just hog sign.
Despite all of that, we had a good time, it was a good long hike, and yes we took lots of photos but the creepy hog indicators everywhere are probably why we do not hike there. We will have to make a note to wait another four years before returning to this particular preserve.
One last photo for you. This is how Joy and I feel when we are out hiking with our cameras. Here's Joy looking relaxed and happy (and a little chilly):
I'm feeling kind of old lately. And it has nothing to do with the grey/white/silver bits in my hair either. It also has no connection to the AARP crap that comes in the mail faithfully every month - and has since the year I turned 50. I still haven't joined. Wow those folks are persistent. It gets tossed just like the invitations to discuss cremation, wills and 'final expenses' as they so coyly phrase it.
Nope. My aged feeling is my own dang fault. It was something I wrote so basically I did this to myself. I was writing an email to a friend of mine. Almost daily she and I knock out a quick email to one another, just the blah-de-blah of what's happening in our lives. Exciting things like what we are making for dinner that day, the local weather and something interesting we might have seen on a recent walk. Nothing earth shattering. I was regaling her with the story of our recent and belated Christmas celebration and I found myself writing the following sentence, "We had such a great time that even though we got home late, it was totally worth it." I paused and re-read the sentence. Something was wrong with it but I couldn't figure out what it was. And then I saw it and started laughing. I mean really laughing. Loud and long.
The "late night" I referred to was around 9 pm. Nine. Twenty-one hundred in military time. That is hilarious. And a little sad. There was a time when I wouldn't leave to start my fun evening until 9 pm. And now to me that is unusually late. Sigh.
And that got me thinking about other old people stuff that I say or do now. It was an easy list to come up with. I didn't have to think too hard. Which is a comment all on it's own. So here is a short list of sure fire indicators of my fogey-ness:
1. While I do not dislike current music, I cannot understand most of the lyrics. Which means I can hum along and tap my toes, but I cannot sing along. I remind me of my own mother who, while she never once objected to the music we played, almost never ever got the words right, but sang along, incorrectly, with her beautiful voice.
2. I also do not understand current colloquialisms. A million or so years ago when I was young, I saw Peter Sellers do a "bit" that I thought was a laugh riot. He, a middle aged, very buttoned up Brit in three-piece suit, umbrella and bowler was having a conversation (or trying to) with a much younger man. While both of them were speaking English, neither of them was speaking the same language. You will have to trust me on this, to a young person of that era, the bit was hysterical! "Out of my line of vision" indeed.
3. I find, to my great embarrassment, that occasionally I tell the same story or recount the same anecdote, more than once. Oh gosh that is so humiliating. I hate when I do that. Most folks are kind about it, but I can tell by the look on their faces that they've heard this before and usually that makes me stop and say something like, "...but I'm sure you've heard this before". Red Faced!
4. I've lived so long now that things that happened in my life time are now historic references. Little children are studying in school things that I lived through. Holy cats. And worse, they often get it wrong.
5. Younger people do not understand my music, literary, television or movie references. That one hits hard. The earlier Peter Sellers reference for example. That would have been met by a blank stare. Them: "Peter who?" Me: "No not The Who". Them: "What?" Me: "This is starting to sound like an Abbott and Costello routine" Them: "Who?"
6. Parts of my body hurt. All of the time. My hands hurt, my neck hurts, my shoulder hurts, my knees hurt. Different degrees of discomfort, admittedly, but all of the time. Which means that when I say, "I'm running to the store", I actually mean I'm walking to the store. And frankly, if I say that I'm running anywhere, I am flat out lying to you. Well maybe if hungry tigers were chasing me I might try to break into a trot, but more likely, I would turn and slap the crap out of it for forcing me to try to run.
7. Because of the above I often smell like Icy/Hot. I used to a wear perfume called, "Casual". I went to great lengths to try to find this perfect fragrance. I wore it every day. It became my signature scent and I loved it. Now I smell mostly of a combination of shampoo and Icy/Hot. Super Sexy.
8. I have, sadly, become accustomed to being teased for my not so very Techie ways. Yes I still write my grocery list on paper. Yes I am quite aware that I can do that on my phone but no I choose not to. In a few weeks I will have my very first On-Line doctor appointment. I was assured by the lady on the other end of the phone when I made the appointment that they would talk me through the process and that I would have no problem figuring out how to do it. I responded that I hoped it was so and that I would hate to be their very first patient who was unable to figure it out. I actually love the idea of not having to go to the actual doctor's office for a doctor visit but it feels very Star Trek to me. Not quite real y'know?
In spite of my low-tech ways, I take heart in knowing that while I can operate a computer I also can function without one. And knowing that I am the last generation to be able to both read and write cursive, read both an analogue and digital clock, use a computer and a manual typewriter and know how to use a cell phone AND an old rotary dial phone gives me a little feeling of power there. I am like a human Rosetta Stone. I stand with one foot in each era. From this point forward, my generation is all ancient history.
Like I said, I'm feeling old today.
I don't know what the weather was like at your house this past Saturday but here it was windy. I mean WINDY! Gusty, blowing, chilly, wet,batten down the hatches windy. And for most people that means, a good day to stay inside, snuggied down in your comfiest sweats drinking hot cocoa and reading a good book or binge watching Outlander for the umpti-umpth time, For other folks it means, Time to Go To The Beach!
Mostly because big wind usually also means big waves. And Big waves means surfers and parasailing!
On one hand I think they are adrenaline laced whackadoos. On the other hand, oooooo it's so pretty! Really, it's breathtaking to watch as they loop and jump and spin and turn. Almost like a dance. Water Ballet! Only with higher danger factor.
We weren't the only folks at the jetty watching the show either. The place was PACKED! And most of the cars had out of state plates so sure, I get it. If it's a little too chilly to actually sit on the beach or swim or even just wade in the surf and look for cool shells, then here is an alternate way to enjoy the water.
I always feel bad for the tourists who come here from cold and snow hoping to enjoy a beach vacation, thinking sunny and warm thoughts only to find chilly, grey, wet and/or windy weather. But honestly, the beach and the ocean is awesome regardless of the temperature. Provided that you are dressed for the occasion. If all you brought was your flipflops and swimsuit, yeah, you are going to be chilly. Tip:L There are shops here. You can buy a sweatshirt.
But honestly, regardless of the fact that the beach was red-flagged that day, it was still a beautiful walk. I know because after we left the jetty, we went on over to the main beach entrance which we refer to as the Pavilion (because there is one) and we walked on the shore for a bit.
See what I mean? Ain't nothin' wrong with that. And yet, the beach was nearly completely empty. Silly people! Cold, wet, windy days are Perfect Beach Days! Mostly because there is almost nobody else there. You pretty much have the place to yourself!
We could still see the surfers and parasailers from the where we now were and continued to enjoy the show even as we walked along the edge of the water. The wind blew my hair around but hey, I don't care. And Tim was kind enough, chivalrous enough, to stand between me and the worst of it so that I could get at least these few photos.
It's kind of hypnotic watching the water. Maybe that's why it's so calming. Even on a wild and woolly weather sort of day just watching the ever changing patterns in the waves, the continual ebb and flow of it all, listening to that unmistakable sound of the surf.... it helps me to breath, I can feel myself settle a bit and at the same time feel energized. It's medicinal. Take one visit to the beach and call me in the morning. Hah!
Eventually we left to do the sorts of things that need doing regardless of how spectacular the ocean is every day. But we returned in the evening because we knew, we just absolutely had no doubts at all, that the wave dancers would still be out there.
And we were correct!
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.