I saw this yesterday in the middle of fixing dinner. (sorry I don't know why the photo is sideways - pretend it's horizontal) For a second I wasn't quite sure what I was seeing. That bright spot on the floor was, momentarily, unfamiliar to me. So I stopped what I was doing and just goggled at it. Tim stepped into the kitchen and saw me starring quizzically at the floor. He stopped. "Are you looking for something?" he asked. I pointed to the bright spot and said, "I think it's called sunshine?" We both chuckled and went on with what we were doing.
But in all honesty, it's been awhile. We have been quite spoiled. Florida is not called "The Sunshine State' for nothin' y'know. But the past, what? Three weeks I think? It has been rain, rain, rain, oh yeah, and rain. That sudden burst of sunshine was a lovely change of pace.
I am fortunate that, for the most part, weather doesn't affect me emotionally. S.A.D. or Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing and my heart goes out to those who suffer it. I think the worst that happens to me is on rainy days I get sleepy. I believe that it's the darkness and the lulling rhythm of the sound that makes me just want to curl up on the sofa with a good book and....drift...off...to... No wait! It's sunny today. Stop that! Okay I'm fine now.
I've dealt with far worse weather. In New England for example, gloom, rain, snow, more gloom, a glimpse of sun and then rain, snow, sleet, hail, ice, more snow and gloom seems to be the norm from fall through spring and then the sun showed it's pretty face again. And I dearly loved New England when I lived there, but facts are facts. There are not a ton of sunny days for far too much of the time up there. I remember one time, walking down a street with some friends when I was in college. It was winter time and we were all bundled against the frigid temperatures. We were talking and laughing and having a good time despite the dreary weather when abruptly, the sun broke through the clouds and we all stopped in our tracks. Just complete halt. We looked up at the sky. Nobody spoke. And then one of the jokers in the group stage whispers, "What is that ball of fire in the sky?" Kind of like that.
Okay, it's not quite THAT bad, though that was a true story, but there were times when it felt like it. Of course others have it far worse. I've never lived in Alaska, but I understand that if you go far enough north in that snowy state, their year is divided into sun and darkness. In Fairbanks you can enjoy 22 hours of daylight in every 24 hour period in summer. Of course on balance, in a Barrow, Alaska winter, the residents don't see the sun for 67 days. In A Row! Hats off to those Rugged Alaskans who are prepared for almost anything! Probably the closest thing we have to modern day pioneers.
As much as I can roll with most of what life has to offer, I think that unless I absolutely had to, I would say no thank you to that. Well and the snow. I'm over snow. I do not miss it one iota. I think Tim does a little bit in the winter time. But being a FAR better driver than I, he never minded driving on slip'n'slide icey roads or charging through unplowed streets (SUV's were MADE for the snow) and he is one of those people that is always too hot so a cold wintery day to him just feels good. I think snow is pretty to look at. Out the window. While I am in dressed in warm clothes, drinking hot cocoa, in front of a roaring fire, on Christmas Day and I don't have to drive anywhere. That's it. Oh, it's also pretty on Christmas Cards, Christmas Movies. and snow globes.
But rain? I like the rain. I love the pretty little raindrops clinging to the plants and flowers after the storm and the fresh smell in the air. I love a rattling good thunder storm and the flashes of lightning filling the sky with drama. I always head straight to the beach in a rainstorm because the wildly crashing waves are just too exciting to miss. Very Healthcliff on the Moors. And sometimes I really dig that. Not every day, but once in awhile, yeah. And of course, rainy days just feel cozy. I want to make soup and bread and bake cookies and do puzzles and read books. Well to be fair, I always feel like reading but even more so on a dark rainy day.
Of course, anything can be taken too far. Tomorrow is the official first day of Hurricane Season and I've read predictions that range from Above Normal Activity to Below Normal Activity and everything in between. Sooooo, I suppose that means nobody really knows. Everyone is a little hinky about this season having endured scary old Irma last year. So fingers crossed that those Calusa Indian spirits are still looking upon us favourably and protecting us. It's not like anybody has any control over the weather afterall.
Meanwhile, it's a beautiful, stunning, gorgeous sunny day today. For a change, I'm going to get out in it!~ Hope your day is a beautiful one too!
This little notebook and pen was one of the gifts in my Christmas stocking this year. I think it's just the cutest little thing. And even more handy than I'd ever anticipated. The case is a very lightweight metal, so it's sturdy. I cannot speak to your experience with carrying a notebook around, but I find that those little paper spiral notebooks curl and tear and basically disintegrate in my purse. And finding a pen when I need one is something akin to seeking the golden fleece. Here, the pen is attached, It acts like a lock for the notebook. As soon as the pen is removed, it's springs open, ready to go. When I'm done, I slide it right back into place and the notebook is locked shut once again. It's very small as you can see so thin it actually can slide into my back pocket. Somebody thought that up. I so admire clever people.
Still, I'm not one to fall for the latest new gadget out there. Most of it is either unnecessary, rediculous or a rehash of an existing idea. And just because something is new doesn't automatically make it better. I can be a curmudgeon that way. And if you have ever watched seriously late night (so late that it's actually early morning) TV infomercials, you know what I mean. But every once in awhile, something comes along that is just a doggone good idea!
An example of a badly rehashed idea is plastic clothespins. Originally clothespins were wooden pegs, hand whittled. They did the job and they lasted for a long time. Usually at least one persons lifetime, often passed down a generation or two. Then someone came up with the spring loaded wooden clothespins. Well, honestly I was never a fan. The spring part often went awry and it would take a lot of patience to put one back together again. Never having been long on patience, this wasn't a good choice for me personally, but a lot of people prefer them. Then someone decided to make colourful plastic spring loaded clothespins. Bad. Very bad. They looked darned cute out there on the clothesline but they weren't strong enough to hold a wet towel. I also found issues with the fact that they broke so easily. I am clumsy and often drop things. If I dropped a plastic clothespin and then accidentally stepped on it (not out of the realm of possibility) I now had a broken clothes pin. A wooden one would laugh at being trod upon. My boys, as toddlers, used to love to drop wooden clothes pegs into a clean plastic milk jug and then shake them back out, over and over and over. And if by chance one of them decided to chew on a clothes peg for a moment, it was no big deal. A few teeth marks in a wooden clothes peg is nothing. I would never have allowed them the chance too chew on a plastic one for fear of the spring or broken chewed upon pieces of plastic being swallowed. Nope, the original wooden clothes pegs were definitely better.
Here are a couple of others examples. Two things that I found in my kitchen drawers while rummaging around. One got thrown away as soon as I unearthed it. The other went right back into the drawer:
The item that looks like a black trowel is a pie server, only a "superdooper special" one. Upon being presented with it at a home show (it was a freebie giveaway or I wouldn't own it, I promise) I was told that the serrated edge was to cut the pie and then you simply slide it under the slice and lift that first slice right out, easy peasy. Ummm no. First of all, the serrated edge doesn't cut worth a crap and the hard plastic doesn't slide, simply or otherwise, under the first slice with smashing up the pie on the other side of the server. I was told I could also bake the server into the pie so the first slice just lifts out. What? I'm suppose to bake plastic into my beautiful pie? I think not. And of course the pie would still need to be cut even if I wanted to taint my pie with plastic before lifting it out so I'd need to use a knife regardless. I see no gain here. Buncha liars. I do not know why this item moved from Colorado to Florida with us but it now lives in the garbage can and will go away forever on the next garbage pick up day.
By contrast, the thing that looks like an ice cream scoop is one of my favourite inventions EVER! It's a cookie dough scoop. I don't actually know what it's real name is, but it honestly does work like a very good ice cream scoop. I dip the ball part into a batch of my yummy home made cookie dough (hey, it ain't braggin' if it's true!) and then deposit it on the cookie sheet by squeezing the handle. The dough is released onto the cookie sheet and is a perfect little cookie dough ball. Each cookie dough ball is the same exact size so they bake evenly and look adorable. I actually have several of these in different sizes. If one ever breaks, it will be replaced before I bake my next batch of cookies I promise you that.
And now that I've started going through the kitchen drawers and I realize how much worthless crap is in there, I guess I will continue sorting through with an eye to identifying other mystery items and throwing out unnecessary things. I know a lot of the stuff I intend to keep is specific to me. Like my potato masher. This is the real deal. I mean a real old fashioned hand held potato masher with nothing electric or battery powered about it. I love that thing. I bought it in a second hand shop years ago and use it all the time. But not everybody would want one or use one. So this item, though a definite keeper, is very Sam-specific. But it stays. A lot of the other gadgets are going to go.
