March 29th, 2019
It was such a pretty day yesterday that I decided to walk my errands instead of drive them. Really there were just a few things I needed to do, the library, the pharmacy, lottery tickets and them the local outlet store. Easy Peasy. It's kind of a big circle. I walked past the library on the way to the pharmacy which is in Publix where I also got the lottery tickets and then stopped at the Beall's Outlet store which was in the direction of home. Nothin' to it. And even better, everything I bought fit into my purse which I can sling cross-bodied and then I was hands free. Nice!
As I pointed my toes toward home, about half way there, I caught sight of the Venice Avenue Bridge out of the corner of my eye which reminded me that I have long been meaning to check out something that is just off the east side of that bridge. I had nothing pressing on my agenda so, why not! Instead of going directly home, I took a little detour.
Up and over the bridge I went and came down the other side to the Venice Train station.
While it no longer serves as an actual train depot, it is still in use today but as a bus station instead. I like that. Re-purposing! They do give tours though I have not yet taken one but I know that the original train station was kind of the advent for the development of the town which was less than 100 years ago! Yes, Venice is a relatively young town but for a small town, it has a very big history!
One of the interesting parts of this charming, vintage building is it's connection to the Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey Circus. In the 1960's, the circus decided to winter right here in Venice so they would pack up their costumes, their equipment and their animals and the entire kit and caboodle would disembark a the Venice Train Depot. Then everyone and the animals would come up and over the bridge where the town's people would line the roads, cheering and welcoming them back "home" for the winter months. It stopped sometime in the 1990's but until that time, it must have been quite a sight! I'm sorry I missed it.
There is a statue of Gunther Gebel-Williams at the station to commemorate those days. It is my understanding that the historic society has acquired one of the old circus train cars and is working to reno it and at some point in the future, it too will be added to the train station grounds. I think it's a great idea!
There is a train car already on the grounds actually, just not a circus train. Still very cool. It's shiny and red and very pretty. I like that they have a theme going :)
There are also lovely gardens and big trees and grassy open areas with picnic tables, and benches and a playground and very nice clean bathrooms (always a plus in my book). I spent a bit of time walking around it all.
Of course the area is also an access point for both the Venetian Waterway Trail (Park) and the Legacy Trail. One heads South and the other, North.
Both trails are intended for both walking and biking but honestly, it's mostly biking. Lots and lots and lots of biking. Venice is a very bicycley place. Some bicyclers are very kind and just call out, "On your Left" so as to not startle you when they come zooming around you. Others very quietly nearly run you off the trail so I am very cautious about walking on either trail.
I have biked both however and they truly are great biking trails. By the way, I am the bicycler who not only tells people that I am on their left but I also usually slow down a bit when passing people just in case someone accidentally steps into my path. It happens. The Legacy trail I believe goes all the way to Sarasota. I haven't done that. In fact, it is unlikely that I ever will do that. Bike to Sarasota I mean. That's kind of a long haul on a bike and I'm pretty lazy.
I also checked out something new down there. It's the VABI Urban Forest " What's that", you ask?
Well to start with, the VABI is Venice Area Beautification Inc. This is the organization that goes around making sure that there are lovely flowers and pretty, healthy, green, growing things all over town. They are very dedicated to the prettification of Venice and I applaud them. The idea of the Urban Forest is to repurpose the old CSX Railroad Right of Way into a forested area for people to walk through, for birds and animals to shelter in and to further protect our environment! What a wonderful idea! It's only just been begun, but eventually it will fill about 34 acres. Awesome!
At that point, I guess I had been walking for about three hours so it was time to head home. What I didn't realize is that the wind was starting to pick up and the walk back to the island over the bridge was a lot breezier, which means unsteadier and when I stopped to take a picture of the water, I could feel the bridge swaying a bit beneath me. A little disconcerting. I confess that I was holding tightly on to the railing the entire trip back (except when taking these two photographs). I do kind of have a thing about heights but it's good for me to do things that make me uncomfortable. Wasn't it Eleanor Roosevelt who suggested that we should do something that frightens us every day? OK I'm covered for today.
At one point I looked off to my left and there was this very large bird sitting on top of the Seaboard Office Park sign and I swear to you he was laughing at me.
We have now lived in Venice for almost 3 years and I'm still discovering new things! I think that is just dandy :)
March 28th, 2019
Today is Tattle on Myself Day! Yes indeed. It's time for another embarrassing moment in Samlife shared for your entertainment.
This is me not sleeping. Again. It's nothing new. I am a lifelong insomniac. I don't know why. It's not as if I don't get tired. I do. I just seem to have trouble making the transition from tired to sleeping. I'm not sure if it's just that I have too much going on in my brain all the time or I don't produce enough Melatonin or the Sandman is falling down on the job but facts is facts. And the face is that in my entire life, I've not been a good sleeper. Oh well. It's not a huge deal. Most of the time I function pretty well on very little sleep. And also I know that eventually, EVENTUALLY, I will sleep.
But occasionally that moment comes at an inconvenient time.
Last week, for example, I was at my hair appointment. It was probably day three of a no-sleep cycle. Because I was really tired, I knew that my reactions weren't tiptop so I was smart enough to not drive there. It was a beautiful day and I walked. It's not all that far. Maybe a mile? And it's a pretty place to be outside walking. At any rate, I arrived safe and sound and in short order I was in the chair.
It's no secret that I get my hair coloured. The lovely and talented Carolyn who does my hair knows exactly what I want and already had the colour mixed up and ready to roll. So all I had to do was plop my fanny in her chair and let her go to work. And everything was cruising along just fine. I even managed to hold up my end of the conversation. Until Step Two.
For the uninitiated, that means that after the colour is applied, I must then sit under one of the giant bee-hive looking hairdryers for a short while. I'm not absolutely certain what this does for the hair colour process but I assume it has something to do with making sure that the colour properly sets? Regardless there I am sitting under that hot dryer. In a comfy chair. With magazines in my lap.
Because I really cannot wear my reading glasses while colour is actively processing on my hair because it would stain my glasses too, I just look at the pictures in the magazines. My poor near-vision makes it impossible to actually read the words. But the pictures are entertainment enough for a hair appointment. I'm not expecting fine literature while colouring my hair. This visit however, the magazines seemed to weight about ten pounds each and after thumbing through the first one, I had to just set them down. I couldn't hold them up anymore.
So I just sat their starring at nothing at all, trying to play brain games in my head to while away the time. And it worked too. Right up until I, apparently, dozed off, slumped forward and my head bonked the edge of the dryer. A trifle embarrassed, I immediately sat up, repositioned myself, furtively glancing around to see if anyone noticed and resumed the list of Presidents in proper order in my head. Aaaannnnddd my next thought was ouch, from another bonk on the edge of the dryer. I had nodded off again. Over and over and over through the entire Step Two of hair colour. If it wasn't so funny to me, it might have been humiliating. As it was, it just made me laugh.
Finally Carolyn came to my rescue. She turned off the dryer and walked me to the sink for Step Three, rinsing, washing, rinsing, conditioning and rinsing again. Yup that's how it works. First she rinses out the extra colour, then washes my hair, rinses out the shampoo, then conditions and then rinses the residue of that. It's essential to hair colouring but not the most comfortable position leaning backwards with the edge of a sink jabbing the back of my neck. AND I feel asleep again. Because she is a lovely person, she did not wake me until it was time to move to Step Four.
We walked together back to her station. Then I was back in her chair, in front of the mirror and she is to the part where she began cutting my hair. I apologized repeatedly for falling asleep and she assured me that it's not the first time it's ever happened and to just zone out if I need to. But I kept envisioning myself falling completely sleep in a boneless heap and slithering out of the chair and onto the floor while she is trying to cut my hair. Now I absolutely did NOT want to fall asleep! Those results would not be pretty. So under the cape I kept jabbing my fingernails into my palms in an effort to keep my eyes open. It worked. Just barely but I did stay awake throughout the cutting portion of the appointment. Thank goodness.
The Final Step was drying and styling. The blow dryer was loud but it was warm and again, I had to force myself to keep both eyes wide open and I silently prayed that she would hurry up and finish. And in fact, I nearly suggested that she just not bother to dry my hair just so I could drag my sorry and embarrassed arse home and hopefully actually really and truly lay down and close my eyes and drift off into a blissful nap. But instead, I stayed.
I think I apologized again before I left but I am not positive about that. I hope I did. I know I managed to pay the nice lady behind the desk and make my next appointment before leaving. I don't remember walking home but clearly I did. Once I arrived back at the house I felt a little more with it, a little more alert, probably that little dryer and sink nap did the trick so I pushed through until bedtime convinced that this was going to be the night. Tonight I will sleep! Bliss awaits! Just a few more hours and I'm there.
