February 26th, 2021
What an exciting day I've had so far (not). Just as I do every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings now, today I got up and immediately headed for my computer so that I could stare at a little blue dot for roughly 45 minutes. Thrilling eh?
I know that every state and even sometimes individual counties within states are handling things differently so I can only tell you how it's working here. To get the COVID vaccine, (and why wouldn't I want to do that ?), first you have to be eligible which means a Florida resident and proof of such (I have that) and age 65 or older with proof of that (I am and I have). Then you have to register on the various sites available.
Some of the sites contact you when there is an opening. To date, nobody has contacted me. Or I can use the above site which is online. Cool. It involves logging on at a specific time of day and then starring at a little blue dot entitled, "waiting" until the blue dot moves over to "book the appointment". Then, as instructed, I would click on the the book appointment and, actually book the appointment. Simple enough.
And it is simple. It is way way way simple. I'm just sitting in a queue, waiting for my turn. Hum dilly hum. The only hard part about it is paying continual attention to that blue dot, to be prepared, the instant it turns blue, to click my mouse button as if I knew the correct answer for the final question on Jeopardy! And to do that I need to keep my eyeball on that dot. Which I am finding increasingly difficult to do. This is what happens.
First of all, it's early in the morning. I haven't even showered and changed yet. So I'm sitting there in my jammies, barefoot, wrapped in a blanket because while the weather is beautiful most of the day now, in the early hours it is chilly. While I did mange to brush my teeth, I have not had anything to eat or drink, my eyes are not completely focused and my brain is definitely fuzzy.
Once I have settled onto the chair in front of my computer and logged into the site, I stare at the screen for about 10 seconds and immediately realize that my feet are cold. Trying to keep one eye on the screen, I fuss with my comfy, warm blanket to try to cover my feet. Once my feet are covered I resume starring with both eyes.
Which lasts another ten or fifteen seconds and then my cellphone blips to let me know that I have received in email. Now the beautiful thing about emails is that they can wait. They will sit there very patiently until the owner of said emails is darned good and ready to read them. I have good about ignoring emails and other cell phone blips while driving, bathing, reading, doing most housey chores, having a walk or a hike or enjoying a meal. But since I'm not supposed to take my eyes of the screen, suddenly more than anything in this world I want to know what that email is.
I try desperately to ignore it. But the more I try the more I am positive that this is The Most Important Email Ever Received By Anyone Ever. Of course I give up and check it, taking eyes off the screen for the two seconds necessary, all while trying to keep watching the blue dot peripherally. Hmmm Wayfair is having a sale. Not important. I put my cell phone back down a resume starring at the blue dot.
I sing to myself a little to entertain me and eventually break into a little chair dance. The song is Super Cali Fraglistic from Mary Poppins. I don't know why. I nearly fall out of the chair in my exuberance and in catching myself, my eyes have left the screen for mere seconds once again. So I go back to sitting still and watching the blue dot.
I don't sit still particularly well. I glance occasionally at my desk calendar even though I already know what is and is not on it. I re-arrange my pencil jar. I probably pick up and put down every single item on my desk. All while trying to keep on eye on the screen. hmmmmm.
The blue dot has not moved. I realize that I am both hungry and thirsty. I think about what I want for breakfast. As I consider various ideas, I keep my eyes on the dot. But I'm not really thinking about the dot. I'm thinking about food. A few more minutes and I am more thirsty than hungry and I cannot think of anything except how thirsty I am. This continues until I realize that I also need to pee. Dang it. I must distract myself.
I concentrate hard on the screen and begin playing word games with the text. How many words can I make out of "Vaccination"? For example (Not that many is the answer) I start counting the number of letters in every word of each sentence, first separately then cumulatively. All while at least peripherally watching the blue dot.
I fall into a fugue state and a minute or so goes by without having moved, or even blinked. However, I realize that although starring intently at the screen, I really wasn't paying a single bit of attention. I move the chair and stand for awhile. I march in place and do side bends, while watching the screen. I make note that when I do side bends instead of the blue dot being on the left it is now either on the top or the bottom. Neat.
At some point, it occurs to me that I ought to check and see if my county actually has any appointments left. So I scroll down to Sarasota County and yes there are some left. At that moment only 44% of the appointments are filled.
But in scrolling down, my eyes were off the dot!!! Oh NO! What if the blue dot moved while I was scrolled down? Crap! Ok. Back to starring at the dot.
I know that I'm not alone. I am not the only person doing this and yes I want the dang vaccine. But for a wiggly fidgety person such as myself this is torture! I suppose I am building some sort of positive personal growth by doing this three times a week, every week, until I finally get an appointment. Yeah, let's choose to believe that.
I kept it up until there were no more appointments available and I will try again on Monday.
February 25th, 2021
Yesterday was hiking day so you know what that means, right? Photo Safari Report! Woohoo!
And a big thank you to Joy for the photo at the top of the page - it's one of hers :)
So I am calling yesterday hike the No Drama Hike. Nice! It was a gorgeous day. Really perfect for hiking. We started out with a wee bit of a chill which we walked off quickly and while it did warm up, it never got uncomfortably warm. Beautiful blue skies, sunny and perfect.
The preserve we chose for yesterdays expedition had exceptionally well marked trails, which is very helpful in not getting lost. (for a change). Of course the fact that we brought a map along helped too. We never worry about getting turned around a bit. To date, we've never had to be rescued; we always, eventually, find our way back. But never having a moments doubt about where we were, was nice too.
We knew it was going to be a really good photo hike before we even reached the head of the first trail. There were birds everywhere! We were completely surrounded by bird song. It was literally coming at us from every direction. Of course it was a little tricky to actually find the owners of those songs now and again, but we got enough photos to satisfy.
And it wasn't just a birdie hike either. We also found other creatures to snap
Of course, as always, there were flowers. And as spring evolves, there will just be more and more of them. Which also means more butterflies, dragonflies, bees and other bugs in hikes yet to come. I'm already excited at the prospect!
And green. Loads of green. Layers of the colour. Carpets of it, skies full of it, greens of every shape and texture and fragrance. I never knew how much I craved the soothing colour of green until I spent time in the desert. Don't get me wrong, the desert has it's own particular beauty, but when we returned home from that trip and I first saw green things again, I couldn't get enough of it. Well, there is green aplenty here. And I notice it especially in early spring
We spent time on the many trails but also by the water. The water level in the river was much lower than usual, but it was still lovely. Hard to imagine right now, but there are times when that river floods.
As always, my favourite category, the photos that cannot be categorized:
And here we are, doing what we do, taking pictures, hiking, goofing around and having one heck of a good time!
February 23rd, 2021
I suppose you've noticed that Joy and I tend to take a few snapshots of each other every time we hike. We don't do it just to play pranks on each other . (although we aren't above that sort of thing), And we don't do it because we are covert narcissists' who cannot get enough of our own images. Nope.
Both Joy and I are now the official family photographers. I think Joy has been in her family for a Very Long Time. Tim was the shutterbug in our family for quite awhile. But I have noticed that once cell phone cameras starting improving, my picture taking starting picking up. And once I started taking lots of photos, Tim began taking fewer. So I guess it's just my turn now. And that's fine with me. Absolutely fair ;)
But the thing about being the family photographer is that the person with the camera is usually behind the camera, not in front of it so in general, there aren't a many pictures of that person. And honestly, it's not that I need to be front and center 100% of the time. Or even 50%. Or even 10%! But I'm learning, as I get older, how important having photos of people and places and events become. Everyone (at least everyone I've ever known) enjoys looking through old photographs and reliving moments and memories.