Gadgets and gizmos make me think of my father. One of my dad's nicknames was Gadget Man. Sounds like a super hero name doesn't it. I do not honestly know if he was aware that we called him that, but my sister and I often did. I doubt that there was ever a gadget created that he didn't immediately fall in love with. It was an endearing quirk and made shopping for him fun and easy. A quick visit to any gadget aisle in a store and voila, Dad related shopping, done! Well either a new gadget or a deep dish pecan pie. I think he loved both equally. He knew that on Father's Day or his birthday or even Christmas, somebody would come through with one or the other for him and then he was a happy guy.
In this case I guess the acorn fell pretty far from the tree. I'm not so into gizmos and gadgets and in fact, I was dragged kicking and screaming into the work of technology. Says the lady who uses a computer on a daily basis now. Hah! So I will end with the truth. I am always a little dubious about newfangled gizmos, but I won't automatically turn up my nose at a doo-ma-thingie that is useful to my life. Love my cookie scoop. Love my little notepad. And who knows what my next favourite do-dad will be.
Hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend filled with three days of fun, big sales at the stores, cookouts, picnics, BBQ's, family and friends. I truly hope you had a wonderful time.
We had rain.
Don't know if you heard about Sub-Tropical Storm Alberto. It was all over our news for days. And the weather guys kept saying, "It's not even officially Hurricane Season yet!!" And I said back to the TV (coz I'm one of those annoying people who talks to the TV) "So what? Alberto is a tropical storm not a hurricane!" Humph. Panic Mongers. All of 'em. Days ahead of landfall Florida, Mississippi and perhaps Louisiana (I'm not certain about LA but they said 3 states. It seems logical) officially declared Disasters! Official disasters mind you, not the unofficial ones.
I'm sure there were places that had devastating floods and damaging winds. But it wasn't here. Here it was just more of what we've been having for weeks now. Rain. Oh the wind picked up a bit. Pro-actively I took down the patio umbrella, moved the potted flowers under the eaves and put up the patio furniture toss pillows. Today I will put it all back. Named or unnamed, to us here, it was just more of the same damned rain.
And when it wasn't raining, it was about to rain or had just finished raining. So there were no picnics, no BBQ's and no cookouts. We went out to breakfast once, out to dinner once and ordered pizza in once. The rest of the time I cooked. We read a lot, watched way too much TV, did a few things around the house that needed to be done. We drove a half hour to a mall to walk inside there, but also walked around here in sprinkley rain a few times and of course to the jetty to take photos. The best part of any storm here is the ocean. Cool stuff.
Let's see, we went to some open houses because, well why not. Went to some car lots and looked at cars because, logic dictates that someday one of our cars will gasp it's last and go wheels up. May as well be ready when it happens as opposed to making a rushed, zero-hour, bad decision.
We considered going to the movies but there wasn't anything playing that Tim wanted to see. Considered going bowling but honestly, have you ever seen me bowl? My all-time high score is 64 and I wish I was joking about that. We almost started a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle that I got for Christmas and haven't opened yet but, I'm not sure why but never did that.
I think somehow, the weekend just got away from us. But, we are well rested so there's that. Sometimes on a long weekend of 3 days of fun, I feel like I need another day off just to rest. This was not that weekend. This was easy. It was relaxing. It was restful.
And mostly it was raining.
It's still raining. Tomorrow the prediction is, predictably, rain. Thursday, yet more rain.
Hmmm. Should I start researching how to build an ark?
Who do I think I am? I know very well who I am. Me, myself and I are very well acquainted thank you. Although now that I think about it, as well as I believe that I know myself, I do occasionally surprise me. heh.
Have you ever seen this show? It's one of the shows that I record to watch either while ironing or at night when sleep is elusive. I really like this program. If you haven't seen it, basically it walks a celebrity through tracing their lineage back along one particular line. There are professional historians and genealogists to help them along their way. Usually they end up travelling, sometimes must around one state, but more often this country and sometimes to other countries. They always learn something they didn't know. Sometimes it's shocking, sometimes it is amazing. Often the news is touching or empowering or tragic but we, the viewers are along for the ride. We the viewers cannot help but be a little weepy over their sorrows and encouraged by their ancestors triumphs. Because even though it's not about our particular families, we kind of feel like maybe it is a little bit.
I mean, after all, we are all human beings. (Who was it that used to write that as Human beans? I loved that. Human beans ) We all descended from long lines of other people, most of whom we have never met and often know little to nothing about. But those people lived actual lives, just like us. They had moments of great successes and moments of absolute loss. They had dreams and hopes and wishes, just like us. They struggled and faced obstacles and failure, just like us. Regardless of the country they lived in or the language they spoke, we all share the same commonality. We are people, just people.
And people are what make history. Most of us are introduced to history in elementary school. I have to say that I have had very few teachers who made history interesting. It was just a list of names, date and places. Strict memorization. BORING! But by some miracle, I realized very early on that history is created by people, people just like all the rest of us. So, intrigued by this realization, I did a lot of reading outside of school on my own about those names, dates and places and suddenly it was relatable. History came alive for me in a way that it didn't for other kids and I've always loved it. Maybe it was all those Western I watched as a kid that triggered it? I suppose I will never know why history speaks to me and you know what, it doesn't really matter.
And then there is personal history. I have mine, you have yours, and then there are our parents, our grandparents, our great-grandparents and further back. I listened attentively to the stories my parents told, and my grandparents and on one side of my family my great-grandparent. Astonishing, wonderful, amazing stories. Things that happened in their lifetime that other people only read about in books. It is just captivating. And when you think about it, their history is also your history.
Did you ever consider the things that were invented in your lifetime? The things that have changed during your parents lives, grand parents? It's wow, honestly. My mother's mother, who I knew well, was born in the 1890's. I'm embarrassed to say that I don't recall the specific year. In her lifetime she remembers seeing the first car in town, the first airplane that flew overhead, two world wars, the depression. Indoor plumbing and electricity came to town with great suspicion and trepidation. Radio, then television, then computers! She remembers when women were allowed to vote! That is a lifetime full of history!
But since she is my grandmother, my direct bloodline, her history is also part of my history and part of the history of my children. My dad found the diary of a relative that moved to Ohio (I think) from Pennsylvania by covered wagon, oh my gosh! That's part of my history too!~ Wild!
My dad got really into genealogy and traced his family back a very long way. It takes a long time to get us back to another country because we've been hanging around this one since well before it was an actual country. But he did it. I love reading the names, they had interesting names, and wondering about their lives. As a fan of history, if I have a couple of dates and a place, I can make a fairly accurate guess as to how they lived, what they experienced in their lifetimes, but of course I don't know them at all.
Were any of them musical like my mother? Or were they big readers like my dad? Where did my sister get her artistic abilities? How many of them had blue eyes like me? Or brown eyes like my mom? Were they all nearsighted? What were their dreams, their hopes, their wishes? Did they live happy lives?
If I could time travel, that's what I would want to do, visit my ancestors, find out who they really were, what was their history, how did they live? And maybe that would help me to find out who it is I really think I am.
Have a lovely holiday weekend my friends. Hope it is filled with love and laughter. I'm taking Monday off, I hope you are too. Check back in with you on Tuesday next week!
Hugs all 'round
About a year ago this side of the driveway was all sand. Just sand. Like a beach. That is what passes for dirt here, sand. The plumbers had to dig up part of the driveway, the courtyard and this entire side of the yard to do their very important job of completely replumbing the house. It was a monumental and task with a price tag commensurate with it's enormity. It took them a little more than a week of working all day every day rain or shine. Naturally we had no water for the duration.
This was the event that had plumbers tearing up both bathroom floors as well. In the end we had to have both bathroom floors re-tiled, replaced two toilets and vanities in addition to the actual plumbing job itself. This was no insignificant dealio.
Inn time, I managed to put the courtyard pavers jigsaw puzzle back together with minimal cuts and scraps and more than a few curse words, the plumbers put the gravel back in the driveway bless them, but the sand in the side yard remained sand. Just sand.