I know I did all the rest of my usual stuff. Things got done in the house and the yard. Dinner was made, served and eaten and I tidied up afterward. I know Tim and I had conversations, we talked about...well I have no idea what we talked about. I have no memory of that at all. Then we watched some TV and then eventually made our way to bed. Whereupon, I lay awake in the darkness starring into the deep nothing and not sleeping once again.
What sort of crazy person can fall asleep in a public place with stinky hair colour in her hair under a giant industrial dryer or leaning backwards against an uncomfortable sink but not in a lovely comfy beautiful bed with soft inviting fresh sheets and beautiful pluffy pillows? Insanity. LOL!
I know people who, when they want to sleep, simply close their eyes and just like that...they are O.U.T. Sound asleep. People who can sleep in cars, on planes, chairs, anywhere, anytime and I am envious. Deeply jealous. I wish I knew what magic they do to make it happen.
And as I typed that I realized that it's fairly obvious that under the right conditions I actually can fall asleep in a chair in a hair salon. Now I guess I only need to learn to harness that talent, right?
March 27th, 2019
I think that when Joy and Bob and I head out on a photo safari, the part of our bodies that get the most exercise are our eyes. We look. Then we look harder. Then we look deeper. Then we move a little bit and do the same thing from a different perspective, again and again and again.
Oh makes no mistake. We are out there hiking around, sometimes carrying other things, like backpacks of equipment, or binoculars or water bottles, or cameras, so our entire bodies are benefiting from the exercise, but our eyes definitely get the best workout.
For example, there we were merrily strolling along when one of us (probably Joy) heard, amongst all of the different types of birdsong, the unmistakable sound of a woodpecker. Naturally we stopped and peered into the surrounding area.
It was thick with undergrowth of all different sorts but also trees. Lots of trees, very large trees with far reaching thick limbs that were covered with air plants and moss and vines and we saw ....nothing but green, growing things. Dang. A less experienced, or more impatient photo safari-er might shrug and move on but not us. We stayed put. And we looked harder. We saw a few small birds zoom by. Then we saw more birds. And more birds until, yes! There it was, the woodpecker in question! Hurrah! And then we saw a second, different sort of woodpecker. And then a Cardinal. And then a Bluejay. And then...well you see! The longer we looked, the more we saw. I suppose it's the difference between looking and seeing. I think Joy got photos of six different kinds of birds just standing in that one area.
Meanwhile, I snapped various things in the area: flowers and vines and seed pods and mushrooms and whatever else struck my fancy. And Bob broke out the binoculars to view the birds in more detail. Everybody was happy. Win/Win/Win. And the birds didn't seem to mind at all.
And that was at the very beginning of the hike! We were out there for about three hours so multiply that exact situation by umptyump times and there you have a pretty good idea of what yesterday's adventure was like.
Oh, it wasn't always trees filled with birds. No of course not. There was also the bush of spider webs. Oh me oh my! I am not really a bug person. That would be Joy. She digs bugs. Bob appreciates them from an engineering perspective of course. And mostly I admire the pretty ones like butterflies and dragon flies lady bugs and merely acknowledge the rest of them from a polite distance. But I have to say that this particular bush had the prettiest spider webs I've ever seen.
As before, first one of our troop noticed one web. Then realized that there was another behind it. And another beside it. And another and another until we realized that there were at least a half dozen webs just in that one bush! Wow! The webs that I was particularly taken with were round. They looked very much like records. You know...LP's. The 'round and 'round webbing like the grooves of a record. And the prettiest part was that as the gentle breeze wafted and the web rippled, the sun played across it scattering rainbows. No joke! I tried from every angle imaginable to get a video of that rainbow web affect to no avail. You will just have to take my word for it, I guess. Bear in mind, if you doubt me though, I do have witnesses!
An aside: about records which were also referred to as LP's, the LP stood for Long Playing. Which got me wondering, were there also Short Playing records? Were they called SP's? When I think of a short playing record, I'm thinking of the little one song on a side records that we called 45's. LP's were 33 1/3. We didn't call them 33 1/3's. We called them albums, or records or LP's. Isn't that strange? I wonder why? If anyone knows the answer, please do tell me.
Back to the hike. The looking harder and longer and deeper is also important because so much of what we capture is very tiny. For Joy it is often the dragonflies or bees that were everywhere around us. For me it's mostly flowers and seed pods and vines. But they are so very teensy, that you have to really pay attention to notice them. And in fact, it was only while sitting on the ground to get close enough to take a photo of one flower that I noticed another, more unique and adorable one because it was so tiny, so close to the ground and surrounded by other, slightly larger things. What a delightful discovery!
So in short, it was yet another fabulously successful photo safari. We were at Sleeping Turtle Preserve where Joy and I had hiked once before but it was Bob's first time. We still didn't see any turtles, snoozing or awake, but got some great photos anyway. It wasn't crowded. The trails were well marked. There were occasional benches (some covered!) to rest if needed. And we got some terrific photos. If it wasn't for the lack of bathroom facilities, I'd say it was a perfect hiking location.
Poor Tim had to work and missed all the fun. I feel very bad that he misses out on these adventures but not guilty enough to prevent me from going. Sometimes I am a terrible person.
But hey, if you know the answer to that LP question, please let me know because that one is going to keep me up nights, wondering, ok?
March 26th, 2019
Oh boy oh boy oh boy! There are stuffed bunnies and chickens and ducks in the stores and bags of pastel coloured cellophane grass and baskets of all sizes and shapes and, and, and....
You know what that means, right? It means that Easter is on it's way! Hurrah!
In my opinion, Easter is the holiday that has the BEST candy of the entire year. Feel free to argue the point, I don't care. In my heart, Easter equals the best holiday candy. When you really consider the iconic candy that is specific to each holiday, Easter has them all beat.
Let's think about it. Candy that is Christmas Specific. Candy canes. Well there is nothing really wrong with a good candy cane. But I'm not going to risk my diet over one. I think they are very pretty on an old fashioned tree and give me fresh minty breath if I eat one. Ribbon Candy. I know that it's a traditional Christmas Candy and I think it's very pretty, but otherwise, yuck. Not a fan. Are there any other strictly Christmas traditional candies? I mean, they do release M&M's in an strictly red, white and green assortment for the holiday but I don't think that really counts. You can buy M's any time of the year. Moving on...
New Year's doesn't have a candy connection. Hmmm. It's kind of entertaining to think of what one might be.
Halloween used to mean popcorn balls and maybe home made taffy but nowadays, it's just store bought bags of regular candy in the "fun"size. I'm not sure what's supposed to be so fun about it. You still have to eat at least 3 of any of them to equal a regular candybar. Oh wait...Candy Corn. Yup that is Halloween specific. I have eaten it before. They are kind of cute and look sort of like a cartoon version of corn kernels but honestly, I could take it or leave it. Mostly leave it.
Thanksgiving doesn't really have candy associated with it. Pies, yes. Food, definitely. But not candy. So scratch Thanksgiving from the candy holiday roster.
Valentine's day of course has heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and I really cannot argue with that. It is, after all chocolate and chocolate is a good thing. And then there are those little pastel coloured conversation hearts which are so darling but don't taste like anything at all. So I vote meh on conversation hearts. But, wait, there are also the cinnamon hearts. I do like cinnamon and they are so adorable but I cannot help but associate them with the time one of my boys (who shall remain nameless but knows who he is) in, I believe, the second grade, shoved several cinnamon hearts up his nose at school whereupon they began to melt and it looked like he had a nosebleed and I was called to pick him up. It's one of those family stories that simply will not die and I cannot think of cinnamon hearts without thinking of that story so, cinnamon heart candy is out of the competition for best. The funniest maybe, but not the best.
St. Patrick's Day doesn't have a candy association although it would be fun if it did. The Lucky Charms cereal people should get on that.
Independence Day doesn't have one and neither do Memorial Day or Labour Day. Someone is missing the boat on a few holidays. But Easter, my friends, Easter is the mac daddy of Holiday Candies.
First of all there are peeps. Everyone knows what Peeps are. And they have gone beyond being just candy. People create dioramas with them. They create artwork with them. Sometimes people even eat them. Not me. I don't eat them. But! I celebrate their Easter Connection. Then too are chocolate Easter Bunnies. Oh yum. Solid chocolate of course, absolutely essential. I keep them in the fridge so I can nibble away as I please, then re-wrap it and put it back. Bliss is solid chocolate bunnies at Easter. I don't care for the hollow ones. Very unsatisfactory.
