April 30th, 2021
Is Everybody Ready to Play the Latest, Newest, Most Exciting Game Show? Okay! Then let's go play, 'Name That Implement' !!!!! YAYAYAYAYAAYY!
I have no idea what the heck this thing is. Do you? I ran across it in a kitchen drawer while searching for something else entirely. I do not remember buying it. I do not remember receiving it as a gift. My best guess is that it came with something else and got tossed in the drawer only to be immediately forgotten. I am positive that I've never used it. Primarily because I have no idea what it's supposed to be used for. A mystery item for sure.
But it did get me to wondering how many other unnecessary things are lurking in that particular drawer so yesterday I decided to find out!
Our kitchen, while small, is so cleverly composed that we actually have loads of space. Plenty of cabinets and (I just counted) there are 11 drawers. Wow! Eleven Drawers! In fact we have so many drawers that one of them is dedicated solely to drink pods. Yup, the drawer beneath the coffee maker in our house is full of nothing but coffee (and tea) pods. It's very handy.
There is the drawers with flatware in it, the drawer that holds placemats, the drawer with barbeque tools, and a nice deep drawer that holds nothing but pot lids. The drawer to the left of the stove has pot holders and hot pads, the one to the immediate right has cooking implements that I use most often. Which is followed by the ones I don't use quite as often followed by two drawers that hold weirdo stuff like the things at the top of the page that I don't know what is and things I rarely use but I'm glad I have when I need.
The final drawer (if you are keeping count, is the junk drawer. It is smaller than all of the rest and in a strange spot. The only thing in it are rubber bands, used but still useful twisty ties and other odds and ends such as that..
So yesterday afternoon, I actually pulled everything out of those messy drawers of things I use rarely to really sort it through and see if there was anything I could get rid of. They were an awful mess.
As it turns out, while there were some very useful things in there, like the egg slicer and the mandolin, there were also a surprising number of multiples. Like for instance.......tiny spatulas. Why would I ever require this many tiny spatulas? They are not the size of normal, useful spatulas by the way, these are smaller even than the pie server I lumped them in with.
The correct answer is, I would not! Dingdingding! I kept one and put the others aside.
Another surprise was bottle openers of various sorts. Tim and I do not drink. At all. Ever. We have nothing against it, just we do not. And because we do not drink, there is no liquor in our house, which says to me that honestly, we do not need a wine bottle opener. And yet we seem to have two of them. In addition to several churchkeys. What? How did this happen?
Just in case somebody should ever bring a bottle of wine to our house for their own use, we decided to keep one of each and I set the rest aside. The drawers were already looking better :)
There were 3 cheese knives, 1 cheese planer and two wire cheese cutters, in those drawers by the way. I happen to be lactose intolerent so I eat very little cheese. Tim enjoys lots of different kinds of cheeses but he doesn't eat it every day. One cheese knife is probably sufficient. Out go the rest.
There were a surprising number of odd measuring spoons. They didn't match anything including each other, and not one of them had any indicator on it of what it's measure is! Was it a teaspoon, a half teaspoon, a tablespoon? I suppose I could have taken the time to compare it to other properly marked measuring spoons and then written on each one what is was, but, nope. Gone.
And then there was this thing. What on earth is this thing?
I believe that, at one time, it was the bottom of a container for fruit, so the watery bit could drain through. Which sounds like a good idea. BUT it does not fit in any container in the entire house. So whatever it went in, we obviously do not have any longer. Out. It. Goes. The biggest question to myself is, when I threw out the thing it originally belonged in, why did I keep this part? Sigh. I am a mystery even to myself.
I continued through heartlessly, mercilessly making decisions on what to keep and what to get rid of. I even dragged poor Tim into the decision making process. And once to help identify something I had no idea what was, which also means I had never used it. Turned out to be an immersion blender. I kept that one. Now that I know I have it, perhaps I will use it?
So the drawers are looking one heck of a lot better now which makes me happy. I can find what I am seeking now instead of scrummaging through getting more and more annoyed that the pastry brush or the probe thermometer or the tiny funnel isn't immediately apparent.
In fact, I could probably now fit what's left into just one drawer but then the remaining drawer would be empty. Nope. I will, for the moment, leave things as they are.
Job well done.
Have a Great Weekend!
April 29th, 2021
One of the really great things about the "hiking community" is that they are all very generous with information. Without wearing badges of identification, we all seem to recognize a fellow hiker when we cross paths on the trails. And I must pause here to say that there is a difference between hikers like Joy and I, who quietly hike through the woods with our cameras on a weekly basis and folks who are just killing some time but don't usually spend much time in the forest. And of course neither of those groups of people are anything like the ones who are whopping and hollering and bashing trees with sticks, dropping lit cigars and starbucks cups (or beer cans) and being mean to the woodland creatures.
And it goes without saying that I have no issue with casual strollers or fellow hikers at all! But we truly detest the ones who have zero respect for nature! Shame on them!
Still those of us who are like minded, always seem to recognize kindred spirits and when we cross paths often will stop for a moment or two to ask questions and share tips. Which is how we have learned of such things as new eagle nest sightings or flooded trails or an owl habitat. Joy and I recently were told of a local hike that we honestly did not know existed even though it's right here in Venice. How did we miss this one? I have no idea. But yesterday we decided to go check it out.
It was lovely, very thickly wooded with cool shady trails and loaded with spider webs! I didn't realize it until I edited the photos how dang many pictures of spider webs that I took that day! Unprecedented. They were strung from flower to flowers and from one blade of grass to another. Sometimes several hung in the same tree. We found them in the squares of fencing, along the sides of the trails and on one very ambitious occasion strung from one side of the trail to the other. Not quite sure how that one was managed. Still impressive
For some reason, I seem to have been quite taken with fence posts yesterday as well. Not sure what that was about, but you can see it here:
Most of the rest of the hike were things that were either very high up or things that were down very low. Either way we got a lot of exercise and sore necks. Totally Worth it! So I'm calling this the High/Low hike.
Here are some of the things that were very high up:
And then, by contrast, some of the things that were down very low:
And then there were just a few beautiful moments with light that caught my eye. You will see what I mean:
There you have it, the Mostly High/Low Hike. Hope you enjoyed coming along ;)
April 27th, 2021
This above photo is one teensy slice of a veritable wall of honey suckle which has climbed over
the wall at the back of our yard. Obviously it originated in the hard of the people who live behind (and oddly beside) us but it has decided to come visit us instead. A welcome visitor indeed. I cannot begin to tell you how delighted I am. Not only is it a very pretty flower, but the fragrance is amazing. Bees love it, butterflies love it and I am delighted with it as well.
When the windows on the back of the house are open, the scent wafts inside. It is fresh and sweet and light and absolutely lovely.
In the front of our house is an enormous jasmine which is currently in full bloom as well. So anytime I step out to, say, water my potted garden, or fetch the mail or bring in the mail, I get a snootful of the heavier, more exotic and heavenly fragrance of that flower. I did the grocery shopping yesterday and when I arrived home, the instant I opened the car door, there it was, the unmistakable scent of Jasmine. I admit that I lingered while bringing in the groceries and it was only fear of melted ice cream (of course I bought ice cream...have we met?) that kept me moving.
Taking a walk around the island right now is like walking through a Very Large perfume store. As we walk, I take deep breaths to bring in, as fully as possible, one delightful scent after another. The advantage while walking around town is that the source is immediately identifiable. I detect a lovely fragrance, look around and aha! There it is!
