February 28th, 2020
Everybody knows this guy, right? The Good Humor Man! Woohoo! Ice Cream Truck!
I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream! An image of childhood, innocence
and no worries about cholesterol, fats or calorie intake.
I recently read a newspaper article about some local folks who got the brilliant idea of having not an ice cream truck but an ice cream boat! Whoa! Innovators!
Apparently they have a pontoon boat (so it can be in shallow water too) they wander around the Stump Creek Pass area (which is not all that far from here) selling ice cream! The good old fashioned stuff you remember from days gone by: The red, white and blue Bomb Pops, Popsicles and Creamsicles. And some of the newer stuff too such as: Oreo bars and Choco Tacos. They even play that jingly music that every knows and some people even like! (personally not a fan though I admit it is distinctive)
They call themselves the Ice Cream Social Boat which is perfect. They can sell ice creams boat to boat, people can wade out to them, or for special events, they can be on land. Genius!
I was so entranced by this that we went looking for them. We drove out to Stump Pass and found a parking lot full beyond capacity (at $3 a pop!). Tim dropped me (and my camera) off at the first beach cut through and I ran down to the beach, scanned it up and down, did not see them and ran back to the car. I caught Tim on his way back out. We were both disappointed but not discouraged. We will keep looking!
Once we got back home I re-read the article and found that they post where they are going to be on their facebook page so at next opportunity I will seek them out that way. Sometimes I scan articles instead of reading them slowly and thoroughly...and see what happens? I missed important information!
Tim has great childhood memories of the Good Humor Truck coming through his neighborhood. The tingaling song luring hordes of children to beg for dimes and quarters from their parents and then running into the street to line up for their chilly snack of choice. It sounds like every TV show, commercial and movie depicting the ice cream truck that I ever saw. Idyllic.
In all the many many MANY places I've lived in my life, I do not recall ever once seeing or hearing an ice cream truck. What are the odds of that? Perhaps there was one and I just don't remember it.
I do however recall, the snow cone guy. When we lived in St. Louis, there was a guy who built himself a snow cone bicycle wagon thingie. The wagon part was on the front, so it appeared that he was pushing it with his bike. It was basically a giant ice chest filled with crushed ice. He had a couple dozen squirty bottles filled with flavoured syrups. He had masking tape on each one with the flavour written on it. And those paper cones. You know the ones, they get very wet very fast and then began loosing any structural integrity that they ever had rapidly apace. It encouraged us to gobble up those snowcones in double time. And then drink the watered down flavoured liquid in the bottom. Ahhhhh. I always got lemon lime. It was two separate squirty bottles...one lemon, one lime and it was drizzled unevenly over the top so that some bites were more lemon and others more lime but all of it good. Refreshing and delightful.
The Ice Cream Social Boat is a great idea and perfectly timed. Food Trucks have made a resurgence in popularity in recent years and this is basically the same idea...afloat.
We are determined. At some point we will absolutely be in the right place at the right time and we will wadeout to the floating ice cream parlour to buy our favourite goodie that day. And I already know it will taste extra good, just for the novelty of it all. This Will Eventually Happen!
Bulletins as they happen.
February 27th, 2020
That funny looking lump in the garbage can, once upon a time, was Tim's favourite pillow. And now it's garbage. Whatever could have happened? Who could possibly have been so evil, so cruel to commit such a terrible crime? Who is the culprit?
It was me! I confess, it was me. I am the one who killed Tim's pillow. But I didn't mean it. It was an accident, truly it was!
Well it was sort of an accident. I mean I intentionally washed it, but I didn't intentionally destroy it.
I've washed that pillow before. Many times. With no problems at all. Goes in dirty, comes out clean. Taadaa and the end.
But this time after it went through both washer and dryer (gentle cycle by the way), it came out, clean but , well, strange. Misshapen. Lumpy. Twisted. Ruined.
I just stood there in the utility room stock still, mouth agape, pillow remains in hand wondering what on earth happened. I reviewed everything in my mind and honestly, I did nothing different this time than any other. But this time, it was clearly, a problem. Dang.
Obviously, I tried to fix it. I tried stretching it, kneading it, pulling and pushing it to no avail. No matter what Isometric exercises I committed upon it, I could not turn it back into a pillow. Sigh. There was nothing left to be done about it but to confess my sins and throw myself on Tim's mercy.
Luckily for me, he is not only a kind man but one with a great sense of humour. "Dont' worry about it' was his reponse. "It's not as if it's my only pillow".
And that part is true. We each have three pillows. And if that sounds excessive I can only say that it works for us. One pillow is exceedingly firm. That pillow is great for sitting up in bed reading or watching TV. My other two pillows are filled with down so they are softysoft. I love 'them. Tim's other pillows, however are kind of firm. One is a fancy schmancy memory foam things...something pedic. I think it starts with a T. Temperpedic maybe? That is not the pillow I killed. The dead pillow was just an ordinary fairly firm foam pillow except that it was thin. And that's the thing Tim liked best about it.
So anyway, old pillow now sleeps with the fishes and Tim's first night without it was......well it was not good. He tried, he tried really hard to make do, but it just didn't work. So the next night, after work, off we went to Bed, Bath and Beyond to replace the pillow I offed.
Here is a question from me: When you buy a mattress, you go to a mattress store where there are lots and lots of mattresses and the sales guys always urge you to lay down, relax, to find the mattress that feels best to you. That makes perfect sense to me. But pillows? Nope, you have to just read the packaging and squash it in your hands to determine the feel of it. Is that logical at all? (and by the way the correct answer is, "No, it is not!")
Sooooo it took awhile and the process of elimination to finally choose the best guessed pillow - because that's what it is, just a best guess. Brought it home, tucked it into a nice clean soft pillow case aaaaannnndddd the second night of sleeping on the new pillow wasn't great either. Dang!
Third night had Tim using the new pillow as a sofa pillow hoping desperately that the more use it gets the more like the old pillow it will become. Last night he switched the new pillow for one of the guest room pillows which was not an improvement. Oh dear.
We still have hope but it's fading as the days and nights go by. This weekend may find us at yet another pillow store still trying to find a new perfect pillow by guessing.
This is not a good system for pillow selection. We put a man on the moon but pillow selection method still sucks.
Anyway, we've had a week of long sleepless nights at our house - which ultimately is my fault. hopefully things will improve soon. I hang my head with shame. Or at least guilt.
February 26th, 2020
I cannot remember the name of this bird. (all 3 photos are the same bird) I thought it was a kind of commorant, but on the way out, we noticed a sign with pictures and names of the local area birds and this one had a different name. Something long and multisyllabic and I cannot for the life of me recall what it was. But whoever he is, he really thought he was Mr. Big. Lots of attitude there. Birdittude I suppose.
Over this past weekend, after running other errands and getting stuff done all day, Tim and I wanted to step away for a little bit but we didn't want to go far. Too tired! So instead of researching to find some place we'd never been, we returned to the Rookery right here in Venice. It's off island but not far.
I have visited before with Joy but it was Tim's first time there. And he was pleasantly surprised. There was far more to see and be entertained by than a person might expect.
It's a pond with an island in the middle and a path all the way 'round. Some people just sit under the covered area and watch the show, but we opted to walk the path, of course. We saw all sorts of birds and birds and other birds. Which stands to reason, it's a Rookery after all. And as I've said before, I do not know my birds so while I enjoy them, I honestly don't know what I'm looking at half the time.
But we didn't only see birds. We saw other stuff too. Like flowers and greenery and water and pretty leaves and well all sorts of stuff:
At one point, we were just standing quietly at the water's edge peering out to see what there was to see and this little head pops up out of the water and immediately submerges again. Tim and I both jumped and looked at each other, "What the heck was that?" I raised my camera and got it ready and the head popped up for just a split second again. (the photo is bit blurry because I didn't have time to close focus)
What do you think? Otter maybe?
The walk kind of energized us so when we left, we were not ready to go home yet. Instead we first drove to the jetty to see what there was to see there. The water was very calm even though it was kind of breezy out. We fully expected some serious waves. We were wrong. But, no matter, the ocean is always beautiful.
So that was that! Being outside, no matter the weather, regardless of the temperature, even if there is nothing really going on, is always my favourite place to be. Which means you guys are stuck looking at these photos.
Maybe I should apologize?
February 25th, 2020
It's that time of year again. The Parade of Homes!
As you all probably remember, Tim and I are huge fans of visiting Model Homes. We both are really into architecture and design but we also get a lot of really great ideas from these visits. We have this mental check list of things that we would want to incorporate into our "dream home". The list often changes as we come across great new ideas and see things we never even thought of before. It's fun, free entertainment.
In the official publication, "Parade of Homes 2020" for our general vicinity, there had to be at least 100 homes. I cannot imagine visiting them all. Does anybody do that? I mean, Tim and I really LOVE going to model homes and we wouldn't want to see them all. So if we participate, we will definitely pick and choose a reasonable number from the catalog and visit just those.
