You knew it was going to happen, right?
Yup, the Christmas Tree is up. And as I expected I am definitely feeling more Christmassy than before. I'm not sure if it's the ornaments themselves, the lights, the actual act of decorating or all of the above that did the trick. Don't much care either. The tree is up and I am nearly back to my usual Christmas Elven self. Hurrah!
We actually did buy some new ornaments this year. Just felt like making a little change up. Why not? Over the weekend we stopped by Big Lots and found a box of 60 "shatterproof" (read Sam proof) ornaments for only $15! They look really good too. Traditional colours as opposed to the whackadoo colours I have been putting on the tree the past few years. Traditional in my mind being green, red and gold. Some are sparkly, some are satin finished, some look like disco balls more than anything else, and some look like antique reproductions. And I really like all of them.
And by carefully selecting from my existing collection of other ornaments, we found enough other green, red and gold things to make it look complete. Overall I'm very pleased with the result. Some day I need a different tree topper though. The angel I am using refuses to stand upright. She is always leaning in one direction or another and appears to be alarmingly close to toppling off at all times. Maybe next year that will be my Christmas Purchase?
The tree is in the family room which is at the back of the house but because all of the main rooms of the house open to each other, it can be seen and enjoyed from the kitchen, the living room and the family room. In fact, if I stand outside in front of the house looking in from the courtyard I can still see it! And I love that :)
Every night now, as soon as it's dark outside (which gets earlier by the day) I turn on the tree lights, turn off the house lights and let the magic of the Christmas tree just settle over me. It's a wonderful way to end every day from now until when I finally take it back down and put it all away.
Soooo we have the lights up outside, the tree up inside and this weekend will be the annual cookie baking marathon. Well a slightly smaller version of it anyway. There will still be beaucoup cookie baking going on. Just a few less than normal. And that means next Monday morning bright and early, I'll be at the UPS store sending them on their way to our kiddos for their enjoyment.
And then I suppose, I can move on to the next thing. That's all we can do. Especially this year I think. Take it one day at a time, one project at a time, one problem at a time and then once that one thing is well in hand, move on to the next. As Captain Kangaroo taught me many years ago, "The best I can do, is the best I can do and I'm doing the best that I can".
Tomorrow Joy and I will be out on Photo Safari so there will no post and the following day is Thanksgiving so again, obviously no post and then it's 3 days of cookie baking and no post then either. A little break from the Blog I guess couldn't hurt. But! I will be around again beginning on Monday the 30th. The last day of November! And we can all catch up again once more.
I wish you each a wonderful and SAFE Thanksgiving. And I know that even in this crazy year, I still have much to be thankful for.
Big Hugs all 'round
Above you see two jars of molasses. Just ordinary everyday run of the mill molasses. It's something I always have in my pantry but I am fully aware that most people do not. It's kind of an old fashioned ingredient, used primarily in equally old fashioned recipes. And since most people are more contemporary minded than I am (apparently) they do not feel the need to keep such a fuddyduddy sort of product hanging around taking up space on their shelves.
Totally get it.
But that very thing, that fact that most people do not keep a jar of molasses in their pantries at all times, is why I was astonished to find my local grocery store out of molasses while I was shopping recently. What? How can there be no molasses? There was a space for it on the shelf at the store. A gap between Karo Syrup and some unusual brand of maple (or quasi-maple) syrup. A big old empty gap. Our local grocery store, Publix, carries only one brand of molasses, Grandma's, and that's just fine with me. It works for all my molasses oriented recipes. But it's one of those ingredients for which there is no substitute. There is molasses and there is molasses. That's it.
Other ingredients can be subbed out without a huge problem. I can use pecans instead of walnuts, for instance, without it being a huge issue. But molasses is the only thing remotely like molasses. Without it there would be no baked beans, no gingerbread cake, no gingersnap cookies, no gingerbread man cookies, no molasses cookies (rather obviously) and there is even a wheat bread recipe that I am especially fond of that requires molasses. In my world, it is essential.
And yet there was none. Dang.
So when I had to run into the store quickly on Thursday afternoon for just one thing, I checked the shelves for molasses and.....nope. Still none. Dang! We checked several other stores over that weekend. Still no molasses. Suddenly molasses is a "hot' ingredient? Unexpectedly out of the blue everyone and their Uncle Fred has discovered molasses and is using it on everything from their pancakes to their potatoes? (ewwww that sounds gross). Or maybe it's one of those bizarre COVID related shortages. Something that's hard to come by. I seriously doubt that molasses is hoarding item like toilet paper.
So there I was, trying to begin making my list of cookies for the annual cookie baking marathon and sadly scratching off both gingersnaps and gingerbreadmen. (insert booboo face here)
Then Taadaa! Like a knight on his white horse, Tim rides up to save the day. He found and ordered it for me through Amazon. Holy Cats. Those guys really do have everything!
The two bottles arrived yesterday, whole and unbroken (which impresses the socks off of me because they come in glass bottles) and now I can adjust my grocery list to include everything else I need for those cookies because they are BACK on the list baby! Huraah!!
And Tim is the hero of the Cookie Baking Season!
Oh I can hear you thinking already. Something along the lines of, "Oh what on earth is she showing us now?" Well, just hang on a minute and I'll tell ya.
Rhonda, my boss at the museum, created and sent to all of us volunteers, a little game. And it's a dang clever one too. Honestly, it's a terrific idea.
In the email was the explanation, the rules and 30 photographs, all numbered as you can see. Each of these photographs were taken somewhere here on the island. Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to identify each photograph. Very specifically identify each one. Number 15, for example, cannot just be, 'walkway to the beach'. We must say exactly which walkway to the beach. And since the entire west side of the island is beach.....well, the door on that is pretty open.
I'm pretty excited about this.
As soon as I opened the email and realized what it is, I started smiling. I grabbed a piece of paper and numbered lines 1 through 30. Right away I started writing down the answers that I was absolutely certain about. Not to brag or anything, but in all honesty, right off the bat I knew at least half of them.
I took a break to email Rhonda a quick "How Fun" response. Within a surprisingly short time she returned emailed me with the declaration that she fully expected me to get all of them correct since I A) live on the island - not everyone does B) live here full time - again a lot of the volunteers do not C) walk all over the island on the regular D) take photos of things on the island and E) have an eye for detail (at least some of the time). Oh my! The Pressure!
I went back to the photos and thought harder. I confess that Tim also looked at the photos and confirmed many of my guesses. Woohoo! Eventually, I was able to identify all but 4 . Four! Only 4 photos out of 30 and I will have them all. 100% complete!
The due date is November 30th. So I have a little more time, but I need to get out there to find and identify these photos! I am determined to finish this. I don't care if I win. I truly do not. But Rhonda is right, I do live here year 'round and I walk everywhere all of the time. I should know this. It has now become my quest to finish this.
Two of the four remaining unidentified photos are driving me crazy because I know I've seen them, I just don't remember exactly where. The other two are a complete and utter mystery. One that I will solve because now I determined. And it's good to have a goal.
My boss referred to this as a game. For me it's not so much a game as a grail. I hate leaving anything undone. Like, I cannot leave dishes in the sink or sing half of a line of song or return a half read book to the library or, well you get the idea. Before November 30th, I will have this done.
AND have a blast doing it too!
Wishing all of you a safe and fun weekend!
Let's see, what else have I been up to lately. Hmmmm. Well I know it isn't really exciting but I did replace the felts on all of the chairs in the house recently. Wow! Yeah, I know, Life in the snooze lane right?
It was long LONG over due. When we first bought the kitchen table and chairs and the family room set (basically the same chairs), one of the first things we did was to put those little felt roundie things on the bottom of all of the chairlegs.
I wasn't concerned about scratching up the floors. Not really. This house was built in 1962 and these are still the original tile floors. So they've been beaten to heck and back again. It was the noise. Everytime anyone would pull out a chair to sit down or stand up and push the chair back in, there would be that gawdawful screeching sound. Very nearly a fingernail-on-a-chalkboard kind of noise. Horrendous!
So rather than avoid moving the chairs or be traumatized by that terrible sound every day, we bought a little card of the round things and put them on the chairs. Didn't take long. It was a small package and there were just enough felts for the chairs we had. Perfect.
For about four years we enjoyed blissful silence. Nary a sound when a chair was either pushed or pulled. And then, about six months ago, we slowly began to notice occasionally a tiny bit of a screech again. I don't know if the felts wear out or what but it became clear very quickly that they were no longer doing their job.
The noises continued and got slowly louder and more annoying and oddly, we stopped noticing it. It's like that screechy sound whenever I open or close my ironing board. I'm so accustomed to it I just don't hear it anymore. But wow, anybody else who happens to be within ear shot sure does. Or a squeaky front door. Or a small barky dog. Or a whiney toddler. Or....well you know what I mean, those little noises that at first irritate and then eventually just become sort of like white noise.
I thought Tim felt the same way aBout it, but apparently not because recently a nice fellow driving the UPS truck dropped off a package at our house that held roughly a zillion felts of all different sizes. I didn't order it so Tim must have (or perhaps it was a neighbor whose dog was about to have a nervous breakdown over the noise) Subtle eh? Well I can take a hint.
So I got to work laying all of the chairs on their sides like little drunken dinosaurs. Then I peeled off the old nasty felts and stuck on some new ones.
And afterwards, once again, blissful silence reigns supreme as we pull out and push in the chairs. I spent a few moments just doing that with a big stupid smile on my face. Mission accomplished!
As I was putting the kit away I noticed some paperwork in the box. I turned out to be a set of instructions. Which obviously I didn't look at before I started. It was pretty straight forward and I had already applied the felts correctly. (yay me) But the thing that made me laugh was the suggestion that, even after the felts are applied, we should never push or pull the chair but only lift and place the chairs. What's that now?
What is the point of putting felts on the chairs if you are always going to lift and place them? And wait a minute, let's picture this. I'm sitting at the table, enjoying my meal and the conversation. But eventually we are all finished and are, therefore, ready to stand back up. How do I get out of the chair without pushing back first? Hire a very strong person to lift the chair with me in it? Or slither out the front of the chair while it's still pushed up to the table? Which would mean I would end up being underneath the table and so than I would have to....what...crawl out? Well that is just Ridiculous.