My dad was the family photographer when I was a kid. And he took that role very seriously. But that consequence is that there are very few photographs of him. There aren't many of my mother either, but that was by her choice. She despised having her picture taken and managed to avoid it most of the time. It's a shame because when I look through old photographs, I mean the really old ones when I was a kid, those two very important people are missing even though I know that they were actually there.
I am not especially comfortable having my picture taken either, but I understand the importance of allowing it now. I want to be present in my own story. If in the future other generations are going through piles of pictures, I will be represented.
While my photography skills are improving, I'm still not very good at taking pictures of people. It's a special skill set. One that I am lacking, sadly. But Joy is game and a good sport and never takes offense when I mess up and take a truly terrible photo. So when we are hiking, it's a terrific opportunity to get some practice in. Some of the pictures even turn out okay.
And then Joy returns the favour by snapping shots of me.
(As an aside yes, I am aware that I wear nearly the exact same thing every time I hike. Those are my official hiking clothes)
And all of these kind of silly pictures that we take of each other say, we were there, we were part of life, we existed in this time. We aren't just a name and some dates in our family history, we were real people. And nothing makes history come to life quite like a photograph.
My dad was very interested in genealogy and spent years writing up his own family history. And while, yes, I enjoyed reading the names of people from years gone by, every once in awhile my dad would also find a photograph. And then that person became real. My own Father's great (or perhaps great great, I'm not absolutely certain) Aunt Victoria for example. She was referred to as Queen Victoria. Well excuse me! But it made perfect sense when I saw the old daguerrotype of an imperious looking woman all gussied up with her fancy hat and fur muff, looking quite elegant and directly into the camera. Yup that woman is Queen Victoria Hurley. You Betcha.
I was surprised to find a particular photo of my own maternal grandmother, Ethel Howard, better known as Nana to her many kids and grand kids and great grand kids and honestly anyone in the vicinity. In my memory she wore dresses every single day. I never saw her dressed in anything except a dress, most of them some shade of blue. Going through some very old slides one day, I found a photograph of Nana wearing shorts. There was nothing wrong with the shorts, they were perfectly respectable looking. I wear shorts, my own mother wore shorts, but I had never seen Nana wear anything but a dress. I couldn't get over it! That slide of Nana wearing shorts I will never ever forget. And if someone had told me that Nana ever wore shorts without the benefit of that photographic evidence, I would not have believed them.
Other wonderful snapshots come to mind immediately: All three of my boys at various ages, pictures of our beautiful daughters in law, my dad in a cowboy hat, my sister in a dance costume, various weddings, holidays, parties, babies, vacations, pets! Moments frozen in time, supposedly forever. But without the pictures, sometimes the memories fade.
Joy and I hiking is nothing like a big event where there are lots of cameras and now cell phone cameras with so many people snapping away that there are bound to be pictures of everyone. Hiking is just an ordinary thing. We aren't dressed up fancy, we aren't looking our best, but twenty years from now, it will be a wonderful memory. And we will have the photographic evidence to back it up.
February 22nd, 2021
This is my dryer. It is currently on strike. I have received no word about possible talks or negotiations yet. So it's a waiting game. Dang!
It crapped out on Friday. I had one load of wet things in the dryer and one in the washer. When the dryer timer buzzed I went in to do the old switcheroo and found a load of clothes just as wet as they were when it started. What? I checked to make sure the filter was clean (it was) and that I had the settings right (ditto). Hmmmm. I tried a few things like adjusting the settings from regular dry to more dry and changing the sort of load it was from delicates to normal and got the exact same results. Double Dang.
I got a distinct feeling of dejas vu. It couldn't be more than six months ago that we went through this before, but that time the issue was no tumbling. We had plenty of heat then. This time the tumbler works fine but there is no heat. Get your act together dryer! So Frustrating. This large piece of machinery is less than 5 years old. Seems to me that, for the ridiculous price of them, they ought to work properly longer than that.
But I had to deal with what was, not what I wish was. So the immediate issue was a washer AND a dryer full of wet clothes. Back to the draping wet things all around the house trick. And honestly, since there was only one load left to do, I went ahead and threw it into the washer. May as well. In for a penny, in for a pound.
And when I say there were wet things all over the house, I am not exaggerating.
I brought the rolling rack which is normally in the utility room by the dryer for easy access into the living room. Why? Well the "utility room" was, once upon a time, a small one car garage. Which means that while it has the space for such things as washers, dryers, rolling racks and storage, it has no windows for air circulations and very little by way to HVAC. Which is not good for drying. It is however, excellent for hanging up things that ARE dry so that they do not wrinkle before putting them back in the closet.
Most of the clothes went onto the rolling rack with only a little bit of creative thinking. But trousers and shorts were awkward so they ended up being hung over the backs of chairs. Towels too were tricky until it occurred to me that the shower curtain rods in the bathrooms were an excellent spot, as were the towels rods. And any leftover towels, such as kitchen towels? Well the laundry baskets have edges and that worked too.
My second step, once all of the wet clothes were draped here and there was to call the repair person. Now as it so happens, both washer and dryer are still under warranty (Tim is a very smart man) so the protocol is to call the place where we purchased the appliances and they would notify the repair person who would then call us to set up an appointment. And since it was a Friday when this entire thing began, I was advised that the repair person probably would not get 'round to calling until sometimes the following week. And that is fine.
The way this worked six months ago when the tumbler chose to stop tumbling was that a week went by with no repair person call so I called the appliance place again so that they could jiggle the handle. I then waited a few more days for the call. When the call finally came, our repair went on the books but for another ten days out. So it was three weeks with no dryer last time. Which was three visits to the laundromat. And that was three visits more than I care to do again. Ever.
Tim got a call from the repair place saying that if the problem turns out to be a clogged vent, they would not be happy and we would be charged for the visit because clogged vents are not warranty approved issues. Tim checked the vents. They are not clogged. So it's something else. Probably a heating element thing? I'm just guessing. I have no idea. I'm not mechanically inclined. But it seems logical to me. Just the same way when the tumbler not tumbling last time I guessed (correctly) was some sort of belt issue.
But having a clue and fixing the issue are two entirely different things. I blame computers. By making all of our appliances "smarter", we have also made them more complicated and harder to fix. I remember my dad easily fixing nearly anything in our house that wasn't working when I grew up. TV on the fritz? No problem. He would whip out a screw driver, some replacement tubes and some electrical tape. Alakazam, by the end of the day the problem would be solved. It was the same thing with our cars, my dad could fix nearly anything that went wrong with any of our cars. Hey they were all American made giant honkers. You could practically climb inside the thing to work on it. Everything was right there in front of you. Easily accessed, easily addressed. Any normal toolbox held exactly what you needed. Every dad person that I knew could fix broken stuff and most of the teen guys too.
Even I could fix a few issues. I drove my mothers' car, a Rambler, when I was in high school. It had a sticky butterfly valve that occasionally acted up. If I couldn't get the car started I would just hop out, pop the hood, remove the top of the carburetor, put a pencil in the butterfly valve, get back behind the wheel and turn the key, it would start and I would remove the pencil, put the top back on the carburetor, shut the hood and go on my merry way. No Big Deal. I didn't even get dirty.