And I'm not absolutely certain that we will.
You'd think it would be a slam-dunk decision right?
There are a lot of really good reasons to go. 1. The representatives at each home already know that most of the visitors are just lookie-loo's and aren't going to buy anything that day so they are not pestering about registering so that they can contact you every week for the rest of your life. That's a real good reason right there. 2. Often they make it kind of a celebration and there is free food and cold bottles of water, sometimes music and other festive occasion type stuff. That's fun. and 3. there are so many to choose from. It's not just a one and done.
But there are an equal number of reasons to not go. 1. Crowds. I cannot begin to tell you how much I do not like crowds and there are always masses of people attending these events. 2. Same Basic Floor Plan. It gets old pretty quickly when at least half of the houses seem to be the exact same house but with a different sofa in the living room. An enormous number of builders seem to just build one basic design. Sometimes the garage is on the left and sometimes on the right but it's the same doggone house over and over. Even if it's a GREAT house, I have already seen it. Show me something different please. 3. Sometimes the directions to the homes listed are, shall we say, lacking. And in fact, in a few cases, the directions were just flat out wrong. Editing is a real thing people. Get it together.
So we shall see if it's something we actually do. Time will tell. We didn't go this past weekend which was the opening few days. We shall see if one of the next weekends finds us visiting a few of the houses in the catalog. Perhaps we will. Perhaps we won't. Even we don't know yet.
I will say that the name of the event makes me laugh. Parade of Homes. Parade indeed. The homes aren't parading. The people are.
It's a Parade of People in and out of Homes.
The mental image of various homes parading up and down the streets followed by high school bands, twirlers, clowns and those guys on those tiny motorcycles just cracks me up.
I know about parades. Mainly because of my father.
My Dad began and then ran the annual Independence Day parade in Groton Connecticut for many years. Which means that various family members got drafted to help out. No worries, we enjoyed every minute of it. My dad loved parades and when my parents first moved to Connecticut they were surprised and disappointed when the first July 4th came and went with no parade. So my dad did something about it. He went to the city council and talked about it so passionately that they basically said, "If you want a parade so badly, make it happen." And so he did. And every single year, the parade got bigger and better and more fun and better attended. It. Was. Awesome!
And never once, in all those years, did I ever see a house come marching or driving or floating down the street in his parade. Horses, yes. Musicians, absolutely. Boyscouts, gymnastic teams, fire trucks, little leaguers, and hundreds of others but never once a house.
I know that they won't change the name of the event. But every single time I read it, I giggle a little bit to myself. Parade of homes indeed.
February 24th, 2020
Can I talk about this for just a moment?
Some of you already saw the short video I posted or the one still shot on FaceBook and Instagram, but for those of you missed it, these two bobcat kittens, or the Bobsey Twins as I am calling them, were in our backyard recently. Yes, In Our Backyard! Wow!
To say that it was a surprise is like saying that the Rocky Mountains are on the tall side. Yeah, I'm still wowing about it today.
We actually have seen an adult Bobcat in our backyard a few times. Just a quick glimpse as it trotted across the backyard. The cat never lingered, but neither did it rush. Just a straight line diagonally from one side of the backyard to the other and then it disappeared into the thick line of trees. Gone. If you blinked, you missed it. And then you are left wondering if you ever saw that wild cat at all.
The Bobkitty adult didn't show up every day, or every other day, or any other pattern that we could determine. But then we also don't spend our days just standing at the back windows, waiting to see what's out there either.
And then there is the whole window issue altogether.
Our family room, which is the largest room in our house, runs across the back. Three of the four walls (the room being roughly a rectangle) are mostly windows, 14 of them in fact. That is a lot of windows. We are quite sure that at one time this was actually the lanai of the house and at some point, someone closed it in. (note: a lani is like a screen porch only in Florida). These windows are a quirky assortment as well. No two of them match exactly and only a few of them open. Like I said, it's quirky.
But regardless of the size or shape of the windows, they are ordinary, old fashioned, single pane glass. Which means that while the room is bright and sunny it can also get hot. And since this is Florida it can get very hot. When we moved in there were a complicated series of very thick, very heavy, very ugly and extremely filthy lined draperies over every single window. I suppose that is one way to solve the problem. The room felt like a cave. Our solution was blinds. The blinds are made of some sort of fabric so light passes through them but it knocks down the heat. It works.
The room is cooler but still light. And in the interest of making the room of bearable temperature, most of the year, the blinds are left down. I only open them on cooler or gloomy days. So in absolute fairness, most of the time I cannot see into the back yard. I have no idea what's going on out there. There could be aliens landing or muskrats playing skee ball. I have not a clue.
I suppose I should also mention that we spend Zero amount of time in the back yard. I am only ever back there to trim trees or pick up deadfall from the ground. That's it. Oh and the the lawn guys come by once a week. Our backyard only serves as a buffer between us and our neighbors. There is no pool or patio back there and we have no dog or small children, so there is absolutely no reason to be back there. And I guess that is part of the attraction for wild creatures.
Last week it suddenly got a lot cooler around here, which was a nice change of pace, and for a few days it was really cloudy too, gloomy in fact. So, for a change, I bothered to pull the blinds up to allow as much light as possible into the room. Then I went about my day, doing what I do. And not much of it involved the family room. Until I took it in my head to do some dusting.
I stepped into the room, glanced out the window and came to a screeching halt. It was not one adult Bobcat but two youngsters and they were tussling just like my boys did when they were little. Like regular housecat kittens only a lot bigger.
Every once in awhile they would stop smacking each other around long enough to be so adorable I could barely stand it!
Then they would just sit and rest for a little bit
And then they would start wrestling all over again. Tim and I just stood there watching for the longest time. Who needs TV? We have Wild Kingdom in our backyard (apparently!)
But eventually Mama called them and they obediently trotted off into the tree line and disappeared from sight. It was so awesome.
I've left the blinds up for now in hopes that we would get to see another Bobkitten show, but nothing so far.
Eventually it will get too warm again and I will have to lower the blinds and then I definitely will not see them. At least I got this one time, with photographic evidence!
We just love that all these wild creatures like our yard and feel safe here.
February 21st, 2020
Sometimes I'm just so ridiculous. When people ask why we chose to live on the island one of my stock answers is that here, I can walk to almost anything I need or want. And I do love to walk. I can just step outside my front door and walk to: the beach, the intercoastal, the grocery store, the post office, the dentist, the museum, the library, the...well you get the idea...just about anywhere. I don't have to drive someplace to go for a walk.
And yet, this past Sunday, Tim and I did just that.
I read about a place called, Ollie's Pond Park in Port Charlotte. First of all, the name is adorable. I'm not sure who it is named after though I assume it's someone whose first name is Oliver. According to the tiny bit I read, it's a roughly 45 minute walk around a pond. Well, why not. We had no other plans. Pt Charlotte is two towns south of us. Even though my parents lived there at one time, I am not especially familiar with anything except the immediate area surrounding their home . So, unfamiliar territory.
But we have a Nav system in the car and I had an address so off we went.
The park exists in a very suburban area. Street after street of house after house. I was beginning to think that I had gotten mis-information when suddenly, there it appeared before us. In the midst of all of that housing, taadaa, an adorable, and surprisingly good sized pond with trees and and shrubs and best of all, a dirt path going all the way around. All good things.
Almost immediately we saw things that were photo worthy. We took our time and walked slowly, pointing things out to each other and sometimes just standing and watching squirrels and ducks and rabbits and turtles and birds of all sorts.
It was a lovely walk and by the end, we felt both well exercised and well rested if that makes any sense at all. There is something about being out in nature that is very, very relaxing. Ahhhhhh. It kind of, I don't know how to describe it exactly, hmmmm. Ok I will try this. It centers (?) me to spend time in places with no clocks, no concrete, no glass and no agenda. Like hitting a reset button.
We walked quietly, so the animals and birds weren't frightened by us and I was delighted with the shots I got. We did pass one other photographer who was hunkered down in the underbrush and trees along the shore, camera set up on a tri-pod, clicker in hand, patiently and quietly waiting for his shots. I admire that, but I'm not going to be doing that.
Still I think I got some decent photos. Here I will let you decide:
Obviously it was a rather bird-heavy walk. But hey, it was a pond. Ponds attract birds. Also alligators and there was a sign warning people of the resident alligator(s) and forbidding folks from feeding them. (As if I would!) But we saw no gators. Lots of other pretty stuff but no gators and frankly, that is fine with me!
So that was the trip to Ollie's Pond Park. Cute Cute Cute.
No idea what's happening this weekend but I know that it will be something. And that whatever it is, I will be writing about it next week.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!
February 20th, 2020
Island Time is a real thing. And it doesn't just apply to Carribean Islands either. Island Time exists right here in Venice. Florida.
There are two different kinds of Island Time actually. One is very soothing and relaxing. The other one can be very frustrating, unless you get into the groove of it. And you really kind of have to make the adjustment because if you don't, well it's just not good for anybody.
