May 30th, 2023
Thought you guys might appreciate a project room update since it's been awhile. The above photo is a reminder of some of what we've been seeing for quite some time now. I wish I had thought to take more photos of the process from the beginning but alas, I did not.
As a refresher, the room originally was smaller, with a lot of single pane windows - no two of which were the same size and the room was one step down. It had massive sliders, a lower ceiling and the oddest tile floor. It looked as if someone had broken terracotta tiles and created a mosaic with the shards. It was interesting but hard to clean.
From the first time we viewed the house, before we bought it, we knew that some day, that room would need a little attention. What we didn't know at that point, and apparently the inspector didn't discover either, is that the entire room was a DIY project, (probably not permitted) AND the foundation of it was not stable. We discovered that instability almost two years ago now when suddenly we were getting leaks around the windows whenever it rained. Then the ceiling began to leak too. There was no way around it, whether we wanted to spend the money or not, the room had to be fixed. Ceiling and walls had to come down and the foundation had to be fixed. Dang. Big job!
As one does, we reached out to a number of contractors. We met with them, got their estimates and then we did some research on them. We are no fools. The contractor we ultimately chose had actually won a Builder of the Year award the year before. Sounds pretty good eh? We thought so too. We reviewed and signed the contract, handed over a terrifying amount of money as the first payment and the work began.
What was supposed to have been a two month project somehow stretched out into six months. And they began showing up less and less. And then the day came when, after 3 of the 4 payments had been made, they no longer responded to texts, phone calls or letters. In desperation, we drove by their office and were shocked and dismayed to find a For Rent sign in the window. We had been abandoned. Dang. Now what do you do?
Once the next steps were sorted out, it seemed that we had two choices, try to find another contractor to pick up where these guys left off or do it ourselves. There is so much building going on in Florida since flood of new residents that finding another contractor was going to be tricky. And Expensive. Think about it, we've already paid for the work to be done. Now we will pay for it twice? And at the higher, post-pandemic rates too! That doesn't sit right. Okay, decision made, we will do this ourselves.
And in all actuality that meant that Tim would be doing 99.999999% of it. As you may or may not recall, all last year, I was out of commission. Absolutely useless. And then I started out this year with a stupid broken arm so I wasn't much more useful this year. Timing may not be everything, but it's a lot.
First things first, we got an inspector in to check things out and found out all the things the contractor did wrong. So the first order of business was correcting those things. Once those things were completed and the inspectors checked them off, one step at a time, we (Well, Tim) started getting things done. Nights, weekends and holidays were mostly devoted to either doing projects or learning how to do projects. Neither of us had every done any of the things necessary for this so there was a bit of a learning curve. Thank goodness for the internet. A person can learn almost anything online.
Well after all that, I am delighted to report that we have finally moved back in to the project room which is, once again, our family room! YAYAYAYAYAYAY! It 's not completely complete yet, but we couldn't wait any longer. After living in a construction zone for far too long, the house is beginning to look more like a real home and less like ishkabibble land! Wanna see?
For the past two years, the living room has been the repository for everything too big to put anywhere else. Finally it's a living room once again:
The guest room still needs a little work - most of the artwork is currently living in there while waiting to go back on various walls. But at least there is a bed once again:
The exterior is painted! Well it needs one more coat, but it's mostly painted. And let me tell you, finding a colour that matches the existing colour was a process! No paint chip in existence was close enough. Then one day Tim spied the plate cover of an outside outlet that the previous owners painted over when the house was painted. He removed that cover, took it to Sherwin Williams and they matched it exactly! Wow, that was genius!
And then, the room we've been missing desperately for nearly two years, the family room! Taadaa!
I'm sure you noticed the are still a few unfinished things, like the baseboards and other trim pieces. It's underway, just incomplete at the moment. And it obvious that there is still a wee bit of work to be done because if you turn to the right instead of the left when you walk in you will see:
Soon enough, that will be gone too.
Can we talk about those floors for a minute? We had never laid tile before so we had no idea what a pain in the arse that job is. Tim read up on it, got what he needed, borrowed a tile saw (thank you Paul) and finished putting the tile down. The contractors had done about 3/4 of it before they disappeared. But of course all of it had to be grouted. Have you ever grouted? We had not. In the video's it looked fairly simple. Work the grout in and then wipe the excess off. We decided that Tim would grout, I would wipe. I had my bucket and my sponges and I was ready to go. But hmmmm. In the video's the wiping seemed much simpler, easier, almost graceful. I was not so much wiping and scrubbing. And scrubbing. AND SCRUBBING! And in the end, after we were sure that the job was done, after everything dried, there was still some grout left on those dang tiles. RATZ.
But, we quickly figured out that by using a steamer and a plastic scraper, I could still remove it. That involves sitting on the floor, steaming and scraping, steaming and scraping and then vaccuming up what I scraped off and repeating over and over. Fine. I can do that :) It took about a week to go over the entire floor but I got it. Well I got most of it. EverytimeI think I got it all, the light hits the floor just the right way and I find another spot I need to work on. So it continues.
Also learned that grout stains. The way I found this out:
This pair of shorts is now a yard work and messy projects pair of shorts.
We are overjoyed to have our house back and in the very near future, when the trim is done, the pictures are back on the wall and perhaps we have blinds at the windows, we will be even happier.
It's been a long and rocky road that involved a lot of work, a lot of time (and money!) falling off a couple of ladders (Tim), throwing out a back (also Tim) so much Advil and ice packs (both of us). And I'm happy to report that, although everything I've ever read says that situations like ours are the cause of many destroyed marriages, in our case, there were no fights, no arguments, no angry words or cold silences. We just keep on keeping on.
Once the project room is finally really completely done, we will take a little break from projects before moving on to the next one. Yeah, we have a list.
Hope you had a great weekend! We are still celebrating having our house back! woohoo!
May 26th, 2023
It's been a couple of weeks since I did a Photo Safari report so I think it's about time! Yesterday, Joy and I headed out to Curry Creek (as you can clearly see by the sign). Because this is the time of year when the temperature starts to rise and the rain begins to fall, we decided to head out extra early hoping to miss the worst of the heat and humidity.
To our surprise and delight, the weather was gorgeous. It was very mild with a lovely breeze. The downside was the the grey and gloomy sky which isn't ideal for most photographs and the concern about possible rain. But what's life without risk. Off we went anyway. I will call this the Very Grey Day Hike because it was.
We had a good strong rain the night before so, right off the bat, there were beautiful raindrop photo ops. Love those! For some reason, I find raindrops very difficult to properly capture. Not sure what I'm doing wrong but whatever it is, on this particular day, I got it right. Woohoo!
When we started out, we were completely alone. It's not a very well travelled preserve so it's not unusual for us to be the only humans there, but on this particular day, in a short time, other folks began to arrive. One pair brought not just their cameras, but even camp chairs and drinks so that their bird watching and photographing could be done in style. Tip 'o the hat to them! Smarties. They set up near the Swallowtail Kite's nest which was one of the things we wanted to check on. Joy and I feel I little protective of those particular birds because, we were the ones who discovered that they were there at all, saw them building the nest and reported it to the city who got all excited about it :) Our report: The babies are growing!
One of the funniest and most unexpected moments of the hike came when Joy looked up and said, "Oh My Gosh! Ducks!" Then she pointed, not down toward possible water, or even the trail but up, very very up. I following her pointer finger and sonuvagun! There were the ducks in the the trees. Tree Ducks? Yup. I can honestly say that I have never before seen a duck in a tree. There were three of ducks and they were not just in a tree, they were in a very very tall tree, like maybe 4 stories high? It's hard for me to judge the height of a tree. What on earth is a Duck doing hanging around in a tree? I don't know why I'm surprised, they are birds after all.
There were other birds, of course. We could hear them all around us but we heard far more of them than we saw. Still, managed to capture a few:
I think we saw cardinals more than anything. Perhaps because that gorgeous red colouring stands out even on a foggy, grey, gloomy day? Regardless of the reason, I do not mind one single bit:
I found the trees especially compelling on this hike. I think it was something about the quality of the light.
Saw two beautiful butterflies and a cute little moth:
As always, I happysnapped a lot of botannicals! I will try to sort out just a few of my favourites:
I guess that about sizes things up. For you, the Very Grey Day Hike! Well, to be honest and Fair about it, this was for Joy and I too.
Wishing you a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend! Have fun and be safe. Hugs all 'round.
May 23rd, 2023
What a pretty little rainbow~! Any idea what these things are? They are called SunSleeves and I love 'em!
I have to back up a little bit in this story for it all to make sense, so please bear with me as we jump into the WayBack machine.....
When I was a kid having a tan was considered a sign of good health. There were no tanning beds or tanning salons so obviously a tan meant that a person was spending time outside in the nice healthy sunshine! For a child, most likely, it also suggested that we were getting lots of good exercise runnning around like the big old goober that all little kids are. For teens and adults it was probably more about either having a job working outside or leisure time spent laying in the sun, relaxing, lubed up good with Sun Tan Oil (not sunscreen mind you) and making sure that you used a reflector to get that tan good adn even in the places harder for the sun to reach.
I was never one to just lay in the sun but in high school, I knew girls who would apply baby oil liberally before lounging outside to attract yet more sun. The theory was that you had to get that first all over burn that would fade into a nice tan. Seriously, that is what everyone "knew" to be true back then. Boy were we dumb.
I did spend time outside, often parked under a shady tree, reading so I managed to escape the dreaded sunburn other than perhaps some pink on my nose and cheeks for a very long time despite living in some sunny places like southern California and Texas. But finally the day came for my first bad sunburn and it was a doozy. It was during my college days.
