This was the view from my seat Tuesday night. Center. K. 109. Just about a perfect seat.
The show was, "42nd Street". It's kind of a play within a play. And it was one of my favourite kinds of plays, a musical in the old style. Yes, okay, perhaps the plot is a little thin, but that's not the most important part. It's the set design, which was stunning. It's the costumes, which were fabulous, it's the sing and the dancing, which were both amazing! And when you put it all together. It's just magical.
For two hours, I was transported back in time to the old musicals that I adore. Gene Kelly, Donald O'Conner, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, that's the stuff that makes me smile. I don't care if it's in black'n'white or colour, if there is an old musical on TV while I'm ironing, that's what I'm watching. I want glittery costumes and ridiculous story lines, and tap dancing and song belting and swooning, crooning tunes. I need music that is memorable, The kind of stuff I'm still humming days later. And I got it here.
There were all the necessary elements to this story: The lovely young ingenue, the fading and demanding star, the hard nosed director, the big hearted chorus girls and the full of himself but still sweet male lead. There was comedy, there was drama and there was music, music music galore!
One of the things that really impressed me was how when there was a group number, the dancers were in perfect sync. They weren't just good at what they were doing, they were doing it as one entity. Perfectio.! If you've never tried to do anything in perfect unison with someone else, you cannot imagine how difficult it really is to do. The the more people in the group, the more difficult it is. They absolutely nailed it.
Even the local newspaper praised it saying, "If you only attend one theatrical performance this year, make it this one". I agree. This show is worth navigating the current nightmare of construction and parking issues we are currently experiencing. And Tuesday night, when I was there, we had the added attraction of pouring rain, thunder and lightening just to make things a little more interesting. Still, Totally Worth it! And clearly I'm not the only one who thought so. There was very nearly a full house!
So there you have it. If you have the opportunity to see this show, do it! Don't hesitate for one second. It's a must do!
I've been writing this blog now for awhile. The very first post was in October of 2016. Wow! Of course I had absolutely no idea what I was doing when I started and no expectations either. My original thought was just to stay in touch with family and close friends. If people wanted to read about what was going on in my life and in my little punkin' head, great! If they didn't, that was fine too. Reading my blog was never a requirement for being in my life.
I had no idea how long I would stick with this, or what sort of readership I would have but assumed that some people might possible at least take a look at it, now and again.
I have been very surprised (and frankly pleased) to find that people are reading me. Lots of people. In fact, far more people than I actually know are reading me! How on earth did that happen?
Well of course, anytime something is posted on the internet, that information is thrown out into the universe and nobody knows where it will land. I certainly never expected to have so many readers (though I'm tickled to bits about it!). And the biggest surprise was the number of people who I have never met who not only read my blog, but comment on it. People actually take the time to drop a little note to someone they do not even know! Wowza!~ That's amazing to me! And Very cool!
One of the strangers who reads me on the regular is a woman named, MaryEllen Habersang Connell. I have no idea how she found my blog, but she did and she not only reads the blog on a fairly consistent basis, she often writes little comments to me. Always positive, supportive, nice words. I began to look forward to reading her comments.
Then one day, as Joy and I were out and about doing what we do, Joy asked me how I knew MaryEllen Habersang Connell. I said, truthfully, that I don't know her. That she was just a nice lady who reads my blog. Joy was agog.
It turns out that 40 years and another lifetime ago, MaryEllen and Joy were next door neighbors and good friends! How cool is that? Joy and I marveled over the whole "small world" ness of it. And everyone assumed that that was the end of that.
Or so we thought. One of my fairly recent blogposts was about a place called Snook Haven. It's a local restaurant, music venue, canoe/launch and so forth that is quirky and very Floridian and fun. MaryEllen commented on my post that it sounded like the sort of place that she and her husband would very much enjoy. She also asked that if they were to come down to Florida, would I be interested in meeting her? Well of course I would! And could Joy come too? Of course she could!
And that's how it all happened. MaryEllen and her husband did come to Florida. They were actually staying about an hour and a half north of us but were willing to make the drive. They really wanted to check out Snook Haven. AND they really wanted to meet me. AND bonus points, they would get to see Joy again for the first time in way too many years.
What a treat! As it turns out, MaryEllen and her husband, Bruce are the loveliest people. I immediately felt as if I had known them forever. They smiled over "remember when's" with Joy and caught up with each other's lives, I got to hear stories that I never heard before about my sister (always fun!), and we all talked and laughed and talked and ate and talked some more.
The Connell's are genuine, hard-working, good people who have hearts as big as all outdoors. They are both interesting and interested. They have lived in a lot of different places and have worked at so many fascinating jobs! They raised two beautiful sons who now have their own families and no one could be more enchanted with their grandchildren.
As it turns out. they were not actually strangers, but just friends I had never met until yesterday.
I know I know, meeting a stranger is always a gamble, but this one paid off big time.
MaryEllen and Bruce! It was wonderful to meet you both and I hope to see you again soon. Thank you for Lunch! Next time, I'll buy :)
Good luck with your next adventure! I look forward to hearing about it.
I'm sure you've heard the expression, "We learn something new every day", right? Well I recently learned a whole lot of stuff all on one day. The above tree which is in my front yard is a Cabbage Palm. I did not know that (the house in the photo is my neighbor's, not ours, just FYI). There are something like 2500 different kinds of palm trees. This is only one. The Cabbage Palm. Coolio.
Up until now I've been calling it the Muppet Tree. Actually I was calling it the "Half Dead Muppet Tree". I wish I had thought to take a "before" photo because it's hard to describe how bad this tree looked before this photo was taken. The fronds went all the way to the ground and at least half of the tree's fronds were dry and brown and crappy looking. It was not pretty.
And I was baffled. Every other palm tree in our yard (and there are a lot of them - and quite the variety), when the fronds turn brown they fall off. We had a system. The fronds fell off, I picked them up and put them all in a pile on the side of the house and the yard guys would remove them when they came on Wednesday. It was not just a system. It was a system that worked. But this half dead muppet tree just looked worse and worse and what they heck man! Why aren't those fronds coming off? Occasionally I would grab one of the ugly brown dead fronds and give it a few mighty yanks hoping to joggle it loose. But nope.
Eventually I went out with my hand clippers and kind of climbed up underneath the waterfall of dead fronds but these fronds were far too thick and wide and tough for my little hand clippers. Another day I went out with a saw. I ran out of oomph WAY before the tree ran out of stubborn. So it just continued to look worse and worse and worse.
Until one day recently when I was talking to my neighbor Joanie about that half dead muppet tree that I was seriously considering asking someone to cut down because it was so awful looking. She told me what the real name of the tree was and said that it merely needed to be trimmed. I said.."With what? Elephant nail clippers?" She laughed and said that I could borrow her big old palm frond chompers any time I liked. There are palm frond chompers??? News to me!
So finally the day arrived that I was feeling strong, I was feeling capable and confident and, most importantly, I was already filthy from other work. So I knocked on her door and asked if I could borrow her frond chompers. She very generously not only allowed me to borrow them but came along to show me how to do the job and guide me through this. Joanie is a Master Gardener and knows whereof she speaks. Invaluable! Especially for someone like me who didn't have the vaguest idea how to care for these Florida trees!
And so it came to pass that I dragged out my ladder, my gloves and between the two of us and her tools, the job began. Joanie is a wonderful teacher, kind and patient with a great sense of humour so when I screwed up (and of course I did) I never had the feeling that it was the end of the world.
And then her husband, Danny came over to 'supervise'. He chased me off the ladder and climbed up himself. So Danny worked high, Joanie and I worked the middle and the ground area and eventually we got that tree and the undergrowth cleared away and spruced up (although can you spruce a palm tree? or can you only spruce a pine tree? Nevermind. Unimportant.)
Do I have the greatest neighbors or what? Not only did they lend me the tools and teach me what to do, they actually helped to do it! WOW! I really hit the jackpot in the great neighbors department!
It was a lot of hard work, but totally worth it. The next day, using what I learned and passed along to him, Tim decided to apply this new found knowledge to other palm trees in the yard. And Danny and Joanie came over again to help. Wow!
The front of the house looks so much better! Tim was so knocked out by what he learned that he immediately ordered our own set of tools so that we can keep up as we go with necessary tree pruning/trimming instead of doing another marathon session like the one over this weekend.
This was just a small portion of the enormous pile of yard debris now awaiting pick up in front of the house. BIG JOB but big rewards too ;)
Now I just have to find a way to repay Joan and Danny. Not sure a batch of cookies will be enough this time........
It seems that my photo theme from Friday's safari was flowers. Spring has apparently arrived here in Venice. And it was such a terrifically successful photo day.
First of all, we decided to hike very local. As in probably less than five miles from my house. It's a lovely preserve, small and kind of hidden in plain sight. There are a lot of people who live here who have no idea this adorable little place even exists and that's fine with Joy and I. It just means that we get to hike in peace, which is, afterall, always one of the goals.