Nope, in this house we push and pull chairs and when I need to, I will again replace the felts.
What an exciting Life I lead!
In Monday's blogpost I mentioned this really cool rock that I found while Joy and I were hiking. The photo above is that rock. The reason I liked it so much was that little recessed area in the top. I read, awhile back, about how people are often thoughtful about putting out water for passing dogs in dishes on the ground, and for birds with bird baths, but they rarely think about water for smaller creatures like bees and butterflies and, I assume, lizards.
So, I read about it a little more. I saw that if you put marbles in a birdbath, bees can rest safely on the marbles while getting a drink on a hot day. And that in a very shallow bowl with very little water, butterflies will light to quench their thirst. It all sounded like a great idea to me. But I hadn't quite worked out the details.
I really did not want to invest in a birdbath. I've had them before and while yes, they do attract birds and it's fun to watch them splash around, cleaning it is a constant and weekly chore. At least weekly. Daily would be better. Why? Because birds don't just bath in the water, they poop their too. And bird poop is so smelllllllllllly. You absolutely have to keep up with cleaning it on the regular. Before I had a birdbath, I foolishly thought that it would be just a matter of refilling the bathwater which is a no biggie chore. Nope! It's putting on gloves and holding your breath and using a brush to scrub and then rinse thoroughly (cannot have soapy water in a birdbath) and then refill. Constantly.
On the other hand, I'm retired. I have the time. So I started looking around and didn't really see anything that appealed to me. Most of them are just the concrete pedestal and bowl thing. You need to have a good solid and very flat surface to place it (an additional purchase and effort) because it's heavy and will sink in the soil given half a chance. The birdbaths I found were different shapes and sometimes in the inside of the bowl was available in different colours but while they were all serviceable, none of them were "it".
I liked the idea of something that looked a little more, ummm, not to be too new age-y about it, but something more organic looking than most birdbaths. And maybe something smaller. Much smaller. I'm wanting to appeal to tiny creatures.
So when my eyes fell on this hunk of rock with that shallow little natural bowl in it my heart said, "Eureka!". I picked it up and showed Joy. "This is coming home with me today". She nodded, because she is always supportive and said, "Are you really going to carry that the entire rest of the hike?" I said enthusiastically "YES!" I'm sure that on the inside she rolled her eyes at me, but on the outside she said, "ok then" because she is the best sister ever.
We actually left the rock for the time being. We were not really all that far from the end of the trail anyway, so we could pick it up on the way back. But would we be able to fine it again? Yes! Of course we did. And Yes I did carry it back.
At some point I said, "I guess I'm done taking photos now because both hands are full" and I was fine with that. Until we saw a lizard shedding a layer of skin. Well heck, I absolutely need a photo of that! So I was sort of juggling the rock and the camera and Joy, very kindly, said, "Oh just give me the dang rock" so I did. And every time I found something else I absolutely positively needed to capture, she, again, babysat my rock for me.
Once home, I wondered where I would put it. I wanted it somewhere that I could see it. I soon realized that on the ground it would get lost in foliage. On top of the courtyard wall, it could fall off. Hmmmm. It was a predicament. In the end, I nestled it into a plant pot where the actual flowers have already gone by. A few tiny plants were added and a bubbled bit of glass and it's starting to look a bit like a fairy garden.
It was a time getting the rock properly leveled so the water wouldn't run right back out, but once I got it all settled in properly, the next issue was finding a proper vessel to tip water into it. It's so small you see. Just a dribble of water from a normal glass or pitcher about does it. Or overfills it and what's the point of that?
Then I remembered a tiny pitcher that I somehow came into possession of long ago and have dragged around the country with me over the years. I put my sunglasses by it so you can see how very small it is. And then the picture of the bottom because it looks fancy, "Royal Crownford, Staffordshire, England". La de freakin' dah!
At any rate, it turns out to be the perfect little pitcher for filling this watering hole. And fill it I do. Sometimes several times a day!
I have not yet seen any creatures actually drinking out of it, but I've seen several lizards in the plant pot and one butterfly taking off from the vicinity the instant I walked out the door. And the fact that when I check on it, often it is completely dry, leads me to believe that someone is using it. My new goal is to get a photo of some creature utilizing their new watering spot. I may never happen. But it's good to have a goal.
And in the meantime, it is a wonderful new addition to my potted garden (yay!)
And I am rather delighted with it!
I'm reasonably certain that I will be adding tiny things to my little fairy garden. I don't know what yet, but I can just tell that it's going to happen.
And while I haven't yet seen a butterfly or a bee or a lizard drinking out of it, I did see this cute little guy cruising nearby.
By the way it's fine with me if you think I'm foolish or fanciful or silly. I don't care at all. Just now I am absolutely tickled to bits with my new rock/waterbowl/fairy garden and that is the most important part.
Yes, our Christmas Lights are up. Yes, I know it's only mid-November. Yes, I'm aware that it's kind of early to put up Christmas Lights. But you know what? I don't give a ratz patootie.
Normally I get around to putting up the lights sometime after the tree goes up and that happens often just in time for Christmas itself. I make up for the late decorating by leaving things up 'til mid-January ish. It doesn't really make sense but that's what almost always happens.
It's such a busy time of year. Usually. Lots of events. Normally. Lots of gatherings. Traditionally. Lots of bustling and baking and wrapping and shopping and festivities and, well this year will be completely different. As we all know.
Only small gatherings are recommended, if any at all. Therefore there won't be the piles of dinners and parties so there is no need to be spending my days cooking and baking and concocting marvelous and festive special meals. As far as the usual massive cookie baking marathon goes, well lots of folks are, probably wisely, avoiding home made goodies both given and received for fear to transmitting cooties of all sorts. So I'll be cutting severely on the amount of cookie baking. Shopping is even scaled back to avoid too much face-time in crowds (even with masks), less stuff to choose from in the stores (it's true), and I just keep thinking it would be wise to just spend less $$$ this year just in general.
We were in Walmart over the weekend and I was shocked to see almost no holiday festive clothing in the women's section. Usually there are racks upon racks of fancy tops and dresses or silly, fun sweatshirts and tee-shirts that are Christmas themed. Saturday there was one lonely sparkly red top. That's it. Just the one. Wow. Big Difference.
And no special events. When I looked at the local area calendar of events, it's just a long line of "cancelled, cancelled, cancelled". I get it. I understand it. I even support it. But dang. It's kind of hard to whip up a little Christmas Spirit. I don't care how many versions of Deck the Halls are blared over the intercom system in the grocery store, I'm not humming along. At least I haven't been so far.
And I didn't like how I was feeling. Normally I am a veritable Christmas Elf. Obnoxiously filled with Christmas Spirit and Good Cheer! This year, I was feeling a little more like the Grinch. Not a way I like feeling. I wanted to feel at least a little bit like my old self. So I started watching Christmas Movies on the Hallmark Channel. It was a good start. I read a few Christmas Books. And I found that I began to feel a wee bit lighter in my soul. And I asked myself, " What would make you smile?" And the answer was, "Putting up the lights" And so we did.
And it worked too. Just seeing them makes me happy.
By the way, We are not the first one to have our lights up either. The city already has all of their Decorations up so up and down the Avenue is a double line of palm trees lit up to beat the band. Looks pretty awesome too.
People might think I'm crazy and I am fine with that. I'm a smiling kind of crazy. And in this year of nothing at all "normal" all of the rules have been tossed right out the window anyway. And so I'm taking the opportunity to write my own dang rules. And rule number one, this holiday season is, "do what makes you smile". Lights make me smile.
Let's see how long I can hold out until I put up the tree. Anyone want to take bets on that?
Well hello there! I know I slacked off and didn't post on Friday but that's because Joy and I did a photo safari! Woohoo!
Our Friday hike was just after the big Tropical Storm and we knew the preserves would be too wet and mucky even for us, and we are fairly intrepid. So we decided to do the Caspersen Beach Trail instead. I will take wet sand over boggy mud any day.
As we suspected, there was a lot of deadfall. Not just fronds and branches but full trees down. Wow. We did have to do a little bit of slogging through wet in low spots and clambering over downed trees here and there but we are up to the task.
And we found some unusual and interesting things that the storm washed ashore. Things like lumber and buoys and concrete blocks! Not things you normally see on a nature hike
But we also saw some amazing things! Like for instance, more spiderwebs than I think we've seen before. Was there something about the storm that kicked them all into overdrive? Or maybe it was just the way the sun hit the dew covered webs that made us notice them and they've been there all along? I have no idea. Get ready for more photos of spider webs than you ever wanted to see:
Some of the secondary trails lead to the beach and we do not like to leave any trail unhiked. So often, we left the primary trail and spent a little time on the beach. There is never a problem watching the water and the seabirds. And this time we found some pretty great driftwood and a few crabs scuttling along too.
By far the most surprising thing that we saw on this hike were tortoises. Lots of them. We must have seen a dozen at least. Our best guess is that their homes got flooded in the storm forcing them up and out. While I'm sorry about the damage to their little houses, it was a delight to see so many of them. Some were on the sides of the trails but many of them were just slowly plodding along the same trails that we were hiking. Most of them didn't seem to care one way or the other about us, but one of them dived right back into his hole at the first glimpse of us. I had no idea we were so frightening! Yes we take photos of them, but from a respectful distance, I promise!
We did see some other creatures worth noting, although very few of them were birds this time. No idea where they were all hiding that day.
There were not a lot of flowers either. I presume that the storm destroyed a lot of them. But there were a few survivors. A little bedraggled but still alive! And, now that I think about it, these aren't just photos of flowers, there are leaves, flowers and berries.
So I guess that's pretty much it for the photo safari report. Oh wait! There was also this awesome rock that I found. But I'll save that story for another day.
Soooo Tropical Storm Eta has gone on her merry way to wreck havoc elsewhere. We actually did well through the storm. Although the lights flickered throughout the day, we never actually completely lost power. So that's a good thing.