The first kind of Island Time refers mostly to vacationers, tourists, snowbirds and retirees. And there are plenty of all of these folks here this time of year. Yup to take a break from the cold and snow and ice and dreary grey of winter that exists in a lot of other places, hordes of folks come here. Some just for a short break, a long weekend or even a couple of weeks. Others visitors are here longer, perhaps for a month or even for "the season". The Season generally runs from January through April. But it sometimes extends a bit on either end.
The Season is the Sweet Spot for weather here. It's usually sunny but not hot. Very little rain so not humid. And because we are right by the water there is often a nice little breeze going. And of course there is the ocean. That's a nice draw. And I get it. If the choice is a wintery winter of shoveling snow and facing gloom day after day and layers of clothes to stay warm OR sunshine, shorts and a drink by the pool, guess which one I'm going to choose? Oh yeah, we live here now so we already made that choice.
Come on really..which one would you choose?
So those vactioning, touristing, snowbirding people are trying to relax. They are no longer marching to the beat of an alarm clock. They get up when they are darned good and ready. And perhaps they just lounge around awhile after they wake up. And then, once they've finally breakfasted and dressed for their day, the world is their oyster. They can do as they wish whenever they please. At long last they can honestly, say, 'I'll get to it when I get to it' and "Who cares what time it is?" How glorious to have that freedom! The stress just melts away as they relax in the sun.
That's the first sort of Island Time and I applaud it.
The second sort of Island Time I have adapted to but it did not come easily.
It's a by-product of the first sort really. Because we are a vacation destination/tourist spot/snowbird magnet, this time of year there are a lot of people here. I mean, a lot. Which also means lots of traffic. Not just cars, but also bicycles, golf carts and pedestrians. So getting from A to B means it's going to take a little more time than other season of the year. And once you arrive at B, there is absolutely going to be a line.
Along with the extra traffic there are the extra traffic issues. Meaning grumpy people who apparently didn't realize that they weren't the only people who drive here this time of year and haven't learned to just breathe and relax and learn to wait your turn. The ones who lean on their horns the split second that a light turns green. Or blast around you in a no passing zone because you are driving very slowly behind someone on a bicycle who has chosen to drive in the middle of the lane as if they were the only person on the road. The people who yell out the window as pedestrians as they cross the street to hurry up. And Tim's favourite, the folks who have forgotten how to manage a 4-way stop.
Extra traffic also sometimes means the visitors who don't know their way around and are going very slowly looking for a particular address or stop in the middle of the road to take a photo or are driving the wrong way on a one - way street. Oh dear. It sadly means, more accidents, which also slows down traffic. And, since this is Florida which is apparently eternally under construction, more slow downs due to road work.
Basically the other Island Time means, giving yourself the extra time necessary to get places without blowing your stack or your engine. Learning to be patient, smile, relax and forgive a lot. Step one, breathe. Step two, breathe again.
If you are here in season you will have plenty of opportunity to practice both sorts of Island Time.
February 19th, 2020
More New Clothes? What the actual Heck, Sam? You spendthrift! Who do you think you are? A Kardashian?
Nah. Nothing like that at all.
Do you remember back a little more than a month ago? I wrote a piece on my favourite clothing store, Beall's Outlet and how I found out that it was closing? Yeah. A sad, sad day. If you recall, I took advantage of what I assumed to be my last day of shopping there and found a pair of white jeans and two really nice tops. I was very pleased with my purchases but it was only because I thought for sure it would be the Very Last time I would shop there that I bothered to stand in that ridiculously long line.
And I was still certain it was my final shopping experience there as I finally walked up to the counter with my 3 items and my wallet in my hand. I was absolutely positive while she was ringing it up and bagging my items. I was totally convinced that I would never again cross that threshold until at the very end she handed me a $5 off coupon. Dang.
Now I realize that in today's world five bucks ain't much. At least most of the time. The only place you can go out to eat for $5 is a fast food restaurant and even then you are limited on your options. I'm pretty sure a cup of coffee can still be had for a fiver in some places, but not in others! And I know that a small Dairy Queen Blizzard will give me a little change for that money. But that's about it.
And honestly in most stores a five dollar off coupon wouldn't tempt me to purchase anything. A pair of shoes that cost $100.00 with this coupon brings is down to $95. That is not the difference for me between purchasing and not purchasing. The answer is still no. If I get a $5 off coupon at Brighton and it's not a gift giving time of year (Christmas or certain people's birthday's) I give that coupon away. I seriously do. I don't want it to go to waste afterall and I know that I am sure as heck not using it.
But for a $10.00 price tag? If I really like that particular product, it's not even a question. Yes yes yes. And that's the kind of prices I"m talking about at this particular outlet store. Affordable prices. Lower prices. Sam prices!
So I was determined to not let this one go. Yesterday I finally got around to going back there.
Wow. I was surprised (though I shouldn't have been) and how little was left. And what remained was crammed onto as few racks as possible. Huge areas of the store were completely empty. Kind of creepy actually.
But I perused. I considered. I took my time and, one item at a time, slid those hangers from right to left, seeking, well nothing in particular but whatever struck my fancy.
I suppose in the back of my mind I am always thinking white blouse. I am of the considered opinion that one can never have too many white tops or black shoes. At this particular moment, including tee-shirts, I own 14 different white tops. Wow! (I just went in and counted them) Each one is completely different from the others. Some are long sleeved, some short sleeved and some sleeveless. Some of them are very pain and simple other's rather fancy schmancy and some fall right in the middle. Some of them are for wearing in cooler weather, some in the sweat of summer and other's any time I like. Some have button, some have lace, some have ruffles but all of them are white. Can never have enough of those.
Apparently a lot of people agree with me because I didn't find any white tops. So I looked instead of my fall back colour of blue. Didn't find any great blue tops that I liked or looked great on me either. So I moved on to shorts. That's where I found the above blue shorts.
I wasn't specifically seeking blue shorts. I was just looking at any shorts in my size. I find that the colour of a pair of shorts or trousers doesn't matter nearly as much as the colour of a top piece. Any old colour will do. It's all about fit.
Picking's were slim, my friends. There were fewer bottom pieces than anything else. And in my size, which must be the most common of all sizes, there was almost nothing. And I was ready to give my coupon to the next person I saw and leave when I noticed this pair of shorts that had fallen off the hangar onto the floor. I picked them up, only to put them back on a hangar (I do that sort of thing in clothing stores all the time not just in that store). Lo and behold, they were my size!
So I tried them on. Loose, comfy, cotton with roll up legs...perfect for a comfy cozy relaxed sort of day. AND any beach day. The orange shirt? Well that was a surprise too. As I was walking to the register with the blue shorts, I was thinking about what else I own that would go with it. Any of the white shirts, obviously. But what else? Hmmmm. (I like having choices) and I walked past this one of the staff who had just returned this shirt to the racks. Orange and blue. That's different. Maybe? Yup...I liked that. Maybe not every time but some of the time.
The oddest part, to me, is that generally speaking, I don't like tee shirts that have pictures or words on them. But this one doesn't seem to bother me. Or at least it didn't yesterday. The picture kind of suits the attitude of the shorts. And most importantly, can be worn with other things if I so choose.
So there I was, new shorts, new shirt ready to check out when this little black shirt peeped out at me. I stopped, I considered. I added it to my collection without another thought and without even trying it on. I already just knew. Because I had tried it on at my previous visit and loved it but you know, sometimes you make choices. At that other visit, I liked a different shirt just a teensy bit more and I had a limit in my head of how much money I felt comfortable spending. And this top didn't make the cut. That time. This time it did.
So it turned out that not only is it an outlet store so the prices are already great. But I had the $5 off coupon. AND since the store is closing there was a big something percent off everything in the store sale going on on top of that! So I did very well.
And that's it. The store closes it's doors next week so this was my final visit. And it was a good one. I have no regrets.
Well other than that the store is closing. I am sad about that. But woohoo new clothes. And new clothes are always fun :)
February 18th, 2020
The above three absolutely amazing photographs are not mine. Joy gets 100% credit for both of them. And thank you Joy, for allowing me to use them today.
Joy took these shots while we were hiking last Thursday. And you know how I said that all of our hikes end up having some sort of theme? Well, the theme this time is, "The Shots I did Not Get but Thank Goodness Joy Did!". These are three of them.
When we arrived at Oscar Scherer Park that morning, the nice Ranger at the gate who we've sort of gotten to know a bit, was kind enough to tell us that there was an Eagle nest with two babies in it on the Red Trail hike. He went so far as to show us on a map exactly where it was. We didn't arrive at the park with any particular hike planned so why not go for it!
We headed down the Red Trail, snapping shots and chatting as we always do. It took awhile to get there but it was unmistakable when we arrived. The tree, the nest, the eagles...yeah, kind of hard to miss.
The Rangers put up barriers so you can only get so close, but still, there they were. Right There. Wow!