We were financially gobsmacked by the unexpected necessity of spending THAT much money all at one time and reluctant to spend anymore. We did look at the cost of sod or seed and soil (sand) amendment and fertilizer and all the necessary tools involved. We even looked at artificial turf choices. And once we recovered from seeing those numbers we rationalized that, well since the sprinkler system doesn't work right now anyway, and therefore we have no way to guaranteeing that new grass will survive, we will save up a bit first and then revisit the idea.
So basically we just didn't pay any attention to that side of the driveway or that side of the house. Just ignored it like it wasn't there. Can't do anything about it right now so there is no point in thinking about it. Oh it bothered me at first. When things are just plain wrong, it's like there is a neon sign above it blinking and pointing "problem right here, get your problem here" but eventually even I adapted.
I noticed this morning when I was bringing the garbage cans back from the curb that, oh my goodness, we have green! It's not perfect, and it's not all actually grass, but it's green By God, and that will do for now.
I've never seen better examples of how nature reclaims her own as I do here. Cut down a tree and it grows back. Hardtrim back a shrub (like my hibiscus) and in a matter of weeks, it's growing and blooming again. After the big hurricane Irma last year, nearly every leaf from every shrub, tree and flower had been stripped from the branches. The garden looked as if it belonged at a haunted house. Just bare sticks. Morticia Adam's favourite flowers. Within a week of the hurricane, there were buds again. We had new growth before we got our power back on!
Slowly I am learning here in Florida to not fight nature too much. If she wants a tree somewhere, there is going to be a tree there regardless of how I feel about it. Contrarywise, if I plant something somewhere nature doesn't want it, it's ain't growin' for love nor money.
I get it now. I concede. I am not in charge here. Mother Nature is. Fortunately, apparently she and I agree that we would like a nice yard with lots of green stuff in it. Since I'm not all that picky about what constitutes the green, we are going to get along just fine. It's good to know.
This is the wild bunny that apparently lives in our backyard. I was going to say that it was our wild bunny but I suppose a wild animal doesn't really belong to anyone but itself. Still, any afternoon I can count on taking a peek into the backyard and seeing this little one either resting in the shade, completely relaxed, totally unafraid of anyone bothering it or munching on clover.
There is this bizarre-palm tree in the back that is not very tall, roughly my height, and the fronds well they are weird. While some of them seem to stick up in the air like cowlicks, the rest, instead of growing straight out from the trunk like a "normal" palm tree, seem to grow down so it's tent-like. At the lower levels, the fronds actually touch the ground. If it starts to rain or something startles this rabbit, he rushes for that palm tree tent and hides in there. Clever rabbit.
Yesterday afternoon while I was vacuuming, I happened to look outside and saw not just the bunny, but also a cardinal, a scrub jay (looks just like a regular bluejay to me) and one of those giant white birds, all hanging out together. Must have been an important meeting. I didn't get the memo.
While I do ridiculously and randomly assign names to any of the lizards that we see hanging out in the front courtyard, I have oddly not named this bunny. I'm not sure why I have not. It's not as if I expected any of the wild creatures that I name to answer to that name. I'm sure they have their own way of identifying each other and themselves. Hmmm. I wonder if they do? In lizard-speak or bunny language or bird-talk do they name their babies as humans do? I suppose we will never know the answer to that but it is an intriguing thought.
I know that bees and wasps and ants have a hive-mentality. They probably do not have names. They are just identical workers, doing their mindless jobs all day every day to satisfy the queen and their instincts. They don't have to worry about memorizing social security numbers or filling out employment forms so they probably have no need to names or separate identities for that matter.
But other creatures are different. I have seen Mama kitties call their babies when they wander off. I've watched nature shows where mother bears call their cubs and give them specific directions. Mother ducks have their little ducklings in the perfect row following behind them and if one of them accidentally gets out of line, she is right there setting them straight. So there must be some sort of communication going on. Whether or not that communication involves a specific and individual identity I do not know. Maybe it's just "Hey you!"
Perhaps the fact that a dog will come when it's called by the name we have given it merely means that the dog has associated that sound, "Rover" with you wanting the dog to come to you. Dogs are always eager to please us. Whereas, as any cat owner will tell you, a cat may be aware of the name you have given it but that doesn't mean it will come when you call. It doesn't mean the cat is stupid. It just means the cat doesn't want to come to you at just that moment. They do not seem to be as eager to please as dogs.
Meanwhile, anytime I am in the backyard at the same time as this bunny, I tread cautiously. I really do not intend to frighten it. We can share the space. If I see the bunny, I make certain to walk in a wide arc around it so that it knows I mean it no harm. My gentle action must be working because the last time we happened to be in the same area at the same time, it didn't scurry away like usual. It watched me carefully the entire time, entire body on high alert, but it didn't run and I consider that a win.
Perhaps one day I will figure out it's name.
Hey! I have a new gig! As of yesterday, in addition to being an ESL teacher through the Literacy Program now I am also a docent at the Venice Musem. YAYAYAYAY! I'm very excited!
I was a fairly frequent visitor to the museum anyway so I suppose it's not a huge leap. Venice has an interesting history, although not a particularly long one, and most of it's treasures are housed in an historic house turned into a museum. So in essence the building itself becomes a part of the exhibit!
I've been a docent before. A long time ago when I lived in Connecticut, I had been working at a Hospice for a long time. Eleven years in fact, which I suppose doesn't sound all that long but there is an expectation with Hospice work about burnout and it usually comes at year three. I managed to stick with it for a lot longer but when it was time to go, I was not just toast but extra crispy toast.
I needed to step away and do something that was positive and nurturing for awhile. To that end, I actually took some time off before I pursued any other job and in that gap year I took on two volunteer positions. One was with a local elementary school where I worked with advanced English and math students and created an ESL program. That was so much fun! The other volunteer position was as a docent at the William Benton Art Museum. And that job fed my soul. Surrounded daily by beautiful works of art, with colour and life and things being created was the absolute antithesis of what I had been doing and it helped me to find my balance again.
I guess it was only natural that I would lean in that direction once more. My favourite part of my previous docent position was touring groups of school kids. Seeing their little faces light up and watching that spark of interest ignite was the absolute best feeling ever. I am hopeful that I get to enjoy a similar experience at the Venice Museum.
Bonus, the museum is very near the art center, the new library (which should open in the winter this year) and is literally across the street from my favourite park. I can walk to work, it's about a twenty minute stroll, and they aren't asking the world of me, just one afternoon a week. I believe I can spare that :)
See, I'm thinking that I have to keep the old brain chugging along, keep it sharp, keep it stretching and functional. And one of the very best ways to do that, is to teach others. Seriously, I have always found teaching to be one of the very best learning experiences. We should never stop learning, never stop growing, never stop taking on a new challenge.
This one is just my latest. And I'm so excited about it!
When my Dad was home, as we sat around the dinner table, he would ask my sister and I what we had learned that day. Without fail, every single dinner that he was home we would be asked that question and we had better have an answer! The expectation was that we should learn at least one new thing every single day. Nobody is asking me that anymore, but I ponder it myself occasionally. I think it's a wonderful goal.
What did you learn today?
You know that old saying about, "April showers bringing May flowers"? Well that doesn't apply to Florida. In April, we were still in our dry season. Usually the wet season doesn't begin until June. This year we have jumped the gun and it has been raining for the past two weeks. A Lot. And just FYI, flowers have been blooming all along.
June 1st is the beginning of "hurricane season", which as you know is everyone's favourite season and that is still about ten days out. But this was the sky we saw as we were driving over the Venice Avenue bridge on Saturday on our way to Sonny's BBQ around 5 o'clock. So it should have been a bright sunny sky and not this apocalyptic looking horizon. Don't worry. It was all dramadramadrama in appearance. It was just a normal ordinary gullywashwer of a rainstorm. We watched from the safety of the inside the restaurant while eating some amazing BBQ. By the time we were finished, so was the worst of the storm.
It does look pretty darned impressive though, doesn't it. When we first moved here, when I saw a sky like that, especially this time of year, I was would get worried. "Uh-oh" or in Scoobie-speak, "Ruh-Roh". Scary looking sky! Time to panic! And wherever I was, I would head for shelter top speed. Until the day I got caught out on my bike too far from home or shops and I just well, I got wet. I didn't melt. My bike didn't melt either. It was no big deal. Who knew? Now I just make sure I always have a snack-sized zippy bag with me to put my hearing aids in and otherwise, it's just it's not a big deal.
