January 31st, 2019
Okay, Pop Quiz Time! What do these three items have in common? Actually this was a trick question. Sorry, that wasn't fair at all. Unless you grew up with my kids in our house you probably wouldn't know the answer.
All three of these things were mis-prounounced by my children when they were very young. And all three things continued to be mis-prounced intentionally by me for far too long after the kids no longer did. And even today, when I see any of these things, in my head, I still hear one of my boys saying, "Yorgit, Drakleah and Hambinger". ( I no longer say the words wrong out loud. I have a little bit of self-control after all). But occasionally we all still get a giggle when we are together about those funny little family-centric words.
It's part of our history now. The lexicon of our family. Everyone has some of those words. For instance, when I was a kid, there were two words commonly spoken in my house that, as it turned out, nobody else I knew was familiar with. "Yowuns" and "Gawmy". I am actually not certain of the spelling since I've never seen them written down but that is how they sounded. They are probably ages old Mainer words since both my mother and her mother were born and raised in small Maine towns. In fact their entire family was umptyump generations back down east Mainers.
"Yowuns" meant kids. Plural. As in, "You Yowuns knock it off" hollered out the kitchen window when we were getting a little rowdy outside. When I was older and had stepped outside my family circle a bit more, I realized that nobody else I knew said "Yowuns" and I wondered about it's origin, the etymology of the word. Then one day, while reading a book that had parts written with an older Scots dialect, I ran across the word "wee'uns" meaning "wee ones" or little ones. Children! Aha! Perhaps "Yowuns" is actually "Yow'uns" or young ones. It makes as much sense as anything else.
The other word, "Gawmy" still mystifies me. It means clumsy or awkward and was usually either directed at me or was spoken about me. As in, "She is a gawmy child" said as I bounced off a doorframe before walking into a room. I was a "gawmy" child. Make no mistake about it. It wasn't an insult, it was a fact. But I have not a single clue where that word originated.
Another family-centric word in family is actually a phrase. And it came from my Nana. This one became so commonly well known not just within my family but also close friends and co-workers, that I didn't have to explain it anymore. The phrase is "Lars & Dwight".
My Nana had five surviving children. All of them married, all of them produced children who also produced children and so forth. Making it a very large group of people who loved her (she was very lovable) but didn't live close by. So they tended toward sending her gifts. And for whatever reason, they sent a lot of gifts baskets from the lovely company, "Harry & David". For reasons unknown to anyone in my family (I know because I asked around), Nana always referred to the Harry & David company as "Lars & Dwight". I might get a phone call telling me that so and so sent her the loveliest gift basket from Lars & Dwight today and did I want her to set aside the pears for me. I love pears and Nana was always thoughtful.
There was no point in correcting her and if we referred to the company by it's correct name, she had no idea what we were talking about so Lars & Dwight it was, always, by everyone in my house and to this day, if I get a catalog from them in the mail, even if it very clearly says, in large letters across the top of the front page, Harry & David, I still find myself telling Tim, "Hey the Lars & Dwight catalog came today" and bless his heart, he knows exactly what I mean.
I don't recall any stories being told of either Joy or I having any mis-pronounced childhood words though I have no doubt that we did. Personally, I have always had a little trouble speaking. As a kid I had both a lisp and a stutter. What a mess that was. Once in awhile, if I'm really tired, I still stutter a bit. Probably my worst mis-pronunciations are that I occasionally twist a word or two here or there.
By way of example: for some reason Alligator and Elevator get messed up and turned into Agulator and evalator. Tim doesn't even bother to correct me anymore. He knows what I meant. Sometimes I get stuck on shoulder/soldier. Saying one and meaning the other. And once in awhile I cannot think of the word I mean to say at all. I can describe it. I can define it. I can draw pictures of it in the air with my hands. I even know what letter of the alphabet it begins with I just cannot think of the doggone word! And by the way, this whole problem began many many years ago. The first incident I remember with absolute certainty was in middle school when I could not for the life of me think of the word, "clock-radio".
I mentioned it once to a doctor friend of mine. I was concerned about really early onset dementia (I mean REALLLLY early) and she laughed and reassured me, after asking me several questions that it's just the way my brain is wired. A kind of aphasia. And not at all uncommon. Whew! That's a relief.
And it also explains why I absolutely STINK at Scrabble.
I know, I know, I consider myself to be a writer. I read voraciously. My vocabulary is at least average. I am reasonably well educated. Anyone would think that I would be a rock-star at Scrabble. I am not. I am easily the worst Scrabble player in the family. On the block. In my town. Possibly in the state.
When those little tiles are placed in front of me with random letters, my brain wanders off. It will take one or two of the letters and then be determined to spell something that I do not have the rest of the letters for. And despite my best efforts, it refuses to consider any other word. Let's say the letters in front of me are Q, A, R, G, L. My brain immediately went to Quart. I don't have a T nor do I have a U. But my brain is stuck now on the word Quart and stubbornly will not move on. It's Quart or nothing. Like I said, I am the absolute worst at Scrabble.
It's not like it comes up a lot in my life. Nobody foolishly signed me up for the Scrabble world championship or anything. Thank goodness. I am pretty sure that there are points off for Drakleah or Yorgit anyway.
January 30th, 2019
I don't know if you watch Outlander or even if you've ever heard of it. It's a series of books by Diana Gabaldon, made into a bunch of little mini-series TV shows on the Starz channel and it's kind of a big deal. And tragically, the 4th season finale was this past Sunday. Now we all have to wait for season 5. And wait and wait and wait.
The Outlander community, which is worldwide by the way, even has a word for the time between seasons. They call it "Droughtlander". We are all kind of drifting aimlessly now, waiting for the next season.
Clearly, I am a fan. But then, I was a fan before it was on TV. The first book came out in 1991. But oddly, I didn't hear about it then. In fact, I didn't know these books even existed until there were already 3 of them. In my family book exchange the first three books showed up in one of my care packages of books when we lived in Colorado with a number of other, much smaller, books. I read all of the smaller books first, then began to tackle the huge Outlander books.
Seriously, the Outlander books are massive. Each book is at least 600 pages, usually more. But once I started reading them, I flew through. The writing is just so dang good! The author's writing skill is only outclassed by her detailed research. These aren't just good stories, she breathed life into her characters. They feel like real people who lived incredible lives and we, the readers, were allowed to come along for the ride. Genuinely great writing is unmistakable. Even by people who generally don't enjoy reading.
Both the books and the show are exciting and dramatic and sweet and historic and exciting and frightening and romantic and science fictionish and, and, and......well it's hard to categorize. It's beloved by both men and women, young, old and in between. It appeals on so many different levels across the board.
Often when a book is turned into a movie, or in this case a television show, egregious errors are made and the film is an atrocity compared to the book. But in this case, such loving care has been taken with each transition of book to film, that the television version is even more popular than the books. And that is saying something because these books have been translated into more than twenty different languages and is read around the world.
So okay, we have established that for once, I am doing something in vogue. It's a rare occurrence that I get on the bandwagon of something trendy. But here I am.
I'm not the biggest fan of TV in general. There are some shows that I will watch if I walk into the family room and the TV is already on and even occasions when I am the one with the clicker in my hand. But I have no idea what day, what channel or what time any of these shows that I kind of like air. Which shows you my lack of dedication to them.
There have been very few shows that I actively sought out. That I read about. That I talked to other people about. That I remember well and kind of miss now that they are no longer on air. So few in fact that I can list them:
If I think back, probably Bonanza was my first big TV show favourite. I don't remember ever reading about the show, but I looked forward to watching it every week and in fact Hoss Cartwright was my first celebrity crush. I think it started on TV when I was about 7 or 8 years old.
"The Monkees" was the teenaged TV show adoration for me. Oh yes, I was crazy about those wacky boys and their shenanigans and their music. I watched the show faithfully every week, I watched reruns and I read about them in every magazine I could find and I talked about them when my friends. Yes, I was a big fan.
Then there while I certainly watched other shows and even liked some of them, there weren't any other shows that I really cared big time about until "Quantum Leap". For some reason that show really caught my attention. I sat in rapt attention for every episode and while I didn't know anyone else who cared to discuss it, I remember thinking about it between episodes. I still watch reruns of it when I come across it on Very late night TV.
Next up was "X-Files". Oh yeah. Big Time Fan. Watched the shows, read the magazines, bought tickets to see the films. I was a huge X-files fan. Even when other people began drifting away from it, I loyally hung on and continued watching it and loving it and then missed it after it went off the air. Sigh.
Then there was quite a spell of nothing. While I certainly watched TV in the evenings with Tim and even liked a show here or there, there was nothing that I really connected with. Here is the indicator. Tim generally watches multiple shows at one time. The clicker, clicks. A lot. I prefer to watch one show at a time. But the fact that I wasn't bothered by the constantly changing shows while watching is an indication of how unconnected I actually was from 99.9% of what we were watching.
Until Outlander came to TV. There is one and only one show being watched while Outlander is on. I am not just watching the show, I am part of the show. I know other people who watch it and we talk about it between episodes. I have watched panels and interviews with the principles on You Tube. I have read about the show in magazines. And I continue to read the story as the books are still being written. Book 9 is supposed to be released sometime this year. So exciting.
That is the most difficult part for me actually. Since I have read the books and most of the people that I talk to about the show have not, it's so hard to not reveal what is going to happen next. But if nothing else, I can keep a secret like nobody's business. Sometimes I nearly implode from the stress of holding the knowledge in during a conversation where other's ideas of what will happen next are being batted around. But the important part is, that I do NOT tell. Never.
So what to do during Droughtlander. Well, I don't know about anyone else, but I'll probably read the books again while awaiting the release of Book 9. Then like many other people, just before Season 5 arrives, I will binge watch seasons 1-4 to gear up for the exciting new season.
Anyone would think that because I've already read the books, which means I know what's going to happen, I would not be interested in seeing the show. They would be wrong. There is the book, there is the visual in my head from reading the book and then there is the show. All of them are good. Really good. But honestly, I love them all.
That's me. Outlander geek. Big Fan. Say what you will, I don't care. If you don't like the show, you are allowed to not like it but, much like the characters in the story, "I dinna ken why".
January 29th, 2019
This is how we know for sure that the weather here is a bit cooler than we are accustomed to. (And yes I know, I just ended a sentence in a preposition). It's the pile of socks I just matched up when I was finishing up the laundry yesterday.
The key to knowing that the temps around here are cooler than usual is not that I'm wearing a sweater or a sweatshirt. Seriously, that's not the clue. Even on the hottest and most humid and miserable days of August, there are places that I bring a sweater or sweatshirt with me. There are some places, restaurants are the worst culprits, where they crank the AC in a desperate effort to pretend that the temperature outside isn't really 95 with a 98% humidity level. And the over compensate so much that I, and people like me, instead of being refreshed, are frozen. So yes, even in the worst of the summer heat and humidity, there are times when I could possibly be wearing a sweater. So it's not sweater wearage.