And while we saw videos of crazy waves and flooding at the jetty (which the city wisely closed) and I'm sure there was probably some flooding in other low lying areas, we seem to be high and dry. Which is funny because technically our house sits in a flood zone. We are grateful.
The news reported this morning that the storm made landfall an hour or so north of us. And while my heart goes out to anyone affected by the storm - flooding, wind damage, power outages - I am counting my lucky (thus far) stars that it didn't happen here.
I went out early this morning to start cleaning up. All of the really big stuff I picked up and hauled around to the side of the house for the lawn guys to take away at their next visit. The little stuff, I swept back into the lawn. Yeah, I'm lazy.
And while I was dragging branches and fronds out of the shrubbery along the fence on one side of the house I found a large American flag. Ok that explains the big empty metal pole in front of the house,
Yesterday, of course, was Veterans day. And the day before that was the Marine Corps Birthday. Two rather patriotic days of note. And, you may recall, way back in the early spring, we signed up for a flag service. It's all run by Veterans who come around and put up flags in front of their members homes (and then of course take them back down afterward) on days like Flag Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day. I assumed, with the tropical storm and all, that nobody would put up a flag. And of course I didn't check. There was no reason to be outside in the torrential rain and driving wind yesterday so I stayed inside where I was warm and dry.
To my surprise, this morning, while on clean up duty, I found the empty metal pole. Hmmm. Did they start to put up the flags and then changed their minds? I didn't give it a lot more thought until I found that poor mangled flag in the bushes.
So I untangled it, shook as much dirt as possible off, gently folded it and put it in a zippy bag and then attached that bag with a twisty tie to the pole with a note (explaining why it was in a bag) for the guys when they come by to pick up. Probably later today. Poor flag.
Anyway, so that's it. Back to "normal". Whatever that means. The storm is gone. Hopefully it is the very last one for us in this exceptionally bizarre year. Honestly, at this point, no matter what happens: A Blizzard in Miami, An Alien spacecraft landing, the discovery of a worm hole to the Land of Oz, having a lightening strike on my car or winning the lottery, I don't think I will terribly surprised. It's just been an entire year of weird. If something is bizarre or strange or unusual, or unexpected, this is the year for it.
I'm pretty sure this is it for me this week. Joy and I are going to at least attempt to hike tomorrow so I will wish you a wonderful weekend and look forward to seeing you again on Monday!
Today is Wednesday. Normally on Wednesdays, Joy and I are out hiking through some preserve, often getting lost, taking a zillion photographs, chatting and just enjoying spending time together. And we've been pretty darned lucky weather-wise. During the entire rainy season, our adventures have not once been called on account of rain. Until today. Dang.
The weather report in the above photo is wrong. It suggests a 61% chance of rain. Not true. It is a 100% chance of rain and it's coming down hard too. It's not just an ordinary rain storm either. It's a tropical storm. I'm not absolutely clear on what the difference is to be honest. But I'm sure there is one.
Since this is November, it feels as if it tropical storms and hurricanes should be off the list of possibilities by now, doesn't it? We've only lived here 4 1/2 years so it's not as if we were old timers who have seen it all, but this is the latest by far that we've seen any tropical storm activity. Generally speaking, by early October, it's over and done with. Which is just fine and dandy with us.
It's been a super busy hurricane/tropical storm activity year anyway so I guess it's not a complete surprise (to others, it was total surprise to us) but the rain that's beating against the windows right now is Tropical Storm Eta (pronounced Ada). And according to the weather app on my phone, will be upgraded to a Cat 1 hurricane by the time it makes landfall. Supposedly that event will take place tomorrow and a bit north of us.
It's been the strangest dang tropical storm we've ever seen or even heard of. First of all, it's so late to the party. That last storm of this magnitude hereabouts that arrived in November was more than twenty years ago. Secondly, the track of this storm is nearly impossible for even the experts to predict. It's been staggering around in the Gulf like a drunk, first heading in one direction and then another and then at the last second wandering off again. And thirdly, it's been hanging out first in the Central America waters and now in the Gulf for freakin' ever. It's moving so dang slowly. Which leads to the last point which is that since it's been so on again, off again, high/low, heading west/heading east and nobody knows what the heck is going to happen, nobody is really prepared.
Usually we have at least a week to secure things, pick up necessities at the store, make sure we have batteries, fill sand bags, make a plan. This time, nope.
Monday and Tuesday (which were also on again/off again storm predicted) were a bust. The sun broke through the clouds enough yesterday that Tim and I were able to do our noonwalk at the usual time. It was gloomy all day Monday but the rain was just periodic sprinkle. Today is completely different.
I understand that the jetty is closed today due to flooding and high waves. There are currently 7 different weather warnings on my phone, two of which are tornado watches (!!!) And meanwhile, I'm watching the wind blow palm fronds around, I see the rain falling steadily and it's cozy and comfy in the house with zero plans because normally I'm out hiking for most of the day Wednesdays and then editing photos for the rest of it. I'm not absolutely certain what to do with myself on a non-hiking, non-photography Wednesday! Hmmmmm. I need to give this some thought.
I'm sure I'll think of something. I will say this. Last night's sunset was spectacular. I only saw it from the kitchen window but it was still beautiful. It's something that I've noticed since we moved here. The night before a storm, the sky is always exceptionally lovely.
My instinct is to spend the day either baking and/or reading. But then, those are my go-to's on sunny days too and cloudy days and snowy days and.....well you get the idea. Basically I cannot blame that on the storm. And I'm certain that there is something I needs to be done that will keep me busy all day. I'll figure it out. Eventually.
Meanwhile, wherever you are, Stay dry, Stay Warm, Stay Safe and enjoy your day!
I have a funny story to tell you. Well at least, I was amused.
The above photo is of my legs. Chicken Legs they've been called coz they are scrawny. You can see how much wider the legs of my shorts are compared to my pipe cleaner legs. But you know what? I don't care a bit how they look. My legs are strong and they get me where I need to go.
I used to be a runner. Did you know that? Periodically through my life, I have, willingly, intentionally, strapped on my sneakers and hit the road (or the track) and just, well, ran. There is something about the rhythm and the mindlessness of it that is soothing. I don't have to think about it, my body is kind of like a machine and once it knows what to do, it just does it. Which allowed my brain to wander off. I solved problems, I had inspirations, I answered questions and sometimes I came up with new ones. I made plans, I organized and composed music, letters and sometimes short stories, all while running.
I don't run anymore, but I walk a lot. Oh, every once in awhile, I get a wild hair and break into a run. But not often and not far. Still walking feels good. I genuinely enjoy it. I walk to town, I walk all over the island, I walk on the beach. I walk my errands instead of driving them whenever possible and of course I hike with Joy regularly. And I rely, once again, on my good strong legs to get the job done. They have never let me down.
Until last night.
It was an ordinary night and I was sound asleep. Well that part isn't so ordinary is it? Usually I'm up and down throughout the night desperately trying to sleep. but for whatever reason, last night, at last at the moment of this story, I was deeply asleep. In fact, I was so deeply asleep that I didn't fully wake up when I realized that I needed to pee.
In the way that we do in the middle of the night, I came just awake enough to realize that I needed to go to the bathroom. So of course, I slid out of bed and began the short walk to the john. I took one step forward and promptly fell on the floor. I mean I just collapsed in a heap. What on earth?
I don't know how or why, but my right leg was fully asleep. Completely totally and entirely snoozed out. Once I realized the problem, I woke up a bit more and between using my left leg and grabbing the side of the bed, I pulled myself back up to a standing position. I took a deep breath, steadied myself and attempted to step forward once again.
I felt myself collapsing and grabbed the bed post so I didn't go all the way down this time. I began to giggle at the ridiculousness of it all. But Tim was still sound asleep and I didn't want to wake him so I tried to stifle the giggle. I also hauled myself fully upright once again, weight on the left leg only and debated how to proceed.
Grabbing the wall with my left hand, I kind of lurched forward from the wall to the door handle to the door frame, banging into everything in my way and staying upright through luck and sheer determination. So here's the picture: giggling, stifling, lurching, banging, grabbing, collapsing and all the while, needing to pee. By the time I reached the bathroom I just full on right out loud began to laugh. By the time I finally wiped the final laugh tears from my eyes, my leg had woken up sufficiently to get me back to bed, safely.
As I snuggled back into my comfy little nest I remembered something that happened way back when I was a kid living in one of the California houses. I recalled waking up and being surprised that I was the only one awake. My parents were always very early risers and this was the first time that I was the only one awake. It was a strange feeling. I wandered around the house feeling a little Twilight Zone-ish. Finally I walked to the doorway of my parents room. I just stood there, quietly, not sure what to do when my dad woke up. Like most parents, he had kid ESP. Almost all parents just know when their kid is in need.
First he blinked at me and said, "Are you ok?" Then he must have realized how much sunlight was shining around the curtains because he grabbed his watch on the beside table and squinted at the face. The time expressed on the watch must have been alarming because he threw back the covers and leaped out of bed and proceeded to just crumbled onto the floor. My mother, who woke up a split second after he did and had already sat up, blinking owlishly around the room, saw him disappear from her sight when his legs went out from under him, began to laugh. She laughed until she howled.
The entire time she was laughing she was apologizing for laughing and between gasps and guffaws, attempted to ask him if he was ok. Me, the little kid, baffled by this strange morning, went back to my room so I have no idea what transpired after that. I can only assume that eventually my dad's legs woke up and he did what he always does before heading out the door for his workaday. And my mother eventually got her laughter under control enough to get my sister and I up and out to school.
History has a way of repeating itself, or so I'm told. The only difference here was that it was only my right leg that refused to wake up where in my dad's case, it was both legs. And while my mother began laughing immediately, Tim didn't laugh at me until I told him the story just about an hour ago.
Still funny. Still giggling.
Hope you have an excellent day!
.Apologies for the quality of the above photo. I cannot seem to take a photo of anything on a computer screen correctly. You get the jist of it right? I found yet another set of "rules" for women and this one has to do with our ages.