During the rainy season, if you don't go outside for worry that you might get wet, you won't go outside at all. And that is something I won't do. That said, I still avoid grocery shopping in the rain. It's not like it's an open-air grocery store. (That would be ridiculous!) but walking to the store wet, and then around the store in the air conditioning getting chilled, every step making that wet shoe squelching sound, hair dripping …..yuck. And then back out into the rain pushing a fiddlywheeled carriage through puddles that splash dirty wet onto me, groceries getting drenched - how about a nice soaking wet box of cheerios?....no thank you very much please.
Otherwise, it's just rain. I remember way back when my boys were little and they had to walk down a very long driveway to wait for the bus to school each day. On stormy looking days I would urge them to wear their galoshes and raincoats (hoods up please) and they did for awhile until one day, rebellion reared it's ugly head. " No, they didn't wish to wear their rain gear. Rain gear looks stupid", I was told, and "what's more", they continued," it's not even raining right now. It only looks like it might rain." Trying to be logical I countered, "Well what happens if it starts to rain, what will do you do then?" . The oldest one looked me in the eye and said, "Well I guess we will get wet then". Can't argue with logic like that.
Way back then we lived on a working farm. As is not uncommon, that driveway was not paved and there was a big old divot down toward the gate. When the dirt was dry it was just a lurching pothole that we knew to avoid. After a good rain, it was filled with water and since it was, as I said, a dirt driveway, it was filled with luscious muddy water. An irresistable magnet for three little boys. I had absolutely no problem with them splashing around in that muddy water making a mess, (after school of course). A neighbor called to rat them out, certain that I had no idea what they were doing. "Do you know what your boys are doing?" she said in a nasty sort of say (everything she said sounded like that actually now that I think about it) "Yes" I answered, "Yes I do" "Oh really?" She crowed, "Did you know that they are getting filthy dirty playing in that giant puddle down by your gate?" "Yes, actually I do know that" I answered calmly. "But why would you allow that, they are getting disgustingly filthy?" she sputtered. "The kids and their clothes are all washable. But thanks for calling" I said and hung up. Kids and puddles are practically synonymous!
See what I've learned from my children? They were always so smart ;)
The opening page to my computer is the MSNBC news page. Throughout the day, as I happen to walk past my computer, I can see if anything of monumental importance has happened anywhere in the world. Obviously the headlines are what I'm seeing. The Big Letters. So it's really important stuff like the latest goings on at the White House or the Volcanic Eruptions in Hawaii, the latest shenigans politically everywhere on the globe, wars, diseases, tragedies and of course anything related to anyone last name of Kardashian (insert much shaking of head here). So for the most part, important stuff, right?
So imagine my surprise when I walked by, vacuum cleaner in hand to see a headline about how actress Mila Kunis went grocery shopping for her family while wearing no make up (gasp!) Do you mean to tell me that Ms. Kunis is actually a real person? There was even a photograph and for the record, she equally pretty sans make-up. But really? How is this news?
For the record, I go without make-up most of the time! There is the photographic proof right there at the top of the page. Me - no make-up. And I have the audacity to show that face in public! I know! Shocking!
Apparently it's a "thing' now. Famous or wannabe famous women having their photographs taken and then put out there on social network with no make-up on. Aaaaaaand I think I'm supposed to be surprised? Or upset? Or maybe I'm supposed to congratulate them on their bravery? Or something? Not quite sure what that's all about. Yes, yes, celebrities are usually photographed looking their absolute best, with all sorts of hairdressers and make-up artists fussing over them with beautiful clothes to wear and professional photographers on hand to snap those shots. All true. But they aren't hitting the red carpet every day of their lives! Of course there are days when they walk around with their naked faces hanging out. Why is this a surprise? More importantly, why is this news?
I am not the foremost authority on make-up of course and in fact, I didn't wear make-up until high school and even then it was only when the gaggle of girls I hung out with were together. There was one girl in particular, her name was Beta, who was often in the mood to play with make-up. She was seriously into fashion and theatre and had a lovely hand at applying the paint. I always marveled at her results but I didn't own any make-up myself so generally speaking, I didn't wear any. My mother didn't and neither did her mother. It just wasn't a part of the 'how to be a girl' lessons of my childhood experience.
At some point in highschool, one of the girl gaggle celebrated her birthday at a Merle Norman makeup store and all of us were treated to Make-overs. Frankly, the results of that day, while interesting, were not pretty. Beta did a far better job in my opinion and I just didn't care for the scent of their product. I didn't buy any of it.
My next make-up wearing experience was in college when on a boring Sunday, another friend painted me up. It was fun, it was silly and I enjoyed it but not enough to bother doing it myself. Bear in mind, this was during the 70's, the hippie-dippie era of "letting it all hang out". Going with or without make-up didn't seem to make any difference to anyone.
Then I married and immediately produced three little boys. I barely had time to shower, I certainly didn't have time to bother with fripperies like haircuts or make-up even if I were so inclined. So as it turns out, it wasn't until I was about 40 years old and looking for work that I started trying to figure out how to choose make-up, apply make-up and so forth. Something that most girls learn in their tweens, playing at mom's dressing table, I didn't learn how to do until I was almost half way through my life. In case you wondered, my first attempts were laughable. But I persevered and eventually worked it out so that I didn't look like Bozo the Clown when I was done.
From 40 to 63 I put make-up on almost every single day. It became as ordinary a thing as brushing my teeth. It was an important part of how I presented myself to the world. In a way, it was a mask, part of a costume that I put on every morning before I went to work. On the weekends I continued to put make-up on, just because it was part of my morning routine. I guess it was just habit.
Then we moved here. Initially, without giving it a second thought, I continued. And then one day I ran out of...something....I don't recall what now and went out with just sunscreen and moisturizer on. Naked face out there in the world!!! And guess what? Nobody cared. The world didn't come to a screeching halt. Amazing! The freedom that accompanied that realization was incredible.
It's not as if I never take the time anymore to "put on my face", of course I do, sometimes. But only when I choose to, not because I feel like I need to put the costume on anymore. And seriously maybe I'm deluding myself, but I honestly don't see an enormous difference in how I look with or without. The left is without, the right is with. You be the judge:
I'm just back from Pilates class right now and therefore bare-faced. I remain uncertain as to whether or not I will bother with make-up today. And what's more, since I walked to and from the class, I've already been seen in public. With no make-up. Somebody alert the media.
Can you see it? The teeny tiny black specks in this photo? These black specks are not the result of a dirty camera lens. Nope. It's not far away bird swarms either. It's much worse than that. Love is in the air. LoveBugs that is. Yuck.
I do not remember this from last year. Either I've blocked it out, or it didn't happen. Maybe it's not a yearly event, maybe it's only occasional years or maybe there are certain environmental factors that have to be just right or the planets have to be in a certain configuration but geez! NO thank you, very much please.
They are actually called lovebugs and their amorous activities abounded late last week. They were everywhere. In the air, on the patio chairs, the courtyard walls, the house and car windows and lord help us, if I walked outside, they were even sometimes on me. SHUDDER! You know my bug policy: as long as you are a bug of the non-blood sucking variety, you are allowed to live provided that (and this is the important part) you don't touch me! They touched me. Ewwwwww!
Apparently these bugs only live outside of their pupae state for a few days and in that short lifespan they have only one thing on their minds. Procreation. They are oblivious to cars (the grill of Tim's car was literally coated in layers of them - gross) houses, people or shame. They are not even remotely embarrassed. The world is a no-tell motel for these guys. And I was thoroughly creeped out.
Maybe it's because of all those years in Colorado where bugs just, well, there weren't very many. The few I noticed were over...……………………………………………...there. They didn't bother me and I didn't bother them. But I do remember dealing with swarms of mosquitos in St. Louis and tarantulas casually moseying up the driveway in San Diego. I remember clouds of gnats and midges in Texas and these little ladybug looking things in Connecticut that coated the walls of houses. The ladybug things didn't just coat the outside of houses, somehow they managed to sneak into houses and we would happen across them behind curtains or doors. Apparently they liked shadowy places.
Initially it would be just the shock. We would open a curtain in the morning to find a layer of tiny little ladybug looking things on the wall. Afterward would come the icks and the shakes. The only way to get rid of them from inside the house was the vacuum them up. Outside fine. You stay outside where you belong and I won't bother you. Inside? That's my world and you are doomed bug.
