April 30th, 2018
One evening recently we walked to the beach after dinner hoping to see a pretty sunset. We actually haven't done it in awhile. During the "winter" and I use the term loosely, it gets dark so early and, well, I guess we had just gotten out of the habit. But this particular night, we set out.
It was just the tiniest bit chilly, the wind was blowing and it had been overcast all day. I don't know why I thought there would be a pretty sunset with all of those clouds, but maybe it was just an excuse to get out and walk in the evening.
I brought one of my many pair of "readers" in case there was something photo worthy. I find that I need the readers for both reading and photography, but that's about it. I wear the glasses with one 'arm' tucked into the collar of my shirt until I need them, pop them up to my face to take photographs and then take them back off. Because as blurry as the world is through camera lens without them, the real world is equally blurry to me with them. It's been an adjustment. Most of the time it's no big deal, just reading and photography require me to wear glasses. I'm rather enjoying the Not Wearing part more than I expected.
Anyway, Tim waited up on the higher part of the beach while I was closer to the water snapping a few shots and drawing hearts in the wet sand for my Mother. But my hair kept blowing in my face making it hard to see very well and the sun had disappeared into the sea once more. So I turned and ran back up onto the dry sand to find that Tim had also been taking pictures, but of me.
I have always been a little weird about having my picture taken which is strange considering how much I enjoy taking photos of everything and everyone else. But I am at least courteous about it most of the time. Tim however, just cracks me up when he takes photos of me. He likes to sneak photos. Candid shots. Not always the most flattering but definitely candid. He hits that button and doesn't let go so it's rapid fire photography, one after the other after the other. And even when I notice what he is doing he doesn't stop. I protest and step closer to him and he backs up and just keeps snapping and I don't know why, but it always makes me laugh. Maybe it's the single minded persistence. Maybe it's the surprise. Maybe it's his enjoyment of having played a trick on me that makes me smile.
After the fact, when I finally get to see the pictures, there is almost always at least one shot that I actually don't mind. Occasionally there is a photo of me that I even like. I like this one. Tim's pictures of me always show me as I actually am. Not the posed and poised version for a more formal photograph, but the relaxed and silly me, or the sad me, or the angry me, or the blahmeh me. All of which are the actual real person that I am. I suspect there is something special about a photo taken by the person who knows you best. Somehow, the person who truly sees who you are, can also express that through photography in a way that nobody else can.
So today, on this last day of April 2018, and I cannot believe that tomorrow is already the 1st of May, I thought I would share with you one of Tim's photos of me that I actually like. I look happy and relaxed and windblown and a little blurry. Just like I really am.
And for no particular reason, here is the photo that I took just before Tim snapped that picture of me.
April 27th, 2018
I am feeling old and wise today. No particular reason, just woke up with that countenance upon me. Ever do that? Just wake up in one frame of mind or another with no particular source that you can put your finger on? I never wake up in a bad mood, so it's more subtle than that. I have to really listen for it. The internal listen I mean, to properly determine which of the many layers to myself that exist, is at the forefront this minute.
I wasn't absolutely certain at first, although I had a sneaking suspicion about it. Then on my way to Pilates class, I was stopped by no less than 3 different people asking me questions. They passed other people by to specifically single me out, to query me. Two people in the class singled me out to ask my opinion about things too! I must look old and wise today as well.
So it is with that evidence that I feel confidently old and wise enough today to make the following statement: There are things in life that are very important. There are things in life that are not important. It is important to know the difference between the two.
Example number one: The colour of a kids hair is not important. It's really not. Are they good people? Are they kind and thoughtful and hard working most of the time? Are they creative and interesting and respectful more often than not? Are they healthy and loved and being educated? Those things are important. Fashion statements are not. Kids need to expressive themselves, dabble in style, figure out who they are. And it will all change. Long hair today, short hair tomorrow, big purse or small, shirts tucked in or left out, it all changes. Constantly.
Example number two: The cost of anything someone bought. I do not care. I will never care. I am not impressed even the teeniest tiniest bit by what anyone has. The only thing that ever has and ever will matter to me about a person is who they are. Their actual substance. The rest is just packaging and I'm not foolish enough to be distracted by a shiny bow.
Example number three: Which way the toilet paper hangs on the spindle. I know I'm being very controversial here. People get very heated about this topic which makes me laugh out loud. There are wars and famine and disease and natural disasters world-wide and folks, who otherwise, are very rational, reasonable and sane people absolutely lose their minds over which way the toilet paper hangs on the spindle.
My goodness. Relax people! There is a reason behind the rule. There always is :)
I looked into the history of this. The original patent on the toilet paper spindle way back in 1891 showed a diagram of the toilet paper hanging forward on the spindle like so:
And because of that patent application diagram, it was assumed that this was the "correct" way to hang the toilet paper. Honestly, that is the only reason. The. Only. Reason.
There are actually good reasons to hang it the other way sometimes. For instance, if a person has a cat who loves to play with the toilet paper roll. Have you ever seen the result of that? Cats love to play with things that move. Toilet paper on a spindle moves! If the paper is hanging forward, the cat pulls at it and the roll spins! And for a bonus the paper also unravels over and over until you have a pile of slightly scratched up, slightly furry toilet paper on the floor. Cat has long moved on to a sunny spot to have a nap. When the paper is hanging down the back, it doesn't unravel, so it's not nearly as much fun for the cat. You see?
As I approach my 65th year, I find that I am far more self-assured than I used to be. In fact, I am confident now in telling people to relax about the whole toilet paper positioning topic. It Does Not Matter. There are no toilet paper police who are going to charge into your home and fine you if the toilet paper is not hanging the proper way. There are so many other things to put time and energy into. Things that matter, like relationships!
The only two ways of hanging a toilet paper roll that should be considered unacceptable are:
Those two options are totally unacceptable. Everything else is honestly, no big deal. Choose your battles carefully or you may find yourself fighting everything with everyone all the time. And when that happens the only person you end up fighting with, is yourself.
And the only other important thing the Old and Wise Sam of today will say is,
The weekend is on the horizon. Enjoy the heck out of it!
April 26th, 2018
A funny thing happened last night in the drive-through......
No seriously, it did. Instead of our usual pattern of Tim finishing work just as I finish fixing dinner, we were out and about a little while last night. And our plans took a bit longer than anticipated so Tim suggested that instead of going home and waiting even longer for dinner while I prepared it, we do something we rarely do. We picked up fast food.
While other than my predilection for baked goods I both cook and eat rather healthfully, I am not a food-Nazi. I will eat the occasionally cookie with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. I enjoy peanut butter filled pretzels upon occasion. And I've never met a Dairy Queen blizzard that I didn't like. But it is unusual for us to eat at a fast food restaurant. And it's not really for "healthy" reasons or anything remotely political or snob level reasons either. It's just that calorie for calorie, it's just not as tasty as real food. If I'm going to consume that many carbs and calories and that much sodium and fat, it's going to be in the form of dessert, preferably home made and it's going to taste a whole lot better! But occasionally, it's just the most efficient means to fill the belly hole. This was that occasion.
The line was surprisingly long and the wait seemed out of proportion to the time of day, well technically night I suppose though the sun had not yet completely set. But by the end of the day generally, we are too tired to be impatient. So we waited for our turn to place our order. Then we waited to pay at the first window. And of course waited even longer for the actual food. Bellies rumbling with hunger, we tried to distract ourselves from the long wait. We listened to the radio, we chatted, I responded to a few emails on my phone and then I noticed this bird.
The bird slowly and elegantly walked to a grassy median on the side of the drive-through stepping out from between two cars. I held my breath, hoping people would notice him because who expects a bird to be in front of your car at a drive-through? And I know sometimes people are in a rush, or distracted, or sometimes people are just jerks frankly. But the bird made it safely. I started to breathe again. Whew! The cars all pulled forward one length and then stopped at the next window and then, as I watched, the bird crossed back to stand in front of the new forward. And this was the pattern. Every time the first car moved forward, he slowly stepped back to the grassy bit on the side, when the next car stopped he returned, over and over. What on earth?
We watched this little dance repeat until it was our turn to be at the food delivery window. As we waited, I watched the bird do his leisurely walk back to stand in front of our car. He starred at us over the hood, first with his left eye, then with the right. He paced, very slowly, back and forth, never leaving the space in front of the car. "What a crazy bird!" we said. The lady at the window handed us our bags, we checked them (as we always do) and the order was wrong (as it always is). Tim told her that we were short one sandwich. She apologized and asked us to wait right there. Ok, we didn't move forward. Neither did the bird.
Tim flashed his brights at the bird hoping that would suggest it move along. In response, the bird slowly folded itself down to the ground until we couldn't see it anymore. Ok that's not good. We want to know where this creature is. We absolutely do NOT want to injure it. Tim turned the lights back off. Ever so slowly the bird rose again, sort of like it was standing on the worlds slowest elevator. But since we were also at the worlds slowest drive-through, it wasn't an issue. We continued to wait for our missing sandwich, the existing sandwich getting cooler by the minute and the bird continued to stare at us.
What did it want? Is it trying to communicate with us somehow? I began to feel guilty for absolutely no reason at all other than that guilt seems to be my default setting. I offered to get out of the car and shoo it away. Tim shook his head. He chirruped at the bird, the bird starred at him. He chirruped again, the bird starred harder (if that's possible). "What do you want birdie?" I asked, as if it was going on answer me.
The bird starred at me for a change. "I don't understand what you want birdie" I said, "I'm sorry" I apologized for absolutely nothing because there was nothing to be sorry for and the bird continued to stare. It became comical. "Why are we starring at the bird?" I asked. "Because he is starring at us, I guess" was the answer. Maybe we were hoping for some sort of telepathic connection that never happened.
Finally, at long last, the missing sandwich arrived. Somehow the bird knew that we were getting ready to drive away because he turned and at an excruciatingly slow pace, he strolled back to the grassy area and we drove out. I looked in the rearview mirror and was amused to see that he again moved in front of the next car and was starring them down as well.
Our hold-up bird had moved on to his next victim, hoping that one of them either really could read his mind, I suppose. Or maybe he was just making sure that everyone waited until their food order was complete? I'm not sure if he was brave or stupid or a super risk taker because there was absolutely no guarantee that everyone driving through there last night was going to notice him or care. And of course, because it's what I do, I worried about that stupid bird for far too long after we left.
So it was an unusual experience. And once we got home we realized that our order was STILL wrong. But it's okay because that bird was definitely the entertainment portion of the evening.