But when Joy and I are hiking, it isn't quite the same thing. Because the forests are usually so densely packed with layer upon layer upon layer of greenery of every shape, size and colour imaginable. Usually it just smells like forest. You know, green and lush and earthy which is marvelous all on it's own. But every once in awhile, as we are walking along, I will detect something different, something floral and wonderful and it brings me to a complete halt. I look around and....... I see nothing other than greenery. Where is it? What is it? And usually, we never find the source. It's there somewhere, we can smell it! But it's probably many layers back in the wild. Dang.
We try to stick pretty close to the trails. For one thing, the rangers prefer that we do. Fair enough. Also, it is unbelievably easy to get lost once you step off the trail. For another reason, we are sharing that space with real wild life. They try to stay off the trails to avoid us. So it's reasonable to expect us to stay on the trails to avoid them.
But dang it, I wanted to take a photo of the flower creating that lovely smell. You see, I have this very cool feature on my phone (you probably do too) where I can take a photo and then hit a particular button and it immediately identifies the subject. Bird, flower, plant, doesn't matter. Very cool. But if I cannot find the source of the scent, I cannot take the photo, which means I cannot identify and therefore learn. I love to learn new things. I don't always remember everything I learn, but I still love learning it.
It's partly just for the love of learning. That's just a part of me. It's typed right onto my DNA. It's why, even though I rarely remember what Joy tells me when she identifies birds and bugs while we hike, I encourage her to keep telling me. Eventually it might sink in.
But with flowers and trees and plants especially, it important to me for another reason. I have this dream garden in my head. And sometimes, at night, when I cannot sleep, I plan it out. This tree over there and these flowers over here, and the arbor with this vine growing over it and a bench in this corner and.......like that. The dream garden, in my imagination, has plenty of different sorts of greenery, trees and shrubs and grassy areas, but it also has flowering things, fragrant things. A rainbow of colours and a confusion of scents and those things will attract birds and butterflies and bees and I can sit on my future dream patio and enjoy it all.
So I have been sort of keeping a catalogue of sorts in my head of various native (or at least adaptable) flowers and plants and trees for my dream garden. Honey suckle and jasmine, by the way, are already on the list. Just in case I ever come into big money (the garden of my dreams requires some serious $$$) I will be ready to build my garden.
I should say gardens. Plural. I definitely need more than one. Of course I would need a kitchen garden which would naturally be just off the kitchen, with herbs and edible flowers and a nice little patio to for creative contemplation. And a fountain garden with moving water and potted flowers, bird baths and some flowering trees that have benches underneath. There would be flower gardens for cutting, and other gardens with flowers to specifically NOT be cut. Generous lawns with arbors bearing the weight of honey suckle or morning glory or wisteria. Maybe I need three arbors? A gazebo for taking tea, a hammock for dreaming and surprise benches tucked into corner and around curves in the path for sitting quietly. I need a vegetable garden and perhaps a green house for year round fresh salad material. Oh I could go on and on but I will resist the urge.
I know, I know, it sounds crazy, it sounds insane, it sounds unattainable! But isn't that the point of a dream? To wish for something that is out of reach, at least for now. Oh I know that I most probably will never actually have my dream garden. But I will always have my dream. And sometimes, that's fine too.
April 26th, 2021
(by the way, the photo above is not our bathroom although we do have white tile )
So I'm sitting here this morning, having some cold leftover pizza (breakfast of champions) and part of me is writing this blog and part of me is already lining up the rest of my day and yet another part of my brain (this is how it works for most women by the way) is still kind of reeling from the odd beginning of the day.
I am such a creature of habit. I suppose most of us are. To be fair, I do know how to roll with changes. I've had a lot of practice after all. But I think I am most comfortable when things are if not the same, then similar to the "norm". This morning was not "normal".
Tim has set up a visit from a gentleman who re-glazes tubs for this morning. And to that end, late yesterday, I removed all traces of us from our bathroom. It is currently a hollow echo-y, impersonal, shell. Perfect for our incoming artisan to get the job done.
Temporarily I have set us up in the guest bathroom. So we actually do still have a functional bathroom to use in the interim. But it's not our bathroom, the one we usually use. First of all it's --------------------------------------------------way over on the other side of the house. Secondly, it's very very very tiny. Petite perhaps is the better word. It has everything necessary to get the job done, but only just. It's so teensy that you have to step outside to change your mind (as the comedian said). Our stuff is all in different spots than usual. It's all there, just not in the usual place because the usual places aren't there. It's sort of like when you go on vacation and you are going to be living in your hotel for a week or two so you set up the bathroom as best you can but it's not exactly right.
Nothing is where it might normally be. The shower is different, the sink, the towel hangers, the toilet paper spindle! Nothing is how or where it would usually be. Have you ever gotten up in the middle of the night in a hotel room to use the bathroom and you don't turn on the light because you are thoughtful and do not want to wake your spouse and you are sleepy coz it's the middle of the the night (as I said) and therefore you might not be particularly clever at that moment. And first you have to find the dang bathroom in the dark, and then once inside the bathroom you now have to find first the toilet and then the toilet paper, all by feel. Yeah, it's strange. It's sort of like that. Except of course, I suppose since it is on the complete other side of the house I actually could turn the light on, couldn't I?
Anyway, it just feels different, it feels strange, it feels foreign. But it's ok. I got the job done. A few bits were tricky. Finding a way to shave my legs without the usually ledge to prop my foot on was interesting. Our toothbrushes are in a plastic cup carefully balanced on the side of a very small sink instead of our big beautiful vanity so there is that "Be Very Careful" reminder while taking proper steps to assure good dental health. I actually just finished up lotion and combing of hair and so forth in the guest bedroom instead of trying to get it all done in the bathroom just for the feeling of space. And that's different. Just the travelling from bedroom across the house to shower and then back to the bedroom to dress is kind of funny.
It's a short term issue and it's for a very good cause so I am not honestly complaining. It's more just registering the strangeness of it all. I am grateful that we have two bathrooms! I've lived in a lot of houses that had only one bathroom. And, I remember, as a child, my grandparents house before they had indoor plumbing at all! Yes Virginia, I have used an outhouse. It was an interesting experience and one I hope never to repeat.
When Tim and I first married we lived in a tiny apartment that had two bedrooms and one bathroom. We made it work because that's what you do. But the first order of business as soon as those vows were spoken was to find a house for us because well, that's what we needed. And the house we found had 3 bedrooms and 1 1/2 bathrooms which, to us, was heaven. And we quickly adapted. So much so that I believe I actually said to Tim at one point that never again would I live in a house with only one bathroom. And we haven't. In fact, when we moved to Colorado the house we had built had 2 1/2 bathrooms which is kind of silly for 2 people. We had one more bathroom than resident bottoms!
And it's not as if we never use the guest bathroom, it does occasionally happen. Just not often. It is, after all, the guest bathroom and as it is literally connected to the guest room, it's kind of out of sight out of mind most of the time. Tim and I are very good at sharing, at taking turns, at being considerate of one another. So the vast majority of the time, we just share our bathroom and it works perfectly fine for us. But every once in along while, a situation arises that makes us grateful to have that second bathroom. This is one of those occasions.
Anyway, so that's it. It's been a strange start to the day and the reglazing guy is already 20 minutes late so I'm not sure what that means. He ran into traffic maybe? But whatever, once he finally arrives, he can get started because we are ready for him. And the sooner he starts, the sooner he is done and then we can go back to having two bathrooms again. And that will be a good thing.
I hope you had a great weekend and a less eventful start to your day!
April 23rd, 2021
Oh me Oh my, much like the white rabbit of Alice's in Through The Looking Glass, I'm running so far behind already today. So instead of an actual blogpost, I am just going to say Hello! And I hope you are having a Great Day! And I will also wish Happy Birthday Stacy !!! (to my niece). And leave all you to your own devices but with very sincere wishes that you have a wonderful weekend!