The lovebug season seems to have passed here thankfully. Tim got his car washed and I swept the patio so the evidence is gone. At least for this year. But I may have nightmares for awhile. Bugmares. Now that it's over, I guess it wasn't that bad really. But honestly, for two days, I didn't go outside unless I absolutely had to. For the most part, I am very live and let live. I try to never judge other people's lifestyles or choices. And I have no business interfering in somebody's lovelife but geez guys, get a room!
So, over the weekend, we are driving along, chitchatting about this'n'that, watching the world pass by the car windows and all of a sudden I spied this! A zeppelin! A dirigible! An airship! How cool is that? It isn't very often that I see one of these beauties silently streaming across a blue sky so I got kind of exciting. I decide that it would be a great idea to follow it. Sometimes I'm a little bit crazy. But Tim is game and so we go.
We didn't have to go far, it was actually just a very large balloon advertising a builder and his latest housing development. Ratz. What a disappointment.
And not just a disappointment to me. While I will probably remember seeing the fake zeppelin for a long time, I already do not remember the name of the builder that it was advertising. So they just spent a whole lot of time, money and energy, being terribly clever with zero return. If they knew, I'm sure they would be disappointed too.
I find that happens to me a lot. I may remember a particular commercial, I may even remember their theme song, but odds are incredibly good that I will not remember the name of the company being trotted out there. I don't know if that's just me and the way my demented brain works, or if it happens to other people too. And this is not a recent issue. This is a lifelong problem.
For instance, there are two major brands of ketchup, Heinz and Hunts. Well right off the bat, the names are far too similar. One of them is the "Slow Ketchup" but which one? I have no idea. One of them is the preferred brand in this house because of it's flavour. Whenever I have to buy a new bottle, I stand in front of the ketchup section of the aisle, uncertain of which one is the right one.
Remember a long long time ago, there was that TV add with the old lady demanding to know "Where's the Beef?". The commercial itself is so familiar to me that I can actually hear her voice when I think of it. What burger restaurant was she shilling for though? Not a clue.
Cleaning products are the worst about this. I remember seeing the ad just as clear as day but the product name? Nope. Not even a little bit. "It starts with a D" I'll say to Tim as we wander the aisles "And there might be a letter in the name as well". We search in vain because there is no product that starts with a D that also has a letter in the name. The names of cleaning products are a little strange, "Brillo", " Formula 409", "Windex", "Kaboom". If never heard of those products before would you have any idea at all what they were used for? I mean, Kaboom? Are we blowing something up?
Some of them have the name of the company right there in front of us, like Ronald McDonald. It's his name. Hard to mistake that one. That was clever. The Trix Rabbit actually says, "Trix are for kids" and that is an easy one. The Burger King …..duh. Even I get that one. The Jolly Green Giant isstanding up for Green Giant vegetables...gotcha!
And it doesn't help one darned bit that the manufacturer's insist on constantly changing the packaging. If I cannot remember the brand, I can always recall what the packaging looks like. It's this tall and this wide and this shape in this colour with this decoration. Got it. Until I get to the store and walk to the body lotion aisle and look for the white bottle of that particular size and shape with the gold swoop. Yikes! Lots of white bottles, Everyone of them the same size and shape, but none with a gold swoop. Dang! Why do you do this to me? Perhaps I can find it from it's scent. Of course not. There are at least a dozen different fragrances for each brand and none of them smells like the one I use. Why are they torturing me?
Other packaging that is far too similar is L'Oreal and Olay. Red and white packaging for the most part, about the same size, roughly the same shape. I cannot tell you the number of times I grabbed the wrong product in my rush to get through shopping. I know now to slow down and READ the doggone things more carefully. In my grocery store they are literally right next to each other on the shelf too, just to up the degree of difficulty for me.
I remember looking for cushions for the chairs in our courtyard. I wanted to be certain that we bought the kind made with that specially made fabric that doesn't get mouldy or mildewy and doesn't fade in the sun. I even researched it ahead of time and found the BEST of the best. Yup that is the one that I want. Great idea! What on earth is that name of that fabric and that company? I should have written it down.
If I watch a pizza commercial or a burger commercial, it works. I mean, yes the not so subliminal message is there, I absolutely do start to crave a pizza or a burger. But I have no idea what restaurant they were pushing If I see a commercial for a good looking sandwich, I never remember if it was Subway, Firehouse or Obies. But then neither does Tim. Of course he wasn't looking because we don't actually watch commercials anymore. We record most of what we want to watch on TV and fast forward through the commercials. Thank goodness. Now I have an excuse as to why I cannot associate the product and the commercial.
Or perhaps it really is just me that these ads and commercials don't really work on. I've been accused before of being an alien from another planet. Maybe it really is true! And meanwhile I will need to start writing my shopping lists in far greater detail when the brand matters.
In art, it's called Trompe L'oeil, or Fool the Eye. In real life, it's, well, just real life. It's an optical illusion. Sometimes it's an intentional trick other times just a happenstance. Is that a car jammed full of palm fronds or the reflection of a tree? Is that woman really hanging on to the outside of the building about to plummet to her death, or just a particular clever bit of interactive chalk art?
Haven't you ever bent down to pick up a bit of schmutz off the carpet only to have it move? Holy Crap it's a bug! Or grabbed a tube of toothpaste to brush your teeth early in the morning only to learn that it was actually a tube of hemorrhoid cream? (I thought it tasted funny) Or maybe you just saw something in the distance as you were driving along, something that just didn't seem right somehow, and it turned out to be a car mistakenly driving toward you in your lane! Yikes!
Yep. Life is tricky for sure. And the trickier part of life often, are the people in it.
Comedian David Steinberg, famously said, "One kind of person who always fools me is every woman I meet". He of course said it just to be funny. An important element for successful comedy is relatability. Everyone has been fooled by someone at some point so the entire audience got it. Everyone laughed. Change the word "woman" to "everyone" and I think that covers the vast majority of us. At least once in our lives we have been completely fooled by someone.
Maybe it was just the Santa Claus/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy sleight of hand. Or maybe it was that girl in the second grade who swore she was your best friend forever and then told mean and untrue stories about you behind your back. Or maybe it was that first person who broke your heart. Or the salesman who guaranteed his product was the finest of it's kind and of course it was utter crapola.
There are people who make their livings fooling others. Actors for example. It's not mean spirited. It's an art form. An actor at least tries to convince you that they are an entirely different person. If they are very good at what they do, we believe them. Magicians fool us with our permission. The expectation is that they will fool us into believing that what they are doing is in fact, magic. We go willingly, we want to be fooled, we are "in" on the con.
And then there are the people who trick us without our permission. The heartbreakers who are just racking up conquests, the thieves who convince a sweet old man that they are going to put a new roof on his house if only he gives them a whole lot of money up front and of course once the money shows up, they are long gone and there is no new roof. It seems that there are people whose entire goal in life is to find new ways to take advantage of other people, to hack our computers, steal our identities, our money and our reputations. Some of these criminals work very hard at their endeavors to ruin our lives. In fact, if they worked that hard at real jobs, they would be very successful. Usually they have no remorse and no regrets about what they have done when they are caught, except of course, about being caught.
We all know that these sorts of people exist and try to be on guard and take steps to protect ourselves. But some people who take it too far. There are people trust no one. Everyone is suspect, everyone is a potential criminal and the entire world is plotting against them. The man who cannot commit in a relationship because he says he cannot fully trust a woman, the woman who doesn't leave her home because of her fear of what exists out in the world beyond her own four walls, the child who doesn't try out for the baseball team because he is sure he is going to fail and everyone will laugh at him.
There is a middle ground. We need to be cautious, of course, we need to take reasonable precautions, absolutely but we cannot let fear rule our lives. Are we going to get hurt in our lives? You betcha. It's going to happen. It's part of life. Start out knowing that it is a possibility But, when it happens, if we learn from it, we get smarter and move forward. There are wonderful people and amazing experiences to be had as long as you don't allow fear to hold you back.
I hear a lot of fear in people's voices these days. Fear for the future. Fear of War. Fear of Disease. Will there be enough water? Enough food? Too many people? The doom-mongers love it. Every single day there is someone telling you what else you are doing every single day that is slowly killing you. That this group or that group is trying to take over the world. That these books are a bad influence. That this music is corrupting your children. Balderdash! What a bunch of nonsense. Do not give them that power. Don't let other people think for you. You have a perfectly good brain of your own. Make up your own mind about things.