We were there for more than two hours and saw not one single other person besides each other! Perfect! Nobody scarring off the wildlife or tromping on adorable little flowers springing up unexpectedly on the sides on the trail or sometimes in the middle of the trail. Nobody walking into our shots, nobody jostling us while we are lining up a shot, nobody stepping on or over us while we are sprawled on the ground trying to capture a picture.
Most of my photos, this time 'round seemed to be of flowers. Joy, however, got some amazing pictures of birds and, one of my favourites, dragonflies. I wish I could show you her photos because the dragon flies look to be winged jewels. Really! Stunning shots. Dragonflies, as it turns out, a almost impossible to capture with a cellphone camera because the little buggers are, well, very little which means I have to be nearly on top of them to get the shot. And they seem to be camera shy. But Joy's really nice camera equipment, her almost magical skill and her spidey-sense made for magnificence.
I say "spidey-sense", I dont' know what it trully is, but she seems to have at least a little bit of ESP when it comes to photographing anything live. She knows not just where it is this minute, but where it's going next. She anticipates it's next move and believe you me, those babies move. Fast! I apologize, I feel like I'm teasing you a little bit telling you how gorgeous this pictures are and then not attaching any. I will ask her permission next time and if she says Yes I will put one of those in for you to wow over. And you will.
I also found the biggest pine cone I've ever seen! Really, I had to stop and marvel at it before I snapped the shot. Wisely, I made certain that I put something beside it for comparative perspective. So here you have it, my size 7 1/2 clodhopper next to the HUGE pinecone:
Birds were chattering and singing and chirping as if we weren't there. Maybe, by now, they know that we mean them no harm. Sometimes we people start hiking the trails, the birds go silent. These birds were not only, not quiet, they were also not invisible. They flew over head, sang to us from nearby branches and sometimes zoomed by us at shoulder level like little feathered rockets. I'm not sure if they are ignoring us or if they like us. But either way, it's very flattering that we are not considered 'the enemy'.
There also seemed to be an astonishing number of things in the shape of circles! Well, I suppose they are probably always there, but for some reason, I noticed them every where I looked on Friday. Circles mean forever don't they? No beginning and no end. I like that :)
So I guess those are the highlights of Friday's hike. Each one is completely different. Even if it's a place we've hiked dozens of times, every time we head out, we know we will see and capture something different than the time before. There's only about six weeks left until Joy and Bob leave for Yellowstone so we need to get in all the hiking we possible can . Prepare for at least a few more photo safari adventures from us before the season ends!
I'm just back from a trip to my local grocery store. Right here on the island is a Publix. It's a nice store, very clean, friendly and helpful staff and it has most of what anyone would need on a regular basis. I usually drop by here once a week. Between Publix and my favourite Farm Market, I'm all set.
I know where most everything is in the store by now though there are aisles I don't visit very often. In fact, that happened today. In order to avoid what appeared to be a carriage jam of epic porportions at the bottom of one aisles, I scooted over one more aisles to go up and around.
It turned out to be the beer and wine aisle on one side and according to the sign above the freezer case," International Foods". I almost never have a need to cruise that aisle and I guess that's why I never noticed the sign before because, once noticed, I immediately slowed down. I was curious what Publix considered to be frozen"International Foods". Particularly since I had already walked past frozen croissants, frozen belgian waffles, frozen lasagne, frozen Kung Pao Shrimp and frozen burritos in a different aisle. So you see...curious right?
The International Foods sign dangled from the ceiling about half way up the aisle at a perfect distance where it caught the eye but didn't get in the way of opening the freezer case doors. It was a very clean sign. It looked either incredibly well maintained or fairly new. Slower and slower I walked, dragging out the anticipation. Finally I came to a stop directly in front the International Foods sign. And directly below that sign, in great number were a tremendous variety of the following:
Hot Pockets are an International Food? Holy Jim Gaffigan! I laughed so hard I could barely stand up. I'm still chuckling to myself. That is hilarious! Is it because they are Pepperoni Pizza flavour? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
As it so happened, today I also bought some frozen ravioli and a package of frozen pierogis . They were in a completely different aisles altogether! So Ravioli and Pierogis aren't international foods? But Hot Pockets are ? Oh wait...wait...I can't breathe! LOLOLOL Clearly I'm not over this yet.
Hang on a minute. I'll pull myself together, I swear! Whew! Mercy! That is still deliciously funny to me!
We all see funny signs all of the time. Even me. I just rarely think to take a picture of them. And without photographic evidence, it's just heresay. Sometimes hard to believe even! Joy has seen some especially good ones lately. And she was smart enough to take a quick photo too. Not me. I'm too busy laughing.
Oh wait...I did see this one by the dolphin fountain across the street from the beach market not long ago:
And while it's not in a hilarious category, I found it amusing. Something must have happened to make the town feel the need to put up this sign. Not exactly certain what that incident was...but we could hazard a guess or two. Ummm... Someone giving their dog a tomato juice bath in the dolphin fountain after a run in with a skunk. Orrrrrr Someone doing their laundry in the dolphin fountain? (the mental image of someone's underwear draped delicately over the dolphins to dry just cracks me up) Water polo in the dolphin fountain? (they would have to use miniature horses...the fountain isn't THAT big)
ANYWAY. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and that you laugh out loud at least once. It's good for what ails ya.
This was one of the adorable little gifts in my Christmas stocking from my sister this year. This is also an inside joke between the two of us.
As long as we both still lived with my parents, my sister and I always shared a room. No matter where we lived there was at least one bedroom that had twin beds with a night table between them. And on that bed was a little glass lamp and some sort of clock. When I was in high school it was a clock radio that I had gotten as a gift, so we woke to music. Radio station KFJZ specifically. Since we were both in public school at that time, we had to get up at the same time every day anyway, so it was no big deal that we both blinked the sleep out of our eyes to the pop tunes of late 60's early 70's in Richland Hills Texas.
When we moved with our parents to Connecticut the clock radio vanished. (we often lost things in our moves so it was not a big deal) and my sister got a small wind up bright yellow alarm clock as a replacement. She dutifully wound it every night and set it for the time she had to rise and shine to head out to school. But by this time I was in college.
Yes my first two years I attended a community college and then transferred to a university. So I saved all sorts of money by continuing to live at home. Yay me. It worked out very well with the exception of that damned clock.
The clock was small but mighty. When it rang it was so loud that it could make your ears ring. And it was so powerful that it literally danced all over the top of the night table, tappity taptap tapping along with the most irritating ring ever to be heard on the planet.
Mostly I just grit my teeth and said nothing because Joy's schedule was the same every Monday through Friday that school was in session. As a college student, my schedule was different every day but that's ok. If I got up earlier than necessary, I suppose it was extra study time for me. It was the sort of compromise people make when sharing a room.
Still, it was The Most Unpleasant way to wake up every day! RINGITYRINGRING and tappitytaptap. And the worst part was that it didn't actually wake Joy up. It woke me up and then I woke her up.
Occasionally there would be a school holiday where she didn't have to get up to an alarm clock at all! Nope, she could have slept til noon if she wanted to. Still that ratzenfratzen clock went off because the night before, out of habit and not meanness you understand, she faithfully wound and set the clock. So at 6 am on a holiday, the alarm would wake all the demons in hell and then tapdance on their graves, jarring me out of whatever amount of sleep I had managed to grab. And I would look over and see her still peacefully sound asleep. On a Holiday. Grrrrrr.
I started trying to sabotage the clock. I would hide it in a drawer. And in the morning we could still distantly hear a muffled ringityringring and a rattlelyrattle as it bumped around in a drawer. She would always find it and the next morning, there it would be back on the night table again. She never accused me of anything as I tried to find ever more creative places to hide the clock, always coming just short of actually throwing it away. Nope, she just quietly replaced it on the night table. Somehow I just couldn't bring myself to throw away something that wasn't mine.
And 'round and 'round it would go. I would hide the clock, she would find the clock. It would wake me and not her, I would wake her. I began to hate that clock.
And the fateful day of reckoning finally arrived. It was during semester finals. As anyone who has been to college knows, finals is a rough go. And remember I was also working while I went to school, saving saving saving money all the while. Studying late into the night. Researching and writing papers as the dawn rose. There isn't a lot of actual sleeping that goes on during finals.
It was on the day of my last final. All of my papers were written and submitted. All but one of my tests taken and I was floating with that weirdly exhilarating and unwordly detached from the world feeling as I collapsed into bed just before the sun came up, certain that I was ready to ace my last test that afternoon. I was so eager for those few hours of sleep. And even better, I knew that Joy didn't have to wake up early that day. Bliss.
My eyes had barely closed and I was already sinking into oblivion when I heard, RINGITYRINGRING and tappitytaptap.
I lost my mind entirely. Without saying a single word, without even opening my eyes, I reached over and grabbed the offending clock and whipped it across the room into the wall with such force that it smashed into a zillion or so pieces and then fell to the ground where it continued to whirr and gurgle and ring and ring and ring until it died.
That actually did wake Joy. She sat up, saw the clock in pieces on the floor gasping it's last, realized what must have happened and began to laugh. Obviously her sense of humour is a strange as mine is.