And it's not the long pants stacked up in my ironing pile. Nope. Definitely not a sure fire indicator because once the worst of summer is over and it's just normal and lovely out, I am just as likely to wear jeans as shorts and just as comfortable in them. Mostly likely, I will be wearing long pants with a short sleeved or even sleeveless top and sandals (and bringing along a sweater, just in case). I like having more wardrobe options each day. And here, other than the actual worst part of summertime, I have all of my options every day. Shorts, jeans, skirts, dresses, pretty much anything goes. And I love that.
It's not even seeing me wearing closed toe shoes that is the absolute give-away on what our temperatures are here. I often wear sneakers if I am hiking or biking or taking a really long walk. Or I could be wearing a cute pair of close toe flats (I have several). So it's not my footwear choice that is the clue.
Nope, it's the socks.
Generally speaking, unless I am cold, I do not wear socks. I'm not wearing socks with sandals for sure. And not with my cute little flats. And frequently, not even with sneakers. But if I am cold enough to wear socks, I want the kind of socks that cover my ankles. Because to me it's ridiculous to wear long pants, closed toe shoes, a sweater and be toasty warm everywhere EXCEPT the ankles. If I'm cold enough to wear socks, it's winter time in Florida. There it is.
So yesterday I did an enormous pile of laundry of all sorts. Sheets, towels, white and colours. And the last thing I did was match up all of the socks. First I did Tim's. Other than dress socks, Tim wears white cotton sneaker socks. The kind that you cannot really see. And since he wears sneakers 99% of the time, I am accustomed to matching up his socks in the laundry. And it's an easy job because he buys his socks by the giant bagful. I don't know how many pair are in each bag but it's a lot. And the socks are all exactly the same. So "matching" socks is not really what I'm doing. I'm actually just slapping two random white socks together because I already know that they match. They all match.
But yesterday I also had a pile of my socks. Which is unusual. And mine did not come in a giant bag of all the same socks. So mine have to be actually matched. The differences sometimes are minute, I mean, a white sock should be just a white sock after all. But no, there are subtle differences. The thickness of the sock. The length of the ankle part. The colour of the heel (there is a pair of white socks with gold heels in this pile somewhere). One of them has these little puckery bits all throughout. All of them work. None of them are the same. The only thing they have in common is the colour. White.
There is nothing inherently wrong with white socks. Clearly. But I was dismayed to find only two pair of socks in this pile that weren't white. One pair of black & white houndstooth and one pair of well, all sorts of colours and designs - stripes and polka dots both and red, white, blue and tan colours. Both of them were gifts from friends. I was surprised to realize that I only own two pair of socks (regular socks not sleep socks - totally different thing) that aren't plain white.
There was a time in my life, a really long time as a matter of fact, when I owned exactly zero white socks. Every pair of socks I owned, and they were legion, was striped, or polka dotted, or patterned in some way. All of them had colours and personality. I referred to them as "jazzy" socks. I only owned and wore "jazzy" socks.
And thinking back I find it a little odd that I was so particular about wearing such eyecatching socks since the clothing that I chose to wear was anything but. I wore almost exclusively over sized clothes in black, grey and navy blue. I did everything I could to be as invisible as possible. BUT I wore the snazziest socks I could find. As if the socks were my sole form of personal expression. But since I wore shoes or boots the vast majority of the time, almost nobody ever saw them. It's as though I secretly knew that I was silly fun person on the inside but the outside was a plain boring serious person. I was such a weird kid.
And this jazzy sock thing continued well into my adulthood.
I don't remember when it changed. Did I just wake up one morning suddenly repulsed by my brightly coloured and designed socks? Or was it a subtle thing, slowly and subtly moving away from jazzy socks to boring socks? Maybe there was an era when it was hard to find jazzy socks and I was forced, by default, to replace any holey or otherwise worn out socks with plain white ones. I honestly do not know how or why it happened.
In fact, until I was faced yesterday with that pile of primarily boring white socks, I had forgotten about my jazzy sock days. And I also realized that I really liked the fancy ones. There is nothing whatsoever wrong with plain white socks, but boy those patterned and coloured ones are fun!
So I have decided that I am going to make a concerted effort to replace my white socks, as they wear out, with jazzy ones. I don't know how I misplaced that fun silly sock person inside of me but now that I have found her again, I'm not letting go.
January 28th, 2019
By now, I figure we all all pretty much friends, right? Whether we've ever actual met or not, you and I, we know things about each other. Things not everyone on the planet knows, yes? So that makes us, okay, if not friends, than at least friendly. So I guess I won't be completely out of line if I ask you a question. You don't have to answer if you don't want to, that's okay. But, here we go, (deep breath), "Do you still cut yourself shaving?"
I know, I know, that is kind of personal. But I was just wondering if I am the only one sporting a band-aid on the back of their ankle today? It just seems to me that the word, "Band-aid" shows up on my grocery list with rather alarming regularity. And I guess I'm hoping that I am not the only one.
To be fair, one of the reasons that I buy so many boxes of bandages is that I have band-aids stashed all over the house so that in the event that someone (me) requires one, that someone (me) is not then dripping blood all over the house on the way to fetch one which will then require me to go back and clean it up.
There are boxes of band-aids in both bathrooms, the linen closet, the kitchen and my purse. I bring band-aids with me when we travel. And, oh yes, there are band-aids in the glove box of my car. I am prepared if nothing else.
It is well documented how accident prone I am. But I was thinking about it this morning when I was slapping yet another bandaid on myself immediately after shaving my legs, that I almost never see other women walking around with a bandaid peeking out from the back of the sneakers. Hmmmm.
It made me think way way way way back. I believe I was around 13 years old. I know I was living in St. Louis so it had to be middle school.
When the day finally came that I had to start shaving, it was quite honestly an unpleasant surprise. Everyone else seemed overjoyed about it. It just never dawned on me that it was something I should aspire to. Suddenly having to wear a bra was bad enough frankly. And stockings? And monthly cramps? What the hell is this crap? I was not happy about any of it. And in that same window of time I was in a very polite stand-off with my grandmother on whether or not I was going to start wearing a girdle (seriously!) She was adamantly for, I was equally strongly opposed. I had enough going on with random, uninvited body changes to even have shaving on my radar. But one day in the midst of all this my parents bestowed unto me a light blue Lady Schick electric razor in a fancy box.
I remember sighing and very politely thanking them. (I was raised well) but I also remember wanting to just throw it in the trash. More unwanted changes and responsibilities dang it. But, as I was a very obedient child, instead of tossing it out, I starred at it awhile, took it out of the box, read the instruction manual and tried it out. A short time later, my father found me rummaging in the bathroom drawers. He asked what I was looking for. "A bandaid" I replied. "What for?" "I cut myself shaving". "With an electric razor?" he goggled. "Yup" I answered, found the bandaid and carefully applied it. This time my poor beleagured father sighed.
It turned out, that the reason they bought me an electric razor was so that I wouldn't cut myself. Yes, folks, I managed to cut myself shaving with an electric razor. And it wasn't the last time either. I am gifted.
So life continued on and eventually I moved on to using regular ordinary razor. They come, multiples in a package, in pretty colours, I'm not sure but they might be made my Gillette. And I'm still occasionally cutting myself while shaving. Not sure why it happens, I just know that it happens. And I assumed that it happened to everyone but then I realized that I never see Tim wearing a bandaid on his face! Which led my brain farther down that path and I don't see women wearing bandaids above their sandals, or behind their knees or over their ankles.......
Nope. Just me. Hmmmm.
Oh well, like I said, you don't have to answer. But if you do, I would truly be curious to know. How many of you still, occasionally cut yourselves shaving? Is it really just me?
January 25th, 2019
For the entirety of our marriage, 25+ years now, when Tim and I have travelled we have employed the zippy bag method of toiletry packing. That is to say that we each use a varying number and size of zip top plastic bags to bring along our toothbrushes, shampoos and so forth that we find necessary for proper grooming while on the road.
I must also add that for many of those years, I managed, every single time we took a trip, to forget one essential item. A different item each time, I'd like to point out, but still, every vacation involved one trip to a Walgreens, Walmart, CVS or other store to find a suitable substitute. Eventually, thank goodness, I got my act together on that score. Whew!
The zippy bags worked for many reasons. They are see-through so it was easy immediately to find whatever it was that was needed. We always have them on hand in the kitchen pantry so there was never last minute rush to the store to buy zippy bags just prior to packing. AND if they got yucky during the course of either the vacation or trip home, it was easy enough to toss the old one and replace it.
But it never looked very nice. The contents of the bags were always strewn all over whatever hotel bathroom we were using. They do not fit neatly into a suitcase. And worst of all is the whole non-biodegradable plastic useage. I at least try to be a good citizen.
Therefore, for a long time I have kind of had my eye out for a decent looking, tidy and most importantly, functional toiletry travel bag that was neither too big nor too small. To be perfectly honest here, I never found one.
But Tim did. You see, he travels for work. And he tries to keep his packing down to one carry on bag plus his backpack. So efficiency is absolutely Key. If he is going to be gone for a week, which is not unusual, and especially on a business related trip, there is a level of expectation on how a person is attired. He has to have enough room for clothes AND toiletries. He was fed up with wrestling zippy bags into his carry on suitcase and always having those perma-wrinkles in his dress slacks from the wierdly shaped and sized bottles of this'n'that to say nothing of the ever present concern of having bottle of mouthwash or hand lotion springing a leak all over his clothes in an improperly sealed zippy bag!
So finally, he recently found these great toiletry travel cases. They unfold to reveal all sorts of wonderful little compartments. And the best part, there is a hook at the top so it can just hang up in the hotel bathroom instead of having things here, there and everywhere cluttering up the place. Then when it's time to go back home, it is a simple matter of folding it back up, zipping an actual zipper closed and right back into the suitcase it goes!
I wish I had been clever enough to put something next to the photo of the case so you could see the relative size. Ratz. Ok, I just measured it. The closed case is 7 inches long and 5 inches tall. Awesome!
We each have one now and I have filled mine up. I'm ready to go. No, seriously. I'm ready. I have my cute little toiletry travel case filled and I'm raring to go. Let's roll! Somewhere. Anywhere. I don't care. I wanna test drive this thing!
Amusing side story. Many years ago now, I was the Co-Director (the actual title was Co-Chair but nobody ever knows what that means) at an assistance organization called, The Parker Task Force. It was then and still is an amazing organization that lends a helping hand to folks who are in need and assists in getting them back on their feet and on the road to success. It was staffed entirely by volunteers and was largely dependent on donations. One day we had some very sweet high school girls volunteering their time and energy to help us out. And that particular day we had a ton of donated toiletries to sort through. We tasked the girls with packing those things up which entailed putting shampoos, soaps, toothpastes and so forth in boxes, sealing, labeling and dating them and then stacking the boxes in a store room.