Hugs all 'round
April 22nd, 2021
It's Thursday and therefore time for (are you ready?) the Photo Safari Report! Yay! And much like in the photo above, things went a little bit awry. So I'm calling this the Hike of Surprises and Misadventures.
It started out great! We went to Oscar Scherer State Park and arrived just ahead of the park rangers, who, very kindly let us in a little early. Oscar Scherer is a wonderful park with miles and miles of trails and always a lot to see! It was an overcast day so we weren't certain how good any photos would come out but on the other hand, it was nice to not be too hot.
We started out on a few of the near trails but quickly moved on to the trails that go further into the wilds. If lots of people are going to show up, the majority tend to stick to the shorter, closer routes and we like to find new and different things to see. We never know for sure where we are going to end up (never more true than this hike) but you gotta start somewhere, and we started in a familiar place
There were so many wonderful surprises. The birds! The Insects! The flowers! It seemed that there was something beautiful to photograph at every turn.
We hustled our bustles down the paths in an effort to get to the other side of the Legacy Trail (a very long and very popular bike trail). Once on the other side, we knew we would find a new and exciting adventures! We always do.
The sky was vast but dark with only a little sun breaking through here and there. But onwards we went. Because of the relative gloom, we could hear so many more birds than we could see. We saw all sorts of animal tracks as well. That's one of the many times when hiking with a former ranger comes in handy. She can identify all of those tracks. Very Cool. Unfortunately I didn't think to get a photo of any of the tracks. Sometimes, I'm not very bright.
We continued on through many different environments, from muddy, wet low spots, to open sandy scrubby areas to cool green tree-filled sections. Each one beautiful in it's own way.
And it was in a lovely tree-filled glade that the first mishap, errrr, ummm, happened. There we were walking along, remarking on how beautiful it was, snapping our photos, breathing in those amazing and complex fragrances when Joy pointed out a dragonfly just off trail. I approached quietly and then stopped to find the best spot for the shot. Here is the shot: Admittedly not one of my finest
And the reason that it was not very good is because before I could get it completely properly focused in, I was suddenly feeling intense ouchies on both legs. Naturally I looked down to find that, both shoes, both socks and both legs to the knees were covered in ants! Lots of ants! Biting Ants! Ouchie!
Because neither Joy nor I are the type of people who over-react, I calmly stepped back off the ant hill I clearly was standing on, I apologized to the ants and together Joy and I quick stepped our way back to a bench we had passed a very short time before. Once seated, I removed both socks and shoes. Joy worked at removing all insects from my shoes, I worked on my feet, legs and, eventually the socks. Those little critters were even inside my socks!
From the knees down I was covered in ants bits. Even though it hurt, I honestly cannot blame the ants. They were just protecting their home, after all, a giant had just stepped on it probably caving in the roof! Poor little ants. Once the socks and shoes were given the all-clear and I had removed all of them from my actual person, I put myself back together and we walked on, finding new and different trails over and over again.
We hiked for hours, always seeing something new, on trails we had never seen, and we were very pleased with ourselves and our adventure. But after a few more hours, we were beginning to tire and we were ready to head back. So we stopped and looked around and for the first time ever, neither of us had a clue which way took us back to our point of origin. Uhoh. We should have brought a map.
The trail at this point was very poorly marked and actually the trail itself was weird. Instead of walking on hard packed sand or grassy leaf-strewn ground or even mud, it was more like churned up fluffy stuff. What on earth was going on? So stood at a literal cross road and debated. As we discussed and wondered and hesitated, (and my ant bites continued to throb) lo and behold, in the distance we see, coming toward us, a very large piece of machinery. We waved him down and he kindly stopped for us.
It turns out that we were no longer on a regular hiking trail but instead a fire trail. Yikes! Our rescuer was a State Park Employee whose responsibilities go from Weeki Wachee (several hours north) to the Eveerglades (several hours south) and he was preparing this area for a controlled burn which was to take place the next day. What are the odds that we would all be in the same place at the same time? Turns out that guardian angels sometimes drive tractors!
He set us straight in short order and Joy and I headed in the proper direction. We are so grateful for his help or we might have chosen the wrong path and ended up 3 or 4 miles (at least!) further in the wrong direction! Yowza! As it was it took another hour and a half to get to a point where things looked familiar again.
So it was, quite the adventure indeed! Or misadventure perhaps. Naturally we continued to take photos all the way back. Here are a few:
Very Exciting! But next time, for sure, we will bring a map. And perhaps a compass. And maybe some water. And for sure, I will be more careful about stepping on ant hills!
April 20th, 2021
We did something over the weekend that we have not done in a really long time. Well several things actually, now that I think about it. All of them, Very Fun! Yay!
First of all, it was Minock Day. Always a great day! The plan was to meet at Bok Gardens. I've written about Bok Gardens a few years ago so I'll just give you a quick synopsis. It's in Lake Wales (which does in fact have an actual lake), an adorable little town in it's own right. There are beautiful gardens, a huge tower that was dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge, Carillion bells, a wonderful old house and wonderful winding trails with beautiful things to see around every corner. It's an amazing place to spend some time and (the thing we haven't done in the longest time) have a picnic!
My goodness, it had been so long since we've been on a picnic that I cannot honestly remember for sure when the last time was! Backyard picnics don't count. Those are more like barbeques and cookouts. A real picnic involves being somewhere else, somewhere that is not home. There are containers of food involved - very specific picnic-type food, eating outside, talking, laughing, enjoying fresh air and sunshine, a few ants for sure, and well, it was absolutely lovely. We definitely should be doing more picnic-ing.
Food tastes better outside. I eat in a far more relaxed fashion outside and I think the meal is a more complex culmination of sensations. I will try to explain that. I remember most meals in my adult life as me bolting food as quickly as possible. Either because I was eating between tasks at work, and while babies and toddlers needed or wanted me, between or during housey tasks and like that. The entire time I'm stuffing whatever food it is I'm trying to eat into my gullet, I'm already moving on to the next thing. (or actually in the process of doing the next thing) Even restaurant meals I feel rushed because I know that there are other people who are waiting to be seated.
Then there is the air. Sitting under trees, feeling the sun and the breeze, listening to the quiet environment and delightful conversation, smelling the flowers and earth and green growing things makes a simple turkey sandwich a feast beyond imagining. As opposed to a loud restaurant trying to have a conversation over the noise of musak, mechanicals, wait staff, the clankityclank of glasses and dishes and flatware and the voices of everyone else in the room. Or if you are eating outside the competing sound and smells of passersby and traffic.
As a kid, we often picnic-ed. Whenever we travelled (which was often) we didn't eat in restaurants! In the first place, there weren't nearly as many on the highways as there are now. There were no (or at least very few) travel plaza's with Mc Donalds, Dunkin' Donuts, and S'barro every few miles. Nope. My mom packed our cooler, which as I recall she got with S&H green stamps(!) with goodies from either home or markets we found along the way. At meal times, my dad would pull over in a green spot along the road and we would have our meal on either the picnic tables provided or on a blanket on the grass. Everyone relaxed a bit. My sister and I would run around like goofballs getting our yaya's out after being confined in a car for hours. And my dad would enjoy stretching out on that blanket in the sun for a little bit before resuming his task of getting us to our destination safely. It is a series of terrific moments in my memory.