I hadn't thought of that in decades until the little yellow clock showed up in my Christmas stocking. I took one look at it and cracked up giggling.
It's now in our guest room. It's not a wind-up clock but a battery and guests can use it or not as they wish. It still tells the time with fair accuracy and it adds a bit of that retro vibe I like to the room.
About an hour after I set the clock up in the guest room I learned that the alarm is plenty noisy. I don't know if it's yellow clocks in particular or not but mercy it was loud! I certainly didn't flip the button on purpose. But I guess it was already set so as soon as I put in the battery it was ready to roll. Because roughly an hour after I put it on that night table, it sounded like a old fashioned fire alarm going off. I honestly thought it was one of the smoke detectors. But since there was no smoke or fire in the house, finally I tracked it to the little yellow alarm clock. It took me a few panicky moments to figure out how to turn it off. Aftewards, I think I laughed for about fifteen minutes straight. I couldn't even talk. Too funny.
I just realized something while writing this memory here. All those years ago I had to wake Joy because she slept through her own alarm clock. And nowadays, because of my hearing (or lack thereof) Tim has to wake me because I don't hear the alarm. Balance in the Universe once again. It's a real thing.
Did any of you have the opportunity to view the "supermoon" last night?
I was going to wait up for it but despite my best intentions I zonked out pretty quickly. Then woke back up around midnight and noticed that regardless of what the clock said, there was so much light in the house, it seemed more like dawn.
Because I'm not at my most clever when I've just woken up, I somehow thought it was headlights from a car aimed directly at our house. A few seconds later, it occurred to me that that could not possibly be the case because the back of the house was just as bright. A few seconds after that, I remembered the supermoon. Coolio! So I stepped out into the courtyard to admire it.
And it was a thing of beauty. The Man in the Moon face was just a clear as could be. I don't have a telescope but I do have binoculars and if I had been more awake I might have thought of that last night when it would have been useful. Oh well, it was still stunning.
But as I sat in the courtyard starring at the moon, my brain was kind of drifting and making all sorts of moon-related connections. The first one was that scene in the wonderful old movie, "It's a Wonderful Life" when George tells Mary that he wants to rope the moon and give it to her as a gift.
Then I started wondering if it's true that wolves (and/or dogs) howl at the moon. And if it is true, why? Turns out, not true. They are nocturnal and are therefore more active at night (and noiser). They howl at night, moon or no.
I also wondered about that whole moon is made of green cheese thing. Did you ever hear that ridiculous saying? Absurd. "Surely", I thought to myself, "Surely no one ever really believed that, did they?" In fact, no. It was never a belief. The saying comes from a poem way back in 1564, where English poet and playwright, John Heywood wrote: "Ye fetch circumquaques to make me believe, Or thinke, that the moone is made of greene cheese." In other words, "do you think I'm a fool?" Glad I cleared that up!
And then, probably because that poem was written a very long time ago, my mind wandered to the very ancient belief that people act crazy, or at least crazier than usual, during a full moon. They have been actual studies done about this, and it seems that there is no scientific evidence proving that people are any crazier during a full moon than any other time. Hmmmm.
There is the whole full moon/werewolf connection of course. All brought to us, courtesy of Hollywood. There were of course ancient legends of creatures of several different sorts that could change from animal form to human form and back again. Really, there are stories of were-rabbits, were-snakes, were-bears and now that I think of it, can't Dracula change into a bat? Some of the changes brought about my the full moon, but some by the new moon, others by certain herbs, or curses or even magic. And despite what I saw in the film, "An American Werewolf in London', none of it is fact. Ratz. I think I'm a little disappointed.
In countless ancient civilizations, a lunar eclipse was something to be feared. The Gods were angry, the king was in danger, ill fortune will befall the people, demons were drinking the elixir of immmortality.....it goes on and on. I wonder why no ancient civilization ever saw a lunar eclipse as a sign of something good?
In the early 1900's H.G. Wells wrote the book, 'The First Men in the Moon" where aliens livedinside a hollow moon. Strangely enough, in 1970 two Soviet scientists took this seemingly whimsical premise a step further, proposing that the moon is actually a shell-like alien spacecraft built by extraterrestrials with superior technology and intelligence.
And then of course we blew that hypothosis out of the water in 1969 when Apollo 11 landed on the moon and astronaut Buzz Aldrin took his famous walk. Although now that I think about it, there are still conspiracy theorists who think that never happened. Oddly enough after World War II, there was a group who were convinced that the Nazi's had a base on the moon and that Hitler faked his own death and lived the remainder of his life in an underground lunar bunker.
Mercy me. We are such creative creatures. All these crazy ideas we come up with and none of it means one dang thing to the moon.
But it surely was beautiful last night.
What am I so doggone happy about? Well, let me tell you. Our new garbage cans were delivered yesterday morning! Yahoo!
(Isn't it kind of sad that new garbage cans is what passes for excitement in our lives? But oh well, it is what it is. And I may live a boring live but at least I am always honest about it )
Regardless, the town of Venice delivered one to each house on the island today. Tim and I happened to be coming back from our noon walk (not moon walk) and saw them coming down the street so I just waited outside for it.
I'm sure that the cost is being built into our garbage pick up bill, but I don't care. This is an enormous garbage can. As you maybe can see in the photo above the top of it is above my waist! It's big. With an attached lid, that flips back and forth as needed on hinges. There is a big old City of Venice stenciled on the side too so that if someone should abscond with our nifty new garbage can it will be returned not only to the town, but to us. It is my understanding that each garbage can is someone encoded to the address where it belongs as well. How very high tech of us.
I'm told that these new garbage cans are a duet with some new garbage trucks that have a lift. So the workers can wheel these giant cans up to a lift which does all the worst of the work. Smart! Protect those backs from injury! I am all in favour of that!
The new cans are sturdy and roomy and the wheels work great! No more dragging a wonky wheeled garbage can to the curb that is full to overflowing because it wasn't sufficient to the cause. No more falling over in the tiniest breeze. And hopefully, no more critters knocking over the cans!
When we first moved here, it was up to each individual household to supply their own cans. There was one already here at the house, but it was more than a little worse for wear. And, as I already told in another blog post somewhere on here, during a storm it was swept down the street. Eventually I found the can but the lid vanished forever. It was then consecrated the "extra" can for those rare occasions when we had more garbage than can space AND it could also be used for lawn and shrub trimmings, palm fronds, piles of leaves and so forth. In Waste Management Speak that would be Yard Waste. But of course, that meant we had to buy a new can. One with a lid. One that locked in place. Off we went to Lowe's and found something that would suit. It was worked very well, except that the wily raccoons and possums know how to get the lid unlocked.
Not the fault of the garbage can. We have especially smart woodland creatures here. The Mensa Possums live here. The new cans, I'm sad to say, do not lock. They just lift. But considering the size and weight of them, I think it would be difficult for any critter to manage to knock it over. However, if roving bands of raccoon gangs got together, maybe they would be successful. We shall see. I need to go look at it and see if there is a way to put a lock on it now that I'm thinking about it. Of course I would have to then remove the lock when I take the cans to the curb......
Nope. I see no way to lock it. Dang. Well I guess I will wait and see if it's an issue before worrying about it.
This new can is so fancy, it even came with a page of instructions:
La de damn dah! Actually, this is not a big deal. It's mostly stuff I already knew. About a week ago I also got a notification in the mail about how to properly recycle stuff. So if they have to teach us how to do it, perhaps it's trickier than it seems.
Meanwhile the next thing on my list is trying to figure out a way to get rid of the OLD garbage can. Not as easy as you'd think. I've tried. The lidless can here, the original garbage can, is still on the side of the house because everytime I take it to the curb, they do not take it away.
At this point it's not just bashed up, it has actual holes in it and no lid but still they leave it. I even wrote a big sign that said, "THIS CAN IS GARBAGE, PLEASE TAKE" and still they left it. I thought that was fairly clear. It wasn't a personal attack, it was a factual statement AND a request. But no. The garbage guys apparently do not want to throw away an old garbage can So now I'm considering cutting the old one up.
I know it's too thick for regular scissors. I asked Tim if he thought I could slice it into small pieces with a box cutter but he felt that me plus box cutter was an accident waiting to happen. So that's probably not a good idea.
I'm thinking, maybe a sawzall.......?
Well we did it. We made the leap back into the car payment fray. What a scary decision.
Tim and I tend to keep cars a long time. I know, I know, there are folks who pretty much always have a shiny newish car. I say newish. I mean no more than 3 years old. And that's fine. For them. I can admire their pretty shiny new(ish) car without harboring any desire to run out and buy one myself.
It's not the car itself. It's the car payment. I can always think of so many more things to do with that money. Like keep it in the bank.
Our goal is always to not have a car payment as long as possible. And if a car is properly maintained, we always shoot for at least 10 years. Yup. A decade of car ownership for each auto. Minimum. And our last cars were even older than that!~ We did good!