Should you be smart? Yes. Should you be cautious? Or course. Should you enjoy the heck out of your life? Absofreakin'lutely!
If your life it ruled by fear, it's not living, it's existing. And that is a damned shame. Don't let anyone fool your eye.
I only just recently discovered this nest in a tree in our backyard. Apparently I am not nearly as observant as I would like to believe that I am.
My relationship with the trees in our yard is, let's say, remote. I acknowledge that they exist and I'm glad that we have them, but I don't know them well. Up to this point, the trees I am most familiar with were the ones we had cut down. Although they were very large trees, very tall trees, they did not look healthy and I fretted about them. Primarily I worried about them falling down in a storm and either hurting someone or damaging something. So we had them cut down.
Although there are many different kinds of trees here in Florida, most of the remaining trees in our yard are palm trees of one sort of another. Tall ones, short ones, fat ones, skinny ones double trees, triple trees and one fairly bizarre one that reminds me of a muppet. They do not require much from me, just to pick up what they throw down. And that is practically a daily task. It requires only that I notice that there is something that used to be in the tree now laying on the ground, me picking it up and hauling it around to the side yard where I stack such things for our lawn service guys to take away on Wednesdays when they come by. Other than that, I really do not pay much attention to them. I do not know their names.
I suppose that's why I did not notice the nest. Birds I notice. I don't know most of their names either but I notice them. We are loaded with all sorts of birds. All colours, sizes and songs. They must live somewhere nearby because it seems like that are always hanging around here. It just makes sense that there would be a few nests around close by, I suppose I just didn't think about it.
The only reason I came to find this one was a palm frond that was still just barely attached to the tree, but dangling by a thread so to speak. That dangling frond, was hard to miss. Sometimes, if a dangler is given a tiniest bit of a tug, it's just enough encouragement for the tree to finish letting go and then I can drag it away. That was my sole intention.
So I'm standing under the tree, looking up to see where the frond is still attached and the degree of attachment. That's when I noticed it. Is that a nest? I circled under the tree looking up. Why yes, I believe it is! It was very exciting! Uplifting! How wonderful!
It's a good sized nest and therefore would hold a fair sized bird. Not one of the pretty little songbird nests for sure. This is something more substantial. My first thought was, of course, to learn more. I considered getting a ladder to climb up higher and peek into the nest and see if there were eggs or babies and then half way to the utility room, I stopped.
I would certainly not have appreciated someone peeking into my "nest" when I was raising my own babies. In fact, if I felt that my children were threatened, I would become very angry and act accordingly. No, I decided, I will instead, just keep a half an eye on that corner of the yard and try to see if I can spot the parent birds coming to and from the nest and learn more that way.
That is what we mama birds do, y'know. First we build our nests - we rent or buy or build the home that we live in. And then we feather our nests - we decorate and tidy and hang pictures and paint walls and make it just right for our families. Then we raise our baby birds and at first, they need us all of the time for everything. They make a heck of a racket and it seems like we are feeding them all of the time! We protect them from all of the many dangers that exist. We teach them about life and how to be the best version of themselves that they can possibly be. Then they grow up and they leave our nests and go on to build their own. Sometimes they don't fly straight right away, but eventually they figure it out.
Maybe that's why I was so tickled to find a nest in our yard. They knew that it was a safe place for them to raise their little ones. We Mama's gotta stick together.
Hope your Mother's Day was absolutely perfect and that your little birds celebrated you exactly as you hoped they would. Mine absolutely did!
Here's a tip. If, for some reason, you ever decide that you want to live in Florida, there are two things that you absolutely positively have to make certain that you have. The first is a really good air conditioner. The second is a de-humidifier.
We arranged for a brand new whoopdidoo fancy schmancy big time air conditioner before we ever moved into the house. It. Is. Awesome. In the middle of August when being outside makes you feel as if you are melting, coming back into the house is like entering a deep cavern. Cool, comfortable and calming. The de-humidifier we bought about a month later when it became apparent that the air conditioner alone was not sufficient to combat the amount of humidity in the Florida summer air. In August you can practically drink the air. Perhaps fine for a greenhouse, not great for anything else. As soon as the dehumidifier was in place, I could feel of the air in the house softening. It went from a slap to a gentle caress. It's hard to describe. Bonus points, towels actually dried instead of being forever damp and smelling like a middle school boy's gym locker room. (shudder)
So merrily we rolled along through all of the seasons for nearly two years now. Until this week. Monday Tim left for 4 days in Arizona. The temperature there was predicted to be over 100 in AZ all week. Of course it's a dry heat but still, 106 is hot. Much milder here by comparison, a Floridian 88, was just summery. Especially when you are outside where there is a bit of that lovely island sea breeze. 88 in May in Florida? No big deal at all.
So Tim is gone and I'm doing the stuff I do, laundry, cleaning, yard work blah de blah and about mid-day I realize that even though I'm in the house, I'm uncomfortably warm. Unusual. Especially for me. I tolerate heat far better than most people. But I had just come in from doing a few things in the yard, followed by a nice long walk and instead of walking into the lovely wall of coolness, I walked into stuffy and warm. How Odd.
I checked the digital readout for the HVAC system and it said......nothing. What? Shouldn't there be numbers on here? Hmmmmm.
I'm not certain why we have it, but there is a digital thermometer and humidity register on top of the display cabinet in the living room. It said it was 88 degrees in the house. Okay. I know that's not right. I wondered what I should do. Generally when mechanical sorts of things go wrong, the fix is something simple and easy and Tim just walks over and kind of does a mystical laying on of hands and it's fixed. But here is not here.
I am reluctant to fiddle with anything mechanical, as I have no talent for it. But I hesitantly pushed a few buttons and gave the unit a gentle smack. Neither of those things worked. I went into the utility room and starred at the fuse box for awhile blankly. It looked the way it always looks and nothing leaped out and me and said, "Here! It's me! I'm the problem!" so I closed the door and kind of shrugged.
I knew that I would be talking to Tim Monday night once he got settled in, so I decided that 88 degrees wasn't going to kill me. And I went on to the next thing on my list. And then, without any warning, the house became cool again. What? I checked the readout again. It's back on! Wow! Must have been a mechanical burp. About an hour later, it went back off. Dang. This became the pattern. On for a short time, off for a long time. Weird.
When I talked to Tim about it that night, he wondered was it this or was it that? He suggested that I could check the thingie or the whatsitcalled. Seriously? Ok I'm game. And I tried as he talked me through things. No success. He fretted on my behalf. "You know what sweetie", I said finally, "It's back on now. It's probably fine. And it's not going to kill me in any event. We will deal with it when you get back home". Tim told me to call the repair guys but I reasoned that if this was something that Tim could fix, for free, why should I pay a repair guy. I reassured him several times that I was sure and after we hung up, immediately it turned itself back off again. Of course.
This was the pattern throughout the week. I made cookies, scrubbed floors and washed windows while the AC was on and did slower moving less sweat related things like catching up on correspondence and reading when it was not. I got pretty good at it too. And so that was the week. Hot interspersed with moments of coolness.
Tim got home last night. He did his mystical laying on of hands and, to my shock, it did not work. What? The world has gone mad. Tim can almost always fix stuff. But this time, his magic had pooped out. Dang.
He called the repair guys. They were here this morning and I'm happy to say that the AC is now reliably working again. The house is once again a cool refuge and all is well with the world once again.
Now that it's cool again and I can think straight once more, there is just one thought that keeps popping through my mind, "How on earth did the pioneers live here?"
I actually have to remind myself to check the gas gauge in my car once in awhile. I should put a post-it note on the steering wheel or something. I actually remembered to check it yesterday while on my way to the grocery store and it looks like I'm fine for awhile longer. Whew! I cannot remember the last time I checked.
I could say that it's such a long time between fill-ups because my car gets such amazing mileage, but that would be a big fat lie. I drive an SUV so no. I get terrible mileage. And yet the last time I filled my gas tank would have been perhaps early March? This is May. So I get perhaps two months to the gallon? Something like that?