I am so easily amused ;)
April 25th, 2018
Anybody, besides me, recognize this? In case you genuinely do not know, this is a clothes line. You rarely see them anymore. But until 1990, I used one of these at least once a week, usually more often. And, oddly, I miss it.
For the most part I am delighted with the improvements to my life by way of modern conveniences. Things like, oh say, indoor plumbing. Huge fan of indoor plumbing. And I honestly do remember when my grandparents in Michigan still had an outhouse. When they finally got an indoor bathroom, well, let's just say that I never before or after saw my Grandmother happier. She might have even cried a little bit and I don't blame her one single bit.
Modern washing machines are wonderful. They are so amazingly wonderful that I chuckle to myself every time I hear someone complain about having to do laundry. While I never had to beat my clothes on a rock in a stream to wash them or even use a washboard, I did use a wringer washer a very long time ago where everyone was on constant alert to be certain that I didn't crush my fingers in the wringer. Nowadays having the luxury of throwing things into a box, a "pod" of laundry detergent in after it, closing the door and pushing a button is no hardship.
Vacuum cleaners are another wonder. While I've never had to toss a rug over a tree branch and beat it with a stick to clean it, which is what my Mother did as a young girl, I have used a carpet sweeper which is the same thing as doing nothing. Those were the most useless pieces of equipment. Carpets were filthy in that era. Floors were swept and swept and swept again. Now I can vacuum the floors and the carpets and then with a few deft changes to the machinery also vacuum furniture and if I had any, draperies! Much easier and much cleaner.
A dishwasher! Yes there is a modern convenience that I can stand behind. I honestly think that the dishes come out much cleaner with a dishwasher than washing by hand. While I never really minded washing dishes, it played havoc on my hands. It turns out that there is something in dishwashing soap...all of them...that I'm really sensitive too and when I washed dishes all of the time I had a terribly painful rash on the skin of my hands. I didn't have a dishwasher until we moved to Colorado. It. Was. Awesome. Now I hope to never be without one.
But a clothes dryer? Well now there is something I feel completely differently about. While a dryer is very convenient on a rainy or snowy or below zero kind of day, the rest of the time, I actually enjoyed hanging clothes out on the line. I used wooden pegs, not the clippy kind with a spring on it, and I just enjoyed the rhythm of it I think. Standing outside enjoying the feel of the sun, the fresh air, the fragrance of freshly washed clothes, pegging the clothes to the line, one piece after another until it was all hung out to dry. I loved watching it ripple and flap in the breeze like living thing. By the way, the snap of a wet sheet in an autumn breeze sounds exactly like the snap of a flag in the same breeze. And then, a few hours later, taking the clothes back down, folding each piece into the basket like bread dough into a baking pan. There was just something so very satisfactory about it. And of course the scent of sun dried clothes simply cannot be replicated by dryer sheets no matter how hard they try. Yes, line dried towels are a little rough, but I even liked that. Think of it as an exfoliation treatment. The house smelled better back then because everything in the house was dried on the line outside and brought that wonderful fragrance inside back in.
When we moved to Colorado we lived in an HOA that forbid (forbid!) clothes lines. Seems to me that in a place with more than 300 sunny days a year and a reputation for being ecological forward thinking that using sun power to dry clothes would be a no-brainer. Nope. Forbidden.
We no longer live in an HOA community, but we also don't have a clothes line. I know that during the summer the high humidity would probably not help anything to actually dry, but the rest of the year it's glorious here! Perfect for sun-dried clothes.
Yes it's quicker to use the dryer and I do. It's efficient, it's fast and it does a good job. But while I adore all of the rest of my modern conveniences, I really miss using a clothes line.
April 24th, 2018
I noticed in the newspaper the other day that they still print a television guide. I was so surprised! I see no TV antennae's around anymore so I assumed, foolishly apparently, that everyone hereabouts at least, has cable TV. Every cable company that I am even remotely familiar with has their own TV guide channel. The things I learn.
I remember when nearly every family member spent a little time perusing the television guide whether it was the actual magazine (TV Guide) which, of course, my family was far too frugal to purchase, or reading the one that came daily in the newspaper (that would be my family). The question was always the same, "Is the show I want to watch on at the same time as the show someone else would prefer to watch?". Sometimes it was a knuckle biter. There was one TV in the house and we had to find a way to compromise. Sometimes that meant not seeing the show you were hoping to see. We learned to live with occasional disappointment. We were not scarred for life by this by the way.
It's not like we were a huge TV watching family, we weren't. And in fact, there were many times that days went by without the television being turned on at all. Of course that would mean that my mother's mother, who lived with us part of the year, wasn't there because she was very fond of her "stories". On weekday afternoons, she would perch herself on her favourite chair, mending or knitting in her hap, fingers flying furiously, while she watched her soap operas, muttering to herself the entire time ("That Erika is such a tramp!")
But we did enjoy some shows. The Ed Sullivan show was a staple in our house when I was very young as was The Wonderful World of Disney. If I recall correctly, both of them were on Sunday nights. Sometimes I liked them, sometimes not. And the thing was if any of us didn't want to watch the show, we didn't. There was always something else to do like read a book or play a game or practice piano.
Nana was a fan of The Lawrence Welk Show and lord help us, Hee Haw, and there was no way I was watching either of those. I would rather do homework frankly. But shows like The Dick Van Dyke Show and I Love Lucy and Bewitched, yeah, sometimes my sister and I would sit through those. But my favourites were the westerns I watched with my Dad, Bonanza and Rawhide, Yeehaw!~ And then there were the ones I wasn't supposed to watched but snuck down the hallway to sit behind my Dad's recline and peek between the chair and the wall to see. That would be science fiction shows like, The Twilight Zone. My mother was afraid it would give me nightmares. Never did. Not once.
But honestly, we really didn't watch a lot of television. There were so many other things to do when I was a kid at least. And being quiet and sitting still has never been something I do well and both of these qualities were required for television watching in our house. The parents were in charge of when the TV went on, when it went off, what channel played and at what volume. That's just how it was.
I think it was probably highschool before I really started having shows that I truly looked forward to and chose to watch on my own. Shows that my parents really didn't understand. They didn't stop me from watching, you understand, but they would just look mystified as to why I would want to watch it. Shows like, Laugh-in and The Monkees and The Marty Feldman Half a Comedy Hour. British humour was completely lost on them but they never told me I couldn't watch, bless their hearts. They would watch with me, Mother drifting in and out of the room, Dad watching over his book from his recliner, they would shake their heads and say, "Are you sure that's funny?" Meanwhile, I would be rolling on the floor with laughter. Their questions just made me laugh harder.
And then I went to college. For four years, I saw no television and you know what? I didn't miss it. Not at all. Maybe I was too busy to miss it. Between school and work and other work and studying and tutoring and socializing and running, who had the time for television? But shortly after I got out of school, I married and immediately produced three beautiful children. I still had no time for television unless you count Captain Kangaroo and Sesame Street.
It wasn't until the kids were older that I kind of rediscovered television and things had changed. VCR's allowed us to watch movies on our TV's! Wow! That's amazing! And the things they were now allowed to say and do on TV made my cheeks blush with embarrassment, at first. I was just not accustomed to it. Lucy and Desi slept in twin beds for heaven's sakes! So did Rob and Laura Petrie. And now I'm seeing Miami Vice and Hill Street Blues with sex and violence and dirty and grit. There was no dirt or grit on Bewitched. If there was, she would have twitched her pretty little nose and it would have disappeared.
I think I was a little shell shocked by how much TV had changed after all the time that I was away from it. Remember when I started out watching, TV was all live. Next to nothing was taped. There were very strict rules about what could and could not be said or done. There was a censor on site of every filming. The Smother's Brothers got kicked off TV for saying something that just a few seasons later was ho hum, no big deal. Suddenly everything was taped, the audience reaction was canned and it seemed that anyone could say or do anything at all. Things change. But I kind of didn't. There still wasn't much to keep my interest and most of the time, I read a book in stead. Oh there were a few shows, Fame comes to mind. I did love that show.
I think my interest in TV rekindled with the introduction of first, Quantum Leap and then The X-files. I had always been a huge science fiction fan. These were shows, custom designed for me! I watched every single episode of each show and it's rerun. When the first X-Files movie came out, I actually forked over the bucks to see it in the theatre. Shocking, I know. And I was so sad when each of these shows was over. Oh yes, I get it. It was time for the actors to move on to their next projects but, but, but, other than MASH reruns, what was I going to watch now?
Well now there are a zillion channels to chose from, most of which airs programming that I still don't care to see, but at least there are more options. And my favourite part. Nowadays it doesn't matter if I know when a show is or is not on, or whether it conflicts with something Tim would prefer to see because now we just record everything we like and watch it whenever we feel like it. And we can fast forward through the commercials, halleluiah! So I honestly don't know what day, what channel or what time any of the shows I like are on. I just needed to find it once, set it to record the entire series and at my leisure, watch what I want. It's awesome.
And then there are the specialty channels, HGTV almost always has something I will enjoy, any of the cooking/food channels are go-to's for me too. But the thing that is the most amusing to me is that in the middle of the night, when I can't sleep and I give up and wander out to the family room to watch TV, I tune in one of the oldie channels. I happen to know, for instance, that on the COZI channel, at 2:00am Quantum Leap reruns play. Funny, that's the only show that I know the time, and channel of these days.
And if there is nothing at all on that interests me, I still have no problem curling up with a good book instead.
What do you watch? What shows are your favourites? What shows do you remember from years ago? I love playing, Remember when with you guys.
April 23rd, 2018
Ahoy Matey and Welcome Aboard!
Yes, this past weekend was the Sarasota Boat Show and you betcha, we were there. And in fact, Joy and Bob, who are in the midst of that last bout of unpacking and settling in their new home and also at the same time, packing and getting ready to head to Yellowstone, very kindly stepped away from their myriad chores to join us! Super fun!
We clambered, climbed, tripped and fell onto many a boat, burning our feet a little bit frankly (since guests are always required to remove their shoes) on the hot decking. And other than the fact that they all float, really there were few other similarities. Truly amazing how many different ways they can design a boat!
Single hull, double hull, center console, inboard, outboard, fly bridge, bow, stern, starboard and port. That is the entirely of my familiarity with boat-language. No wait, Galley and, the most important one to me, Head. I refuse to even consider the possibility of a boat that has no bathroom. Even at the boat show. Even when we are just looking and not buying. My policy is, if you are going to dream, dream big ;)
We all had a good time, but Tim was happyhappy. He loves boats. I reallllly like them. He loves them. There is a difference. If we had a boat, I think Tim would be very happy living on it. I would enjoy spending a weekend, or maybe a week, maybe even two but then I would want to go back home to my real house. On land. Clearly we would have to come to some sort of compromise there.