We traded in my car. For several reasons. One, my old jeep had a lot less mileage than Tim's old car. In fact, my faithful old jeep, circa 2004, had only 74,000 miles on it. Which makes it younger in car years. The second reason was that my old vehicle had more wrong with it. Expensive to fix things. Like......no working air conditioning. And it wasn't just a small easy fix. No no. Of course not. Getting the AC working again in my car would have been a very expensive thing. Tim's old car on the other hand has perfectly lovely air conditioning. So it just made sense to get rid of the car with the most issues.
There comes a point when we have to make the decision of whether or not to invest more money into an old car or get rid of it. And it's a hard choice sometimes. If it's just a normal maintenance thing like, oh say, brakes. Well occasionally brakes need to be fixed. It's not inexpensive, but if the car is otherwise is great shape, worth the cost. But spend thousands of dollars to fix the air conditioning in a a 15 year old car that also has a power leak somewhere and needs new tires? Nope. Suddenly the decision gets easier.
And so it was done. Friday, Tim drove my car...first through a car wash, then to the dealership and in a remarkably short amount of time, he was driving back home in his new car. Well new to him car. It's actually a gently used car. We do tend to buy gently used cars rather than new ones. Why? well let's think about this. Whenever anyone buys a BRAND new car, the instant it is driven off the lot by it's happy new owners, it has immediately depreciated about ten grand. There's a good reason right there. Then too, a gently used car, is already broken in. The bugs have been worked out. And of course the biggest reason of all, it's less expensive!
Tim's new to him car is gorgeous!~ It's comfy and roomy and has all sorts of fancyschmancy doodads. And it looks brand new. But since it wasn't.... less expensive. As the front seat passenger, I'm still getting the hang of all the buttons. Spent some time figuring out the Nav system and playing with the heated&cooled seats this weekend. And I even sat in the backseat for awhile as we drove around, playing with all the buttons back there.
So there you have it. We will focus on paying off this new car as quickly as possible so that we can go back to not having a car payment again. (YES!) And we don't have to worry about is the car going to break down, does the AC work, did the tire go flat again?
I am the proud new owner of Tim's old car...handsome old devil that it is.
The first thing I did was to take all of Tim's stuff out of it. in additiion to the normal stuff a car seems to accumulate there was - no exaggeration - about thirty dollars in change !!! Then I cleaned. A lot. I need to clean more. I need to do a big scrubadub but I got tired. I'll work on it more this week.
So I suppose congrats are in order. New cars! Woohoo! Well new to us cars. And they will stay feeling really new until they are totally broken in. Somebody has to be the first one to spill something in it. Gotta get past that first parking lot ding, the first spill, the first dirt on the floor or smudge on the seat. Once that happens, it's no longer a "new" car and we can relax more.
We are so weird. :)
Such a simple, beautiful thing. A perfect grilled cheese and tomato sandwich. It's one of my favourites. My sister too. In fact, recently she and I, instead of going out into the wilds to hike, decided to do a rather more domestic hike. Up and down the Avenue we went, poking around all the shops, trying on clothes, admiring pretty things and chatting with sales people. And if you don't think that counts as exercise, you have never shopped with us!
We capped the event, as we usually do, with a late lunch. This time at one of my favourite places, The Soda Fountain. It's a real old fashion soda fountain with wooden booths, and long highly polished eating bar with high stools that swivel, walls covered in old photographs, checkered tile floors and the BEST milkshakes I have ever had!
They honestly do have all of those wonderful old sofa fountain favourite ice cream treats, but they also have all sorts of sandwiches, salads, soups and pizza! But when Joy and I eat there, we go for the old comfy homey favourite, grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches. And chocolate milkshakes, too of course. Let's not be stupid. If you are eating at a place with the absolute best milkshakes in the world, of course you have milkshakes. Lactose intolerance be damned!
Tim kind of raises his eyebrows over our choice of sandwich. I mean it's something anyone can make, right? Why order it at a restaurant? Well, actually, apparently it's not true that anyone can make a good one.
In fact, a place Joy and I used to order them frequently, recently changed how they made them and, in our eyes at least, totally ruined them. The other place, which shall remain nameless, tried to get fancyschmancy. I don't need fancy. I just need good. Instead of making it on ordinary white bread, they started using sourdough bread and they added something to the butter that is just wrong.
I've had grilled cheese sandwiches that were burned. I've had them soggy. Only partially melted cheese. WAY too much butter. Not enough butter. Icky tomatoes. Weird cheese. Weird add-in's. Wrong kind of bread. So you see, it is possible to make a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich incorrectly. Or, maybe it's just that I don't fully appreciate a unique grilled cheese. Okay Okay. I get it. You are trying to be different, to stand apart from the rest of the crowd. Trying to elevate us gastronomically. I appreciate the effort. Truly I do!
However, my palate refuses to be refined. It is not fancy. It is not sophisticated. I like simple food. Sometimes, to me anyway, the effort to be unusual, to try something unexpected, veers off into pretentious and falls into the abyss of a failed attempt. Nice try, but no thank you.
Or maybe it's just me. Probably it's just me. Fancy food is wasted on me. If I don't recognize it, I don't eat it. If you have to explain the menu to me, I'm probably not your target demographic.
Like my junior high Home-Ec teacher told us (just before I got kicked out of that particular class - a story for another day), "It's just as important how your food looks as how it tastes. I agree! But I will go one further. It's also important how it smells. I love the smell of good food cooking. And if I do not care of the scent, I do not eat it.
So, let's tote this up: I will not eat food that I don't like the looks of. I will not eat food that I don't recognize. I will not eat food I don't like the smell of. I do not eat food whose texture is weird. (mouth feel is a real thing people). And I absolutely do not eat food that I don't like the taste of. Yes I suppose you could call me a picky eater.
Again, that's me. I'm sure your definition of a perfect grilled cheese sandwich is different than mine. Maybe you don't even like grilled cheese sandwiches. Perhaps your order at the Soda Fountain would be for a Reuben instead. Or the Italian. Or the BLT. Or.... Well there are just so many to choose from. But the point remains, in everyone's mind, there is one shining example of a perfect.....whatever...sandwich. And at it's essence, it is probably something very simple.
There is nothing wrong with simple. Simple can be beautiful. And just because it's simple, doesn't mean it's easy. And in fact, I would go so far as too say that sometimes a perfect, simple, beautiful any kind of sandwich can be a little tricky to achieve.
But it's good to have a goal. And there is nothing wrong with a goal that is simple, beautiful and perfect.
Have a wonderful weekend and perfect sandwiches. Whatever your definition of a perfect one is.
Happy Valentine's Day!
When I think about Valentine's Day, my mind goes immediately to childhood. And that is kind of funny because growing up, I thought Valentine's Day was really and truly a grown-up holiday. I was wrong.
I as a little kid, being giggly and embarrassed about the idea of romance. Kissing? Ewwwwww! And then in junior high and high school especially being a little wistful, maybe a little envious of the girls who got flowers and candy and cards and even small gifts from their beau's on February 14th. And then when I was in college, hearing the bitterness and perhaps jealousy with regard to Valentine's Day from the people, both guys and girls, who had no one special in their lives right that moment. And now of course, I'm all growed up, as my kids used to say, and I am lucky enough to be married to my sweetheart and we always do something special for each other on this day. Usually something small, exchange cards, chocolates and flowers maybe. Tonight I will make a special Valentine's Day dinner and it will be lovely.
But when I was a wee small kiddo, Valentine's Day was exciting. Weren't all of the holidays more exciting when we were children?
In primary school, we spent a little time every day for at least a week decorating our classrooms. And then, as instructed, we each brought to school a shoe box! Our teacher cut a slot in the top of the lid, and then we spent another week decorating that shoe box. Doilies and glitter and stickers, oh my! The decorated shoebox acted as a "mailbox" to receive all of the valentine's we each received on the actual day.
Do you remember laboring over cutting out heart shapes that actually looked like heart shapes instead of odd hacked up construction paper lumps? I actually remember the moment when someone took the time to teach me that little fold-over trick to cutting out a perfect heart. I cut out hearts of every size possible in every colour possible and used every remotely paper-ish product I could find and stuck them everywhere that year!
Some kids had amazingly creativity and artistic talent evidenced even at a very young age and their shoebox mailboxes were things of beauty! And then there were the rest of us. What we lacked in talent we made up for with enthusiasm.
The teachers sent home with each student a list of the names of every child in the class and the understanding was that every single kid received a valentine from everyone. So if there were thirty kids in a class, every kid got thirty valentines. I recall sitting a the kitchen table at home with my box of store-bought valentine's, laboriously signing each one and decided which valentine best suited who then writing that name on the corresponding envelope and closing it with a heart sticker.
My sister and I were lucky because our mom loved stuff like that. She went the extra mile and bought us the stickers and the glitter pens with pink ink along with the boxes of valentines.
But I also remember some years making valentines at home for each kid in the class instead of buying them. Of course they had no envelopes that way and they certainly didn't look professional (because they so were not!) but I had fun doing it and it was a gift from my heart.