And then in college, I bought a Fiat. Why? Well for one thing, I could afford it. Just paid for it outright. And I learned very quickly, that none of the tools in my dad's toolbox fit. Metric tools required. My dad had no metric tools. Why would he? So the car had to "go to the shop" when ANYTHING went wrong. And that was the beginning of the end.
Cars got smaller, it was harder to reach things, specialty tools were required. And then computer chips were added and it was game over. Same goes for home appliances. Now instead of fixing things yourself, you need specialty tools and a degree in computer science to repair stuff. I'm not sure this is progress.
Meanwhile, I will be draping clothes and towels around the house until the repairman finally fits us into his schedule. Sigh.
I suppose I should be grateful that it's the dryer that isn't working. I am absolutely capable of drying the clothes inside the house, especially on a really nice day when the windows are open. But if the washer isn't working, I really really really do not want to have to hand wash everything. Then I really would have to go to the laundromat and I truly do not want to do that. I will be grateful for the little things.
And I will live with wet clothes draped around the house to dry for awhile once again.
February 19th, 2021
Since that is Joy holding a camera in the above photo, it must be time for another Photo Safari Report! By the time we finished our nearly 6 mile hike yesterday, we were filthy, sweaty, smelly, muddy, tired and more than a little thirsty. In other words, It. Was. Great ! Because those are all indicators of a terrific day.
It was unseasonably warm which certainly explains the sweaty and therefore smelly part. But dirt came largely just from being outside tramping around the forest. The mud? Well there were soggy parts. Tired? Hello, nearly a six mile trek! And neither of us remembered to bring water so naturally we were thirsty.
But it was still a glorious hike which shall be known as the yellow flower hike because when I went back through my photos I realized that I had more photos of yellow flowers than anything else! You doubt me? See for yourself:
Although this is a preserve we've hiked many times before, we found new, unfamiliar, trails and that is always a bonus. It also means that sometimes we get a little turned around. Every time there was an intersection of trails we would stop and gaze ahead in all directions, trying to decide which would be the best way to go:
And since we made these decisions rather arbitrarily, after awhile it's hard to keep track, in our heads, of how many lefts or rights we took. And of course all of those lefts and rights on the return trip are actually rights and lefts. It can get a wee bit confusering. But no we did not get lost, per se. We did get a little turned around and while we were 100% correct about the general direction we were headed in, meaning that we did end NEAR where we began, it wasn't the exact same spot. No big deal. We laughed and hoofed it a little farther to get back to the car.
There were flowers other than yellow naturally. Bear in mind that I have no idea what any of these flowers are. I just like 'em.
But it's fairly obvious that spring is well on it's way. We did see a lot more butterflies and dragonflies. I got photos of exactly none of them. But I did manage to snap a few birds. There were sooo many others that I did not get but I'm satisfied with these.
There were such a wide variety of environments too. Heavily wooded, open fields, marshes, lakes, ponds... A little something for everyone. That's nice :)
One truly bizarre thing we found was a bone. Yup, something that appears to be a leg bone in fact. Ick. I know that is how nature works, but I really only want to see the pretty part. And then there was the plant completely engulfed in webs. And, well here are the other rando shots: (including the icky bone)
So anyway, that's it for this weeks' hike. Hope you enjoyed the travelogue!
Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend! See ya back here on Monday!
Hugs all 'round
February 17th, 2021
You may recall this photo from yesterdays Photo Safari report. I honestly have no idea what this is. I'm guessing a sort of moth primarily due to its shorter, thicker body and general fuzziness but on the other hand, it is a little more colourful than the average moth so I cannot be absolutely certain. Perhaps it is some sort of butterfly/moth hybrid. A Moth-erfly or a Butter-oth if you wish. Or maybe it is of an altogether different category, as yet unnamed. That would be cool. New creatures are discovered all of the time and somebody has to name them. And I don't mean name them regular names like, Harry (or perhaps in this case, Hairy) I mean the newly discovered species requires an identifying name.
There is a word for everything. And considering how many things there actually are, it's an overwhelming notion. Somebody (actually many people) had to think of a specific, unduplicated, identifying word for every single thing that exists in the entire universe. And as more things are discovered, new words. Holy Cats!
There are the names of things you already know, like table, dog, apple and greeting card. But there are also things that you perhaps never considered having an actual name, which of course, do have one. Like that little plastic bit on the ends of shoelaces. That's called an Aglet. The facial lines that run from the nose to the mouth we refer to as "smile lines" but actually they are the Nasolabial Fold. A Placket is the part of a shirt or skirt or trousers that forms the closure. It's the bit that always needs to be ironed flat but when closed nobody sees.
I love that I actually knew those things right off the top of my head. So many delicious and amazing words! It is wonderful and astounding and frankly, I want to learn them all. Which is not to say that I will remember any of them when I need to.
I am the person in this household most likely to refer to something as a "thingie" or a "doohickey" or "jobberdo". My Nana was big on a "Thingumabob". My mother was more the sort that would gesture in the general direction of the object in question until we figured it out for ourselves.
My dad didn't start to now and again forget a word until probably his early 80's. His brain was incredible. He was razor sharp 99.9% of the time even as he got older. But every once in awhile he would blank on a word, and there would be a long pause followed by, "Damnit, I know that!" And we would rush to fill in the empty spot. It was very frustrating for him. Which I totally understand.
My difficulty with words began much much younger. I actually remember a morning when I was in what is now called Middle School (then called Junior High) when I was informing my father, over breakfast, that my clock radio wasn't working properly. I was trying to ask him if he would please take a look at it when he had time. Only I couldn't think of the words, "Clock Radio". So the conversation was sort of:
Me: "Daddy, if you have time later would you please have a look at my....ummmmm..... My.....ummm... it's not working properly."
Dad; "Your what isn't working?
Me: "The ummm...thingie..." I began miming changing stations and the general size and shape of the object, "Ummmmm.... it plays music and tells time...the...ummmmmm"
I remember that conversation vividly. Mostly because I got teased about it a lot. But it was also of concern to me as I got a little older and had small children. I do recall a cold snowy afternoon when I was kneading bread in the kitchen, one baby sleeping, one toddler playing around my feet and the oldest boy just past toddler age asking where a particular stuffed toy was. "Oh honey, I think I saw that in the...ummm...in the....you know..the...ummm..." And I lifted one floury hand and pointed toward the living room. My son happily tottered off to the living room to retrieve the toy. I internally cringed. I could not think of the words, "Living room"? That's scary.
When it was still happening, not every day but here and there, once in awhile, by the time I reached my early 40's, I asked a doctor friend of mine if I needed to be concerned about this being a sign of early senility. She went from being a friend to a professional is .6 seconds and then she began asking some excellent questions. At the end of our conversation she laughed and said it was nothing to concern myself with. She said that it was a kind of aphasia and apparently it's just the way my brain is wired. Nothing to worry about. Whew! That's a relief.
And while it has continued, it hasn't gotten any worse. But it hasn't gotten any better either despite eating properly, drinking loads of water, exercising and having rockstar blood pressure and cholesterol levels. I read voraciously, I do those "brain games" on the computer, I have engaging conversations with interesting people. And still, I find myself occasionally supplementing my conversation with "whatchamacallits" and "doodads" now and again. Or perhaps it's just a long pause until the proper word I'm looking for pops back into the gap. Its unsettling.