But as an adult? I just don't remember any picnics. Perhaps there were some and I've just forgotten? A shame because it was wonderful. Minocks brought stuff for sandwiches, we brought sandwiches. They brought chips and raw veggies, we brought chips and home made potato salad. We both brought fruit and some, who shall remain nameless, brought cookies. We shared and traded and talked and relaxed and talked and laughed and once in awhile listened to the beautiful quiet around us. We need to do a whole lot more of that.
Meanwhile, here are some photos that I took of the Gardens. (You knew you weren't getting away without some photos, right?)
Wonderful old house:
Add in the picnic and a day spent with our dearest friends and well, it just doesn't get much better than that.
April 19th, 2021
Remember this birdie? Not all that long ago I posted about how a woodpecker had decided to build a nest in the dead palm tree in the courtyard. The tree that Tim was planning to cut down of course. And also of course, we have put those plans temporarily on hold.
Well, News Bulletin: There is a new bird in town. Yes indeedy. I guess the word on the street is that our courtyard is a great place to build a nest because a few days ago we watched with great fascination as a pair of doves spent a great deal of time hopping along the top of the courtyard wall and then disappearing into one of the Bougainvillea's with bits of twigs and dried grasses in their beaks.
Over and over, for hours at a time, tirelessly (although I'm sure they are both exhausted from the project) we watched these two doves, one at a time, emerge from the shrub and fly off then return with building materials and enter the bougainvillea only to repeat.
Technically the bougainvillea is on the outside of of the courtyard wall but it's tall and full and lush and easily seen from the inside of the courtyard. The dead palm tree is on the inside of the courtyard in the strictest sense but towers over the bougainvillea and thus is apparent from the outside. And since one is directly behind the other they are, in effect, neighbors, but the wall technically separates them. Sort of like having a neighbors house behind or beside you. One butts right up against the other, but the property line separates your homes and yards. If you are lucky there is a fence of some sort between you. Was it Robert Frost who said, "Good Fences Make Good Neighbors?"
We noticed with great amusement that the woodpecker is showing tremendous interest in her new neighbors, the doves. She cranes her neck from inside her home looking down to see what is going on next door. And then she yakyakyakyakyaks at the dove family.
Now to be fair I don't know much about birds, wild or domesticated so I have no idea if wood- peckers and doves make good neighbors or if are they natural enemies. I do not speak "bird" so I've no earthly idea what Ms Woodpecker is saying. Is she welcoming them to the neighborhood? Is she yelling at them to get away? Is she warning them about the lawn guys who occasionally trim the bougainvillea? Or are they sharing recipes?
It seems that the word is out in the birdie world that our yard is a good place to build a nest. And we don't mind a bit. We are taking it as a compliment that wildlife have decided that our yard is a safe place.
And now it seems as if all of the woodpeckers relatives and friends are hanging around visiting. I've never seen so many around here. They zoom from tree to tree around us (ours and our neighbors yards), making all of their distinctive chirrups and purrs the whole time. Whereas the dove family are much quieter and don't seem to throw the same kind of parties.
As the days go by, all of the birds are becoming used to us. We talk to them softly and try to not make any crazy loud noises or wild gestures while we are in the courtyard and in return, the birds no longer fly away when we are outside. Instead they stay near their homes, carefully watching us, but at least they have come to trust us that far. And really that is quite far enough. I know better than to try to pet a bear. Or a woodpecker.
Throughout the day, now and again, whenever we have a spare minute or two, we watch the show from the kitchen window. Maybe I will do a little reading about these birds so that we have little bit more of a clue what is going on instead of guessing. And meanwhile, we will continue to enjoy the show.
April 16th, 2021
Oh my what a lot of trail signage! That must mean it's time for, Another Photo Safari! This one I'm calling the Hike of Great Variety. Because there was. A lot of variety I mean.
For example, the day started out kind of wet and foggy. Ours shoes and socks were soaked but the air felt good. The fog was very mysterious but the light wasn't great for photographs. Still, of course, pictures were taken:
But once the fog burned off the sun came out and eventually it was downright warm and we were glad to walk on shady paths. Luckily, the place we chose to hike that day had options. And lovely things to take pictures of.
There were dry areas and wet areas (right now the word "areas" looks so strange to me. does it to you?)
We saw butterflies and dragonflies and spider webs and other bugs that shall remain nameless (mostly coz I'm not sure what they are)
We saw bridges and benches, fence posts and hollow logs and interesting old rusty things
Pretty flowers of course
And of course LOADS of birds
One of the most unusual things we saw this time was a burn area. We are 99.9% sure it was a controlled burn. One side of the trail was blackened and charred, the other side was perfectly fine. Very strange. It had a kind of Twilight Zone feel about it
And a few random things that caught my eye
So there you have it. A little bit of most everything. It felt like multiple hikes instead of one hike of great variety. They say that Variety is the Spice of Life. It certainly does make things more interesting :)
Ya'll have a great weekend!
April 15th, 2021
Tim and I talk. Well, not incessantly, but we have conversations on a regular basis. You might be surprised to learn how rare this is (or so I've come to learn). That's sad. Talking is a delight, it is a way to connect with other people. It is an opportunity to learn things about each other, to exchange ideas, to share dreams or express concerns.
I have read that conversation is an artform. I'm not sure that,where Tim and I are concerned, that is the case. I am not very artistic. Any conversation with me is going is more of a meander. I just don't think in straight lines. This thought leads to that thought which lends itself to another thought and eventually (usually) it gets back around to the original idea but it's messy. Those who know me well can vouch for this.
Most of Tim's and my conversations, not the quick two sentence purpose laden back'n'forths that might occur during an average work day, are either while we are walking or in the car. Time that isn't otherwise loaded with purpose. A time when Tim isn't at work doing ten thousand things at once and I'm not cooking or scrubbing toilets or trimming palm trees. It's just the two of us, with no interruption, relaxed and hanging out together.
Sometimes our conversations are about really important things like, where to have lunch or what colour should we paint the bedroom. Those two topics alone can carry our conversations for the entire noonwalk.
Or we could be having an observational conversation. That is, discussing what we see around us as we walk. Hey look, our neighbors are painting their house/identifying blooming flowers or nearby birds/how is the beach flagged today/crazy driver! When we are in the car, for some reason, we tend to read signs to each other. Not street signs, unless it's an interesting one like the time we found, literally found, "Sesame Street". That was awesome. But it could also be a business or restaurant sign, billboard, license plate, unusual highway sign. It might be a field of cows, a pretty tree, an unusual mail box, or a 'For Sale' sign. And each of those things, reminds us of other things and the conversation wanders off in another direction.
We play "lets pretend" sometimes while in the car. Well, that's what I call it. It starts with a question, "If you could build any kitchen you want, no money restrictions, what would it look like" . Or If you could travel anywhere (and it wasn't a pandemic) where would you go first? If you won a big lottery, what would be your first big purchase that was just for you - nothing practical like paying off a mortgage allowed. What super powers would you like to have? What would you like to invent?
Sometimes our conversations are rather whimsical. I asked Tim, not long ago, while we were driving somewhere what he thought cat cursing would be like. If a cat could cuss, what would they say? Would a real dig from one cat to another be to refer to them as "Puppy breath" or "Dog Poop"? Or would it be generic like maybe a terrible cat diss would be to refer to another as a "mutt". oooooo burn!
We talk about places we've been, childhood memories, books we are currently reading, restaurants we've been to and enjoyed, restaurants we are hoping to visit and compare artists, or writers or action packed thrillers. We share top 10 lists of movies or musicians and wonder what job each other might have had a hundred years ago.
On one particularly long road trip, I stumbled across a list of 50 questions to ask your partner. It was, supposedly, things you should already know about each other. So the idea was that you both answer it, compare answers and see how well you know each other. That kept us occupied through two states!
