March 23rd, 2023
Who dat? Well, anyone who had little ones 50 or so years ago (holy crap I'm old) would recognize this guy as Shel Silverstein, or as he was sometimes known, Uncle Shelby. He's the fellow who wrote the books, "Where the Sidewalk Ends", "The Giving Tree" and "A Giraffe and a Half" for example. One of my favourites is, "Uncle Shelby's ABZ's". Much of what he wrote was particularly beloved by children (and their parents) but he wrote adult things as well.
He was something of a renaissance man, illustrating and writing short stories, poetry and books. But are you aware that he also wrote music? (some of my favourite Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show songs were written by him. Also on his list of accomplishments were several plays: "Abandon all hope", "All Cotton" and "Blind Willie and the Talking Dog" for example. He was a singular talent with an amazing mind.
I mostly adored Shel Silverstein's stuff. And why wouldn't I? He made us think at the same time that he delighted, informed, educated and entertained people of all ages for a very long time which is an amazing legacy to leave behind. I was a huge fan. Anything he wrote, Everything he created, I was on board with. Until I read the following Shel Silverstein quote: "There are no happy endings. Endings are the saddest part." I disagree.
Well I somewhat disagree. I disagree with conditions. Yes it is true that Some ends are sad, I will admit that. Can't really argue it. I've cried often enought to prove the truth of it. But not all endings are sad. His quote makes a poor blanket statement.
Not all endings are sad. There, I've said it. And I stand behind it.
Here are two examples:
Last week, I 'graduated' from Physical Therapy. Woohoo! They have taught me well, given me the tools I need to get back to my old self which means that it's now up to me to finish the job. But my time at PT, my weekly visits and torture session have come to an end. Everyone there was absolutely wonderful, I learned so much and I was pleased with every minute of it. (well almost every minute, pain is pain, right?) BUT my time there has come to an end. And I am happy to wave good-bye to that chapter of my life. Here is the tee-shirt they gave me as a graduation present. Wasn't that a nice surprise?
Here's another example:
Over this past weekend we had a dumpster brought in so that we could finally FINALLY get rid of all of the leftover construction related crap that the builders left behind in multiple piles all over the dang yard. ARGH! We finally got to a point in the work in the project room where we do not need anything in any of those piles. Nor will we be adding any additional large crap to any of the piles. The small bits of work left in the project room are slow and time consuming but do not create big ungainly debris. (only small unattractive debris which is easily incorporated into the weekly garbage pick up).
So the dumpser was delivered late last week and Sunday was spent incorporating all of those piles of rubble and rubbish into one big pile in the dumpster! We dealt with dirt and nails and splinters and bugs and spiders and one seriously PO'd snake to say nothing of just the sweat and strain of the job. But it's done. It's over. The dumpster people hauled it all away yesterday and there is nothing left but the memory. I could not be happier about that particular ending.
And that's just two examples off the top of my head. I know that there are loads of others. And while yes, I agree, in general that endings can be sad (the end of a bag of M&M's is a very sad moment) sometimes, endings are not only not sad, but happy and very satisfying.
This one time, Mr. Silverstein, I must disagree with you. Just the one time mind you. The rest of the time you are absolutely correct.
Oh and something else to keep in mind, The end of everything is the beginning of something else. And beginnings are, quite often, very good things.
March 21st, 2023
It's the Birthday Girl! All together now, "Happy Birthday Joy!"
Actually her birthday was one week ago, and for her birthday she asked that we hike in Myakka State Park. Birthday Wish Granted! For obvious reasons, the Photo Safari is the Birthday Hike :)
It was a Perfect Hiking day, a little chilly and not crowded, at least not crowded with people! We saw lots of other crowds. The sort that we particularly enjoy:
Our favourite sorts of crowds :) None of them actually stopped to sing a chorus of "Happy Birthday to You" but we know they were thinking it.
Myakka is a stunningly beautiful place but it's a little worse for wear since the Hurricane back in September. It 's been cleaned up a lot but not all of the repairs have been done. The Canopy Walk still needs work as does the boardwalk:
Very sad to see some of the familiar and wonderful things gone, but the wildlife isn't so bothered by it. To them it was all stupid human stuff, nothing that really impacts their lives and we were delighted to see the wonderful wild life not only surviving but thriving.
It was cold and windy that day but sunny even so which allowed for some beautiful water reflection shots!
One of my favourite birdie photos from that day was a little red winged blackbird just barely hanging on to his perch in the breeze:
Everywhere we turned, one moment right after another, there was yet something else to take a picture of. It was incredible! What a perfect photography day!
The scenery, sigh, it's just such a beautiful place. I cannot fully express with words how stunningly beautiful Myakka is so, since a picture says a thousand words: here's a few:
Here are a few other photos that are a little random for you too:
The Birthday Hike was an Awesome Photo Safari !
March 17th, 2023
Happy St Patrick's Day Ya'll!
These were my only two choices for wearing something green today. Lime and Olive. Not really the colours I associate with Ireland. They are neither Shamrock Green nor green of a leprechauns hat. Of course the only Leprechaun I can think of just now is the one on the Lucky Charms cereal box and I'm pretty sure that's not historically accurate.
The actual original St Patrick's Day - not necessarily the Americanized version of it - began in Ireland (of course) over a thousand years ago! According to my, admittedly not in depth, research, it was in honour of the actual St Patrick and celebrated by taking a little break in the lenten abstention from meat. People would go to church in the morning and then celebrate with good food, drink, music and dance for the rest of the day.
The very first St Patrick's Day parade was held in America, by the way, in 1601 in St Augustine Florida! Whoa! That was new information for me! Even though St Augustine was a Spanish settlement, their vicar was Irish so the parade probably was his idea.
My assumption, which was completely wrong, was that the first St Patrick's Day parade was in New York City. I was already aware that in 1772, Irish Soldiers serving in the English military and feeling quite homesick marched down the streets of NYC to honour their patron saint. But I was off by more than a hundred years! Wow, when I'm wrong, I am wildly wrong.
The enormously popular New York City St Patrick's Day parade that most of us associate with the wearin' o' the green nowadays actually started in 1848 when the various Irish Aid Societies collaborated and gathered all the parades from all of the different boroughs of New York to hold one huge Official St Patrick's Day Parade. It is now the worlds oldest civilian parade and the largest with over 150,000 participants and more than 3 millions onlookers!
These days of course, you don't have to be Irish to participate. As the contemporary saying goes, "Everyone is Irish on St Patrick's Day". Since part of my heritage actually is Irish, I should definitely celebrate. So I am sitting here in my light green house, wearing my olive green shirt, drinking about of my bright green mug and thinking green thoughts. I think that'll do!
Have a wonderful weekend everybody and hugs all 'round.
March 14th, 2023
Time for another Photo Safari Report! This one is going to be called The One Big Surprise Hike because while most of what we saw was same old, same old, one thing was most definitely unexpected.
We went back to Carlton Reserve last Thursday for several reasons, not the least of which was that a lot of our other hiking spots are currently closed. But honestly, Carlton is never a bad choice. There are more than 25,000 acres and at least a hundred miles of trails. Since we have never (and will never) cover all of it in a day, every time we go, we get to sojourn down different paths and therefore, see different things.
That is a good thing.
Right off the bat I will say that we not only saw very few birds, we didn't even hear many. Not sure where are but perhaps they are wintering elsewhere. Snowbirding as it were. teehee. But I did get these three. I wish there were someway to describe how huge and fierce that hawk is. Let's just say that I'm glad that I'm too big to be considered "prey". They look like warrior birds! Which is so cool.
I know that, technically, it's still winter and lots of parts of the US are still digging their way out of snowbanks but here it feels a lot more like spring and, as a nod toward that, we are seeing more and more flowers on our hikes each week! That is Never a problem :) (other than the achoo factor of course)
And then there was the surprise.
Right now, during winter, this is our dry season. As a result, sometimes areas that are normally good sized ponds or even lakes are greatly reduced in size. Sometimes they, temporarily, disappear completely. This is particularly true of small creeks or the water that normally exists in the gulley that run alongside some roads.
Joy and I were observing this fact as we were strolling down one particular part of a trail. Normally there would have been a wetlands area on the left side, marshy bits at the very least which means there would also be the creatures that such areas attract like turtles and egrets and ducks. So at one point, instead of continuing down the middle of the trail, like a normal person, I canted a little to the left so that I was walking along the outer edge of the trail. As I was scouting to my left Joy asked what I was doing. I responded that there was a wet area up ahead and I wanted to see if there were any turtles.
Well who doesn't like a turtle? I stood there alongside the Very Shallow bit of water scanning for wildlife when I caught a sudden motion just in front of me. I looked closer. What on earth?
"Hey Jo" I called out, "I think we've got a couple of baby alligators here". She came stepped closer to where I was just in time to see them slip into the water. She was suitably impressed and we took a few photos of the little baby alligators. From the tips of their snouts to the tips of the tails they were, maybe 8-10 inches long. Definitely very young.
Then Joy says, "that must be Mama over there". She pointed to our left though not nearly far enough to our left to suit me frankly as I turned my head to the left and saw this:
I couldn't even see all of her and I could still tell that she was a big girl. I believe I said something like, "Ok I'm good" and I was seriously ready to step away when I caught a flurry of motion out of the corner of my eye which brought me to look directly in front of where I was standing once again. And that's when I saw what had to be at least a dozen, probably more, baby alligators all swarming toward the water at the same time. Yikes!
I froze for a second, then stepped back, and started walking because there was something about that slithering mass of dinosaur looking baby alligators that creeped me out so much! I didn't want to feel that way. I mean it's nature and nature is beautiful. But this wasn't pretty. It was icky and a little scary and I was ready to go.
So there you have it, the big surprise. I've never seen anything like it before. Glad I saw it, but I never really need to see it again.
I think there are a couple of other pictures but not many:
Hope you enjoyed the One Big Surprise Hike! I certainly was surprised! You?