"10 Things You Should Probably Not Wear If You Are Over 50" is the title. Hmmmm. At least they gave us a 'probably'. But the mere idea that someone has decided what women over 50 should and should not wear is not merely annoying it's ridiculous. Somehow by crossing the line from age 50 to age 51, we have become, somehow, offensive by our very existence. The very least that we can do to mitigate this, is to be an invisible as possible. I'm irritated.
But let's take a look at the list, shall we? Perhaps I'm leaping to unfounded conclusions (but probably not). I've copy/pasted directly from the list in Bold. My comments are in regular nonbold font.
#1. Overdone makeup. Women can start to look washed out as they age. Don’t compensate by piling on the bright colors or you’ll look like a drag queen. Heavy foundation falls into the cracks & red lipstick bleeds. Lighten up. You’ll look years younger and your pillowcases won’t look like a four-color Rorschach test every morning. Choose matte shades in neutral colors like grey and taupe, but avoid frosted and shimmer make-up as it just gets stuck in the cracks.
Okay. First off, yes I've seen some appalling make-up looks out there. More horror movie clown like than actual normal human being make-up. So that is not an age specific issue. Nobody of any age looks good made up like a clown. Unless of course, you actually are a clown. So I honestly don't think this should be an over 50 thing. This should be an everyone thing. And the avoiding shimmer crack? Why? Special events, formal events, evening events just beg for a little sparkle. Why not! Oh and the pillowcase that looks like a Rorschach test? Wash your face before bed. Everyone knows that. Again, all ages wash your face! So I'm taking this one off the list.
#2. Avoid excessive cleavage: While being over 50 doesn’t mean you can’t wear something sexy, the enemy of women over 50 isn’t time, it is gravity. No matter how fit you are, knees, armpits, and cleavage will reveal you age. When it comes to cleavage, a plunging neckline can come off as desperate and attention-seeking. Instead, leave some to the imagination and flaunt what the endless hours at the gym help maintain.
This one is a little mystifying because they initially were discussing cleavage and then they wander off to knees and armpits. If your cleavage is exposing your armpits and your knees, then, yes, it's probably too deep a plunge, I agree. In all honesty, my legs, which includes my knees, are probably the best looking part of my body. In the summer, here in Florida, when it's hot and humid, I'm by gawd wearing shorts. If you don't like it, don't look at me. And armpits? Nobody has good looking armpits. That is just stupid.
#3. Think “sensual” rather than sexy: Get dressed to make an entrance, not sneak in quietly through the back door. Just because you’ve hit 50, doesn’t mean you’re invisible. Show of your femininity with luxe, rich fabrics like silk, satin, and cashmere. Use fur details and deep colors (champagne, violet and hunter green) to channel a powerful female vibe that’s sensual but not overtly sexual.
Furs? Ooooo the PETA people aren't going to be big fans of this one. I actually really love what they call "luxe" fabrics. But it's not very practical for daily wear. Anything that has to be dry cleaned only gets worn on special occasions. And the colours we are "allowed" to wear? They are fine. But I'll be damned if I will be restricted to a certain pallette of colours on someone else's say so. I am capable of choosing my own colours, thank you very much. And by the way, none of them will be either champagne or violet. Not because they are bad colours but because I look terrible in them.
#4. Baggy & oversize clothes. Baggy clothes don’t hide middle-age weight gain. If you could fit a hammock up under your shirt, I guarantee you that you look heavier and older than your years. They draw attention to it by suggesting you’re actually filling up all that space. Find a style that flatters your shape, then buy every color they make. Don’t wear large shapeless clothes – they just make you look bigger. Belts will give you definition even if you don’t have a waist.
I am actually on board with this one. But it's not just a truth for women over 50, it's true for everyone! Wearing saggy baggy clothing is not flattering on anyone. However, there are days when I just don't want my clothes touching me. I don't why, but it's true for me. So my objection to this one is only that I resent it being a truth specifically for older women when in all actuality, it's true for everyone. (even though I break this rule all of the time)
#5. Neutral colors are the scourge of the middle-aged. If you insist on dark colors, then at least choose navy over black, and cream over white, as monochrome is too harsh on older skins.
I like all colours but all colours, or at least all shades of all colours, do not look good on me. This is true for everyone and for every age. And I have to add that this was written in the most snobby tone, "If you insist on dark colours..." makes it sound like I'm a small child having a tantrum over not being allowed an extra cookie. Some women look beautiful in black or white, some look better in navy or cream, at every age. It's much too broad a statement.
#6. No need for unreasonable footwear: Ditch the heels for a couple of good pairs of sling backs and flats. Besides, “stripper heels” should be left to the 20-something-year-olds. These costume shoes are impractical additions to a mature wardrobe and result more often in blisters than fashion envy. Classic shapes in well-cut materials will suit you better.
Ditch the heels? Never! Of course my heels aren't so-called, "stripper heels" they are gorgeous, quality, beautiful, well made (and fairly costly) high heeled shoes. I don't wear them every day but I wear them when I want to. I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with sling-backs or flats, I wear those most every day, but there is also nothing wrong with wearing heels that fit properly, that a person can walk or stand for long periods of time in comfortably, and that look smashing and make you feel like a million bucks.
#7. You’re never too old to wear Jeans. Denim are ageless and suit every shape and size. Wear with a crisp white shirt and trench coat for a classic look.
Finally! A rule I can get behind. And it's funny because I read another list not long ago that talked about how women over 30 ought to avoid jeans. And I believe I laughed out loud and said, "Never Gonna Happen". I love my jeans. I will wear them forever. But I am now laughing at this particular rule saying to wear jeans with a crisp white shirt. Ummm, See Rule #5 about avoid white and choosing cream instead. Now they are in violation of their own rules. If they cannot follow them, why should anyone else?
#8. Crop tops and hot pants If you spend countless hours in the gym, it could be tempting to sport trendy crop tops. But the fact is that you can feel sexy without revealing too much. Wearing hot pant after 50 doesn’t reflect a confident, composed woman with a style to envy. Save it for the beach.
Well, hmmm. On the one hand, I think that everyone should wear whatever they like. On the other hand, I also kind of feel that crop tops and so-called shorty shorts probably look best on girls under the age of consent. I will leave this one at do as you please, but I won't be wearing either one of these things anytime soon. Shorts, yes. Shorty shorts, no. Crop tops? Nope. Nobody wants to see that.
#9. Your daughter’s clothes and accessories: Arm candy, nail glitter, and animal print anything are trendy traps that substantially age their victims rather than keep them looking young and hip. Your teenage daughter may be rocking the looks, but combining knockoff knick-knacks leads to a gaudy disaster.
Not certain what "arm candy" refers to here. It used to mean having a very attractive date (of either gender) so I am baffled at this reference. Clearly I'm out of touch with current colloquialisms. But nail glitter? Go for it. Why not? Have fun. Animal prints? I see that in high fashion magazines all of the time. And often on very well dressed mature women too so that one is bogus. Trends? Well, Trends are always very short-lived. I would never invest heavily in trendy fashion anyone. But I think someone can choose classic wear most of the time and participate a tiny bit in trends successfully. Otherwise, we would all still be dressing like Laura Ingalls out on the prairie.
#10. Classic and minimalist always a good idea: Classic shapes always work. For example, wrap dresses, a belted trench coat, peacoat, button-up white shirt, and tunic-length tops will flatter for years to come. Go for a minimalist style with functional designs and details. Think zippers instead of gold buttons and clean lines that flatter your natural shape.
Personally, I have always gravitated toward classic clothing mostly for the longevity of my wardrobe. By purchasing timeless classics of good quality, I have clothing that lasts for years without looking hopelessly out of style. But minimalist? I think that is a matter of personal taste and expression. Zippers instead of buttons? What the heck is wrong with buttons? I have nothing against zippers but I would never automatically dismiss an outfit with buttons just because of the buttons. That's just plain silly.
Here's my rules. Wear clothing you like. Choose garments that make you feel good about yourself. Select things that are comfortable. And the most important rule of all: Be Who You Are.
I strongly resent and resist any rules that are so arbitrary and ridiculous. It feels as if the writer is trying to lump all women over 50 into one category and factory process us into looking one certain way so that we are easier to be identified and then, even more easily, dismissed. I feel as if they are demanding that we be invisible. That we never call attention to ourselves or stand out from the crowd. Simply because we crossed some invisible line that has to do with our birthdates. Utter nonsense.
Decide who you are, and then be that person.
I don't know if you remember or not, but last week I mentioned that Joy and I finally thought to help ourselves to a map of the Mabry Carlton Preserve which is one of our favourite hiking spots. The above photo is part of that map. And while looking at the actual map instead of wandering around aimlessly (which seems to be our style) we learned a number of things we didn't know even though we've been hiking this preserve for quite some time now.
One of the most intriguing things that we discovered has to do with the bottom part of the map. I don't know if you can see it but along the very bottom of the map page are other preserves. What? We had no idea these places even existed! Naturally our first instinct was to go check them out! Of Course! New Places to Hike! WooHoo!
And then, almost immediately following that excitement, we discovered that the entrances to those preserves are off of a private, gated dirt road. Well Poop. We went from a high to a low in record time. Ratz. So we kind of struck those grand plans off of our list and instead got excited about heading out on some of the other trails within the boundaries of Mabry Carlton Preserve and that's what we set out to do on Thursday.
It was early in the morning of another gorgeous day when we hit the road.
Once we hit the trails, in our own inimitable fashion, we got turned around fairly quickly (even with the map....we are hopeless). We make emotional decisions I suppose. When the question is, "Should we A) stick to the known trail and go where we originally planned or should we B) take this intriguing new trail that we've never seen before, the answer is always B! Always!
After awhile we found an adorable little bridge that headed off trail. Naturally we crossed it. I think it's a rule. When you come to a cute little wooden bridge you absolutely positively have to take it. At the end of that bridge was an intriguing little gate. And as it turns out, that rule about going over cute little bridges has an addendum that requires us going through charming little wooden gates too. (if they are unlocked of course)
Beyond the little gate was a wide open dirt road and on the other side of the dirt road was another wooden gate, also unlocked. So yes, we went through. Of course we did. We had to! It's the law!