For years I had a passion for Cadbury eggs. Again, I kept them in the fridge. I do love my chocolates cold. But I don't know if their recipe changed or my taste buds because the last few times I tried one, it was very disappointing. Enough so that I haven't bought any in a very long time. So sad.
Jelly beans of course are another iconic Easter Candy. Some people love Jelly Belly jelly beans. Me, not so much. I guess I just like the old school standards so I only buy the old fashioned jelly bird jelly beans. And what's worse is that I only like the lemon ones. So anytime I buy jelly beans, I eat all the yellow ones and leave the rest for Tim. Fortunately for me, Tim likes all of the flavours (even licorice...ewwww) and doesn't mind. But it is quite honestly, mean of me to deny him any of the yellow ones. And yet, it's what I do. I am a horrible person.
But my favourite. The best of the best. The most perfect of all Easter Candy in my eyes are the Whoppers Robin's Eggs. Oh my dear. I love Whoppers anyway. But the Easter ones? A whole new level of awesomeness. I love that they all look a little different. I love the thin little candy shell. I love the layer of chocolate underneath and most of all, I lovelovelove the malted milk in the middle. I can, I usually don't, but I actually can eat an entire bag. Shame on me! And you would know if I did because I would be walking around with a blue tongue from the dye.
Whoppers were invented way back in 1939 but they were called Giants back then. It was about ten years later that they became "whoppers". There is a wee bit of mystery about the advent of Robin's Eggs whoppers though. Nobody seems to be absolutely certain when they were created. probably, like most things, it was a gradual thing. But it was absolutely not that long after I was born that they existed because I do not remember a time in my life when they weren't in my Easter Basket.
The company only makes them for the Easter Season and maybe that is part of the reason why they are so appealing to me. Absence, in this case, truly does make the heart grow fonder. I've read that it takes about five months for the company to stockpile enough Robin's Eggs for the Easter Season. Wow! It turns out that they take longer to make than regular whoppers. Which makes perfect sense to me because they are so much better. Perfection takes time. But did you know that during those 5 months, the company makes about 11 million pounds of Robin's Eggs!!! Holy Cats!
So anyway. There it is. The truth of it all. Easter is the holiday with my absolute favourite Holiday candy. So far I've managed to restrain myself. I only bought one bag. Of course we've already finished it off and Easter is still a month away so there's that. Let's see if I can manage to resist the urge to buy (and therefore eat) any more of them between now and when they disappear from the shelves.
PS I wouldn't put money of it.
March 25th, 2019
I'm going to guess that you recognize me in this photo...(hint: I'm the one in blue). The lady you probably don't know is my cousin Carol! Everybody, this is Carol, Carol, this is Everybody. Say Hi to Carol Everybody! :) (don't you love her tropical shirt!)
Carol is one of my Michigan relatives and she was in Florida visiting scads of other friends and relatives and took the time and trouble to drive all the heck the way to Venice to visit Tim and I on Sunday! It was so grand to see her again. It's been far too long. I think it might be in the vicinity of ten years or so. Yikes! Too long.
We enjoyed our visit with her so much! She and Tim really hit it off. It was as if they had known each other for years! (I'm not sure why it is that she and Tim never met before but mysteriously it is the truth) But then, anybody would enjoy spending time with her. Carol is a wonderful person to start with, but it's also that she has led a fascinating life. Well, everyone is interesting, truly. But Carol's life has been really, really interesting. You doubt me?
Let's just start with the fact that at the tender age of ten she was already a drummer in a band. I'm talking a real band. One that traveled to perform on the regular, a band that cut records. See? Interesting life. Other interesting things, hmmm, well, she studied for the seminary. Not everyone does that. But she ended up instead being a powerhouse in a large company there in Michigan. She has met loads of interesting people and traveled to wonderful places and has exciting tales to tell. Like I said, a Very Interesting person!
Joy and I were always closer to our Michigan cousins than our Maine cousins. Not that we didn't like our Maine relatives, they were just so much older than us that when we were kids, they were just kind of lumped in with the grownups. Grownups are not very interesting or fun to kids. (Strangely, the gap between our ages shrunk considerably as we grew up) But during our kiddo-years, whenever Joy and I heard that we were going to Michigan, which was always to visit relatives, secretly we were delighted. More Kids to Play With! Yay!
My dad only had one sibling, his brother, our uncle, Wilbur whom everyone called Shorty. Uncle Shorty was married to our Aunt Letha whom Joy and I called Aunt Lee. Together than had five kids whose ages were all right there around ours. Colour us happy! Five playmates whenever we visted. We adored hanging out with them! Kay, Ken, Carol, Bill, Annette. We always said their names in that order, oldest to youngest. Kay was a teensy bit older than me, Ken was right around my age, Carol a wee bit younger, Bill a tad younger and Annette, as the youngest was just so adorable you couldn't leave her out either. Together, the seven of us were a formidable kid force.
Side note: I honestly never gave a single thought to the fact that my Uncle's name was "Shorty". As a kid I didn't question it. My dad was Larry and his brother was Shorty. It wasn't until I was 13 (kind embarrassing to admit it took that long for me to realize this) when I told a friend that I couldn't come over because my Aunt Lee and Uncle Shorty was coming to visit. And my friend said, "What's his real name?" that it dawned on me that Shorty could not possibly be his real name and that I had NO idea what his real name was. Wow! Talk about me being oblivous, right?
Anyway, back to the cousins. Because we moved around so much, we never lived near our any relatives. We always had to travel to see them so it wasn't the kind of relationship that people have when families spend their entire lives in close proximity to each other. In those lucky families, cousins are more like siblings. But regardless of where we were living at the time, every time we saw our Michigan cousins again, it was as if no time had actually passed. I'm not sure if it was the family bond, DNA or just similar personalities but we just always got along.
Of course even if we didn't see each other live and in person, we knew what was going on in each other's lives because our parents talked and wrote letters and occasionally visited each other, so we were kept up to date on the family doings. And now in the age of social media, it's even easier to hear from each other, see photos and therefore stay in touch that way. But it's never the same as seeing each other live and in person.
When I traveled with my Dad in the 70's back to Michigan to visit, just my Dad and I, no one was surprised when Carol and I took off during yet another adult yakkityak session. We stayed out so incredibly late that by the time we got back it was early. We talked, laughed, and drove around and ate pie (somewhere...can't imagine where on earth we found pie at that hour!). Carol and I didn't even discuss it ahead of time. There we were sitting in a room surrounded by people who we were related to but were all at least one and usually more generations older than us, trying to not yawn, when I caught Carol's eye and did one of those head nods and eyebrow questions that say, "Wanna get the heck outta here?" And she did a head nod, wink and smile that said, "Darn Tootin' I do!" . So without a single word exchanged, we politely and quietly left the room and then laughed like lunatics all the way to her car feeling as if we had made the Great Escape.
I don't believe I saw Carol again until, once again my Dad and I, went to Michigan to visit my grandmother who was very sick in the hospital. Once again, as my Dad and his brother and other relatives talked amongst themselves, Carol and I colluded and gave Grandma a manicure culminating in us painting our 90 something year old Grandmother's fingernails a particularly beguiling shade of red. Grandma couldn't take her eyes off those bright red fingernails. She showed everyone who walked in the door and gave us full credit. I'm not sure if she was bragging about us, or complaining about us honestly, but we enjoyed giving her the attention. In truth, I suspect that was the first time Grandma had ever had a manicure.
The stories go on and on of course, but the blogpost will not. Let's just suffice it to us that it was an absolute delight to visit with Carol again yesterday. And I hope we see her again before so much time passes again. And a wee bit of advice, if you have family that you haven't seen in a long time, it's probably time to visit them again.
Thanks again for dinner Carol. We had a Blast!
March 22nd, 2019
This is a picture of the HGTV Dream Home 2019. It's in Whitefish Montana. By all accounts a magnificently beautiful place to live. Darned nice house too. We did not win again this year. Some nice lady named, Beverly from Osgood Indiana won. I'm happy for her. No really I am. Honest! When I read the email I said, "Congrats Beverly!" with a big smile on my face. I mean, I actually said those words. To my email. Out loud.
I don't know how long HGTV has been doing the Dream Home contest, but I've been entering for years. And not winning for the same number of years. At this point, I think I only enter out of habit. I already know ahead of time that I'm not going to win. It's a very painless process entering this particular contest. Two clicks and it's done. Takes so little time that it's not of any consequence at all. And everytime I do another entry I say, "Done!". I don't just quietly think the words. Nope, I say them.