While Joy and I were prowling through the boat peeking into cabinets and admiring how terribly cleverly the nooks and crannies were utilized, Tim was talking to the people in charge about power and navigation and depths and I don't even know what. But it all sounded terribly impressive.
Joy claimed the bow for her own. She announced that if and when we get a boat, she will be seated with her camera in the bow the entire time taking photos, Bearing that in mind, it must be a boat with a comfy enough bow space for her to do that very thing. Okay, it is also on the list now. Bob announced that his favourite kind of boat was one that someone else is piloting. Done! No worries, Tim likes to drive. We are easy to please.
The sun was playing peek-a-boo so it wasn't too hot, the humidity wasn't bad yet, we went early enough in the day that while there were plenty of people there, it wasn't too horribly crowded and there was a lovely breeze. The company was good, the weather was cooperative, and once too many people were on site, we went to lunch and had a very nice meal and a few laughs. All in all, a very nice way to spend a Sunday!
Hope your Weekend was a good one too, even if you didn't get to attend the boat show. Oh well, maybe next year.
April 20th, 2018
What a beautiful photo (no it's not. not at all) This is the pump to our well. It looks as if it has seen better days doesn't it. Well it's not a youngster that's for sure.
I had no idea that we even had a well when we bought the house. But apparently, when the house was built in 1961, there was no city water on the island. Every house has it's own well. Once the place was ready for city water to be piped in to all of the houses, and honestly I have no idea when that was, the well was relegated to irrigation instead. And I'm sure that at some point, that even worked. Here and there around the yard I see sprinkler heads, most of them broken, and there is a Rainbird timer system attached to the wall in the utility room. But none of it works now.
Of course, again, we didn't know that it didn't work when we bought the house. And I didn't know about the well. It's entirely possible that someone told me at some point and the words just drifting in and right back out of my brain. We looked at so darned many houses before we bought this one that the tiny details of each one kind of muddled together. This information might very well have been included, along with a zillion other pieces of information in the five zillion pieces of paperwork that require signature when we got to the closing of our house purchase. Honestly I do not remember. I do remember being surprised to find that the sprinkler system, which I saw clear evidence of, did not work. At all.
But we moved into the house in June. June is the beginning of hurricane season here so it will come as no surprise that it's also the beginning of the rainy season. There is no need for irrigation when it rains nearly every day for at least a few minutes. Everything outside was green and lush and the lawn was very nearly a carpet of what at least appeared to be, grass and clover. We saw bunnies happily munching away, bunnies each grass and clover so the assumption was made. Lawn = grass, right?
Then, in November, we waved so long to Hurricane season and howdy do to the dry season and the weather was cooler and less humid and downright lovely. Except, it didn't rain. At all. For months on end. That was a surprise. I honestly had no idea that Florida had a dry season. Well okay then. Good to know. That's when I found out that we had a well and that it was solely used for irrigation. Cool! So Tim tried too get the sprinkler system to work, to no avail. Dang! At that time we were fully immersed, both financially and physically, with fixing the inside of the house. Our thought was kind of," oh dear the sprinkler system doesn't work. At some point, we will have to find out why." And then it slid to the bottom of the list.
That is when we found out that the lush green of our lawn was not so much grass as reasonably attractive weeds and some clover. I began watering by hand which was a major time consumer and requires a level of patience that I do not have. So we bought a long garden hose and one of those sprinkler things that whips around flinging water in every direction. But, this was using city water. The stuff piped in to the house which becomes prohibitively expensive in very short order. I tried to keep the sprinkling time to a minimum. Bear in mind that this still required a lot of time moving the sprinkler around the back yard and then the front yard. About two hours of my day involved moving the sprinkler, turning the water on, setting a timer, turning the water off, moving the sprinkler and repeat. And Tim worrying about the high price of our water bill. It was ridiculous. I found myself doing it less and less often just because it aggravated me so much.
Which means young shrubs started dying. (the older ones are absolutely fine) The lawn looked worse and worse. And just as I began to despair in earnest, the rainy season came again and the plants and trees thrived and the lawn (such as it is...which is green so I don't care) returned and everything was good. Until the next dry season where it all began to look very sad again. This time I talked to our lawn guy. He told me that the entire time the previous owner lived here the sprinkler system didn't work either. So now I'm seeing that for at least five years there has been no irrigation system. Hmmmm.
Tim and I decided to see if anything could be done about this, assuming the problem was the pump. It does look like a likely candidate for a culprit don't you think? Perhaps if we invested in repairing the old pump, we would once again have a happy green lawn. So yesterday the Well Guy came out to check the pump and the well. Through some magic he actually got the pump to work, eventually, shocking us both frankly. But that's when we found out that although the well does seem to still have water in it, the water is high in iron content which means it will stain anything it touches a brownish red colour. And further, there is a rather important broken line leading from the well. We know this because once the pump kicked in, water shot up out the ground like a geyser. Then following the sprinkler lines around the house, most of them are broken. I mean seriously broken. It appears that some madman with a hatchett chopped them into pieces. Or mad woman I suppose. I don't want to be accuse of being a sexist.
So, good news, the pump works after a fashion. More good news, the well has water, heavy in iron, but still water. Bad news, the irrigation system is broken beyond use and the entire thing needs to be dug up and replaced. And the cost of all that is insane. Ratz. Well that won't be being corrected today. Or tomorrow. Or next week. And heck, the rainy season is nearly upon us again which means all things green will be absolutely fine until the next dry season.
We will think about it then.
April 19th, 2018
I am going to go out on a limb here and assume that most everyone know who Heloise is. She is the nice and very knowledgeable lady who writes the newspaper column, "Hints from Heloise". It's all household tips and hints and occasional recipes. She is a veritable treasure trove of information. She has great ideas for everything like making your whole house smell fresh by placing a few drops of lemon oil on the filter of your heat or AC or instructions on how to make your own household cleaners on the cheap. If you need to get a smelly fish stink out of your fridge or get a red wine stain out of white carpet Heloise is your girl. She really is amazing. I've been reading her column for years.
That said, most of what she writes doesn't actually apply to my life. I am impressed as all get out by her knowledge but I just tuck it away in my memory banks in case I ever lose my mind and buy white carpeting. Or cook a fish.
In my many years on this planet, I have learned a few things about taking care of a house. Mostly through trial and error, you understand, but things that apply more to my life. So I kind of have my own set of housekeeping rules. Here are some of them:
1. Don't be a slave to your house. Yes it's important that it be at least clean enough that your guests do not require a Hazmat suit in order to visit. But it doesn't have to be perfect all of the time. I remember my mom, bless her heart, chiding me about the state of my kitchen floor and proudly saying that we could "eat off her floors". I wondered why anyone would want to eat off her floor when she has a perfectly good table. There is an old saying that nobody ever dies thinking, "If only I had kept my house cleaner". It's true. People and our relationships with them are far more important than our houses. If you have a choice between spending the day with someone you love or cleaning your house, choose your loved one. Every Time.
2. That said, there has to be some level of tidiness and cleanliness in your home. You do not want your house to be condemned by the Board of Health or a breeding ground for another Plague outbreak. There is a spot somewhere in the middle that is just fine. It's probably different for everyone, the acceptable cleanliness level, and it may require some compromise on the parts of everyone in the home. But that level exists. Find it, everyone agree upon it and life will be better :)
3. Tidy as you go. It honestly only takes minutes if you clean right behind yourself. When I'm baking I create one unholy mess. I don't mean for it to happen but every single time I bake, I have to clean big time. BUT, if I wipe up the mess from where I accidentally dribbled egg immediately instead of waiting for hours, it cleans up faster, easier and more thoroughly. If I wipe up where I oopsied the paint while painting the trim around the window, it comes off cleanly and quickly instead of having to scrape the paint off later.
4. Delegate. There is no reason on earth why an 8 year old cannot make his or her own bed, clean their own room, make their own sandwich AND clean up after themselves afterward. True, reminding them (twenty times!) to do it is one more chore for you in the short term, but in the long run, it will become a lifelong habit for them. And that is a good thing. We are supposed to raise our children to become strong, independent and capable. That only happens when it starts very young and is consistent. Making the effort with them now will pay off big time later.
5. Don't be so darned picky. There is more than one way to do everything. Just because another person in your house doesn't do a chore exactly the way you do it, doesn't automatically mean it's wrong. It just means that it's different. Take a breath before you criticize. If you complain about the job they did, they are less likely to do the job in the future. You want to foster the habit, encourage the behavior and that comes with positive reinforcement.
6. When you do a BIG cleaning, start from the top and work your way down. That one is from my Nana. What she meant was to start cleaning up high and do the floor last. All the dust and dirt and whatever else you clean off the ceiling fans falls to the ground. You don't want to have to re-vacuum. That is not a good use of your very valuable time.
7. There actually is a particular and more efficient order to doing a big clean. Dust first, then vacuum then wash (whether it's floors or carpets being washed)
8. Everyone has that one job that they hate. If you can hand it off to someone else, do so. In trade, you do the one thing that they hate. Seems fair enough. In most houses nowadays, all of the adults are at work all day .That mean that all of the housework should be fairly distributed between everyone who lives in that house. Unless you have the means to hire a housekeeper, or have an especially clever dog, the work still has to be done and there is no reason in the world that one person should have to both work full time outside the home and then have a second job taking care of the inside alone. There simply isn't. Period.
9. Try to screw on a good attitude about chores. We all have to do them, we may as well have a good attitude about it. A bad attitude doesn't improve the chore. Some people play music while they work. Some people make phone calls while they clean. Think deep thoughts, problems solve, contemplate the meaning of life. Sing, dance, whatever you need to do to make the chore less, well, chore-like. I don't mean that you need to be excited about what you are doing. "Gosh I'm so happy that I'm scrubbing this filthy toilet! Woohoo!" That's rediculous. I just mean don't be angry about chores. Honestly it won't change a single thing about the chore. If you fake it long enough, the fake good attitude often becomes a real good attitude.
10. Simplify. The less stuff you have, the less stuff you have to clean. Generally speaking, if I have limited time, I concentrate on the kitchen and the bathrooms and then do one quick zoom through the house picking up anything out of place (generally shoes and newspapers) and putting those things away. And then I'm done. I mean seriously, I'm good. Small house, not much stuff, less time cleaning.