The girls chatted and giggled as they worked but they worked steadily and we loved hearing their excited chatter in the next room as they laboured. Once the boxes were all filled and sealed, several of the girls then came to us and asked us how to label the boxes. My friend and co-worker, Jan responded, "Just write toiletries on the boxes, you don't need to itemize the contents". The girl kind of blinked at us, "What?" So Jan repeated her instructions and then she and I moved on to our next task. The girls looked at each other and shrugged then walked out of the room. We thought nothing of it.
Later on, we noticed in the store room, neatly packed and stacked boxes very carefully labeled with black marker in large block letters
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Jan and I laughed about that for the rest of the day. Awesome!
Maybe that made you at least smile a little bit too. I hope so. Regardless, have a wonderful weekend! I bet that makes you smile even bigger!
January 24th, 2019
Last night was a seemingly endless storm. We were pummeled with wind, rain, thunder and lightening during all of what were supposed to be our sleeping hours. How could anyone sleep through that?
The thunder didn't just boom, it boom shakalacka'd. The lightening flashed like papparazzi at a red carpet event. The wind roared and snarled and the rain battered the heck out of everything. There was very little actual sleep going on last night.
This morning I got up to gloom and a gentler rain, with my eyes gritty from not sleeping. The photo above is from my front garden this morning. Everything is Very Wet! My newspaper, despite the protective plastic bag, was soaked. It's currently trying to dry on the countertop. Nothing much is going to dry today in this dampness though. And that is a shame because my plan for today was to do a thorough house cleaning. I don't imagine that the floors will dry well today.
When I say a thorough house cleaning mean really thorough. The one I only do occasionally. Like when company is coming. Or just before showing a house to be sold (not this house....I mean historically). Or when Tim is away.
Not sure why it is that it's something I always itch to do when Tim is away but every single time there it is. The BIG cleaning mood comes upon me. The kind of cleaning that takes all day. The kind where I actually move things instead of just cleaning around them. The kind of cleaning that involves lots and lots of steps.
First up is to dust everything starting at the top. So that means hauling out my step ladder and cleaning the top of the fridge, the ceiling fans, light fixtures, art work and the working my way down to anything horizontal. And when it's something made of wood, like coffee tables, first I dust, then I polish. And not just the surface either. The sides, the legs and all of the little grooves. This step also involves thoroughly cleaning bathrooms, polishing the countertops (there is this fancy arsed granite polish that works very well but I don't often use except in these instances) and even cleaning the toaster crumb tray! Like I said, Thorough!
Once all the dust has been redistributed, (lets face it, we never eliminate it, we just move it around) then I sweep. Every floor, which means moving furniture. So I suppose actually I move furniture first then I sweep. The sweeping part is to get up the little bits of shell or gravel or leaves that the vacuum flatly refuses to have anything to do with. Which means next up is to vacuum. All of the floors. Side note here, I do not like to vacuum. It's not that it's difficult, it's that I don't like the noise. To counteract the noise, I sing while I vacuum. Very Loudly!
Vacuuming is followed by not just washing the floors, but scrubbing. Luckily for me, I no longer have to do that on hands and knees. Tim bought this thing called a Shark. It's a VERY loud machine that, when I push a button, sprays a cleaning solution on the floor and then it shudders and shakes while I push and pull it back and forth, very slowly around and around and it honestly does do a terrific job of cleaning all of our tile floors. But again, it's VERY loud. Meaning I have to sing more. Still very loud. I don't have a specific playlist for my singing while cleaning. I sing whatever song comes to mind. All that is required is that it be sung loud. Doesn't even have to be in key. Just loud.
After Sharking every single floor in the house I then have to wait until the floors are dry to put furniture back so that I can then vacuum the area rugs. But since today is such a wet day with more rain expected, it's gonna be a lllooonnnggg wait for dry floors. Perhaps I"ll give myself a pedicure while I wait. Heck I could probably give you a pedicure while I wait too. And then read a book. And then learn a second language. And then build a garage. And the floors will still not be dry. Sigh.
Never mind. Change of plans. Joy is coming over. We are going to head out to run some errands, have some lunch and a few laughs. I guess I should change clothes. I look like someone who is about to clean house which is to say, I look terrible. I'm wearing yoga pants that were too long so I cut off the excess length.....unevenly. And one of Tim's old Marine corp tee shirts. And my worst beat up sneakers. Yeah. I'm a picture. Ok. Gotta go make myself look presentable.
Oh this is much better plan! Yay!
Always open to opportunity. That's me :)
January 23rd, 2019
I'm reasonably certain that most of you will recognize this lop-sided smile as the goofy grin of someone just back from a visit to the dentist. You would be correct.
Another crown. Dang. I had a tooth with a big old crack in it which I am going to attribute to a long standing and very bad habit of chewing ice. (don't get started down that path!) I don't know for a fact that was the cause, but it is a reasonable assumption.
Anyway! Due to my being a big dental wimp, my dentist long ago started instructing me to take one little valium a half hour before my appointment time whenever I have any procedures done. Not a cleaning, I'm not THAT big a baby.
I've written about this before but, in a nutshell, this concept of taking a little something to relax has been a wonderful change for me with regard to scary and potentially painful dental procedures. And, I'm quite sure, also wonderful for my dentist. And it's kind of funny that no dentist before ever thought of it. It's not that I'm screaming or throwing dental tools around the room for heavens sake. I was raised better than that. It's just that I am so terribly dentalphobic that I am an absolute wreck in the chair. I'm so tense that every muscle in the body is as stiff as a board. My fear adrenaline runs so high that it defies the powers of Novocaine. Nowadays however, I'm just as relaxed as can be. I come just short of falling asleep in the chair while she is working on me. Better living through chemistry.
The one downside is that I am a real lightweight when it comes to medication. The same medication that just brings most people down a half step leaves me totally gonzo. And this is a very VERY small dose. So I knew head of time that the entire day would be a write-off. I was prepared.
And since I've had to do the crown appointment before, I also knew that I would want to eat something soft later that day. With that in mind, I made some pudding the day before. I have these adorable little depression era green glass pedestal bowls, each one little serving that are perfect for puddings. They were all ready for me in the fridge. I also did something I almost never do. I had a hankering for manicotti so I indulged myself by buying a frozen premade manicotti that I would fix for myself later in the week. I had several movies recorded and waiting for me in the TV cue and a nice clean soft blanket on the sofa. I was ready.
Because I know better than to drive under the influence and since my dentist office is just down the street, I walked to the appointment. The medication hadn't fully kicked in and I arrived just fine. I breezed through the appointment and two hours later, I carefully staggered back home.
For whatever reason, my body decided that it was absolutely starving and a cute little pudding wasn't going to cut it food-wise. So I took the frozen manicotti out of the freezer. I turned on the oven and once it was all heated up put the little tray on a cookie sheet in and set the timer for an hour. It worked out perfectly. I was told to not eat for an hour. By the time it was done, over an hour would have gone by. Good to go!
I decided which movie I was going to watch, got my sofa nest all made and caught up on some emails while I waited. I would like to point out here that while in my head I absolutely knew that I was still under the influence of the medication, I actually felt fine. Numb and crookedly smiling but fine. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't actually totally myself.
The timer went off, using pot holders I carefully removed the cookie tray from the oven and put it on the stovetop. So far, so good.
I'm not actually sure how it happened. Perhaps it was in removing that little film from the top of the manicotti. Maybe it was transferring it from the cooking tray to my plate, but somehow, I manged to burn my finger. I mean really really really burn.
I was smart enough to immediately stick my finger under cold running water. But not for long because dang it, I was hungry and nobody likes cold manicotti. So I turned off the water, finished moving the food from tray to plate and took it all into the family room where my movie awaited me.
I tried to ignore the ouchiness of the burn but after just a very few minutes I saw the blister rising. Okay. I went back into the kitchen and made a little ice pack with ice cubes wrapped in a washcloth bound with a rubber band. Other than the fact that the ice drips as it melts it worked fine. I eat with my left hand anyway so it didn't stop me stuffing yummy manicotti in my face. But I kept having to replace the ice cubes because they were melting so quickly.
When I finished eating, which was so good, my finger still hurt like a bugger, and my lap was wet from the dripping washcloth and somewhere in my swimming goofy altered state brain I remembered that Joy put in my Christmas stocking this year two small ice packs that were, even at that moment, in the freezer waiting for my next injury. Sometimes I'm such a dummy.
One looks like a pineapple and the other like a flamingo. I used them both alternately for the rest of the day.
Ok now looking at this photo the burn doesn't look like much does it. What a BIG BABY I am! But honestly it hurt so bad yesterday and these little ice packs saved the day. Obviously this one was the flamingo.
Eventually the pain subsided enough that I was able to sleep and when I woke up the blisters were starting to drain. Today it just looks red and very shiny and just the tiniest bit tender.
So today's lesson is do not cook when your brain is impaired. Which actually I already knew but being impaired at the time, obviously had forgotten. Oh! I probably should have mentioned that Tim is away this week. If I was in my right mind, I would have waited until he was home and then all of this would have been a non-issue.
Adventures in Sam-Land. Never a dull moment.
January 22nd, 2019
I don't know if this is something that has happened in your life, but it definitely has in mine. Repeatedly. For whatever reason, the universe has decided that there will be an inordinate number of people in my life whose names begin with the letter "J".
The first one of course would be my sister, Joy. She is two years and nine months younger than me. We can round that to three years if you like. I honestly do not remember a time in my life that she wasn't in it. So J is for Joy! Both my sister and happiness. Nice.
But I also remember walking to school (before Joy was school aged) with two other girls. Twin sisters, Janice and Judy. They had red hair and freckles and were absolutely adorable. I wonder if they are why I've always had a fondness for red hair?
I've known more Jennifers than I care to list and of course Justins, Johns or Jons, and Jasons. We had a cat named Jonah who was the most awesome cat I've ever known and the kids used to have a friend named Joe. I have a brother in law named Jeffrey.
Two of my three daughters in law's have names starting with J and I am forever saying the wrong name. Julie and Jessie. Totally entirely completely different people but their names start with J and so I mix them up. All. Of. The. Time! I don't know how they can even stand me sometimes.
Tim's late mother's name was Judy, another J and to make things even more confusing his equally late step-mother's name was Joan. Great. Another J. Another opportunity for me to say the wrong name and sometimes in that particular case it could be more than a little awkward.
When I worked at the audiology office we had a Jeannette and not one but two Jan's. That's back in Colorado. Where I also have a friend whose name is Jan. I find myself saying their first and last names every time I mention them. But I say them very fast and close together as if it was one word. Janhastings. Jancrossin. That way Tim has a clue which Jan I am referring to when I say, "Oh I heard from Jan today" which prompts him to ask, "Which Jan?" If I automatically say Jancrossin, he already knows. Another Colorado friend is Jenai. A beautiful and unusual name for a beautiful and unusual girl. And yet another J.