There were signs on both gates. Oh Me Oh My! We accidentally had stumbled onto the super secret entrance to one of those other preserves! Wow! (I just now noticed that the sign says, "Carlton Reserve not Preserve". I wonder who it is reserved for. Or does someone have reservations about Carlton. Hmmmmmm.
It was a preserve within a preserve. Kind of. And it was beautiful! Most of the trails were very wide and nicely maintained others were narrow and wild. But all of it was so green and lush and beautiful.
However we soon noticed something very odd. There were no birds. Not a single solitary bird. No bird sounds, no birds zooming overhead, what the heck? It just made no sense. And then we started seeing more and more of something that makes us uncomfortable. Signs of feral hogs. Wild piggies. Not nice creatures. Joy and I love wildlife, we respect it, and believe all of it to be beautiful. However, whenever possible we avoid the oinkers because they can be dangerous and unpredictable. The deeper we got into this preserve the more of it we saw and too much of it was not old pig signage but recent. We took our very first opportunity to hike right back out. Whew!
Safely back in Carlton Preserve we resumed our hiking, picture taking, wandering and occasionally we even pulled out the map to try to figure out where we were. It was a great dragonfly picture day so of course I have a few dragonfly photos to share with you:
And I have some other photos too. Of course I do! You knew you weren't going to get away that easily!
So that was pretty much it. The preserve within a preserve which was a wonderful surprise and some decent photos! Huzzah! Another Great Hike!
Not sure where we are heading next week, but you can absolutely positively count on the fact that I will be here to tell you about it afterwards.
Meanwhile, everyone please have a great weekend. By no you know my policy, "Have Fun, Be Safe.
Hugs all 'round
'Look what Tim found! An Arrowhead! Wow! He spied it earlier this week when we were doing the noonwalk so it's not as if we were hiking through the woods and found it there in what would seem to be it's natural habitat. Nope he picked it up from where it lay, right in the middle of the street. So it's probably not an ancient historic arrowhead or anything. And there is no obvious explanation for how it happened to be in the middle of Bayshore Dr. And yet there it was.
I really don't care what's it's true provenance is, I still think it's exceedingly cool. And naturally my mind wanders to all sorts of possibilities. Come on, if you see an arrowhead doesn't your imagination immediately go to Native Americans from hundreds of years ago? Mine surely does.
I don't know a great deal about the Southwest Florida Indigenous People but I am aware of the Calusa Indians who lived here. They were the inhabitants of a large portion of Southwest Florida for a very long time and their influence spread throughout Florida, even to the east coast. They were a very fierce people who fought off European invasion successfully for many years. The word Calusa is said to mean, "Fierce People" and they were. In fact, the famous Juan Ponce de Leon was killed by a Calusa attack.
As I read further I learned that the Calusa subsisted mostly on net fishing. The garbage heaps that they left behind, called shell middens, are made up primarily of shell and fish bones and things made out of shells and fish bones. And one of the things that they made from shell is projectile points for arrows. It seems that they did not make arrow points from rock. So this is not a Calusa Indian Arrowhead.
Ratz. That's kind of disappointing. But I read further. The Calusa did trade with other Native Americans so I suppose it's possible that it came from a different group?
Or more likely it was some kid who read about making arrowheads and tried it out for themselves. Dang, talk about bringing me down to earth with a bang. It was a lot more fun, more romantic, more entertaining to think that Tim had discovered a bit of history, an artifact. Not for any supposed money value. Not even close. Just for the novelty of it. Novel to me anway. I never owned an arrowhead before. (Tim found it and promptly handed it to me which makes it now mine)
So now it sits on my desk and I find myself often picking it up and running my thumb across the surface of it while I am reading an email or composing a blogpost or listening to an interview through my headphones. It seems to be the perfect fidget for me.
Donuts! Or Doughnuts! Whichever spelling you prefer. It makes no difference to me how you spell it, donuts are a wonderful treat. And homemade donuts are especially delectable. Last Friday I was in a donut making mood and this was the result. Oh me, oh my!
I hadn't made donuts in a very long time. Certainly not the entire time we've lived in Florida which is now 4 1/2 years. And if I made them in Colorado it certainly wasn't more than one time. Any baking or cooking required a little extra thought there since there was the altitude issues to deal with and, if I recall correctly, the donuts I made that one time in the ten years we lived there, were not a rousing success.
But when we lived in Connecticut I made them often. It was a great chilly morning kind of treat. Of course back then, I had a houseful of hungry boys and their equally hungry friends to help eat them. And that they did. Gobbled 'em up by the handful. If I managed to snare one donut for my own indulgence I was lucky. (Which, in reflection, was probably a good thing. Donuts are tasty but not exactly a health food)
I am not certain why the urge to make donuts suddenly came over me again after all these years but I'm glad it did. I wasn't certain that I even remembered how to do it but what the heck, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?
Luckily, it all started to come back to me and the process went well. Messy but well. The donuts, a nice old fashioned cake donut, turned out exactly as I'd hoped and we enjoying them tremendously. Once we had eaten our fill, I bagged and froze the rest to be enjoyed again another time. It was, as I'd hoped, a rare treat :)
The recipe I used was the one my Nana used to make and it was not original to her. The recipe is entitled, "Grammie York's Best Donuts". Grammie York is a mystery woman. Not a relative, there are no 'Yorks' in our family tree. And I can only assume that she was older than my Nana since she was known as "Grammie", And it got us to thinking about how old this recipe actually is.
My Nana was born in the 1890's. I want to say 1896 but I'm not sure that is correct. If this Grammie York was considered an old lady when Nana was young, then it's possible that Grammie York was thirty of forty years older than Nana which would mean Grammie was born in the 1850's or 60's. That's Civil War era, folks. It's possible that the same recipe I made last week was also enjoyed by Civil War Soliders. Holy Cats. And of course, it's also reasonable to presume that Grammie York did not originate this recipe on her own, who knows where she got it or how far back this recipe actually goes!
Well that got us to thinking - of course. How old is the "donut"? According to the admittedly quick research that I did, the donut in America came from Dutch settlers of the early 1800's who landed in what is now New York (Grammie York....coincidence?) It wasn't exactly the same as the donuts we know now, but similar. It was then called ab "okykoek' or oily cake. It was a sweet round fried cake with no hole in the middle.
No one knows for sure but the story goes that a Maine ship's captain, named Hanson Crockett Gregory, is responsible for the hole in the middle. It's a wonderful story and I hope it's true. According to the tale, in 1948 Captain Gregory, who was (at the time) a 16 year old crewman onboard a lime-trading ship, wasn't happy with the quality of the donuts that were served aboard the vessel. He described them as being fried around the edges but raw in the middle and the raw bits soaked up extra fat making them fairly indigestible. He wondered if putting a hole in the center would help fry the center bit as well. He claims to have taken the lid off of a pepperbox to cut the hole. And while it wasn't perfect, the result was a great improvement. So much so that he asked a tinsmith to fashion a proper donut cutter with a center hole.
When he returned to Camden Maine after his journey, he showed his mother the trick with his newly fashioned device. She was delighted with the result and shared plates of the improved donut with friends and family as far away as Rockland Maine. It took off like wildfire from there.
Now I must add here that my own Nana, from whom I got this recipe, was also an old Mainer. Her turf was Castine Maine. Camden, where Captain Hanson Gregory lived, was only 53 miles away and both towns are coastal Maine. My Nana's husband - Captain Ray Howard - was also a ships captain. so I'm seeing a possibility here of this recipe being, perhaps, one of the originals of Captain Gregory. Kind of exciting.
It seems that not only is it a yummy recipe and an old recipe, it's also a recipe with a great story attached and an interesting history. So yes! That was very fun. And Tasty.
Yet another adventure in the Humphreys Household.
This past weekend was kind of a busy one wasn't it? It was the last day of October and the first day of November. There was that damned time change (grump grump grump) and of course, Halloween, such as it was. That's a lot for just two little days to handle!
The change over from one month to another is pretty easy. It only requires me flipping a page on my desk calendar and remembering that it's a different month anytime I am required to write (or type) the date. 11 instead of 10. So that part is pretty simple.
The time change humph. Well that's something else again. Of course the physical changing of clocks is much easier than it used to be. The computers and our phones change automatically. But the ones in our cars, the microwave and the stove have to be changed manually. Tim does that because if he doesn't, I won't. I just leave it as is and mentally add or substract an hour (whichever way it needs to be) once a year. Yeah, I know, lazy. Actually the clock in the car I drive doesn't even work anymore so that one doesn't need to be changed again ever! Yay!
I admit it's great to have that extra hour of theoretical sleep every fall. And of course it's kind of nice to wake up to sunshine once again instead of darkness. But wow, it is so much darker so much earlier at the end of the day now and that part I am not thrilled about. Nor am I a fan of the hunger confusion in my tummy. My belly growls at me and says, "Hey lady, how about some food down here! It's dinner time!" and I say, "sorry the time changed and you have to wait". An argument ensues. It's not pretty.
Honestly I just don't see the point. Why are we artificially changing time ? Can someone explain this to me? I cannot possibly be the only person who hates this. Why are we still doing this? Oh well, whatever. I'm sure in a few months I will have adapted. (mutter mutter mutter.)
And then there was Halloween. Sigh. I was pleased to see that some folks still bothered to decorate for the holiday. I took a few photos around town, some in the daylight some at night to show you:
And at first I was thinking, "Halloween is going to be kind of weird this year". Yes, most costumes require masks, but the wrong kind. And the whole social distancing thing certainly doesn't lend itself to gatherings of any sort. So I was pretty sure there would be no parties, no parades and probably no little dressed up kids going door to door in their adorable costumes singing out Trick or Treat! Weird for sure.
And then I realized that Halloween is supposed to be weird. If there was one word to sum up the intent of Halloween, 'Weird' would probably be it. It'll just be a different sort of weird. So ok. I suppose weird is the word. And I was correct. No parties, no parades and no Trick-or-treaters at all. I set up a display with a big "help yourself" sign and a bowl of candy but nobody came by. I expected it but it was still disappointing.