11. Prioritize. We all have limited time. Do the things that really matter. Like, cleaning the toilet, doing enough laundry that nobody is wearing yesterday's underwear inside out. For me one thing that I ALWAYS do, every single day is make the bed. There has been a lot of talk lately about making the bed. Apparently the majority of people simply do not have time to make their beds anymore. Seriously, I don't know if you've seen this or not, there was a study done! And there are those who claim that NOT making your bed daily is good for you. Hmmm. Sounds like an excuse to me and a lame one at that. I once timed myself. It took less than 4 minutes to make my bed. Less than 4 minutes. Personally, I like the way the bedroom looks with the bed made. When it's not, it looks cluttered and then I feel messy and unorganized and I don't like that. I'm not saying everyone has to feel the way that I do about it, I'm just saying that I have noticed a direct correlation between a tidy environment and a tidy life. Just sayin'.
12. There are a few things that are completely worth the financial investment. If you live in a dry environment a humidifier is worth the money. When the air is too dry, you may experience more sinus infections, more colds or nose bleeds so it's definitely good for your health. But it's also good for your furniture. When the air is too dry, furniture dries out, there is more of an issue with static electricity and dust clings stubbornly to whatever it touches. If you live in a moist environment, a de-humidifier is a must! It keeps that icky gymsock smell out of the air and prevents mold. Mold is not only bad for your health, but it's a serious PIA to constantly clean it off of everything all of the time.
13. The last bit that I will offer and this one is also from my Nana. I'm sure you've heard it before. "A place for everything and everything in it's place". There should be a dedicated spot for every item in your house. When anyone uses or utilizes any object, that object should e returned to it's 'home'. It literally takes seconds to do. This is where pencils belong. This is where spoons belong. Dirty dishes. Shoes. Keys. Glasses. This way you will never ever lose anything. Ever.
Ok! So there you go, a nice bakers dozen of ideas with many apologies to Heloise. I'm not saying this what anyone else should do, I'm only saying that this is what works for me. Find the thing that works for you! And then spend your time with the people you love, not a cleaning bucket and mop.
April 18th, 2018
This is a stop sign, right? And, to the best of my knowledge, that means that any vehicle that comes upon one must actually stop, yes? That is it's intent. You approach, you stop, and when it's your turn, you go. That's how it works. Or at least that is how it's supposed to work.
I have noticed, since I've lived here, a distinct uptick in people's disregard to road signage. Which means that on the rare occasion when I actually do drive, I know that I must be on High Alert at all times. Defensive driving is an absolute must. It is exhausting. Yet another reason to not want to drive.
I'm not talking about rolling stops. We all do that occasionally. It's wrong but it's not the end of the world. Nobody coming in any direction? Yeah, roll up to the sign kinda slow, double check for any other vehicle or pedestrian and then slowly speed back up. Rolling stop. Also known as a Broadway stop. I'm okay with that actually as long as the effort has been made to at least slow down and check in all directions. It's the blatant disregard that ticks me off. It's as if there is no sign there at all. It's not as if the sign were large and red and ...oh wait, it is. I assume that for some people there is fine print that only they can see that says..."Except for you of course".
There is a 4-way intersection here that is particularly annoying. Not because of the actual intersection, but the way drivers use it. Picture this. There are three lanes. The one on the left for turning left, the one in the middle for going straight and the one on the right for turning right. There are Very Large arrows in the center of each of those lanes indicating what the drive is supposed to do. There are even signs that say things like, "Right Lane Must Turn Right". Other than drive the car for you, there isn't much more that the town can do to help you out here. And yet. And yet! People in the right lane insist on going straight. Which becomes a problem about in about one car length. People in the center lane try to go right. Or left. Which is an ever bigger problem. And one time someone in the left lane changed there mind and decided to go right. Yikes!
Speed limit? What speed limit? Regardless of what the signs say, there are some cars zoom by in a blur as if they were low flying planes, or doing the quick and constant lane change maneuvering on these roads like is was the INDY 500. And then there is the other extreme. The cars that go poking long even more slowly than I drive (which is saying something). I actually found myself saying to one car this morning..."Pedal faster!!" with great irritation (made Tim laugh though). It was one of those very small 'smart' cars. It's a good thing the car is smart, the driver certainly wasn't. There was a veritable parade of vehicles behind him.
Then there are the ones on their cell phones, texting, talking, watching videos, taking pictures. Stop it! I know they all think it's ok just this one time, but it only takes one time to be the last time. I saw a bumper sticker once that said, "Honk if you love Jesus. Text if you want to meet him right away". I love that sticker. And it's not just phones. I've seen women's fixing their hair and putting on makeup. I've seen people reading maps (real fold out maps....yes they still exist), turning around to talk to people in the backseat (bad idea...face forward..that's where the road is), eating and drinking of course, times when I have no idea WHAT they were doing. I only know what they were not doing which is paying attention to the road!
The assumption here, I know, is that all of these terrible drivers are oldsters. You would be wrong! There is something about crossing over the state line in Florida that makes everyone a little crazy. Perfectly good drivers normally just lose their minds. It's as if, all bets are off, the rule book is tossed out the window and chaos rules. And I honestly do not understand why this should be the case. While plenty of the rule breakers are indeed geriatric, there are people of ALL ages breaking the rules.
Correct me if I'm wrong here but when a person gets their drivers license, they have to sign it. And that signature is tantamount to signing a contract with the state indicating that you have agreed to follow all of the rules of the road. It is essentially a legal agreement and the signer has the obligation now to stop at the stop sign, stay at least close to the speed limit and be in the correct damned turning lane! Geez!
It's not just because a rule is a rule is a rule. Our society is not functional through anarchy. No society is frankly. Traffic rules are there for a reason. It's not just annoying when people don't follow the rules, it's dangerous.
I once heard comedian Ron White say, "You can't fix stupid". He was saying it for comedic effect, of course, but apparently that is far more true that I realized. Because if anyone thinks that a bad accident cannot happen to them, well that is just stupid.
Drive Carefully and Defensively please. I cherish all of my friends and I don't want to lose anyone if it can be prevented.
April 17th, 2018
Sunday was a rainy day here. Not just rain, actually. It was wind and rain and thunder and the whole shebang! It was glorious!
We slept late like the slackers that we aspire to be and that was a wonderful way to start the day. Getting up slowly and relaxing through breakfast and the reading of the newspaper, showering and dressing at a non-rushed pace with absolutely zero plans for the day!
At that point it was merely grey and gloomy and non-sunny in every possible way which just means a sleepy, slow-moving sort of Sunday. Always a treat! But shortly thereafter, the wind picked up. And I mean picked up the umbrella from the courtyard and threw it around. Tim ran out to rescue it as I watched palm fronds fly through the air and birds seem to hover in place, unable to fight the wind. So naturally we jumped in the car and headed for the jetty to watch the waves in the coming storm.
I'm not certain still why those wildly crashing crazy storm waves are so appealing to us, but we just cannot seem to resist them. We aren't the only ones either. There were dozens of cars full of people fascinated by the sight. Some folks just watched through the windshield where it's warm and dry. Others, like us, were out climbing around on the rocks, flirting with danger and taking photos, and two people were serious risk takers as they dashed down the length of the jetty even while the water crashed against them and waves swept across the width of the path! I'm crazy but not stupid. I didn't do that. And honestly, my heart was pounding a little bit as I watched them. Those waves can toss people right off the path if they wish to. Fortunately, they did not want to that day. If required, I would jump in to try to save them, but I don't want to have to, y'know?
But I did take photos !
We stood there watching, holding our breath as they ran, laughing, to the end, then turned and ran back. They were lucky. Well, I suppose we were too. We watched them return safe and sound (thank goodness). By then, Tim and I were wet with seaspray and salt encrusted and stinging from the wind spinning the sand around. It felt like we were being stung by tiny little bees. Ouchie! And yet there we stood entranced by it all.
Eventually of course we left, as the rain began to fall in earnest. We got a few things done at home, read a little bit, watched an old movie, took a little nap and then, in the midst of the worst of the wind and rain, drove back to the jetty. We were nearly the only ones there by then. This time, we stayed in the safety and warmth of the car while we watched the spectacle. But I did roll down the window once to take this photo:
Visibility was extremely poor at that point and what looks like fog on the rocks? That's seaspray again, only more of it. We didn't stay long but long enough to appreciate the show. I was tempted to break into applause! We went back home and I fixed dinner and we listened to the sound of the rain on the roof. It's like music to me. I just love it.
I know, we are crazy people. In another life, I might have been a storm chaser! Which is crazy because remember me? The big chicken? The girl who won't ride a roller coaster? Yup, same person. Hard to believe. But I do love a good storm.
Hey, everyone needs a hobby!
April 16th, 2018
I got to hike at the Carlton Reserve! Woohoo!
I thought I'd have to wait until next year but since my sister is the absolute best, she made the time in her very crazybusy getting ready to leave for Yellowstone schedule and late last week, we made the trek. It's actually not far from where I live, same town, off island but still relatively speaking, close by. She, on the other hand, had to drive about a half hour to get here, again, in the midst of doing ten thousand or so other things so I was both surprised and reallllly excited that we were able to get out there.
Now, Tim and I found the place nearly two weeks before so the directions had already faded a bit from my memory banks and I was only passengering, not driving. It's a different perspective, learning a route, when you are not the one behind the wheel of the car. But I reviewed the directions with Tim just before we left. It wasn't far, as I said, but we probably circumnavigated a particular roundabout twice before making the decisions which way we were supposed to turn. Thankfully it was the right call or we might still be out there somewhere, endlessly circling the roundabout, trying to figure it out.
Once we arrived at the trail head, we checked the big old map at the trail head and I took a picture of it for future reference, just in case. The paths are colour-coded which is nice and, after a little discussion, we decided which trail to take and headed out. Remember now, this is the first hike in this park and also the first big hike after eye surgery so it was every exciting for me. Instead of it being an absolute mystery, I could actually see what Joy was photographing. Butterflies, dragon flies, bees were not just visible to me but unmistakable. Awesome! We hiked and talked and snapped photos, like usual, loving the trail and the fact that other than one small group of trail bicyclers, we saw nobody else. NO crowds. Love that.
And then, the trail seemed to change. Hmmmm. Seemed odd, but we just shrugged. It wasn't a huge change and it would be hard to describe what felt different about it, honestly. But again, we've never been out there so perhaps that was just how it was. And the area was still gorgeous with plenty of photo op so we kept going. And then Joy noticed that the trail marker colours had changed. How on earth did we miss our turn? Weird. It seems that we are on a different trail now, but as best as we could remember, it was still one of the shorter trails. so we just thought, "How funny" and we kept going. And happysnappy taking so many wonderful photos and loving every minute of it.