Just as an aside, a minute ago, I accidentally typed the word automatically as automagically. I like that word. I need to find a way to use that somehwere. Automagically. Feel free to borrow it ;)
Back to the letter J.
In high school, one of the very first people I met was a lovely girl named, Sherry. I don't know why, but for reasons unknown I absolutely could not remember her name. After asking her an embarrassing number of times what her name was, she much more kindly than I deserved asked me why it was that I couldn't get her name in my head! I shook my head and shrugged my shoulders. "Maybe," I suggested, "Maybe you just don't look like your name to me". She hmmed on that a bit and then asked me what name she did look like. I considered it and then finally told her that to me she looked like a "Jamie". She kind of liked that. Or at least she didn't hate that. And from that point forward, to me, she was Jamie.
Fast forward many years and I now have a niece whose name is Jamie. So now I have to identify the Jamie's in my life by first and last names as well. Although, I am TRYING to call the originally Jamie in my life by her given name these days. I don't always remember it, but I am trying.
One of my cousins has 4 boys. All of them has names that start with the letter J. They have great names. They are great kids. I never EVER get their names right. Which J name goes on which J kid? And that's my failing, not anyone else's just mine. I own this.
The very first person I met once we moved to Venice Island? Joan. Another J! They are chasing me. Haunting me.
All this folderol about the tenth letter of the alphabet and in truth it wasn't even invented until the 1600's. Yup the letter & is only 400 years old. Which sounds really ancient but in the grander scheme of written language, not so much.
And yet, more than 15% of men's names begin with the letter J and more than 8% of women names. "J" is the most popular letter for boy's names. Seriously. I looked it up. "R" is the second most popular letter for men's names to begin with and only the letter "M' is more popular in girl's names. Crazy eh?
So you see, the odds are there. It's not actually letters but numbers. I'ts math! We are all more likely to know people whose names begin with the letter J than not. It's not just my imagination. It's true.
Still, the letter J does not appear anywhere in the periodic table of elements which I didn't believe when I first read that so I checked and it is absolutely true.
In my search for information about this ever so popular letter, I found this YouTube video that suggests that the letter J has influence over the bearers personalty. It was even called, "Personality Traits of people whose names begin with the letter J" which I find dubious to say the least. You ready? According to this video, (whose veracity is murky) people whose names begin with J are:
Kind to Others
Lacking in a belief in true love
Interested in foreign relationships
Honest to a fault
Strong believers in the importance of duty and responsibility
I don't know if those qualities apply to every person whose name begins with the letter J or just some people whose names begin with J or just some people who have names.
But it was good to know that I am not imaging things. There actually are more people whose names begin with the letter J than any other letter. Which is pretty impressive for a letter that is only 400 years old. Rocketed to the top of the charts in only 400 years. Woohoo!
January 21st, 2019
At some point, I blogged about how my introduction to music other than classical came from one afternoon of listening to a neighbors new Beatles album. I was immediately captivated by this "new to me" style of music and never looked back. While I went on to be a big fan of many different artists, the Beatles, as my entree into the world outside of Beethoven, would always be dear to my heart.
I never saw them perform live of course. But I listened to the albums, I watched the movies and I read, with great fascination all of the teen magazines about them. The movies were silly fun, the magazines were mostly drek, but the music, yup that's where the authenticity was and I always knew that. It was always the music that spoke to my heart and soul.
Well that was a very long time ago. Only two of the Beatles are still around, but their music lives on. Music is like that. I mean the really good stuff. The iconic stuff. I mean, Ludwig van Beethoven died in 1827, that's nearly two hundred years ago and we are still listening to his work! I have no reason to believe that it will be any different with the music of the Beatles. Though I do think it will be hard to explain to future generations why 4 young men referred to themselves as misspelled insects. But I digress.
The original Beachboys, on the other hand, I wasn't a huge fan of. I was aware of their music of course. And I liked their nice tight harmonies but I confess that I often confuse their work with other, similiar, artists of the era. Good stuff, representational of the time and place, but definitely not in the same category as the Beatles. At least, not to me.
Still, when I found out that there was going to be a tribtue band performance of these two famous bands here on the island, I signed Tim and I up with not a seconds hesitation.
As it turned out our awesome neighbors Joan and Danny were also going to to the show so we decided to enjoy a lovely dinner together at one of Tims and my favourite local Mexican food places, Plaza Mexico before the show. There we met up with friends of Joan and Danny's who were the loveliest people and afterwords we all went to the show together.
It was a terrific show. The performers played and sang their hearts out. I sang along, of course, I knew I would, but so did a lot of other people. And in fact, people got so caught up in the music that they were literally dancing in the aisles!
The performers were so committed to their roles that they not only dressed in the appropriate clothing and sang the music, as the original band members did, but they also referred to each other, on stage anyway, as the person they were impersonating. In fact, during the Beatles performance, I noticed that the gentleman being "George Harrison" even stood like George during the show. Could be coincidence I suppose, but I don't think so.
I know, I know, it wasn't the real Beachboys and it wasn't the real Beatles. I couldn't be. That was then and this is now and I don't have a time machine. But back then, I wouldn't have actually heard much of the music anyway even if I had gone to any of the shows. Do you remember how ineffective the sound systems were for rock'n'roll concerts back then? If you weren't sitting in the front of the venue, you didn't hear a damned thing. And even if you were lucky enough to nab a front row seat, there was so much other noise!
It was the screaming! Those silly girls. Nobody heard anything but the screaming of over-excited young girls losing their minds and their voices, screaming at the top of their lungs throughout the shows. Yeah, even if I had the opportunity to go, I probably wouldn't have. Even back them I was too cheap to pay that kind of money to see a musical show where I wasn't actually going to be able to hear the music. I think I was born with extra frugal genes.
But this past Saturday night, there we were, with front row seats for some darned good entertainment! I still have Surfin' Safari and Yesterday alternately playing in my head. True I never really was a Beach Boys fan, but I have to admit, their music was kind of "catchy". I am now, have always been and always will be much more of a Beatles fan, but the Beach Boys stuff was fun too.
Awesome night. Sorry you weren't there with us. It was Very Very Fun. You should join us next time. Singing along is not required, although it is recommended. Dancing in the aisles? Totally optional.
January 18th, 2019
This is how I was dressed when I left to go to the museum yesterday. That's right, long pants, peacoat and a scarf. And by the way, under the coat I'm wearing a pullover sweater!
Where is it that I live again? I thought it was Florida? Land of Sunshine and perpetual summer, right?
Well not always. It was sunny and cloudy by turns yesterday and when it was cloudy, the temperature felt as if it dropped at least ten degrees. It was also very breezy and when the wind comes across the water, it's a damp chill that reaches straight through to your bones. And the temperature was probably in the 50's when I left the house. Which honestly is not that cold. I mean seriously. This is what passes for quote unquote winter weather here.
I admit it. If we were still in Denver, at 50 degrees, I might have a light sweater on at that temperature. Heck, I remember shoveling snow after a storm wearing a tee-shirt! 50 Colorado degrees are completely different than 50 Florida degrees.
Part of it, of course, is the humidity. Colorado doesn't have any. I was very amused shortly after we moved to Colorado to be watching a weather report saying something like 25% humidity or something like that at the same time that it was pouring rain. "Hmmm Dry Rain, interesting" I said to myself. The lack of humidity and therefore much dryer air back in Colorado makes 50 degrees feel more like 70 degrees on a bright sunny day.
Florida, on the other hand, of course, has loads of humidity. I think it has it's own share plus Colorado's. Which makes for very soft skin, very green, lush gardens and a much chillier 50 degrees.
But perhaps it's also the contrast. Colorado, Connecticut, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, Maine and even California and Texas have more distinct and changeable seasons. One season gradually segues into the next. So residents are kind of prepared. They know what's coming and they have the clothing to prove it! Florida, on the other hand, is mostly warmer weather. Sometimes MUCH warmer weather. And I suppose the humidity acts like a magnifying glass. If the temps are warm, it feels a lot warmer. If the temps are cooler, it feels a lot cooler. The humidity acts as a modifier? Or something like that.
Regardless, I have become accustomed to much warmer weather on a regular basis. So the contrasting unusually cool weather right now feels so much colder than it actually probably is. I say that because as I walked to the museum yesterday, I saw a lot of folks bundled up in their puffy coats, but I also saw a few people in shorts and tank tops. Shorts and Tank Tops? Where do they normally live that 50 degrees warrants shorts and tank tops? The North Pole? I shudder to think.
Of course, there I was in my peacoat and scarf and Tim was wearing shorts all day. With a long sleeved shirt. So I supposed the long sleeves were his nod to the outside chill.
It was chilly enough that I did, finally , close all the windows in the house yesterday. I am a fresh-air fiend and all summer it's much too hot and humid to open windows. The summer is all about having the air conditioning on everywhere you go. So anytime I can take the opportunity to let the outside in, I absolutely do. And I'm reluctant to close them again just because it's a little chilly out. I would rather huddle on the sofa under a blanket! (and usually that's exactly what I do) but yesterday, I actually closed the windows! Shocking! tsktsktsk. What a weenie I have become.
When we lived in Connecticut, I don't remember complaining about the weather and if Connecticut has one thing, it's weather and lots of it. And most of the winter weather is cold, wet, windy, icey, snowy....unpleasant. I remember even summer days in Maine that were briskly chill with weather that required long pants, socks and sweatshirts. And there I would be standing on shore, battered by a cold wind and a little damp and loving it! I recall bicycling through the heat of a Texas summer and not even breaking a sweat! What has happened to me? I wasn't whining about it back then.
It seems that now, no matter what the season is, I seem to have something to say about it. I fret about the heat all summer and then January comes along and to cool things off and I'm complaining about that too. Some people are never happy. Shame on me.
And that's not true either because mostly I am very happy. But yesterday I was happiest dressed warmly and closing windows. I think that's fair.
Today is much less windy and I'm told, by the weather guys, that it's supposed to be in the 60's eventually. Those windows may be going to open back up before the day is out.
Whatever your weather, have a wonderful weekend.
Hugs all 'round
January 17th, 2019
I went to a play last night!
Several months ago I mentioned that some ladies from my Pilates Class invited me to join them for a series of local plays here on the island. Delighted to be invited, of course I agreed without even knowing the names of the plays or the dates of the performances.
I enjoy live theatre tremendously and since we are fortunate to have not only two separate live performance venues here on the island, we are even luckier that they are both really good at what they do.
This one was called, "Always, Patsy Cline". Now I knew some of Patsy Cline's music. I went to high school in Texas so the two very new-to-me things I was introduced to were Football and Country music. One of them "took" the other did not. I leave it to you to guess which is which.