March 10th, 2023
If you are a fairly regular reader of my blog, you may recall that for a few years in a row, Tim and I had the pleasure of a woodpecker family choosing the palm tree in our courtyard in which to build their nest. We enjoyed having them as "neighbors". They were endlessly entertaining. They must have liked us just as much, because each year, faithfully, they would return and build a new nest. It was a terrific arrangement. The woodpeckers looked a great deal like this guy in the picture above. (I didn't take this particular photo in our courtyard but rather, out in the forest, still same sort of woodpecker)
And then during the big hurricane last year, the tree came down. Not to worry, neither woodpeckers or the house were damaged in the fall, but the tree was gone forever and with them, our woodpecker neighbors. We were kind of sad to see them go. Glad we had the experience but, clearly, it's time was done. awww. ;(
Or so we thought!
We don't have woodpeckers anymore but we do have a new couple in our courtyard! These two:
Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal! The first time we noticed them, the mister was in the birdbath. Tim was the one who noticed and quietly called me over to the window to see. I grabbed my camera but they are wily birds and even though we were both absolutely silent and moved slowly, it was enough to scare them away. Still we saw him and I was tickled that there had been a cardinal in our birdbath. I assumed (though one should never) that he was just passing through, that it was a one and done experience.
Then as the days went by, more and more one or the other of us would catch the flash of brilliant red zooming through the courtyard and we changed our minds and decided that they must live somewhere near by. Nearby, heh. I'm giggling about that now.
Since we saw him more and more often, usually around the birdbath area I was determined to get a photo so I put the camera on the kitchen table so it was closer at hand. (the kitchen table is basically in the bay window in question). But no matter how hard I tried, regardless of how quick or quiet I was, I missed shot after shot. DANG!
My guess is that because these birds are so easily seen with their scarlet plumage, they are extra cautious which is very smart on their part. But makes it tough for me to capture a photo. So my new plan was to get them used to seeing me. I spent a little more time, lingering in the general window area, looking out, just seeing what there is to be seen.
And it worked. I began to observe how they spent their days. And it appears that they live in one of the bougainvillea that technically grow on the outside of the courtyard walls but are so full and tall now that they tower over the courtyard. The cardinals zip from bougainvillea to bougainvillea like a flash of red, only occasionally pausing long enough for me to, once in a while, snap a quick shot.
One day the missus kept flitting back and forth from the hedge under our bedroom window to the courtyard wall, just back and forth, back and forth. The bird version of pacing maybe? That was harder to catch but I sort of got a couple of photos
They are so fast that most of the pictures I took ended up looking a lot like this:
Just the tail feathers....
So Tim took pity on me and dug out his old tripod and set it up in the bay window for me. So much better! My camera was set up and ready to go at all times. Awesome! I had a great time observing and occasionally catching a particularly good shot.
Then Mrs. C discovered the side view mirror of Tim's car and fell in absolute love with her reflection. It is hilarious. There is really no good place to perch in front of that particular mirror, but she is determined!
She spends so much time there that occasionally, Mr. C gets tired of waiting for her to come home, and joins her there.
This new found birdie passion for the car's mirror means that I am out there frequently cleaning both the mirror and that side of the car, you understand. Where ever birdies hang out, they tend to leave their calling cards as well. messy messy messy.
The mirror thing, and by the way, I have not seen the male cardinal look into the mirror even once, but she is obsessed, reminds me of parakeets. At least when I was a kid, everyone that I knew who had a parakeet (must have been a fad then for there were lots of them) had a mirror in the birds cage. Those parakeets would dance and preen in front of the mirror and talk to it a lot. That's exactly what the female cardinal is doing. Do you suppose that parakeets and cardinals are related on some level? Hmmmm. Interesting.
ANYWAY, out with the woodpeckers, in with the cardinals and we are having a great time living in a bird retreat which was never our intention.
You know when we first moved here we saw lizards and bunnies and frogs, butterflies and dragonflies in the courtyard and that was just fine. We loved that these wild creatures felt safe and at home here and we were happy to share it with them. We heard birds in the trees all around us and saw them flying by, sometimes the larger birds would land in the yard or the driveway but it was just a pitstop. Having birds actually living right here has been an unexpected pleasure.
I wonder who will be moving in next?
March 07th, 2023
When life gives you lemons, as the saying goes, make lemon coffee cake!
Oh wait, that's not how the saying goes at all. It's actually, make lemonade! That's right. Now I have nothing against lemonade and in fact I quite like it! I am a particular fan of pink lemonade. Especially when the 'pink' comes from Strawberries. Yummm! Just as an aside, I recently had a pink lemonade popsicle from a place in Sarasota called, "Siesta Pops" and holy cats! It was so good! I want another one right this minute and then I'll probably wish I had another one tomorrow. Or would I want to try a different flavour next time instead? Hmmmm.
But I disgress. I didn't want to make lemonade. And rarely do. We usually buy our lemonade. Rather than having cases of soda in the house, we have cases of lemonade :) I don't know if it's actually any better for us health- wise than soda, but it's certainly more refreshing. At least in our opinion. Oops off track again. Where was I ?
I was talking about lemons. Yes, I remember now. Back to the story.
I don't often have spare lemons in the house. Usually I buy one lemon at each grocery shop and I use it to help clean and refresh the garbage disposal. It's not that we don't like lemon things, we do. In fact, we like them a lot! But it's not exactly a pantry staple since it is a perishable sort of thing. So I don't usually buy extra lemons for baking unless I'm planning specifically to use them. I think the last time might have been not this past Thanksgiving but the year before that when I bought lemons to make a lemon chess pie. Or perhaps it was the Christmas before last when I made cute little lemon mini bundt cakes. The point being, it's been awhile.
And then this thing happened. Two of my lovely neighbors invited me to go out to lunch with them. We went, we have a great time and then they insisted upon paying despite my protests. So to thank them, I made both a batch of banana nut muffins and chocolate chip cookie bars. FYI: This was my first attempt at baking post broken arm so for me, success was iffy, not guaranteed. Which means I was particularly pleased with the results.
I shared the muffins and the cookies with my neighbor/friends and they were surprised and pleased. Then a few days later, one of them, Joan, thanked me the cutest little potted plant. The other one, Debbie, thanked me with some lemons from her lemon tree. So naturally I had to, once again, return that favour, with yet another baked good mostly because that's all I know how to do. I am a woman of limited talents. (you see the crazy but lovely reciprocation circle we have ourselves in! )
I let the lemons inspire me and started going through my various and sundry cookbooks for a new and different lemon related recipe. I was in the mood for something interesting and excited, something I've never attempted before. It's not that my other recipes aren't good, it's that sometimes its just more fun to try something new. Especially if it's a little complicated. That's when it gets REALLY fun!
And so the search began. First I had to find a recipe that required only ingredients I already had on hand so that eliminated anything that listed "sour cream" or "buttermilk" as an ingredient. Which was a surprisingly large percentage! I continued my quest.
I had nearly given up and was about to fall back on an old favourite when I found it! Huzzah! It was perfect! It was a little different than usual, I had everything I needed already, it was new to me and it sounded like a lot of fun to put together.
I carefully read through the instructions several times and began gathering ingredients and implements. I like to have everything already assembled and ready to roll. The oven was preheated, pot holders were on standby, the pan was prepped and my apron strings were tied.
There were four parts to this recipe: The Cake, The Filling, The Streusel topping and The Glaze. But here's the unusual part - I mean if you are a baker you will understand the out of the ordinary element here - First I was supposed to make the cake batter and pour it into the springform pan but don't bake it yet. Nope, next order of business was to make the filling and pour that in on top of the cake batter. Still do not bake it. This was followed by preparing the streusel and sprinkling that on the very top of it all. THEN it goes into the oven to bake. The glaze doesn't go on top until after it's been baked, cooked, released from the springform pan and chilled for 3 hours!
Goody! A project! I rubbed my hands together with glee and got to work. I spent the next half hour or so squeezing and zesting lemons, softening butter and cream cheese and melting other butter. I measured and creamed, blended and whisked, sifted and stirred until my little arms about fell off! It was so much fun! As i put it in the oven, I had high hopes of success. It looked really good.
Here's the thing about an untested recipe though. Until you've gone through it, actually created the dish from the recipe, you really have no idea how it's going to turn out. No matter that, logically, in reading the list of ingredients and the instructions, it sounds like a good idea and regardless of the fact that I followed the instructions to the letter, in truth, sometimes, in the end, the dish is merely, okay. Sometimes even straight up, not good at all. So there is some trepidation involved.
And it's not just the amount of time spent or the cost of the ingredients, it's also the excitement and joy of being able to present a beautiful and tasty culinary delight. I imagine that it's much like a potter having an idea for making a new sort of pitcher and then lifting it from the kiln afterwards and having it come out exactly as envisioned. Very Satisfying!
Let us just say that after all that, I was quite pleased with the result.
Naturally I did have to taste test it. Quality Control is a very important part of any endeavor!
I shared it with the lovely lady who gave me the lemons in the first place. She (and especially her husband) were quite complimentary :)
Of course now I have a half a coffee cake left and honestly, Tim and I do not need to eat a half a coffee cake no matter how good it is, so probably I will end up wrapping it up and freezing the rest. And that will be the next test. Let's see how well this recipe freezes!
Life, or rather my neighbor, gave me lemons. I gave her lemon coffee cake :) It's not what you are given in life, it's what you do with it.
March 02nd, 2023
Ice pack and ice cream! What a great après Physical Therapy Combo!
Thought I'd give you a little update on how things are going PT-wise. I am happy to report, that things are going pretty well actually. Yesterday I progressed to Range of Motion exercises which is the part of PT that changes the letters from meaning Physical Therapy to instead standing for Pain and Torture.
Not to malign my physical therapist, Emily. She is awesome! But the only path to getting strength and mobility back involves a lot of "ouch". Not her fault at all. Just this is the only way. So I spent the entire session yesterday learning the new exercises and having her watch me do them to be sure I was doing them correctly because now will be I doing them on my own and home. And there is no point in doing them if I'm not doing it right!