There was a couple already there, the husband with his camera and the wife sitting patiently waiting for him to get his fill of pictures, and we greeting each one another pleasantly. As it turns out they were newly arrived from Pennsylvania.
In the beginning, I tried. I tried so hard to get those shots but A) I just haven't gotten the hang of tracking a moving target with the camera yet and B) my camera just couldn't get the close ups necessary from that distance. So my pictures ended up being blurry blobs of mystery or empty sky and eventually, I get frustrated and I need to step away. So I put the lens cap back on my camera and sat, chatting happily with the wife while Joy and the husband talked cameras and photos and took many, many MANY great pictures of the Eagle Family.
As it turns out Eagles are particularly fascinating birds. For instance, I didn't know that there were more than 60 different types of Eagles found around the world. Their eyesight is more than 3 times better than the best human vision (hence the term Eagle-Eyed). Eagles are the top of the birdie food chain. The Kings and Queens of Bird-dom as it were. Generally they lay two eggs at a time and it's not uncommon for the larger of the two juveniles to kill the smaller one. (ewwww! Talk about sibling rivalry!) A young eagle is generally ready to head out on his or her own at 8 weeks of age and the average life span is about 20 years although older ones have been noted. Just a few examples of eagle facts! (The things you learn here)
Well it was hard to walk away from the eagles. Although it was also hard to see that parent eagle hauling some other creature to it's nest for food. Yes, Yes, Yes...I know it's just nature. I am aware. But I am tender hearted and while I can acknowledge that sometimes nature is beautiful, I also realize that sometimes it is grim and I have no interesting in witnessing the grim bits.
And so we walked on. It was a lovely varied environment trail: some wet areas, some dry, some shady, other's sunny. That's the best sort of hike. I think the entire photo safari was only about 3 miles or so but we took our time and got lots of other photos. I seemed to have gotten a lot of tree and tree-related pictures that day. Not sure what that was all about. Here are some of my tree kinds of photos:
And of course I took photos of other things too:
It was another truly wonderful day. I'm so annoyed that not one single Eagle photo of mine came out, but I'm so happy that Joy's did. AND that she was kind enough to share them with me so that I could share them with you.
I have GOT to work on my tracking shots. Dragon flies and birds just move too fast for me. Maybe I'll start with turtles.
February 17th, 2020
This is what Valentine's Day looked like at our house on Friday. Flowers and candy and cards both funny and sweet. Awwwwww!
I know people who choose to not observe Valentine's Day and that's fine. That's their choice and I respect that. But Tim and I are kind of gooey about holidays and days of observation. I don't really know how to categorize days such as St. Patrick's Day and Halloween and Valentine's Day. I mean, the banks are open, it's a regular work day and there is postal delivery just like any other day. So it's not actually a holiday but it is a special day of note sooooooo what do we call those sorts of days......? Does anyone know?
Well however it's categorized, Tim and I observe it. And all of the others, too by the way.
We did not go out to dinner however. In the past we have done that. Sometimes a fancy schmancy place, other times we've gone to more of a shorts and tee-shirt sort of place. Last year we ordered delivery pizza (it came heart-shaped...awwww). But we have leaned that here, in Venice, trying to go out to dinner on Valentine's Day is madness.
This is the peak of tourist and Snowbird season and as such, all of the restaurants are always packed. On a special day like Valentine's...it's extra busy. So even if we made reservations and went out, it would be so crowded and so noisy that, well, it's not as enjoyable as it should be. So we noped out of that.
Instead, I made a nice dinner and a special dessert while poor Tim was slaving away in his office.
I considered and rejected a lot of ideas. Sometimes I need a little inspiration. I went online and read a lot of suggestions for Valentine's Dinners and well, bah. They were all either fairly ordinary things that I make anyway so not special enough to suit me or they were just foods we would never eat. Bizarre stuff. I cannot even remember a single one of the recipes to use as an example, that's how out of my frame of reference some of them were.
So instead I went to the grocery store and just started wandering the aisles looking for something that would set off that light bulb moment for me. It took awhile honestly but eventually it struck me.,..BBQ ribs. Tim loves them! There we go! Since the meat section is the last aisle I had to do some backtracking to finish buying what I needed for the meal but that's okay too.
The final menu was BBQ ribs, garlic mashed potatoes, corn on the cob and salad with a special dessert. Oh I had no problem coming up with a dessert. In fact, it was the first decision I made. Chocolate cupcakes with white icing. Oh yeah. Sounds ordinary to you perhaps, but this is scratch cupcakes and icing I'm talking about. The sort of thing that takes a little time and makes a big old mess. That's the best kind of dessert.
They turned out pretty good. I'm still getting the hang of using a piping bag but one of the things I finally was clever enough to do was to find a recipe for an icing that is specific to a piping bag (as opposed to a frosting that is applied with a small spatula). The new recipe improved the situation considerably! The icing was thick enough to hold it's shape but smooth enough to use the piping bag& tips. It was neither too sweet nor too heavy. Perfect! The cupcakes looked like this:
I was so tickled with how they turned out that I shared some with our neighbors. She proclaimed them to be the most luscious cupcakes they've ever had. Now perhaps she was just being polite, but they are pretty damned good,if I do say so myself.
The rest of the meal came out nicely too but I forgot to take a photo before serving. All you get is a picture of the aftermath. Although that suggests that it turned out fairly well also :)
Then, the biggest surprise happened. my favourite TV show, Outlander, dropped the first episode of Season Five 2 days early! Yes, that's right, I got to watch it on Valentine's Day! AWESOME!
So there you have it, flowers, cards, chocolates, a nice meal, a special dessert, the surprise showing of my favourite TV show and the absolute best part, sharing it with my Valentine.
February 14th, 2020
This will be a super quick and super short blog post.
Just wanted to take a minute to wish you all an absolutely perfect and beautiful Valentine's Day!
Hugs all 'round
February 13th, 2020
The ceilings in our adorable little house are not particularly high. I mean they are builder standard for the year it was built (1962) but I suppose in the grander scheme of things, that's not so high up. Still to me they are plenty high. If I cannot reach it, it's high enough. But then I suppose most ceilings are high ceilings in my world. So you cannot go by me.
Our house in Colorado had really high ceilings. I could literally stand on the kitchen counter to touch it. Oh, why was I standing on the kitchen counter? I was painting the kitchen. Obviously :) So that means the ceilings were more than two of me. So that means...Oh Gosh..this sounds too mathy... Umm...I'm 5'2" to twice me is 10'4" (is that right?) So the ceilings must have been more than 10 feet high right? And then in the foyer and the family room the ceilings soared two stories up. Oh gosh, more math...so 20 or so feet up? Something like that anyway. It looked sort of like this:
It was a big house. More than twice the size of our current home and visually, each room seemed even more spacious with those high ceiling. Even for people like me who do not technically need the extra headroom, it feels grand and open and well, you feel like you can breathe in a space like that.
I'm sure from the house's point of you it was kind of silly. At my just cracking over 5 feet high, against those wall I was only a quarter of the way up. I probably looked like a small child in those rooms. And yet, when we built the house, that's what we wanted. Why? I think we just liked the way it felt. I cannot deny how lovely those high ceilings looked.
The only two rooms with the 20 footers, as I said, were the family room and the foyer. But every other room, first floor, second floor AND basement had the...what did we decide? 10+ foot ceilings of course.
And the entire time the house was being built, it never once dawned on me, that somehow I was going to have to clean all of those really tall, super high up, glorious windows. Dang!
And deal with cobwebs and clean ceiling fan blades (dust loves to accumulate where it's hardest to reach) Double Dang!
Also didn't think about changing the lightbulbs in the A) can lights in the family room and B) chandelier lights in the foyer. Triple Dang!
Too, I never once considered the changing of the smoke detector batteries. Double Double Dang!
The windows high up? I tried once to clean them, nearly fell off the extension ladder and came close to accidentally breaking a window with a misplaced ladder so the high parts never got cleaned again. Lived there for 10 years. Only completely clean windows were the ones I could reach with a normal ladder.
I will confess, I don't think I ever cleaned a single ceiling fan blade in the family room. I stood on the beds to get the ones in the bedrooms. Cobwebs had to fend for themselves. If I couldn't reach it with a broom, it just didn't happen.
The lightbulbs got changed three times. Once when we were having some other work done, the worker left their scaffolding up for several days and Tim (ahem) borrowed it to change out lightbulbs and he changed them ALL, working or not! Another time Tim did haul out the big extension ladder but it turns out that when you lean a big old metal ladder like that against a pretty cream coloured wall, it leaves a mark. A very obvious mark. One that has to be painted over every single time. The third time the bulbs were changed by a kindly electrician who was doing some other work in the house for us. He noticed that the foyer chandelier was down to one working bulb and he offered. I said yes so fast........