And it's how other people now perceive it. When I was a kid and I couldn't think of the word, people thought it was funny. When I was a young woman and I was calling something a "what'sit" people thought it was cute. But now I am a (ahem) mature woman and the assumption is that I'm just old and forgetful and well on my way to the Memory Center of the local Skilled Nursing Facility. (what an ironic name). When in fact, my occasional inability to immediately recall the word for which I am searching is no worse now than it was when I was 13.
That's the part that is frustrating. And if I even attempted to explain it away, I would see a whole lot of doubt on their faces and hear oh so dubious agreement. Have you ever heard that incredibly sarcastic, "Sure" from someone who does not believe you? It is so aggravating.
Other than talking less (which would certainly hide it), I am not certain what the answer is. I just know that I cannot possibly be the only person with this issue.
February 16th, 2021
Last Friday's hike will forever, at least in my mind, be known as The Hike of the Unexpected. I mean, even just to begin with, we hiked on a different day than usual. Friday instead of Wednesday. That's because of scheduling conflicts. We are flexible so it's not a problem. However, we were unprepared for the much larger number of other folks on the trails. Generally, we are pretty much out there alone so even one other person is more than usual. Perhaps it's because it was a Friday and I know that sometimes people will take a Friday off to have a long weekend. And the following Monday was Presidents Day and some people have that day off so what the heck, make it a 4-day weekend woohoo! No matter the reason, there was an unexpected number of other people out hiking with us that day. Not crowded, please understand, but certainly more than expected.
The next surprise has to do with the photo at the top of the page. Hiking along, minding our own business when much to our surprise, there was a rusted out, old tractor trailer abandoned on the side of the trail! What? Why on earth was that ever there? And why was it abandoned? Mysteries abound! We found no answers but had a great time speculating! And taking lots of photos. Joy was secretly hoping to find a little mousie nest tucked in somewhere but, alas, none to be found.
The next unexpected find was a bit of serendipity. We know that this particular preserve has both hiking trails and biking trails. Everyone is allowed on both but generally speaking each sticks to their own.......except where they cross. Every once in awhile, the bike trail will cross the hiking trail so we always knew it was possible for a bike to come zooming across in front or or behind us, but we had never actually seen it happen before. Until this hike. And it happened right near the sign. And in the proper order just like on the sign! Too Funny! HAHAHA!
Then we saw this, which was certainly unexpected. Because I was spying it through the trees I wasn't absolutely certain what I was seeing. And in fact my first thought was, "That's not a tree....is it?" It was initially just a peek a boo view through an area thick with very large trees, but eventually as we came closer it became clearer that it was definitely NOT a tree. Not sure just what it was, but definitely not a tree. AND there was no path through to it either. So maybe those who use it just materialize on top of it at their whim? No idea.
We were surprised, but pleased to see that dragonflies have returned! Yay! Haven't really seen many in awhile but there were a few that day. Most of them were very small, very quick and nearly impossible to capture. But there were a few larger (and slower) ones. I managed to get these. Yay!
Two sad unexpected things I came across were this squished but very pretty bug and a pile of feathers. I don't want to even know who that pile of feathers originally was. Yucky.
As per usual there were lots of birds:
And of course you had to know that there would be flowers and other flora. I'm seeing more flowers now that it's "spring" here and that always makes me happy
I suppose the next surprise might be the new trails we found. We always think that we have pretty much hiked them all, but lo and behold, new trails! Coolio! And of course some truly awesome trees. They go hand in hand.
And a couple of other uncategorizable things, which are always unexpected:
So there you have it, the hike of the Unexpected. Oh, I suppose every hike reveals things we didn't expect, which is part of the fun. But this was exceptionally unexpected stuff. There were actually more surprises, things I did not manage to capture on camera. Like the deer that crashed across the trail so quickly that neither of us had time to even lift our cameras to attempt a photo. It was just crashing noise and then a deer butt disappearing into the forest on the other side. Or the heron that we could hear but not see even though we kept looking and then suddenly there it was, flying over head and poof gone. Dang! Too Quick! Stuff like that.
Anyway, thanks for coming along. Always enjoy your company.
Hugs all 'round
February 15th, 2021
Happy Day After Valentine's Day! Are you fully recovered? Did you have a nice day? I did ;)
The above photo is of the dessert I made to celebrate the day. Every year I make something special for Valentine's Day dessert. I try to come up with a different idea every year (though I admit there have been a few repeats here and there). This year I made Brookies! I know you have at least heard of them, if not tasted one or two. In case you are unfamiliar though, the bottom (in this case at least) is a chocolate chip cookie, atop which sits a brownie with walnuts and of course the cute little Dove chocolate to clearly illustrate the Valentine's-ness of it all.
I had never made Brookies before but I must say that I am fairly pleased with the results :)
But of course here I am starting with the end of the day instead of the beginning. Oh dear, I'm sorry. We started the day with a lazy sleep-in. And that is a wonderful way to start the day. Because we were fortunate to have Valentine's Day land on a Sunday this year, we took full advantage! Eventually there was a French Toast Breakfast :)
We read the big old Sunday paper equally leisurely which is always a treat and eventually decided to get out of the house for a bit. It was a beautiful day though a bit windy, but that just made for a more exciting visit to the beach.
We wandered about for quite a bit of the afternoon, a little here and a little there, making very random decisions about which roads to drive down, just having an explore. We made discoveries too. Such as a Preserve I was unfamiliar with (and I've made a mental note to check it out further) but we did not do a hike. Although I did have my camera with me and my feet were itching to go, but there were signs posted about a hog hunt in progress and warning hikers away. So we thought, perhaps not. Excellent Choice!
It was a very pleasant meander, I didn't know where the heck we were half the time, but the sky was getting dark with ominous clouds and cooincidentally about then we began to get tummy rumbledy so even though it was not even 5 o'clock yet, decided that dinner was in order. Because I was a slacker and did not plan a special Valentine's Day dinner Take Away Chinese food became the plan! Yay! That is a treat!
I chose what I always get, vegetable fried rice (yum!) and Tim selected dumplings and General Tsao's chicken. We ate it all cozy in the family room while watching a marathon of the Divergent film series while the sky opened up and the rain poured down. Hey, you choose your sort of romance, we will choose ours.
There were flowers and cards and chocolates, a frog and two people who, after all these years, still love each other. Awwwwww.
It was a perfect Valentine's Day!
February 11th, 2021
Practice Makes Perfect. Here is a picture of me being Not Perfect. I am a human being and therefore flawed. I don't know about you, but no matter how hard I try, I will never be perfect.
And yet, how many times have you heard that in your life? Over and Over and (OVER) again. Parents said it, teachers said it, neighbors said it, total strangers said it throughout my childhood. And well, if you hear something enough times, you start to believe it. But you know what, it dawned on me the other day, that, it ain't necessarily so.
There are a LOT of things that I have done for a long time with no visible signs of improvement. Or things I tried to do for a long time with no progress and eventually gave up. Like say, playing tennis or parallel parking. Everyone was glad I stopped trying to parallel park I think. Probably the entire city voted on it. Did you know that when I got my very first drivers license, way way back with I was 17 years old with was...what fifty years ago? (holy crap I'm old!) I failed the parallel portion of the test? Yup. I didn't just fail it, I failed it spectacularly. The only reason I passed the test and actually was given my license is because I aced everything else. I haven't improved a bit since then either.