So I paid close attention and I grit my teeth rather than do any cussing (though there were times when certain words were right on the tip of my tongue.) Now that I am doing the exercises at home with no audience (other than Tim who, to be fair, is in his office most of the day and can't hear me) I feel free to let the odd cuss word fly now and again. Somehow it helps.
One of the many exercises that I am doing twice a day now involves an over the door pulley system:
How this works is, I sit in the chair, back to the door (obviously) and grasp the handles of the pulley, one in each hand. As I lower my left hand (the good arm) it automatically raises the right (the bad arm). Going slowly, this s t r e t c h e s that right arm up, up, up to the hurty spot and then a little higher than that. Over and Over again. Effectively I am the instrument of my own torture. Can't blame anybody else for that can I now? heh
I have goals of course, I suppose everybody does who is doing PT. The end goal of course is feeling like my old self again. But the smaller goals along the way are things like: being able to put my hair in the ponytail. As it turns out I cannot put an elastic band on my hair with one hand! Who knew? Kneading bread and other general cookery and bakery! Getting dressed without discomfort or assistance! Well I guess that part goes for everything I do. Being able to do things, any things, without discomfort or assistance. That would be nice.
Other smaller milestones that I've already met (yay me!) are being able to type with both hands (woohoo!), putting lotion on my left arm with my right hand (yay to properly moisturized skin!), and the biggie, being able to tie my own dang shoes! Yahoo! So see, there is progress and that is always a good thing.
Next week, directly after my PT sessions, I will go for the 3rd set of xrays to see how well the bones are healing (very well, I'm sure) and then I will be half way through my physical therapy and that is very exciting to me!
At the end of the PT appointment yesterday, Emily instructed me to be sure to ice my arm when I got home. I said that I had already planned on it and that I had an ice pack and an ice cream both waiting for me. That my plan was to chill inside and out. She smiled and said, "That sounds just about perfect". Clearly I had her blessings.
But then, ice cream has both calcium and vitamin D in it both of which are important for Bone Health, right? Just what the situation called for. It was another goal, and I met it! Yay me!
March 01st, 2023
Hi there, it's us again. The intrepid hikers! Joy took this photo with her cellphone and kindly shared it with me. Good lookin' group eh?
Yesterday we headed out on Photo Safari and I believe this will be called the, "Little Bit of Everything Hike" because it kind of was. First of all, this photo was taken at our 3rd stop. Third! The first two preserve choices were closed. Of course we did not know that they were closed until we arrived but oh well, three's the charm I suppose :)
Clearly, we had a little bit of bad luck and a little bit of good luck. That works. We don't much care where we hike as long as we get to be out there, y'know? You may notice as we stroll through the photos that some of the pictures are bright and other's rather gloomy. That's because there were moments of very bright beautiful sunlight and other times when the sun was covered by a thick layer of clouds and suddenly it was much cooler and darker. Little bit of this and a little bit of that.
Initially we thought the hike was going to be a bust. We didn't even hear any birds! We were honestly kind of disappointed. Still, we always try to make the best of every situation so we kept our eyes and ears peeled for photo opportunities.
At the beginning, I mostly took tree pictures. I tend to take a lot of tree pictures for many reason. The first of being that trees tend to not move around which makes it ever so much easier to capture them. But in general I just like trees. The spooky creepy arms, their solid massive presence, the colours, the shady parts of the trail on a hot day, the homes they provide for woodland creatures..... So sue me, I like trees!
This particular preserve is so thickly forested and the trees are soo huge that it's hard to imagine. Here's a picture of Joy in front of a section of trees. Note how tiny she is in comparison. I mean you cannot even see the tree tops and she's still in the lower quarter of the photo:
It's a good thing the rangers maintain the trails. Otherwise we would need machete's to get through! As it was, there was a bit of an obstacle course feel to it. Some parts of the trail were perfectly clear but other parts, not so much. We didn't have to deal with mucky, muddy, flooded trails, so we will not complain about having to climb over a few trees:
Oh, and remember how I said we didn't hear any birds? Well that was true for awhile, and then, suddenly, it was like somebody flipped the bird switch and suddenly they were everywhere! Even I could capture a few of them! Whoa!
But those were not the only creatures we saw! Much like the rest of this hike, there were areas with absolutely nothin' worth even trying to capture and then suddenly, there was Everything! We were snapsnapsnapping in every direction!
Part of the hikes we were deep in the forest, other times we were along the river. And it's so pretty all on it's own, that it deserves it's own category. Since this is the dry season, the water is especially low right now. Still beautiful.
Found some pretty flowers too: (flowers don't move much either, so they are another great photography subject for me!)
Here is the last of it, the rando's, just a few this time 'round:
I guess that's it for today! The Little Bit of Everything Hike was a great success to us. Hope you enjoyed it too.
I promise, no more photo safari reports this week. ;)
February 23rd, 2023
As you can clearly see, Joy and I were positively giddy to be back out on another Photo Safari this week! Another gorgeous day, Another marvelous hike and I am calling this one, the Hike of Pleasant Surprises!
Our last hike was a bit lackluster when it came to photos and this one more than made up for it. We were happy snapping almost from the first moment that we arrived. This particular hike was in the Oscar Scherer State Park. We chose the Green Trail to start off with (although by the end we had also been on the Red Trail and the Yellow Trail - we tend to wander). We chose the Green Trail arbitrarily but remembered that one headed toward an eagle's nest that we were aware of. We were doubtful that we would actually see an eagle there - wrong time of year y'see. But we were pleasantly surprised. Joy spotted the male, standing strong and proud at the top of a very tall tree surveying his domain. I missed getting the photos, dang! But Wow, eagle's never stop being impressive let me tell ya! After he flew off (cursing us, no doubt, "no pictures, please!") we surveyed the nest (from afar of course!) and were delighted to learn that Mrs. Eagle was in residence!
That picture, I got:
They were not the only birds we saw, of course. I have a few other photos for you. But only a few. I am not so good at capturing birds as it turns out. But for the bird lovers among ya, here you go:
We continued merrily along what turned out to be a rather long - about four hours and more than five miles - trek, and then there was the big surprise. I mean, Whoa! Surprise! We were hiking a particularly tricky bit that is steeply sloped with loose rocks and thick roots that have broken through the surface of the soil and are ready to trip us up at every turn, so I was looking down rather than up. So obviously, it was Joy who spotted him. This guy:
Another eagle! This one, as Joy explained to me, was an adolescent, kind of a teenager eagle. He was magnificent! And the best part. He stayed put! We took a few photos, hike quietly closer, took a few more, hiked quietly closer and etc until we were literally directly underneath the branch that he was perched upon. Wow!
We were so taken with this fellow that we took loads of photos. I cannot quite decide which is my favourite shot so, with apologies, here are several:
While we were taking these pictures, and without intending to, Joy and I were kind of blocking the narrow trail and out of the corner of our eyes, we saw two other hikers coming our way. Naturally, we stepped back to let them by and instead, with smiles they tippy toed closer and whispered, "what are you seeing?" I pointed and explained that it was an eagle! They both looked again as I gave them a verbal "map" (the dead tree to the left of the live pine, 2nd branch from the top, right side) and then when they spied him, their mouths dropped open, their eyes got very wide and their cellphones came up, clickclickclick~
Their accents were of either the UK or perhaps Australia? (I say that with ignorance and apologies. With my less than perfect hearing and unfamiliarity, they sound very much the same to me) These two gentlemen were so excited to see this magnificent creature! I loved how quiet and respectful they were. Exactly the sort of fellow hikers we love to come across. Joy told them a bit about the bird and they listened with fascination. Eventually they passed by us and took other photos from yet another angle before moving on. It was a terrific exchange :)
One of the funniest things we saw during the hike I had to blink a few times because I wasn't absolutely positive what I was seeing. In the middle of the forest, without nothing but foresty sorts of things around it, appropros of nothing at all, was a wooden staircase. I briefly wondered if I was hallucinating. We came to a full stop. "Jo, do you see that?" I asked. "What the heck?" was her response so I knew it was really there. Hilarious! Why oh why oh why is there a staircase in the middle of the forest?? I have no idea at all, not one single clue.
So hmmm, let's see, what else did we see? There were a few flowers and some pretty trees:
We spent some time at the old train trestle. I'm not sure why that is so fascinating to us, but it never stops being a draw. As time goes by and nature reclaims it more and more, it changes and those changes are endlessly intriguing. The Legacy Trail which is a very popular hiking/biking trail that now extends from Venice to Sarasota (and there are plans in place for extensions in both directions), runs right alongside the trestle which allowed for the photos of the bicycler through the railings.
I guess that takes care of most of the highlight of the Hike of Pleasant Surprises. Well, with the exception of the Rando files. There are almost always a few leftover things that don't fit into any of the other categories. Here they are:
One never knows how a hike is going to turn out. Could be good, could be meh, could be awful! But not knowing, never stops us from heading out on the trails coz there is only one way to find out. Perhaps we are brave, perhaps we are foolish, it doesn't matter one bit. We will be out there, regardless, come what may. Thanks for coming along.
Wouldn't it be awesome to one day come along with us in person??? We would love that ;)
February 21st, 2023
There you have it, a mailbox. Specifically, our mailbox. It is ordinary and functional and currently still sporting the solar twinkle lights that we dressed it up in around Christmas Time. At this point, I suspect that the twinkle lights will just be permanent condition.
So, as I was saying, it's an ordinary mailbox and it does ordinary things. When the mail arrives Monday though Saturday, somewhere between 2:30 and 5:30 pm, I wander on out and collect whatever is in there. Usually it's a combination of promotions and ads, occasionally mixing things up with a bill or two. Every once in awhile there is a card of some sort, celebrating Christmas or Birthdays, maybe a card that with Anniversary or Get Well wishes. Even more rarely it's a "no particular reason" card which is, always, the best reason in the world.