At that point I lived in Connecticut and one very cloudy weekend, I spent the day with friends on a boat on the ocean, all of us, sensibly wearing bathing suits. Mine was a bikini with a halter top. We had a great time. So great that I did not realize that I was getting burnt. Wait, not just burnt, I was getting crispy. Deep Fried. I did not, until that day, realize that a person can get sun burned on a cloudy day. Turns out, they can.
It was later that evening that I realized that I looked more like a cooked lobster than a girl. Oh My Gosh. That burn was so bad I had blisters. Every single bit of exposed skin including my ears and the part in my hair, was burned. Showering was painful, toweling off after the shower was painful, laying down in my nice soft bed was painful but the worst of the worst was wearing clothes. Everything rubbed against my poor tortured ruby red sunburn.
Eventually I healed and from that point forward I was much more careful about sun exposure. And that caution was an especially good idea when we moved to Colorado. It's very sunny there. Not everyone knows this but there are more than 300 sunny days every year in Colorado AND because the topography has people living a mile or more high, everyone is closer to the sun and that is a bad thing.
It was in Colorado when I first went to see a dermatologist who told me that while I was fine - at the moment - one day that terrible sunburn was going to come back to bite me in the fanny. Wearing sunscreen, limiting sun exposure, wearing long sleeves and a hat were strongly recommended. I did none of those things except occasionally wear sunscreen.
Back to present days. Now we are in Florida and I'm out in the sun a lot. I like being outside. I'm good about applying sunscreen and fairly good about wearing a hat but limiting sun exposure is confusing to me. So I should be hiking at night? Or in the rain? Not sure how to work that one out. The long sleeves thing was troubling. Summers here are not just hot they are HOT and worse, they are humid. Wearing long sleeves sounds like an invitation to heat stroke!
We began doing our annual Dermotology check ups here and while again, everything initially looked ok, there was clearly some skin damage already apparent and again, that old sunburn was going to bite me at some point, and this time the suggestion was sunscreen, hat, limited exposure AND sunshirts.
Have you heard of these? The are long sleeved (of course) and made of some sort of fabric that wicks away moisture and protects the wearer from the sun. Hmmmm. Interesting. We went to the store straight away to check these things out. And that's where I learned several things: 1) Those shirts are dang expensive! 2) There were very few that fit me properly. My porportions are not the ones any clothing designer ever has in mind 3) they are EXPENSIVE! 4) they were not especially comfortable. I like softysoft fabric. These were not and of course 5) $$$$$. So I declined.
And didn't think about it one bit again until recently when I realized that the annual dermotology appointment was coming up again soon and I had done nothing regarding the sunshirt suggestion. I hate it when my doctor calls me on my BS. Dang it. I expressed my concern to Tim and I said, perhaps I needed to revisit the sunshirt idea even though I hated it.
That's when Tim got me these SunSleeves! All of them together cost less than one sunshirt and my arms are protected and I can wear them with any other shirt that I already have and they are softysoftsoft and they are super easy to take on and off and even to wash. Love 'em! I've been wearing them for all of my walks, even to the museum where, upon my arrival, I peel them off and before I leave I pull them back on.
They are sort of like wearing opera gloves. I feel very Audrey Hepburn! Nobody wore Opera Gloves as well as Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's". I'm not Audrey but here is me in one of my pair of SunSleeves:
And now I have something positive to report at my next dermatology appointment. Yay me! And oh yeah, also I'm more protected from the sun.
And by the way, this whole Vitamin D thing is very confusing. I am constantly told that as we get older we need more Vitamin D which, by the way is provided for free from the sun, but don't you dare spend time in the sun due to the resultant skin damage and possible flirtation with melanoma!! Make up your mind for heaven's sakes! It wasn't easy being young but dang, getting older is the hardest thing I think I've ever done.
At any rate, SunSleeves Ahoy! I vote Yes!
May 19th, 2023
A few weeks back, for absolutely no reason at all, we woke up on a Saturday morning and decided to walk the couple of blocks to visit our local Farm Market. Every single Saturday, these hardy souls get up much earlier than we do and set up camp on Venice Avenue.
Our city blocks off that part of the street in both directions for the occasion and people come from miles around to shop. Locals, visitors, tourists and for all I know, aliens, descend upon our cutie-cute city to see what there is to see.
It's a year 'round event, every Saturday morning like clockwork, the vendors, (over 100 of them!) construct their canopies, back in their craft trailers, set out samples of their wares, paste on smiles and good sales attitudes and hope for the best.
It is literally no more than 3 or 4 blocks from our house and yet, and yet, and yet, we had not visited in probably 5 years. Geez! I guess it's sort of like the folks who live in NYC but never visited the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty. But on that particular day, we decided to check it out and see what has changed in the past half a decade.
Perhaps we didn't remember accurately what it was like at our first visit all those years ago, but it seemed as if it was more of a craft fair before. I mean yes, there were typical farm market things like produce and breads and pastries, but before, we both remembered it as mostly jewelry and shark tee-shirts and tie-dyed everything. Things that, while they are certainly absolutely fine and I'm sure people loved it, did not interest us and that is probably the reason we did not go back.
This time, yes, there was a little bit of jewelry and sunglasses and clothes, but there were far more food kiosks. It's not that I'm just a big of an oink - all thinking about food. It's a farm market. I don't think it' s unreasonable to assume that there would be farm products sold there. Right? I was not disappointed. On this visit things had changed. The things we expected were there and a whole lot of other stuff. There were gorgeous fresh from the farm fruits and veggies, one tent of just honey and bee related products and another of dried fruits, meats and veggies. It all looked delightful!
There were multiple restaurants represented and several different sorts of bakeries as well (yummy) There was a local coffee roaster and you could smell that throughout. Someone who makes their own hand lotions, soaps and shampoos was entertaining a lot of folks and a hand rolled cigar distributor was a huge surprise! An alpaca everything tent was on hand as well as the plants people with their jungle filled canopy.
Mushrooms, seafood and hand made pastas! Jellies and jams and preserves of all sorts! Cheeses and pretzels and bagels and...wait a minute, hold the phone. Bagels? Well yes, we did buy two bagels, one for each of us. We keep trying to find really good bagels down here and of course, still have not found it. BUT gotta keep trying right?
There were ice cream vendors and racks of gorgeous cookies and even products for your pets! We saw jars of pickles and fascinating salads and pies, oh lordy, the pies. Me oh my! Bins of teas, boxes of cheesecakes and the Venice Ale House was there too. There was even a musician serenading all of us, underscoring the event. It was delightful all the way around.
All we bought were the bagels, but what a lot of lovely things to choose from.
I think it's fair to say that we won't wait as long to visit again. I remind myself that these are all local folks trying to make their way in as relatively unfriendly world and our support helps to keep them going. Personally I would much rather spend my money on locally made products than factory made things from heaven knows where.
Is there a weekly farm market where you live? Do you visit it? Or like us, did it kind of drop off your radar as even existing? If you haven't been in awhile maybe it's time to go back and give it another chance.
Meanwhile, Have a perfectly lovely weekend!
Hugs all 'round.
May 15th, 2023
Roses and Hydrandeas! A perfect combination. (Much like Tim and I) Awwwww.
Whether you were on the giving or receiving end of it, how was your Mother's Day? Mine was absolutely lovely. It started with these gorgeous flowers and two cards (it's always two cards in this house, one funny one and one sweet one) and then donuts for Breakfast! Yay donuts!
I got some wonderful texts and emails and phone calls and taken out for the dinner of my choice. Which ended up being take out from Crisp and Green - a local place that I adore. Sometimes I like eating in a restaurant but other times, I just want to relax in front of the TV dressed all comfy and sloppy and enjoy our meal that way. Yesterday was that day.
Even thought it really was kind of hot out, we even went for a short hike in a local preserve - again my choice entirely - and I took some photos while Tim and the various birds had conversations. He is amazingly good at duplicating their various songs so the exchanges go on for a long time. I have no idea what is being said, but it sounds so pretty.
The flowers Tim gave me are just gorgeous, I'm guessing hot house grown since they are so very perfect. Maybe that kind of kick started me having flowers on the brain yesterday because on our hike, almost every photo I took was of wildflowers so I had even more flowers to love. Of course the preserve posies are less than perfect, but sometimes that is part of what makes them special.
Sort of like mom's. We are not perfect either. But maybe it's that lack of perfection that makes us special. We are human and therefore flawed. Some days I am a little more flawed than other days. Does that make me more human? When I think back on those wonderful days when the kids were little, most of my memories are just the best things ever. I really really really loved raising my boys.
But of course, I do have regrets. Things I wish I had not said, or perhaps a tone I wish I had not used. Sometimes the regret is what I didn't do and probably should have. Or a situation I probably could have, and should have, handled better. But there is no time machine where I can go back and change any of it. So I try to focus mostly on the good stuff. The laughter, the hugs, the silliness and those moments of unbearable sweetness that still make me emotional just thinking about.
I'm sure my mother felt much the same way. Perhaps all Mother's do. Being a mom is the longest, hardest and BEST job I've ever had. Thank you to everyone who helped to celebrate me!
Here are some of the pretty wildflowers I captured on our Mother's Day hike:
And a couple of other shots:
Hope your Mother's Day, again regardless of whether you were the recipient the giver or both, was absolutely perfect!
May 12th, 2023
The above rendering is of a human colon. It's complicated looking organ is it not? Yikes! What a mess! But I needed some sort of image for the top of the page and this suited since I thought I'd write about the colonoscopy I had this past Monday. And what an absolute delight that was. Insert a great deal of sarcasm here.