I didn't even look at the name of the play until the beginning of January when I opened my new calendar and kind of scanned it for events. I saw all of the Pilates classes already on there, a few doctor appointments, my teaching and museum schedules and ...... the play. Exciting! Something to look forward to and is not an every day sort of thing. Now where on earth did I put those tickets? I know it was someplace safe...hmmmm
Fortunately, in this much smaller house, there are remarkably few places to put something for safe keeping and I found the tickets. The one on top was the one I was looking for and I read the title of the play. "Hmm Patsy Cline, eh?" My memory banks riffled through the music file and the song, "Crazy" popped into my head. I think I had that song stuck in my mind for about a week. Then finally it went away and was immediately replaced by, "Stupid Cupid." Yup, my brain played one song after another of Patsy Cline's until last night.
First we all met for dinner. Ten women at one long table eating salad and pizza and talking and laughing, yeah I think we probably stood out in the crowd. But we had a good time. It was a nice preface to the performance even though throughout the evening, my brain continued to earworm her music, one song after another. You'd think the noise of the restaurant in general and our group in particular would have drowned it out, but nope.
Finally we walked over one street to the performance. It was wonderful. It was, basically, a two woman show. The actress playing Patsy, who had an amazing singing voice, and the actress playing her fan slash friend, Louise. The play is supposedly a true story and told through the eyes and speaking voice of the friend, Louise. Apparently they met at one of Patsy's performances fairly early in her career and they became good friends. Maybe even best friends. It was a great show and I enjoyed every second of it. But I was surprised by the ending.
You see, while I knew some of Patsy's Clines music, I didn't know anything at all about her. For instance, I didn't know that she was born in Virginia and that her real first name was also Virginia. Nope didn't know that. I didn't know that her daddy was a Blacksmith! Also was unaware that she was one of the first country artists to successfully cross over to "Pop" music. Or that she was only 15 when she first performed on the radio and was immediately a success.
Probably the most surprising thing was that she was only 30 years old when she died in a plane crash. How sad is that. She ended her amazing and incredibly successful career by joining an elite and incredibly tragic club. Famous Musicians who met their end in plane crashes. So I suppose if you believe in heaven, there is one heck of a great band there.
The Big Bopper (aka JP Richardson)
To be fair, Mr. Gentry's fatal crash was a helicopter not a plane, but still it was airborne and I think it counts.
That is a rather substantial group of people! I guess anyone who travels that much as a part of their livelihood exceeds the normal odds of experiencing a plane crash, but were I a famous musician, I might consider travel by other means.
Can you imagine how much more amazing music those preformers might have created if not for their early demises? Kind of makes me a little teary.
Well that's kind of a sad note to end a blog post on. I'm sorry. I will leave you with this. If you have the opportunity to see," Always Patsy Cline", (which is how she ended all of the letters she wrote to her friend Louise) as a live performance, don't pass up the opportunity. You don't have to be a fan to enjoy this show. And if that list above only teaches you one thing it should be to never pass up an opportunity. Even if I live to be a hundred years old, I will still not feel as if I had experienced enough of what the universe has to offer. Even when life is long, it's still too short.
January 16th, 2019
Well now, Joy and Bob are back from their adventures in California YAY! So Joy and I are back to our photo safari's at least once every week again! Bigger Yay!
Actually I've been remiss in my reporting here. We actually started hiking again last Friday and then we went again yesterday. Both were awesome.
On Friday we thought it might be fun to go back to a place we'd been many times before. It's not far from my house, though off island. So off we went. Shortly after we arrived, with not a single photo yet taken, cars began to arrive. A Lot of cars. A lota lot. I mean dozens of cars were showing up. More cars than there are parking spaces. And all of these cars were filled to capacity with excited, energetic, boisterous, happy Young People.
Now not to be cranky old pharts about this, but we kind of like hiking in relative quiet. Even when we talk, we do so softly. Part of the goal is to be at peace in such a beautiful surrounding, capturing pictures of nature. And some parts of nature head for high ground when hordes of noisy, tramping, laughing people descend upon it. So we left.
Now hang on a minute before you begin to think that we are horrible people, let me state clearly and for the record, we like young people. We like their energy and their idealism and their creativity. We like talking and laughing with them. As mothers, we have young people in our lives that we particularly adore. BUT when we are on photo safari, we are not looking for stimulating conversation and a great laughs. We are seeking some zen and some great photos. So like I said, we left that hiking place and sought another.
We decided to return to Carlson Preserve, a place we visited once last year and liked. The problem was, we couldn't remember exactly how to get there. We found a few housing developments we didn't know about, the town landfill and a couple of dead ends first but we presevered and eventually, hurrah, found the place we were seeking.
It's a HUGE place, that, lucky for us also has bathrooms and loads of well marked trails. While there were other cars in the parking lot, we didn't see a single soul once we hit the trails. Ahhh, that's what we were looking for. Peace and Quiet. We wandered about for a few hours and took some decent photos. The weather was right on the edge. Too cool to not wear a sweatshirt but too hot with one. So we did a lot of on again/off again as we hiked. I haven't seen Joy's photos yet though I am looking forward to it. Here are a couple of mine though:
Once we had our fill of taking pictures, we found our way back to the car and headed out for a late lunch thus undoing all the good of the hiking exercise. But really that isn't the main purpose of a good photo safari anyway. It's about spending time together and sharing a hobby we both enjoy! Done!
Then yesterday off we went again. This time to a place we'd never visited before. It's called the Sleeping Turtle Preserve and despite the name, we did not see a single turtle, sleeping or otherwise. Once again, very well marked trails and few people (although no bathrooms so this hike required some discipine).
It was a beautiful place and the weather was a bit cooler. Sweatshirts stayed on for the entirety of the hike. One of the most interesting things that we came across was a flood marker. Near the edge of the Myakka River that the Perserve follows, there was a very tall post that had markings for each of the flood levels of the storms of perhaps that last twenty years. The topmost one was from 2003. That was Hurricane Charlie. I'm going to show you a very unflattering picture of me, but I'm touching the top marker, while standing on tiptop. And I want you to bear in mind, this is from a river that, in the photo you cannot even see although it is behind me.
Now that is an eye-opener for sure. The RIVER was that high! Wow! So bear that in mind if you happen to be somewhere during a big storm and the weather guys recommend that you get the heck out. This is what they are talking about when they say "Flood". Water that is over my head. Now granted my head isn't all that high off the ground, but still!
The trees in this preserve have been there a long time. I know this because we were absolutely dwarfed in the presence of them. Not just figuratively but literally. Here is a photo of Joy, entranced by some birds she had spied in a nearby tree:
Do you see how those trees and even the undergrowth just towers over her? That's the kind of scenery that the very first visitors were faced with when the first arrived here except nobody had thoughtfully cut and marked trails for them ahead of time. Talk about intrepid explorers!
Anyway, we meandered through Sleeping Turtle until we were faint with hunger and then left to revive ourselves with a visit to Dairy Queen. which has well known restorative powers.
It was another glorious hike, a successful photo safari and wonderful company.
I think, if I'm allowed to have a favourite photo that I took this last hike, it would be the double decker spider web. I've never seen one of those before!
You know of course, that we will again be off on another photo safari adventure very soon! Be Prepared!
January 15th, 2019
A shopping miracle has occurred! And I apologize but to tell this story properly, I have to back up a little bit.
As those of you who know me already are well aware, I am short. I don't mind being short. Which is a good thing because there isn't much I can do about it. But the fact of the matter is, at 5'2", I am short. Which can make clothes shopping tricky. To further complicate matters, the majority of my height is in my legs. For a short girl, I have very long legs. From shoulder to hip, however, I am especially short. So I'm not only short, but disproportionately short. Makes shopping even trickier. Then, just to go for the trifecta of Pain-in-the-Arse clothing shopping, I am kind of busty. This may be more information about me than you ever needed but it's just another fact. Whenever I buy a button up blouse, I have to buy at least one size larger than I actually wear, just to avoid the doggone gap-osis issue around the buttons.
Soooo buying something as simple as a sweat jacket, while a seemingly simple task, becomes instead a journey akin to seeking the holy grail. Ok, I am exaggerating. But I seriously I have been looking for a sweat jacket that comes even close to fitting me for a few years now. Seriously.
I used to have one that I really loved. The previous one was, no surprise, blue. It was probably ten years ago. I remember it very well. I wasn't looking for a sweat jacket specifically. But I was at work and freezing cold. Clearly I did not dress warmly enough that day. So on my lunch I decided that I was run across the street to Target and see if I could find a sweater or a jacket to wear. Naturally I perused the clearance rack first. And lo and behold, I found a blue sweat jacket for 5 bucks! Woohoo! My kind price. I was both warm and happy for the rest of the day. And actually I really liked that jacket. It was maybe a teensy bit big but not horribly so and I wore it literally to death. One day it came out of the dryer with not only cuffs that looked as if a dog had been chewing on them, but also a broken zipper. Sadly, I tossed it out and I haven't owned a sweat jacket since then. But not for lack of trying!
I own two sweat shirts and one fleece, all of which I wear and like. But they are all of the pull-over variety. Which is fine. It works. But a pull over is not nearly as convenient as a zippy front one. And for whatever reason, I just plain prefer a zip front sweat jacket.
So I have looked and I have tried on and I have not purchased over and over again. I keep ending up borrowing one of Tim's sweat jackets which look ridiculous on me but they are warm and I took solace in just knowing that it wasn't my jacket. It was a borrowed jacket and somehow that made wearing one that didn't fit, okay in my weirdo brain.
But I think it was always on my radar. Way way way in the back where I wasn't paying any real attention lurked the memo ...Need Zippy Front Sweat Jacket.
Okay, You are now up to speed on the background. Last Friday I wrote about my shopping for tops that were not-blue. Well, while I was there I also found this sweat jacket. Wow! Jackpot!
I was in the petite section which is right next to the kids section (this comes into play later). And as I patiently stood there scooting hangers down from right to left with my own strict instructions to discard anything blue in mind, suddenly this jacket was there. Now first of all, the section I was looking in, was specifically for ladies tops. Not jackets. So that's odd. And then the little plastic doo-dad around the top of the hanger which indicates section (men's women's children's etc.) and size says it's from the kids department so it's on the wrong rack. And it also says, size XL. Which honest to goodness is not the size I normally wear. I'm usually a small or medium, honest!
But because it was Not-Blue, the colours caught my eye. Actually, the very first thought that went through my head was, "This is in the wrong section" the second thought was, "This is not blue" the third thought was, "I think this might fit me!". So I tried it on totally ignoring the XL tag. And sonovagun It fits near perfectly. The sleeves are the tiniest bit long but I rolled them back about a half a cuff and it was perfect. Not too long. Not too tight. Not too loose. Abso-freakin-lutely perfect! Wow!
So in truth, I came home last week from my Not-blue shopping mission with not just 3 not-blue tops but also one awesome sweat jacket! I have to admit, these are not colours I normally wear. But I do not care. It looks good with jeans. It's comfy. It's warm. It has a zippy front.