I have come to know the sounds of the mail truck and much like Pavlov's dog, when I hear that sound, I immediately head down the driveway to collect whatever is in the box. Even though the mail is rarely for me or in anyway fun, I am always a little excited about the possibilities. Even knowing perfectly well that much of the time it's innards go directly to the garbage can or recycle bin, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars, I still look forward to retrieving the days' mail.
But as of this month, there are two days of the week where I am even more excited than usual to bring whatever our mail delivery person has left us. Why? Ok here's why:
This was what our mail person left us on the past Saturday: Two bills, the City of Venice Magazine AND our newspaper. Our Newspaper? I find that so very odd! Our Post office now manages the delivery of the local newspaper: The Venice Gondolier. What?
Have you ever even heard of that before? I suppose it makes sense. I mean the mail person delivers every day. Even if there is not so much as a grocery store circular to stuff into our mailbox, our postal lady drives right by the house every day but Sunday. So why not? I guess.
There was an article in that very newspaper about a month ago, informing those of us who get an actual newspaper rather than just the online version, that due to the fact that the newspaper is unable to find people wiling to deliver the newspaper anymore, that task would now be passed along to the US Post Office. Wow! I am so old that I remember when kids delivered the mail! Kids on foot towing wagons stacked with newspapers that were summarily tossed onto the lawn, into the flower gardens or the driveways of subscribers. Some kids even had such good throwing arms that they were able to deliver their papers on their bikes! Wow!
Our last newspaper person was a full grown adult who delivered the papers from her car. And that's fine. She did a good job. The newspaper almost always arrived on time and in the right place! But now, that too is a thing of the past. Now the daily newspaper arrives with the daily mail.
I mean, I guess, that is creative problem solving right? And it's not unprecedented after all. If I ordered a subscription to an out of state newspaper, that would arrive in our mailbox. So why not do the same thing with the local paper. It arrives the same day as it normally would, just at a different time. Sooooo no biggie.
Other than, I miss having a morning paper. As it is, we've cut down from a daily paper to a twice a week paper. We choose to not renew our subscription to the daily news which came out of Tampa, The Herald. Most of the "news" we were already aware of either via online news, TV news, radio news or, if it was Super Important, we would be alerted through our cellphones. Also the price kept going up while the quality of writing when down. Am I the only person, by the way, who is annoyed by the poor, typing/spelling/grammar/punctuation/tense choice/ sentence structure/etc in any print publication anymore? I find that I spend more time aggravated by those details than actually absorbing the article I am supposedly reading.
I don't mean the occasional booboo. That's understandable and even expected. I am talking about every single magazine, newspaper, newsletter and online article that I read lately has errors. Sometimes really big errors, such as getting the name completely wrong of the person about whom the article is written! ARGH! Are there no proof readers anymore? Or is the prevailing attitude, "eh, it's close enough, you know what I meant'. ?? Infuriating.
At any rate, if I am going to be aggravated while reading the news, not just about the story it self but the actual writing of the story, perhaps it's better if we keep it down to twice a week instead of every day, I suppose. Which is why we now just get the local paper which, as I said, only publishes twice a week.
Also, if you are going to be stuck reading ads, it's kind of nice to only read local ads. You know, things that actually directly impact my life and Tim's. (and everyone else in V
I'm starting to adapt to getting the newspaper later in the day. Now I am reading it just before starting dinner most of the time. Not bad, not bad. And this week, I saved Saturday's newspaper to read until Sunday. That was a treat, reading the Sunday Funnies on SUNDAY just like we used to do in the olden days.
I feel bad for the mail carriers tho. Just one dang more thing for them to have to keep track of. At least they don't end up having to deliver those gigantic catalogues nowadays. Remember those? Sears, Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalogues were enormous! And in some places that I've lived, the mail carriers were on foot, lugging many many pounds of delivery in large leather shoulder bags. I cannot begin to imagine how heavy those were. At least here our mail delivery people drive mail trucks!
And in any case, I'm sure either option is certainly better than the really olden days in the west when the mail arrived via pony express tucked inside a saddle bag and carried by a fast moving, fast thinking fella that hoped he wasn't going to be beset by bandits or bad weather, that his horse wouldn't draw up lame, and that he and the mail would arrive in one piece each time he set out to do his route.
My mother's mother grew up on Little Deer Isle off the coast of Maine and their mail arrived by boat, when it finally arrived. Obviously in bad storms and wicked winter weather whatever boat dropped the mail off was delayed a bit. When the cod were running or the lobster traps needed to be pulled, whoever piloted that boat was probably running a little late on those days too. And the mail might be a wee bit damp and smell a might fishy when you finally got it also.
As I think on it, having our newspaper arrive by mail truck is a fine idea. Don't know why they didn't think of it before ;)
February 17th, 2023
Earlier this week, Joy and I packed up our stuff and headed out to one of our favourite hiking spots, T. Mawbry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve. Long name. We just usually refer to it as Carlton. One name. Sort of like Cher. It's an amazing and beautiful place with more than 100 miles of trails. I'm sure we have been on most of them at one time or another (and definitely gotten turned around out there a time or two)
It was a gorgeous day, beautiful cloudless sky so blue that the green of the trees against it paled in comparison. It was a wee bit chilly when we started out and only began to warm up a bit as we were leaving. Absolutely perfect.
And yet, neither of us got many pictures. So while it was intended to be one of our Photo Safari outings, instead it turned out to be more of a hike with cameras. A totally different sort of thing. Which is perfectly fine, by the way. It happens. It was just a surprise. Normally we are snapping away like mad but this time. Not so much. A whole lot of hiking, very little clicking. Still had a great time, got some terrific exercise and we always enjoy the opportunity to spend time together. But as far as pictures go, kind of a bust.
There were a few, of course!
In fact, at one of the very first trail intersections, as we were deciding which way to go, first we peered down the trail to the right, the trail up ahead and then the trail to the left. Hmmmmm. As we stood there debating some very large and healthy looking wild hogs crossed the trail to the left. Ok we are not going that way....so we turned right instead. Joy actually got a picture of our piggy pals:
I know you cannot tell from this phots as there is nothing to measure them against, but trust me when I say that they were of good size.
We continued on, twisting and turning with the trails and randomly choosing to go left, right or straight as we went along, quietly talking, pointing things out to each other and occasionally taking a photo or two.
We heard more birds than we captured. They were either zooming far too quickly, were hiding up in the leaves/fronds/sprills, or we just simply couldn't find them~! Dang birds. Here are a few of the ones we did capture: (some photos are mine, the really good ones are Joys)
Most of my pictures this time 'round turned out to be of trees. Sometimes they show their best selves in colour, other times in black'n'white. I don't suppose there is one absolutely "right" way to present a photo. It's probably one of those things that is so subjective it's impossible to say what is truly correct. And nowadays, I have the option of leaving or removing colour with just the touch of a few buttons. (what an amazing thing!) Either way, I had fun playing around with them in editing and I'll let you decide which you prefer:
Got a few flowers and one thing I'm putting in the flower category even though it clearly isn't:
And that's about it! Not even a rando file today, sorry. There it is, the sum total proof that instead of a Photo Safari, we merely did a nice hike in the forest with our cameras.
It was absolutely lovely just more or less, photo-less. We wish ourselves better luck next time!
February 14th, 2023
Well Happy Valentine's Day to you! Originally this was just going to be a bit of this'n'that and then I realized that today is Valentine's Day! And my first thought was dang, I will need to save this post for another day and write a different one for Vee Day! And then I changed my mind. I bet I can tie the two ideas together and salvage this post. So here we go!
1. We had a visitor last Friday! (Left to right is Carol, me and then Joy) And on this day of hearts and flowers: I love my family, both the near part and the far part : ) Our cousin Carol from Michigan was visiting and thank goodness, she and Joy and I were able to get together for lunch. I hadn't seen Carol in at least 4 years, Joy probably much the same, so we had a lot to catch up on! We managed to find a neato place to meet (I've written about it before - Snook Haven) have lunch and then gab yak chat giggle schmooze for about 3 hours! Mercy! It was awesome to see her again and to exchange family updates. The time absolutely flew by!
It's a funny thing but having not seen each other in four years didn't impact our ability to jump right back into the fray one single bit. It was as if we had gotten together a week or so ago. I would say that it's a family thing (and it is) but it's not just that. I also have that kind of connection with other people to whom I am in no way related. Not a lot of other people, but some and it is always delightful when it happens. I just love it! There are no awkward silences or moments of confusion (what on earth are they talking about ?) at all. It's like putting on a jacket you haven't worn in awhile but every time you wear it, you feel good. And then wonder why you don't wear it more often!
Thanks for taking the time Carol and by the way, Thanks for Lunch. Our treat next time!
2. Tim (the man I adore, my Valentine Every Year) painted the project room! It looks so great! And it feels so good to know that we are one step closer to finished. Do you want a quick look? I mean the room isn't done, but it is definitely feeling a lot more like a room and less like a construction site. And before you say anything, yes we chose that colour on purpose and yes we love it. At any rate, here is one quick little peekie. It's amazing to me how much difference it makes just having the colour on the wall! Obviously when it's completely finished I will post pictures :)
3. I love our crazy weather! Sunday was super windy! The temperature dropped and the wind picked up. Tim and I of course had to go down to the jetty to check things out. Of course! We were wet and salty by the time we were done. Just getting the pictures was very tricky, I had to keep wiping the wet off the camera lens, the wind was blowing my hair into my face and in absolutely truth, Tim had to stand behind me holding on to me to keep me from blowing over the edge and into the water. Seriously!
But I was laughing like a mad woman the entire time. It wasn't scary, it was exciting and kind of funny. The pictures aren't great but I did the best I could and you can, at the very least, tell what I was taking a picture of, so that must count for something.
I felt so badly for the poor seabirds who, no matter how hard they tried, were just kind of hanging in midair, not making any headway at all, no matter how hard they tried. But I had a blast doing two things I love: hanging out by the water and taking pictures!
4. We also went up to the National Cemetery on Sunday to "visit" my dad, who we also love and miss terribly. Oddly, it's not a sad place at all. Well of course I'm sad that my dad is gone, but he was so proud of his Military Service and I know he is happy to be surrounded by his brothers and sisters at arms.