There is something so peaceful and restoring about walking on dirt in a quiet place surrounded by green. We heard far more birds than we saw, which is almost always the case, and that's fine too. The forest is allowed it's mysteries. The air is better there, it smells so good. Cleaner, more fragrant, and it changes with every turn in the path. The smell of the soil is strong and I can always tell if there is water nearby too. Ponds and rivers have their own scents that stand out from the rest the birds change, the flora is different when water is nearby. Some parts of the trail are thick with trees and canopy and vines so it's cool and shady and other parts of open with shorter trees and shrubs and filled with sun. Some parts smell loamy and wet and the soil is rich and dark. Other parts are lighter and the soil is mostly sand and the greenery feels more fragile. We love the variety.
I seem to take a lot of pictures of flowers. Flowers hold still for me. Wildlife does not. Joy is in charge of photos of wildlife. She has an amazing talent for it.
To be fair, I'm only using the camera on the cell phone. Joy is able to get other things like the dragonflies and spiders and birds critters of every stripe with her real camera which is a really nice Nikkon. There are various lenses and smoke and mirrors and all sorts of magic tricks involved. Her photos always completely blow mine out of the water. But it's not a competition, it's a hobby we share. And I love that we have that in common.
So the trail kept going and therefore, we kept walking. And of course, we have no map other than the photo I took of it in the beginning. Hours sped by and, while at first we didn't notice eventually it seemed as if we had been walking a really long time. Finally I consulted the map photo and it....didn't help one darned bit. If you don't know where you actually are in the midst of more than 24,000 acres, well let's just say, that we had no point of reference. But, with few other options, we continued. We knew that eventually we would end up somewhere.
And since we were walking anyway, we kept taking photos too. When the trail bicyclers sped past we called out to them and asked if they knew how far ahead was the trail end. "We don't have any idea" they called back. It was their first time there too. Ok, we were getting thirsty. Make a note, Next time we will bring water. We know better, both of us. But we hate carrying a lot of heavy stuff. As it is, Joy is hauling a lot of camera equipment so we tend to just be thirsty and gulp loads of water after the fact. Bad habit I know. Then we were starting to get a little tired too, but there is just something so compelling about a curve in a trail. "Maybe we will take a break when we get to that curve up ahead" we promised each other. And after that curve and a few more great photos, there was another curve and another. You see the pattern emerging.
We promised each other that we when finally got out, every trail leads somewhere, right (?) we would treat ourselves to Dairy Queen. Seems like a fitting reward. And it spurred us onward. Finally, we got to a place that seemed, vaguely familiar to me. I jogged ahead to check it out. A few turns down the trail there it was, a marker!! I jogged back. "I found it" I claimed as triumphantly as the first person to strike gold in 1849 in California! 'Hurrah" we both cheered. But as we approached the final turn on the trail, we found a sentry. A gigantic bumblebee. No, I'm serious.
He crisscrossed the end of the trail back and forth like an insect soldier. This was the biggest bee either of us had ever seen. Back and forth he went. We stopped and watched. Primarily for Joy to get a photo of him. He would zigzag back and forth and back and forth across the end of the trail and then turn and speed toward us. At the last second he would sweep up and away from us and then just as quickly zoom back between us. We could hear the buzzzzzz as he flew, at top speed, directly in the middle of the space between us. It was wild! We stayed frozen in place, her camera at the ready. And she would hit that button, snappitysnapsnap, one photo quickly after the other at the exact right moment. Then I would hear, "Dang! It's blurry" as she checks the shot. The bee would resume his march back and forth for awhile as Joy made some minute adjustments to her camera. Then he would turn and come at us again, circle behind us and then zoooom between us once more, while she snapped quick shots. Over and again.
Eventually she got the shot she wanted, we waved goodbye to him and made that last turn off the trail and back down the path to the parking lot.
We did treat ourselves to Dairy Queen on the way home too. We had hiked for miles and took some really good photos. We both agreed that we totally deserved it. The last DQ of the season always tastes the best. It's always a little sad to know that it's the last hike together for a long time, but we have great memories to share and some pretty good photos too.
April 13th, 2018
This is right outside our backdoor. Delightful (not!) Wasps.
Over and over again, Tim's risks their ire by knocking it down. They return and build it back up. I spray Wasp repellent like a maniac and probably shorten my own life exposing myself to terribly toxic chemicals. Doesn't seem to bother them one bit. I think they bathe in the stuff daily. The probably have wasp spray cocktails before dinner every night.
It was suggested to me by a friend to spray them with the old Listerine. That nasty smelling and even worse tasting brown stuff that could remove at least one or two layers of skin from the inside of your mouth. I think they gargled with the stuff. They probably had very good breath but otherwise, it didn't impact them at all.
Mothballs was another suggestion. I can only say that the wasps families winter clothes will not be bothered by moths. However, they were unaffected in any other fashion.
The only thing we have heard of that we have not yet tried is the blue paint trick. Have you heard of this one? Apparently wasps either intensely dislike the colour blue or perhaps they are tricked into thinking anything painted blue is the sky because we are told that wasps will not build nests on anything painted blue. Not just any blue mind you, but the clear light blue of a cloudless summers day. In the south at least, there are many a porch ceiling painted this particular shade of blue. Hmmmm.
Before I invest the money and the energy into this idea, I will need to do a little more research on it's effectiveness. We are talking here about the underside of the roof overhang. Oh, and some of it is wood, some of it is metal. I know that there is paint that works on metal. For some reason, I seem to think it is spray paint. I wonder if they have spray paint in light blue? And would the same paint work on wood as metal or would that require two different types of paint? What a PIA.
I have to give the wasps points though, they are persistent. I think if someone kept destroying my home over and over and over again, I would eventually give up. But nope, they return every time. And not just return and rebuild either. They come back and rebuild in the EXACT same spot every single time. There must be something superspecial about that spot.
When I first moved to Texas, which is a tornado heavy state, I remember reading in the newspaper about a rebuilding fund for a town that was devastated by a tornado. Of course I felt dreadful for those folks who lived there and I mentioned it to one of my new Texas friends who then informed me that that particular town got hit hard by tornados every single year. It seemed obvious to me that the town had been built in some sort of natural tornado path and wondered why they didn't just rebuild it a little to the right or the left of that path the next time? I still wonder about that. I'm sure there is a reason. Just one that I do not know. Maybe that town was originally built in the most beautiful and amazing spot in all of the enormous state of Texas. A spot that is just too good to walk away from.
And it's probably the same sort of thing with this wasp nest. That spot under the overhang right outside our backdoor must be the wasp sweetspot. Maybe for them it's like having an ocean front home or one of those houses that appears to be teetering on the edge of a cliff. The owners know that there could be a hurricane or a mudslide that might destroy the building, but they build it there anyway because the view is just so spectacular that it's worth the risk.
I suppose all of life is a risk and it is absolutely worth taking. I don't know about the view all of the time, but life itself? Beautiful.
April 12th, 2018
So this happened.
The funniest part is that I almost never go barefoot. Specifically because I'm clumsy and accident prone and I got tired of taping up broken toes. Eventually I accepted the fact that there are some people on this planet that should always wear shoes. And perhaps protective padding. And maybe bumper guards. I am one of them.
But on this particular day it was raining. Not just a little sprinkle either. It was a thunder rumbling, full orchestration, drumming downpour and we were happy to see it too. The winter is our "dry" season where it rains very rarely and everything green gets a little cranky. But the mailman had already been by and I saw that he stopped by our mailbox. So I grabbed an umbrella and dashed out in my sandals, grabbed the mail and splashed my way back inside. As soon as I stepped inside, I took off my sandals so that I wouldn't track wet leaves or pebbles or sand any further into the house, put the umbrella in the umbrella stand (there's a great invention by the way), the mail on the kitchen table and went on my merry way.
My merry way led me back to the family room where I had already set up the ironing board, iron, pile of wrinkly clothes, spray bottle of water and hangers. I suppose I could have stopped to put other shoes on but maybe I was feeling reckless. I know the thought crossed my mind at one point that I should, but, I reasoned, and I remember thinking this, "I know that my floor is clean, my feet won't get dirty." That was the actual thought that ran through my head. Not, "Sam you know you are a klutz, put shoes on for heaven's sakes", but a confidence that my floor is clean. (Insert here much shaking of the head)
I went about my ironing as I always do, with the TV on catching up on whatever show I had previously recorded but not seen. So it's a type of low-level multi tasking. I'm thinking whatever random thoughts are running through my head at that moment (and there are a lot of them), paying attention to the show (partly), focused on the specific iron-y needs of whichever garment I am facing at that moment (mostly), placing it on a hanger, going to the bedroom to hang said item up and repeat. Somewhere around the 3rd of fourth article of clothing as I stepped around to grab a hangar, eyes riveted to the TV screen (it was an exciting moment), one hand holding the shorts I just ironed, pain shot up my leg from my heel. "What the heck?"
I hung the shorts up anyway (not going to risk a wrinkle and have to iron them again!) and then perched the hanger off the end of the ironing board. Now hands free, I pretzeled myself so that I could look at the bottom of my foot. I couldn't make out what exactly the culprit was but with my fingers I could feel something hard and sharp sticking out of the heel. Something had been lurking in the rug that was now 3/4 imbedded in my foot. Ratz!
So I limped into the bathroom, leaving a trail of blood behind me to clean up later and then once seated and armed with bandaids, hydrogen peroxide and antibiotic cream realized that I could not see what I was doing. My foot was too close. So I had to limp back out, grab a pair of my reading glasses and return, making a mental note of yet another blood trail to clean. Ahhh, better, now I could see what I was doing. But the mystery sharp thing was too slippery to grab with my fingers. Time to rummage around for tweezers. Tweezers, by the way, are sharp little beggars on their own. I probably did as much damage prodding and probing with those tweezers and trying to remove the sharp thing, as the sharp thing did on it's own! But at long last, with much muttered swearing under my breath, the sharp thing (which turned out to be a bit of hard plastic packaging) was removed, the foot was cleaned and bandaged and the cleaning could commence.
Eventually of course, the floors were clean, the bathroom practically sterilized (I made that big a mess that it was required) and both a sock and a shoe were now protecting both feet. Ironing resumed and all was well though I did limp a bit for the past few days. And bandaids, by the way, do not stay very well on the bottoms of a persons feet, as it so happens. Just a little FYI there.