How very odd that after all this time, I find exactly what I was looking for because someone put it in the wrong place. Now there is some pretty awesome serendipity.
January 14th, 2019
That, my friends, is a mosquito. One of my least favourite bugs of all time. (just to clarify, I have no favourite bugs, just varying layers of dislike toward them). Most bugs I just ignore, as long as they stay outside where bugs belong. It's a mutual thing, "you don't bother me, I don't bother you). I know that bugs serve an important role in the whole 'balance of nature' thing and heaven knows I don't want to interrupt that!
But any insect that is a blood sucker, dies. Period. I have a zero tolerance on that score. So, ticks...death warrant, fleas...big time goners, bedbugs...gone without a hint of remorse and mosquitoes.....get the slap of death. I am heartless when it comes to blood sucking bugs. It's just that simple.
Now I know that they are just trying to survive and that the whole vampire bit is just a means to an end. Sorry. I simply cannot abide a blood sucking bug that has the audacity to touch me or any of my loved ones.
Now, if they are just moseying around and NOT touching any of us, I will pretend that they aren't there. It's the touching part that gets them dead.
This whole thing comes to mind today because yesterday when Tim and I were out on an explore, we found ourselves in the town of Placida. It's somewhere south of us. Which is my sum total knowledge of Placida. Anyway, at some point in the drive, we came upon a nature preserve. So we stopped to have a little look around. We hiked up and down some trails, admired the area and especially an adorable little amphitheater, took a few photos and it was a nice break in the drive.
At some point, I glanced over at Tim and saw multiple mosquitoes on his shirt! Horrified, I brushed them away. He looked to see what I was doing. "Mosquitoes" I explained in one little word. He nodded and said, "Yeah, they are pretty fierce here". He indicated several bites already on his arms. My eyebrows went stratospheric. "Let's go" I decided and we turned around and headed back. By the time we got back to the car, poor Tim was covered with mosquito bites. I had exactly zero.
That's right. Not a single solitary bite. Not one. I find that curious. Naturally I had to find out why Tim is a mosquito magnet and I, apparently am not.
There is actually a term for people like Tim with regard to mosquitoes. Tim is a "High Attractor". Which, I suppose, would lead me to believe that I am a high repellent? The articles I read actually didn't say that. It just seemed to be the next logical step.
Anyway, Mosquitos are attracted to certain things. Like...
1. Dark Colours. Which is odd because Tim was wearing a light blue shirt. I was wearing one of my new not-blue shirts which is to say black. The one with the polka dots.
2. Certain Blood Types. As it turns out, Mosquitos are at least twice as attracted to blood type O as Blood Type A. And this is even more strange because I am Blood Type O. Tim is Blood Type A. Isn't that bizarre?
3. CO2. Which is to say, people who exhale more. I never actually thought about which of us, Tim or I exhales more often or more heavily. So I have no input on this point at all.
4. Sweat. Okay. On this one Tim wins hands down. I do not know the whyfors on this one but I don't sweat much. I just don't. Never did. It can actually be a problem for me in the summertime when a little sweat can cool a person off. Tim, on the other hand, has no problem perspiring. It's just part of who he is. And since he is almost always too hot besides on top of the normal sweat from the exertion of us hiking, well there you go. Sweat is like a mosquito invitation to an all you can eat buffet! (side note here: When I lived in Texas I was once told that: "Pigs sweat, Men perspire and women glow." I don't know why, but that just tickles me)
5. Certain Microbial Dermal Activity. Ewwww. Well that sounds gross. But I know that it's a fact. We all have a certain amount of microbes on our skin at all times. And apparently there are certain microbes, who shall remain anonymous, that are like catnip.
6. Pregnancy. Which totally does not apply in this case but there is something about pregnancy hormones that is very attractive to mosquitoes.
7. Beer. Who knew? Mosquitoes love beer! So if you are outside drinking beer or have recently been drinking beer, mosquitoes are now your new best friends! Didn't apply in our case.
So while all of this was fascinating, all I can determine from my research is that Tim's perspiration and perhaps his mysterious skin microbes outweighed my dark blouse and blood type.
I also learned that not all types of mosquitoes bite humans. Interesting. And that of all the flying insects around, mosquitoes are the slowpokes. Which is probably why so many of them succumb to the slap of death. Even butterflies fly faster than mosquitoes. And I do not feel even remotely bad about my "Die Mosquito Die' attitude when I learned that mosquitoes are the deadliest animals on earth! True! More people (and other animals!) die from diseases carried by mosquitoes than any shark attack ever! Shudder!
But the most icky thing that I learned about mosquitoes is that they are sort of like Cockroaches. After the zombie apocalypse has render human beings extinct, mosquitoes will probably still be around to consort with cockroaches. Here is the quote:
"Basically, mosquitoes exist because they're next to impossible to wipe out. Species don't exist in a vacuum; as long as they can find food and don't have environmental pressure against them, they'll continue. Mosquitoes are millions of years old as a species. In the ecosystem, they do serve as food for other species (birds, frogs, and fish) and as pollinators. The larvae eat detritus in the water, helping to clean it. There are more than 3,000 species of mosquitoes, but only about 200 bite humans."
This is some weird information to start your week with eh?
January 11th, 2019
It was recently brought to my attention that I seem to wear an awful lot of the colour blue. I kind nodded when this was pointed out to me and just continued on about my life but the idea must have lodged in my brain somewhere because I then found myself, critically looking through my closet. As it turns out, it was an astute observation. I do indeed wear a great deal of the colour blue. As in, probably 90% of my wardrobe is blue.
I'm not certain how it happened. It was incremental. Little bit by little bit, blues crept into my closet. It's not as if I purchased my entire wardrobe at one time after all. Apparently, I gravitate to the colour blue. It's a nice basic sort of hue and and one of the few that, regardless of the shade, looks flattering on me.
There are a lot of different blues of course. Navy, cobalt, turquoise, baby, aqua and sapphire just to name a few. And that changes the over all look of the closet contest a bit. Then there are patterns and styles and necklines and sleeve lengths and fabric...mercy! Quite the variety. And I thought this whole solo colour thing fell into the "who cares" category of things in my life. Until I realized that I care.
I think perhaps it matters more to me right now because now that cooler weather is upon us, nearly every day I am wearing jeans. Blue Jeans. And the one colour that I do not especially like to wear with Blue Jeans is, ironically the colour blue. Technically, I suppose, blue "goes" with jeans because every colour "goes" with jeans. I just don't particularly care for how it looks. It's too monochromatic I think for my taste. It smacks a bit of Uniform and I do not like that at all.
Now, to be fair, I do have a few pair of coloured jeans, white, pink and grey, but the vast majority of the time, if I'm wearing jeans, they are blue. Blue looks very nice with the white, pink and the grey jeans. Terrific in fact. But not the blue jeans.
With this in mind, I set out yesterday to fix this problem. I headed for my favourite outlet store with one mantra in my head, "Buy Nothing Blue". I walked up and down aisle after aisle, grabbing anything, not-blue, to try on. And I was surprised at how little not-blue was there. There was a little white, a few reds, an occasional mustard yellow but mostly the entire store was filled some shade of blue. Frustrating.
Finally I found enough non-blue to warrant to visit to a changing room. To my delight, there were three things that I really liked, comfortable, nice looking, reasonably priced and most importantly, not blue. So I bought them. Yay! Mission accomplished.
I came home and cut off the tags to wash them and suddenly realized that while they were not blue, they were all black! All Three Items! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh my gawd, I'm an idiot!
And here's what makes it even funnier! I'm a little bit colour blind and I cannot tell the difference between navy blue and black. I had to ask other people in the store if what I was holding was navy blue or not!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
Welcome to my new not-blue wardrobe items:
I think I need to vow to never shop alone again.
Meanwhile, Have a wonderful weekend. Meet y'all here again on Monday!
January 10th, 2019
You see before you, three vehicles. A Tahoe, a New Yorker and some sort of Pontiac. I'm not really a car person so that's about a much as I know. Question: What do they have in common? I mean other than the fact that they are all automobiles.
Give up? The names of the cars are all either towns, cities or states. Weirdly cool eh?
I never thought about it before but when Tim and I were driving.....somewhere...not long ago, we were sitting quietly in the car, each of us lost in our own thoughts, and we came to a stop light. It was an unusually long light. The realization of how doggone long we were just sitting there seemed to jar me out of my reverie and I began paying attention to what was going on in the real world around me. At some point, I noticed that the vehicle ahead of us what a white truck and the name emblazoned across the back in chrome was "Colorado". That struck a chord with me because, A) we used to live in Colorado, B) I didn't realize that Chevy made a truck that they named Colorado and C) (with me there is almost always a C) Interesting. I wonder if there are any other vehicles whose names are also the names of places?
I said as much to Tim. He said, "Hmmm. Well let me think a minute?" He came up with Tahoe immediately so we had two right away. Then I thought of the Pontiac and he returned with the old New Yorker. Okay, game on!
We had to lay some ground rules pretty quickly because otherwise, I will start stretching things. I know me. So according to the rules of the car game we just made up, the name had to be a town, a city or a state. It could be as old or as new a model as we liked, but it had to be real, not made up. The spelling could be different as long as the pronunciation was the same. And no looking things up on my phone! (Tim as driving so that was not an option for him and would have been cheating regardless)
It's a good thing we had some rules because Cadillac was my next thought. (Cadillac Mountain) but Tim shot that down quickly. While it is a place, it's not a city, town or state. Dang! But I redeemed myself with the AMC Concord and Tim immediately came back with Chevy Malibu.
No matter what car or truck I thought of, Tim always thought of at least one more. And by the way, I am seriously disappointed in the sheer volume of vehicles that have no names...just letters and numbers. Really crappy for car games.
Still it turned out to be a fun, thinking kind of game and it got us all the rest of the way home. And it had me looking out the window for inspiration, reading the names of cars as they drove by. Not that those cars necessarily had a name that fit the rules of the game we just made up, but sometimes it was enough to remind me of another one.
Playing car games is not an unusual endeavor for us on a longish drive. It helps to pass the time. But this was the first time that we made one up ourselves.
We look for states of course, trying (and failing every single time) to find all fifty. Works best during a very long trip. Extra points for other countries license plates. At least one person has to keep track on paper because otherwise cheating will ensue. For example: "No really, I saw a Hawaii plate! I did! Remember, it was that red convertible!". This while driving through Kansas. In our car, apparently, there is no honour system that works.
Then there is the one we play where we make up phrases to match the letter combinations on license plates. For instance, the letters on my Colorado license plate were LWP. To remember it I assigned the phrase, "Lions With Pride". I always remembered the letters of that plate (Never the numbers) So we do that with random cars that go by. Tim always comes up with the funniest ones.