We discuss current events, those can be long, confusing, heated conversations. Or family and friends, which are also long conversations but wonderful and happy. We make predictions, talk about concerns or fears, or chat about things as mundane as grocery lists or upcoming doctor appointments.
The point is we talk. Not every minute of every day, but at some point every day, we have a real conversation. And we always make time for that to happen. One of the most loving things that Tim does for me, and I never asked him to - he just does this on his own, happens in the evenings at the end of a long work day, after dinner and he is finally FINALLY relaxing on the sofa watching TV. If I start to say something to him, he immediately pauses the television, turns and looks at me, and waits for me to say whatever it is that I feel compelled to say. Even if it's just, "Would you like some dessert?" or "Do you want to hear something funny?" or "Did I remember to ask you about/tell you about...whatever". And then he responds accordingly.
I wish you wonderful conversations. Silence is golden and it absolutely has it's place. But conversation is pretty dang good too.
April 13th, 2021
I'm running behind myself already this morning so this one will be quickquick. How about a little bovine study for today!
I like cows. Well, I like most critters (most) but in general cows are genial, gentle, friendly creatures. Ice cream on the hoof, as I see it. For all their enormous size, they are remarkably easy going. I can walk through a pasture-full of cows that have never met me before and usually their only response is to look up, acknowledge my existence and go back to what they were doing before. If it's a cow that knows me, usually they will walk toward me knowing that seeing me means either food, water or both.
I have spent some time on various farms. My paternal grandparents lived on a big farm up in Michigan. My sister and I would wander through pastures unconcerned and unafraid and also unbothered by the big old cows that spent their days there. Then I lived on a small working farm for quite some time in Connecticut. I especially remember winter time, as those huge cows would patiently wait in the freezing cold, steam blowing out their nostrils, as I chopped a hole in the ice covering their water. They would take turns slurping up that icey water and then wander back out into the pale winter sun. Steam would rise from their toasty warm bodies in the cold.
I remember exploring an Amish farm in Pennsylvania when Tim and I vacationed there once long ago. Again, we were strangers to those huge animals, but they just regarded us quietly with those big beautiful brown eyes, and went back to eating. One younger cow came up to sniff at Tim who patted him gently. Satisfied that we were not hiding any cow-treats, he wandered back off again. Definitely not guard-cows.
In Texas, where I lived through part of my teen years, cattle were a big part of their history and the culture. There was even a big event called the Ft Worth Fat Stock Show. It was such a big deal that kids were allowed a day off from school to attend. Seriously!
I was surprised (though I shouldn't have been) when we first moved to Colorado to find cattle grazing side by side with big shopping plaza's. The line up would be Kohl's, Micheal's, other stores, cows. But then Colorado was a different sort of place altogether (in a very good way). It had the only Panera's I've ever seen that had a hitching rail for those who arrived on horse-back. Not joking.
I was truly surprised to learn what a big deal cows are down here in Florida. But then I didn't know all that much about Florida before we moved here so most everything about it has been a surprise to me. Turns out, cattle ranching was huge here. Who knew?
And baby cows? Oh come on, baby every things are adorable, but baby cows are especially cute. Far more playful and frolicksome than the adult versions, they are just big bovine puppy dogs.
Sounds like I miss the framing life doesn't it? Well if you think that you would be wrong. While I respect the absolutely heck out of anyone who works and lives on a farm, I am way too lazy for that life. It is not only hard work, it is constant work. I miss the baby animals but I can go visit someone else's cows. I don't need any of my own.
Anyway, that's it for today. Just a few random thoughts about a few random cows. Wishing you all a wonderful day!
Hugs all 'round
April 12th, 2021
"Sooooo, what's new?" It's a perfectly ordinary normal reasonable question. It usually follows, "Hi how are you" and it shows that the other party is actually truly interested in you and your life. Which is so thoughtful, so downright sweet. And it is a question I have come to dread.
Why? Probably mostly because it is the question that, when asked of me, is most likely to cause me to have an attack of stupid. My brain just goes blank. All of the doors in all of the closets in my memory blank immediately slam shut and all I hear is a chorus of deadbolt's being slammed home.
I'm not sure why it happens, but it does. Every. Single. Time. We could have just bought a new house - nothin'. One of the kids might have just been elected President - nothin'. Aliens could have landed in my back yard recently and had a cuppa tea with me and if you ask me what's new I would say, "Well nothing I guess" Or "Same old, Same old." Why? Because immediately I have gone brain dead and would be hard pressed to know my own middle name. My usual course of action is to say, "Oh nothing really. What's new with you?" Thus transferring the onus of either actually having something new to talk to about or remembering what the heck it is. It's both very strange and very sad.
But in this moment, when I'm sitting here by myself and nobody is asking me what's new, I am perfectly happy to report to you that Yes there are 3 new things! 3! Wow!
First of all, the flower at the top of the page. A friend gave me a few plants to take care of for her. Of course I took the responsibility as seriously as I would if it had been a puppy! But I find plants to be a lot trickier to care for than a puppy. Less work but a lot trickier. So I've been especially protective and fussed far more than I usually do with a plant. And I was rewarded this weekend with these great big beautiful colourful blooms! YAY! I did not kill the plant! Hurrah!
Second new thing:
New Windshield Wipers! Woohoo! So exciting! My old ones were, well, old to begin with. They were also very squeaky (an absolutely hideous sound) and rather ineffective. So as we are approaching the rainy season here, it was prudent to get them replaced before the deluge commences.
I'm not joking about the deluge either. Oh yeah, sometimes it's just a little sprinkledinkle, or a light gentle rainfall. But as the season progresses the rain is more torrential than meagre. There are times when it feels as if someone unzipped a cloud and it all dumped, all at once, on you. And no matter if you are on foot, on bike, in car or safely tucked into your house, let's just say, you notice. On foot or on bike, you can just stop and pull over under the nearest overhang (Not a tree! lightening could strike the tree!) But in a car? Yeah, you just want the best wipers money can buy and then you slow down and hope for the best. It's wild.
So I am super happy about new thing #2!
The last New Thing:
Taadaa! Do you know what this is? It's a toilet paper holder! A brand spankin' new one! Well actually it's one of two. We have two bathrooms therefore, two toilet paper holders. And believe you me, this is an exciting new thing to have!
For whatever reason, when this house was built back in 1962, neither bathroom was outfitted with the toilet paper holder that attaches to the wall. Back then it would most likely have been made of porcelain and would match all of the rest of the tile in the room. They didn't do that here. Not a single clue why, but there it is. Facts is facts. I don't have to understand them to accept them as true.
When we bought the house nearly 5 years ago now (wow!) it came full of furniture and dishes and art (?) work and sheets. The only thing it did not have fortunately, was food in the pantry. (that would have been kind of gross right?) But of course it wasn't our furniture, our dishes, our artwork or sheets. And so we contacted someone who, as a job, purchased housefuls of that sort of thing and they made quick work of stripping the house of nearly everything.
I say nearly because the only things they did not take from the house was a really awesome roasting pan that I still use, and some toilet paper holders similar to the one above but not as nice. Still they worked. They did the job. And since we had to buy an entire house worth of other furniture, we made do wherever possible.
(the guy also did not purchase anything in our utility room which resulted in at least a half zillion trips to GoodWill with random and often strange things to donate)
One of the things we temporarily made do with was the standing toilet paper holders that came with the house. Of course I cleaned them thoroughly. Of course! I scrubbed every inch of this house as soon as it was empty. And that included the roasting pan and the old TP holders. But they worked. They did their intended job. And it was on my list to, one day, replace them.