The Publishers Clearing House contest however, I do not bother with that one anymore. I just can't. It's so time consuming. Just moving ahead from page to endless page trying to get to the "Next" button irritates me. I find myself talking to the computer screen saying things like, 'I have never bought anything and it's clearly marked as an option to buy anything so why would you think that suddenly I will change my mind and buy someting!!" Yes, I said that out loud. And No, the computer screen, thus far, has never answered me. (thank goodess).
I also find myself occasionally talking to baked goods. When I have a cake in the oven, I will open the door to check on things and hear myself say, "How are you doing?". To the cake. In the oven. Out loud.
If I cook a particularly success meal, sometimes I will say, "You are just so pretty" and take a photograph. I suppose I should be embarrassed by that, but I'm not. However, if I make a meal that didn't turn out very well sometimes I stare at it and ask, "What went wrong?" Yes I am blaming the dish. Not the cook, but the dish. Out loud.
After I've fixed dinner, served dinner and I have moved on to cleaning up after dinner, I don't just pack up leftovers and load the dishwasher. I also clean the sink, wipe down all of the counter tops, the fridge handles, the stove top AND make certain that all of the burners are off. And I have heard the following words occasionally come out of my mouth while doing so, "Are you off?" Did I expect the stove to answer me? I hope not.
I was trimming yet more palm trees in the back yard yesterday afternoon. One of the branches that I cut slipped down and tangled itself around other healthier branches and I couldn't seem to get it loose. I tugged and pulled and re-positioned it over and over. Finally with a mighty yank, I yelled, "Let go for heaven's sakes" and, and, and....it worked! That was a surprise and a little concerning. Did the tree actually release it's hold? Or was it just a co-incidence? Hmmmmm
When we had pets I always talked to them. Not just sit and stay. But things like, "Isabelle, please stop scratching the furniture, get down from there, stop doing that, leave your sister alone, stop shedding all over my work clothes, get off the table, get off the counter, get out of the Christmas tree, stay out of the Nativity scene, leave that alone" Isabelle was a handful. I know she heard me because her ears would tick back, but she totally ignored everything I ever said. She was a cat.
However, my dog, Lucy, she would look me in the eyes when I talked to her. Sometimes her head would tip to one side while she listened. She would listen endlessly, patiently and with no judgement. If I was sad, she would lay her heavy head in my lap while she listened to me, or lean up against me. If I said any of her favourite words like, "walk, play, or any of the boys names" she got excited and started dancing around. If I said stop, she stopped. If I said quiet, she was quiet. If I said come, she came. She was a dog. And a very well behaved one at that.
But while neither the cat or the dog ever answered me when I talked to them at least I didn't look like I was insane. I was talking to another live being. Not the stove or a cake.
I'm fairly certain that I haven't completely lost my mind yet. And I'm pretty sure I'm not crazy (although if I was, would I know it?). And I still know who is president, my children's names, the date and how much is 7 times 6 so I don't believe dementia has set in. Yet.
I am thinking that this might be a family trait, this talking to inanimate objects thing. I do remember my Nana talking to.....her knitting, her baked goods or herself. And I even remember my teasing her when I was a wise-ass teenager saying, "Are you talking to yourself again, Nana?" And one day she snapped back at me just a quick as a snap saying, "Of course I'm talking to myself. I need intelligent conversation some of the time." Ooooo. Good one!
I'm going with that. Thanks Nana.
March 21st, 2019
This past weekend, Tim and I spent some time down on the jetty. We were delighted to see quite a few dolphins larking about. There were several groups actually. One particularly charming group was a mama dolphin with two babies. Just so dang cute! I took photos of them for quite some time. See the picture I got?
"Ummmm Sam..." I hear you saying, "Isn't that a picture of clouds and sky as opposed to dolphins?"
Why yes! Yes it is.
And here is where I tell a story on myself.
I love taking pictures. While I am not and never will be as good at photography as Tim and my sister are, I still enjoy it. AND I have gotten better over time. Practice, practice, practice as they say. I have even joined a rather large online photography group that offers tutorials and tips and it's interactive in that the photographers encourage each other along the way and set up challenges and contests. While I have only won a few small awards, I have ranked in the top 10% of quite a few so I suppose I have developed some sense of confidence in my skills along the way.
No...honestly ..l have! Here are a few of the photos that I have recently received high marks on:
So perhaps I can be forgiven if I thought, for just a few minutes over the weekend, that I had even the tiniest clue was I was doing. I was wrong obviously, but maybe it's understandable how I made the mistake?
The thing of it is, dolphins are tricky little buggers to capture of picture of. I never know exactly where they are going to surface next. Just the general vicinity. And then there is my cell phone camera. I don't know if this is true of everyone's cell phone camera but on mine there is the teensiest little delay between when I push the button and when the camera actually captures the intended photo. And the little delay can be the difference between getting the picture and not. And of course, as always, there is operator error. Sigh.
So I get the "genuis" (and I use the term loosely) idea to video tape the little varmints instead of relying on still shots. In theory, it sounded like a great idea. So there I stood, out there on the jetty, being buffeted by wind, threatened by rain (or at least clouds that looked like that possibly could have been rain clouds), ever in danger of an errand flying fishhook or a pelican with poor depth perception (they sometimes fly low and close), patiently video-taping one group of surfacing dolphins after another.
Another thing I should mention. The sun that day was hanging in the sky directly in front of me, which means that I could see almost nothing on my phone screen, so between the sun's position and my doggone sunglasses, as far as I could tell, I was video taping black cats in the dark. I had to trust that I truly was video taping adorable dolphins frolicking in the ocean. Which, I suppose, proves that I place my trust foolishly. My intention was the grab a carefully selected still shot from one of the multiple video's that I took. BECAUSE I was positive that these videos were amazing. I was certain of it. I held very still. I took multiple video's, just to be sure. The dolphins were just stinkin' adorable. And after all, I'm starting to get awards for my photography now, right? I've got this! HAHAHAHAHAHA! (sometimes I just crack me up)
It doesn't hurt to add here that I rarely video anything. Oh I've posted a few attempts here and there on facebook, but most of them are poorly shot, poorly centered, and poorly timed. I really should practice that more.
These all sound like excuses and I suppose they are. Or rather they are the reason. I don't much care for excuses. To me, an excuse means you anticipate forgiveness. I am not.
You see, after we went back home and I actually sat down inside with no sunglasses on and watched the tiny movies that I made. To my surprise, instead of smiling at film after film of dancing dolphins, I saw video's of the clouds and sky and occasionally a bird while listening to Tim and I exclaim over these ever so cute dolphins. What the actual hell??!!!???
After the shock fell away, I began laughing at how ridiculous I am, thinking I'm all that. Who do I think I am anyway? The next Fellini? Oh me oh my, I am just too absurd. HAHAHAHAHA ...excuse me a minute. I'll pull myself together here. teeheehee. Oh my.
How did this happen? Well the only thing I can think of is that it's the same thing that happens to me when I'm bowling. (????) You see, it has been pointed out to me, more than a few times, that when I release the ball, I twist my hand every so slightly. Therefore no matter how carefully I line things up, no matter how perfect my posture and my step forward is, when the ball leaves my hand, instead of rolling straight toward those pins, it veers off to one side or the other (depending on which hand I'm bowling with) and winds up in the gutter. Yes, the truth is that my all time high bowling score is 64. Sixty-four. It's a sad truth but still the truth.
I must be doing the same thing while video-taping. Every so slightly tipping the camera (phone) upwards. Which of course resulted in about a dozen video's that were immediately deleted because they were useless. I got a good laugh out of it though. AND I learned several things. At least one of which is that I should probably stick to still photography.
I had to find this photo online:
YUP this was the photo I was TRYING to get. But it wasn't me. It's a stock picture from an image gallery easily found online for free from Shutterstock.
Oh well, live and learn I suppose.
March 20th, 2019
Maybe it's my age. Well not just mine but apparently loads of people because suddenly I am hearing a whole lot of blah-de-blah about Bucket Lists. And that's cool. If it works for you it works. But personally I am not a "bucket list" kind of person. And here is my issue with it. As I understand it, a bucket list is comprised to things to do that each person feels their life just would not be complete without having actually, well, done. Let's say that there were 100 items on this list. And life is going by and the person is checking items off, tralalalala. This person is making it an active mission to experience every item on this list. And as time goes by, they get more and more focused on the fulfillment of this doggone list! They get to the 99th and boom, their number, as we say, is up. As their life is winking out, one of their last thoughts is, "Dang, one more and I would have finished". I hate leaving things unfinished! Frankly I don't need that kind of pressure.