The smoke detector batteries on the other hand. You absolutely have to change those because the beepbeepbeep or chirpchirpchirp will drive you crazy if you don't. And of course, the whole safety thing. Just so you know, changing those batteries when your have those way high ceilings is a major pain in the arse. Necessary but still.
I was thinking about this recently because it happened here. I was sitting right here, probably writing my blog, when I heard a chirping sound. And then it stopped. Then it started up again. And then it stopped. It got a little louder each time. Finally I got up and tried to figure out where the sound was coming from. I honestly didn't recognize it at first.
At long last, all the marbles in my head fell into the proper holes and I remembered Smoke Alarm battery! Ah Yes.
And so I began, what my friend Jan calls, The Smoke Alarm ChaCha.
First I had to figure out which alarm was chirruping. Which means standing underneath each one, waiting for the noise and eliminating one at a time until I find the culprit. It was in the guest room.
Next up, haul out the step ladder. Yup, just a little old step ladder. Just three steps up and I'm there. Lower ceilings y'see. Still I'm not happy on a ladder. Any ladder. But one does what one must. So up I went.
Then I set about fiddling with the smoke detector trying to "detect" how to open it. After some time, I accidentally removed the cover which I tossed on the bed, then fiddled more with the battery trying to determine how to remove it. Without breaking the entire unit I mean. I do have a history of accidental breakage, after all .
Finally I get the battery out. Ahhhh blessed silence. Next I had to rummage in the various drawers seeking the replacement battery. To my surprise and pleasure we had one! Yay! But only one so I'm glad there was just one needed.
Back up the ladder to figure out how to get that battery in. Once I succeeded with that, back down the ladder to retrieve the cover. Back up to, eventually, figure out how to put the cover back on. The back down the ladder, put it away, and add 9V battery to the grocery list. Taadaa!
Even though that was a lot of upping and downing, it was SO MUCH EASIER than in our Colorado house with it's lovely high ceilings. Make no mistake, I absolutely adore the look of lofty ceilings but not so much the inconvenience.
So anyone who feels so compelled can diss our not all that high ceilings any time they like. At least I can replace lightbulbs, wash windows and stop the chirruping of the smoke detector in this house without first learning how to levitate.
February 12th, 2020
Tim and I were sitting at a rather long traffic light the other day, and I noticed that the car in front of us had a bumper sticker on it. Which made me realize that I don't see a lot of bumper stickers on cars anymore. A trend that I heartily applaud by the way.
But I do see a lot of those car window stickers instead. I'm not certain that this is an improvement but to each his or her own of course. These stickers might indicate the drivers favourite team:
Or it could be an advertisement for their business:
Perhaps they are especially proud of whatever it is that comprises their family. In this case a very interesting and complex family!:
I've seen window stickers that are memorials to the dearly departed:
And the ones that indicate their pet preference:
And of course I have seen LOADS of those funny little white ovals that have mysterious letters in it. Oooooo top secret stuff! I assume this one is for the great city of Boston, though I have no way of knowing for sure:
The car we were behind had the white sticker one. The letters inside were ME which of course is the abbreviation for the state of Maine. But it could also have literally meant, 'me' or perhaps it was the owners initials...Mary Elizabeth? Or Mark Edwards? I could only guess, though the guessing itself is fun.
But on the other side of the back window was a second sticker that had me completely baffled. It was, I could only assume, a flag. It had 3 vertical stripes, blue, white and red (from left to right) and in the blue stripe was a gold star. I had no clue what sort of flag it was. And it intrigued me. So much so that I looked it up later. Turns out it was the flag of Madawaska Maine.
I am certainly no flag savant but excuse me what?
I of course know that each country has it's own flag. And further I know that every state has it's own flag. And Capital Cities of each state have a flag. But I had NO idea that any random city that wants to can have a flag! Did you know that? I didn't! Surprise!
Madawaska Maine is way up by the Canadian border and the primary business there is a paper mill. The population in 2010 was reported as 4,035 people. Back in it's early days it was a hunting and meeting place for the Maliseet nation. As European settlers moved in, they weren't especially concerned with it being English, French or Native American. They sort of incorporated all of the surrounding cultures into one. In 1842 a treaty gave most of the area to Maine (and therefore the USA) even though the majority of it's residence spoke French and aligned themselves more with Quebec. Oh well, politics being what they are, it happened anyway.
I am very impressed with this little town way up at the top Maine that has such a strong sense of itself that they created their own flag. Wow! I wonder why more cities don't do this?
Venice Florida has no flag. I'm seriously disappointed.
Sarasota has one:
Tampa Florida has one:
But Venice does not. I was trying to imagine what a flag of Venice might look like. Hmmm. Venice is the shark tooth capital so maybe something with a shark's tooth on it. I understand that the state of Florida is the lightening capital of the world so maybe a sharks' tooth with lightening! That would be a statement for sure. But of course we don't want to scare anyone away so maybe not
Maybe dolphins or pelicans or palm trees or the pier or a sunset or, I don't know, maybe something truly Venetian like the flag of the real Venice Italy could be incorporated. That's a fancyschmancy one:
But as it stands right now, we have no flag. In front of our city hall are the stars and stripes of the American flag of course and the flag of the state of Florida but I just think it would be kind of awesome to also have a flag of Venice.
I wonder who I need to talk to about this.
If the little town of Madawaska Me can have it's own flag, it seems to me that any town should. Let me rephrase that, every town should.
February 11th, 2020
I have a new favourite thing which is so very very VERY bad. Chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels Oh Me Oh My.
Quite awhile ago, I blogged an ode to regular peanut butter pretzels. The blog was about how I used to crave sweet and then suddenly, once we moved here, it changed over to craving salt. But not just any salt. And how it took me awhile to find just the right thing to satisfy the crave. And oddly, it was the store brand Peanut Butter filled Pretzels from my local Publix.
I adore them. And they are kind of dangerous because I love them so much that it's hard to be disciplined about eating them. So I don't buy them often. And when I do give in and buy them, I make sure that I only gobble up a couple at a time. Which is wonderful because then the treat lasts, at least a week to ten days, depending on how well behaved I am.
So things were going along swimmingly. Once every 3 or 4 months I would allow myself this fine yumminess. And I would savour every bite and try to make it last as long as possible. Good enough right?
Well last week, when I was grocery shopping it struck me that it had been more like 5 or 6 months since I allowed myself this wonderfulness. In that moment of realization I suddenly wanted peanut butter filled pretzels more than anything on the planet. The Crave settled in and it wasn't going to leave me alone until I satisfied it.
Sometimes when that happens, I intentionally pretend that I am not craving - whatever it is that I am craving. "You are not the boss of me!" is my attitude against my craving. And I will resist it. And I feel noble and brave and courageous . But mostly I feel hungry for days, sometimes weeks! It's the hunger that is the worst part because nothing else will satisfy me except that one thing I am craving. Until, at long last, I give in and then the craving goes away.
It's not pretty.
So last week, when I was shopping, The Crave hit and I decided, Why torture myself? Just go ahead and do what you already know you are going to do eventually. Just buy the dang peanut butter filled pretzels and be done with it.
So when I got to that part of the store I set about to do exactly that. For reasons known to nobody except Publix, in my store at least, they keep this delightful treat over by produce. It's on the bottom shelf on the left side. (Isn't that scary that I know exactly where this is?) And as I bent down to pick up a box, instead of my usual pretzels, there were these. Chocolate covered peanut butter filled pretzel Oh My God.
I stood up so fast I was dizzy for a second. I walked away and prowled the produce section while contemplating. I mean peanut butter filled pretzels are already not exactly a health food. But Chocolate Covered? Now we are adding a new layer of bad to an already not so good for me snack. Snack? Heck who am I kidding? I eat this sort of thing as a meal on a regular basis. I won't lie.
Finally I threw caution to the wind. I added it to my cart and finished my shopping. I assured myself that I would show the same, or perhaps even better, discipline with these new pretzels that I do with the other ones. Once home, I put the treat in the fridge because in my world, cold chocolate is the best chocolate. And then I went about doing other things that needed doing.
And, I know you will find this hard to believe, but I didn't even open the package that first day! It's true. I thought about it a lot, of course, but I did not so much as break the seal.
The second day, on the other hand, I had an early morning doctor appointment that while a perfectly ordinary annual appointment, is always rather unpleasant. It's not the fault of the doctor, who I love or her office staff who are always wonderful. It's just the sort of appointment that is always unpleasant. When I returned, I voted unanimously (which is easy when I'm the only one voting) to allow myself a treat. So I opened the box.
Holy Cats. The chocolate covered peanut butter filled pretzels were even better than I imagined. Wowza! So I had another one. It was as amazing as the first. And then another. Still incredible. And as I was reaching for yet another, I stopped myself. I was so proud of myself when I closed the box and put it back in the fridge.
Next up on my exciting list of things to do that day was to go to my local lab for a blood draw. Yayayay...(not). So off I went. I waited the typical forever to be seen, blood was drawn and left it's customary ginormous bruise and I walked back home. Whereupon, naturally, I had to self-medicate with more chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels. Chocolate has well known healing properties y'see. This time I did not count but I probably had a good heaping handful. And then stopped myself, put the lid back on and put them back in the fridge.