So the weirdest Halloween on record has come and gone. It's a new day of a new week of a new month and now Thanksgiving and Christmas are on the horizon. I think I will put up the Christmas Tree early this year. Why not. It's been such a strange year that normal has gone right out the window. At least an early Christmas tree will make me smile :)
It's two weeks late but finally Autumn has arrived here in Venice Florida.
Oh there were a few false starts earlier just to tease us way back in September. A day here and there when the temps were milder and the humidity lower and we began to believe that maybe summer would be over early for a change this year. But nope. The temperature rose again and dashed that hope in a hurry.
And then it happened again earlier in October. For quite a few days in a row it was suddenly a little cooler out, the air felt drier and there was a tinge of cooler air in the breeze when the wind blew. And we thought, well, it's on time. And then it warmed up and became a little more humid once again.
But this time, it's for real. Better late than never I suppose. It's a welcome change. The windows are open all over the house and I'm wearing a shirt with sleeves and seriuosly considering making either donuts or cinnamon rolls today. Very Autumnish.
And I have to laugh at myself because earlier this week, in conversation with a friend back in Colorado, I learned that not only had it snowed a lot in the Mile High State over that weekend but in the exact moment that she was speaking to me, her thermometer was registering a whopping 9 degrees. That's 9. One less than 10, one more than 8. She said it was, and I quote, "a little chilly". The funny part is that as she is saying that to me, it was 76 degrees here and I was wearing a cardigan sweater because I was feeling, "a little chilly" too.
My conclusion was that if I was in Colorado at 9 degrees now I would simply freeze to death and that would be the end of it. Or rather me, I suppose.
I know that it's all relative. We all know that. Einstein proved it to be true. But it still kind of wows me when it reveals itself in my life over and over again.
And we adapt. I'm good at adapting. I've lived in a lots of different places with lots of different kinds of weather.
I was born in Chicago, a place with notoriously wicked winters. Also lived in Missouri which was not an improvement winter-wise. Connecticut? Cold, grey, snowy, icey.....check, check, check, check and Colorado which can have snow literally any day of the year. So I've done the wintery winter thing. I know how to dress for it. I used to own long underwear and I totally get dressing in layers.
But I've also lived in Southern California, Texas and now Florida. Not so wintery. And I know how to do that too. Wearing shorts with a sweatshirt feels perfectly normal to me here. But so does being cold enough to put on long pants, long sleeved shirts and closed toed shoes before the mercury dips below 65 degrees because I'm uncomfortably cool.
I suppose we can just say that I have adjusted.
I confess that I sometimes miss the pretty autumn leaves and that brisk little bite to the nose that is the perfect excuse for drinking my weight in hot chocolate (heavy on the marshmallows). And I will freely admit that few things are as pretty as brand new snow with the sun sparkling on it immediately after a storm.
BUT I do not miss shoveling snow. I do not miss driving on slip'n'slide icey roads. I do not miss power outages due to heavy snow laden tree branches falling on the power lines. I do not miss achey cold bones and constantly mopping up wet dirty footsteps in the front hall.
So all in all, I guess I can deal with being laughed at by my friends who live in genuinely wintery places when I complain of being too cold at 60 degrees as long as they can deal with me walking on the beach in the sunshine on Christmas Day.
Seems like a fair trade.
Have a Great Weekend ya'll.
Yesterday's hike was an adventure filled with Surprises! I love when that happens.
First of all, one of our favourite preserves re-opened at long last! Woohoo! As Joy and I were trying to decide where to hike yesterday, Joy suggested that we do a drive-by peek at Mabry Carlton just to see if the gates were still firmly shuttered. If they were, as we suspected, then we could move along to another option. But instead, to our delight, after months of being closed, the gate was wide open! Yay! We headed right on in and thank you very much :)
Our next surprise was this little frog! (above photo) It's been long enough since we've been to Mabry Carlton that we weren't absolutely certain that we remembered all of the various trails. And it's certainly possible that during the closure, some changes may have been made. It made sense to grab a map, just in case we needed it later. So Joy flipped up the lid on the map holder and found this little guy! Very cute.
We had a hard rain the night before so regardless of what trail we chose, we knew that there would be a lot of wet. But we were prepared. Joy wore her oldest, most beat-up sneakers and for a change, I decided to wear my good old Colorado hiking boots. As it turned out, it was an excellent decision. These may now be my permanent hiking footwear of choice.
Initially, since we get started just as the light comes up, everything was pretty well drenched; the ground, the plants, the trees and ultimately us. And no matter what trail we headed down, we kept having to turn back due to flooding. Dang. Was this going to be a bummer of a surprise where all of the trails were flooded out? We hoped not.
But we kept trying, trail after trail. Sometimes we just slogged on through the water, but other times, it was too wet, too deep, or too murky. I don't especially care to wade through water that isn't clear. Who knows what else is in there! A surprise we would not be in favour of!
Eventually we found a trail on higher ground with less flooded areas and we began to feel as if we were making more progress.
Perhaps it was because of the rain, or maybe the day, or even just the time of year, but it was a terrific day for insect photography. That was a Great Surprise!
The next terrific surprise was that yesterday's hike was an especially good bird hike. We didn't just hear them, for a change, we actually laid eyes (and cameras) on them! Hurrah! All sorts of birds! And one of them, as it turns out, is an endangered species bird and We Saw It! So kind of a double surprise
At some point, we spied something through the trees deep into the wooded area, that just didn't look "right". That is to say, it didn't look like, well, nature. We decided to check it out and found, to our surprise, an old shack! Wow! That was unexpected.
There were, as always, beautiful flowers, most of which are a total surprise to me because I have no idea what they are. I always marvel at the variety of colour, size, shape and, well just the existence of such beautiful flowers in the wild. I know that, technically, most of them are probably weeds, but let's be generous and refer to them as wildflowers. That is so much kinder, don't you think?
It was one of the best hikes we've done in a bit. We ended up getting a little turned around toward the end. I refuse to say lost because obviously, we found our own way out (thanks to that map Joy got from the frog at the start). But it was more than 4 hours later that we hauled our tired butts back into the car. We were hot, filthy, wet, bug bitten, sweaty, hungry and thirsty. All signs of another great hike, Regardless if we ever find anything to photograph, we always enjoy our time together. Mostly because, it's time together. The photos and the surprises were a wonderful bonus.
Once again, my bangs are too long. It really bugs me when the tips of my bangs are flirting with my eyelashes. I find myself doing that stupid head twitch thing to try to keep my hair out of my eyes all of the time. Or I'm forever pushing at it with my fingers trying to brush the hair to one side, as if that would work (it never does). I'm considering a glue stick.
Normally right about now I would just arm myself with my best scissors and a good magnifying mirror and start hacking away. But this time I'm trying to resist. For several reasons.
One reason is that my timing on hair appointment schedules this time was very poor. Usually it's set up so that just about the time that I'm ready to just give up and shave my head, taadaa, there is my appointment. Just in the nick of time. But this time, nope.
Which is my own fault. I had an appointment scheduled for earlier in October. And I moved it out a month. Why? Well, I reasoned at that time that since I'm not doing any of my volunteer work at the moment how I look just isn't all that important and by rescheduling the appointment I've saved a few bucks. So I guess that's two reasons. It made sense to me at the time. But I now regret it.
I suppose I could just go ahead and allow Sammy Scissorhands the opportunity to choppity chop, but whenever I've given myself a self-inflicted hair disaster, it's helpful for my poor long-suffereing hairdresser to wait until it's grown out a bit. That way there is more and not less hair to work with when she tries to fix what I've done. I think it's too close to my appointment now to risk it.
Then too, occasionally I get this urge to let my bangs grow out. The urge usually lasts for about 10 minutes. But it makes me think that perhaps I should take advantage of this, oh let's call it an opportunity, to decide if I want to let it grow? Or chop it into bangs again? Only one way to find out.
So I'll spend the next few weeks, twitching, and fiddling and eventually perhaps clipping my hair to one side while I decide. Unless of course it makes me too crazy and then I will try TRY to trim only the tiniest ittiest bittiest bit, as evenly as I possibly can (which frankly is not all that evenly) and hope for the best when my appointment day rolls around.
Wish me luck
Take a look at my keyboard. Take a closer look. You may notice, upon second glance anyway, that a letter or two may not look exactly right. Or missing entirely. And perhaps it isn't just a letter or two, it might be most of them. Ooops.
I would say that this keyboard has been well used. And it's not that old either. Just beaten upon. I don't wear my nails really long, but they aren't bitten to the quick either. What on earth would cause all of this damage?
I blame piano lessons.
I was taught, primarily, old school. Sit up straight (To this day I have good posture), hands so flat I can balance a penny on them while playing, and striking the keys with the tips of my fingers rather than the pad. That's how I learned. And it was easy to translate that to a typewriter.
Yes it's true. I'm so old that I learned how to type on an old manual Underwood Typewriter. An adorable little Texas lady who wore Jackie O suits (I remember a pink one in particular), patent leather heels, her jet black hair in a perfect flip (remember the flip hairstyle?). She would not have looked out of place wearing a pillbox hat. She had a very soft, sweet voice and to get our attention would wave her hands in the air saying repeatedly, "Quiet'n down ya'll, quiet'n down" Quiet'n would be pronounced, "quah tin".
Hers was the very first class I took when we moved to Texas and I had no idea what she was saying. "Quah tin?" What the heck is "Quah tin"? I grew to really like this teacher (whose name escapes me), I learned how to type very quickly and easily (again, probably thanks to all those years of piano lessons) and finished the course work within a month. So during class, instead of re-doing what everyone else was doing, I began typing up my school work for other classes instead. My teacher was fully aware of what I was doing and allowed it with not a word. Like I said, I really liked her.
Another thing that translated from piano keyboard to typewriter (and eventually computer keyboard) was memorizing the keyboard. It was actually a lot easier than a piano keyboard. The piano has 88 keys but there are only 26 letters in the alphabet. And even if you add in the numerals and punctuation keys it's still less to concern yourself with.