It just illustrate how very rarely I drive anymore. And it's a good thing too! I read an article in the newspaper just a few days ago about how gas prices are going up again. Humph! This is not front page news. Of course gas prices are going up. They always do this time of year. Summer is the time of year most people are on the road. The law of supply and demand is a real thing. I have no reason to believe that the chunka change we will be dropping at the gas stations will be hovering around the four dollar a gallon range again any time soon, but still prices will be higher than they are right now.
And it doesn't really affect me much. As far as my car is concerned I mean. But when gas prices increase, so does the price of everything else. Almost everything we purchase comes to us from somewhere else. Those transportation costs are incorporated into the sale price. When transportation costs go up, so does the price tag. That is just how it works.
And it's always been that way. Way back in the middle ages, for example, there was travel between countries, even continents, and goods were exchanged. But when the costly silks and teas arrived on ships from China, only the very wealthy could afford them. The cost of transporting the goods was far too expensive for most people. It's kind of starting to feel like that to me with every grocery store visit.
The last time I bought a package of chicken breasts, I nearly had heart palpitations when I saw the price sticker. I believe I even said, out loud, "I guess chickens are now on the endangered species list because that is the only way you can justify this price" and I eyed the guys behind the glass working in the meat department with a bit of a snarl before putting the package back in the case. I feel like every single time I go to the store, I leave with fewer items in my cart while having paid more for them. I find that very odd.
My first experience with price increases was when I was a kid. I used to get a quarter allowance weekly. Ten cents of it went to a new comic book, five cents to a lime popsicle and then I had a dime left over for my little bank. All went well until one sunny day I strolled into the drug store (which is where a person back then would buy such things) and the comic price was suddenly twelve cents. "What the heck?" The comic wasn't any bigger. It honestly wasn't any better. It just cost more. Soon after, the price rose again to fifteen cents, then twenty and then a quarter. My entire allowance for the same comic. It didn't seem fair then and it still doesn't now.
I remember one particular instance with my middle son. He was still quite young and he was considering which candy bar to spend part of his allowance on. He was debating between two different choices and looking very dissatisfied with the product. He then checked the price twice because he was so surprised . "Hmm", he said out loud to nobody in particular, "Twice the price. Well at least it's half the size eh?" He is smart guy, a little sarcastic maybe, but who could blame him. He wasn't wrong.
Perhaps I'm merely feeling a little disgruntled today but it just makes me wonder where this will all go. I know that there will always be people who are struggling to get by. But that number is increasing. And more and more of them are people with jobs and families. People who made good choices, not foolish ones. People who thought that they had a secure financial future and are now finding out that, maybe they don't.
I've been around long enough to know that things change. Nothing stays the same. Prices go up and they come back down. A style is popular and then it's passé Eggs are good for you, then bad for you and now good for you again. (The egg itself has not changed by the way.) It's hard to keep up and it's even harder to prepare for. But there are a few things in life that you can always count upon. Water is wet. Fire is hot. And gas prices go up every year just before summer vacations start.
Gentlemen and ladies, start your engines.
And may I just say, ewwww
This greeted me when I, innocently, stepped out of the utility room door with a bag of garbage to put into the can. It is not unusual, especially this time of year, for me to do this particular chore slowly. All along the fence on that side of the house is honeysuckle and jasmine growing wildly. It hangs in thick curtains of beautiful white blossoms and fills the side yard with the most beautiful fragrance that I cannot resist the urge to linger for a moment before turning around and stepping back into the house. That is when I saw it.
That side of the house is not especially attractive. Not only does it house the garbage cans behind a tall fence protecting the view from passersby, but also bicycles, the massive AC unit and an ancient and broken wheelbarrow that came with the house and still sits in it's original spot, unmoved, because I haven't yet figured out who to get rid of the darned thing. There is a narrow pathway between the fence and the house that is mostly sand underfoot with a few stepping stones that someone placed far too close to the shrubbery that grows along the house. Occasionally a bunny and I surprise each other when I step outside, always there are lizards and once or twice a large bird strolling through. But this is the first time for me to spy a spider web here.
The thing is massive, well over a foot across, and sits high up in the air suspended between trees. It could catch birds. While I was initially startled to turn around and see this enormous web glistening in the early sun far above my head, once I got over the ick shudders, I could not help but to marvel at the engineering involved. Truly it is beautiful in it's own way. I was kind of wowed. I went back inside and dragged out my trusty step stool to see better (and obviously brought my camera as well).
I know very well that spiders are arachnids and not insects, but I apply the same rules to both. As long as you aren't in the house and you do not touch me, it's live and let live. That is the rule. The only time I do not adhere to this rule is when it's a blood-sucking bug: mosquitos, fleas and ticks do not get a pass from me. Ever. I have no idea if I am upsetting some important ecological balance with this policy but blood-sucking bugs die. Period.
I am well aware that spiders are unlikely to hurt me and in fact, eat some of the bugs I do not especially want hanging around. Of course I also know that there are a few spiders that CAN hurt me. I've read about how to identify them. On the other hand, I have no intention of getting close enough to one to hunt for it's identifying marks. So I tend to treat all spiders with great caution and admire them and their handiwork from a distance.
So there I am teetering atop my stepstool, admiring this super-duper spider web and then I saw it. I'm sure you noticed it as well. If you look closely enough at this photograph, you can see that there is something large and dark in the center of the web. I paused. It was a Hmmmm moment for sure. I do not know if that is the spider or her prey. I do not think I care to know. If it's the spider, it is a rather large one. On the other hand, if it is her prey, it would be logical to assume that the spider is even larger. So unless this is a Davy and Goliath deal, I can only say yikes! Does that mean that somewhere out there on the side of the house is a spider with a body the size of a mouse?
I creeped myself out. How will I ever take out the garbage again? Never again will I be able to retrieve my bicycle and just pause for a moment to breath in that amazing fragrance of honeysuckle and jasmine without assuming that there is a large economy sized spider lurking, laying in wait for it's moment to pounce!
Slowly and carefully I got down off my steps, folded it up and quietly went back into the house, never once taking my eyes off the web. Once my heart stopped pounding, I chastised myself for being ridiculous. And I am. I know that I am. Simple foolishness is all it is. And yet.....and yet....
I am well aware that I need to take the garbage cans to the curb tonight. I believe I will do this while it's still daylight and I can keep a close eye on that spider web. My rule may be live and let live but I'm not certain what her rule is. And until I do know, I think that since Discretion is the better part of Valour, I will just be Very Very cautious.
Once upon a time, I loved to garden in a big sort of way. Nowadays, this is how I garden. In pots in the courtyard. I can walk outside with a pitcher of water to quench their thirst, snap off a faded bloom or two and I'm done. If something dies, out it goes, it's history, mulch in fact. And then I can either buy another flower to replace it or not. I am heartless.
Over the weekend, Tim kindly took me to Lowe's so I could make a few selections to put this little summer "garden" together. They were having a 5 for $5 sale. Hard to pass that up. Of course when such a sale is going on, you know the flower options will be limited. Not just limited in variety but also colour. In a way those limits make selections easier. (reminds me of my Dad telling me that in his younger days when buying a car you could have any colour you wanted so long as that colour was black) I was surprised and pleased however, to find a type of flower that I recognized! Zinnias!!! I put back the flowers I was originally considering and scooped up as many Zinnias as I could find!
Usually I wander around Florida garden centers mystified, reading the little tags and wondering about the plants. The flowers and shrubbery here are, for the most part, entirely different trees, shrubs, plants and flowers than I've even known before. Totally unfamiliar. And that makes it hard to plan, hard to make choices. Reading about them will only take you so far. Personal experience is the key. And while if I want a garden, even just a little potted one, I have to start somewhere, it's nice to start somewhere familiar.
But I wanted to stretch a little bit, try something new, so the little pink ones in the back, those are Florida flowers. Something called a penta. Or perhaps Penta. The only thing I know about them is that the tag says they need at least 8 hours of sun a day. Shouldn't be a problem. I don't even know if they come in any other colour than pink, although I assume so. We will see how things go with the Penta. I am hopeful.
Both the Zinnia and the Penta are Annuals. So assuming that they survive the entire season, next year, I will need to buy new ones. The little Chrysanthemum in the front is a left over from autumn. Way back in October, I bought two. One died almost immediately. I felt terrible but pitched it anyway and replaced it. They both survived the winter and two severe prunings but recently one of them decided it had had enough and gasped it's last. This one still lives. We will see how long it hangs in there.