I continued about my day. Now before I finish this story, I want to say that I ended up walking about six miles that day so it isn't as if I was re-creating the Peg Bundy story, eating bonbons and watching soap operas all day. No. I was not only walking all over town, I was also getting stuff done. I did a lot of yard work, a ton of house work and well, I burned quite a few calories that day. Didn't balance out what I ate of course, but at least I made a dent.
Anyway, at the end of the day, I made Tim's dinner (I generally do not eat dinner) then cleaned up, put things away, wiped down the stove and counter top, filled the dishwasher and so forth then went back into the family room to watch a little TV, read a bit, talk with Tim, y'know the usual end of day kind of stuff. And as I sat there, those chocolate covered peanut butter filled pretzels called me. Oh yes. They did.
And my tummy started to growl in response. It rumbled and grumbled and carried on so much that I finally got up and brought the goodies to the family room and opened the container. "Help yourself, please" I said to Tim who obligingly ate a few. And then a few more. And then a few more. And of course, I joined him.
By the end of the evening we had polished off the entire container.
I put the lid on the empty box, looked at Tim and said, "Those were really good". He agreed that they were. "I mean really really REALLY good." Once again, he agreed. And then I continued, "And they must never EVER be allowed back into this house! This time Tim laughed out loud.
It's been nearly a week and I have been to the grocery store two other times. I did not buy any chocolate covered peanut butter filled pretzels either time.
I wonder how long I can hold out?
February 10th, 2020
When Tim and I were first figuring out our move to Florida, we weren't certain where we wanted to live. So we spent some time wandering up and down the West coast checking out little Beach Towns. We referred to it as the beach tour. There were a lot of cute ones of course and some that were not so cute, but the only one that immediately said "home" to us was Venice which is, of course, ultimately where we landed.
But there was another town that we liked. I mean the first time, which was 4 years ago now, we only just sort of drove through the town aimlessly, trying to get a feel for it. We didn't actually visit the town or spend any great amount of time there. But it made enough of an impression on us that over the weekend, we went back to see it again. And this time we actually parked the car, got out and walked around.
The town is called, Dunedin. It was settled in the 1800's by some folks from Scotland, J.O. Douglas and James Summerville. There are still roads that hint at the origin of the town - I mean other than the obvious Scottishness of the name of the town itself, Dunedin (which by the way is Gaelic for Edinburgh). There were roads named, Douglas, James , Scotland, Aberdeen and Locklie just to name a few.
We honestly weren't certain why this town stuck in our memories until we went back for this visit. It is absolutely charming. From the brick sidewalks to the funky museums to the wildly varied and unique restaurants and shops to the adorable homes that lined the streets.
We loved that the town is very clearly big on art as there were unique art pieces everywhere we looked. Some of the art was a little more interactive than other pieces of art.
Of course we really adore that it was on the water. That was key. It's the only reason we found the town in the first place. We specifically wanted to live by the water. And Dunedin is absolutely on the water
It was market day when we arrived and that is obviously a very popular event. The park in the "center" of town was packed with tents and live music and goods of all sorts and people and dogs. Dunedin is, apparently, a very dog friendly town. How can I not love a town that loves dogs?
There is a walking/bicycle path that runs right through the middle of town, parrellel to the shoreline that I was itching to tackle.
I mentioned that they had some funky museums. Here are two that we found immediately without even trying. Who knows how many others there are? We drove up to Dunedin without doing any research at all, y'see. Just a spontanesous itch to go on an explore :)
There were fountains and monuments and a lovely gazebo that looked tricked out for a wedding. There was no wedding taking place while we were there but it was still being perfectly utilized. Hey, weddings are celebrations and so is eating ice cream. It counts
One of my favourite discoveries personally was this place:
Skip's Bar. Why? Well a long time ago I wrote a short story that took place in a watering hole called, 'Skip's Bar' only the sign was neon and the lights behind the apostrophe and 's' had blinked out and were never replaced. So the sign in the night read "Skip Bar" and the jaded regulars at the bar considered that to be a recommendation. In the story I mean. Not here. This place seemed to be very popular and well attended. I was just tickled to find a place with the same name as the one in a story I wrote. Too funny.
So there you have it. We spent the better part of the day in Dunedin and enjoyed every minute of it. It still did not have that feeling of "You are Home" that Venice always had for us, but what a lovely place to visit. I'm certain that we will return.
Oh! Forgot to mention that on the way to Dunedin we stopped for a bit to watch this:
What an unexpected treat! We had no idea that this was happening but as soon as Tim saw it, we pulled off to watch and enjoy. Nobody seemed to mind that we were there. We stayed out of the way, but it was great fun to see.
Anyway, so that was our big weekend adventure! Bye for now Dunedin. We shall return!
February 07th, 2020
This is the bag in the closet that I keep my scarves in. Yes it's true, I do not neatly fold my scarves when I put them away. I just gob them up and shove them into this bag. And also yes I said scarves, plural. I have more than one. In fact, I have quite a few. I really like scarves. I wear them often. And in all sorts of different ways.
When we travel, especially by plane, I make darned sure that I have one in my giant travel purse. Not as a fashion statement (me? Fashion? As if!) But as an extra layer of warmth. I am always freezing cold on an airplane! Some of my scarves are large enough (or perhaps I am small enough) to be used as a blanket. Just that one little extra layer of warm is perfect. And for something that is not at all bulky or fuzzy, they are surprisingly warm.
If I'm all gussied up to go out some place fancy schmancy, a scarf can be used as a shawl. Just that nice little cover up for over my shoulders. And, bonus points, it has a bit of an elegant look to it. If I'm wearing a dress and I slap on a pair of heels and a shawl and I'm ready for almost anything.
The reason this whole "scarf" thing comes up at all today, is that I've recently noticed, that when I do wear one of my scarves - which again is fairly often - people notice. Some of them remark on the scarf. Some just......notice in a rather obvious sort of way. Which in turn makes me notice that other people kind of...don't. Wear Scarves I mean.
Have they fallen out of favour and I just wasn't paying attention? Not that it matters. I do what I like regardless. If I have ever been in style, I promise you, it was an accident.
Now I'm not talking about winter scarves. Those are practically universal. When I lived in cold places I had lots of those. Fuzzy ones, furry ones, flannel ones, chunky woven ones, all sorts of colours and they were just essential to winter survival in a cold place. Every man, woman and child that I knew in those states owned at least one.
This is different. These scarves are lightweight, floaty, almost ephemeral. While they can and do provide that nice little ward against an air conditioned chill in the summer and a buffer from a brisk wind in winter, we no longer have the extreme cold temperatures that we did in Colorado or New England. Mostly, I wear them, just because.
When I was a kid, every female owned a scarf or two that weren't created for winter warmth. Mostly they were silky squares as opposed to the giant scarves I own now. Girl-people of all ages would wear them tied around our necks in a jaunty sort of way, or instead of a ribbon on our pony tails. We wore them to keep our hair from getting messy on a windy day and to respectfully cover our heads before going into a church. It was just a normal part our wardrobes.
Of course, as a kid, I didn't own any actual silk scarves. But the ones I had (and most of the women and girls that I knew) were made of some fabric that had that slippyslidey feel. Way back then scarves were sold in the same section as purses (but near perfumes) in the big department stores. A quality scarf was the sort of thing a person might receive as a very nice gift. When did that all stop? And why wasn't I paying attention?
Last Sunday, when Tim and I did our big walk, I took advantage of there being a public restroom at the pier. As I was going in, another lady was coming out. She held the door for me automatically without looking my way, I said thank you. She swung around with a smile to say, (I think) "no problem" but all that came out was, "No.....' and then she stopped and just starred at me in a very peculiar way.
Now I suppose there could be any number of reasons for that. Perhaps she swallowed wrong and was doing that choking on your own spit thing where you can't talk for a moment. Maybe she forgot what she was trying to say part way through her sentence. Maybe I looked like someone she knows (that happens to me with ridiculous regularity - apparently I look like every 3rd women in America). Perhaps she thought I was Mayim Bialik - because that too has happened before. (or Barbra Streisand) Multiple times!!! Or maybe she was just weirded out by someone wearing a scarf, Someone who was NOT the Queen of England I mean. (She wears scarves frequently and nobody is freaked out by it so what the actual heck?)
Why was I wearing a scarf? Well it was a breezy day and while I grabbed just a denim jacket before walking out the door, I knew it wouldn't be quite enough. Initially it was just that little extra layer of cozy. But after awhile, the chilly wind was starting to make my ears hurt. I took my scarf, which initially was just looped around my neck and pulled part of it up over my head, just enough to protect my ears a little bit. It looked a little like this:
Ok not a great photo, but you get the idea. Whatever the reason, her reaction didn't stop me from wearing my scarf. Of course not. I be me. But it was an unexpected response to something as simple and normal and ordinary as a scarf.