That day was yesterday! Walmart here we come! Honestly, Walmart was intended to be just a first stop. If we could find what we wanted for less money, why not. But if they didn't have one that was an improvement over what we already had, we would have moved on to Target, then perhaps Beall's Home Store or - if absolutely necessary - Bed, Bath and Beyond. Luckily, we hit paydirt at Walmart.
They had two. And only two. Apparently everyone who uses as standing toilet paper holder needed to buy them this weekend. These work. They do the job. They hold one roll on the spindle and 3 in reserve. Perfect. AND these two have a little tray on top. For......are you ready? Your cell phone! HAHAHAHAHAHA!
When I first looked at it I was thinking, "what the heck is this for? a bar of soap?" That made no sense. Tim was the one who figured it out. That is hilarious. And a sign of the times I guess. But it works and they are brand new. And I suppose since the old ones lasted nearly five years that we know about (who knows when they were originally purchased) I suppose they ought to last awhile.
Oh my goodness, that cracked me up! So there you are. We have our fancy new standing toilet paper holders WITH cell phone trays. LOLOL!
There you have it. At long last, I had an answer for the question, "what's new?" However, the next time you see me in person and ask that question, I will still most likely say, "Nothing really. What new with you?" And I mean it with all sincerity. I really am interesting in what is new with you!
April 09th, 2021
Recently, I briefly watched part of an interview with some famous people while I was ironing, and the interviewer asked the famous people what was their guilty pleasure. And the famous people all listed some TV shows: "The Bachelor", "The Voice", "Mystery Dancer", things of that nature. They all looked suitably embarrassed but everyone laughed and applauded and nodded in agreement.
It got me thinking, do I have a guilty pleasure? There are things I enjoy, but I don't feel the least bit guilty about any of them. Cookies do not embarrass me. Neither do M&M's or ice cream. Hiking? Taking photographs? Reading? Cooking? Baking? That's pretty much what I do and I enjoy all of it but I don't associate any of those things with a feeling of guilt.
And then it occurred to me. In the evenings sometimes, when Tim is watching television and I'm sitting with him but not especially interested in the show he has chosen, I watch videos on my phone. Ridiculous video's and I've never told anyone about these before so perhaps there is, if not guilt, then at least no pride attached.
It's primarily two sorts of video's; Journaling and Make-up Tutorials. Weird eh?
I'm not exactly sure how it started. I was just idling roaming through my Instagram search and checking out any/every thing in my feed. All sort of random things pop up: Funny kitty video's, DadBlog posts, cake decorating tips, beautiful photographs from far away places, crafting ideas and more. But the ones that catch my eye, the ones that I seem to just lose myself in and watch an endless stream of, are just the two: Journaling and Make-up Tutorials. Bizarre.
The Journaling one surprised me. If you say the word 'journaling' to me, I think - writing down personal thoughts. Whether it's the actual act of hand writing in a notebook or typing it on a computer, it's still an accounting of the writers feelings and experiences, hopes and dreams, fears and questions, usually for private consumption only. At least that's what I thought it was.
Turns out I could not have been more wrong. Somehow it now involves stickers and random pieces of paper, an endless supply of different patterned tape (tape comes in colours and patterns??) and a lot of stamps with coloured inks. Dried flowers, glue-sticks, transfers and all sorts of different kinds of cutty-outty tools, sealing wax and teensy tiny things are involved. I watch, mesmerized, as the journaler (is that the correct term?) applies layer upon layer upon layer of these things onto pages. And then they write a few words - generally in beautiful calligraphy. And they are done. So I move on to the next video. And the next. And the...well you get the idea.
I'm not gonna lie. I am fascinated. If I start watching Journaling video's during when Seal Team starts, when I look up again, Tim is now watching FBI. Holy Cats! I've been starring at that tiny cell phone screen watching someone else make journaling look more like an art project for more than an hour. That is just insane.
The Make-Up Tutorials on the other hand, I think it get. It's the whole Henry Higgins, My Fair Lady, Pygmalion thing. It's transformative. Turning the Ugly Duckling into the Beautiful Swan just like in fairy tales.
Totally get the appeal. I was an awkward kid. Nose always stuck in a book, with glasses and braces and always the new kid in school. Everywhere we moved, there were different things that were popular, the cliques were pretty tight and me, the clumsy, social awkward, geeky person that I am, did not fit in anywhere. Which was fine. I was accustomed to it. Until we moved to Texas where three very dear people welcomed me into their lives with open arms. For the first time ever, I had actual real friends! One of those friends was very into theatre. She loved hair and costumes and make-up. Things I knew nothing about. At one of our many sleep-overs, she decided to do a make-over on me. For the first time ever, I had make-up on my face. She did an amazing job and when I looked into a mirror, I didn't see geeky old weirdo me, I saw someone else. Someone far more attractive and I was astonished. It truly was transformative.
So I get it. I know the power of make-up. I've seen it up close and personal. But alas, I'm lazy and I'm cheap and I'm fidgety and honestly, I just cannot do that every day. I mean even if I had the skill set. Nope. BUT I can and do watch other people use many different products and colours and brushes (so many brushes!) and marvel as they go from being regular looking people to amazingly beautiful people with the simple application of hundreds of dollars worth of products, a lot of talent, and way way way more time than I will ever spend on how I look on an average day. (Which is why they look the way they do, and I look the way I do. I'm not stupid, I get it).
I will never be able to fully explain, even to myself, why I watch these videos. But there you have it. My guilty pleasure. Though honestly I do not feel guilty about it. But it's probably the closest thing. It's certainly nothing to be proud of. Yes I just wasted an hour of my life watching someone else skillfully apply about a half ton of make up. No pride there. But also no guilt. It just captures my interest.
Who knows, perhaps in an alternate universe somewhere is a Sam who is looking damned fine with her zillion dollar level make-up closet while she journals with all the coolio stuff necessary. And her guilty pleasure is watching video's of someone baking cookies and eating M&M's. It could happen.
April 08th, 2021
Yesterday Joy and I headed out for a hike with our cameras so you know what that means, right? Time for the Photo Safari Report! YAY!
I'm calling this hike the Deja Vu hike. And to properly explain why, I have to back up a little bit. Probably more than once. It's a little complicated to bear with me please.
You may recall that a few weeks ago Tim took a week of staycation and he and I managed a hike nearly every day. And most of the hikes were places that were new to us. Trails and Parks I had never heard of (or so I thought) One of them was to a place called Walton Ranch Preserve. It was a beautiful place, still a working ranch which was unique. We arbitrarily chose a trail and headed down a leafy, shady path which, after a short while, opened up into a large sunny area and before us was a simple post and wire fence. And I stopped short, starred at that fence and said to Tim, " Wierd deja vu. That fence looks so familiar!"
As you may recall, Tim and I only did about a mile's worth of this preserve because it was toward the end of the afternoon and we had already hiked a different preserve that day. FYI, the only thing that felt familiar was that fence.
Ok back to yesterday. Joy saw the blog about Walton's and was favourably impressed with what she read so we decided to hit that for our hike yesterday. We parked in the same general area. She chose (with no input from me) the same place to start our hike. And we headed down the same trail. Which, of course, opened into the same sunny spot and fence. And Joy stopped and said, "This looks so familiar!"
Well that's interesting! I told how that I had experienced the exact same feeling in the same spot. But that nothing else seemed familiar. She agreed and we kept going. It all seemed new and fun and completely unfamiliar to us.