I enjoy everywhere I go, everyone I met, everything I do. I embrace most new experiences and appreciate the heck out of what good fortune I have. But I have intentionally worked at learning how to live in the moment instead of always looking ahead. So I don't have a bucket list. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I have an anti-bucket list of sorts. That is, things that I absolutely never need to do.
For example, Bungee Jumping. I do not need to leap from a bridge tethered to that structure only by a rubber band. Now that I think about it, it's bigger than that actually. I absolutely have no intention of ever doing such a thing. And why? Have you ever had the experience of wrapping a rubber band around something only to have that rubber band break? The snapback seriously hurts! And it's always a surprise. It only takes one Bungee chief (actually I have no idea what they call the person in charge) who is a little bit of a slacker one day and doesn't notice that the band is getting a wee bit frayed for such shenanigans. Maybe he has bad allergies and his allergy medication makes him a little foggy. Perhaps she has a bad hangover or is depressed over a recent breakup and is therefore distracted. Regardless of the reason, there I go, plunging into the gorge below thinking, "Well dang it all. I didn't really want to do this in the first place and this is exactly why". I hate it when I have to "I told you so" myself.
Parachuting is another thing that absolutely is on my anti-bucket list. The only sane reason I can think of to willingly jump from a plane is if it's on fire and/or going to crash. And ever then, someone else will have to buckle me into the parachute harness because my brain will have just shut off. That same person will have to fling my body from the plane and still I will probably have a massive coronary and die on the way down. So if it were an bucket list item, it wouldn't count anyway. Or maybe it would because I actually did parachute but it won't matter because I won't be around to draw that little line through the word, Parachute.
It's not just big adrenaline rushing sorts of things on my anti-bucket list. There are small, seemingly ordinary things too. Like....eating Sushi. Gack. I don't like cooked fish. I cannot imagine that I would like raw fish any better. And I do not need to order it in a restaurant to learn this. I can live my entire life knowing that I never ate (fish) Sushi and feel no sense of regret or loss. I do understand that there are vegetable Sushi's however. And someday, maybe, if I feel the urge, I might try that. It hasn't happened so far, but I will allow for the possibility.
Another thing on the list is attend a Monster Truck Rally. Nope. Don't need to do that. I'm not saying it's a bad thing. Not at all. It's just not my thing. I've honestly only ever seen Monster Truck commercials on TV or seen these rallys depicted on TV shows or in movies. But there is absolutely nothing about them that says, "Wow, I'd like to see that in person!". First of all, they are, without question, Very Loud. My hearing is already damaged. I don't need to damage it any further. Then too, they are Very Big. (Well, duh, of course they are big. Monster Truck Rally). I am very small. Very large things are a little intimidating to me. Perhaps that is the intent. Hmm. Anyway, these trucks do what? They drive around. They kind of sort of do tricks. It's like what horses do at a rodeo only it's trucks. Hmmm. Yeah ok. I understand that the folks who are really into Monster Truck Rally's have favourite drivers and trucks and cheer them on to victory! Victory. So this is a competition of sorts? This is a sport? Like Football? A rally to me is more of a showcase. A sport is a game with winners and losers. Completely different things. I guess I just don't really understand. Probably my biggest objection in truth is the noise.
I also do not ever need to go hunting. Once again, I am not poo-pooing hunting or hunters. Especially responsible hunters who follow the rules and eat what they kill. I have great respect for the skill involved. But I have no desire ever to kill a living creature (with the exception of blood sucking bugs - they come in my house, they die without a seconds remorse on my part). I'm do not eat a lot of meat as it is and I definitely do not care to eat something that I have gazed into the beautiful eyes of and connected with. I will be totally honest in saying that at one time I lived on a working farm and those animals were indeed harvested. I knew those creatures. I feed them and talked to them and cared for them. But I did not do the actual harvesting. AND I did not eat them. I did however, cook and serve it to my family. Sounds a little hypocritical doesn't it? Sorry. But it's the truth. And I suppose in the bigger picture raising animals for food on a farm is different than hunting them down in the forest. I do realize that I've been very fortunate in my life that I have never been so hungry that I was forced to kill something in order to eat or feed my family.
Oh! I just thought of something else I do not ever need to do and that is intentionally set out to meet a famous person. There are a lot of famous people that I admire. Well I suppose what I mean is that I admire what I actually know about them. Which isn't all that much. Just what I read or see at a distance. For example, the writer, Diana Gabaldon. Her work is amazing! I have not yet read a single book of hers that I didn't love. I've seen her in filmed interviews and I have enjoyed her brilliant mind, snappy comebacks and share her fondness for history and the written word. But I do not need to ever meet her. I have nothing to say to a famous person beyond, "I really love your work" which every famous person has already heard ad nauseum . I do not have a single question to ask that they haven't already been asked a thousand or so times. And our lives are just so radically different that, other than both being human beings who live in the same time/space continuum, we have absolutely nothing in common.
What else? Hmmmm. I do not need to attempt to ride an Ostrich. I have seen people attempt this on television and I'm good. I have actually seen Ostriches up close and personal. When Tim and I went to Curacao, we visited an Ostrich Ranch. It was interesting and fun. I got to feed an Ostrich. Just a tip, they are a lot bigger in person than you might think. And stronger. Very Very strong. I've ridden horses and that was fine. But Ostriches, no. In fact, anything other than a horse, no. No cows, no camels, no donkeys, no well no anything else.
I also do not need to try spelunking. Spelunking is the exploration of caves. There is a Television Show that Tim and I both enjoy called, Exploration Unknown, wherein archeologist, Josh Gates (very entertaining fellow) finds himself exploring caves with alarming frequency. He is a good sized gentleman and through the magic of television we have seen him squeeze himself into smaller and smaller passageways and underwater tunnels, ducking stalagmites and stalactites, guided only by the thin beam of a flashlight and I have serious clutching the arms of the sofa with one hand while hiding my face under a blanket claustrophobia just watching him. On the other hand, I have been in quite a few famous caverns: Merrimack, Cave of the Winds, Polar Caves are the first three to come to mind. And of course the difference here is that they are already well explored, they are well lit, carefully paved and people are only taken through nice big cave rooms. And even then, once we got outside I suddenly felt like I could breathe again. So no. I do not need to explore little known, unfamiliar, poorly lit, tiny chambered caves....for fun. Or profit.
Well I guess you get the idea here. It is already a well established fact that I am a big chicken. So it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that anything a thrill seeker might have on their to-do list is on my not-a-chance list. Hah!
How 'bout you? What's on your lists?
March 19th, 2019
It's an unusual day today for us this time of year. Grey, chill and wet. My umbrella and rain jacket are drying in the utility room from my walk to and from Pilates this morning and I'm sitting here with damp socks, windows wide open (love the fresh air) and listening to the sound of the rain on the roof. I adore that sound.
Right now it's mostly just a pittypat rain. Did you ever hear that term? I think the first person i heard say that was a patient of mine in Colorado. First of all I thought it was adorable. Then I realized that it was a perfect desecriptor. So I have adopted it.
There are a lot of wonderful phrases to describe different kinds of rain. Have you heard of all of these:
Gully Washer. Sometimes Gully Whopper or Gully Buster. It's considered a New England regional phrase, but I've heard some version of it used in every corner of this country to describe a particularly heavy rainstorm.
Goose Drownder. Or sometimes Fish Drownder. Well that's just a horrible image. Supposedly a term originating in the Mid-West. Unpleasant imagery but vivid.
Toad Strangler. Ewwww! More animal violence. I'm told this is a gulf states phrase. They can keep this one.
Raining Cats and Dogs. You've probably heard that one before. The first written example of that phrase goes all the way back to 1651! So while I'm not certain what the original author meant by those exact words, people have been saying it for a very long time. But I did not know that other folks say things like, It's Raining Devils and Pitchforks. Supposedly a rural Florida expression though I'v not heard it used here (yet) Another similar one is Raining Bullfrogs and Raining Monkeys. The monkeys thing is from Louisiana. It made me laugh out loud. Another reason to love Louisiana. Raining Monkey indeed.
Mud Sender. That's from California and it makes perfect sense. They have mudslides there when the rain is overwhelming. I totally get that one.
Palmetto Pounder. That one is specific to Miami although since Palmetto Palms grow in a lot of tropical and sub-tropical areas, I suppose it would apply in other states/countries. This is another one that actually makes sense to me.
Sizzly Sod-Soaker. That's from the Appalachians and it means a steady rain. Sod soaking makes sense. It's the sizzly part that kind of cracks me up.