Tim and his friend Paul for awhile were playing a long distance game that Paul invented via emails. The goal of this game seemed to be connecting people and vehicles. Some of them were obvious, others were thinkers. I don't mean what vehicle did they drive in real life, but what vehicle just naturally "belongs" with that person. Like for example, the Chevy "Malibu" . The answer is obviously Barbie. Even I got that one right. They played that game back and forth for months!
Which got me to thinking. For every game that exists out there in the world, somebody had to be struck with the inspiration to create it. They had to think it all the way through with the board, cards, game pieces and rules. Wow! What a cool job!
Especially the games that have withstood the test of time. I get how somebody thought of Monopoly and Scrabble. I even sort of see how Candyland was inspired. Yahtzee and Bingo are games of chance that have a logical path backwards to their origins. But how on earth did somebody come up with the idea for Twister? I am not sure I want to know.
January 09th, 2019
Oh my Goodness! Do you see this? Squeeeeeee! A childhood favourite revisited. Happy Sigh!
Wow! Talk about a Flash from the past. I found these at the grocery store yesterday much to my surprise. I hadn't seen them in decades. Curiosity is the the blame for throwing them into my shopping basket. I wondered if I would still feel the same way about them.
The first time I ever tasted these I was maybe 6 years old. We had just moved to California and were living in a motel waiting to move to our rental house. There was a little Mom & Pop grocery store just walking distance away and my Mother bought food for us there. She brought home a bag of these very cute cookies as a treat. Joy and I were immediately captivated. We already liked animal crackers. Pink and white frosting and nonpareils can only improve upon a favourite in our opinion. I vividly remember laying on the floor of our hotel room, eating these out of the bag while playing with colorforms. Remember colorforms?
A few short years later we moved from California and then I didn't even see these in the stores for a very very long time. In fact it wasn't until I was married and had kids of my own. Joy had moved to...... Seattle maybe? (She has also lived in lots of places as an adult. It's hard to keep track). She had a similar fond memory of these cookies and was kind enough, bless her, to ship some to me! I immediately put them in the refridgerator because honestly, like revenge, they are best served cold. I hope I was nice enough to share them with my kids but in truth I do not recall. It's just as likely that I saved them for myself and pigged out when they weren't looking. I do remember that they were still delicious!
Have you ever done that? Revisited a childhood favourite food, I mean. Did you feel the same way about that food? I've only done it two other times that I can recall. The first was Twinkies.
When I was a kid, Twinkies came two to a pack. If I was given a package of Twinkies at home, I shared it with my sister. It wasn't begudging at all. Seriously, it wasn't. We were just those two kids who 99% of the time got along great. If she had two cookies, she gave me one. If I had a package of Twinkies, I gave her one. No resentment or jealousy. However, if our Mother put the entire package of Twinkies in my lunchbox, you better I believe that I scarfed both of them down. I might not have eaten my sandwich but I absolutely ate both Twinkies. "Crapfood like that in your lunchbox?", you say in surprise. You have to remember that this was in the days before the School Lunchbox Police.
I so clearly remember the spongy texture of the cakey part. The smell of that golden delight. The taste of that sweet cream filling. I even remember the crinkley sound of the wrapper. Yummmmmm. Then of course I stopped carrying a lunchbox as I got older in school. And eventually officially became an adult and Twinkies were but a vague and distant memory. Until my own kids were in school. By this time, Twinkies came in a large box and were individually wrapped. I could pack them one pre-wrapped Twinkie at a time. On very rare occasions I would succumb to the boys requests and buy a store bought treat instead of the homemade ones I usually provided. The boys were always so excited about Twinkies. Which reminded me of how much I used to love them. So I tried one. Yuck. I didn't even finish one bite. I spit it out and then had to brush my teeth to get rid of the taste. All chemically and harsh and just nasty. Did the Twinkie change? Did my tastebuds change? Or both?
It was such a disappointment. The same thing happened with Hostess Apple Pies. That was something my Dad and I both enjoyed. Every once in a long while, when I was a little kid, I would go out running errands with my dad. Just he and I. That was a treat on it's own. And sometimes, during the course of running that errand, he would buy a Hostess Apple Pie and break it in half and we would share it. The wrapper was green, so you would immediately know it was the apple one and not the lemon or cherry. It was half moon shaped and fairly heavy in my hand. There was evidence of a crackly glaze all over it that would flake off into my lap. The apple pie filling was so good (And I still love apple pie). The crust was not flaky like real pie crust, but firmer as it was a hand-held pie. Still in my memory, it was a wonderful treat.
Didn't have another one until one random day when I was in college. I was in a small convenience shop in line working my way to the register. At the register, there was a rack of Hostess Pies. Surprise! At the last minute, I added one apple pie to my purchases. I was so excited to eat one of these again that I broke into it right way, sitting in my car in the store parking lot. Aaaannnndddd.....disappointment. It was okay. It was edible but only just barely. I was able to eat it (and at that point in my life I was usually so broke that if I paid for food, I damned well ate it no matter what!) But it certainly wasn't the yummy snack of my childhood memory. I haven't tried one since.
I was concerned that this would be another of that situation. Had I set myself up for disappointment again, measuring a childhood memory against grown up reality? Nope! Not the case at all :) Hurrah! These are still Wonderful! Still Delightful! What a nice surprise! And yes I know, they are terrible for me. Junk food. No nutritional value whatsoever. Bad news food. Guess what? I don't care one single bit. I will eat these. I will relish every single one of them. No wait, I will share them with Joy. She will appreciate them as much as I do ;)
And I just now realized that all of my happiest childhood memories seem to be centered around food. " Very Interesting" as Arte Johnson used to say. I guess I've always been food-centric. Explains a lot doesn't it. Hah!
Anyway, frosted animal crackers. Yummmy! Have I enticed you to try an old favourite again for the first time in a long time? Do it! And report back ;)
January 08th, 2019
As you can tell, I finally got some art up on the walls here. It's about time too. We've only lived here for 2 1/2 years and I JUST got this done. For heaven's sakes!
It's not simply a matter of procrastination. Honest! At first it was delayed because the walls all needed to be painted and since that didn't happen immediately, all of the artwork was stacked behind other furniture in the family room. It was all hiding there, leaning against the wall in layers. Behind chairs. Behind the sofa. Behind end tables. Well..behind stuff. And the longer it stayed behind stuff, the more I forgot it was even there. It just kind of was part of the environment. After awhile, it just kind of dropped off my radar entirely.
And then for Christmas middle son and his wife gave us a beautiful painting. And I vowed, to myself, to Tim and to the kids that this one was not just going to sit in stacks on the floor of the family room. THIS one was going on the wall.
I walked it around the house awhile and finally decided to put it up in the living room. We went out and bought the necessary stuff. Command Strips for art. Seriously you do NOT want me loose with a nails and hammers in my hands. Just trust me on that.
So with measuring tape and a pencil, command strips and Tim's assistance, up it went. And it looked so good there! But it also looked a little lonely up there on that big wall all by itself. I got "inspired" and "creative" and I use both of those terms very loosely. Somehow in my demented brain, I thought I could create one of those wonderful gallery walls where the art is all sorts of different sizes and shapes that fit together wonderfully. In my head it looked terrific. I even grouped them on the floor first and moved each piece around to different spots, substituting one work for another until I was satisfied. Excited now, the process began.
First let me say that there is a scary amount of math involved in trying to do this. Second, I will confess that there are some people who shouldn't be allowed to hang pictures. I am all of them.
It doesn't look as good on the wall as it did on the floor. I blame walls that are not plumb, my poor math skills and of course, my lack of artistic ability. Once it was done and I stepped back to admire it all, I realized that the top right piece is crooked. Not a lot. Just a tiny bit. Just enough to drive me crazy. And then about an hour after I was done with the project, the bottom left painting fell off the wall with a mighty crash. Sigh. I picked up the big pieces, swept and vacuumed repeatedly for the little pieces, cut my finger in the process and bled all over the floor, Tim bandaged me up and then I went back and washed the floor. And now the lower left spot is empty. It may remain that way for some time.
But the "gallery wall" aside, most of the art (other than this one wall) doesn't look too bad. Obviously the ones that Tim did look the best, but most of mine aren't half bad. And I am amazed at the positive difference it makes having art up on the walls. It's cozier and homier and warmer and friendly and far more interesting. I guess it looks more finished. The gift art, by the way, is the centerpiece. I just thought with the red sofa, that red bird would be perfect on that wall :) I think I got that part right!
Meanwhile, there are just a couple of other works that still need to find a home here. Just the right spot. And of course the one that crash landed needs to be reframed and hung again. But perhaps I will ask Tim to help me with that one the next time. We know that was operator error. That is not even a question.
And in the meantime, I feel pretty darned accomplished even with the mistakes. Art on walls. Check! Well mostly check. Once I finished what I did manage accomplish yesterday, I wanted to bow and say, "Taadaa!".
And I should write a nice thank you note to the Command Strip people. That stuff is Awesome!
January 07th, 2019
Drive east on Venice Ave. Go ahead. Just keep going east. Start anywhere on Venice ave and point away from the water. If you started here on the island like us, first of course, you have to go over a bridge, then past some restaurants and shops, some doc offices and business, a plaza that has Dairy Queen in it (of course I would know where that is) and any number of neighborhoods. It's a pretty street with nicely kept homes and well maintained buildings and most of the way there is a grassy and treed meridian between east and west bound lanes that pretties it up even more.
Keep going, that's it. Just keep nosing east until it seems that you have run out of road. Suddenly it seems that you have the choice of turning right or left. The correct answer is, neither. Keep that car pointed east.
"What?" I hear you say, "That's no road, that's somebody's dirt driveway." Nope, that's still road. it's a dirt road, I'll grant you that. But go on, be brave. Keep going. And by the way, it's bumpy and lumpy the entire length so don't be heavy on the gas pedal. Also nature encroaches here. Yup, the trees and grasses and undergrowth hug reallllly close to the road. So close in fact, that at times it feels a bit like it's leaning in. Well, never you mind about that. Just keep going. Leave your windows down too. That way you can hear the birds and the wind in the trees and breathe in all the mysterious and wonderfully earthy fragrances of the forest primeval. Let it tickle your olfactory system.
Just when you think the road is going to go on forever it opens up. Swing 'round to the left and park your car because you have arrived. You are there at Snook Haven. And what a place to be. It's a restaurant, no wait, it's a music venue, hold on now, it's a boat launch, a Myakka river boat tour starting point, a campground....... It's all of that and a little bit more.
Tim and I wandered out that way recently. It was a beautiful day to be outside. Temps in the 70's and sunshine with a gentle breeze. Perfection! We walked around a bit, spied not a single alligator then settled in with BBQ sandwiches eaten outside at an umbrella'd table while listening to some pretty darned good music.
We weren't alone by any stretch of the imagination. There were plenty of other folks or all ages there doing the exact same thing. One of my favourite moments was when a little girl of maybe 5 years old led her (I assume) grandfather to the dance floor and the two of them boogied the entire length of the song. Adorable.