Well I suppose the actual procedure is no biggie. As far as I was concerned, it was simply a nice little nap. As anyone who has ever actually had a colonoscopy knows, it's the preparation for the procedure that is the issue.
This was the third one I've ever endured. One in Connecticut, one in Colorado and now one in Florida. There were lots of similarities but I don't think the differences were so much state to state as it is that things change in the medical world over ten years time. And thank goodness for that.
The first time for sure was the absolute worst. Possibly in part just because it was a new experience. But also because I was instructed to drink a literal gallon of the worst smelling and nastiest tasting stuff it has ever been my displeasure to be made aware of. And even worse than just having to drink it was the span of time in which it was supposed to be ingested. It was twenty (?) years ago so I do not recall the exact time frame but it was too short. I am positive of that part. Trying to force my body to not just drink, but keep, something that smelled and tasted that bad by essentially chugging it was just too much to suffer. It was revolting.
The second time, ten years down the road, was an improvement at least in that I was given a wider span of time to get it all down and it didn't seem to taste quite as bad (or was I getting used to it?) Also I had gotten smarter and ate less and less as the week prior went by. My thought process was that the less I ate, the less I had to eliminate. Turns out I was correct.
This time, another ten years later, I was given a choice of A) the drink and that would be a big no thank you or B) pills. Without knowing anything else about the process I quickly opted for the pills. As it turns out "the pills" means 24 tablets. Holy Cats!~ 24?? That doesn't sound right. And yet it was. 12 pills taken: 1 every 5 minutes for an hour at 7 pm the night before and another 12 pills again taken 1 every 5 minutes at 7 am the day of the procedure. It was a long night. But it worked exactly as it was supposed to and I was several pounds lighter by the end.
The first two colonoscopies were scheduled for very early in the mornig so while I wasn't allowed to eat the day before and then also drink nothing at all including water after midnight, I didn't really mind. As any woman of my era who has dieted throughout her entire life can attest, being hungry is nothing new to me. I can go without food. But I definitely got thirsty. This time the procedure was scheduled for 3:30 in the afternoon but actually didn't happen until 'til after 4 sometime. My lips were dry, my throat was getting sore and the inside of my mouth felt like I had been eating sand. I was Very Thirsty.
Still, I tried to just keep images of what I would eat and drink afterwards in my mind. And I had some great ideas too! It wasn't visions of sugar plums going through my head but more like pizza and burgers and ice cream and mostly water. Hot water, cold water, tepid water, iced water. Just anything liquid. My voice was gravelly from lack of moisture by the time we arrived at the surgical center and I was processed in very quickly, popped into my little cubicle, changed into a hospital gown, blood pressure taken, O2 tested and a needle was quickly and relatively painlessly stuck into the big vein in my hand. They gave me a lovely toasty warm blanket right out of the dryer to keep me warm and then I waited. And waited. And waited.
It was soooo boring. I did all sorts of games in my head: trying to list all of the states in alphabetical order, trying to remember every address and phone number I've ever had, trying to come up with 5 boys and 5 girls names for every letter of the alphabet, making mental pictures out of the acoustic tiles on the ceiling.......... I was really bored.
But eventually they came for me and wheeled my bed down to the procedure room, got me hooked up to everything and positioned properly quickquickquick then before I could say nighty night, it was lights out.
It took them three tries to wake me afterwards. Like I said, it was a really good nap. The first time, the doctor was in the room and reviewed the results. I remembered that he was in the room but that's it because I fell back to sleep. Probably before he left the room. How rude of me! The second time, a nurse reviewed the same information with me and I retained that a little better but I couldn't focus my eyes probably so I kept one closed the whole time aaannnddd fell back to sleep once again. The third time I suggested raising the head of the bed. My thought being that if I was more vertical, perhaps I would stay awake better. And I was correct.
I sleepily dressed myself and she walked me out the door to Tim waiting patiently with the car. I half dozed as we drove through Culver's to get some food. I half snoozed through the drive home. I nodded off a little bit while eating and fully just gave in and crashed afterwards.
All in all, it wasn't that horrible. A colonoscopy is an important test. And a great nap. If your doctor has recommended it and you have been procrastinating, stop putting it off and just do it. If I, the biggest whiny baby in the world, can go through the prep, then anyone can do it. It's kind of annoying but only for a little while and it could save your life. Literally.
To keep my spirits up the day of the procedure, a friend of mine sent me the following piece by humourist Dave Barry about having a colonoscopy that made me laugh out loud so I'm attaching it for your amusement. Hope it makes you laugh too:
May 09th, 2023
Other than what appears to be a rather violent shade of yellow, do you see anything else wrong with this shirt? Yup, that's it. It's missing a button. I noticed it as soon as I pulled it out of the dryer and immediately went into panic mode. Missing button? Oh NO!
I searched the dryer thoroughly and found nothing. Logically, I next checked the washer and found no button there either. Dang. My first thought was to just throw the shirt away. But luckily I came to my senses and remembered that A) I actually like this shirt a lot despite it's colour and B) I don't own so many clothes that I can afford to just toss a perfectly good shirt just because it's missing a button. Ratz. Sometimes being practical is a pain.
As you may, or may not, recall, I am a non-sewer. I hate sewing. I hate it so much that just thinking about sewing (or attempting to sew) make me itch. Joy, on the other hand, is a great seamstress. She used to make her kids clothes, altering and mending things was a quick afternoon's work and her quilts are works of art. Just like our Nana, sewing is not so much a chore for her as a pleasurable way to pass time.
Unlike me. Clearly, I did not get the sewing gene. I'm the one who got kicked out of Home Ec class during the sewing part because I accidentally ran my thumb through with the sewing machine needle (while using the machine, mind you) and it kind of, sort of, broke the machine. They sent me to art class instead. I wasn't any better at art, but I didn't break anything. Childhood traumas!
It did not improve as I got older. In fact, it only got worse. I've worn things with missing buttons, I do iron-on appliques to patch holes, I fold back cuffs rather than alter the length, I wear skirts and dresses at all sorts of bad lengths to avoid taking it up and I have been known to tape a torn hem rather than sew it, I will confess.
First I decided to fully search the entire house for the missing button. Clearly it fell off the shirt somewhere! I looked under everything - found two hair ties and several dust bunnies, I took all of the cushions off the sofa and even went through a vacuum cleaner bag (yucky job). I even checked the car. No button. double dang. Next, I allowed myself a full blown, adult sized, internal tantrum which culminated in eating an entire pint of Talenti Ice Cream. And then I felt a little better.
At this point, I had to just face facts. I wasn't just going to have to sew on one button, but all of the buttons now because the odds of finding the exact same button anywhere were somewhere between slim and none. Crap.
I whined about it to Tim who suggested that before I worked myself up into a rage, perhaps we should go to a sewing store and actually see if they have similar buttons. Even though I was dubious about the probability of finding a matching button, off we went to Joanne's Fabrics. We searched through all of the button cards and ultimately learned that I was correct. No matching or even close to matching buttons. Of all the times to be right about something. Tim suggested just finding another button that would work and having one odd button, that way I only have to suffer through replacing one. But I am way too OCD to have one mismatched button. (on the other hand if all of the buttons were different, that would look intentional and I'd be ok with that. But it doesn't change the reality - I would still be replacing them all)
Once we got back home, I had to sulk for a few days first, then finally, I kicked myself in the butt, mentally, and firmly told myself to Cowboy Up! It's not digging ditches after all, it's just sewing. Just sewing - HAH!
At any rate, it was time to get out the button box. This is my actual button box:
Now why I, a non-sewer, even have a button box is a bit of a mystery even to me. Habit perhaps? Nana had giant coffee cans filled to the brim with buttons. That's cans, plural. Any time a garment of any sort was no longer repairable, the first thing Nana would do was cannibalize it. She cut out the zipper (if was still good) and saved that with other zippers, cut off the buttons and put them in one of the cans, and then cut the good parts of the garment at the seams, washed and ironed those pieces and save them for future use. No Waste! Obviously there would be no reason for me to save fabric or zippers but buttons, yes. If I think of it before I throw something away, yes I still do cut off the buttons and add them to the button box. And there they usually just sit there quietly forever.
This time, however, I sorted through looking for buttons of the correct size. It took some time and a lot of patience. Not something I have in tremendous amounts. But eventually I found enough of the same - or similar enough - buttons to replace them all. I put them in a little pile and then closed the button box and put it away. Then did nothing at all with the shirt for several more days. I knew I was going to have to start this project with calm. I was not feeling calm.
Eventually came the day I couldn't put it off any longer. I dragged out my sewing box. This is what passes for my sewing box. And by the way, I have never once had to replace a single spool of thread in this box. That's how little I sew. Everything in this box is original from the time that I first put together a sewing box, which is so long ago now that I no longer recall it's original.
I sat at the kitchen table in front of the big bay window on a bright sunny day, gathered up all of my implements of destruction (thank you Arlo Guthrie) AND a box of bandaids, took a deep breath and began.
The first hurdle of course, is threading the damned needle. I cannot even begin to describe how annoying this part is. The back of my neck tenses up so much that before I've even begun the project, my neck aches and the ache begins to creep up and up until I also have a headache. Great start eh? I tried threading with my reading glasses on and then, when that doesn't work, with them off. I tried threading from the right (with my right hand) and then from the left (left hand). After about 15 minutes of it not working, I set everything down quietly and walked away to calm down.
Eventually, of course, through some sort of magical intervention, I actually got the needle threaded. Woo hoo! And in under a half hour too. I think that's a new record. Encouraged, I began to cut off the old buttons. I sawed away at the old thread with my little mini-scissors in vain. I snipped and clipped and hacked and pulled and, once again, occasionally had to just walk away to calm down, but at long last, all the buttons were off and I could start putting the new buttons on.