It's beautiful there and when we leave there, we always take with us a sense of peace. I know some folks may find it ghoulish but I often take photos when we visit. There are beautiful trees and fake lakes with gentle hills and winding pathways. The birds do not care one single bit if a body of water was created by man or nature and there are always plenty of birds around. So here are a few photos that I took:
5. There's no photo to accompany it but just as a statement of Valentine's Fact, since we are talking about heart shaped things, I love my husband, my children, their spouses (who I consider to be my bonus children) my sister and her children and my friends. I think that pretty much covers things for today.
So I guess that's mostly it. You are now officially caught up on the dribs and drabs, odds and ends, flotsam and jetsam, bits and bobs of what's been happening around here AND got a Happy Valentine's Day tie in as well.
What's new with you?
Oh! And Hope you are having a Happy Valentine's Day too! Hugs
February 10th, 2023
Did you notice it yet? Do you see what's missing in the picture? I mean, I am well aware that it's not a very good picture but still it should be fairly apparent. Figure it out yet? It's the orthotic! It's gone! I no longer live in Velcro Heck! I had an Orthopedic appointment on Wednesday and they said that the healing is coming along so very well that I no longer need to use that doggone thing! Actually she said, "keep doing whatever you are doing coz it's working". I said, "I hear you saying 'eat more ice cream'" And then she laughed and told me I could stop wearing that doggone thing. I never know what to call it. A brace? A stablizer? An orthotic device? A portable torture chamber?
Whatever it's actual name is, while I know it was essential to healing, it felt like a prison. Now, I feel liberated! Though, while I am over joyed to not have that dratted thing to deal with 24/7 anymore, (and it truly was all day and night every day except while I was in the shower) there were some causalities. Sadly, several of my blouses were seriously damaged. It turns out velcro does not only stick to itself. It also sticks to some other fabrics and then it sort of eats the fabric or something. I don't know. All I know is that several tops that I really used to like now looks as if they went multiple rounds with the champ. Ratz. But on the other hand, I'm free, I'm free, I'm free! yay!
But not 100% yet. Drat. My arm is puny and wan and wizened and weak. Furthermore my ability to move that arm is severely limited. I have to use my left arm to scratch my nose for heaven's sakes! And now there is only one way to fix that. Physical Therapy. And lots of it. You see the position of my arm in this photo? That's pretty much all I can do with it right now. Right angle and full stop. The goal here is to achieve a full range of motion and to get my strength back. And I'm sure that eventually, I will.
I am a compliant patient and a motivated one too. I am fully aware of the meaning of the saying, "Short term pain equals long term gain". I am mentally prepared for some discomfort. That's the term that they use. Discomfort. The word pain carries some negative connotations y'see. And I know I will have daily homework assignments.
I had my first PT appointment yesterday. Everyone was very nice. It was interesting. I learned a lot and I have three exercises to do which I will absolutely do. And it was kind of a surprise to me when I asked my therapist how many times a day should I do the exercises and she said, "times a day? Gosh if you do them at all I will be happy". Wow there's a low bar.
To each her own I suppose. We all make our choices. But my plan is to do the work. I want my life back. I am to be physically as close to what I used to be as possible. And this is the only way for me to get there. To my version of normal, I mean. There's the goal for ya!
But it's gonna be rough and I know it. I also know I can do this. I will not be at my absolute best in the interim though and I suppose, that is part of the price I pay. The rest is an actual price tag and even with insurance, it ain't cheap. Dang. But worth it! Still by the end of the first day, I was cranky and frazzled and I hurt in so many places that I admit, I was not my absolute best version of myself. And I guess this is just how I will be for awhile. I will try very hard to grin and bear it, but occasionally, there might be a little snappy - barky sneaking in there. I will attempt to keep it to a minimum.
"This funny little thing that Tim showed me recently keeps popping into my head. Perhaps you already saw it too. But just in case you did not:
"Saw my own shadow and now I have six more weeks of being a hot mess". LOL That'll be me until I finish up this Physical Therapy. Which ought to be about ten weeks from now. Let's synchronize watches. Ten weeks from today and Mark!
Meanwhile, have a wonderful weekend! Hugs all 'round. Well one armed hugs. I can't do two right now.
February 07th, 2023
I guess this is the tale of two pans. That sounds silly. But essentially, that is the situation here.
The pan on the bottom is kind of an orangey colour. That is the old pan. The one of top is a black and silver pan. That would be the new pan. Both of them are touted as being "non-stick" which is a good thing.
The orangey one was called a "copper" pan when we bought it which was on a whim. I don't recall if it was Big Lots or Walmart or Target but it certainly wasn't anywhere high end. It was nearly seven years ago so I can be forgiven if I don't remember all of the salient details, I think.
I do know that we were not out specifically looking for a new pan but, at the time, we were hearing a lot about the relative awesomeness of "copper" cookware and the fact that this one was nonstick definitely was an allure. It must have been very reasonably priced. And clearly we were in need of a nonstick pan because we bought it. And immediately it went into regular use.
Tim is the eggman. That is to say that when eggs are going to be fried or scrambled or made into omelets, he's the guys. When he makes eggs they always come out fluffy and perfect and delicious. I just stand back, admire, happily eat the eggs and eventually clean the pan. As I am not the Omelet Master, I cannot speak as to whether or not this copper pan is or is not the Bees Knees when it comes the actual cooking of the eggs but as the dish washer I can tell you that my favourite part about the old copper pan was how easy it was to clean. Zippity do dah and done. Love it.
And then one day I noticed that it was getting harder and harder to clean this non-stick pan. The eggs still tasted great but the cleaning up of it was definitely less than delightful. The Non-stick Pan had become a Mostly Stick pan. And that is not good. There were no scratches, no chips, the surface at least appeared to be just as pristine as ever, but the cleaning up was definitely different in a bad way.
Apparently I crabbed about it just long enough because recently a package arrived on the doorstep that, once opened, revealed a new nonstick pan! The black and silver one. The sides are higher, the handle is longer and it has a silicone grip. The best part of course being the non-stick-ness of it all. Hurrah. Peace once again settles upon the sink of our household.
Nonstick cookware! What an absolutely genius idea! It was created back in 1954 by French engineer, Marc Grigoire at his wife's suggestion. Brilliant! The product didn't hit US shelves until in the mid 1960's but I suspect that my mother was the first person in line to buy it. My mother loved anything that made any household chore easier. Frozen TV Dinners - Yes! Instant mashed potatoes - You betcha! Toaster Ovens - of course! And non-stick pans - Absolutely! My mother, bless her, had many many talents and was a wonderful person but she was not remotely interested in food in any capacity. Not shopping for it, cooking it, serving it or eating it. So it was done with as little muss or fuss possible. Consequently, I honestly do not recall a time in my childhood when there weren't non-stick pans in our kitchen.
And if you have nonstick pans you also have the proper tool right? Because otherwise it will scratch the coating and you will have teflon in your food! That is not a good thing at all! Well ti be perfectly truthful, sometimes proper tools were used in our house and sometimes they were not. I've probably ingested enough teflon in my life that germs should just slide right out of my body. I suppose it was not a big deal because if the pan got too scratched up, she would throw it out and buy a new one. They weren't particularly expensive.
At some point, some smarty britches found a way to make non-stick pans also less likely to be scratched up. Another brilliant move. I think we've all seen the late night commercials with the nonstick cookware that can be scratched, hammered, pummeled and blown up without any harm coming to the pan. Our new pan is not one of those. The instructions very specifically say to use silicone, nylon, bamboo or wood tools. Ok we can do that. They also say not to use any aerosol cooking sprays . Both Fine and Dandy. It even specifies to never use it over high heat! Okay we can do that too. It is, apparently, dishwasher safe but honestly, since nothing sticks to it, clean up is so easy that I'm not going to take up room in the dishwasher with it.
It's maiden voyage was this past weekend. The eggs came out perfectly and I barely had to expend a single calories worth of energy cleaning it so it's all good. The old nonstick pan is dead. Long live the new non-stick pan!
February 02nd, 2023
On Monday, Joy, Bob, me and the monopod, headed out for a Photo Safari! It was a gorgeous day, as you can see from the photo above. It felt so good to be back out in the forest on the trails. We chose a small local preserve, Curry Creek, for our first time back out. It had been awhile and I will admit to feeling a wee bit insecure about it all.
And not just about traversing uneven ground! (which I'm told is very normal after a fall). I knew that even with the monopod (and thank goodness for it!) I would be a little limited in what pictures I could capture. And that's fine. As (I believe) Clint Eastwood once said (as a character in a film) "It's a wise man (or in this case woman) who knows his limitations". I am very well versed in my limitations. So rather than fight it, I planned to focus on botanical shots. They tend to not move around very much. I am good with that :) I'm calling this Photo Safari the Mostly Botanical Hike for that reason.
But it wasn't ONLY botanicals (and I'm sure you are relieved to hear that!) In fact, one of my very first photos that day was of birds! Bob was the one who spied them up in a tree off trail. I was reluctant to even try at first. Birds and other living creatures, rarely hold still. And birds in trees are especially hard to capture because trees are not tidy and neat! There are branches and leaves or sprills pointed in all sorts of different directions, getting in the way of the shot and by the time you have yourself (and the camera) correctly positioned, birds are notorious for choosing that moment to take flight once again. I strongly suspect that they wait, giggling all the while, intentionally avoiding the camera.