Well, I mean, we still saw some great birds which we've seen before in other places:
And interesting bugs:
While it was delightful, it was mostly things we normally see on the majority of our hikes really. Birds, bugs, flowers, trees. Pretty things, but kind of the usual stuff.
Well there were two unusual things. As this was a working ranch, we did find cows. Lots and lots of cows. They were friendly enough, well cared for and the baby cow was such a cutie pie.
The other unusual things were hunting related, we think. I'm not sure what either of these things is actually called but, we saw 'em so here they are:
So in short, other than the cows and the (we are guessing here) hunting related stuff, while everything else we were seeing was stuff we've seen before on other hikes, the only thing that actually seemed familiar was that one dang fence. And if that isn't the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard, I'm not sure what would be.
UNTIL, we came around a curve in the trail, Joy looked ahead, gasped, grabbed my arm and said, "Oh My God, Sam, there IT is!"
"IT" being a large log frame in the middle of nothing, just off a curve in the trail about 2 1/2 miles into the preserve. It looked like this:
The significance of this log frame thingie is that roughly six months ago (maybe longer), while Joy and I were hiking, she asked me if I remembered that once upon a time, she and I had happened across this big log frame and we got silly and did a little photo shoot in it. I wrestled through my memory banks a little bit and then found the proper marble. "Yes" I did remember it I told her. Then she asked if I remembered where it was. And no I did not. Neither did she but we both thought it was odd that we had not run across it again.
We just assumed that it was on a different trail than we regularly hiked in the preserves we generally hiked in. So we tried to check out different trails in our usual haunts, to no avail. No log frame to be found. We began to think, maybe the frame fell down? Was torn down? We imagined it? It was a mystery that apparently was going to go unsolved. Or so we assumed.
Because Oh My Gosh....here it was! Exactly as we remembered! Except neither of us had ANY recollection of having hiked the Walton Ranch Preserve. No wonder that fence felt familiar! What a couple of weirdo's! Our only other visit had to have been 3 or 4 (or more) years ago Somehow the name of the place fell off our radars leaving behind only a fence and the silly photos as memories.
To celebrate we tried to recreate our original photo shoot. Here is some of it:
What an awesome surprise! It was definitely the cherry on top of the Sundae for us. It would have been a terrific photo hike without it, but finally solving that mystery and having such a silly fun good time while doing so, made this absolutely one of the best hikes this year.
Sooooo that's about it I guess. Two remaining photos for you just because we had such a great time.
Hope you enjoyed it too!
April 06th, 2021
It's a teensy photo but maybe you can sort of tell what it is. This is, or was at least, the little beachside market here in Venice called, "Beachside Foodmart". It nestled right next to the parking lot of Venice Beach, across from the cutest little fountain park, Graser Park, at the bottom of Barcelona Ave.
It was roughly the size of a 7-11 store and had a little bit of everything within that relatively small space. Did you arrive at the beach and realize suddenly that you had forgotten to bring sunscreen? Beachside Food Mart had it. Or perhaps you lived a short walk away and halfway through a recipe realized that you needed eggs? Beachside Food Mart had it. Of course they also had beach chairs, lottery tickets, fruit, beverages of all sorts, ice cream and well, almost anything that you might expect any Beachside Food Mart to have.
I have no idea how long the business was in existence but long before we actually lived here and only visited now and again, it was around. It was especially handy for beach-goers but also for anyone who lived nearby. And this, being a small island means, almost anybody. Tim and I used to walk by it everyday as it is on our usual noonwalk route. What I'm trying, poorly, to establish here is that the Beachside Food Mart was firmly in place. Another part of the scenery almost.
And it's gone now. Of course I was not privy to the particulars of what happened behind the scenes but suddenly one day, it was empty. Closed. Done. Perhaps the owners wanted to retire and nobody cared to take it over. Or maybe the developer made an offer too good to pass up. Yeah, a developer. Of course a developer! This was beachfront property. That stuff is gold! And what, you ask, exactly is the developer going to put in it's place? A condo. Of course a condo. Because we don't have nearly enough waterfront condo's here in Venice. (she said with the words dripping with sarcasm)
I am told that there was a time, not really all that long ago, when most of the beachfront was undeveloped. That anyone could walk (or drive) down the Espalanade (the road that parallels the water) and then turn onto Tarpon Center Rd (which goes past the marina and all the way to the jetty) and admire the beach and the beautiful Gulf of Mexico the entire way.
It is not longer possible. Since the condo boom of roughly the 1960's through 1980's (and frankly some dang poor decision making as far as esthetics go) heading down those same roads now offers only a peek-a-boo view of the water between giant buildings at best. If I understand correctly, most of those condo units are either rentals or sold to snowbirds. Which means that off season, most of the buildings are practically ghost-towns.
And there are a lot of them, one after the other after the other. Tim and I have gone to Open Houses (out of curiosity) in many of them and they are very similar. Two bed, two bath, small kitchen, living/dinning combo and a balcony. The hallways are on the exterior of the building and there is one "laundry room" on each floor. Many units have been updated but some are just exactly as they were when originally built.
I do not begrudge folks the desire to have a beautiful place to live - even part time - or a place to vacation that had a view of the ocean. I totally completely and entirely understand that. But wow. That is a lot of condominiums. And I regret, I so regret, that I never saw for myself what it looked like or felt like to live here before they were built. I can only imagine it. Is there a word for having nostalgia for something you never experienced? Hmmm. I just looked it up! Of course there is a word for it! There is a word for Everything! The word is, "Anemoia". And I have a bad case of it.
The last time I walked by, the Beachside Food Mart was being torn down. I watched the big machinery at work.
Did you notice that beyond the protective temporary chainlink barrier that the beach is right there on the other side? How nice would it have been to be able to drive or walk past even that tiny little bit of space and see the water. I mean if the Beachside Food Mart had to go anyway, wouldn't it have been nice to have nothing at all built there and just a beautiful view? But I suppose there is no money to be made in leaving a beautiful view, right? Sigh.
Just imagine that view without the rubble, without the fence as you pass by. Just a glimpse of paradise. Wouldn't that make you want to be a part of it?
But alas, that isn't what's going to happen. Nope. That gorgeous view will, again, be blocked. Did I ever tell you how often Tim and I are stopped by visitors in cars asking us where the beach is? Seriously. It happens with ridiculous regularity. The entire freakin' Gulf of Mexico is right there but the guests to our island cannot find it because the view is completely blocked by buildings. It's a damned shame.
But it is what it is. So I guess, out with the old......
And in with the new.......
April 05th, 2021
Happy Day After Easter ! Hope yours was a very nice one however you spent it. Rather obviously I made a cake :) I've been craving cake for weeks now and then I realized that it was nearly Easter and said to my self, "Thank goodness there is a Holiday coming up! Sounds like a good excuse to make a cake " . Hah! Like I need an excuse .....
We started our Easter by getting up early and heading over to the Airport Fairgrounds once again. Yes, that's right, it was time for my 2nd vaccine dose. Can you believe that many people gave up spending their holiday with friends and family just make us all safe? Wow! I was seriously impressed. When I was first issued the appointment I thought it was a mistake. Really? On Easter Sunday? But yuppers. That's when it was.
And exactly as the previous time, it was very well organized and with the help of the National Guard, went smooooooooothly. But man oh man, there were a Lot of people there. All for the same reason.
At times it kind of looked like a magicians trick because the line seemed to go on forever and ever, amen, amen. But we were in and out, including both the actual shot and the 15 minute post-shot wait time, in less than a hour. Not bad.