Actually I decided that that would be a great time to take a break. I would start fresh once more after a nice little walk and a snack. Deep Breaths, deep breaths.
I returned from my break and started anew. It took multiple more occasions of stepping away and returning, several finger stabbings and bandaid applications but ultimately I was successful. I spent most of the day working on it but dang it, I emerged from the fray triumphant! I did not let that button defeat me!
As long as you don't look at the back of the buttons, which is a gnarly mess of tangled thread and snarls and knots, I would say that overall I did not do a bad job. What's important here is that it's done. I've since worn and washed the shirt and it came out of the wash with all buttons still attached so I must not have done a terrible job of it.
I'm rather proud of myself. Despite the tantrums and procrastination and whining, eventually I did it. I kind of feel like I want to say Taadaa! And so I shall.
May 05th, 2023
How about a bonus post this week? Yes? Things change don't they. For a long time (multiple years in fact) I wrote up a new blogpost every weekday. Monday through Friday, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. And that's a lot of posts! 260 a year! Wow! And then I started to, occasionally, drop one each week so it was only 4 posts a week, randomly dropping one day here and there, so about 208 posts annually. Last year there were big gaps, weeks with no posts at all - reasonable and understandable during my medical leave of absences. And when I got better and started posting regularly again, somehow, it got chopped down to only two posts a week. (?) Not sure how that happened.
And then I woke up this morning with an idea for a different topic and said to myself, "Be sure to write down this idea before you forget so you can write it up next week". (I absolutely have to write everything down anymore - geez) Then I asked myself why I was saving it for a future post. Why not just write it up today? It's not like there are laws or rules on the blogsite after all. And even if there were, it's My blogsite! If there ARE rules, they are My rules which means I can change them.
Suddenly I feel so very strong and powerful :)
The topic for this post (which I was originally planning to save) has to do with penmanship. Mine specifically. My handwriting is horrible. I suppose my arthritis is partly to blame, my fingers no longer do as I command them! But I have to be honest, my crippled up digits are only part of the problem. My handwriting has always been bad.
One of the elementary schools that I attended actually graded students on their handwriting. Because it wasn't an academic subject, it wasn't given the usual A,B,C or D but instead the dreaded S or U. Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. Those were the options. Win or lose. You were either in or out, up or down, good or bad, there was no grey area when it came to penmanship. Every marking period I brought home a nice list of A's and B's on my academics and S's for everything else EXCEPT penmanship. Oh dear.
It's not like I didn't try. I did! I tried very hard! I really did not want that Unsatisfactory marring my lovely report card. And yet, there it was, marking period after marking period. U for penmanship. Sigh.
I suppose it's a genetic thing. My mother's handwriting was appalling. Practically illegible. Any letter or note she every wrote to me, I'd have to puzzle out. Sometimes it would involve consulting with other people - "What do you think this word is?" And we would, as a group, try to sort it out. It was, very nearly, a parlour game.
I was given writing exercises to do - endless loops across the page - and shown example after example of perfect penmanship to attempt to emulate. "Slow down!" they told me over and over, "If you would just slow down" which didn't help at all. I remember tearfully re-writing and re-rewriting my homework night after night in an effort to produce a better product. Which was an exercise in futility because the ugly Unsatisfactory still showed up without fail.
Eventually came the time when I managed to create some sort of handwriting that was deemed "good enough". My papers were no longer returned to me marked "unable to read" and I gave a huge sigh of relief. I no longer had to fight with my pens. My writing, while not satisfactory, was good enough. I can live with that.
Of course at some point, perhaps junior high school?, I was given a typewriter and from that point forward Everyone was happier because my handwriting was no longer an issue. Except of course for my signature and I heard multiple lectures about how awful that was. Oh well.
My great grandmother (on the other side of the family ) had exquisite handwriting. I believe it was called copperplate. I have a few cherished letters from her and although the ink is a little faded, her beautiful handwriting is still a marvel to behold. Nearly art. It's less like writing and more like drawing I think. It's very nearly calligraphy. Makes mine look even worse by comparison.
Nowadays, I actually write, I mean with pen and ink- actually writing on paper, very little. A signature in a birthday card, a quick note left for Tim when I go out during the day, or maybe a grocery list is about the extent of it. Everything is done on a computer with a keyboard which is just upgraded typing. So the only person truly inconvenienced by my awful penmanship is me. I admit that there are times in the grocery store where I have to stop and stare at the list in my hand - my own list which I wrote - to figure out what a particular item listed is.
Yes, yes, I know, I could write my list on my phone which is actually typing not writing but I absolutely hate typing on my phone. Those tiny little buttons ! ARGH! So I still take a pen and write on paper, tuck the paper in my pocket, go to the grocery store and then stand random aisles trying to determine if the word I'm looking at is plums or tums.
Here are a few random word samples that I wrote for this post. This is my real handwriting and I 'slowed down' and 'made an effort' just so you know:
I actually do still hear those teacher voices in my head when I'm writing, especially when I'm making a sincere effort to write legibly. So sad. I think you can probably make out most of the phrases. From top to bottom it's : dancing divas, feline frolics, bedazzled beauty and timid tortoise. Not too horrible, right? Right?
Okay. Well all of that was to say the following.
I had to pick up a prescription at the grocery store recently and the pharmacist said, as they always do, to sign the screen on the left . All righty. But the stylus to sign with was missing so he suggested that I just use my finger on the screen. It not only looked nothing like my actual signature, it didn't even look like writing. It was just scribble. And that passes, every single day, as an acceptable signature. What the heck?
Worse is when I have to "sign" medical papers on line and they say to just draw your signature with your mouse. I cannot draw with my mouse. I can barely click with my mouse. That "signature" is even worse. UPS and FedEx deliveries that have to be signed for is again, using a finger on a screen. It's just ishkabibble, it's not writing!
All of those years of being browbeaten over my horrible handwriting and nearly illegible signature was for naught. It's irrelevant anymore. My so-called signature is basically and S with a line followed by an H with a line and a curlicue on the end for the "s".
I feel, oddly , vindicated. Years of Unsatisfactories have now been, not just throw away, but mentally torn into tiny pieces, burned and then thrown into a black hole. As it turns out, Good Enough really and truly was good enough. So there!
Now this time when I wish you a happy weekend, I really mean have a Great Weekend. See ya sometime next week!
Hugs all 'round.
May 04th, 2023
I know, I know, last week I said that there would be no Photo Safari Report this week. Looks like I was mistaken. Oops. Sorry about that. Can you stand another one? Because honestly, it's up to you. I'll just post it here and if you want to read it you can and if not, it's here anyway :)
At any rate, this one was not like the usual hikes Joy and I take as it is not in a preserve but rather just a trail that wanders around for about four miles 'round trip. The beach was always on our right, somewhere behind the trees and undergrowth with little hidden pathways and the intercoastal was forever on our left, also mostly hidden.
I guess I will call this the Caspersen Beach Hike even though it's really all the same beach. The entire west side of the island is beach, all the same beach, but with differently named access points. This one is Caspersen. So, it works.
We stayed mostly on the trail. Not for fear of getting lost but because it's the ONLY path on this particular hike. Impossible to get lost :)
But we did walk down a number of little paths both to the left and to the right to see what there was to see by the water. It's incredible how much the view changes from one vantage point to the next:
What else was there to see? A few birds, mostly sea birds but not all!
There were a few other critters:
Even a few flowers and other pretty botanicals:
And maybe a couple of other photos?
Wishing all ya'll a terrific weekend !
May 02nd, 2023
This is, quite obviously, a can opener. Handy little gadget. Tim bought this one for me at least 10 years ago, back in Colorado. And it was, at the time, an especially thoughtful gift because the handle was made specifically for people like me who have arthritis in their hands. That over sized crank was very helpful and much appreciated. I used the absolute heck out of it in the subsequent years.
But because it was been well used, the blade has (as blades do) dulled and it had gotten to the point where I would have to go 'round any can 3 or 4 times at minimum to open it. Ridiculous and of course painful for my hands. It was aggravating. It was time to seek out a new can opener.
So I went online looking to see what sort of new innovations there are in the realm of can openers. New things are being invented all the time. Why not in can opener world? Don't laugh because I was not disappointed. I found a product called, "Kitchen Mama", a name that made me smile all on it's own.
Have you heard of this product? In case you have not, here you go. It's the silliest looking thing and the least can openery looking can opener I've ever seen. More than anything it looks like an oversized capsule. And guess what, there is no crank. No crank? Then how does it work? Perhaps by magic? Perhaps not.
I read about it, watched a You Tube video, and read about it more. Then I told Tim about it and he was sufficiently impressed that he ordered it for me. It arrived over the weekend. I tore into that package like a badger!
I didn't even bother reading the instructions (well to be fair, I almost never bother with the instructions - shame on me). I just loaded the batteries in, found a jar of olives in the pantry that, sure, could be opened, why not. I set the giant capsule on top of the can, pushed the button and voila!
A perfectly opened can of olives with No Sharp Edges!
Holy Cats! I was so excited! I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning. I was overcome with an urge to open every can in the pantry. I did not, of course, but I REALLLLLY wanted to. I have since opened a can of baked beans (to go with the hamburgers I made for dinner that night) and that can opened up just as beautifully and effortlessly. WOW!
I cannot recommend this can opener enough. If you are looking for a new can opener, check out the Kitchen Mama one. In fact, even if you aren't, look it up on You Tube and watch the video. Coolest Gadget Ever!