On the actual day, maybe an hour before the end of the school day, all teaching came to a halt and the party began. I do not know who supplied the goodies, (probably various parents) but there were cupcakes with red and pink frosting and heart shaped cookies and candies of one sort or another and red kool-aid to drink as we each took turns being 'mailman' and delivered our valentines to all of the boxes.
As we left school that day, we each had our highly decorated and much heavier boxes tucked under our arms to be opened once we were home. So the excitement continued!
Joy and I read our valentine's aloud to each other and giggled over who gave us what. I remember the year Joy got about a dozen valentine's from one boy. I think his name was Joseph maybe? We taped our cards to our bedroom and closet door and left them up for a ridiculously long time. Probably until Easter.
And we gave our parents and Nana home made valentine's that we laboured over in secret. Although they were sticky with glue and shedding glitter rapidly apace, Mother and Nana (and Daddy if he was home) accepted each valentine as if it were a treasure. There was always a special Valentine's Day dessert in our house that night. And now that I think about it, I would be shocked to learn that either of us slept at all that night considering how much sugar we ate in just those few hours!
And then we grew up.
And now Valentine's Day is sweet and wonderful and I love it but it just doesn't have the excitement that it did all those years ago. In fact, it wasn't until I had children of my own and watched their little eyes light up and the giggles set in and I received my own glittery, sticky home made valentines from them, that I remembered what a real Exciting childhood Valentine's Day truly was.
I hope you each got to have sticky, glittery, home made Valentines at least once in your lives coz they are the absolute best!
These two guys are amazing. They kind of saved the day for us, I'm serious. Allow me to introduce you. This is Alex and Christian. They have a brilliant business. C&A Automotive Services. And here's the really genius part of it. It's a mobile automotive service. They come to you to fix your car. What a great idea! Crazy and ingenious. And not only do they bring the repair shop to you, but they are genuinely nice guys who did an amazing job. We are just so wowed!
Here's what happened. This past Sunday, Tim and I were out and about, just off on yet another explore, when suddenly I hear Tim say, "uhoh". That is never a good thing to hear but especially when you are nowhere close to home. I had been looking out my side window so I shifted my glance to the front window and saw nothing alarming. So I very calmly said, "What?" assuming that I had misunderstood what he said. It wouldn't be the first time. Equally calmly, Tim responded that the entire dashboard had lit up like a Christmas Tree.
I know very little about cars. But even I know that is not normal car behaviour. Tim moved over to the right lane so we could slow down a bit in some wild and woolly traffic. "We have no signal indicators" Tim announced, again very calmly. He is always very calm. I find this to be a wonderful quality, especially in an emergency. "Okay" I responded, trying to match him, calm for calm. "So what should we do?" I was eyeing the road ahead for reasonable spots to pull over if it became necessary. "Well the car is still running, let's see if we can make it all the way home." Through some miracle, we actually did.
Because Tim is a very smart guy, he backed into the driveway (in case he had to be towed y'see). He put the car into park and turned off the ignition, waited a beat and attempted to turn it back on. I say attempted because turning the key accomplished absolutely nothing. The car was kaput. So I moved on to other things while Tim did some research trying to decide what to do next.
Eventually Tim told me that he found this mobile car repair service that had stellar reviews. Local guys, who would come to us and repair the car right here in our driveway. And that they would be coming here on Tuesday morning! Wow! It sounds too good to be true.
Now I have heard of lots of home services. We can order nearly anything through Amazon and have it delivered to our houses. Our local grocery store, Publix even delivers. Almost any meal that we desire can be brought right to us, pizza, burgers, chinese food, Italian... I've seen quite a number of other mobile services such as mobile pet care vans and bloodmobiles and bookmobiles. But I NEVER even heard of a mobile Auto car service. What a fabulous idea!
Any time before this that one of our cars had have repair or service, it was always an issue of coordinating schedules so that two cars go, to drop one car off at the shop and then the opposite to pick up. Kind of a pain in the arse, y'know? Then add in the extra special exciting part where I am seriously uncomfortable (read total panic attack) driving off island and you have a super fun event ever single time one of our cars needs work.
This time, Tim didn't have to miss any work. We did not have to coordinate schedules. I did not have to have a panic attack. Alex and Christian just drove into the driveway with their big white work van, talked with Tim for a few minutes, got the keys and got to work. In very short order, they knew what the problem was, called for the parts to be delivered and boom it was done.
I cannot say enough good things about these guys and their service. If you are a local, and ever need car repair, call them. You will not regret it:
If you are not a local, go ahead and be jealous. I am fine with that.
Once upon a time, way back in the mid 1800's, there lived a man named Henry Plant. He loved trains. He began working in railroad service in New Haven Connecticut and in very short order, he had entire charge of that express railroad business. In short order he went south and established express railroads in various southern railways and eventually he purchased, then became president of the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad of Georgia. Later, he organized the Plant Investment Company, which was not just about trains but also steamships. And at some point, he created a train line between Tampa Bay Florida (and other Floridian points slightly further south) and the rest of civilization. Which was was actually a rather big deal.
"Well" I hear you say, "That's very cool in an historic Florida sort of say, but what does that have to do with anything?"
As it so happens, last Friday I hiked with not one, but two rangers, Ranger Joy and Ranger Bob! Just a tip, if you are ever offered the opportunity to hike with rangers, do not hesitate for one moment to take advantage of it. You will learn so much cool stuff! I mean, I always learn cool new stuff when I hike with Ranger Joy. This time, I am quite certain that I learned twice as much!
So there we were, randomly selecting hiking paths and once again, we found a new trail to hike. To our surprised, we came across an old train trestle. It was one of the coolest things we have ever stumbled upon in all of our safari's. Joy and I snapped away happily, wondering about the old structure. It looked for all the world as if there should be an old gold mine nearby.
While I was just curious and idly considering possibilities about this old train trestle, Bob actually knew the history of Henry Plant and his Florida trains and thus I not only got some awesome photos, I also got a history lesson. Very Cool.
I could easily imagine those enormous steel behemoths chugging overhead, the timbers trembling from the weight an the force, smoke spewing from it's front stacks, whistle blowing. Of course there are no longer any trains passing over head, but there were still some noises of a much quieter sort.
Bicycles! Yup. Overhead now is a biking/walking path called the Legacy Trail. So it's not a train anymore, but it is transportation so it counts!
The thing you may not be aware of when it comes to Florida history (I certainly never learned this in school) is that the east coat of Florida was developed WAY ahead of the west coast. Just in case you do not recall my piece on St. Augustine Florida, I'll nutshell it for you. St. Augustine is on the east coast and it is the oldest continually populated town in the United States having been settled by Pedro Menedez in 1565.
The west coast on the other hand, not so much. In fact, the town we live in, Venice, didn't exist until the 1920's. So just a little bit later. Only 400 years or so.
So back to this Henry Plant fellow. He was obviously a man of vision. In the unremitting jungles and bugs and alligators and swamps, Mr. Plant saw the future of the West Coast of Florida. And he envisioned it with cities and people and prosperity. And then he did something about it. I admire that. People who see opportunity where other people see nothing at all.
There was a line in the great old Robert Redford/Paul Newman film, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" that I always liked. It's when Butch says to Sundance, "I got vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals".
All the great ones had it. Vision I mean. The ones who take a deep breath and roll the dice. Oh it's a gamble, make no mistake about that. And I don't know if it's a "Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em" kind of thing, or just a single minded focus, or maybe people with great vision just know something that us regular folk don't. But whatever it is, it's the reason that Pilgrims were willing to give up everything they knew and get aboard those creaky wooden vessels to sail for the new world. It's the reason that men have stepped on the moon's surface. It's the reason that most things were invented. Somebody had vision.
I wish I was that kind of person but I'm not. I will never invent something new. I will never create something amazing (besides my children of course). But I most definitely am the sort of person who sees it in others and admires it.
And that counts too.
One of the ways in which Florida differs from any other state in my memory, is that car dealerships are open on Sundays.
It used to be a fun Sunday thing to do. Go to a car lot and wander around admiring various vehicles. We would read that little paper taped to the inside of the windshield and peer through the windows trying to see what the interior looked like. We would chose our favourite car on each visit. Sometimes it was a snazzy low riding sports car. Other times it might be a very dignified high end sedan. Perhaps something more practical like an SUV.
We would select colour, make and model and even details. And since it was all fantasy, I could put this interior on that car with those wheels in that colour, totally mixing and matching not just manufacturers, but type of car. Some of them might have turned out a little Seussian, but I'll never tell. It was just silly fun. And best of all, it cost absolutely nothing!
We found out, to our surprise, soon after moving here that most auto dealerships have sales people working on Sundays. It was not a pleasant surprise.
There we were wandering around just looking, not touching, and suddenly a man walked up behind us and howdy'd. And that was fine. I mean, we weren't expecting it. There was nobody else anywhere around and honestly, it didn't even look as if the lights were on inside. Which is pretty darned sneaky. But initially, it was fine. Then very quickly, it was not.