Here's some of the other ways I wear my scarves. Just a sampling by the way.
So tell me folks, is it just Florida where people don't wear scarves? Or is it everywhere? Are scarves now a big fashion "don't" and I didn't get the memo? (which would never stop me anyway). I'm just curious.
Tell me what you think.
Oh! And Happy Weekend
February 06th, 2020
Lookee, Lookee! Joy and I were so tickled with our last photo safari that we were dancing! Not Bob. He wasn't dancing. Well maybe in his heart he was dancing like Baryshnikov. But in real life, he was taking 5 under a tree listening to something on his phone. Apparently our forest has wi-fi.
Remember how I once said that, without any intention on our part, each of our hikes seems to have a "theme". The flower hike, the dragon fly hike, the flooded out trails hike and of course our famous, feral hog hike (yikes!), for instance. Well this photo safari had a theme too. This one was the hike of many trails.
We headed to Carlton Preserve, stepped out onto our usual entrance and almost immediately had a couple of bicyclers zooming down the trail toward us. That was new! We were all surprised but very nice about it. And then we wondered if this was gong to be a trend. Not as much fun hiking if you are concerned about getting run over by an off rode bicycler. Those guys do not go slow!
So when we noticed what appeared to us to be, a newly cut trail we decided to turn off onto that one. Newly cut trails are always enticing! In very short order we realized that it was not a new trail but an old one. It was not especially well maintained (which is unusual for this preserve) so instead, we believe it was a newly re-opened trail.
I became a little uneasy fairly quickly because the trail showed more and more signs of feral hogs and while I am a fan of most animals, I just have no particular desire to face down more wild hogs. I'm not saying that they are intrinsically evil or anything so silly. But I will say this, They ain't Bambi.
The hog indications grew more and more prevalent until the actual trail was only one narrow person wide. Yikes! Hog sign kind of looks like this:
There is perfectly ordinary trail through the middle of what appears to be an attack by a Roto- Tiller. When the upturned soil is light in colour (and therefore sun dried) you know that it's older sign and we were not quite as concerned by that. But when the soil is dark, then it's still damp and therefore recent. It was getting darker so I was getting more and more uncomfortable. In fact at one point, Joy stepped on a dry stick which made a big cracking sound and I about jumped out of my shoes I'm ridiculous sometimes.
Thankfully, before the sound of flapping butterfly wings scared me to death, we found a crossing trail that was wider, sunnier, drier and hog sign free. Whew! My spirits were lighter and we slowed our walk down enough to find far more interesting things to take pictures of and tralalala, we continued on our merry way.
We walked along, snapping photos and chatting and then at some point, off through the trees, I spied what I assumed, was an animal trail. It was narrow and winding, I decided that I wanted to, briefly, just check it out. "I'll only be a minute" sez I. And I darted through the trees to the narrower path and trotted down a short ways just to check it out. It seemed to loop around in great wide lazy circles. I reported this back and the decision was made to switch over to this newer, narrower, loopier path. Why not?
And of course, as it turns out, that wasn't an animal path. It was a bicycle path. Well, let me clarify. All of the trails are fine for pedestrians OR bicyclers. But some just a bit more one way or the other. This one leaned toward bicyclers. But hey, earlier in the hike there was a more pedestrian heavy trail that had bicyclers on it, so it now felt even.
Either way, it was a great path. Lots of different foliage and trees and flowers and a stream running through it. Who could ask for anything more? Well actually the bonus was fascinating fungus. Which is not a sentence I ever thought that I would say. But true. Instead of just the usual (but kind of adorable) little toadstools, we kept finding other very interesting examples.
Obviously I was rather captivated by it. It looked like plates or perhaps shelves, there in the forest. And in my whimsical mind I could see it being utilized as such - by magical forest creatures of course. Never mind me.
Well we continued to follow this bike trail for quite awhile. Because it was a new trail to us and because it kept turning and looping this way and that, every twist revealed something new and interesting. So we kept snap snap snapping away!
Eventually we did see actual real animal trails in the undergrowth. This time I did not opt to follow it. But I love that we saw them. I'm sure that the animals were not nearly so happy about it.
Eventually it occurred to even snap happy Joy and I that we had been hiking for a really long time. Joy's foot was starting to hurt and I was getting a little thirsty and Bob admitted to being a wee bit tired, so we hoped to soon come across a primary trail again so we could leave the loop-de-loops. When you don't actually know where you are going and you've been hiking for hours, and the trail just keeps looping around in a crazy way, even though it's silly, for a split second, it might possibly cross your mind that you are were in a maze and are never getting out. Just for the briefest moment you might panic just the teensiest bit. No one would ever blame you!! But I didn't panic. Not me. I knew that we would find out way. And, of course, eventually we did. Huzzah! The main trail!
When we got back to the car and checked our step counters, it appeared that we had walked some 14,288 steps! Woohhoo! Now THAT is a walk! And of course, we got to spend time together. And we got some good photos. Bonus points, Bob bought lunch. ;)
So here you go, some of the photos from the hike of many trails. First, some of the different kinds of trails that we were on that day:
And then of course, some of the wonderful things we saw along the way!
Anyway, it was quite the adventure! We had a marvelous time!
I wish you all great adventures!
February 05th, 2020
Kind of tickled with myself today.
I had been thinking about putting a step counting app on my phone. I learned, not too long ago, that my sister has one. So when we do our photo safari's we not only enjoy our time together and take some great photos, but we also get exercise. And what's more...we know exactly how much exercise we got! Very Cool!
But I'm not always with Joy. Sometimes I'm out there hiking on my own. Or walking with Tim. And, well, it's just nice to know. It makes me feel very virtuous. It's a " Wow..look at that! " feeling at the end of a long day that felt, otherwise, unproductive.
It's not the first time I "counted steps" actually.
The first time it was an actual pedometer. It was way way back when I worked in the Oncology department of a hospital. It was a very busy place and I flew around there all day long like I had wings on my feet. I would be going from patient room to patient room, then to the lab, then to radiology, then back to my desk, then to the records department, oh wait, special order for the patient so I gotta stop by the kitchen and beg, then drop something off at administration, then back to my desk, printing isn't working - dang! Gotta run around the building looking for one that does work and repeat. It was all day, every day.
One of our drug reps was watching me zoom around while he was waiting for his meeting with the doctors one day and he asked me how many miles I put on my shoes each day. I just chuckled and shrugged and kept going. The next time he came in, he gave me a cute little fancy wrapped up box. "For me?? I was touched and surprised. When I opened the gift I saw that it was a pedometer. I had never seen one before. He showed me how to use it so I clipped it onto my trouser pocket and kept going.
I wore it every day for a week. As it turns out, I walked a little more than 5 miles every day at work. Just at work. Not at home or at play or at anything else. Just at work.
The next time step counting came up in my life was in Colorado. My friend Marsha and I would walk after work almost every day. It was just a wonderful way to spend time together yakyakyaking, to work off some steam on a bad day, to get some exercise if it was a day of too much sitting, and we both looked forward to it every day. Almosty every week, Monday through Friday we were out there, talking a walk. And no that's not a typo. At some point Marsha got some exercise step counting thing and we quickly learned that we averaged five miles each walk. That seems to be my number. 5 miles. And in Colorado that means 5 miles up and down hills. Not on a flat level plain, no. Hills, my friends, walking hills, sometimes fairly steep ones. Sometimes those hills are killer but it's good for the butt. And if I had a really bad day working those hills helped chill me out.
And now we live here in Florida and I'm still a walker. It's a lot flatter here for sure but it's still walking so it counts! Up until now, we have been estimating how far our various walks are but of course we didn't know for sure. So at some point this past Sunday evening, I went into the little shopping thingie on my phone and found a free (of course!) Step Counting App and loaded it up.
It was easy to set up. It just asked for some very straight forward information: Gender, Age, Height and Weight. And then it told me that my goal was 6000 steps a day. Which was interesting because I always thought the universal goal was 10,000 steps a day. Not complaining understand, just curious. But okay.
I was kind of curious to find out the step truth, so Monday I slipped my phone into my back pocket and just did my usual Monday stuff. Monday is normally a big get it done kind of day. Lots of laundry and cleaning and errands and sometimes some yard work. Tim was crazy busy and didn't have time for our usual noon walk so I did a smaller version of it myself. Not the full circle but at least I got out there and did a little something. At the end of the day I appeared to have walked 7053 steps. which was, something like 2 1/2 miles I think. Ok I exceeded the goal the App set for me. But I was not impressed with myself.
It turns out that for me the hardest part of using a step counting phone app is remembering to put the phone in my pocket every single time I walked anywhere. Occasionally I had to take it out of my pocket to sit down (for instance to write the blog) and then I would forget to put it back in my pocket when I got back up. Sometimes I forgot for a few hours. Ooops. Well it's a new thing.