BUT that wasn't the only thing in the package. No. When Tim ordered the new can opener for me, he also ordered something else. And it took me a few minutes to figure out what it was. I'll show you a picture:
Looks a little Star Trekian or maybe something from the Jetsons. Actually come to think of it, the new can opener made me feel a little like Jane Jetson too. (remember that old cartoon?) Give up?
It's a jar opener! I did not request one. Never felt I needed one actually because Tim is my official jar opener. Any jar that needs to be opened that I cannot open on my own, I hand to him without a word, and he opens it and hands it back without a word. No conversation necessary. We both know our roles in that particular little dance. But he is either tired of being my jar opener OR he is thinking...what if he isn't around when I need a jar opened? Or what if he is busy on a work phone call and I am having a jam jar emergency? It could happen!
Of course I had to try it out. Of course I did! And this one I did read the instructions for. I will be honest, this one took me a couple of tries to get the "feel" for doing it. But once I got it, I got it. And from that moment forward, it's been easy peasy. And what was the first thing I opened? Ice cream of course!
Worked perfectly too :) Tried it again last night on a jar of spaghetti sauce. Awesome!
Two gadgetty products that I highly recommend. I have never been a gadget sort of person so I'm surprised at how much I love both of these. My dad was really into gadgets. My sister and I gigglingly referred to him as "Gadget Man" when we were kids. heh. Gadget Man. I guess was his super hero name.
But me? Not even a little bit. I have said no thank you very much please to lots of gadgets from bread makers to pasta machines to snap on strainers, no thanks. I have nothing against them, just never felt the need for them. I don't like a lot of extraneous stuff cluttering up my kitchen. But dang, these two gadgets have won me over. Especially the Kitchen Mama Can opener. That thing is a game changer.
There you have it folks, the tale of two gadgets. And I highly recommend them both.
And since the whole thing feels so space aged to me I will close today with the phrase that everyone recognizes but is still of the future:
"Live well and Prosper"
April 26th, 2023
Why oh why oh why would Sam be on the phone out there on the trails in a forest instead of just hiking and taking photos and enjoying a beautiful day? Hmmmm? Any thoughts? It is definitely unusual behaviour.
While you mull that question over I will also apologize for two Photo Safari Reports in a row. Also not my usual sort of thing. Generally I only inflict upon you, my loyal and faithful readers, one a week. But this one was a rather different hike and I wanted to be sure I got it all written up before I had forgotten any of the salient details. In fact, I think I will call it A Different Sort of Hike.
The hike started out much the same as every hike with Joy and I choosing a destination, driving there, loading pockets (me) and backbacks (Joy) with all the necessary stuff, then slinging our cameras over our shoulders and our cares far away and hitting the trails with enthusiasm and energy. That part was exactly the same as always.
The first thing that was different this time was that we decided to commit to one and only one trail. Normally we start out that way but then get distracted with interesting things and wander off here, there and everywhere. Nope, this time, we were determined. One trail and one trail only. With that thought in mind we opted for the yellow trail which is a 5 mile commitment. No worries. We can do 5 miles with no problem. Off we went on the yellow trail which is a giant loop. This is what the markers look like. They aren't huge but usually, they are easy enough to spot.
I say usually because one of the things that changed was the landscape itself. Very Different! Right away we found devastation of some sort:
Yikes! What happened here? This isn't leftover hurricane stuff. Normally this area would be so green and lush! More like:
I think that threw us off a little bit. At times it was even hard to determine where the actual trail was as opposed to where it wasn't. However, we saw greener areas ahead and forged on. Eventually, with great relief, we got to the prettier part of the trails and continued on, always staying on the yellow trail. Follow the Yellow Brick Road!
We got lots of insect pictures. And that was different too. A delightful difference:
We saw lots of birds! We saw Birds in the air (for once I was able to track birds in flight! woohoo!):
Birds in the water:
Birds in Trees and bushes (and two on the ground):
Some pretty botanicals too (of the bugless variety):
And two gopher tortoises, one big and one little:
And I'm sure you will agree that after seeing and photographing all of those wonderful things and walking all of those miles which involved many hours, it makes complete sense that we would be getting tired. We were really glad that we were near the end of our hike. Except that, the end of the hike didn't look like the beginning. In general, when you hike a loop, the end looks very much like the start just backwards, which is what we anticipated. But, but, but, it was not. And that was Very Different.
Instead, somehow, mysteriously, we had moved from the yellow trail to the orange trail. Odd. But no big deal, we've been on the very tiny orange trail many times on our way to somewhere else. So down the ravine on one side and up the ravine on the other and we should come out at...where the heck were we? How did we get on the green trail? No matter, we've been on the green trail plenty of times too. We know the green trail. And onward we trudged, for another hour only to find ourselves back at the beginning of the green trail. What? How did this happen?
At this point, I would like to mention that the hurricane last autumn did some real damage to the park and not everything looks exactly the same as it used to. And some of the markers were obscured (or perhaps destroyed?) by fallen trees and brush. Also there are always changes going on, controlled burns, new trails being created, old trails closed for one reason or another. Consequently, many of our usual points or reference simply weren't there. More differences and this time in a bad way. Oh dear.
We were both very dirty, very tired, foot sore and thirsty. We had been hiking for more than 5 hours and 7 miles and we were done. The thing we needed at this point was clear directions to get back. No more circling.
So I did what any normal reasonable person would do. I called for help.
I don't know about any other state parks but in Florida here and there throughout the park are benches. And on each of those benches is a plaque that has the Ranger Assistance Call number on it. And, equally important, a bench number. We were at Bench #13. Which, as it is a low number, seems as if it ought to be close to the beginning, right?
It was wildly embarrassing. We aren't newbie hikers after all. And it wasn't our first time hiking that park or even that trail. I have no idea how we got all ishkabibbled. But the fact of that matter is, that is the fact of the matter. We had no idea how to get back. If we were not so tired, it wouldn't have been such a big deal. We could have just done the trial and error method. You know, keep trying various paths until you finally get the right one. But we were done. In fact, we were over done.
The ranger who answered the phone had every right to call us idiots but refrained. Instead he was very kind, very helpful and gave us clear and relatively easy directions back. I repeated his directions and he confirmed that I understood him correctly. He asked for my name and phone number (don't want anybody lost in the park after dark! That's when the big critters come out to play!) which, of course I happily gave.
Okay. With the directions clear in my head, we set off for what we desperately hoped was the last leg of the trip and this time, with far more confidence, even though our butts were dragging big time. Huzzah Huzzah, it worked. Once we were in the car and on the road, I called the ranger station back to let them know we made it out safely (so they didn't come looking for us) and thanked them in a bigly huge sort of way.
It was quite the adventure! So much for the plan of staying on one trail eh?
Anyway, it's all over and done and we got back safely and I suspect that we won't be hitting those particular trails again for some time. I promise you no more Photo Safari Reports this week and possibly not next week either. We'll take a little break from that.
Hugs all 'round and Peace!
April 24th, 2023
Are you ready for another Photo Safari Report? I hope so because I have one for you. And I'm calling this one, the Last Perfect Weather of the Season Hike. A long title to be sure, but accurate. I do not honestly know if that was the actual literal last perfect weather of the season, but this time of year it starts to get iffy. Mixed in with the very nice days are a few not so nice days. We have occasional rainy days, gloomy days and the worst of the worst, the humidity begins to make a reappearance.
It's not August horrible yet by any stretch of the imagination and the temperatures are not spiking into the high 80's or 90's yet. But as the weeks of April begin to lean toward May and May stretches her little arms out to June the nice days are fewer and the hotter, more humid days increase until suddenly it's July and every single day is hothothot and humidhumidhumid and there is the strong possibility of some sort of precipitation.
This was NONE of those days. It was, as I said, not merely a nice day. It was absolutely perfection. It wasn't too hot or too cold. There was a lovely gentle breeze the entire time. And the fragrance in the air was almost too good to be true. Heaven on a hiking trail. We were gone for many miles and many hours and if it wasn't that we both had other things that needed to be done that day, we would probably have stayed a lot longer.
Also saw some very cool stuff. I nearly called this the Woodpecker hike because we saw so many of them. Mostly we saw Red-Bellied Woodpeckers which is the sort that used to live in our courtyard so I'm sure you are familiar with those.
But to our delight and surprise we also saw a red-headed woodpecker, our first this year. (To be fair I think Joy may have seen one or two when she hikes in other places on her own but it was our first seen in any of our usual hiking spots). Such a pretty little birdie
There were other birds to be sure, lots of crows and vultures and cute little warblers of one sort or another
But the biggest surprise was near the end of our hike. We were very near the entrance when we found our first Bluebird of the season (once again, probably not Joy's first of the season, but definitely mine) Bluebirds make me smile. Probably because of the old fashioned associations that go along with it. You know the one, the Bluebird of Happiness! What a cutie
Enough with the birds already, I can hear you thinking. So okeydokey, we will move on to maybe some pretty botanicals? Sure why not?
We are starting to see more and more butterflies and dragonflies but I haven't quite gotten the hang of capturing them. (They move so fast!) I managed to get one, which was a surprised because it was a very Green Dragonfly who was in a very Green area. So the result was a surprise - a happy one to be sure!
I suppose the rest of the photos are just rando's though as we all know, those are always my favourites. And now that I'm sorting through the rando's, well, it's mostly trees and photos of the trails. So here are mostly photos of trees and trails!
And there you have it. The Last Perfect Weather of the Season Hike. You know, since Joy and are are currently limited in where we can hike, you would think that every time we went out, we would see the exact same things. I admit there is some repetition, after all it's hard to tell one crow from another or one palm tree from another, but I am continually surprised and pleased at how much difference we find from one Photo Safari to another.