Nubbin. One of the more unique descriptions of a hard rain. It hails from down Kentucky way and it means a rain that is heavy enough to stunt corn growth. Also could be called Nubbin Strangler or Nubbin Stretcher. There is that word "strangler" again. What is it about rain that makes people so violent anyway?
Here is a great southern one: "It rained like a cow peeing on a flat rock". There is absolutely no mistaking exactly what that means. I might not be the most ladylike sentence ever spoken but it paints a picture.
If we hop the pond to Great Britain we find other wonderfully colourful phrases to describe different sorts of rain: Tipping Down, Bucketing Down (I really like that one) and Teeming.
Then there are some they apparently are of British origin but I didn't know that until I was an adult. They were just another part of my family's lexicon: Drizzle, spitting, sunshower, April shower, deluge and the one everyone is tired of hearing, "Nice Weather for Ducks." And honestly I question that one. Is it really and truly nice weather for ducks when it rains? Do they enjoy the rain? Or do they have no choice in the matter but to be out in it?
The question comes to mind in particular because on my way back from class today, as I tromped gleefully through puddles, I noticed an Egret that was absolutely drenched standing under a tree, as close as possible to the trunk apparently trying to stay dry. I honestly never thought about it before but maybe ducks and other birds that hang out in the water are not such big fans of rain as rumour would have us believe. Maybe they just have no protected place to go?
Regardless of what you call it, it's happening here today. I still have the windows wide open of course, which means it's a mite chilly in the house, but I don't care because I love that fresh air and spring rain fragrance. I will have rainy day hair all day long and every woman I know understands what I mean by that. And I will, no doubt, be wearing long pants and a sweater. It's all good. The garden is very happy with the rain, it's a nice change of pace for us actually and while I'm still not convinced that ducks actually enjoy the rain, they are, at the very least, accustomed to being wet.
Whatever your weather today, I hope you are enjoying it!
Hugs all 'round
March 18th, 2019
Last Friday Tim and I had our annual eye appointments. It was a little more interesting than usual, for me anyway, because it was my first "regular" eye checkup since my cataract surgery last year. Spoiler alert: I passed with flying colours :) Yay me! (Tim did really good too!)
But I got to thinking, while I was waiting for my pupils to dilate, how my eye appointment is one of the longest appointments of any sort of doctor check up I do annually. Seriously! I don't mean that we wait for a small eternity in the waiting room. That is not the case at all. Patients are called in fairly quickly. I mean the actual, appointment itself. And it isn't just this particular doctor office, it's every eye doctor office I've ever been to, since the beginning of my optometry experiences. And in fact, I think they have gotten longer as time has gone by.
There are so very many steps to each appointment. Yes of course the first step is checking in, handing over ID and insurance cards and filling out paperwork. That happens at EVERY sort of doctor appointment. Then the very short wait. Then...it's this room for this sort of test and then that room for that sort of test and then reviewing information and answering lots of questions and then the familiar old eye chart part and then ...well it does go on and on.....and on!
Of course they do have new awesome testing machinery and using each of those naturally adds more time to the appointment. It's all way cool stuff that looks inside of your eye and maps every little thing going on in there. It's both creepy and brilliant at the same time. Whenever I see the pictures taken of my eyeball innards I get that wierd little ick chill first which is followed immediately by fascination and amazement.
One of the other things that makes the appointment longer than other sorts of appointments is the administering of multiple different sorts of eye drops and waiting for the pupils to dilate. With Tim it takes a VERY long time for those beautiful brown eyes to react to the drops (so the wait is even longer) and then the dilation doesn't last very long so they have a tiny window of perfection to work within. My blue eyes on the other hand, react almost instantaneously and then it takes the rest of the day for it to wear off.
So driving home is an interesting proposition (if in fact I am the one driving) and once I get home, I find myself hiding from the light like one of the mole-people. I wear my sunglasses inside the house for hours, wince at the light from the computer screen or the television and if I am forced to go outside into the sunlight, I squint with one hand acting as a hat brim, sunglasses firmly in place and I sprint to the mailbox, grab the mail without looking up and retreat back into the cool relative darkness of the house. It is such a weird feeling because normally I am like a cat moving from sunny spot to sunny spot through the house throughout the day.
I was also thinking that for all of the new and astounding knowledge about eyes, the surgeries they can perform, the new testing they can do, the medicines that they have, one thing that really hasn't changed much is the eye chart itself.
That big old E on top (which used to be the only letter I could read with any measure of reliability with glasses) is still right there.
I got my first pair of glasses when I was 3 years old so obviously I had an eye test. I saw that eyechart for the very first time 62 years ago! Wow! I was an early reader so I actually could use that very chart. But do any of you remember a brief period of time...probably late 50'ss when for children the chart was all capital letter E's pointed in different directions? An innovation at the time (but used only briefly I suspect) the idea was that the small child, instead of having to determine the actual letter only had to point their own fingers in the direction of the horizontal lines of the various E's. I actually remember folding my thumb and pinkie fingers down to make the 3 lines of the E and moving my hand in the direction of each of the E's that I could read (which honestly wasn't all that many). I didn't have to say a word, just move my hand to mimic the picture being pointed to with a long handled pointer.
I really like our new eye doctor and his office staff. Everyone is pleasant and professional and the set-up is very efficient. But it's still the longest appointment we endure every year. Of necessity I have no doubt, still, it's one I am always glad is only a once a year thing.
Which is a reminder from me to you, make sure you take care of your eyes! You only get the one set y'know.
March 15th, 2019
Soooooo Joy and I went on a different kind of hike yesterday. In fact, we had a specific mission. Joy needed pants! So properly outfitted with comfortable walking shoes and clothes that are easy to take on and off, purses firmly tucked under our arms, off we went on our quest. We were prepared to slay dragons if necessary to achieve our goal.
What's that you say? The photo above is not a picture of pants? You are observant AND correct.
It's not pants. And it's not for Joy. But let me get back to the story. We will circle back to the dress.
Buying a pair of pants is not an easy thing. They have to be the right length, the right width and the correct style, just to begin. There is the colour, the weight, the fabric in general and the washing instructions to contend with. The price of course is always a factor as well. And most importantly there is the fit.
To the uninitiated, the fit is the most important element of the search and the hardest to fulfill. Because the correct "fit" is not just one thing. It's not just the length of the leg. It's also the length from waistband to crotch. It's where the waist sits: above the belly button, right on the belly button, below the belly button and if below...how far below? It's the waistband itself. Is it too loose? Too tight? Does it roll over? (I hate when it rolls over) Is it wide, is it narrow? And then there are the pant legs? Are they uniformly wide from top to bottom? Do the narrow at the bottom? Do they flare out at the bottom? Where do those doggone pockets sit and are they sparkly? Is the fabric stretchy? (sigh)
There are so very many things to take into account when purchasing the right pair of pants. And the above is only part of the reason that women take forever when buying clothes. It often requires multiple visits to many different shops and trying on seemingly endless garments all in an effort to achieve trouser nirvana! The holy grail is actually not a goblet, but a pair of pants that fit perfectly. You may have to just trust me on that.
Meanwhile, back at Trouser Quest, while checking out one of the 3 different stores we visited yesterday, I found this dress. I wasn't actually looking for a dress. Or pants. Or anything else. This was about Joy's pants, remember? But since we were downtown on the avenue anyway, I remembered seeing a dress last week that caught my eye on a mannequin in front of the store. Since we were right there, it hurt nothing to take a little look inside and see if the dress was still there, right? I mean it's not as if I had made a commitment to buy it after all. It was just a little peekie.
The dress was no longer on the mannequin so we prowled the racks. Nope not there. Dang. I assumed that they had sold it to someone more decisive than I and was ready to move on. But Joy asked about the dress. "Yes" the manager told us, they still had it, but in the back room, ready to get rid of it because it was the last one and they considered it..."dirty" from being on the outside mannequin. Well goodness me.....first of all, again I didn't say that I was planning on buying it, or anything else. I just wanted to look at it more closely. And secondly, I don't know about you, but I always WASH clothes before I wear them. So if it was a little dusty from being outside, I have no problem with that.
She retrieved the dress for me. Joy encouraged me to try it on. Oh So Comfy! I like clothes that don't really touch me. Our mother was like that too. Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that I want to wear baggy clothes, just not tight clothes. Clothes that maybe are a wee bit roomy, something that merely suggests a shape, something that skims rather than clings.