While enjoying our meal and the music which was neither to soft nor too loud by the way, we watched a number of kaykers paddle by and the river boat tour stop to unload and reload passengers. It was peaceful and joyous, yummy and relaxing and I sang along with nearly every song and Tim didn't not appear to be embarrassed by that in the slightest.
It's a unique place. Kind of old Florida meets new Florida I suppose. It's smacks of authenticity as well it should. Snook Haven was created in the 1920's by smuggler's during prohibition. And it's easy to imagine those times. As their own historian attests, "add in a still for some moonshine, a mule path and you have the beginnings of the Snook Haven Community Watering hole." The die was cast.
Once prohibition was repealed, it was already an established place to be and it's reputation attracted all sorts of folks. Including a Hollywood location scout! It became the perfect stateside setting for jungle pictures which were very popular at the time, including the 1931 French Foreign Legion classic, "Prestige".
Since then it has been a private fishing camp, a public fishing camp and boat launch with cook shack (which led to the restaurant) and now it's.....whatever it is now. Not sure it's completely definable. A very fun place to be. There. I suppose that will do for a definition.
Now I have to be absolutely fair here. We have never done one of the river boat tours, nor have we kayak'ed or canoe'd out of Snook Haven. Yet. But considering that The State of Florida has declared the Myakka River to be one of two officially Wild and Scenic Rivers in the state, I'm sure it would be an adventure. Oh and by the way, there are at least 100 named rivers in this state, so that status is a wee bit more interesting than if there were only, say two rivers in the state y'know?
It's worth a look and a taste and a listen. You don't have to dress up. Casual is the dress code here. When we mosey on down, we like to come on the weekends for the music of our era, but if banjo music is your thing, then plan on Thursday evenings. That's banjo night. That's right. Snook Haven. We are fans. You might be too. Check it out.
January 04th, 2019
There is a naked tree in our family room. In short order it too will be carefully taken apart and unceremoniously shoved and squashed into a box that doesn't look near big enough to hold an entire Christmas Tree. Which says to me that Christmas is officially over.
It takes me nearly as long to undecorate as it does to decorate. I honestly do wrap everything in tissue paper and put it back into it's proper box or bag as I dismantle. The outside lights are taken down, unplugged from each other and then each strand is wrapped around panels of cardboard before being put into it's proper bin, labelled "outside lights". The hot pink reindeer and their sleigh are wrapped and placed in their boxes, my Father Christmas is bagged and has an entire bin of his own. The Christmas train and my pretty little glass tree have been returned to their originally boxes. The wreath has been bagged, and the stockings and tree skirt are gently wrapped and saved for use again next year.
The tree ornaments take the longest to repack. There are so very many of them! And it's such a mishmosh of colour and theme and tone. There is no room for linear thought on my Christmas trees, no sirree! The giant turquoise and hot pink balls bob next to delicate blown glass. The jolly Santas and woven straw candy canes hang next to carved wooden boats and funky Suessian undescribable trinkets. There are bone china cats and miniature violins. There are a number of birds with long feathered tails and a cross stitched kitten in a canning jar lid. Bags of tulle strips (which I use as garland). Boxes of old sparkly glass balls. The list goes on and on. All of it nestles together on my trees like a big wacky blended family, where nothing matches and everything somehow inexplicably goes together.
All of it, repackaged, sits and waits to be put into a bin where I struggle to make it fit an incredibly large 3-D jigsaw puzzle. There is one and only one way that it all fits together. It's just finding that one way. Takes a little time and patience. Eventually, I always get figured out.
Once all of it is back in the utility room ready for it's 11 month nap I am nearly done. It's all over except for the glitter. The glitter is eternal. I will vacuum and re-vacuum. I will sweep and wash floors. And the glitter will still be there. Even now, I see it sparkling on the floor, the rug and the furniture. But it's worse than that because it's also on my clothes, on my skin, in my hair and for all I know I've inhaled it and even now it's sparkly on my liver. I will continue to find glitter tomorrow, next week, next month and probably in July it will still be turning up.
It's my fault entirely. There was a new addition to the ornaments this year.
Yes I blame the snowflakes. As far as I can tell they are composed of 95% glitter and 5% glue. I have never in my life seen so much leftover glitter after undecorating a tree. The snowflakes should be half the size that they started out judging by the piles of glitter everywhere. But no. They are at least as large as they started out. Maybe bigger. I can only assume that they must be reproducing. Or perhaps even manufacturing additional glitter as they hung on the tree!
And they looked so pretty too. With the crazy mixed up ornaments that we have, this stack of snowflakes was the one constant, the thing that brought it all together and made it look like an intentional bit of Christmas Chaos instead of a randomly insane tree. To say nothing of the fact that all those pickery pointy bits on the snowflakes caught on everything. The tree, the garland, other ornaments, each other and if you passed by a little too closely, onto you too.
But it sure was a pretty tree. Every year I say that it's the prettiest tree we've ever had. And every year I mean it too. It's all saved now, safely packed away and patiently waiting for next year when it will once again be the prettiest tree we've ever had. I even saved every single one of those damned snowflakes. And I have no doubt that by next year I will have forgotten what a pain in the butt those snowflakes were and I will use them again.
Good Night Christmas Tree. Have a nice nap. See you next December!
The glitter however, will still be around. Glitter is forever.
January 03rd, 2019
Coming up in February our membership to the Ringling Museum compound will need to be renewed. Tim and I did a Hmmmmmm about that for awhile this weekend. We've been many times and we enjoy it every time. We've taken many a guest with us as well. But sometimes, we just feel the need to change things up. So this past weekend we decided to instead get a membership to the Marie Selby Botanical Garden and we will allow our Ringling cards to expire.
We actually hadn't visited Selby Gardens in many years but in our dusty distant memory, it was a pretty place so what the heck. We signed up and then walked through the doors into a magical world ;)
Tim and I both enjoy strolling around Botanic Gardens and have sought them out almost everywhere we have visited. And for lots of reasons. First of all, a botanic garden is not just a home to flowers. There are also all of the other critters that seem to be drawn to gardens as well. Butterflies and frogs, lizards and birds, squirrels and bees; they are always so happy in a garden.
Then of course, gardens are pretty. They just are. Pretty things make me smile. We love the colour, the fragrance, the textures and almost infinite variety that a botanic garden offers. Mother Nature has a way of putting some of the most unlikely combinations together in a way that looks absolutely perfect but we mere humans would never consider. She is an amazing artist.
And lastly are the feelings. I always have a tremendous sense of both peace and inspiration in a garden. It's a zen thing, I suppose. I can literally feel the stress washing away and the creative spirit rise as we wander the maze of paths admiring sculptures and sitting for a moment by the ponds, breathing in the heady scents and stopping to take photographs.
The Marie Selby Gardens are in Sarasota right in the thick of congested traffic, both on the water and on the road, next to a marina and surrounded by historic homes and towering condominiums. Not exactly an area I would normally consider a peaceful place. But it is. In spite of it's surroundings, it absolutely is exactly what I expect from a botanic garden.
Originally built as the home to William and Marie Selby in the early 1920's, Marie loved her gardens and upon her death in 1971, she bequeathed both her home and the property to the community as a botanic garden which has not only been beautifully maintained but expanded upon and improved by it's guardians.
One of the best parts of any museum memberships is the reciprocity with other museums. Not just in the same state, but all over the country! That is exciting to consider as we plan any other trips. This particular museum also offers classes, discounts in the shops, special events and free plants on membership appreciation day! woohoo!
One of the best things about a garden is that it is always changing. Every time we will visit, there will be something different to see, to learn and enjoy. Colour us happy ;) For this year anyway. Who knows what we will do next year when it's time to think about renewing again.
January 02nd, 2019
Happy New Year Everyone! Regardless of how you prefer it, colourful, sparkly, neutral or flowery, it has still arrived. 2019! We are just a little more than 24 hours in to this brand new year and so far, things are pretty good. I am encouraged.
Actually, I'm always excited about a new year. I kind of segment my life out into years. The year each of the boys were born. The years they graduated high school. They years they got married. The year we moved. The year we moved again. Each year seems to have one big moment that defines it for me. So as each year begins, I wonder what is going to be The Moment for me this time around.
It's almost always a surprise. Most of my life has been a surprise to me. I would never have imagined when I was young that this is where my life would take me. If ever I day dreamed about my future, and believe me I did a lot of day dreaming as a kid, I absolutely never once saw myself living this life. I have traveled to amazing places and seen incredible things. I have met the most wonderful people and had the best experiences. I am married to the best man I've ever known and have the most wonderful sons and daughters in law in existence. I have my sister who is awesome and her girls and their families who are all amazing. I have the the very best friends on the planet on top of all that. Yes, I have been very fortunate in my life.
And those are just some of the random thoughts that were floating around in my head on New Year's Eve this year. Tim always says that in the inside of my head is a scary place. Perhaps it is. There are always layers and layers of ideas and imagines and music and thoughts rattling around in there all of the time. Heh.
Tim worked New Year's Eve day so I bustled around catching up on laundry and cleaning after a weekend of having fun and doing absolutely nothing useful. It felt like a perfectly ordinary Monday really. But after dinner, we walked down to watch the sunset. Just knowing it was the last sunset of 2018 made it important somehow.
When we got back, we settled in to watch a little TV until we got sleepy. But knowing, as we do, that our town would be filled with New Year's Eve revelers setting off fireworks here, there and everywhere to ring in the New Year, we knew we wouldn't be getting to sleep at anywhere near a normal time, so we didn't fight it.
Instead, a little before midnight, we drove to the jetty and parked facing the pier. The pier is 3.5 miles from the jetty and directly across the water. Tim had read that Sharkey's Restaurant, which is just off that pier, would be doing a fireworks show for New Years. I suppose we were thinking that if we have to hear it anyway, we may as well get to see it too.
We sat, with a few other like minded folks, in absolute darkness, with the windows down and the moon-roof open, listening to the ocean that we couldn't see in the darkness and admiring the stars. I always pick out Orion first. I'm not sure why, but it's the one I always look for right away. The darkness was so deep and the stars so many, it was mesmerizing. I tend to forget how thick the night sky truly is with glittery stars.
Right on the stroke of midnight, the sky light up again, this time with fireworks. We enjoyed the show and when it was done, wished each other a Happy New Year before heading back home. It isn't far but on the way, we could hear and see other smaller fireworks going off Some folks were having their own celebrations at their homes. But eventually all was quiet again.
It was kind of hard to fall sleep after that but I suppose that eventually I did, because when I woke up the next day, on the first day of 2019, my very first thought was Happy New Year!
So that is what I wish all of you. A New Year filled with Happiness, Good Health, Prosperity and Magic. We can never have enough magic in our lives.
Hope your New Year Celebration helped to ring in the Best year of your lives (so far!)
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.