I sincerely hope you aren't weary of seeing my Photo Safari Reports because I am absolutely not tired of doing them. :)
April 20th, 2023
What was the name of the night time talk show guy who had the bit on "stupid human tricks"? Maybe David Letterman? I think that was it. It was a clever (and sometimes mind boggling) regular segment. Everyone on this planet has at least one sort of stupid human trick that we can do. Usually the trick - or ability - is a fairly useless but at least mildly interesting and unusual ability like wiggling your ears or quirking one eyebrow independently of the other or being able to touch this tip of your nose with your tongue.
One of my more useless "stupid human tricks" is that I can write and read forwards and backwards. Writing backwards is called Dysgraphia and even though the ability is effortless and natural for me, it has never once in my entire life come in handy except as a parlour trick. Dang.
One of my more useful stupid human tricks used to be Very Handy indeed and it involves maps. (I will reveal the actual "trick" later in the post). For those of you younger than my own children, before the advent of computer micro chips and cell phones and GPS or NAV systems, finding your way somewhere unfamiliar involved a map printed on paper. Shocking, I know! They were available for purchase almost everywhere. Gas stations in particular always had a rack of them. Or a person could buy a huge spiral bound book of maps called an Atlas. Ours were printed by Rand McNally. Funny the things a person remembers :)
Because we travelled a LOT when I was a kid, we had a lot of maps. And they were used and reused and re-re-used until the paper they were printed upon became very soft and apt to tear. We had many a map that had been scotch taped repeatedly but tape when I was a kid wasn't forever. After a relatively short time it would yellow and lose it's stickiness and fall off the paper requiring a re-taping and then a re-re-taping and the times in between the taping meant that we had to be extremely gentle when handling.
They started out small and crisp and tidy in a cleverly folded rectangle:
But when unfolded, opened to the size of the entire table top! Which is rather cumbersome while driving a car. Fully opened it was about the same size as a cars front window! Yikes! So normally, whoever was manning the map - the navigator - would refold the map into a much more manageable size revealing only the immediate section needed.
And then as the journey progress, the map would need to, once again, be refolded showing the new 100 or so miles of the journey. Over and over this would repeat until the original folds of the map were indistinguishable from the newly created folds. My terrific stupid human trick? I am able (still to this day) to refold the map into it's originally intended shape. Holy Cats! Yeah, I know, that doesn't sound like much does it. But I promise you, way back when, that was a skill baby!
It didn't matter how fragile an old many times used map was or how many tears now existed on the edges and within the folds or how many new foldy lines existed, somehow I was always able to recreate it to it's pristine original little package. Taadaa!
You Scoff? Hah! Obviously you never did a cross country trip in the car with my Dad behind the wheel, trying to beat his old time while my mother was singing at the top of her voice and my sister was needing to pee but trying to hold it and the dogs were dashing back and forth from side to side of the car getting nose prints all over the windows and a cat or two was roaming loose and a there was a gold fish in a cool whip container on the floor. I did it and I did it right every single time.
I was almost always the appointed navigator in the car. It was probably mostly due to my stellar map folding abilities but also because of my awesome map reading abilities. I adore reading maps. Calculating the approximate distance from where we were to where we were going by using my finger and the "legend" at the bottom of the page.
There is so much unexpected information on a papermap. The GPS can probably tell you the name of any businesses in the surrounding area but the papermap tell you About those businesses or attractions, restaurants, etc. There is always a list of all of the towns in whatever state your map represents and you can find it easily using the letters across the top and the numbers down the side of the map. Waitsfeld Vermont is at E-8 , so I find the E and the top and the 8 on the side and where they meet, yup she is...Waitsfeld Vermont. Coolio. Works every time.
On the GPS on my phone or the one in the car I see our immediate area, on my big old papermap I see the entire state and all of the rivers and mountains (labeled of course), the big cities and small towns, the highways and byways and dusty dirty roads.
I know which roads are Toll Roads and where the nearest airports are and I even know the general population of every city in the state. I can find rest areas and I know the elevations and which roads are closed in wintertime. Right there are the Ferries to get you across bridgeles areas and state parks and alternate routes and Scenic Attractions Galore!
If I wanted to camp (which is silly because I never want to camp) I can find all of the campground options. If I wanted to contact the Department of Historic Sites, the phone number and website are listed right there on the map. Hunting and Fishing licensing and regulations.....yup that's on the map too.
I especially liked reading the names of towns and streets as we zoomed down the road. Often I would read them out loud just to hear how they sounded. I always looked for the names of people or places that were familiar to me. And in fact, I still do that. We have driven down many a road that was not where we needed to be just because of it's name. Humphreys Drive? You better believe we are going to check that out!
And eventually we would reach our destination and everybody and their dog would pile out of the car and finally I would have the space I needed to spread out that map to it's full size once again and refold it back to the way it started.
Clearly this is not an ability that gets much use these days. But nostalgically, it is somehow still and always connected to my childhood and is therefore of great importance. The ability to refold a papermap. HAH! What a stupid human trick. Or wait. I wonder if that is connected to ability to properly fold a fitted sheet? Hmmmmmm
April 17th, 2023
Normally, at this time on a Monday, Joy and I would be deep into our Photo Safari, happy snapping everything in sight. We would already be dirty and our shoes and socks would be soaked from walking through dew-heavy grasses. (It's a wonder we don't have trench foot!) However, in the rather early not quite light today, we both, in our respective homes, woke up to full orchestration thunder and lightening and pouring rain. Joy texted me first to cancel just ahead of me doing the same. So there goes our Monday morning plans. Time to fall back and regroup.
So today I think I will write up our last Photo Safari instead which was finishing up the Lemon Bay hike we began the week before. If you follow that. I'm not 100 percent certain that I do. At any rate, I am calling this the Lemon Bay Hike Part II because we literally finished what we began the previous week.
As I stated in the last photo safari report last week, the Lemon Bay Hike was one of discovery. Neither of us had even been there before so we had no idea what to expect. Since this was our second visit, it was mostly about finding out what else was there waiting to be discovered. As you can clearly see in the photos below, we 'discovered' a small wooden bridge fairly early in the hike.
And then there was my personal goal. I was determined to find water. Where the heck was the Lemon Bay part of the name? I could see it on the birds eye view map that I looked at on the computer at home. It was right there, about an inch and a half away. But which path should we take to get there? How could we, as hikers in the preserve, manage to find the actual Lemon Bay? A bay is a relatively large body of water which would make it hard to hide, right? We kept thinking we were close, perhaps around the next turn or over the next little rise? But no. This was the ONLY water we saw and it was just a little peek-a-view:
Pretty enough for sure, but dang, what a disappointment to have traversed trail after trail, path after path, over bridges, up (admittedly small) inclines and down into gulleys and then leave having never seen the actual Lemon Bay. Drat.
We did however stumble across a large concrete structure in the middle of nothing out there. It looked like a very strange garage. A discovery to be sure and a rather mysterious one at that.
I managed to capture more insects than usual so that was a nice treat. There was one doggone dragonfly that I absolutely could not get a clear shot of. The wind was blowing just enough that the blade of grass he was desperately hanging onto kept swaying, first one way, then the other. I'll include the best blurry shot of that for absolutely no good reason at all:
I don't know if you recall or not, but at the previous trip to Lemon Bay, we found a tree with not one, but two eagles in it! And they were up close and personal which was very cool. This time we saw only one of the eagles. No idea where the other one was.
Naturally I captured some pretty botanicals. I love everything out there and try very hard to get pictures of the best stuff, but let's face it, things that don't move are my photography jam:
What else did we discover: Let's see, there were a lot of gorgeous paths and some very interesting trees:
A few other things that don't fit any other category really, so here you go, have some rando's:
So that's about it. I think I've pretty well catalogued all of our discoveries now from the Lemon Bay Preserve (Parts I and II) hike. We had a great time, as we always do, but I think we about covered it and probably do not need to return there for awhile.
Since we weren't able to hike today, I'm not positive when we will be getting back out there, but for sure, we will at some point. And then, of course, I will write about it, so stay tuned!
Hugs all 'round
April 13th, 2023
There an old Gene Autry song, "Back in the Saddle Again" which most of you probably never heard. (Who the heck is Gene Autry?) Never mind, I remember the song, and that was the song that came to mind when I got the email from my boss at the museum asking if I thought I was ready to return.
My answer was a rather tentative yes. In my heart I was ready to get back to it but I wasn't sure if my brain was up to the task. After all, it had been .................. awhile. This would actually be my second return. January 10th was the original date of the Great Museum Redux. After being gone nearly an entire year on a series of medical leaves of absence, on that sunny Tuesday early in 2023, with both excitement and anxiety, I stepped back into the museum to see what had changed, what hadn't and how much I remembered.
As it turned out, I did fine. I remembered most everything I needed to, learned quickly anything I had forgotten and the things that were new and I was delighted to be back at it. My boss got me integrated back into the schedule and things were looking good. The very next day, January 11th, is when I tripped and fell and broke my arm in two places and was back out for another three months. Dang.
So this was my triumphant re-return. I surprised myself by remembering my password to get into the computer (upon my previous return, I did not - that was a whole thing). I remembered all of the names, dates and history of this'n'that and most of the processes and protocols. I definitely lost my "touch" with the various quirky video players and needed help getting those turned on. (dang!) but I'm sure it will all come back to me eventually. On the other hand, I was pleased to see that I hadn't lost my touch with our guests. Without giving it a seconds thought, I stepped right back into that role, greeting, touring, guiding, answering questions and doing all the things a good docent does. Kind of an organic thing I suppose.