And here is another example, tennis. Yeah, I totally suck at tennis. No matter how hard I try, I simply do not connect with the ball. As it turns out I have very poor depth perception. I always think I have the ball and the racket lined up and I never do. If I connect with the ball it is an accident. This applies to any sport that involves a me and a ball or ball-like objectg. Which is most of them. And now that I think about it, probably why I cannot parallel park worth a damn either.
So you see, all the practice in the world isn't going to make me perfect at either of those things.
Another thing I'm very bad at and I have no idea why is cleaning windows. I don't mean that part where I don't' want to do it a t all. No, I mean the part where I actually move my arse, collect the necessary equipment and get out there and do the dang job. I make the effort, I mean I really get in there and Do The Job and afterwards it still looks bad. Streaky. And the funny thing (to me) about it all is that when I do bother to wash the windows, inside and out, I always think I did a great job. And then later in the day (or early the next day) when light streams through those windows in just a certain way, THAT is when I see the streaks. And it really ticks me off too. I have no idea what I'm doing wrong. But whatever it is, I've been doing it wrong for a Very Long Time.
Let's see what are other times that the old "Practice Make Perfect" fails? Hmmm. Ah! Sewing. Yeah. I cannot sew worth a damn. Takes me a minimum of 15 minutes just to thread the damned needle and then once I've done...whatever I felt compelled to do...it looks awful and rarely lasts very long. But my Nana was and my sister is a whiz at sewing, so you'd think it would be typed right there on my DNA. But nope. Clearly not. And a lifetime of sincere attempts have not improved my sewing skills one dang bit.
Another things I'm no good at is lying. I learned very early on in my life that I'm terrible at it.
I've been told that my face is an open book. It shows whatever I am thinking or feeling regardless of what words are coming out of my mouth. Which also means I should never try to play poker or be a successful criminal. As I understand it, lying plays a big part so I'm out.
It's not like everyone should go around lying on a regular basis. That would be a bad thing. But every once in awhile, as life goes on, we are called upon to tell a falsehood now and again for some reason. Like, "Did you like those vegan, fat free, dairy free, sugar free, chocolate-substitute, eggless, cookies I gave you?". Oh man, that is a tough one. I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings and it was so nice of them to make that "treat" for me but it was awful and I threw it out. If I said that I liked it first of all, they will know just by looking at my face that I'm lying and second, if for some reason they actually believe me, despite the obvious lie, that might encourage them to make me more which would not be good at all. What to do? What to do? It's a terrible dilemma . *I ended up saying that they were very interesting and while I greatly appreciated the opportunity to try something new, they weren't really quite my thing*. I thought that was the road to take but trust me here, feelings were hurt. I'm so sorry :(
Another thing that not only have I always been bad at but I am actually getting worse at despite a lifetime of practice, is penmanship. Mine is appalling! In primary school, all of my grades were very good, A's and B's. Except penmanship. And yes I am so old that that used to be a graded subject. I got terrible penmanship grades. And I was, therefore, was made to practice, endlessly and it did not help one single solitary bit. I am not sure why I have never mastered that particular skill but there it is. At this point, if I ever have to sign something I write very slowly and carefully and put all sorts of effort into making it look like something a real person who have written as opposed to say, a seal or a platypus. When I write something just for myself, like the grocery list for example, usually I am the only person who can read it. And sometimes even I have to stop for a second and ask myself, "What on earth does that say?"
My mother also had terrible penmanship. She would write us lovely long notes in the cards she would send and Tim and I and the boys have to sit down and puzzle out what she wrote. It was like a terrific family mystery game! Letter from Gram! Hurrah! Let's Play! And now that 's me. Sorry kiddos!
Oddly making pancakes is something else I've never mastered. And it's so bizarre because I can cook or bake almost anything else. But pancakes? Just not very good at it. And I have no idea why! They are edible (usually) but not great. Tim, on the other hand, makes terrific pancakes! So in this house, if you are in the mood for pancakes, Tim is the guy you want at the helm.
So that's just a few examples of why I think the old "Practice Makes Perfect" saw needs to be amended. I'm all for practice. It's how I have gotten good at anything that I actually am good at! But perfect is a pretty lofty goal. I am not perfect at ANYTHING. Is anyone perfect? You can be really good at something. In fact you can be the very best of anyone in the world at something. But are you Perfect at it? I'm not sure perfection is even achievable.
How about this instead, Practice makes Better. That one is at least true. Even the things I am the worst at (see list above) at this point in my life, with the notable exception of penmanship, while I'm still terrible at all the things I listed, I am at least better than used to be. And that is so sad it's nearly tragic.
February 10th, 2021
Uhoh. Everybody watch out. Sam is doing a craft project. Holy Crap! Calm down. Nobody was hurt in the making of this project. It doesn't look professional by any stretch of the imagination. Heck it doesn't even look amateur! But I'm proud of myself anyway.
Some of you may remember that about a month ago I wrote about needing to tidy up my desk. And really it did need it. What an unholy mess it was. Was. Past Tense. It's so much better now. But there was one last part that needed doing. That giant Microsoft bag that held the rest of my "office supplies" had to go.
I managed to clear enough space in the bookcase next to my desk chair to squish the bag onto the shelf so if nothing else, it was off the floor and space was cleared by my feet (and it just looked nicer) but the ultimate goal was to get some sort of containers for all of the pens and paperclips and hole punchers and markers and...well the usual desk drawer detritus that I have no drawer for.
Originally I had thought that I would go to the container department of Target or Walmart or who knows maybe the Dollar Tree to buy various containers. But my frugal little heart told me to look around the house first and see if there are things here that can be repurposed. And there were! I found various baskets and boxes and tins for lot of the desk stuff. But not everything. Dang. So the Microsoft bag remained on the shelf for a few more weeks while I considered.
Today Tim brought a few empty boxes out of his office with the intention of breaking them down for the recycle bin. "Stop!" I said, "I can use those! " He handed them over without a single question (we've met) and went back into his office.
First I checked to see if the boxes would fit. They did! Then I loaded them with the remainder of the Microsoft bag contents to see if there was sufficient space. There was! Then, once the boxes were loaded and on the shelves I thought I was done. I threw the old Microsoft bag into reycyle and went on my merry way to the next chore.
But every time I passed the shelf and gave it a glance assuming I would be tickled with the results, instead I was frowning. Ugly old boxes with logos on them. Almost as bad as the old Microsoft bag. Perhaps I can do better. I came up with a plan.
So my idea was that I would cover the boxes with pretty wrapping paper. Except the only wrapping paper I have is Christmas paper. I reallllllly like Christmas, but no. Okay, I thought to myself. Maybe I will check out the gift wrap at the grocery store. It's a small section but maybe they will have something that isn't birthday or wedding or anniversary or valentine's day or..... no? hmmmmm. Maybe I'll think of something else.
As I went about my day, suddenly it dawned on me that I currently had several brown paper bags. Now, why would I have those? Well, every once in awhile (in fact twice in the past two weeks) I forget my re-useable shopping bags when I go grocery shopping. Which is so embarrassing because usually I have left them on the kitchen counter especially so that I will not forget them (sigh). Anyway, as I check out, when they see that I have, once again, forgotten my bags, they ask, " Paper or plastic?" I always respond, "Whatever you please". Partly because whatever they give me, I will find a use for, but also partly just because I'm so embarrassed and annoyed with myself that I'm willing to agree with nearly anything. Usually they give me plastic, but the last few times, it was paper.