And then last night, as I was almost ready to serve dinner, I reached up into the pantry for a platter and somehow I fumbled it. Smashola! Platter bits scattered from the utility room door across the kitchen floor to the table. (insert much sighing here) Dang. I picked up all the big pieces and then swept the floor multiple times making certain that there were no fragments, not even the teeniest tiniest littlest smidgeon of broken crockery on the floor. And then this morning, as I walked through the kitchen, I heard a distinct crunch as I stepped. Lifting my foot what did I find? Yet another piece of that broken platter! Where had it been hiding? What the heck? Now I'm sabotaging myself? Some days I just cannot win.
Well anyway, the lesson has been reinforced. I'm back to wearing some sort of shoe or sandal or slipper at all times because clearly, I am that person who is a danger to herself. Or at least to my feet.
April 11th, 2018
What you see here is rockstar level caramel corn. It is also proof that there are some things in life that you simply cannot learn from a book. I feel like a traitor saying that but it's true. Even for a capital R Reader like me. There are some things that just need to be learned by doing.
My friend Marsha, back in Colorado, is not only one of my all time favourite people, she also makes the best caramel corn on the planet. I don't even need to try every single other one to know that this is true. Her caramel corn is both salty and sweet. Crunchy and chewy. Soft but not sticky. Buttery but not cloying. It's heaven in snack form and I lovelovelove it!
She used to make it with a fair amount of frequency and knowing how much I loved it, she would, every time, drop off a zippy bag of it for Tim and I to enjoy. Well, she intended for both of us to eat it, but poor Tim never got any. Despite my best intentions to save half of it for him, somehow, mysteriously, without me even realizing it, all of it would be gone. Poor Tim. He never gets to eat any of the caramel corn or the yellow jelly beans. It's really very sad. And clearly I am a horrible person.
Now that Marsha and I live two thousand miles part, give or take a few miles, Marsha can no longer just drop off caramel corn for me to hog. So she very kindly took a photo of the recipe and texted it to me. I was so excited to get it. Until I read it. It was a list of ingredient. Not including popcorn oddly enough, an oven temperature and bake time. That was pretty much it. Hmmmm. somehow, it seemed incomplete. I had questions. So the next time that we talked, I mentioned it to her. She was surprised until she actually read the recipe again and then we both just laughed for awhile. Because it is an old family recipe for her, and everyone around her had been making this her entire life, she didn't need a lot of details. Just a guideline. And because I didn't grow up watching it done, I needed a wee bit more. After we giggled together over this awhile, she filled me in on the missing information and yesterday, I dove in. It turned out pretty darned good. And Tim finally got to have some. (He loved it!)
Oh, I don't blame Marsha one bit. We have probably all done something similar. I know that I have. More than once. For example, it wasn't that long ago that one of my wonderful daughters-in-law had asked me for a recipe. It wasn't something that I ever actually follow a recipe for. I just kind of, I don't know, I just make it. I don't think about it. But of course, as requested, I guesstimated everything, wrote it all down for her and thought I had done a pretty good job, until she actually started to make it. We spent a good deal of time texting back and forth that day. We still giggle about it. The last time they visited, I decided to make biscuits, another recipe of mine that she had asked for a long time ago. We were both working in the kitchen as, together, we knocked these biscuits out. Afterward she told me that she felt much more confident about making them in the future. It was the doing of it that worked, not just reading the recipe.
I think this applies to most everything a person does for the first time. First time driving? I was terrified. Of course I read the manual, and the Driver's Ed textbook, and paid attention in class. Technically, I knew what was supposed to happen but until I actually sat behind that wheel I had no real idea of how to, for example, step on the brake without making my passengers lurch against their seatbelts. It took actually doing it myself, multiple times, to get that pressure exactly right. It didn't matter how many books I read on the subject, I had to get out there and do it myself to get it right.
Pregnancy? I don't care if you memorize the book, "What to Expect When You are Expecting" until you carry that baby around inside your body for nine months yourself, you do not have a clue. And childbirth? It's only after you actually produce that child from your own body that you really understand. Until then, you can empathize, you can know anatomically and medically what happens but you do not know what it's like. You just don't.
Same thing goes for parenting. Unless you have children yourself and are actually involved with them (sadly, some people are not) please do not give unsolicited advice just because you read a book. Unless you have spent the last 48 hours walking the floor with an inconsolable colicky infant until you are sobbing too, you don't have any idea what you are talking about. Until you have starred into the eyes of a stubborn two year old who refuses to be potty trained, keep your lip zipped. The list goes on and on and on ad nauseum.
All of life is a lesson and if we are smart, we continue to learn until the day we die and I suppose even that is a lesson of sorts. If we are lucky, we only have to make the same dumb mistakes once or twice before we catch on. And if we are really, really fortunate, we have people in our lives that we can learn from. Whether it's how to make a batch of the best caramel corn ever or how to be the best version of ourselves that we possible can. And the absolute most perfect way to learn these things, is standing right by their sides, asking the questions and watching how they do it. And when that's not possible, well all I can say is, thank goodness for texting, telephones and Skype!
April 10th, 2018
Big kids. That's what Tim and I are really. And as I stand at a whopping 5 feet 2 inches on a good day when I stand very straight and think tall thoughts, not all that big really. And there is nothing wrong with having a child-like moment as long as it isn't also childish. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is healthy and downright good for us to occasionally do something out of our normal adult, responsible, serious behavior.
On the day in question, above, Tim and I started out doing something responsible and healthy. Even though it was a weekend day and a holiday to boot, we decided to take a long walk. Nobody would have faulted either of us for lounging around all day, Tim works very long days. And sitting behind a computer for 10 or so hours a day and always on the phone can be grueling.
My days are filled with more variety of course, "Shall I iron or wash the floors? Prune the hedges or wash the windows" but the fact of the matter is that even though I don't get paid for what I do, it's still work and it's still obligatory and important. So if we decided to just lay on the sofa and watch movies all day once in awhile, few people would criticize us for it.
But no, we decided that we needed to get off our collective fannies and move exercise because it's good for us. Both Tim and I are rather goal driven, so even something as simple as a walk requires an endgoal. Where are we walking to? That was the question.
Since we walk to the beach nearly every day anyway, (and frankly it's not that far of a walk) I suggested the arboretum. It's in a very pretty park that can't be much more than a mile away. Walking around the park reading all the signs and admiring the flowers involves yet more walking of course and then there would be the return trip. So we would have had a halfway decent bit of excercise by the end. That was our thought.
It was a pleasant day, not too hot though sunny, with a good breeze going on, so we walked at a decent pace. Since it was a holiday, we weren't surprised to see the park nearly empty and it was nice to have it to ourselves. There was a lot of walk, stop, read a sign, take a photo, walk more going on. Not exactly a cardio workout, but still being upright and moving is preferred by 10 out or 10 doctors over sitting or lounging. When we reached the far side of the park I spied the playground.
I knew it was there of course. I've seen it every single time we've been to the park, but for some reason it never really registered. Probably because there were always kids playing on the playground and since we have no small children in our lives at this point, it was kind of a non-issue. It didn't really relate to us. So it was more of a fleeting observation. Playground, check, move on. That kind of thing. But on this day, the swings dangled empty, only the wind moving them around.
I don't know what possessed me to plant my arse on that swing. In fact, there was no actual thought involved. I just handed Tim my camera to hold and headed off toward the playground. There was no thought process involved at all. Just some base instinct.
I approached a little tentatively but sat down, grabbed those chains and started pumping my legs to get started. Muscle memory was still intact. Immediately, I felt the smile grow on my face. It took me back far too many years. When was the last time that I sat on a swing? Mercy, I couldn't even remember when. It was that long ago.
The actual process of swinging was dizzying and exhilarating and I was breathless when I stopped. I had forgotten the creak of the chains and the smell of the dirt as I dragged my feet to slowly come to a stop. The memory of the funky blur of the world around me as I moved back and forth locked into place. And then there was the pull of gravity against me as I was lofted upward each time. Yes! I remember this now! It was awesome!
Suddenly we were transformed. No longer were we serious and responsible adults doing serious and responsible adult things like exercise. We were kids again, frolicking and laughing and being silly through the rest of the park. Our mood was elevated and remained so for the rest of the day.
Once we left the park we walked on to the beach of course. Why not? We waded through the surf in a sunny frame of mind, sat on the sand with some friends and the conversation flowed freely and easily and we laughed so much my face hurt. Once home, we gobbled Easter candy as we prepared dinner and continued talking and laughing for the rest of the day through the evening.
While Tim and I always enjoy each other's company, there was a noticeable lift, an extra bit of energy, some new component added to give the day an extra bit of sparkle. And I can't help but think that it originated with that little step back into being a kid again, just for a little while.
I think that as adults, we sometimes get so caught up in our adultness, the serious business of being grownups, that we forget the importance of occasionally indulging that little kid that still lives inside us all.
Go ahead and have that ice cream cone. And definitely let it drip a little bit. Ride the merry-go-round, who cares what people think. Grab some chalk and draw out a hopscotch on the sidewalk, and then play a round or two. It's good for you! Play some catch, build a sandcastle, have cookies for breakfast, buy some crayons (I recommend the box of 64 with the sharpener in back) Blow some bubbles, make a newspaper hat (if you remember how) and then WEAR IT, whistle while you work, get a little dirty while you are playing and for heaven's sakes, if you are on a playground, have a swing! It might not change your life, but it could change your frame of mind that day.
We have to be grownups most of the time but not every moment of every day. Every once in awhile, let the little kid inside you out to play. You will be happy you did.
April 09th, 2018
I thought I knew our town. I was wrong. Now to be fair there is the town of Venice and then there is Venice Island. Venice Island is part of the town of Venice but the town of Venice isn't part of the Venice Island. Sort of like a Square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not a square. It sounds more confusing than it actually is.
Since we live in the island I am well versed in the ins and outs of it all. I'm pretty sure that I know all of it's streets, parks, shops, beaches, quirks and many charms. I bike it, I walk it and on rare occasions, drive it. I'm fairly confident in my knowledge of Venice Island.
The town of Venice, especially once over the bridge to the mainland I thought I was fairly familiar with. I don't drive any further than absolutely necessary, mainly to the farm market and when absolutely necessary to the UPS store, to Enterprise to pick up or drop Tim off when he rents a car for a trip, or Dairy Queen Emergencies. But I do pay attention, sometimes, when Tim is driving to exciting places like Sonny's Real Pit BBQ, Walmart (of occasional necessity), Planet Fitness or Flapjacks which is our favourite breakfast restaurant. I am aware that there are a zillion or so stores and restaurants along the Tamiami Trail to say nothing of Bowling Alley's, boat related buildings, and hearing aid suppliers but I haven't paid that much attention to details. I feel like I know where the important things that directly relate to my life exist. Once again I was wrong.