I can't say as I blame them. We are, for all intents and purposes, paparazzi's in their lives. Uninvited and intrusive. I would feel bad for them except I really want those shots! LOL (Probably what other paparazzi's say) At any rate, here they are:
Here and there I managed to get a few other birds. It was a surprise to me for sure! But I probably missed as many (or more) than I captured. Joy, on the other hand, got some real beauties~ Her photography is amazing. Here are mine:
This particular preserve has two sides and one is only accessible over a creek (I assume it's the actual Curry Creek). There is no bridge and it's too wide to jump so usually we can only go to the other side when the water level is very low or during the deepest part of winter (our dry season) when most of the water has dried up. But on this particular day, someone else had taken fallen pine branches and built a kind of causeway across. It wasn't fool proof, as it was a little slippery, a little uneven and bumpy from the stacks and layers of branches and in some places more than a little wet. I had a moment of hesitation, concerned about possibly falling (again!) but I don't want to live in fear and the phrase, "What's life without risk" ran through my little punkin' head, so I took I deep breath and very carefully walked (successfully) across! Yay!
Here is Joy traversing the pine branch bridge across the creek. Perhaps you can see that it's a bit muddy and boggy and very wet if you do not step carefully enough. By the way, I did not step carefully enough. Came home with wet shoes and filthy socks :) heh
The balance of my photos are just botannicals. I say "just" as if they weren't important to me. That's not at all true. I adore flowers and all green growing things. I will try to find the ones that are the best of the lot so I don't inundate you with pictures :)
Thus ends the Mostly Botanicals Hike. I'm sure that we will get out there and now that I am feeling a little more secure about not tripping and falling on wet things or over tree roots or rocks, or injuring someone else with my monopod, we will get brave and do longer, more interesting and photogenic photo Safari's.
Hope you enjoyed!
January 31st, 2023
So Excited! I have a new toy! Tim took pity on my pathetic attempts to take photos one handed/left handed and got me a monopod! That's me using it in the photo above. If you've never heard of one before, it's sort of like a camera tri-pod only instead of three legs, it has one.
It telescopes down into the smallest little, no big deal thing to carry around, screws right into the base of the camera and provides stability that even my sad little excuse for a very limited right arm can hold steady while my left goes ahead and hits whatever buttons are required. AND the monopod can even be used as a walking stick. It. Is. Awesome. !!!
Even when my arm is healed and I'm back to what passes for normal, I can foresee that I will continue to use this device. The one and only downside that I can see is that since I don't constantly telescope it up and down, I'm walking around with it fully extended. Which means that you probably should never walk behind me. You might get whacked with a stick.
It's not intentional, I assure you. But as you know, I do not hear very well. With my hearing aids on and paying close attention I do really well with what is going on in front of me. Behind me is an entirely different matter. Anything that happens behind me is a mystery and ultimately a surprise. At least for me it is.
But honestly, if I took the time to constantly extend and retract the monopod, I would miss at least half of the shots I wish to take. So selfishly, since I'm out and about with the intention of taking photos, the monopod will be extended to my eye level (which is not fully extended by the way - I am a shorty after all) and stay that way until I am done. I'm sure that is a very selfish attitude, for which I apologize. But I'm so excited to be able to take photos again without the constant fear of dropping the camera and while doing all sorts of upsidedown and sideways contortions. Pleas forgive my self-centeredness!
Tim was able to run interference for me on this past Saturday while we took it out for a test drive. And I made every effort to be cognizant of where the stick was as I was walking around. But since that was my maiden voyage with the monopod, I still needed to get the "hang" of working with it, that was best done under supervision and with a kindly person to keep me from injuring myself or others. Tim volunteered.
He found a place that was sparsely populated which was perfect. Tim walked me through the process of getting it set for my use and then we headed out. And the very first thing we saw was an Osprey on the ground. What? Aren't those things supposed to be in the air? We observed, from a distance as the bird called and hopped a little bit, extended his wings and called again. If you've never heard an Osprey, the sound is kind of bone chilling at first. It's almost a scream but mournful. And they are not small birds either. So imagine being a tiny unsuspected little mousie and hearing that sound. Yikes.
The above is the bird in question. Clearly on the ground. As we watched and wondered if he was okay, some fool walked his dog over to the Osprey. Luckily it was just a big old golden retriever who was a sweet natured, goober of a dog, but the Osprey wasn't at all happy about it. You'd think that the dog owner would have picked up on that fact, but nope, he allowed his dog to sniff and caper and be silly with the bird who was Not Happy about it. As Tim called for the guy to leave the bird alone, we made our way closer. Finally the fellow left. (What is wrong with people?)
Before such a thing could happen again, Tim led me over to the nearby wildlife rehab center and we notified one of the people there about it. In short order the guy came out with a net, safely and gently captured the bird and brought it back to the center. He told us that the Osprey would be fine and that it only had a minor leg injury. Right now is Osprey mating season and apparently during his fancy mating dance this particular Osprey got a little carried away and hurt himself. Poor Baby. The center will sort him out and then set him free when he is healed and he will have stories to tell.
It was an exciting start to the day.
We continued on our way as I got more and more comfortable with the monopod and this new way of taking pictures. They aren't the best photos I've ever taken, but they aren't the worst either. And I swear to you, I will get better as I spend more time using this new tool. I am delighted with this gift and had such a great day!
Here are some of the Photos I took
Lots of Pelicans:
Some other birds:
And a few other random things. Yes the rando files continue :)
Not too bad for my first time with a new toy and the first photo safari (of sorts) in awhile. More photo safari's to come! I am over the moon about my new toy! Yay Monopods!
January 24th, 2023
my apologies to you. i havent written much lately. to be fair, i havent had all that much to say. most of my time of late is consumed with finding new ways to do old things. all a necessity. as you know, tomorrow will be the two week anniversary of me breaking my right arm. obviously, its still broken. doesnt heal in two weeks tho im sure its better. tomorrow i go for another set of xrays to make sure its healing properly.
i am very proud of my one handed/left handed accomplishments. some things are done similarly to normal, with a tiny tweak. like, moving laundry from washer to dryer. done the same way, but slower with more repetition i.e. smaller handfuls. other things i have to re-engineer in my head first like working a can opener. that one took a second or two. but i figured it out! woohoo! same thing with scissors. upsidedown and backwards works.
most things just require a little forethought, like opening the door to the laundry room first then picking up and carrying in the dirty clothes. everything becomes a multistep process. the smallest thing, say brushing your teeth, takes twice as long with many more steps so patience is a must. a sense of humour helps a lot.
i can make the bed, slowly, wash dishes! ( the trick is trapping the dish in a corner of the sink first), wash my hair, dust, wash floors and many other things. just takes me longer and involves more thought. but the one thing i really wanted to do that i couldnt quite figure out, was take pictures with only my left hand.
first of all, i dont want to drop my camera. yikes thats terrifying to consider. so its obvious to me that i will be using the camera strap every second! then there was, once again, the engineering of the process. the shoot button is on the right side of the camera, as is the lever for telescoping the lens. it had become second nature to me to use it with my right hand. how to do it with my left however? hmmmm. simple solution: turn the camera upsidedown! awesome! now the button is on the bottom instead of the top but accessible to my left hand. just needed to practice.
like most everything, the results are improved with time and repetition. i wandered around outside looking for something to practice on. aha! pretty courtyard flowers. i took 14 shots of the exact same thing. i didnt change my position, the flowers did not move. just 14 shots in one spot. one came out
clearly i needed a lot more practice. i began shooting anything that was holding still. didnt matter if it was photo worthy or not. this was strictly for the purpose of getting comfortable with my camera being used a different way.
gradually, though my subject matter wasnt especially inspiring, it was taking fewer shots to get a clear and centered image. yay. i was ready for a bigger challenge
it rained sunday night so we woke to pretty raindrops. i find tiny things especially difficult to capture, even with both arms working so i knew id be deleting many attempts. i hoped for just one success. just one. i was pleased with the results. i mean it can always be better but still... not bad for a one armed phptographer eh?
yesterday, i did even better. it took fewer tries to get these results. yay!!
as pleased as i am with my progress, there are a few things that are so far impossible. cannot tie my shoes for instance. at least not yet. havent figured out how to safely use a knife one handed so all cutting and vegetable chopping requires assistance. cannot properly style my hair. the best ive come up with so far is to dry a little, use the round brush, dry a little more. round brush etc. it is both tedious and time consuming. so i rarely bother. and the one mystery that may be forever unsolved - i cannot hook a necklace or my bra!! just aint happening solo.
so thats my life right now. if you want to experiment and share my frustration try strapping your dominant arm to you body for a day and then let me know how that goes. oh wait, you probably cannot do that one handed. heh.
January 16th, 2023
yeah i know, the photo is a little catawampus, but right now, to be honest, so is most most of my world! its crazy! but we are adjusting. so many of you lovely people haver asked question! and its heart warming that you all care so much. i thought i would try to answer your questions here and all at one time. while i am lucky in that i am more facile than most people with my left hand, there are so many things as it turn out, that are simply easier using both paws. so please bear with me.
1. how did this happen? answer: by accident. tim and i were walking the same route we almost always traverse during the noonwalk mon through fri 52 weeks a year. it was sunny and dry and it was not crowded. i was not running. my shoelaces weren't untied. i did not faint. very simply, the toe of my shoe caught in an oversized gap between two pieces of sidewalk and i went down hard. tim was behind me coming up on my left and we were having a very pleasant chat. i was turned slightly to my left which explains why all the damage was on my right.
the only thing that broke was my right arm, very high up near the shoulder. but i badly scraped and bruised right knee, hand, elbow and cheek.
2. there was no ambulance involved. tim, my hero, ran home and drove back to get me. we went directly to an urgent care center assuming, correctly, that the wait would be shorter. we were in and out in less than 90 minutes! not bad.
3. saw an orthopedic on fri and they trussed me up in the contraption in the photo at the top of the page. it involves way more velcro than should be legally allowed and looks a little bondage-esque, lets be honest. but they are the experts so im doing as told which means wearing the assigned apparatus 24/7 except in the shower, icing often and doing forearm exercises as instructed.
4. whats next? next week i have an appointment for another xray session to be sure all things are still properly aligned and healing as anticipated. eventually i will be going to Physical Therapy to regain strength and mobility.