I could use the paper bags! We used to cover our school books with paper bags! If I can cover an enormous American History text with a paper bag, surely I can cover a box! Right?
I gathered my supplies:
And I got to work. Very Slowly, I began to remember how to do this. Or at least how I used to cover books which is in the neighborhood. As it turned out, the regular scotch tape was fine for holding the paper in place temporarily but for long term holdage I resorted to packing tape. It may not be pretty but dang it works well! I folded and cut and measured and snipped and adjusted and re-adjusted and used a lot of bags and a ton of tape but ultimately the job was done.
I have no right or reason to be as pleased with myself as I am, but I am. The finished product:
The important part is that the shelf is tidy, I can find whatever I'm looking for, the dang Microsoft bag has finally been put to rest and I pushed the limits of my own lackluster art & crafts skills quite a bit which is a very good thing. I think maybe the boxes need a little more decoration as they are a little, dull. Plain Brown Wrapper indeed! Some stickers? Some crayons? Some Glitter? I will think of that for a bit before I decide for sure.
But in the meantime, if you remember how the old desk area shelves looked, see how much better this is now !!!
And before you comment, please remember what your grandmother once told you, "If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all."
On behalf of all non-crafty, non-artistic, people everywhere, Thank you :)
February 09th, 2021
Apparently this is my new doctor's office now. Very Interesting.
I experienced my first Tel-Med appointment today. I don't know if you have done this yet. It's kind of wild. Since it was my first time doing this, it was a little rocky at first. I had some of that anxiety around wanting to do correctly (read that as perfectly) something I had never attempted before. That's natural enough. They clearly tried to make is as easy and straightforward as possible.
Here is how it went. At a pre-arranged time and date, a nice lady at the doc office called me. She asked me some very ordinary basic doctor office questions, the sort that usually I would be filling out on paper in the office waiting room. Then she emailed me a link to connect with their office.
Anticipating ahead of time, the speaker and camera were already on. Cannot have a video appointment without them. I already had my email page opened so I gave it a moment or two and then, when nothing came in, I refreshed the page. When nothing came in again, the nice lady sent the link again. I refreshed again. We did that little dance 6 times. Not joking, 6 times with no link arriving. While we, unsuccessfully tried to connect, we chatted a bit to pass the time. Finally, I shut down my email altogether and opened it again. And there it was.
There I was in a little box at the top of the page. Now it was just a matter of waiting until the doctor was free. I am accustomed to waiting in doctor offices so that's not a problem. At least while I was waiting for this doctor, I was fully dressed. Frankly, a nice change.
I hummed a little hum while I waited. I talked with Tim for a few minutes about this'n'that, I considered my finger nails and wished I had a nail file nearby. I fiddled with things on the desktop and debated what I was going to make for dinner tonight. Suddenly, there he was. My doctor, right there on the screen!
We exchanged hello's and then got directly to the matter at hand. I like that. No dinking around. Just get to it. Direct and to the point. It took no more than ten minutes. And ultimately was simple enough. But, weird nonetheless. The video connection was less than ideal at least what I could see. I have no idea of how I appeared on his end but he was a little fuzzy. That can be problematic for me because I rely somewhat on my eyes to understand on what people are saying, especially if it hey are saying thing I didn't expect to hear or if they have an accent. In this case, both things came into play. Occasionally the doctor would say something and I would have to think about what I thought he might have said before responding. The pause, while brief, must have been unsettling for him because then he would start talking again. But by then, I had finally figured out (I hope) what he was saying and had begun to respond. So once in awhile, we were talking over each other. Awkward.
But it's done. I have had my first Tel-Med appointment so if and when I need to have another, I will be a little more comfortable with it. I will already be aware of the possible pitfalls and I will be prepared.
But here is my scorecard for the experience over all in case you wondered:
Things I didn't care for:
1. The fuzzy video making it hard for me to read faces/lips/expressions and so forth
2. Because we were on video, the person on the other end can see my house! I know we are not supposed to judge people on superficial things like messy bookcases in the background, but we all do it.
3. Just that bizarre feeling of living in a Sci-fi book or movie. Ever since the pandemic started I periodically have that feeling come over me.
Things I did like:
1. I didn't have to drive there. Always a bonus with me
2. It was very convenient. Just before the call started, I was filling the dishwasher. It was a better use of my time.
3. It kind of harkened back to the old days of medicine where doctors always came to the patient, not the other way around.
4. I didn't have to wear a mask.
5. Home Court Advantage. Always a plus. Doesn't everyone feel more at ease in their own space?
6. I didn't have to get on the scale at the doctor office!!! (big bonus there)
Over all it was fine. It got the job done. There were more positives than negatives. I wonder if, when this whole Covid thing is over if we will go back to the way it used to be or is this just how it is now?
I guess we will find out.
February 08th, 2021
Perhaps it started the first time I read the story, "Peter Pan". In the book, the dog, Nana, captures Peter's shadow as if it were a real and separate object and of course, as I'm sure you recall, Wendy sews it back on for Peter. It was a charming concept and something I certainly had never considered. I honestly do not remember how old (or actually young) I was when I first read the story, but I don't recall a time when it wasn't part of my memory banks. The book was first published in 1911 so I know it was on the shelves at the library which means, I read it.
I probably noticed shadows before I read the book, but I am positive that I saw them differently afterwards. Not just as a passing acknowledgement but as a real and separate thing. I was a fanciful child anyway, the sort who could (and did) pass an afternoon laying in the grass seeing "pictures" in the clouds, or gazing into my mother's garden envisioning a secret world of elves and fairies living there. So creating an imaginary world surrounding shadows was a reasonable, to me, step from there. And I did. During a rather lonely childhood, books, music and imaginary worlds sustained and entertained me. Sometimes, I confess, the edges between reality and fantasy got a little blurry.
And then of course, I grew up. Dang. It happens to all of us. Life became pretty straight forward and those fantasy/realty edges became crystal clear. They had to. That's part of being a functional, responsible adult. And that's how I was until I had children of my own. And then, as I introduced them to the wonderful stories from my own childhood, and taught them to see pictures in the clouds and use their own imaginations, I began to notice shadows again.
But it wasn't until I had a camera in my hand that I started to really have fun with it. Shadows really do seem to be an alternate universe. An ordinary, very real concrete and steel staircase becomes a work of modern art at certain times of day when the shadows come to call. It goes from plain to fancy. How much prettier is this:
The drawbridge is adorable on it's own, in a very industrial sort of way, but the underside is even more interesting
A fence is practical, functional and useful. But a shadow fence is more. Perhaps you are thinking, positive/negative, dark/light. And I get why you would. But the shadow of a fence isn't the opposite. Nope. The opposite of a fence would be no fence at all. A shadow is more. A shadow reveals the other, secret side of the object
The shadow cleverly expands the object rather than diminish it. It works with everything, people, animals, fences, railings, grates and gardens.....
Of course in literature, a shadow is a very negative term. Fore-shadowing, or the subtle suggestion of things to come - nearly always bad things - for example. The old radio show, 'The Shadow Knows" which was so creepy that even the theme song music gave me goose bumps. The radio show was based on a novel that was equally creepy by the way. In horror movies the monsters tend to hide in the shadows and haunted houses always have plenty of dark spider webby corners. It all makes shadows sound very evil. Yikes!
But a shadow also brings to mind a cool lemonade on a hot sunny day, a place to rest and relax. A shade brings to mind glade, an umbrella, a pergola, the wide welcoming spreading branches of a very old oak tree. All very very good things.