He was not only an aggressive sales guy, he was a stick-to-you-like-glue salesguy. If I zigged left, he zigged left. If I faked right, he faked right. There was no shaking this guy. AND he talked nonstop. I mean to the point where, he asked questions and then didn't give you an empty spot in the conversation to answer. So no actual listening would be going on. Got it.
His entire goal, apparently, was to get us out on the road test driving something. Anything. He didn't seem to care what. But I believe the second sentence out of his mouth was already about taking a model out on the road. He wasn't interested in hearing "No Thank you" either. He also didn't hear the words, "We are just looking". We didn't stick around long and he looked so confused and sad when we left.
So we haven't gotten to play the automotive lets pretend game in quite some time. But recently, we have been taking long hard looks at our cars and realizing that we aren't going to be able to keep them both glued together with bandaids and silly putty forever. So we ought to start thinking about what car we would choose when one or the other of ours goes wheels up.
I think we both dreaded it. Tim did a lot of online research to limit the number of different kinds of dealerships we would have to visit. Thank goodness!
The first place we went was another pouncer. It's like having a Tigger as a salesperson. Literally his first sentence to us included the words test drive. His second was that we should go inside and sit and talk about exactly what it was we were looking for. Nope. That's like a first date talking about how many kids you should have together before the waiter brings your drinks! It was just way too aggressive for our taste. He learned pretty quickly that we were not appreciating his approach and to our relief, he walked away. Only to return a few minutes later with his boss who was a lot more laid back. Okay. We can work with someone like that. And we did the Q&A session outside, talked a bit more and called it a day.
The second place we went was a treat. Gentle, easy going, conversational, a sales person who LISTENS! We actually did a test drive there and afterwards, there was no expectation that we would immediately yell, "SOLD!" and drive off with a new car. She allowed us to lead the way. Perfect. When we left she made sure that she would be available to us by phone or email anytime. Tim tested that promise yesterday by emailing her a few follow questions expecting to hear back on Monday or Tuesday. Instead, she returned his email in just a few short hours. Wow!
We liked their service policies, we liked their vehicles and we especially liked our salesperson.
A truth that apparently some people don't realize, is that part of salesmanship, (or if we are going to get very PC about it, salespersonship) is that you have to read people well. It's a kind of relationship. And like all relationships, there are good ones and there are bad ones. But if you want to seal the deal, you have to work hard at building a good relationship.
Buying a car is a big deal. Very few people enjoy the process. And for me, just the idea that once that dotted line is signed, we will then be making car payments again for the first time in a Very Long Time, just stresses me out. When you find a dealership and a salesperson who make that process as painless as possible, yup that's where you go.
So we are 3/4 of the way there. We know the kind of car. We know the Dealership. We know the salesperson. Just gotta know when is the right time.
I suspect it will be like choosing your life mate. You just know when it's right.
About two weeks ago, I posted a blog about having burned my finger through my own idiocy. This was the photographic evidence taken shortly after the event. Perhaps you can see the burn blisters. Once the initial pain and cussing was over and after I sufficiently numbed the area with a series of cold packs that took up most of that afternoon, it really didn't hurt very much.
To be fair, my sister and I both have a rather high pain tolerance. It's just how our brains are wired. It has nothing to do with being brave or courageous or tough. What someone else might call very painful, to me is, at worst, uncomfortable. So that has to be taken into account here.
That aside, for no particular reason at all, I became kind of fascinated with the entire healing process of this burn. And I photo documented it. When I told Tim what I was doing his response was, "Gross". To me it is all kinds of geeky science interesting. To him (and perhaps to you) it's disgusting. Be forewarned. If this isn't your kind of blogpost, feel free to move on. I promise to not judge you as long as you don't judge me. This is your final warning.
Sooo, moving on. By the day after the burn incident, while it was admittedly tender, it didn't really hurt unless I whacked it on something. But it looked a lot worse. The blisters on their own are nearly invisible. If you didn't know they were there, you wouldn't be aware that I injured myself at all. Funny how much more discoloured it was the next day.
Everything I read indicated that it's best to leave a burn open..so no bandage was applied. I kept it clean...after all, it was, clearly an open wound. But mostly I just tried to not bend that top joint. Every time I accidentally bent it, the wound kind of cracked back open. Yucky. I was astonished at how much more discoloration there was on this second day! Weird eh?
Over the next few days, I saw more and more signs of healing, which is all good. But not necessarily pleasing to the eye. I saw more than one person avert their eyes upon spying my peeling finger. I think the dead peeling skin was worse looking than the open injury don't you? Just not pretty.
The reddened skin is that new baby skin. It is so tender and fragile that it actually hurt a little bit more to touch. Not that I was touching it on purpose you understand. There is something about a wound that has magnetic properties. There is no scientifically documented studies that I've read when I advance this theory. It's my own life experiences that show, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I whack any injured area FAR more often than an uninjured area. And other people are a zillion times more likely to accidentally bump, hit, smack, twist, touch another persons injured finger than a non-injured one. That finger was hit by tossed pencils, flying crumpled up balls of paper, grocery carts, shoulders and so forth Far more than any uninjured finger of mine ever was. Clearly, an injury invites this sort of interaction. Magnetic attraction of some sort. In short, "Ouchie".
As the days passed by, I was pleased to see the new skin toughening up and the old peeling skin is nearly done shedding itself. The open wound was granulating nicely, no sign of infection or problems of any sort. It no longer hurt to be bumped into. We have reached my favourite injury zone which is the one where I've completely forgotten that the finger happened to have been injured at all unless someone says, 'Hey how's that burned finger coming along?" Then I have to look at my hands to figure out what they are talking about. With a quick glance I can see that Yes indeed, there does seem to have been some recent injury that is healing up nicely and I say so.
And now, it's 99.9% done healing. In just over two weeks, my finger looks very nearly like it did before the burn. Isn't the bodies ability to heal itself just The Most Amazing Thing? I
I am absolutely agog over this. It's just incredible to me like the best magic trick ever!
It's not just the healing of burns or bruises or the internal repair of a broken bone that I marvel at, but the bodies ability to deal with all sorts of trauma inflicted upon our poor fragile human bodies. Most of the time we manage to come back from surgeries and illnesses that, in other circumstances would be the end of us.
In his lifetime, my dad came back from a severe heart attack and quintuple by-pass surgery! My mother from cancer surgery, chemo and radiation in her lifetime! That is just so WOW! What a marvelous thing these complex and amazing bodies of ours are!
It's not as if every illness and every injury is repairable, sadly. But the sheer number of times in our lifetime that we are bruised, broken and sick but still recover is kind of mind-boggling!
I vow to at least try to treat mine better and to appreciate this wonderful ability it has to bounce back from every stupid thing I do to it. All ten of my digits are functional and relatively normal looking and all is well with the world once again.
Until I do something else stupid at least. And then I trust that my body will once again, repair itself. Not to the point of regrowing a limb like a starfish (though that would be so cool) or regenerating damaged auditory nerves so that I could hear normally again (though I honestly believe that will happen in the future). But still, isn't it just amazing when you think about it!!
Or is it just me.....
Maybe you shouldn't answer that. Okay if I have sufficiently grossed you out I will sign off.
Have a wonderful weekend. And be safe!
I had been being so very good. I haven't baked anything in quite some time. Not anything! Do you know how rare that is? It's being struck by lightening rare. It's winning the big lottery rare. It's white tiger rare. Baking is almost like breathing to me. And I have been intentionally not doing it.
The problem is, unless we have guests or I'm taking baked goods to a party, if it's in the house, we eat it. There are just the two of us. We do not need an entire cake. We may WANT it, but we do not need it. Nor do we need a whole pie. Or a batch of cookies. Or a loaf of bread. Or a pan of cinnamon rolls. Or....well you get the idea. We just don't need it. My neighbors enjoy my baking, but they are starting to say, "Please no more!" too. I think we are all suffering the results of a very generous holiday season.
So I've been behaving myself. There has been, since the holidays, no goodies of any sort in this house. None. And surprisingly, other than experiencing "creation withdrawal", ( I really miss the actual process of making something), I have both been doing pretty darned well. If either of us gets the urge for something sweet or something "snacky", there is fruit, both fresh and dried. There are nuts. There is popcorn. And if someone gets really desperate, there are tictacs and gum in one of the kitchen drawers.
We were both hanging in there just fine. It's been over a month since Christmas now and I thought we were over that craving period of time. Wasn't even on my radar. Things were good. Until late last week.
I don't have any idea what triggered it by Friday night last week I was craving chocolate so strongly that I could smell it in the house. Which is crazy because there isn't any in the house. I know because I checked.
Still, I decided that I was going to be strong. I was going to ignore those cravings and get over this little bump in the road.
The cravings got stronger. But I made it through the weekend somehow. The chocolate cravings grew and by Monday night I was getting a little snarky. Tuesday after Joy and I hiked and had our veggie pizza lunch I almost succumbed. The pizza place also had brownies...BUT I was brave. I resisted and for about an hour I felt so noble, so virtuous, so invincible! Slap a cape on me, I felt like a superhero!