I honestly thought that Joy and I have sussed out all of the great hiking places, only a few of which were actually in Venice (usually we end up heading North toward Sarasota for our photo safari's) and then a friend told me about a park or preserve (she wasn't sure which), here in Venice, where she and her husband go bicycling on miles and miles of trails that she couldn't remember the name of. She sort of described where it was and I said, Hmmm. I tucked that information away in the back of my brain and remember to bring it back out to play with on Sunday. I passed it along to Tim and it was his turn to say, "Hmmm."
So yesterday afternoon we set out to find this mysterious place that sounded so intriguing. Tim had already taken the admittedly vague information that I had given him and looked online at some area maps so he had a general idea of where we were going. After a few wrong turns and curious wanders, we found it. It's called the Carlton Reserve and it's HUGE! At one time it was a cattle ranch and now it's a wonderland of trails for horses, bicycles and hikers. More than 24 thousand acres of land dedicated to it's natural pristine glory (save the bicycles, picnic tables, restrooms and hikers). We walked for a short distance, just to get the feel of it. It was late in the day and I was wearing sandals, not recommended for hiking. But I cannot WAIT to get back out there.
There were clearly marked trails and loops off of trails (my favourite is called the Rhindondulous Loop - don't you love a sense of humour?), of various lengths from less than one mile, to 3 miles, to 9 miles and my favourite, the one I cannot WAIT to do, the 12.75 miles Boldlygo Trail. The name alone makes me want to do that hike. Very Star Trekian of them.
Sadly, Ranger Joy, my usual hiking sidekick, will be heading back on the job to Yellowstone again shortly. And in fact, this year, instead of being a regular Ranger (which is cool enough), this year she will be The Wildlife Ranger and it don't get much cooler than that. I do not begrudge her the time a Yellowstone (how could I? We are talking Yellowstone Rangering for heaven's sakes!) But since it's really not wise to hike alone, and I know few other people are as crazy about hiking as I am, it looks like I will be waiting until fall to hike the trails of the Carlton Reserve.
But it's good to have a goal. I have something out there in the distance to shoot for. And I'm shooting high. I cannot wait to hit the BoldlyGo Trail! Woohoo!
April 06th, 2018
I don't know about you, but I was raised to believe that there were four season in every year. Even in primary school, we were assigned colouring pages that were specific to Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. I remember colouring them in and having to wait for my turn at the gold crayon to properly complete the "Fall" page. It was probably First or Second grade. If anyone were to ask anyone else, "how many seasons are there?" The answer would most probably be four. That's what we are taught. Even if you goggled that question today, that would still be the answer.
I happen to disagree.
I believe that there are far more seasons than four and that it's different in different parts of our enormous, diverse and fascinating country. You disagree? Please allow me to explain.
There is, for example, The Christmas Season, or if you prefer to be excruciatingly politically correct, The Holiday Season. The Christmas Season is a very specific period of time with particular events, behaviours and traditions involved. Loads of traditions in fact. There is food that is distinctly associated as well as décor, music and even clothing. There are small differences between families and in different parts of the US, but most everyone understands when a person says Santa, the reference is to Christmas, even if you personally do not celebrate it.
Retailers everywhere will tell you that there is a "Back to School Season". It's probably the second busiest time of year in the retail world. (I do not know that to be fact, but it seems reasonable to assume. Please correct me if I am wrong). I remember taking my boys to the store to get them new clothes and new shoes just before the 1st day of the new school year along with every other parent within a reasonable driving distance. And then walking through Walmart or Walmart type stores with those endless lists of necessary school supplies, again with crowds of other parents doing the exact same thing. Since we are all doing the same thing at the same time, I would venture to say that this qualifies as a specific season.
Where we live, as well as considerable number of other places, there is a definite period of time with a beginning and an end that is known as "Tourist Season". Since where we live is warmer than other places in the winter, our Tourist Season runs, in general, from about October to April with the peak being Jan through March. If you love skiing and other wintery sports, you might go to the mountains of Colorado where the snowiest part of the year is actually in the late winter through Spring so that would be Tourist Season there. Doesn't make it any less of a season.
In a more microcosmic way, down here we also have another area specific season, Windows Open season versus Windows closed with the AC on Season. Windows Open season ended just a few weeks ago. I was very sad. I vastly prefer fresh air over conditioned air.
For us the winter into early spring is a Dry Season. We don't get much rain then and the grass turns brown and looks dead. At some point in the spring we slowly begin to get rain again. And then more and more until it rains for at least a few minutes nearly every day and the lawns turn lush and green or gorgeous again. And that, of course, would be the Wet Season.
There are HuntingSseasons, Fishing Seasons and times of year when it's okay to eat particular types of seafood. There is the Pereseid Meteor Shower Season in July and August when it's far more likely to see shooting stars streaking across the sky. Carnival and Fair Season is usually in the late summer and early fall and particular Growing Seasons for different sorts of vegetables and fruits.
I adore the various Fresh Fruit Seasons and glut on whatever has just ripened until I'm heartily sick of it and then move on to the next. I remember starting with strawberries in June and going through to the peaches of August. I do the same with fresh vegetables as they become available at my local farm market. There is nothing quite like fresh food that is In Season.
And this is just a sample of the first few thoughts that popped into my head. I'm sure that there are loads more! So I'm sure you can now agree. The evidence does not allow for anything else! We are limiting ourselves to four seasons when I am positive that the number is far greater.
What a wonderful thing. A year filled to bursting with one wonderful season after another!!
Enjoy them all, my friends and have a wonderful weekend!
April 05th, 2018
These things appear to be multiplying in this house rapidly apace. Readers or cheaters they are sometimes called. Over the counter glasses specifically for the purpose of being able to clearly see things that are upclose. They are necessary now, yes indeedy, but I thought, I honestly believed, that I would invest in one pair and that would be it. I'd be all set for reading. Done and Done.
So we went to a store, I don't recall which one. I tried on multiple strengths and with each pair sitting as square as it could considering that it was still mostly in it's original packaging (they do not make it easy!) attempted to read my cellphone. It was an interesting and fairly amusing experiment. Eventually we determined the correct strength and then I tried on, I'm certain, every pair of readers the store had in vision requirement. The mirror was, as they almost always are, far too high for me to really get a good idea of what these new special spectacles looked like on me, so I just went with what felt good on my face. I ended up buying those snazzy teal green ones above. Ok. All set. One pair for reading and I'm good. Right? Nope.
A few days later I was visiting with a neighbor at her house. She gave me a copy of a recipe that she, correctly, was certain I would like. I tried to read the recipe and of course it was all just a blur. My lovely neighbor handed me a pair of her readers and said, "Is that better?" Of course it was. In further conversation she insisted that I take that pair of readers home with me. She said that she buys them in packages of ten and has them strewn all over the house and could certainly spare that one. How very kind! Now I had two pair. Woohoo! My cup runneth over. I put one pair by the computer and the other by the place I like to read in the family room. Now I'm more than ready, right? Well not exactly.
A few days later, at Tim's instigation, we both jump into the car. I had no idea where we are headed (which is not at all unusual for us) and I did what I always do. I grabbed my phone (or we could call it my camera, that's what I mostly use it for) and head out the door. I took nothing else because I never needed to take anything else before. Half way through the drive Tim asks me to look something up on my phone. Oh dear, I cannot read my phone now. Ok Lesson learned. I told Tim that I would put the second set of readers in my purse. Problem solved for the future. I would have one pair in my purse and one pair at home. Done, right? Well I believed that to be true.
Monday a package arrived. Upon Tim's instruction, I opened it. Within were six pair of readers in different colours and patterns including one pair that are specifically for computer work (something about blue light?) I could not contain my laughter. A little over the top maybe but, Tim was making sure that I would never again run into that problem. When he needs me to look something up on my phone, by golly, I will be able to, no matter where we are! His thought was to leave a pair of readers in each car, one in the purse, one by the computer, one in the kitchen, one by where I like to read and a few to spare. I have now have a pair of readers to go with every article of clothing I own! How very fashion forward!
Then because he is a very detailed thinker, Tim also ordered this incredible foldaway pair of readers at my strength that are perfect for me to take along hiking or walking or biking because it's so small and flat it fits in my pocket or I could even hook it on to a belt loop. Really, this is so terribly clever. I should have taken the photo with something beside it so you could really get an idea of how small it is. It fits in the palm of my hand. That small. Wow!
So I tried them all on, looking in the mirror, and finally decided which were my favourite pair so I could put those in my purse. I like them all. Each one helps me see so that at the grocery store I can not only read my own list (assuming my handwriting was good that day) but also the packaging for any product I am considering and while out and about, I can read my phone or a map, or, I don't know whatever other thing I might need to see close up when I'm not home. I'm all set. It was an easy decision actually, took me no time at all. As soon as I tried them on, I knew this was the one I liked the best.
Naturally it is the boldest most ridiculous pattern with the most colour, the most crazy, the most rediculous! Here we go: (you are forewarned, I'm having a REALLY bad hair day today)
Of course, Florida being what it is, the Sunshine State, and me being who I am and therefore spending a LOT of time outside, I have to wear sunglasses too. So driving, walking, biking, hiking...all outside things mean juggling both sunglasses and readers so I find myself doing this a lot:
Wearing one pair on my face and the other pair of glasses like a headband on top of my head and then switching them out as needed. I look ridiculous, not that that fact has ever stopped me from doing anything. I'm toying with the idea of getting one of those old fashioned library lady chains to dangle the althernate pair of glasses like an enormous necklace round my neck. Thereby solidly garnering a reputation of being a total weirdo. Yeah, like that every slowed me down. Hah!
I will figure this out. In the meantime, I will go ahead and be funny looking. I am okay with that. Because one way or the other, I can see and that's a good thing!
April 04th, 2018
So, Joy and Bob finally were able to close on their new condo. This is the view from their great room. Not bad eh? I am so very happy for them :)
Because I at least try to be a good sister, I offered to help them move and yesterday I was taken up on my offer. I didn't just do this out of the goodness of my heart. Moving is something that my family is particularly good at. It's typed right on our DNA. We can pack and unpack and construct furniture and settling in like nobody's business. Perhaps we were Gypsy's long ago. I know that in my mother's family there is a long history of sea farers and while my dad's family were all farmers, over the generations they kept moving west as areas became too populated for their liking.