There is an art form called Silhouettes that was very popular in the 17 and 18 hundreds, you know, before everyone and their Uncle Fred could whip out their cellphone to take a zillion photos of everything. The only way to capture an image was to have a picture painted (or drawn) which was costly or to have a silhouette cut. Silhouettes were cheaper. And Faster! I have a cherished silhouette done of my kiddos a long time ago.
So there you have it, my obsession with shadows. And whether you find that creepy or fanciful, they are everywhere on a sunny day.
February 05th, 2021
Well yeah, it's just me this week. Sadly, Joy wasn't able to hike this week. Disappointing of course, but I get it. Life happens. Heck I have had to cancel before too. But I decided that rather than skip the photo safari altogether, I would head out on my own this week. And just for a change I thought I would just wander around the island to what's happening. Why not?
And if I was going to entitle the theme of this hike it would be, "Planes, Trains, Automobiles, Boats, Golf Carts, Trucks, Bicycles and a lot of other stuff." Almost like the movie but not really. Well Sort of. Oh I'll just show you:
Planes. There were a lot of them flying but I only thought to get a photo of one of them. Venice Island is small, but apparently it's big enough for a small airport. It was built here in the early 1940's by the US Government to train Pilots for World War II.
Trains. It's not technically on the island but it's just on the other side of the Venice Avenue Bridge. So up and over I went. There are not one, not two, but three drawbridges to access Venice Island. I do love a drawbridge. Yes, they slow down traffic a bit now and again, but they are so darned charming. And on the North East side of this particular drawbridge is the old Venice Train Station. Built in 1927, it was the last stop of the Seaboard Air Line Railway that went south from Tampa, through Sarasota and ended in Venice. In 2003 it became a bus station! But the refurbished building and the surrounding park are all about trains.
Automobiles. Well we are know they are everywhere. And parking is at a premium during High Season on the island so the town as gotten very creative with providing parking spaces. Many of them under the bridges. Well that's dang clever!
Boats. It's a beach town. Of course there are boats. Lots and lots of boats. Boats in the water, boats out of the water, boats at piers at the marina. Boats of all sizes, shapes and colours. Something I enjoy is walking through marinas reading the names of boats. I know, I'm very strange.
Golf Carts. Yes that's what I said. There are street legal golf carts here. Most of them only come out during season but they are legion. While I was walking, I saw so many of them, but I only thought to take a picture of one. But that's fine. It can represent all of them.
Trucks. Most of the trucks here are either delivering something or business trucks. Lots of business trucks. Landscapers, plumbers, construction etc. LOTS of them. It seems as if there is always a lot of construction going on here. Either building a new house (where an old house used to be) or remodeling. Loads of remodeling. Driving down an typical road here on the island is like slalom skiing. But it's just part of the charm. But there are also the trucks that haul boats behind them. And right now, we probably have almost as many of those as the other sorts of trucks. You know what trucks looks like, but here's a few anyway:
Bicycles. One of the things about this adorable little beach town that we have chosen is that they have bike lines and bike trails and bike repair stations all over the place. I love that this is such a bicycle friendly place. Most bicyclers and most automobile drivers are very thoughtful and considerate of one another. But every once in awhile there is a jerk, so you need to keep your eyes and ears peeled at all times. Cars that don't keep their proper distance from the bikes or bicyclers who don't obey the rules of the road. But mostly, it's all good ;)
A Lot of Other Stuff. This is already kind of a long post so I'll just give you a little taste of some of the other things I saw on what turned out to be a Very Long Walk. By the time I was done, it was more than 7 miles. And the day warmed up so I ended up tying the sweater 'round my waist and did various strange things with the scarf to get it out of my way. Still, it was a great day, a great walk and I hope you enjoyed coming along. Next time, Joy and I will be back at it together in a forest preserve taking more nature photos. But this was a nice change of pace. For me anyway.
And just to round this out with a nice circle, beginning to end, here's me toward the end of the hike
February 03rd, 2021
This is the guest room in our house. Most of the time it just sits quietly, anticipating a visitor. I tend to use the closet as a great place to hide Christmas Gifts and hang bulky clothes like pea coats and other chilly weather outerwear that frankly doesn't get used often here. (But when you need it you are glad you have it and therefore cannot dispense with entirely). We use the guest room bathroom occasionally, but otherwise it's just a rarely used, extra space in the house.
It's a small room (with an even smaller but attached bathroom) and there isn't much in it by way of furniture. The bed, obviously, and a nice 3-drawer side table is about it. And there are a few nice pieces of art on the wall. It is a very simple, pleasant and mostly unused room. Normally, the bed isn't pushed up against the wall like this though. Most of the time the bed is in the center of the room so that anyone staying in the room can get in and out of either side of the bed with ease. Just logical y'know?
So why oh why, would I shove the bed to the wall? Well, because Tim had an Excellent Idea! A way to utilize this room better, get more use out of it. Heck the mortgage is for the entire house, not all but one room, so we may as well use the entirety, yes?
Pilates is the reason. I started taking Pilates classes a few years ago. The classes were local. Really local. I could walk there and did! And the teacher is a friend of mine - which is how I heard about it in the first place. Normally I am not an exercise class sort of person. I do not do particularly well in crowds even when there is not a potentially deadly virus circulating the planet. And honestly, I'm not at all graceful. It's downright scary sometimes. Far worse, whenever I tried taking any sort of exercise class, I never felt as if I was getting any benefit from it. So I was doubtful when I began but Pilates turned out to be different.
First off, the classes were smallish. It differed throughout the year of course. During High Season there were a lot more attendees than the peak of summer, but it was always manageable. The workouts made me feel as if I was actually working out. In time I could actually see the benefit I was getting from the class. I really enjoyed it. So much so that when the instructor was away on vacation, I did the workouts on my own at home. On Purpose! That was a first!
I had the mat, the ball, the bands and even some ankle weights (which are not Pilates related but sometimes I use them anyway). What I didn't have was a good place to store all of this stuff. I've mentioned before that our house is an adorable little beach cottage. Which suits us right down to our toes. Except for the lack of storage. There is a utility room which holds Christmas stuff, washer/dryer, tools, and everything else under the sun and is packed to the Max. There was no room for my Pilates stuff. So I ended up tucking it here, there and everywhere around the house.
The matt was rolled up and shoved into a corner of the Family room. Likewise with the Pilates Ball. Though occasionally it was shoved into various closets. The bands and the ankle weights ended up in a carrybag slung over the back of my desk chair most of the time but not always. So anytime I wanted to work out, I spent a little time hauling stuff out from all of it's hideyholes, finding an empty spot big enough to spread it out before even starting my workout. Then of course doing it all in reverse to put it away when I was done. Every time. Which, at first, was no big deal. I was attending class at least twice a week (sometimes three times) so I didn't feel the need to do home work outs most of the time.
And then last March we were suddenly in lockdown and, no more Pilates Classes. Dang. At first I was pretty good about dragging stuff out and putting it back, but eventually I would just do the workout on the family room carpet which is less than ideal by the way because it involves moving furniture. And ultimately, I found that I was working out less and less frequently just because it was all a big pain in my gluteus maximus - which was getting maxier and maxier as the shut downs continued.
My old Pilates class eventually became a Zoom class but my computer is in the living room, right in the middle of the house. There is NO room there to do a workout. And the noise of the Zoom class could be distracting to those folks in this house who actually work for a living. Sooooo no zoom class. I was determined to do this on my own. After giving myself a thorough scolding, I have been back at it.