5. how am i doing? overall, ok. im finding ways to do a lot of things one handed and, even harder, asking for help when its something i simply cannot do, solo. mostly, im just keeping on, keeping on.
it takes forever to type one handed argh...so many mistakes! in fact this is my 2nd time writing todays blog. somehow i accidentally deleted version one. soooo frustrating. but once i calmed down, i came back, tried again and here we are. taadaa! i feel so freakin accomplished :)
i hope i answered all your questions. if not, let me know. hope all is well with all of you. thank you so much for caring!
January 12th, 2023
i seem to be on a dumbassery roll!
yesterday during our normal noonwalk, i caught the toe of my shoe in an extra wide sidewalk crack and boom. down i went. turns out that concrete is not very forgiving.
after a few hours and multiple xrays, we learned that i had broken my dang arm. ratz. its way up high near the shoulder and of course, my right arm. of course!
i see the orthopedic doc tomorrow and should know more then. meanwhile im trying to stay as still as possible. at this point, perhaps i should be encased in bubblewrap and sat in a corner where i cannot myself or anyone else. geez!
needless to say, i will be taking yet another blog hiatus. my apologies
much like mcarthur, i shall return
meanwhile please stay safe and be happy.
one armed hugs all 'round
January 10th, 2023
This past Saturday was Minock Day! Woohoo! Always one of the BEST days!
We met up in Palmetto to see a performance of Cirque Italia! I had never heard of them and assumed (though one should never) that it was one of the many regular Cirque du Soliel Shows. We have seen a number of different Cirque du Soliel Shows, one in Denver in a tent but the rest were on various visits to Las Vegas. They are always pretty amazing.
Cirque Italia is not affiliated with Cirque du Soliel. But yes, there are some similarities. Both are wildly entertaining. Both have amazingly talented performers from all over the world and they both were inspired by the idea of a Circus.
But Cirque du Soliel began in 1984. Cirque Italia first began performing in 2012. Cirque Italia wanted to bring a new look to the old fashioned idea of an antique Barnum and Bailey type Circus (without the animals). Cirque du Soliel is all about being inovative and modern, contemporary and new, maybe even a little futuristic. Italia is all about the past. And oddly, that makes it very refreshing.
There was definitely a vintage feel to the event, from the costuming to the music to the actual acts themselves. It was, almost, like watching a two hour long version of the Ed Sullivan show (remember that?) only much, much more. Their press says that it is a European style Circus. Having never seen a European Circus (as far as I know) I will have to take their word for it. Whatever style it is, I vote resoundingly YES!
There was interaction with the audience, pratfalls, silly fun, death defying acts, gravity defying performances, sparkles and spangles. We were surrounded by balloons, popcorn and candy apples. Arrows were fired, people swung through the air or balanced on chairs and each other, there were dancers and unicycles and giant robots! There were fountains and waterfalls and running gags. We laughed, we gasped and we applauded over and over and over. Two hours could have felt like an eternity but, instead, it flew by far too quickly!
For us, obviously, getting to have some Minock time was just icing on the cake.
In short, we had a wonderful time and we recommend Cirque Italia highly. They do tour around the US so if you have the opportunity to see them, consider it. It was awesome!
Keeping within the theme but earlier that same day, I tried to do my own home version of a Cirque Italia act. Well not really. Their performances are intentional. Mine was utterly by accident. Let me set the scene for you. I am at the kitchen sink, rinsing dishes and then putting them into the dishwasher. The dishwasher is on my immediate right. The door of the dishwasher, of course, is open because I'm loading it. Funny things are being said to my left, so, instinctively, I turned that way, laughed and then turned back to my right to complete my task.
Apparently, when I first turned left, I took a teensy tiny step back without realizing it because when I shifted to the right, instead of being beside the open dishwasher, instead I was, suddenly, on it and then on the ground. Yup crashed into (and onto) the open door and then face planted onto the floor. It happened so very fast that I don't really remember it. First I was standing and then I was on the floor, certain that I had, once again, broken my nose. (I did not by the way).
I stayed on the floor for a few minutes, attempting to gather my wits about me. Tim leaned over me asking if I was all right. The first thing I said was, "What a dumbass" in reference to myself. Who is that ridiculous? I mean, other than me. I am an accident waiting to happen at all times.
After the applications of multiple ice packs and a bit of rest, I pulled myself together, we headed out and tremendously enjoyed the performance and the company of our dear friends. But I'm telling ya, the next day I was so sore! Shins, knees, ribs, hands and face. Shockingly few bruises, mostly just the blackeyes, thank goodness, and nothing appears to be broken, other than the door of the dishwasher, may it rest in peace.
I honestly thought the dishwasher was totalled but as it turns out, if you close it Just Right, it still works. Tim has it doing a trial run right now to check for leaks. So far, So good. Whew!
So there you have it! Great Excitement! Terrific Evening. Wonderful Company! But from now on, I think I will leave the acrobatics to Cirque Italia.
January 05th, 2023
It's a very basic thing, butter. It's been around for the past 8,000 or so years. And for a change, that is not an exaggeration. There is credible evidence of butter in Ancient Africa that long ago. Wow!
And it really is such a simple, again basic, thing. Just cream and salt. That's all it is, when it's done correctly. Pure and quite honestly, very natural.
For a long time, reports have gone back and forth on the relative healthiness of butter, as opposed to a butter substitute such as margarine or the "Smart Balance" sort of thing. But I will tell you, as a veteran cook/baker of many years, and there are a zillion or so chefs who will back me up on this, as far as flavour goes, there really is no true substitute for real honest butter.
When a recipe calls for butter, that is what I use. I grew up with mostly margarine so I do know, first hand, the difference. And since I use butter, not only in baking but also in cooking and in every day use (buttered toast anyone?), butter is an item on nearly every grocery list that I write.
Which is why I was fairly outraged to learn, a few weeks ago, that butter, one single box of 4 sticks of butter, suddenly cost $6.00. Six dollars for a box of butter? I stood there with the box in my hands with my mouth agape, eye wide, wondering when cows suddenly became an endangered species. And then I put it back down and walked away.
This was a very ordinary sort of butter. Just made of cream and salt. Nothing special about it. It was not some fancy imported butter. I was not the butter made from the milk of dragon's or something like that. Just regular ordinary normal butter that originated in a cow.
Six dollars! And since each box holds 4 sticks of butter, that means $1.50 per stick. And since a batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies requires a full cup of butter, which is 2 sticks worth, suddenly just the butter component of the recipe is three bucks. Just the butter! This will severely impact my baking days, which at least used to be, every Friday.
I was very understanding of the shortages and just plain missing items on the grocery store shelves during the Pandemic. For two full years, I was very patient and pleasant and tried to just get really creative. When meal preparations required Item A, I either figured out a way to make it work with either Item B or without that item at all.
In this past post-pandemic year when there have still been big empty spots on the grocery store shelves now and again or limits on items, I have continued to be uncomplaining and forbearing. I even urged others who were very angry to stay calm and offered up alternate ideas.
As prices have gone up and up and up, I have trimmed my grocery lists and shopped accordingly and made better and better use of leftovers. As, I assume, most people have! I mean we all have budgets right? I grew up 'making do' and I am very good at it. I know how to do without and how to make tough decisions. Nowadays when we shop I always ask myself, 'Do we realllly need that?" and "Will something else do just as well?" before selecting each item. I watch the sales, use the coupons and plan meals accordingly.
But now they have gone too far. Now they are messing with my baking day. They have crossed my line.
Quite honestly, I am not absolutely certain what, if anything, I can do about it other than find another butter resource. My friend Marsha suggested Costco. Great Idea. Sometimes great deals can be found at Costco. Of course that means buying in much greater amounts than usual, but butter freezes nicely. I will have to do the math (dang it) the next time we are there to see if it really is a better deal. Usually Costco does have a better price, but not always.
I will check out other brands of butter but first I will have to read their ingredients list. I refuse to buy any butter than has more than two ingredients. As I stated before that should read; cream and salt. Period. Nothing else.
The one thing I will not do is use a butter substitute. It doesn't feel the same, it doesn't taste the same, it doesn't smell the same. It's the way I feel about substitute sugar. I know there are people who swear by it and love it and rave about it. I am not any of those people. It does not taste the same (even within a baked good) to me. And I do not care for the taste. At all. Same thing with butter.
That doesn't mean that I am right and they are wrong. Nope. That is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that I do not care for it and, therefore, will not use it. Everyone else is, naturally, free to do whatever feels right to them and I will never EVER criticize them for it.
As I understand it, the price of butter has increased, yet again, since I last shopped. Does anyone know why? My father's people were all farmers. I know how hard they work. But I suspect that farmers are not the ones making big bucks from the price increases. I'm pretty sure that the truck drivers who get the cream from the farmers and take it to the factories are also not rolling in dough. Nor are the factory workers or the other truck drivers who ship it to the stores. The people working in the the stores aren't driving to work in Maserati's (at least most of them aren't). Sooooooo where is all this extra price increase money going?
Have a cookie, if you can afford it.
January 03rd, 2023
Here we are, 3 days into a brand new year! So how's 2023 shaping up for you so far? I feel like 3 days is enough to have at least an inkling of where this year is heading.
For me? So far Twenty Twenty-Three has been Very Exciting! Of course what I deem as exciting may not seem so to you. I have, apparently, reached an age where small things start to feel very big. Perhaps I should explain by way of example:
I actually said, outloud to myself, in the laundry room these words, " Hurrah it worked! I am so excited!" What was I excited about, you may ask? I was able to get iron scorch marks out of a pair of Tim's shorts. Yee hah, ya'll. I was genuinely excited about that.
Yesterday I was nearly jumping for joy when I learned that Vacuuming out the dryer vent from both the inside and the outside did indeed fix another problem. I had noticed that the dryer was taking longer and longer to actually dry the clothes. And of course, the longer the dryer runs, the more electricity it uses which means the more it costs. A bad thing. And I was dreading the cost of having to call in a repair person. And then it dawned on me that the issue could possibly be a clog in the dryer vent. So I dragged the big old shop vac outside and put it to work. Then I asked Tim to kindly move the dryer inside to the inside part could also be vacuumed. I intended to do the actually vacuuming but he kind of got into it and did it himself. I ran the first post vacuum load yesterday and holycats! It was like magic! Terribly Exciting!