And then the feeling passed and the craving was back and then I was wondering, what is so damned noble about resisting a craving? Especially since what was happening instead, especially over the weekend, is that nothing sounded good to me...except the idea of chocolate. I fixed real normal actual food for Tim of course, but I couldn't seem to find anything that I wanted to eat. Nothing sounded right. Nothing smelled good. Nothing tasted good. I just wanted Chocolate dammit.
What exactly is a craving? Why do they occur? Is it physical or psychological? It' turns out it's partly caused by our bodies and partly by our brains. Sometimes there actually is something that the body actually needs that we crave. Other times it's must a brain based desire. Here is a quote, "Food cravings are caused by the regions of the brain that are responsible for memory, pleasure, and reward. An imbalance of hormones, such as leptin and serotonin, can also cause food cravings. ... This is the idea that the body craves certain foods because it lacks certain nutrients."
Well now, that is interesting. And brings up a legitimate question. How can I tell if something is a physical craving or a psychological one? Is this a craving based on need? Or want?
Tuesday night, after I cooked, served and cleaned up Tim's dinner, while listening to the siren call of chocolate in my head, I knew that I wouldn't be able to just sit and enjoy a TV show with Tim. Nope I needed to distract myself. I asked Tim to come with me to watch the sunset. Because he is a very nice man, he sighed, turned off the TV, put on his shoes and off we went.
We stood on the beach in silence watching another stunning sunset show and for a few moments, that was all I was doing. No other thoughts in my head. Just that gorgeous sunset, the sound of the water, Tim standing behind me. Ahhhh Peace.
We turned to leave and Tim said, "So what sort of chocolate do you need?" He knows me far too well.
"Don't toy with me, I am a desperate woman!" I warned.
He laughed and off we went to the store. We both bought some chocolate. We ate some of it. The craving was satisfied. The rest of the chocolate went back into the fridge for another chocolate emergency. Come on, we both know that there will be one.
Well these two are at it again.
Joy and I have been out hiking around and taking photographs. Somewhere, we found a list of all of the parks and preserves in the general vicinity and have decided to make it our mission to visit all of them. And as it turns out, there are WAY more of them than we ever realized. Holy Cats! We have been to quite a few and we've barely made a dent.
Some of them, like Oscar Scherer and Myakka are quite large and there are always new trails to follow in those parks so we can visit them over and over again and never follow the same path twice. Others are rather small and cute and once we have visited, we probably don't have to do it again. The rest fall into the "at least twice" category.
Late last week, we found a new one that had two different entrances. We arbitrarily chose one which turned out to be the equestrian entrance. A preserve for horses! How cool is that? We actually only saw two horses the entire time we were there which was a little disappointing, but we also met three very sweet, friendly dogs so that kind of made up for it. It was just a little 5+ mile trail but we got some great photos.
Just as a sidenote, the accidental selfie I took in the photo at the top of this page happened when I was trying to get a picture of that cute little toadstool. I accidentally hit the wrong button. I'm such a goober sometimes.
It was a breezy day that started out chilly enough that we were both wearing sweatshirts which eventually got tied around our middles as hiking definitely warms a body up! But while the grey skies actually made for some interesting photographic light, the breeze was a Pain in the Fanny trying to capture a non-blurry shot! Still, we both appreciate a good challenge!
At the end we voted to return another day and go in the other entrance to see what that side looks like!
So yesterday we returned. And as it turns out, that entrance has a kayak/canoe launch. Awesome. What we didn't realize was just how much water was involved. The water not only crossed the trail but it was running so hard it made a waterfall! We momentarily considered wading across to the continuation of the path on the other side but two things prevented it. Not cowardice! We've squelched our way through boggy/wet/swampy paths before! Nope, it was intelligence that stopped us. Two things: Multiple "beware the 'gator" signs and realization of just how hard and fast that water was running. Neither of us were in the mood to get swept over the falls yesterday.
We could see where the trail continued on the other side and it was just killing us that we couldn't get to it! ARGH! But! We will return another, dryer, day to try again. We aim to find out just exactly what is farther down that particular path.
Undeterred, we continued on. Next we went to a brand new place that had just opened. It was small, admittedly, and we probably won't ever need to return, but it was damned adorable with a few nice paths, pretty benches, a surprising number of flowers and clean bathrooms. There was also a lady walking her very large and fluffy cat on a leash. A shame I didn't get a picture of that! Even though we dawdled, it didn't take very long to have thoroughly visited that park. Still, we each got a few photos there that we liked. Here are a few of mine:
We weren't fully worn out yet, so we moved on. We had better luck at our third stop. It's a place we've both been many times before, The Rookery.
We have both visited multiple times in the past but it is different every visit. It's absolutely loaded with birds. That is the intent of it. With different birds throughout the day and seasons, it is a birders paradise. I understand that just before sunset every day a colony of bats fly out from there. I've never seen it, but I'm told it is ridiculously cool.
There is even a small island in a large pond filled with trees and the trees are filled with birds upon birds upon birds! My little phone camera isn't good enough to bother with any long distance shots but I found a few close up things. One of my favourites was of a bird called a Cormorant. It swims not on the water but in it so that just his neck and head are showing. Cracks me up every time because I immediately think of the Loch Ness Monster. I guess this is the Loch Venice Cormorant instead. HAH!
So while Joy got her usual number of amazing photos of various birds and turtles and everything else, I concentrated on smaller, closer up things (and one Loch Venice Cormorant):
By the time we finished up at the Rookery, we were both hungry and kind of pooped. Having absolutely more than fulfilled our requisite number of daily steps, we opted for veggie pizza and yet more yakketyyak. It was another successful photo safari!
I'm not sure what we will do when we actually do finish hiking every park and preserve on the list. Start over again? Find another list?
I guess we will figure it out then.
Meanwhile, if you ever happen to be out on a hike here this general area and are hoping to bump into this duo, this is how you will recognize us. By the back of our heads. That is pretty much anyone passing by us every sees. And if we are by the water, tread softly. Much like the wildlife around us, we startle easily and don't want to fall in the water. I don't mind getting wet but I wouldn't want to disturb a cranky alligator.
We have been experiencing a some foggy days here lately. Usually just early morning and late afternoon but it's still so weirdly cool.
Yesterday late afternoon, Tim and I were standing out on the jetty looking back at the beach and there was nothin'. I mean..just that silent creepy grey/white fog. It was so cool! I felt like we were standing in the Outer Limits. Remember that show? "We control the horizontal and vertical". I loved that show.
Or no, wait a minute. It was more like the Twilight Zone: "There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fearsand the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone. " Yeah, the Twilight Zone was definitely a better show.
AND a more apt description of how it felt. There we were standing on the very tip of the jetty starring out into..abso freakin' lutely nothing. But I could hear a boat. It was so very strange to hear it and not see it. I could hear the wind snapping the sails and the splash of water as the bow dipped and rose over and over but there was just the swirling, silent freaky fog. Then suddenly, if I squinted I could just make out a hint of something in the grey. Closer, closer, closer and yup there it is...a Sailboat!
So cool. We looked back toward shore and where there should have been a beach and a long line of condos there was...nothing. I mean nothing! Creeeeeepy!!! But awesome. It felt as if we had entered some alternate reality.
In fact, I remember a Twilight Zone episode where when any character got near the boundaries of their town, all they saw was swirling fog. Yup that's the episode I had in mind. Gives me chills just thinking about it. Heebie Jeebies of the delicious sort.
At one point a low flying pelican came soaring out of the fog unexpectedly and nearly flew smack into a fisherman. I'm glad it was just a near miss because, well first of all, nobody, neither man nor bird was hurt but also because no matter how hard I would have tried not to, I would have cracked up laughing if it had happened. Yes I know. I am a terrible person.
The oddest part to me of how entranced I was with this thick pea soup Twilight Zone freaky fog is that I am not a fan of scary movies or horror stories. And I am certainly not a risk taker at all. I wouldn't have wanted to drive in that fog. Or pilot a boat in it. Or really even just spending more than a few hours walking around in it enjoying the novelty. If it our weather was like that all of the time, nope. Too creepy for full time. But I surely did get a kick out of a few hours of foggy wonderful bizarro afternoono. Yes we are all complicated and contrary creatures loaded with contradiction.
But short term, Yeah, I can be very Heathcliff on the moors and enjoy the weirdness of a good fog event by the water. How about you? Yay or Nay? If you decide that yes this is something that you would vote Yes on, if you've never experienced it before, I do have one little tip. Be very careful if you are hanging out enjoying the fog on the jetty. The water is MUCH closer than you think. HAH!
It's pretty well documented here that much like Mary Poppins' Uncle Albert, I do love to laugh! And I seem to find chuckle worthy things everywhere I look. Please understand, I am not seeking them out, amusing things just seem to surround me!