And then, of course, there were the brave souls, a Very long time ago, in fact all the way back to the 1600's in my mother's family and the 1700's in my dad's family, that somebody thought it was a darned good idea to pack up everything they owned, get on a big wooden ship and sail for the new world. Imagine that. That takes bravery and courage the likes of which I have a hard time wrapping my brain around. Those ships has a tendency to sink you know. And the voyage took a long time, often an unpleasantly long time. Old sailing vessels were nothing like modern cruise ships. And then of course, once they arrived, it's not like there was much here. No Home Depot, no grocery store....what am I saying? There were very few homes even! If you could build a house, there you go. Home sweet home. If you couldn't build a home, sucks to be you. These are the people who helped to get this country underway in the first place. On the other hand, they didn't own much so there was very little unpacking to do.
Comparatively, this was an easy task. Helping to haul boxes and bags of things up an elevator to their unit and finding a place for the contents. Assisting with the hanging a zillion or so strings of crystals in a chandelier. Being a part of the construction of a patio table. Lending my opinion to the determination of the proper placement of a piano. Putting clean linens on a bed. Doing the things that help to make an address, a home. It was truly my pleasure.
One of the biggest surprises and smiles came to me from working side by side on a project with my sister again. We shop together sometimes, we hike together, go on photo safari's together and we always do that well. But this was a little different and it's been a long time since we've had to do a move together. It was as if no time had passed at all. We meshed just like we always did and that was a lovely thing to learn.
Eon's ago, when we were kids, still living at home, we shared a room. Although people tell us that we look like twins (we disagree, vehemently) and even our own mother couldn't discern between our voices, our personalities, our likes and dislikes were always very different. Joy was always a far more girly girl. Pink and flowers and ruffles and pretty things. I was more practical and simple and, I guess, nerdy is the best word for it. So sharing a room was, well, lets say it was interesting. By the time we moved to Connecticut, our personalities were strong enough that neither of us wanted to compromise on our specific tastes. Our dad decided that we should find a way to combine our tastes and frankly, he didn't much care how the room looked. So, Joy got a bedspread (back when people used bedspreads) that was predictably pink and yellow and flowery with ruffles at the bottom. The one I wanted was just plain grey. I think there may have been a grey on grey pattern involved but I was overruled by the people paying for it and ended up with some plaid thing that I honestly didn't like. The walls were white, but we painted our closet doors yellow and alternated yellow and white curtain panels. I seem to remember little fuzzy area rugs that were pink maybe? I could be wrong about that. The point it that while the results were terrible, honestly the room looked awful, but we worked on it together with no squabbling. We were a team.
We used to sing together while doing the dishes at night. We never had to instruct the other as to who had the harmony and who had the melody, we just knew, somehow. There was no big discussion about how to do any of the chores we did regularly, or who would do what, we just did it, together, as a unity. If she grabbed the broom, I grabbed the dust pan. If I started washing, she picked up the dishtowel.
Now here it is far too many years later, and it still works. This silent sister-communication thing that we have. She stood on the ladder, I handed her the crystal strands for placement. We didn't assign tasks, we just did it. When the washer was done, I went in and transferred the bedding to the dryer, she didn't ask me to do it, it just needed to be done and I was already nearby. When Bob needed specific nuts and washers, Joy already had them lined up in her hand for him. When Joy needed them, I did the same for her. It was like being a surgical assistant. And when it was time for a break, we both reached for the chocolate. Not even a question.
We come from a long line of hard workers. Not a slacker amoung us. If something needs doing, we do it. It doesn't matter if it's an icky task or an easy one. Nobody asks or expects praise for a job well done, but everyone always makes it a point to thank anyone involved. There is no keeping score, no waiting for someone to tell us what to do, we just jump in. That's who we are, it's what we do. And we don't stop until it's done.
We do however keep a running conversation going the entire time, usually completely unrelated to the task at hand. We are a chatty bunch too. So there you go. We are descendants from a very long line of people who were courageous risk takers, travelers, hard workers, lovers of chocolate (and frankly anything sweet), who talk a lot, are psychically connected (apparently) and who sing while we work. Oh my gosh, we could have been in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves! We could been hired out for the job but it's just too many words for one advertising sign.
Congrats on your new home, Joy and Bob! Thanks for allowing me to be a part of it.
April 03rd, 2018
Yup that's me. Getting ready to get back into the groove of real life. Or at least what is my real life at the moment. I took this just before I walked out the door to my Pilates class. The first one in three weeks.
The first week we took off because we had company. I don' t feel one bit guilty about it either. I would much rather enjoy my guests without any concerns and perhaps miss a few workout sessions. No big deal. We were very busy the entire week and I'm sure that while it wasn't the same thing as a good Pilates Class, it was still activity. No long term damage done.
The second week I took off because I had no idea what shape I'd be in after the eye surgery and if I would have any physical restrictions. I did receive a vague, "take it easy" request from the clinic but it was up to me what I did as long as it didn't involve being underwater. I'm very happy that I took off that second week because my eyesight was so wonky with one eye corrected and the other totally completely entirely not that I was off balance and a little dizzy all week. It was the right choice.
The third week was essentially the same reason, just the other eye. I probably could have gone to at least one class that week. With both eyes corrected the dizziness and off-balanced lurching around had stopped but I was lazy frankly and felt like continuing to baby myself. I did go to the gym with Tim a few times toward the end of the week and that only served to show my how very out of shape I had already gotten.
Three weeks without attending class and my body had completely gone to hell. When the heck did this happen? It isn't as if I did nothing at all for three weeks. I didn't just sit on the sofa eating bonbons and watching soap operas! (are soap operas still a thing?) I walked, I cleaned house, I cut down a small tree, I did yard work and grocery shopping and laundry and cooking and well, it's just not the same thing as attending Pilates class.
So this morning I left, Pilates mat firmly tucked under one arm, good attitude screwed onto my face ready to begin. Again. Starting something you've never done before for the first time is always a little trepidatious. And about a year ago when I began taking these classes, I was nervous walking in. During class I was stunned at how hard it was, how out of shape I was, how much of it I couldn't do! But within a few months, I could feel the difference, I could see it and I was tickled by my progress. Before I took my little hiatus I was feeling downright confident. I could do everything the instructor directed and most of it fairly well. Woohoo! Look at me!
And now I'm almost starting from scratch again. While there were some things that I could still manage I found myself taking teensy little breaks part way through things. I was breathing hard. I was sweating! I never sweat. Wow! So this was ugly. Here is me having just arrived home from class.
Sweaty, disheveled and discombobulated. Not pretty. But you know what? Rather than discouraging me, it just me all the more determined to do better. I know that in a relatively short time I will be back to cruising through class and afterwards bouncing along happily homeward feeling like I got a really good work out and energized by it.
Meanwhile, today, I'm ready for a nap. Friday's class will be better I'm sure.
April 02nd, 2018
What is wrong with this picture? What could possibly be wrong with a happy little gathering of colourful (which means healthy, right?) jelly beans? The tinkling sound when I poured them from the bag into the cut glass dish is delightful. The jelly beans dance around as I pour them before settling in to their new home, probably happy to be out of that bag! Cheery colours don't you think? Green, purple, red, orange, pink, yellow.....wait! There are no yellow jelly beans in this dish. Not a single one. Gasp! The Horror! Somebody call the police, put out a BOLO, the yellow jelly beans are missing! Someone has stolen every single yellow jelly bean!
Who could have done such a thing? Who indeed? Okay, stop yelling. I was me. I confess it was me. I did it. And I would do it again. I have no remorse. I am a conscienceless fiend when it comes to yellow jelly beans. If there is an open dish of jelly beans in this house, there will only be yellow ones for as long as it take me to walk over and pick them all out. I eat them quickly but one at a time. I savour them. Each individual, lovely, chewy, lemony morsel. I adore yellow jelly beans. Adore them I say! It's clearly a crime of passion.
Poor Tim has never, the entire time we've been together, gotten to eat a single yellow jelly bean. Not one. He gets all there rest, you understand. I have zero interest in any jelly bean flavor other than yellow, which I assume is supposed to be lemon. It has that sweet/tart lemony taste and, well, it's yellow, so in the artificial flavor world, I suppose that passes for lemon.
Now Tim on the other hand, seems to like all of the jelly bean flavours. He will, without checking for colour, just scoop a small handful into his mouth and eat them all at once. WHAT? What madness is this? Lime and cherry and grape and whatever the pink one is all together?
Ewwwww. No thank you. But then Tim also likes black jelly beans. Black jelly beans are just wrong. Everything about them is wrong. The smell alone makes me gag. To me the taste is bitter. I am NOT a fan. We actually have a rule in this house (which is continually ignored), "when anyone eats black licorice of any sort, they are not allowed to breath on me". So naturally if Tim eats black licorice, be it jelly bean, licorice whip or any other form, he makes it a point to stand very close to me saying breathy words. "Happenstance, Windowpane, Hat pin, Whisper, Harvard" with great emphasis. My mother used to do the same thing and with tremendous glee.
There is something very satisfying about jelly beans in general. It is a simple pleasure. Very old fashioned. Perhaps it's the chewiness, an opportunity to work out any aggressions. While they are LOADED with sugar of course, they have remarkably few actual calories. Only 41 calories in 10 jelly beans so even if I pigged out and ate 20 jelly beans, it's still less than 100 calories, right? And since I eat them only one at a time and savour eat one individually, that could take me all afternoon. Like l said, very satisfying.
And I only like the simple old fashioned standard store brand jelly beans. None of this fancyschmancy popcorn flavoured jelly bean stuff for me. You know, tip of the hat to the nice people at Jelly Belly, they are very creative. I appreciate how clever they are and I even tried one of their lemon jelly belly beans. It was wonderfully lemony. Quite good. But weirdly I still prefer the old fashioned regular ones. I've seen Jolly Rancher jelly beans. Hmm. No thank you. I have no problem with Jolly Ranchers. As Jolly Ranchers. They are particularly good when I have a sore throat. Those green apple ones are especially good then. But not as jelly beans. And then there are the spiced jelly beans. What the heck are those anyway? Besides wrong I mean. How do you spice a jelly bean? Spice does not belong in a jelly bean. Spice belongs in Chili!
So anyway, another Easter has come and gone and the yellow jelly beans disappeared as quickly as always, thanks to me, the cat burglar of yellow jellybeans. Tim still hasn't gotten to eat any yellow ones though he is putting a decent dent in the other flavours. And there won't be any more jelly beans in this house until next Easter where upon I will again, immediately open the bag, probably before Easter actually arrives. And I will carefully pick out all of the yellow ones and eat them, one by one, savouring each bite.
There is something to be said for tradition!
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.