The goal back then was something that was called "Touch Typing". The intention was that a person could type accurately and quickly without looking at the keys at all. It's the same thing with piano. The player is supposed to preform without having to look at the keys. Which is the way that I learned. So having no letters on my keyboard is not an issue for me.
However, it is kind of a problem for anyone else who may need to use my computer who didn't have the advantage that I did of learning how to type without looking at the keyboard. Who else might possibly be using my computer? Well anyone in the house really. My computer sits right there in the combination kitchen, dining, living area and any guest or visitor that needs to look something else is offered my computer. Heck, even Tim has used it from time to time. It's convenient! Well, other than the no letters thing. Which, apparently, a lot of people find to be singularly inconvenient.
So when Tim recently ordered a new keyboard for himself for work, I asked if I could have the old one. "Well of course" he said but he wondered why I wanted it. I explained my thoughts and he nodded and said that he could order replacement letters if I wanted. Wow! That's cool. Great Idea!
So in the end, he didn't like the new keyboard and went back to using his old one, I got to have the new one (woohoo!) and the extra letters are safely waiting until I manage to obliterate the letters on this new keyboard. Yahoo! A new keyboard AND a backup plan for the future. I love it!
Here's the new keyboard. Please note that all letters are present and accounted for. Coolio.
The excitement never ends at our house :)
Wishing you a wonderful weekend filled with peace, relaxation, fun and happiness.
Hugs all 'round
It's Thursday and you know what that means, right? Photo Safari Report Day! YAYAYAAY!
Joy and I headed to Oscar Scherer which is a state park just up the road a bit. We paid our measly $5 admission and headed down to the parking lot. It had been quite some time since we visited Oskie (as we call it) and we took some time deciding which set of trails to aim toward. Since it was a cooler, more overcast day we chose a set of trails that has very little shade. Normally we avoid those (too hot!) but that day felt like the perfect opportunity.
So since we weren't as familiar with this park, we carefully paid attention to trail markers and off we went. And in short order, got ourselves so turned around that we ended up back where we started. What the actual heck? We followed the markers, I swear we did!! And yet, dang it, there we were back at the beginning. Bizarre.
We laughed it off, choose a different set of trails and tried again. This time, we didn't circle back but we were disappointed that we weren't finding a lot of photo worthy subject matter. Ratz. We were just starting to think that while it was a nice walk in a different place than usual, maybe it was going to be a pooper of a hike, photography-wise. And then suddenly, birds. Birds of all colours, shapes, sizes and song. They were everywhere! We were surrounded. Cool!
The birds were on the ground, in the trees, in the bushes, the shrubs, the grasses, the flowers and on the overhead wires. Sometimes just one, other times whole flocks. It was Birdie Land! I don't know what all of them were. Joy does, of course, and she tells me and I promptly forget. But I know a few. Blue Jay, Cardinal, Scrub Jay, Mourning Dove, a kind of wood pecker aaaannnndddd Yep, I think those are the only ones I knew from yesterdays photos.
But from that point forward, we began to see so many other wonderful things.
I was that close to sot many flying stinging things and yet! I managed to not get stung. Not even once. I am impressed. Both with my luck and their high tolerance for my existence in their time/space continuum. And yes, I did thank them for their restraint.
Also found some pretty flowers. That always makes me happy.
As always there were a couple of rando shots that I couldn't resist:
And we learned several things from this hike. A) Oskie is a beautiful place to hike with lots of trails but they are not marked very well. We aren't the only people who got turned around. We met another hiker who was totally lost and had a map in his hands. B) The best hiking there is on a coolish, overcast day and C) if at first you don't see photo ops, hang in there because somewhere down the trail is awesomeness.
Perhaps good life lessons too ;)
Growing up my Nana referred to me as "a fanciful child". My mother called me, "drifty". And it was true. I was always just kind of lost in my head somewhere.
Instead of paying attention to what the teacher was saying, I was thinking about a book I was reading and wondering what happened next in the story. Rather than focus on the weeding I was supposed to be doing in the garden, I was watching the clouds and seeing the 'pictures' that they made. While walking at Knotts Berry Farm I was pretending that I actually was living back in the olden days and paying no attention whatsoever to what was going on around me and consequently walked smack into a cast iron post, knocking myself out cold.
I was accused on so many occasions throughout my entire life of wasting time and not being productive because I was distracted and engaged by something other than what I was supposed to have been doing. Shame on me.
I have not gotten much better. I still watch dust motes dance in the sun and am mesmerized by a snowfall. I am entranced by raindrops against the window and delighted by the rainbow cast by sunlight through a prism. I suppose it is no surprise that I grew up to enjoy photography so much, to still be writing and reading. And I guess nobody is shocked that I am still easily distracted if I don't force myself to stay focused.
Just yesterday when I was out in the yard, moving with great purpose across the lawn, I saw something out of the corner of my eye that brought me to a complete halt. I saw this little guy in the photo above.
The bright colours really stood out against the green lawn so I guess it would have been hard to miss but he was so very small and the lawn, comparatively so very large, that it was just happenstance that we were in the same relative area at the same time.
I stopped what I was doing and ran back in the house for my camera. I wasn't sure I would find him again, and indeed, it took a few minutes to locate him. I tried to retrace my steps exactly and stepped very carefully. I didn't want to discover that I had squished him for heaven's sakes!
But there he was, still nonchalantly, munching away at the grass, slowly making his journey across the backyard.
I was so entranced by him that I sat down and watched, occasionally snapping pictures of his progress.
I moved a few sticks that were slowing him down but nothing stopped him. Not twig barriers, and not, apparently, inedible flowers, not tall blades of grass and absolutely not me. I'm not sure that he was even aware that I existed. I was merely a very large cloud blocking out the sun I think.
I didn't say a word and if he did, I didn't hear it. He had a mission which was to eat as much of the back lawn as caterpillarly possible so that he would have a full enough tummy to sustain him through the chrysalis time and was solely focused upon that.
He munched as he crawled, he nibbled as he climbed, he tasted as he made his way. Nothing and nobody was going to stop him from his goal. Certainly not the likes of me. I admired his bright colours and fuzzy hairs and I could not resist. I had to experimentally find out if the orange bits were spikey or soft. Answer? Soft. I touched very very gently with just the tip of one finger and I do not think he even noticed.
I wondered what sort of butterfly or moth he would turn into. I debated whether a colourful caterpillar becomes a colourful butterfly or do they become the opposite when they morph? I am curious if they dream while they sleep in their little cocoon and if they do dream, what do they dream about?
I imagined what it would be like to start out in life as one sort of creature and awaken one day to be a different one entirely. Who teaches them to fly? How do they know to build that little nest? I never see caterpillar families with moms and dads teaching the babies what to do. Neither have I even noticed butterfly or moth mentors explaining how to rest while their wings dry as soon as they emerge and then instructing them about important things such as wind currents and the dangers of rotten kids who enjoy capturing beautiful things and doing unspeakable things to them.
Nature is endlessly captivating, fascinating, wonderous and amazing. And I suppose I haven't really outgrown the drifty, fanciful child within me because I will never regret the time I spent, sitting in the backyard, camera in hand, admiring the travels of a caterpillar.
Time not wasted at all.
Almost like that famous painting, "American Gothic" by Grant Wood. You know the one right? The old farm couple standing in front of their home? The wife with her hair in a sensible bun and wearing her pretty brooch and best apron and the mister with a suit jacket over his Sunday overalls bearing a pitchfork and neither of them indicating any evidence of a sense of humour? Come on, I'm sure you've seen it. It looks like this:
I knew you knew it. When I saw this photo of myself that was the first thought that came to mind. American Gothic 2020. I had been outside doing some yard chores. Nothing big, a little weeding and a little pruning. I trimmed a few trees and then hauled the trimmings and fallen palm fronds around to the side of the house for the lawn guys to take away later this week.
The weather is ever so much nicer now so it's not such a hot and sweaty job. And in fact, I enjoyed just being outside for a bit. And I was just about to finish up when I realized that the palm tree in the front courtyard was not looking well.
I don't know a lot about palm trees (or any other Florida Fauna for that matter) but I'm at least smart enough to know when one isn't looking quite right.
For one thing nearly all of it's fronds were drooping and hanging straight down. Even the ones that were still green. That, even to me, seems like a bad sign. So I thought that perhaps if I trimmed all of the dead stuff and maybe even the not perfectly healthy looking stuff, then all of the trees energy could go back into healing and getting well.
That seems logical. At least it does to me.
The problem was while this isn't the biggest palm tree in the world, it's way way WAY taller than me. So I would have to either stand on a ladder to trim it (nope) or find a trimmer with a really long handle! AHA! We do have one of those. I retreated to the utility room to first find it, and then somehow get it down from the very top shelf (that did require a step ladder) and then navigate it out of the utility room and then out of the house without scratching or breaking anything along the way. Trickier than it sounds.
I felt strongly that this was the instrument of destruction that I needed to use for the job. As you may be able to tell, there is a saw of sorts at the very top and then a chopper than is employed by pulling the attached cord.
The entire thing is probably 9 feet long? Something like that. Not an exaggeration, it towers over my head. And as I am not particularly coordinated, a little tricky to use. But I'm stubborn, if nothing else, and I kept working at it.
gAnd this was the tree prior to trimming. You cam see that's it's quite tall and that there is a lot of droopy, brown not good looking stuff on it. Stuff that has Got to go to keep the tree looking and feeling it's best.
Because the tree is very tall and the tool is was using was really long, it took some time to get the hang of even balancing the saw/chopper/thingie so that it went where I wanted it to go. And then trickier still to snag the branch I wanted to cut (and only the branch I wanted to cut) before pulling the cord and CHONK! The offending frond would fall to the ground.
I kept wanted to yell, "Off with her head", but I didn't want to alarm any innocent passersby.
Eventually I started to get the hang of it. The process required stepping carefully around (and occasionally on - oops) other things in the garden as I moved around the tree from side to side finding the best way to approach each frond. The entire thing was complicated by the fact that the tree is up against the courtyard wall so one entire side of it is closed off to me as an option. Dang.