This dress was even better than that. Other than on my shoulders, it barely touches me at all. I love that in a dress. And because it's sleeveless, if it's chilly out I could wear something long-sleeved under it. Or a sweater or jacket over it. It can be worn with sandals, or flats or heels or boots! I see it being multi-seasonal. It's black after all, even though there is a pattern. A long black jacket would tone it down, a short white jacket would make it fun. A belt would cinch it in, but so would a white blouse tied in front. Yes, I decided that I really liked this dress.
Because it was the last one, it was on sale. $29 bucks. Not bad. Then because it was "dirty" she gave me another discount. Sweet! I did not intend to buy this dress. But I did. And I do not regret it for one second. Sort of like a Happy Accident :)
By the way Joy found great pants too. Really truly amazingly perfect pants, in fact! And that was, after all, the original goal. So it was a terrifically successful Shopping Quest! AND there was no dragon slaying was required. Yay!
March 14th, 2019
I believe that yesterday I got half way through our adventures with Hurley and Jessie (where apparently I had 4 terrible hair-days. Looking at the photos now my first thought is...yay...the kids! My second thought is...yuck...my hair)
The last two days were a lot more low key. We spent a lot of time on the beach. Well who wouldn't? I mean, really. It's right there and it's gorgeous! There was a lot of exploring, wading, re-applying sunscreen (play smart!), relaxing and even a little napping. There is just something so soothing about the combination of the soft sand, the warm sun and the sound of the waves.... None of us are immune to it and it is addictive.
We did some local exploring, checked out a few open houses (why not?) and little local shopping. In the evenings we talked and laughed and played some games and worked on a massive jigsaw puzzle and even watched a tiny bit of TV.
They introduced us to a great Mexican market and restaurant that is right around the corner from us that we had no idea even existed (!!!). We took them for a wonderful brunch at a terrific french restaurant that we enjoy from time to time. It was a hit by the way. But we also ate at some existing favourite places that Hurley and Jessie had already visited and enjoyed at previous visits. In fact there are now enough places here that they already know and like, that we didn't have time to grab a meal at all of them!
We talked about places to go, places to eat and things to do at future visits. The keys, the Sugar Festival, the east coast, the Tampa area, just by way of example. We rated everything "best meal", "worst meal", "biggest surprise", "best ride", etc. And we talked and laughed some more. We told funny stories, shared crazy opinions, asked interesting questions and ate more cake and more cookies (and despite our best efforts still didn't finish either one!) and tackled the puzzle yet again. (it's still not done but it was a valiant effort and a noble beginning!).
All too soon, it was time to take them back to the airport where, naturally, we stopped at a coffee shop that has now become a traditional on-the-way-to-the-airport spot. The Sarasota Airport is small but we wandered through both of the little shops and admired the fish in the giant aquarium before lots of hugs and and thank you's and good byes and a few tears. We are always so sorry to see them go.
But we had a terrific time filled with adventures and explores and good food and even better conversation. We managed to get in some relaxation as well as great fun. And we cannot wait until we get to do it all over again!
March 13th, 2019
I'm back! Woohoo! And boy do I have great stories for you! We had SUCH a great time with Hurley and Jessie! But then, we always do ;)
Youngest son and his wife had already spent 4 days whooping it up at Disney when we picked them up and we all spent the first day together at Universal! You would think that after 4 days, totally immersion at Disney, that they would be ready to step away from Theme Parks, but let me tell you, these two have both stamina and enthusiasm! Two things essential to a really great theme park experience. It. Was. Awesome.
We hobnobbed with lots of celebrities of course:
There were lots of interesting shops to explore and snacks to try (the frozen butterbeer was a particular favourite as was VooDoo Donuts) but Tim and the kids were especially fond of the rides. Not me. I am the designated holder of other people's stuff and I'm fine with that:
Eventually, we ran out of steam and it was time to make the trek back home. I have to say here that the traffic was an absolute bear. A cranky, fat, snarly, smelly bear. What would normally be about a 2 hour drive became a 3+ hour ride. On the other hand, we had loads of time to catch up and yakyakyak and look at pictures on each other's phones. Eventually we arrived back in Venice where, because of the late hour, we just popped into a Perkins (open 24 hours a day and thank you very much for that) for a perfectly tolerable meal before finally arriving home and big time crash!
Day two was all about the Strawberry Festival and this was by their request, I swear! We hit the road early-ish, miraculously found rock-star parking and developed a game plan. Jessie wanted to see the animals first so off we went to admire chicken and bunnies and cows, wash hands THOROUGHLY and then a nice wander through various tents to see interesting strawberry themed, well, everything, amazing and talented craftsmanship (I was especially taken by the examples of cake decorating! wow!), and listen to some really good music.
Of course there were booths upon booths upon booths of fair food, some of which HAD to be tried. Some was very good, some very bad, but all of it was an adventure. And of course strawberry shortcake was eaten. I think it's a law that if you go to a Strawberry Festival, you are required to eat strawberry shortcake:
All of us declined any of the rides or games in the midway and by afternoon, we were ready to move on.
Once again, by request, the next stop were the outlet shops in Ellenton. Tim and I wandered around slowly, peeking into this store and that. Hurley and Jessie however, scored big time! Hurrah! I do love a great outlet store!
Back home to try out a Pizza Restaurant we had never tried before. It's funny how much more adventurous we are when these two visit us. They do research before they come down and always show up with a list of restaurants to try! Very fun! Then back home for home made cake. Of course I baked. Silly. That's not even a question!
Wow.....this a becoming long post. I think it'll have to be a two-parter.
See you again tomorrow ;)
March 06th, 2019
This past week was, somehow, an especially long week. Kind of a strange thing, but true. I mean, the week had the exact same number of days that every other week has, and each day had only 24 hours, the same as all days, but still, by Friday night, Tim and I were both toast. Just crispy.
I honestly have no idea why it would seem that way, but it did. It wasn't a bad week at all. Just long. I once saw a tee-shirt that said on it, "Today was one hell of a week". That's how every day seemed, about a week long. And a busy week too. It was good. Really good! I'm absolutely not complaining about the quality of the days, just the length.
Perhaps someone snuck in an extra day when I wasn't looking. We shall call that day, Knelbday. No particular reason. It just sounds right to me. The extra day was Knelbday. And it was tucked in between Wednesday and Thursday. Some sort of time-warp where we didn't notice that extra day of the week and yet it was there.
Or maybe it was just a matter of a few extra hours added within each day. That would certainly account for it. And they weren't sleep-hours either. No, of course not. Sleep hours would have been helpful. Nope they were productive, useful day-time hours.
Regardless. I am convinced that was what happened. One or the other for sure. The consequence of which being our especially exhausted, pooped out, blob-like existence when Saturday finally rolled around. We got up early and got cracking anyway, because we had things to do, people to see, places to go! And because that's just who we are. We are get-it-done kind of people. But by dinner time, just the prospect of coming up with an IDEA for dinner was just more than I could wrap my brain around.
I'm sure I auto-piloted some solution. I honestly do not recall. Maybe we went out and picked up something quick and easy. Maybe I threw something together. When I think back to Saturday evening, I got nothin' food related.
What I do remember is that we managed to haul our weary arses out of the house and strolled over to the beach to watch the sunset. It was exactly what we both needed.
We stood there and took it all in. We saw little brown birds bathing in the shallows. We watched slightly larger birds dashing to and fro as the tide ebbed and flowed. We were lulled by the gentle waves breathing in and out. We smiled at the sailboat bobbing and weaving beside the setting sun. AND for the very first time ever, I finally saw the green wink as the sun passed from view. So Exciting! I've been watching for that for the longest time and this was it. It finally happened. Woohoo!
That little break in the ordinary gotta-do rhythm of our day was exactly what we needed. It wasn't expensive. And in fact, it cost nothing at all. Just the energy required to walk a few blocks and the patience to wait for the magic to happen. I recommend it highly.
And on that note, I am going to take a few days off. We have company coming and we are so excited about it! I plan to return a week from today.
Have a lovely few days without my yakyakketyyaking all over the place. And we will catch up in a few days time. Meanwhile, have fun and be safe please! You are all precious to me.
March 04th, 2019
We hiked the equestrian trails again on Friday. Nobody seems to mind that we are horseless when we are there. The other people on the trails are obviously not anti-people, they are just pro-horse. And as we are animal lovers, and courteous hikers, it's really not an issue.
It was an absolutely perfect day. Warm enough to wear shorts but not hot enough to get sweaty. And for me, it was a very flower specific photo safari. Joy got her usual amazing array of all sorts of gorgeous photos too. It. Was. Awesome!
We never know what we are going to find when we head out. We just know that we will find something worth snapping a picture of two of. Or Three.