Yesterday we went on Photo Safari (I will write that up for you tomorrow!). I made certain that the phone was in my back pocket! At the end of the day I had doubled my Monday steps. Yup. Doubled. Crazy! 14,288 steps!~ And that's around 5.5 miles. See? There is that number again. Apparently 5 miles is my kind of miles;) Coolio!
So my thought is that I will try to remember to put my phone in my pocket every single day for a couple of weeks (Try being the operative word). And because obviously the total will be different every day. At the end of each week I will average the number of steps. And then I will know roughly, the kind of walking exercise I am actually getting.
And in the future, when my doctor looks at me with exasperation and says, "Do you get any exercise at all?", instead of weakly protesting that I take two pilates classes a week and walk nearly everywhere I go and he gives me that look that is so very dubious I can now say, "Well doc, I walk an average of (however many) miles each day" and I can say it with confidence.
New day, new miles. I guess I will find out how many!
February 04th, 2020
We live in a very noisy world, my friends. And I think, for the most part, the majority of us have adapted well. Gradually, over time, we have learned how to ignore............most of it.
But we all have those sounds that permeate our consciousness and set our teeth on edge making us cranky and irritable and seriously seriously so annoyed that we are tempted to bite the heads off of things. Or any people foolish enough to be around us at that moment. It's probably different for everyone although I suspect that this is one of the most universally disliked sounds ever:
Yes! Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner! Fingernails on a blackboard is one of the most annoying sounds ever! I've read that it's because the sound has the same frequency as a human scream. (shudder) Yupyup that is a bad one.
But there are other sounds that most people will agree is not on the favourite sounds hit parade. Sounds like, crying babies on a plane. That one always gets me because while I feel badly for the baby who is clearly unhappy and the parents(s) who are limited in what they can do to make the baby happier and therefore less screamish, the sound, especially in a confined space, is like an ice pick driven through my temple. I have the same reaction to screaming children in a restaurant.
And please remember here that I am pro-child. I adore children, I love babies, I understand that they are not always going to be happy campers. But that scream! Particularly in a space with sound bounce - that is, not enough fabric to softened the sound and way too much hard surface that the sound ricochets off of only to continue on and on and on..... sigh. I'm sympathetic to the situation but so freakin' annoyed by the sound. It's a conundrum.
When my youngest child was a toddler, for no reason that anyone understands, would occasionally walk into a room, make eye contact, open his mouth and let out a shriek that would peel paint. My hands would fly to my poor assaulted ears while my mouth was asking him "Why why why why??" Whereupon he would smile and leave the room. Thankfully it was a brief phase. (or he might not have lived to tell the tale.)
Some people are bothered by the sound of filing nails or chewing or typing. It's true. Those sounds don't bother me at all. In fact, I cannot hear nail filing at all and only barely hear most chewing sounds if I'm nearby. Typing I can hear but it's such a nice soft sound to me that it's easily ignored.
The sound of children laughing and talking and playing is music to my ears. I love that. But not everyone does. For some folks, it sets their teeth on edge. Maybe it's the high pitched sounds of children's voices. I'm really not certain. Other people cringe at certain types of music like say, opera. Perhaps it's the sound of dogs barking that makes you crazy. It bothers a lot of people.
None of those things bothers me at all. Well I suppose if the opera or the dog were in my house maybe it would get to me after awhile, but in general and out in the world, not a problem.
But I do have a sounds that makes me crazy. It just crawls up my spine in into the base of my skull and I just absolutely hate it with a seething passion. And it's such an ordinary regular run of the mill thing too. It's bizarre how much the sound bugs me. It's this:
That's right. A vacuum cleaner. Weird eh? I'm not sure what it is about that sound that gets to me so much but oh my gawd it drives me crazy. So much so in fact, that I avoid vacuuming as much as possible. I'll sweep endlessly to avoid it. Sometimes I will vacuum one room, just one, and then have to put it away for awhile or ..well I don't know what will happen. The top of my head will explode maybe?
In fact, this topic came up recently at my annual audiology appointment. It's called Misophonia that is, being bothered by or hypersensitive to certain sounds. My doctor jokingly said that she would write me a "prescription" stating that my husband had to do the vacuuming for me. teehee. But honestly that wouldn't help even if I was willing to ask him (which I'm not) because, unless I left the house, I would still be able to hear it! It's the sound that is the issue, not the actual chore.
The chore itself is no more or less annoying than any other household chore that we all do on an endless loop. And I really do love having a clean and tidy home. So, it was time for creative problem solving.
Noise Cancelling Headphones! Woohoo!
It doesn't completely eliminate the sound but it does knock it down to tolerable levels. So woohoo to me! I figured this one out.
I look a little like a pilot don't I? Grab my vacuum and prepare for take - off? teehee.
Tim actually got them headphones for me for when we travel by plane. He loads movies onto his laptop and then we both wear our headphones and quietly (to the folks around us) watch whatever movies we please. Nice! Bonus, I cannot hear any of the engine noises or most of the screaming babies/toddlers/adult tantrums on the plane while wearing them either. Which is what made me think of it. Problem Solved!
Looks silly maybe, but it works.
As to the rest of the annoying sounds in the world, I guess we have to just grin and bear those. But when there is something that can be done about it, well all I can say is that sometimes, silence is not just golden, it's bliss.
February 03rd, 2020
This Taking a Long Walk on Sunday Thing is really getting to be a thing and I am loving it!
And for a lot of reasons. First of all, poor Tim had to work 'til well after midnight on Friday, a day a very long day Saturday and part of Sunday so he was really in need to a change of scenery. That's one of the downsides nobody talks about when you work from home. The view never changes.
Sure it's handy dandy to just walk down the hall to your office instead of fighting traffic but it's the same hall you walk down every single day. It never looks any different. And you see the same people over and over again. That would be me. And while Tim has never indicated that he minds looking at me, I'm sure anything gets old after awhile.
But I digress.
The point remains that I think it must be especially nice for people who work from home, to occasionally, not be home just to see something different. And since Tim worked, effectively a 7 day week last week, and he was just plumb tuckered out, and we had no errands to run, no place else we needed to be and honestly no desire to go to all the effort involved with actually negotiating seasonal traffic, instead we went for a walk. And that is another reason, I love to walk. It's nice to have company sometimes when I do.
As per usual, we had no particular destination. We just started walking south.
We walked down our street, we walked past Hecksher Park where we saw people playing shuffle board, tennis and basketball. We crossed the bustling Venice Avenue where all of the cute little shops and restaurants are and we kept going south. We saw lots of Open House signs, a considerable amount of reno being done and new homes being built (where old homes used to be). There were squirrels galore, not a lot of bunnies and of course loads of different sorts of birds.
Eventually we wandered a little east to Venezia Park. I drive by this park every time I go to the grocery store but I've never really paid much more than periperhal attention to it. Currently it's in our local news a lot because some folks would like to update it's playground to make it all inclusive. What a wonderful idea! This is what it looks like right now:
We continued south and eventually crossed a very cute tiny little bridge that overlooks a picturesque creek. There is almost always something worth photographing there.
Shortly thereafter we arrived as Service Club Beach. So we switched up from walking on sidewalk to beach walking! Ahhhhh. Much better :)
It was actually a very pretty day, beautiful bright sunshine. And as long as something was blocking the wind, it was very comfortable. Oh did I mention that it was windy? It was super windy. And that breeze coming across the water was a little chilly. I mean, not only was I wearing a lightweight jacket and scarf but as you could see in the top photo, even Tim was wearing a sweatjacket! You know it's a little cool when Tim puts on a sweatjacket!
While there weren't very many people on the beach, there were a few. Some of them were in bathing suits kind of crouched behind sand dunes determined to enjoy their beach vacation! But to balance that out, there were also people in puffy coats. So I suppose we were kind of middle of the road on outer wear.
Once we hit the beach we continued south toward the pier. Even the birds looked cold.
We slogged along across the sand to the pier, which by that time seemed a very long way away, fighting the wind all the while. My long ends of my scarf were flapping so hard I'm surprised I didn't take flight!
Eventually though, we reached our destination. The pier. There were actually a few people in the water! Crazy! Some fisherfolks were trying their luck and, again, some people were going for that tan. Although yesterday they just as likely to achieve wind burn than suntan but hey...whatever. There was one family attempting to have a picnic. Although they were sitting on their blanket, the edges kept flipping around and of course, there is nothing like sand in your sandwiches to make a beach picnic authentic! And then there was the flag on the pier that was flappityflapping so hard I cannot believe it stayed attached to the pole. And the bird that nearly collided with it!
We just stayed there awhile, soaking it all up and trying to get our fill. But eventually, we turned around and pointed ourselves north and walked back home. It was about 5 miles 'round trip and a perfectly perfect way to spend our Sunday afternoon.
Hope whatever you did this weekend, you also had a chance to get out and see a bit of the world around you. It's never a bad idea to get a change of scenery.
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.