Once we returned home we commenced some serious relaxing. There was absolutely nothing imperative on my schedule until it was time to fix dinner. And naturally I wanted to fix something a little special. Not fancy. I don't do fancy. But a nice roast chicken with mashed potatoes, green beans and home made biscuits don't hurt anybody's feelings. Well maybe the chicken but I'm not goin there. And the, of course, the après dinner aforementioned cake. Which, by the way, was pretty good. I know that was very braggy but honestly, it was good.
I even broke down this year and bought one of those Paaz egg decorating kits. Haven't done that since the boys were young but I've been eying them in the store for quite some time. This year I said, "what the hell" and scooped one up. I was surprised at how little they have changed. Well, I didn't need boiling water this time, but it still required vinegar, they still have the little wire egg dipper and the box had the punch outs to put the eggs to dry. That was a really fun flash from the past. Why not? I'm not afraid of looking childish, although I prefer it to be called, child like.
So today, as I write this, I'm just shy of 24 hours post vaccine and yes I'm a little achy, a little tired and a little, not quite myself today. BUT as I told another friend recently, I'd rather have some achy/tired for a couple of days than dead forever. Really wasn't much of a choice. And the side effects? Not stopping me today. I'm moving slower, but I've not stopped. And this too shall pass. Just a minor blip on my personal radar.
So that was our Easter. How was yours?
April 02nd, 2021
Oh my gosh, it's Friday already! Where did the week go? I still have two photo safari reports with Joy to write up. Well I think I will at least attempt to squish both of those hikes into one post today so I don't fall any further behind, ok?
All righty then. Last week, during Tim's staycation/vacation Joy and I still hiked on Wednesday just as we always do. Tim appreciated having a morning all to himself ;) Joy and I headed to
Oscar Scherer State Park. Of course we've been there before, many times, but it has lots of different trails and naturally we see different things at each visit.
It was definitely a good hike. We tried to hit some trails we didn't normally do which really panned out right away because of that first photo.
The bright blue bird at the top of the page is called a scrub Jay. I suspect that it's in the same neighborhood, if not family as Blue Jays but of course I don't know all that much about birds so I'm just guessing here. Do not take that as fact. It was a very bold bird, completely unbothered by our presence and hopping right along the sandy trail beside us. I actually had a hard time getting an unblurry shot for a few frames because the bird was so close, and I didn't want to move and possibly scare him away. Wildlife, up close and personal :)
Lots of other birds too:
A few other things that fly:
And some other pretty things:
All righty then. We were feeling pretty darned good about that hike. Got lots of good photos. It would be hard to top that, or so we thought. And then this week, once again, Joy and I headed out on Wednesday for our weekly photo safari. We drove south to Port Charlotte to visit Ollie's Pond, a place we haven't been in quite some time. Mostly because the past few visits were kind of Meh. We did have a back up plan in case things were still in the blah-zone.
We will just say that we did not have to use the back up plan. Let's call this the Wings Hike. (Not the Paul McCartney band, though that would have been cool too)
I think I took more photos on this past hike to Ollie's than I have, maybe ever! But I will try to just hit the highlights for you, otherwise it would just be too much wonderfulness (which is kind of how we felt about it)
Get ready for birdies, lots and lots of birds. I will identify the few that I know for sure.
And so many dragonflies! We really hit the jackpot that day:
And then the "other things" miscellaneous file, my favourite picture this time being some random kittycat walking by, just checking things out. He even stopped and posed so I could take a photo.
Whew! We made it! All caught up. That's all the highlights of the past two weeks. Monday we can start fresh once again. Ya'll have a great weekend. Oh! And Happy Easter!
April 01st, 2021
Happy April's Fools Day and I am back to reporting on the Staycation activities.
Tim and I got out there and took a hike nearly every day of his vacation! Yay us! And what's more, Tim did some research and found some new places to explore (and one familiar one). That is Always Exciting! It really is. At least to me :)
Since I am way behind on blogging I think I will try to get all of the hikes into this one post (whew!) I say try. If it looks like it's going on too long, I will break it up into Parts 1 & 2. And I will start with a very long walk that we did right here on island. We meandered with absolutely no specific destination and when we arrived home we had travelled more than six miles. Yay us! Oddly, I have fewer photos from that hike than any of the others. I think we were talking and walking more than snapping photos. And that is not a bad thing at all.
Another day we drove up to Sarasota and hiked around Rothenbach Park. We have driven by this one many times, but never hiked it before so it was all brand new to us both. This park has a lot of different areas, including one for remote controlled planes! (very cool) But we were only interested in the hiking trail which was a 3.7 mile loop. No way to get lost hurrah!
What is now this very pretty park, with open fields of wild flowers, thickly wooden forest areas, streams, marshes, ponds and hills. At one time it was a landfill. (so much prettier now) Which means actual inclines! Very unusual here. None of the hills were difficult to traverse but it was a novelty nonetheless. It was a paved trail, which is kind of not my favourite, BUT it also means that this trail is ADA compliant and that is a good thing. It was all wonderful, but my favourite part was when a deer family crossed the trail in front of us. I'm not sure who was more surprised. I guess me because they managed to finish crossing the trial before I thought to take a photo. Though I did get one picture through the trees of a deer butt! Oh you will know it when you see it!
The next time Tim and I hiked we did two parks on the same day. Another one in Sarasota called, Culverhouse Nature Park, which also has a very large community garden in it. Culverhouse Nature Park is right up against the Legacy Trail which is a biking/hiking paved trail that runs from somewhere south of Venice (not absolutely certain where it begins at this point - they keep extending it) to Sarasota. It is hugely popular with bicyclers and the parking lot was LOADED with their cars. Which is fine because that means that the hiking part was all ours ;) It wasn't a very long hike but it was so very pretty.
Then we moved south to the city of North Port to check out Walton Ranch Preserve. Walton Ranch was especially interesting because it's still a working ranch. Or at least I assume so since a lot of the open areas were cow poop minefields! (heh) But we go where the trail leads us, just sometimes we step carefully.
Walton Ranch reportedly has almost 20 miles of trails. Wow! Never having been there before when we got to the first cross roads, we had no idea which was the best way to go. Abritraily we decided to head to the right. It was more heavily treed and we were thinking..shade is a good thing! Seriously that is the only reason we turned that way. Almost immediately, as we turned around a hairpin bend in the trail, we heard a very loud PLOP in water that he had no idea existed. It was as if someone, or something cannonballed into a pool. Tim and I stopped immediately, looked at each other in amazement, then looked around us and saw no source of the sounds. Cautiously we stepped forward, eventually saw the water on both sides of the trail but still, no creature that could have made that sound. It was a heart stopper for a second there. Whew! So we continued on, tralalalala. And then we heard a very loud noise. Like a car backfiring maybe, or fireworks or a gun shot? I grabbed Tim's arm, "Was that a gunshot?" He nodded. Hmmmm. We walked on and then heard another shot. We stopped again. I held up two fingers. Tim pointed out that if I was uncomfortable, we could turn around and go the other way on the trail. I shook my head and determined to be brave (there should be no shooting on a preserve, sound can travel pretty far in the great outdoors after all). We walked on and there it was. A third shot. "Maybe we should go the other way" I said to Tim as I turned and went back the way we came. He grinned at me and followed, "Whatever you want to do" he sez. FYI We were two more shots after we turned back.
Anyway, We headed through a cattle gate, coz again, that's where the trail led us. At one point there was a giant hawk perched just above my head. I couldn't get a picture through the branches but how cool was that! Just seeing it was enough :)
So there you have it. Most of what Tim and I did during a week's vacation. We walked! We feel very well exercised and had a wonderful time! But you know how it is with vacation. It's always wonderful and it's never long enough.
And that is no April Fool's Day Joke!
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.