It's been unseasonably warm here this week but I see that it's already beginning to cool off and by Friday (possibly Thursday) I will have window all wide open again (and probably long pants on). I am excited at the prospect of open windows once again.
I have a long overdue hair appointment tomorrow! Hurrah! That is always a reason to get excited. I always feel so transformed after a haircut. And quite honestly, just the being fussed over and pampered in such a lovely place is reason enough to look very much forward to it. Yeah, I guess you could say I am excited about my salon appointment.
Inexplicably, on Monday, when I stepped on the scale I had, overnight, lost not the usually 2 pounds but 4! Wow! That is definitely something to get excited about. I kept stepping on and off, on and off, trying to be sure that it was correct. I even asked Tim if the scale seemed "off' to him. He assured me that his number was correct. Dang! That is Hugely Exciting! Like a little unexpected gift.
Oh! Also very exciting is that I've been seeing birds using the bird bath almost daily now. They may have been using it all along but I've actually witnessed it several days in a row since the new year began! Very Exciting!~
Yes people, my excite - o -meter has an admittedly low "Wow" threshold these days. But that's ok. My friend Jan told me recently, that she loves how excited I get over simple things. I guess I am a simple person. I find joy in very small, simple things. Like cookies. Cookies bring me great pleasure :)
I grew up hearing the expression, "Simple pleasures for simple minds" which feels a little insulting to me. Personally I don't think there is one single thing wrong in finding happiness in simple things, small gestures, tiny delights, uncomplicated moments. But then, I suppose I wouldn't since I appear to one of the small and simple things.
And I'm okay with that.
December 30th, 2022
We've done one more trip around the sun, my friends. The year, 2022 is nearly over. And what a long, strange trip it's been (to quote the Grateful Dead).
Like every year, 2022 had it's highs and it's lows but was mostly in between. I cannot, in all good conscience, say that it was a bad year, but it certainly was an interesting one. Speaking of which, my whole life I was given to understand that the expression, "May you live in interesting times" was an ancient Chinese Curse. But I am not certain that is true. I cannot seem to verify it anywhere. But I do know that back in 1898, Joseph Chamberlain gave a speech in Parliament that began, "I think you will all agree that we are living in most interesting times." Perhaps it's not a curse, maybe it's a blessing. I would like to believe that it is so.
For me, 2022 was the first year that felt as if we had finally moved away from the Pandemic that ruled our lives with an angry and terrifying fist for about two years and I would say that outweighs anything else. It was a bright light after a time of darkness.
Speaking personally, this past year was kind of a a non-year. I feel as if I spent the majority of 2022 either preparing for a surgery, having one or recovering from one. It was not my favourite way to spend 365 days. On the other hand, I've come out on the other side pretty dang nicely. And I love that we are starting a brand spankin' new year without all that drama.
Toward the end of every year, I spent some time reflecting on the part twelve months. I think about where we've gone, what we've done, who I've spent time with, the people I love. I remember how very fortunate I am and consider what I could have done better then I resolve to improve as we move forward.
With that in mind, I've given some thought to my hopes for the new year. I am not looking for perfection. But it would be very nice if 2023 could be better. So here are my thoughts for six ways 2023 could be better:
1. Better Attitudes - There are times when I really need to give myself an attitude adjustment. Just changing the way I see a situation can completely change the way I deal with it. Which, in turn, affords a better outcome.
2. Better Decisions - Sometimes this just involves the decision to exercise more or eat better. Or maybe the decision to say yes to an invitation instead of my automatic, no thank you. Be more social. Or the decision to be kinder to those around me. Or even kinder to myself. Sometimes I am my own worst enemy.
3. Better Health - Of course taking better care of myself will lean me toward better health, but there are some things over which we have no control. So I am going to hope that 2023 brings us all the gift of better health.
4. Better Timing - You know how they say that 'timing is everything'? Well that's not true. It's not everything, but it is a lot. No matter if it's timing for cookies, running, work or romance, timing is important. And think this is one that I have to give up to the Universe. It's not something within my control. I will absolutely wish that the Universe will afford us all some better timing. Get those stars in proper alignment.
5. Better Opportunities - I'm sure those better opportunities are out there, somewhere. I just have to seek them out. And then take advantage of them.
6. Better Luck - I think we could all could use some really good fortune right about now so let's hope that 2023 brings us all a terrific wave of good luck.
However you ring in the New Year, please have fun and stay safe. Hugs all 'round.
Happy New Year Y'all!
December 26th, 2022
Of all the things I've taken pictures of at the beach, the above is one of my favourites. Tim and I spent some time at the beach on Christmas Eve and we saw this cutie there. I don't blame this doggo for wearing a sweatshirt. It was chilly out! I know that other parts of the country had much colder temperatures Lots of zeros and below zeros. Brrrrrr. Negative numbers should NEVER be a temperature! We had more high 20's and low 30's which, while much warmer than say, upstate New York or Colorado, was quite cold to us.
We went out to Breakfast on Saturday morning and, as expected, saw a lot of people very bundled up. My favourite was the lady in a puffy coat and flipflops. Which says to me that she was compromising. You know, "I'm cold but on the other hand, I'm in Florida". Heh.
Not every house in Florida has heat, by the way. Some of the older ones do not, though most of those have fire places. And honestly, it never dawned on me, before we moved here, that a Florida house would ever need heat or a fire place. Boy was I ever wrong. We don't get a lot of really cold weather each year, but they do happen. And when they do, it's brisk!
When those days inevitably roll around, we turn on the heat. (Our house is older but we do have heat, thank goodness). At least for a little bit in the morning just to take the chill out of the air. And quite honestly, during the day it's not much of an issue. We are both busy all day long and if I wear long pants, socks and a sweatshirt, I'm good. It's at night when we are trying to sleep that it's an issue. Even Tim gets cold eventually.
Which is why I am so glad that way back, six + years ago, when we were preparing to move here, even though we got rid of SO MUCH STUFF, we kept our down comforters. Most everyone thought we were crazy. "Dude, you are moving to Florida, not Alaska!" But we, stubbornly, held on to them. Not sure why we decided to do that, but no matter.
We have two of them. One for our bedroom, the other for the guest room. 99% of the time they live in zippered containers in the utility room. But as soon as the weather guys start talking about iguanas falling out of trees, I haul them out. Or I ask Tim to do that part for me. Hey! It's a tall shelf!
Unfortunately, because it's been sitting in the utility room for 11 months, it kind of smells, old and musty. Like a utility room. So this is where my work begins. First I need to strip the comforter cover off, which is like peeling a wiggly small child out of a wet snow suit. The cover goes right into the washing machine and of course then the dryer and that takes care of that.
The comforter itself, however, is not so simple. First of all, it's down. Despite the fact that water fowl are frequently wet, for some reason, it is not recommended that a down comforter be washed. Sort of like how leather shrinks when it gets wet but cows do not, I suppose. Second of all, there is no way this monster comforter would even fit in my washer anyway so it's a moot point.
I suppose I could have taken it to the dry cleaners for them to do their magic, but nope. We all know that I am way too cheap for that! So instead, I draped it over the kitchen table and chairs and sprayed it thoroughly with fabric refresher spray. Lavendar scented :)
Eventually I dragged it off the table and struggled and heaved to turn it over and do the same thing on the other side as well. This is also in front of an open window so it's airing out nicely at the same time by the way. Gotta use every trick in the book to get that funky smell out or there is no sleeping no matter how toasty warm it might be.
Once everything is smelling fresh and clean, the next step is to wrestle the comforter into the comforter cover. And it honestly is like a wrestling match! Holy Cats! And nearly every time, just when I think I'm done, I realize that I've put it on the wrong way. The shape of the comforter is almost but not quite square. It's so subtle that you wouldn't think that it matters. Trust me, it does. But again, hard to tell before shoving and hauling and pulling and dragging. And then, it becomes evident that I've not done it the right way 'round and ARGH! Now I have to strip the cover back off and either turn the comforter or approach from a different direction.
No matter, at some point it's done. And I'm hot and sweaty and well exercised but everything is as it should be and the comforter is on the bed and I know that we will sleep well that night. With cold air around us while we are tucked up so cozy and warm. I love that! Usually the best sleeps of the entire year.
There will only be a couple more nights of the need to sleep under the comforter this week but odds are good that there will be a few more weeks, here and there, before spring, with frosty temperatures and we will drag it back out again.
In between those bizarro cold snaps, the weather is gorgeous in the 60's and 70's with low humidity, shorts, sandals and open windows. So a cold snap really is kind of a shock to the system, though, oddly, I don't mind it. I kind of like being reminded of what real true winter weather is like. Wouldn't want it all the time but once in awhile, it's a nice change.
I hope all of you stayed safe and warm during this arctic blast! And that you had an absolutely delightful Christmas Holiday!
Here are a few other photos of a cold day at the beach. You will notice an absence of people
December 23rd, 2022
It's almost here! Just a couple more days and the jolly fat guy in the red suit ought to be flying his reindeer across the sky with a sleigh filled with gifts for good little boys and girls. Which suggests clearly that I should not expect anything :)
Even though current weather reports around the country are abysmal with flights cancelled, roads treacherous and power outages galore, December 25th will still be Christmas day. If you planned to travel for Christmas, I hope that you arrive at your destination with minimal jeopardy and all of your luggage intact.
For those that are safe and sound, snug and warm in their homes (or someone else's home for that matter) during this holiday weekend, I say, Huzzah! Now stay in that warm, safe place until the storm is over and the roads are clear, please!
To everyone, my Christmas Wishes for you this year are for Good Health, Much Happiness, the Knowledge that You are Cherished, Lots of Laughter and tucked way down in the toe of the stocking is a tiny box of Great Adventures that I am also wishing to you.
However you spend your precious Christmas Day, Stay Safe, Stay Warm and Be Happy!
Hugs all 'round and wishes for a Very Merry Christmas!!
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.