Like this tag I found inside a recent purchase. It reads (and this is an exact quote):
"All Products are meticulously designed in San Francisco by candlelight under the celestial full moon. We carefully packaged your item and transported it by a motorized, floating cablecar across the Pacific ocean to your doorstep. By the time you order your next item, we will have a hand-sewn banner with your name flown by drone alongside the golden gate bridge at sunset as commemoration or our thanks for being a Happy Cable in the Bay customer."
Holy cats! When I found that little tag of course, I read it. Then I read it a second time and then a third while laying on the sofa laughing so hard I cried and my face hurt. It's just so wonderful ridiculous. I love it when a company does not take themselves so seriously. I don't even remember what it was that was purchased from this company, but based on their attitude alone, I was absolutely buy from them again!
It isn't always something I see. Sometimes, it's something I hear. A funny story perhaps?
Joy and I were sitting in a McDonalds recently after a nice hike just chatting about this'n'that. Then she told me about something that happened to she and Bob recently that made me laugh so hard that my sides hurt. She was laughing so hard she was finding it hard to breath, and I'm such an awful person, that just made me laugh harder! We made spectacles of ourselves, laughing and crying by turns, unable to hold our hilarity down to a quiet giggle. People around us began to stare (and smile - it's hard to not smile when watching someone else laugh) and that just made me laugh more. It was awesome.
I saw a couple of things that just tickled my funny bone over the weekend. Here you go:
The first thing was absolutely just a moment of serendipity. Tim and I were out over the weekend just having a nice drive. No particular destination in mind. We refer to it as going out on an explore. Every time we come to an intersection of any sort, we take turns deciding, left, right or straight. We never know where we are going to end up. Well, at some point suddenly we were on THIS street:
I believe I said something like, "Oh my God, it DOES exist! Look at this, we are literally ON Sesame Street" and then of course the Sesame Street theme song played in my head for a few hours. But I still laughed about this for quite some time.
And in fact, I think I was still giggling to myself about having been on Sesame street (with no sightings of Bert or Ernie sadly) when we drove past a building with a large sign that said, "Gator Hobbies".
Naturally I read it out loud. And then said to Tim, "Who knew? Gator's have hobbies! What do you suppose their hobbies are?" Thus cracking myself up!~ Tim and I threw out possible ideas of what gator hobbies could be for awhile and that giggling brought us all the way back home.
Oh wait, I thought of another one that happened over the weekend. My eyes felt a little dry so I make the excellent decision to use some eye drops. I'm not especially talented at putting eye drops in although I've improved since my cataract surgery last year when I was forced to nearly drown my eyes multiple times a day with various drops. Still, I have to struggle against in wicked strong natural protective Slam It Shut Tight auto-reaction to anything coming at my eyes, even things that are good for it, like eyedrops. So in the course of my eyedrop battle, I had drops running down my cheeks, in my hair and my ears and then, by the time I was finally successful, I realized that I had somehow managed to get eyedrops up my nose. I cracked myself up once again. And as I mopped myself up I said outloud to my reflection in the mirror, "Only you, Sam, only you". HAHAHAHAHA
I think my kids are a riot. They never fail to make me laugh. Every time we see each other, every phone call, every text message, every email, every Skype call, at some point I will be laughing like a lunatic because these guys are just so damned funny! I'm not positive but I think it's their goal, with every contact to get at least a giggle out of me. It works too.
My sister and I can make each other laugh so hard that we have to leave the room, separately, to pull ourselves together. And then once under control, if we even look at each other again too quickly, the giggling will start all over again.
All of my friends are crack-me-up funny. My friends are all people who not only make me laugh, but also people who laugh easily, people who find the world around them silly. I guess I'm drawn to that. I know that I take the concept of a "sense of humour' probably too far because I find almost everything funny, but I can't help it. It's just how I was built!
Of course there is one person who makes me laugh every single day. In fact, I think it's one of the reasons I married him. How could I not love someone who loves to make me laugh? It was a trick question, people. I had no choice. He can make me laugh without even looking at me. He can make me laugh with one single syllable, one gesture, one knowing look. And when he laughs...it is the best sound in the world!
Here's a sad truth. This was the part in my hair yesterday morning. I remember thinking that it was a darned good thing I had a hair appointment later that day. And I said as much (via text) to my friend Marsha. I think I said something about how "sparkly" I'm getting. She said, in return, and I am quoting here, " Oh Please.....I am dazzling with all of my sparkle". And I immediately fell in love with that idea. We aren't going grey, we are becoming dazzling!
Growing up, most of the women I knew just let their hair go grey or silver or white or whatever colour it decided to be whenever it decided to do it. The hair was in charge. And while they weren't happy about it, it was what it was. I suspect that back then, the nonaddressed greys were primarily because hair colour wasn't as good as it is now. It sort of looked crayoned on. It absolutely did not ever look real or natural. Despite what secrets Miss Clairol claimed to have kept.
Oh some older ladies with those super tight curly permed hairdo's got that funny blue rinse done, but otherwise, most people didn't colour their hair. Or if they did, they didn't talk about it. And in fact, within some groups, women who coloured their hair were looked down upon. Like ear piercings and bright red nail polish, dangling earrings and open toed patent leather shoes, it was something that "good girls" didn't do.
Well it turns out that, given a little time, some better science and a little more latitude in the social attitudes, that good girls do colour their hair. And what's more at this point, they aren't shy at all about letting people know. Green Hair, Blue Hair, Unicorn Hair...hard to mistake for natural colour but isn't it fun!
My hair started out in life to be blonde. Blondie blonde. No mistake about it, blonde. Joy's hair was even lighter. Her hair was more white then blonde. It was eye catching. And my hair stayed some shade of blonde even through college. I vaguely recall some fledgling poet behind me in a literature class whispering to me that my hair was "spun honey gold". I don't recall what my response was, if I said anything at all. The point is I had blonde hair.
Until I had children. With each child my hair became darker until it was unmistakably dark brown. There is absolutely nothing wrong with dark brown hair. Or any other colour of hair. But it was strangely hard to wrap my brain around it. In group photos I would spot someone who sort of looked like me, but was a brunette. And it would take a second, "oh yeah, that's me now". I tried (and failed) to just adapt to the dark brown hair. But somehow, I just never could. And it's strange that it bothered me so much, because in general I am exceedingly adaptable to change. Just not that particular one.
So eventually I got very brave, and bought some sort of home hair colour product and began the hair colour dance. The initial results were fine. My hair was lighter. If not blonde then at least light brown. And that was enough. But I wasn't very good at doing home hair colour and at some point I realized than my hair, instead of being some shade of light brown or even dark blonde was actually a bizarre and rather frightening orange. How did I never notice it before? It was baffling but not only did I not noticed but clearly everyone else was too polite to say so. The time had clearly come to cede to the ministrations of the professionals.
What a relief to not have to worry about doing it myself anymore. I had regularly scheduled appointments and all was good in the hair colour world until.....my hairdresser who was also a wonderful friend, moved on to other things in her life and I was handed off to a different hairdresser who had a completely different vision of how I should look. And again and again and repeat. I don't know if I didn't care about how my hair looked or if I just wasn't paying attention but by the time we moved to Colorado, my hair was almost white blonde. Too blonde. Way too blonde. AND way too fried. My hair was crispy from processing.
Shortly after arriving in Colorado I found a new hairdresser and we had a heart-to-heart talk. She explained that her first concern was getting my hair healthy again. I agreed. She asked me what my vision was. I explained how I felt about myself when I had dark hair but mostly I had only 3 rules. My hair was never too look like a helmet, a hat or a wig. Otherwise, she was given carte blanche. Do as you please I said. And once she realized that I was serious, that's exactly what she did.
During my time in Colorado my hair was every shade of red, every shade of blonde, every shade of brown you can imagine. But it also got a whole lot healthier. So with regard to hair colour/health/cut, in Colorado, things went very well.
And then we moved to Florida. It took a little time to find someone who "gets" me. But I finally did. And by the time I did I realized how VERY sparkly my hair had become. Although as I recall it was while we were still in Colorado that it first came to my attention. It was a little girl who lived across the street. She ran up to me and leapt into my arms. I swung her high up in the air and on the way back down, she patted my hair and said to me, "I just love your hair Miss Sam. It's all sparkly". Awwwwww. How sweet :) I mean that sincerely. I'd rather be thought of as sparkly than just old. It was just a few strands here and there but it was unmistakable. And naturally the sparkliness of my hair has not gone away. In fact, I believe it has accelerated.
Occasionally now I toy with the idea of just letting my hair be what it is. When I was at the hairdresser yesterday, I asked my hairdresser about it. She hmmed a bit and parted my hair here and there to see what all of the various roots layers looked like and then declared that the only sparkly bits are at the top. It's my call entirely but in her opinion, I would be sparkly only on the top for quite some time yet.
So I guess I am not yet ready to throw in the towel and call it quits on the colour. And if I'm not, I'm not. No reason required. This is the part in my hair now.
So be it. Some day, may be one day soon, I will say, to heck with it. Let my hair be what it is. Yesterday wasn't the day. But it will happen. Probably sooner rather than later.
And then I too can be dazzling! I'm kind of excited about it!
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.