The thing I had forgotten, however, was how exhausting it is to be "on" like that for hours at a time. My goodness! Once I got home, I wanted nothing more than silence and a nap. Not water, not food, just quiet and a little snooze. I guess it takes more energy and effort that I realized to be a good host. And that's sort of what a docent is. Or at least it's part of the role.
Hostess, teacher, bouncer, security, fundraiser, housekeeper, secretary, librarian, information desk and retail clerk are only a fraction of what the job entails but I like it. It suits me. And I am very happy to be back in that particular saddle, once again.
On the other hand, the same week, I got very brave and for the first time in a long time, got back into another, different, saddle; the wheel of my car. Yikes. Turns out that I do not like driving any more than I did before. And perhaps a little less. It was such a strange sensation to be in the drivers seat again after so long (nearly a year!).
First of all I had to really gear myself up for it. " You can do this!" I told my reflection in the mirror very firmly. Second of all, I had to remember how to readjust the seat and mirrors. Honestly took me a few minutes and I never did get the drivers seat in the exact right spot which means that I had to sit up Very Straight and Tall to see properly (I had forgotten that there is a button to raise the seat vertically rather than just forward and back - oops) And I never did figure out how to turn on the water sprayer to clean the front window. Oh well.
Then, horror or all horrors, I had to back out of the driveway! Holy Cats. My heart was pounding the entire time. Please don't let there be anyone behind me that I don't see! (there wasn't) And then of course, I had completely lost my touch (that word once again) for the correctly applying the right amount of pressure to the brake pedal and found myself ever so grateful for the invention of seatbelts! I felt like an inexperienced, brand new, first time driver once again. Terrifying.
But somehow, I - very slowly - crept down the street (luckily the speed limit is very low on the island so it didn't bother anyone but the folks who drive too fast anyway) and made it all the way to the grocery store which is all of a mile away. Geez Sam! I had barely begun to achieve some level of comfort behind the wheel when I arrived at my destination with weak knees and my heart pounding. It took two tries to lock the doors when I got out of the car (Pushed the wrong button on the key fob the first time) But the fact of the matter is that I did it. Yay me. I took a deep breath, did my shopping, loaded up the car and after taking a few more deep breaths, made the return trip home safe and sound.
And I haven't driven since. But then I don't need to. Most of the time, other than grocery shopping, I can do everything the way I prefer to do it, on foot. But at least now I know that if absolutely necessary, if it is sadly essential, yes, I do remember how to drive a car. That particular saddle, I have returned to reluctantly.
The museum saddle is buckled onto a beautiful, well trained horse that is a pleasure to ride. The car saddle is strapped onto a recalcitrant old mule that bites.
But I guess the point here is that I am now officially returned to as "normal" as I ever get and that is a nice place to be.
April 10th, 2023
I gotta tell you, when Joy and I found out about this place, The South Venice Lemon Bay Preserve, we were dumbfounded. This place is only about 15 - 20 minutes over the bridge and down the road and yet, I never heard of it before. Neither had Joy. What???
We kind of just stumbled across the knowledge that it existed at all! So many of our usual hiking spots are currently closed for one reason or another and we were looking for somewhere different to go, so out of desperation, I resorted to Professor Google, the keeper of all information. I jumped on my phone and typed in, "preserves near me". A long list popped up, all places we already knew about and, as I said, many of which are not open at the moment. There was a lot of repeat info too. I think I read the name Carlton Preserve at least a half dozen times, and suddenly, this Lemon Bay name pops up. What?
I did a super quickie online look and, yup, it was an actual preserve, in Venice, and, most importantly, currently open. YAY! So on our last sojourn, we decided to check it out. What the heck, why not? If it turns out to be a bummer of a hike, we simply won't go there again. At the very least we will know about it. Knowledge is power after all.
This Photo Safari will naturally be the Lemon Bay Hike. We set out, not quite as early as usual since it was so close by. I set up the nav on my phone to direct us there and we found ourselves meandering through street after street of residences! What? Are you messing with me google directions??
Nope, suddenly, at the very end of, yet another residential road, there it was. We started out very excited at the prospect of discovery! It's not exactly the same as being the first man on the moon of course, but it was our first steps on these trails and we were ready to rock and roll. Or rather, we were ready to walk and look and take pictures!
First things seen? Some gorgeous spider webby things. Dew drops and spider webs and flowers and wow. Hard to find things prettier first thing in the morning.
And make no mistake, even though we were probably a half hour later than usual departure time, it was still early enough to get that absolutely beautiful early morning light:
We heard rumors that there were eagles in this preserve but of course had no idea if it was true and if it was where they nested. It was a big enough place that we might have wandered aimlessly without finding them for a long time. Instead, Joy asked the first person who walked past us. And to our great good fortune, she knew exactly where they were. Of course it isn't as if trails had street signs so we weren't absolutely certain if we were on the right track until Joy whispered to me, "look up" and there they were. Two of them, both at the top of a giant pine tree, one on a branch above the other.
Usually in preserves and parks, when there are protected creatures such as these, there are barriers blocking access and if we manage to see them at all, it's only through the magic of telephoto lenses. But this time they were literally in the tree right in front of us. Wow! Wow! Wow!
We starred at them and they starred back at us. Seriously, they turned and looked directly at us a number of times. Perhaps it's that stern sort of look that they have, but it made me uncomfortable and as if we ought to take our leave. And so we moved on. But still WOW!
We saw other birds, loads of cardinals:
Some lovely botanicals, so many beauties: (it smelled so goooood)
And the ever popular, Rando File:
We covered only the tiniest corner of this new to us preserve so we will absolutely return, probably very soon, to see what other wonders it has in store for us!
Thanks for coming along for the Lemon Bay Hike
April 06th, 2023
The above is a photo of our city hall. It's not a stock photo that I snagged free online, it's the real deal. I've been inside to the information desk many times for many different reasons. Tim has spent a lot of time this past year in the building permits department both scheduling inspectors and asking questions and all sorts of construction related stuff.
But I think the bulk of the time I have spent in this building is at various City Hall Meetings, usually just as an audience member, learning new stuff. I love learning new stuff and when it's about the place we live, yes, I absolutely want to be, "in the know" as they say. But I have also been a speaker at some of these meetings. No, seriously, I have!
Our government is "of the people, by the people, for the people," right? Well, heck, I'm people! That makes me part of the government in a way. Cool.
I was there recently as one of many speakers because I had a thing or two to say. I love that we, the residents of this city, have a time and place provided to say what's on our minds, to express any concerns that we have, to our City Officials.
Nobody is required to attend these meetings, nor are they required to speak at them. We could all just keep going along, accepting everything as given and then grouse about it privately. But I prefer to speak. Especially since there is a system in place to do so.
It is a little intimidating the first time. To say otherwise would not only be silly but an outright lie and of the many things that I am, a liar is not one of them. But this time, I signed right up to speak as soon as I entered the room, then I found a comfy seat. When my name was called, I stepped up to the microphone with no hesitation. I thanked the City Council, straight off, for allowing me the opportunity to speak. Then I said my piece. When I was finished (ahead of the time allowed by the way) I thanked them, and resumed my seat. No heart palpitations, no stuttering, no sweating, just said what I needed to say and moved on. They thanked me, by the way. They are very polite :)
The matter at hand, the concern I should say, for the residents of our street, is that during season (which is now) there is a great deal of traffic on our road, most of it far too fast and most of them blowing through stop signs as if they didn't exist and, because they are rubbernecking the pretty views, often driving erratically. All of this makes for a dangerous road. Dangerous for everyone, but especially for pedestrians as we have no sidewalks. We don't even have shoulders to to road. We just carefully walk down the street and when cars come by, we step up onto lawns or driveways whenever possible. It's not ideal.
Long time readers of my blog might recall that way way back in 2017 a group of Bayshore Dr folks (that's the name of our road) attended a similar meeting with a similar request. And that's where the stop signs came from. The City Council meant well. It was a kindly intended solution. But sadly, it only works if people obey the stop signs. And mostly, they do not.
After the meeting was over and I was back home doing housey stuff, I got to thinking, and as is my fashion, over thinking, and wondering if I sounded like an idiot up there. Did I speak clearly? Did I talk too fast (I do tend to do that) Did I mumble? And what did I look like? Did I make strange faces? Did I make eye contact? Did I gesture wildly? It's not just what you say, after all, it's also how you say it!
Then I remembered that our city records the meetings! AHA! So I went online and looked it up, found it and watched/listened to the entire meeting. Turns out that I spoke clearly 90% of the time, made my points fairly concisely but was a little twitchy. Dang. Oh well, I have always been an animated speaker. Read that as "talks with her hands" BUT I was making a concentrated effort to not flail about as I spoke. I absolutely did not flail. I did twitch a bit though. yikes. Gotta work on that.
Still the message was sent out and my words were apparently good enough that I was quoted (along with the other speakers of course!), multiple times, in a newspaper article (front page! below the fold) the next day. Okay. Not bad.
I have no idea if what we have said has made a big enough impression or not. Time will tell. I know nothing will happen this year. The budget has already been established. But maybe in the near future? Perhaps? Who knows?
It's not like Santa Claus where you ask the jolly red fellow for a Malibu Barbie and one shows up under the tree for you after all. But sometimes, what we've said makes enough sense to enough people, that an effort will be made to help resolve the situation. And in the meantime, I did my part.
It's a pretty good system.
At one time, long ago and far away, my dad was the Mayor of his City. He did a great job and maybe lit the little spark that helps me shine now and again, when I feel like I have something that needs to, not only be said, but also be heard. Just so you know, I felt heard.