But eventually, everything that was dead or dying was trimmed. Whew! I gathered up all of the ick and added to the pile of stuff on the side of the house. I patted the tree and wished it well and gave it a little extra natural fertilizer (i.e. coffee grounds). When I was done, all that remained was the central spike (which is essential to a palm tree or so I've been told) and the young, healthy looking, bright green, baby fronds surrounding it.
It feels kind of brutal, but everything I know about keeping green things healthy says that occasionally under certain circumstances (such as this) trees and shrubs require a hard pruning. Which means cutting off everything that isn't healthy. Over and again I've been instructed to just trim hard and then later, I am rewarded when it comes back thicker and healthier and more beautiful than ever.
I felt pretty good about the job and that I had done a Good Thing, trying to help this tree stay alive, stay healthy and to grow strong and beautiful once again. A job well done, is what I thought.
Foolish foolish me.
I went out the next day expecting to see a very very happy palm tree in my courtyard only to find this:
The top spike and surrounding "healthy" fonds lay inside the courtyard and there is no sign of life remaining in this tree. Ratz. I now have a giant dead palm tree in my courtyard.
Of course we have a plan. Well we have two plans. Plan A is to take the tree down. Because it's beside a wall and near the house, it will have to be taken down carefully. Tim is thinking he will cut it down one big chunk at a time (from the top down of course). He will tie a rope around the area he wants to cut and I can guide the fall of the chunk so it doesn't hit 1) the wall, 2) the house, 3) Tim on the ladder or 4) me. So we have a plan.
Plan B is that I learn to carve with a chain saw and I turn this giant pixie stick into some sort of sculpture.
Most likely we will go with Plan A.
Meanwhile, I'm sad for the tree and I hope it's demise was not rushed along by me. But I don't think so. I'm pretty sure what I did was ok. But I also think that I won't rush to do anymore hard trimming of palm trees.
The tree is dead. Long live the tree.
Ok not a great photo but you can see evidence of an abrasion yes? Well this is on the inside of my left foot. I have a matching on on the inside of the right foot as well. The shiny bit is a coating of antibacterial ointment in an effort to heal faster.
I got these two booboo's this past Tuesday while on photo safari with Joy. And not from ill-fitting shoes either. Nope. From sand. You heard me. Sand. Ordinary beach sand. There is a lot of it here. It's what the soil starts out as and then layer upon layer of foliage, both live and dead, pile on top of it where it gradually deteriorates and over (a very long) time composts into the creation of actual soil. But the base, no matter how much time passes, is still mostly sand. Because that's what there is more of here than anything else.
And, a funny things about sand, at least the sand here, the sand itself it composed of quartz. Well yes, and broken up shells too, but mostly quartz. Quartz is a rock. Rocks are very hard. Even teensy itty bitty rocks, AKA sand, are hard. Small but mighty.
In my case, the diminutive quartz rocks infiltrated my socks. And then were trapped between my shoe and my foot. Then as I continued to hike it rubbed and rubbed against my skin. I did notice some mild discomfort while hiking but I really didn't think too much about it. Come on folks, at my age, something always hurts and while it may slow me down, I refuse to let it stop me. Mostly I just pack it up and stick it in a closet and try to not think about it. Clearly that's what I did during the last hike.
And how did the sand get in my socks in the first place? Well I'm not absolutely certain. It's not at all unusual to come back from a hike with half a sandbox in my shoes. I always empty them out before coming in the house. But my socks? That was new. Well I suppose socks are porous, so tiny itty bitty grains of sand could penetrate. But wow, this wasn't just one or two individual pieces, this was a handful of sand. Exfoliation gone bad.
I do recall at least once stepping on what I thought was solid ground that turned out to be a marshy area, so unexpectedly I was up to my calves in dirty wet yuck. So that could be when it happened. But of course I didn't stop and take off my wet shoes and socks and clean it all before going on. Nope, we just kept going. That's what we do.
Perhaps it's the kind of sock. They are shortie socks. They come up just barely over the top edge of the shoe and in all honesty they are cheap. I bought them at the grocery store. Maybe that is the culprit more than anything. Maybe cheap cotton socks allow more opportunity for infiltration?
I know I know, you are thinking, why does it even matter? Why dissect and analyze with such scrutiny?
Well because it flippin' hurts and while I do not want to go through this again, I also refuse to stop hiking. So learning the cause will lead to the solution.
Do I need higher/better socks? Or do I need to dust off my old hiking boots? Maybe I need to invest in a pair of galoshes! It may take a little trial and error to find the answer, but find it I will.
Meanwhile, as I wear only sandals so nothing is rubbing on the sore spots for the next few days, you guys have a great weekend!
Hugs all 'round
Opps! I did not mean to take this photo. It was a mistake. And this sort of thing happens a lot to me. I make LOADS of booboos when I am taking pictures. I'm sure it happens to other folks now and again too. So I thought that today I would do a post about the photos I normally delete.
And I do love a delete button. I delete with happiness, with no regret, with wild abandon. Since the advent of digital photography I have taken oodles more photographs since I know that all of my mistakes are my own dirty little secrets. In the "before" time, anyone who dared take photographs had to drop the roll off at either a photomat sort of place or the camera center of the local Walgreens to be developed. The person developing the photos was, therefore, privy to all of your pictures. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. It was kind of embarrassing sometimes to pick up my photos. There I would be, beaming with excitement and behind the counter was the smirking face of the person who already knows what I'm going to find. When I opened the envelope I would try to school my face into a non-expression so counter person didn't see my disappointment. It was a thing. Basically if you were a crappy photographer, at least one other person knew about it. Which sucked.
Now when I return home from taking pictures, the very first thing I do is load them onto my computer and sort through. Before I do any editing, I delete. I go through the enter gallery of new shots, hitting that delete button as if it were slot machine and I was about to hit the jackpot. Normally NOBODY but me sees the bad ones.
And knowing this about myself, I think that some nerve going on facebook bragging about various photography awards and blah de blah. Especially since those same people who voted for me to get an award for this photo: (for example)
Did not see the other five zillion horrible attempts to get this precise shot. And I promise you, that is only a small exaggeration. This time, instead of automatically deleting the lousy pictures, I thought I would share them with you. Lucky you. (Not)
As many photo ops as there are out there, there are as many reasons to get a poor shot. Sadly, most of it is operator error. But not always!
Sometimes the problem lays entirely with the subject matter. Wild animals for instance have zero sense of responsibility when it comes to photography. They will not just stand their obediently and pose for me. What's wrong with them? Instead I get pictures like these. I call these the "half a bird" shots
In each of these instances, the bird was perfectly in frame and then as I am pressing the button, boom, they tip their head or hop up to another branch or just move slightly out of square. Dang!
Sometimes they disappear altogether
I solemnly swear to you that when I began taking this photo, there was a bird standing right in the center of the vee of this tree. It would have been a terrific picture. But Oh well.
Birds are famous for turning their backs on me. I have way way way too many photos of bird butt. And No Thank You Very Much Please. Nobody wants to see that
Sometimes the birds don't move completely out of frame. Nope, sometimes they just move. They wiggle, they twitch, they ruffle their feathers and if I don't already have the setting on sport (which will sometimes accommodate movement) I have missed that shot. Occasionally the wind moves something in front of the subject too. Like pine sprills. And that's fun too. Here are some examples of what I'm talking about.
To be absolutely fair, sometimes it's not the bird moving. Sometimes, it's me. It can be really hard to hold completely still for what feels like a eternity, waiting for the perfect moment for a shot. And the funny part is that I think I am rock solid steady as I'm standing there getting a crick in my neck waiting for "The Shot" to present itself and I'm totally not. Yup, sometimes the blur is totally my bad. Like here:
The funniest part (to me anyway) is that it doesn't even have to be a bird photo that comes out blurry. It could be something far more stationary. Like a flower. How on earth does anyone get a blurry photo of a flower? Yup, the fault here is completely on me and I'm not absolutely certain how screwed it up.
It even happened this week with a dragonfly that was holding absolutely completely totally still on a tall blade of grass. I swear to you that there is a dragonfly in this photo
I actually know what I did wrong that time. I didn't set the focus properly on this one. And sometimes it's really tricky. When there is a lot of 'stuff' around a subject, the camera gets confused about what to zero in on. In the above case, it selected a bit of greenery behind the dragonfly. Yeah I really have to get better at that sort of thing. It happened here with these flowers too
It's not even a horrible picture, it's more a "what the heck is this supposed to be a picture of ?" Yeah. Sorry, I don't know.
It's bad photo but the lighting was pretty, I'll give it that. Lighting is absolutely essential to a good shot. And it can be tricky. There are rules of course, but sometimes the rules are wrong. I've taken plenty of shots into the sun that came out great. But then of course there are the other times when it absolutely did not. These have too much sun flare and are way too washed out! What was I thinking?
Not enough light is just as bad. I kind of like an occasional moody Sillouhette Shot but after awhile, it's very ho hum. Normally all of these photos would have been long gone by now to deleted photo heaven.
There are just so very many ways to go wrong. But the final one, regarding wildlife photography anyway, that I will mention here is trying to take a photo of a creature that is just camera shy. This guy simply did not want his picture taken but he was comfortable where he was and opted to not fly to another tree. His answer, obviously, was to just hide his head.
I was suppose to the wildlife we are trying to capture on film, we are the unwelcome, unwanted, rude, papparazzi. And it's funny because Joy and I always keep a respectful distance and never attempt to interact with these critters. I suppose we believed that we were doing the right thing. Walking quietly, sticking to the trails, strictly "pack in in pack it out" photographer/hikers. We never so much as pick a flower. But I imagine that to them, just being there is an intrusion. So I guess an apology is overdue. We always remember to say, "Thank you" after we've gotten the shot (honest, we actually do that). But it never, until now, dawned on me to apologize for interrupting their lives.
I'm not sure how to balance that out. I guess I could offer to allow them to whip out their little cameras and I will hold still while they take endless photos of me? Hmmmm. Maybe it requires a little more thought.
So anyway, that's it for now. The shots I normally would have deleted from our photo safari earlier this week are now here for you to giggle at. And now if you will excuse me, I have a date with a delete button.
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.