It's not as good as an instructor driven class of course, but it's better than nothing. I continued working out on the family room rug after pushing the giant ottoman to one side. Tim observed this quietly one day, unknown to me, and later made a suggestion that kind of made me embarrassed that I didn't think of it myself.
The Guest Room! It is rarely used for anything else so with a little furniture rearrangement I now have a permanent spot for all my stuff! The mat stays on the floor, the ball rolls easily into the corner when I'm done and my bands and ankle waits are handy there in the bottom drawer of the side table. Taadaa! Brilliant!
I find that I am working out almost every day now, which is awesome. And sometimes several times a day. Not the full workout multiple times, but I can do 20 minutes in the morning while I'm waiting for the dryer to be finished. I can knock out another 20 minutes when I have that extra bit of time before I need to start dinner. You see? It's Perfect!
The dictionary? Oh I use that as a weight. It's the heaviest book we own.
So there you have it. My own home gym of sorts. I am so tickled with my new workout room! And if in the future we should actually have a guest? Easy to tuck it all into corners and closets like it was before, just for the duration. I'm not going to be working out when we have a visitor anyway. Nope, I will be enjoying our guest, cooking and touring and entertaining and all the things a good hostess does. But afterwards, when they've gone on their way with a bag of home made cookies, sand in their shoes and memories in their hearts, that guest room will go back to being my Pilates Room! Yay!
February 02nd, 2021
"What A Difference A Day Makes". Do you know that song? It was the first thing that came to mind when I realized that these two photos were taken only 24 hours apart. Well twenty-four hours and about twenty miles.
On Sunday, in the course of running errands and just in general getting out of the house for a bit, Tim and I somehow ended up in Sarasota at Bay Front Park. I've written about this park before. It's a lovely bit of green and a cute little walking path right in the midst of down town Sarasota. Surrounded by a combination of marina, enormous buildings and ocean, it is a happy surprise to first time visitors and a delightful place to pass some time to those in the know.
It was a pretty sunny day, the water was fairly calm and the park was teeming with visitors. Everyone was either masked and/or socially distancing while enjoying a nap, a walk, or a meal. Kids were playing, safely corralled in the fenced playground, visitors (and folks like me) were walking and taking photos, or just watching the boats and the seabirds, dogs trotted loyally at their sides. It was a lovely little respite in our otherwise busy.
One day later, the temperature had dropped, the winds picked up, the sun took the day off and the surf was high. Here on the island, right in the midst of high season (meaning tourists, visitors and snowbirds galore) the beach parking lots were nearly empty (unheard of!) and the only thing in the water were surfers and a few pelicans.
It was awesome!
Tim and I stood out there, buffeted by the wind (I was nearly knocked over by it a few times!), covered in sea spray, chilled to the bone and mesmerized by it all. And frankly kind of wowing over those surfers who braved it all just for the excitement of battling the waves. (I hope those wet suits kept them warmer than my jacket!) I suppose I was standing there snapping away for the same reason they were in the water with their boards: for the thrill of it all.
It was so completely different than the previous day at Bay Front Park. Which was also beautiful but in a calm and serene sort of way. There was nothing serene about the second day, but I loved it just as much.
I guess the lesson here is twofold. First you just never know what's going to happen next. And second, there is more than one kind of beautiful.
February 01st, 2021
Checker/Chess, Scattergories and Scrabble. Those are the only games in our house. And in all honesty, we don't play any of them very often. It's mostly my fault. I don't especially care for games. Not card games or board games or relationship games. Just not a fan. It's not that I'm a sore loser or a poor winner for that matter, it's that I just don't find them very interesting.
I just do not understand the appeal of games in general. Card games in particular do not interest me. Probably because I have Zero competitiveness. I just do not care who wins. I do not care if I lose. And yes I have been told, so I already know that I'm a big old party pooper. But I mean, if everyone else in the room wants to play, generally I will play and be pleasant about it. But you will never ever find me initiating a game.
So knowing that about me, you will not be at all surprised to learn that I am especially annoyed when my computer decides to play games with me. And yes it does. Oh sure, when things go wrong on my computer I almost always assume that it's my fault, another operator error. But sometimes, as it turns out, it is not my fault at all. Which is shocking to me first of all. Then a relief. And then, hey...if it's not me then who? And I hear my computers evil chuckle in the background.
What sort of games you ask? Well for instance, you may recall that about a week ago suddenly there were no blogposts from me. That was because I was so annoyed with my computer that I could not even look in it's face. I had done what I do nearly every morning. I sat down and composed a blog post. A lot goes into these silly little posts by the way. It's not just a matter of cut and pasting stuff other people wrote. Nope. It's all me. If I quote someone else, I tell you. I have integrity! I have pride! And I have a trickster computer.
That day, the post I wrote I had been thinking about for awhile. It took several days of thinking it through, then making little notes to myself over several more days, then coming up with the supporting photograph of course. Once I was ready to actually begin writing, I had to spend some time finding the approach, selecting my words with care, doing my research and then going back and editing. All the things I normally do. I will admit that occasionally I am in a big rush and I do not edit. When that happens, I always regret it.
When I was finally ready to commit my work to the blogosphere, I did what I always do. I gave it one last quick glance and then used my mouse to hit "post". The instant I did that, clicked on the "post" button, the entire screen blinked and all of the words disappeared. Every last comma, each carefully chosen phrase, all of my work was gone. Completely totally entirely poofed out of existence. I nearly screamed with frustration.
But I didn't want to scare Tim so instead, I just growled a little with narrowed eyes, shut everything down and walked away. What happened? Not a clue. Why would my computer do that? Just to be a pain in my butt!
Also recently my computer ate every single photograph that I took in January. All of them. Alakazam......gone.
I keep my photographs in files by month and year. Every photo I took in January of 2021 was in a file marked Jan21. And that particular file was suddenly not there. It no longer existed. Just gone. Every other photo file was still there as it always was, just not Jan21. I looked everywhere I could think of and when I ran out of ideas, I asked Tim to look. He couldn't find them either. Sigh. So annoying.
Oh days later he found the pictures hiding deeply inside of a different file within a file within a file within...well you get the idea.
Another great trick my computer likes to pull is to not show me my pictures. I mean they are there, but only by their identifying number. I cannot actually see the photo. You know how they usually look? Teeny tiny little square miniature photos (like the paint chips at the hardware stores). And then I can usually select, drop and drag that tiny little square into whatever document I wish. But if I cannot see it, I cannot select to to attach or drag or edit or anything else.
Oh and when does it play this game with me? Only when I'm trying to attach or drag or edit. If all I want to do is Look at the photos...it's not a problem. So I end up pretending to just look and then write down the identifying number of the photo I want and selecting my photos that way. I can still get the job done, it just takes a lot longer.
Every once in awhile there is a game my computer plays where I cannot do anything with my emails except read them. I cannot delete them or respond to them or even compose a new one. I can only read them. So I end up doing all of my emailing from my phone for awhile which is not ideal. I am a terrible typist on my cellphone. And then suddenly one day, it's all good again. My computer is a happyhappy machine and everything works correctly again.
It's weird. It's wild. And it is what it is. I have almost no power and no control over the situation. Clearly my computer is in charge and it has a very strange sense of humour.
Frankly I am not amused.
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.