If for some inexplicable reason, you wish to watch me talk and twitch at this meeting the link is here. My big mouth starts yapping at the 20:44 mark.
City Council on 2023-03-28 9:00 AM
April 03rd, 2023
Thursday, Joy and I headed out on Photo Safari to a small local preserve called, Curry Creek Preserve. I had just read an article in the newspaper about how several area preserves have recently acquired additional land and Curry Creek was one of them. We were excited to see this new part of the preserve.
As it turns out, while the article was correct, it will be awhile before we can actually walk trails in the additions, darn it. But I suppose that's something else to look forward to somewhere else down the line. Consequently, we expected to see the same sorts of perfectly lovely things that we always see there. Not exciting but absolutely fine. Good thing we didn't bet on it, because we would have lost!
The birdie above it called a Swallow Tail Kite. They spend fall and winter in South America somewhere and then, along about March, they come to Florida to build their nests and start their families. Joy and I saw our first Kites are few years back and honestly, we weren't absolutely certain at first what we even saw. We just knew what it wasn't. It wasn't an Eagle and it wasn't a Hawk or an Osprey though it was clearly a large predator bird. We talked it over and thought...maybe a Kite? We had heard about them, but had never seen one. We later confirmed with the experts that our guess - Kite - was correct (and then we cheered that we had seen new to us bird and had identified it correctly). Yay us!
And then we didn't see another one for quite some time.
We had never seen one at Curry Creek. Until last Thursday. And wow! Not just the Kite, but the kite in a nest! Whoa! And then we topped that excitement by seeing the male Kite bringing more nesting material and delivering it! Seriously, if you look closely, you can see Spanish Moss in his talons. It was so very cool.
I suspect that one of the reasons we rarely see Kites is that they are so very quiet. Osprey and Hawks are such noisy birds. They are always screaming about one thing or another. Kites, on the other hand, are silent. I've never heard a single sound out of them. Also they are always up very high, either flying or perched in the tops of trees. I tend to look either at the ground (so I don't trip over anything) or I'm scanning at relative eye level all around us.
It was really exciting to see something new to us :) Which means this Photo Safari will be called the Kite Hike in their honour.
The rest of the hike, while absolutely wonderful, bordered on ordinary. I will share some of of the other bird photos I got:
Some pretty flowers, always :
A few rando's wouldn't go amiss right about now:
But without question, the stars of this particular show was the Kites. I know, I know, I'm starting to sound like my hobby is birds! My hobby is not birds. My hobby is hiking and taking pictures. But it's extra fun when the subject of the photographs taken while hiking, are of something unusual.
Hope you enjoyed the Kites Hike and shared at least a little of our excitement!
March 31st, 2023
As you can clearly see, I've been on a little bit of a baking binge lately. I've made, three batches of biscuits, a loaf of bread, a cake and some muffins all in just a a two week period! Well that is clearly insane. Or something.
I won't deny that I am at least a little bit whacky sometimes, but I truly don't believe I'm straight up crazy. There really is an explanation. And it has more to do with me being frugal. I was going to say cheap but Tim really hates it when I say I'm cheap. Negative connotations and all that.
It started two weeks ago when Tim and I were talking about favourite foods and he mentioned that while he does love chocolate cake, one of his favourites is yellow cake with chocolate frosting. And I agreed that is a dandy treat indeed. I went on to say that I have never really found a yellow cake (scratch cake not box cake) recipe that I loved but admitted that I hadn't researched it in awhile.
And that is what started the whole thing. The recipe I eventually landed on required two things I do not usually have on hand, cake flour and buttermilk. I rarely make things that need specialty ingredients because usually I only use them for the one recipe and then far down the line end up throwing it out and wondering why I have it in the pantry in the first place. But cake flour, sure, I can use again and it has a decent shelf life. Buttermilk is versatile but it needs to be used fairly quickly. I knew that if I committed to buying buttermilk, I would also be committing to doing a lot of baking. Okay, I can do that.
So off we went to our local Publix. We found the cake flour with no problem but there was no buttermilk in the milk section. Dang. There happened to be a worker nearby and Tim asked about the missing buttermilk and he said that there would be a new shipment in a few days. Dang. I said, "I guess no cake then" :( I had been so jazzed to try a new recipe and now I was disappointed. Tim said, "There is more than one store around here y'know" And hope bloomed within me once again.
We headed out to a different Publix (they seem to be every few blocks down here) and nope, they didn't have it either! Dang again! What the actual heck? Now it was a mission! Luckily there were other places to look, other Publix for one things, but also Walmart, Target, Aldi's aaaannnddd Win-Dixie. We were determined.
We hit paydirt at Win-Dixie ! Taadaa! Finally Buttermilk. Who knew that buttermilk was such a hot property? I had only one issue with it. I was expecting a small container. I only need a cup afterall. And I've seen buttermilk sold in smaller containers: pints, quarts. But nope, all they had was a half gallon. Which as a specialty baking ingredient is a lot of buttermilk.
The next day I jumped in and began. The new yellow cake recipe was a little more complex than most cake recipes and I get excited about making something new. I read it through multiple times, gathered all my ingredients, including the 3 cake pans. Yes, this was a three layer cake! I was giddy with excitement truth be known.
While it was cooling, I made the milk chocolate frosting which turned out so great it was tempting to just eat it with a spoon but nope, I held myself in check and frosted the cake and it looked, as they say, good enough to eat! It was bad, I didn't bother to take a picture so I dont' have one to share ;(
Crushing disappointment. The taste of the cake was just...okay. Not worth the calories. Ratz. The frosting was excellent the cake was meh. Bah. I don't eat bad food and I don't serve bad food. I threw it away. Seriously, gave it the old heave-ho!
On the other hand, the buttermilk bread, the buttermilk cake and buttermilk biscuits (all three batches) and the chocolate chip muffins (made with buttermilk) were rock solid hits! And just so's you know, the biscuits were the only thing I'd ever made before. Honestly, I could make biscuits in my sleep. But the bread, the cake and the muffins were all brand new recipes that turned out so good they are now permanent additions to my baking arsenal.
We have eaten pretty darned well these past couple of weeks and it's all thanks to a terrible recipe that required an ingredient I do not usually have. Clearly I need to experiment more often and take more chances. The half gallon of buttermilk is long gone but the luscious food memories it helped to create will linger for a long, long time.
March 27th, 2023
Yay! Another Photo Safari Report! As you can see, Joy on the left and me on the right, it was a chilly start to the day. Shorts and sweat jackets, what a combo! But honestly that is the perfect solution. It was brisk in the early morning, which is when we start but as they day (and the miles) crept forward, it got warmer and warmer until the jackets came off. And of course those we can easily tie around our waists and just keep going which is exactly what we do!
I'm calling this Photo Safari the Two Hawk Hike. For the following two, awesome reasons:
We saw the first of those magnificent Hawks very early in the hike. Joy spotted him right away and pointed him out to me. You maybe cannot tell from the photo, but he was significantly larger than the second hawk who alerted us to his presence with that famous screaming call that they do. He swooped magnificently across the sky and landed on that tree limb. Snappity snap we went right away. We saw the second guy several more times, each time was a thrill!
As I mentioned earlier, we head out early on our hikes. First of all, because the days are getting warmer and while we do hike on the hot sweaty days of summer, why do it in Spring if you don't have to? Hike early when it's cooler while you can, is our plan! Once summer rolls around there is no cool. Less hot maybe, not certainly not cool. But also because early in the day is when we find most of our birds. And it doesn't hurt that the light is amazing at that time of day.
Here are a few of the beautiful early morning shots:
Our first goal was a preserve that is only accessible through the first preserve. It involves walking across a wonky wooden bridge, going through a gate, across an open area and then through a second gate. We rarely go there but it's always interesting when we do. I was hoping to find deer again. Not many people head to this preserve (I'm not sure many even know about it). In the past, the deer we spotted showed very little fear of us, more curiosity. So when the deer and the humans spot each other, first we both stop, then hold very still. Sometimes while standing quite close (which is always awesome!)
But this time, we saw no deer. We didn't have time! As we stood just in side the gate, we contemplated which of three trails to follow. Hmmm. The one to the right looked especially shady which would be nice when the day warmed up. The one in the center forks not far down and then we'd have to decide which way to go again. The path to the left looked promising with dappled sun and shade. But wait, there was something down there. What is it?
We both brought our cameras up and extended the telescopic lenses as far as they would go. Oh mercy me, it's a wild pig. But it's just one and he's small. And he's busy eating. No worries.
Oh wait, there's a second oinker. Not too worried as the second one is even smaller than the first.
We were not especially concerned because they are way down that 3rd path, we could always choose go a different way. And these two guys don't look too scary. Oh wait. Dang!
The spotted hog was at least twice the size of the other two and then I heard Joy say quietly, "Oh there are more". That's when spotted pig lifted her head up and looked directly at us. Which was about two seconds before we went back through both gates and into the first preserve. A good basic policy is to never mess with Mama Pig. They are notoriously bad tempered. Whew! An exciting couple of minutes there!
The rest of the hike wasn't nearly as adventuresome! But it was a lovely 6.5 mile hike even so. By the time we were ready to go, we had neatly circled back to where we started. Clever eh?
In the meantime between the wild hogs and the exit we got to walk in beautiful nature:
Saw plenty of botanicals in one stage of life or another. I often marvel at how many different ways there are to make a flower. Each one is essentially the same idea, but they are all unique and perfect and beautiful just as they are:
Managed to find a few insects too:
The only other bird I managed to capture was a crow and while one might shrug and say, meh, it's only a crow, it's still a bird and it counts!
So I guess that's about it for the Two Hawk Hike! Hope you enjoyed :)
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?
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.