Bob was the point man. He scouted ahead to see if there was anything photo worthy. Spoiler alert: there always was. Sometimes we had to venture down a different path to see what he found. Other times it required going off trail just a wee bit. Each time, totally worth it. Joy and I don't mind getting a little dirty for our art .Joy had no issues, this time 'round with kneeling in the dirt and I had only the briefest of hesitations before walking through the tall grasses to get the picture I sought last week. And in outings of the recent past we have walked through muck, balanced on slippery and crumbling logs to cross streams, walked along a narrow concrete ledge above a waterfall and clambered over old train trestles. A true artist must be willing to to take risks and even suffer for their art, or so I've heard.
Not that this was in any way suffering you understand. This is what we call fun!
And it is. We spent a few hours, walked roughly 3 miles, captured some great shots and spent time together. Doesn't get much better than that! Here is sampling of some of my work from Friday's photo safari:
I mostly got photos of flowers this time 'round. It must be true spring now because they were everywhere! And it smelled so good! And although those stinkin' dragon flies refuse to hold still long enough for me to get their photographs, I did get a few other little bugs
When we finally called it quits and came back home it was time for a Surprise Birthday Party! Yup, March is Joy's birthday month. And because I gave her her gift early (which was a whole other story), she needed something celebratory in the actual month of her birth! Soooooo that calls for balloons, a card, a cupcake aaannnddd....a flashing happy birthday sign. Doesn't everyone need that?
She truly was surprised and it tickles me to bits that I was able to surprise her :)
Between her schedule and ours, it'll be a few weeks before we can go on another photo safari so I'm especially glad that this was a really good one.
And since I won't see her on her actual Birthday... (March 13th by the way)
Happy Birthday Joy!
March 04th, 2019
Chalk up another new experience for me! Woohoo!
My neighbor invited me to join her in this fiendish endeavor this weekend. I politely declined the 10K. It's not that I cannot do a 10K, it's that I don't want to do a 10K. At least that's how I felt about it when she asked me. But a 5K? Sure. That's just 3.1 miles. I walk that on the regular. No big deal. I can do that. And since I've never done an official any sort of K, I was looking forward to the novelty of it all.
I wasn't officially signed up. So I didn't have the numbers pinned to my shirt, or the snazzy hat and/or tee shirt. And since I didn't pay a signup fee, I didn't feel right about helping myself to any of the bagels or bananas or water bottles that were provided. I did however enjoy the music, the pageantry and the people watching, which, by the way, was primo. The race people, incidentally, were absolutely fine with me being there. I wasn't the only unofficial participant. They made sure that I understood that I couldn't run through the official finish line, or get the shirt or hat or the numbers. I was fine with all of the above.
There were so many people there! All in the same place, at the same time. Everyone from babies to old ladies. A company of "young marines" were there, a lot of what I would guess were high school kids, a surprising number of small primary school age kids, but then they always have loads of energy. There were people there with their dogs (on leashes), one toddler (also on a leash) one guy in a shark costume (!), quite a few ladies in sparkly attire, an astonishing number of people wearing shark fin headbands and everyone else.
We stood there, all gobbed up at the yellow-flagged starting line waiting for the official "go". we were a massive chunk of humanity all clustered into one relatively small and very specific area which was kind of funny since the beginning (and ending) of the race was on a fair grounds that borders the Venice airport. Nothing but space there. I mean I understand why, but it was still amusing to me.
'Bang" and we were off! Loads of people were running this 5K. I was not any of them. I used to run. I used to love running in fact. But my running days are long behind me. Oh once in awhile I get a wild hair and break into a gentle jog. But my knees and I both usually regret it in short order. So I knew I would be walking this race. I wasn't alone. The small group that I was a part of were all walking.
And we were all being passed in short order by so many people! At first just the hard core runners. Then by the joggers. Then the fastwalkers, which is where my groups split up. Two of our little group of 4 were fastwalkers. Which left the remaining two of us walking at, lets just say, a more leisurely pace. And that was fine with us.
The beginning of the race, as I already said, was the Venice Fairgrounds which are actually on the Venice Airport grounds, just way down on one end on old unused runways. This made for some interesting things to see as we watched planes take-off and land. The next part of the walk was along the Intercoastal Waterway. It was such a pretty place to walk. Water, greenery, boats, birds, what's not to like? Eventually the track to us back onto the fairgrounds and across the finish line. Well I crossed beside the finish line coz you know...unofficial walker. But I could still see the timer readout. And while we weren't the caboose, we were definitely those cars toward the end of the train and I can live with that.
It was still fun. It was very well organized. There were race people posted in various spots along the course offering cups of water, telling us how far we'd come and saying very encouraging things to keep us going. Everyone was so incredibly nice and upbeat and enthusiastic! Appleby's was there at the end cooking up hot dogs and hamburgers for anyone who wanted (I did not) giving out medals to the official participants who completed the course (the medals were a hoot - they looked like shark fins!) taking photographs and again cheering for everyone who finished.
We declined the food and went on to our various homes where I immediately showered. Worked up a bit of a sweat out there which is always a good thing. Tim then rewarded me by taking me out to breakfast at my favourite donut place.,..Yummies! And bonus points, It's paczki season! Woohoo!
Some people carbo-load before a race. I choose to do so afterwards. Sooooo Gooooood!
Would I do it again? Absolutely! And next time, I will make sure to sign up ahead of time so that I can be official. I think that shark's tooth medallion award would look really good on me.
March 01st, 2019
Well isn't this just the cutest stowaway ever?
I needed to do a really quick grocery store run today so inbetween laundry loads (it's important to time those right so that the clothes do not perma-wrinkle in the dryer) I grabbed my keys, my purse and my list, jumped in the car and off I went.
Generally speaking I don't frisk my car before driving anywhere. It never before occurred to me that I might need to.
As I stopped at the first intersection, I caught a bit of motion in my peripheral vision. At first I thought it was a leaf. Or a really big bug. Or maybe part of the windshield wiper was torn and needed to be replaced. As I accelerated past the stop sign, the thing in my peripheral vision became something in my direct vision. A lizard!
What? Am I really seeing what I think I'm seeing? At the next intersection was a red light so I was able to take more notice of this little guy. While the car was moving, he climbed back into the little recessed area that the windshield wipers rest above and he seemed fine. In fact, he seemed to be enjoying the ride. There he sat, facing outward, front legs on the edge of the recessed area, head lifted up into the breeze. He looked, for all the world, like a dog hanging his head out the window.
I found myself talking to this little guy. "Hang on tight buddy, I have to turn left". He hung on tightly. "No no, don't jump off here! You'll get run over!", when he climbed out of his little recessed area and crept slowly toward the left side of the car hood. Heeding my warning, he crept slowly back to the middle.
He crouched down low to the car when I accelerated and then stood up and looked around whenever I stopped. "Adventurous little creature!" I thought to myself. Sometimes he stood closer to the windshield, other times he bravely stepped further away. This was my view of him from inside the car (taken at a full stop at a stop sign by the way. Not while the car was moving!)
It was a little disconcerting dividing my attention between my little hitchhiker and the rest of the traffic on the road. I'm never comfortable driving anyway and distracted driving is never a good idea. But on the other hand, I really didn't want to watch my little lizard get hurt or worse.
Amazingly, he held on all the way to the grocery store. I kept up my little encouraging peptalk with him through my open window all the way to the parking space. "Just a few more minutes guy." "Once more turn and we are done". "Almost there" "Hold on just a few seconds more".
Once the car was parked I jumped out, intending to......actually I have no idea what I intended to do. Carry him over to an area with grass and trees? (there were some nearby) Put him in my purse for safety sake? My pocket? The backseat of the car in a teensy tiny lizard sized safety belt?
It's moot anyway. I couldn't reach him. He managed to sit in the exact middle of the hood starring at me. My arms are not longer enough to reach, and I'm not tall enough to climb up after him. So I suggested strongly that he just patiently wait for me. I told him that it was going to be a really quick shop and that if he would just sit tight, I would be back very shortly, and we could take the trip back home together. He would be returned to his little lizard family and his little lizard home.
But this was a lizard seeking adventure. A crusader, a bon vivant, an adrenaline junkie of a lizard! He was destined for bigger and better things. When I returned to the car, a very brief time later, he was long gone. I was kind of disappointed. But it's not for me to say what is the best life choice for him. Perhaps he is out seeking fame and fortune of a sort that he would never find in our yard.
So I just said, "Fare thee well, little lizard. I hope your dreams and wishes come true" and returned home alone.
And I bet he'll never write either.
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.