So far, my little container garden suits me just fine. It's fun to change up the sort of things I have growing, different colours, different flowers or maybe different containers. I can have more of them, or fewer, or none at all if I wish. They could be annual or perennials, flowers or herbs, or vegetables for that matter. I could add statuary or gazing balls or a fountain perhaps. A windchime or a whirligig could be a nice addition. And since it's such a small garden, any change, no matter how small, makes a big difference.
Butterflies still like it, just on a much smaller scale. I haven't seen any hummingbirds, but plenty of lizards and they seem to like it just fine too. Squirrels and bunnies hop through, check on things and then hop back out. The occasional visitor who steps into the courtyard is always pleasantly surprised. They usually stop for a moment and look around before breaking into a smile. I can see them visibly begin to relax which is quite the compliment. It is slowly becoming a charming little oasis, this little miniature container garden of mine.
I hope to add to it. Maybe larger containers that can sit against the walls. Perhaps I'll branch out into perennials or flowering shrubs. I never know exactly what I'm going to do. Which kind of makes every day a surprise.
Meanwhile, I think I will go enjoy my newspaper sitting under the umbreela in my little courtyard container garden. I can read the exciting articles aloud to the lizards.
Nearly every week day, around noon, Tim steps away from his computer, takes a well deserved break and he and I go for a walk. It's a three mile loop, a pretty little stroll, that goes through neighborhoods, part of downtown Venice Island and along the water. We smile and nod to the people we pass, say hello to the dogs being walked and talk about everything under the sun. We see things new and things familiar, we see charm and beauty and admire the wildlife and the gardens along the way. But one of my favourite things to see, is the sidewalk art. There is more of it than I ever expected.
By way of example, this cute little bug is not chalked onto the sidewalk. It's not painted on either. Someone took the time, before the concrete was fully set to take a stick of some sort and carefully draw this silly little smiling caterpillar. Clearly this was someone with a well developed sense of whimsy and creativity. I love this tiny drawing. Everytime we pass it, I smile.
Yes, I suppose, technically the artist was defacing property. But personally, I think they enhanced it. I have walked nearly every street of this island (I am reluctant to have claimed to have walked on every street. For all I know, I may have missed one) and while I've seen quite a few examples of sidewalk art, none of it is ugly. Not one bit of it is rude or mean spirited. I haven't seen any bits that were intended to be harmful or unkind. I celebrate that.
Of course much sidewalk art is, forgive the pun, rather pedestrian. Doesn't matter to me. I love it all anyway. I refer to the usual scratchings of graduating class years or the not uncommon carving of linked initials. After enough time, nobody knows who the "artist was. Most likely they have moved on and moved away. Very few people still live in the same town they grew up in anymore. So now, these many years later, the significance is lost to the ages. It's all very mysterious. This particular mystery is charming though and I love to read these and wonder about the people represented.
Speaking of mysteries, some sidewalk art has me wondering. I ran across this next one several times before I took the time to puzzle it out. It was the loop in the middle that confused me at first. Peace and Love. That's a very nice message. I find no fault with this at all (other than the thing in the middle. Maybe it's meant to be an ampersand?)
Then there are the accidental bits of sidewalk art. I speak of shoe prints and tire tracks mostly. I suppose it's possible that those could be intentional, but I'm betting that more often it's just someone who doesn't realize that they are stepping in or driving over wet cement. Ooops! Then there is this one. I haven't decided if it's a bicycle tire track or a snake track. You be the judge. Personally, I'm voting for bicycle but that could just be because I cannot find it in my heart to vote for a snake. Nope. Can't do it.
My absolute favourites though are the bits of nature made art. This is how that works. A company is contracted to build a sidewalk. The workers come along and perfectly clear and grade the land. They build proper wood forms and pour the wet concrete in. Then they smooth and smooth the surface with hand tools. Once it's set (though not yet dry) the forms are removed. Then, satisfied with their work, they walk (or drive) away. As soon as they leave, nearby trees laugh at how hard mankind works to alter it's environment. In fact, they laugh so hard that a few leaves fall off, into the wet concrete. And now it's no longer a pristine smooth surface. I love these leaf prints. I think they improve the look of the sidewalk immeasurably. No longer is it just a boring, greyish slab. Now it has some style, some uniqueness, a little flair.
I do not think that I have ever drawn in wet concrete. If I did, I do not recall having done it. It's more likely that I, unknowingly, stepped in wet concrete. Yeah, that is the sort of thing I would do. Just blithely walking along, lost in my head somewhere, totally unaware of my surroundings, treading through wet muck. I can see that. But I kind of wish that I had written something, somewhere, left my mark so to speak. If I did, I hope it was something significant, if only to me at the time. If I didn't, then it's something I need to do.
I guess I need to have a plan. Just in case I come across a bit of wet cement with no witnesses around, I need to already have decided on what I should draw or write to leave behind because I'm not very good at coming up with great ideas on the fly. Tim totally is, but I'm not. I do know that whatever I come up with, it cannot simply be my name because I already found that here. It wasn't me, I swear! But I kind of wish it was. Kilroy may not have been here, but someone named Sam (that wasn't me) absolutely was.
I know I've mentioned music before. It's hard for me to not mention music. That's because my entire life has been underscored. I cannot remember for sure but I think we always had a piano. The first one I remember for certain that was in our house was when we lived in California. I think I was in the 1st grade. My Mother played. She played brilliantly though she did play a little fast and loose with the "rules". I do not believe she ever played any piece the same way twice and never exactly as it was written. She always felt it necessary to "improve" a piece. Heh.
And she sang. Her voice was magnificent and powerful. She could rattle the crystal in the hutch with her voice. It was awesome and surprising that such a big sound could come out of such a tiny person. Sometimes she sang as she played piano, sometimes she sang along with the radio, other times she sang a capella (that is without accompaniment).
My parents had, not just a record player, but an enormous stereo console and quite the collection of music, mostly symphonies, a little opera and the occasional comedy album. And when my mother spun a record on the turntable, she cranked that volume. She wanted to hear it wherever she was in the house. How loud was it? Let's just say that you couldn't have a conversation if you were in the same room as the stereo if it was on. That's just a fact.
The point here is, that I grew up surrounded by music. It was just a normal and very important part life. It should be no surprise to anyone that of course, my sister and I took piano lessons. No matter where we lived, our mother found someone to teach us. Sometimes our teacher was especially good, sometimes not so much, but no matter, we always learned. And we truly enjoyed our music lessons, even practicing was never a burden.
There is a photo of me, somewhere, maybe age 3, sitting at a piano, little feet dangling, tiny fingers on the keys and a look of serious concentration on my face. Now I was no prodigy, so I have little doubt that I was just crashbanging on the keys in an imitation of my mother. But it shows the desire from a very young age.
Looking back, I am surprised that I took to music so well. It was only many many years later that it dawned on me how very mathematical Music is. And if anyone had introduced me to music with the word "math" anywhere in the intro, it would never have happened. I have had an innate aversion to math from the cradle. It's a mental block I'm quite sure, but an obstacle is an obstacle.
I understood the language. It was somehow, instinctual for the most part. To a small child who is basically still learning English, adding in musical terms was no different than learning any other word. Learning the meaning of the words Adagio and Allegro was no different to me than learning Prestidigitation and Carbuncle. I had no idea that they were not just more English words. Seeing a Time Signature on a sheet of music did not indicate a Fraction to me then so 3/4 time just meant three beats to the measure and the quarter note gets one count. Easy peasy. (I totally get the math now and am not remotely intimidated by it by the way) The notes on the page were logical, rational, sensible and immutable. A middle C is a middle C is a middle C. There was such a comfort in that steadfastness for me. It balanced out all of the upheaval in constantly moving and travelling. I believe that it helped to draw me to the one constant in my life which was music.
And then of course, there was the discipline of it all. They same way that a true ballerina finds pleasure in the hours of repeating the same moves over and over, I found in playing the same piece, the same page, sometimes the same line or even measure, until it was as close to perfect as I thought I could possibly get. It probably drove everyone around me quite mad, but I loved the progress that I heard and felt and that only came from a lot of practice.
And then, lord help us all, I took up Violin. I actually wanted to learn harp, but they couldn't find a harp teacher for me. They could find a violin teacher. I know that initially it sounded like two cats fighting in a small burlap bag, gawd awful! But I applied that same determined single minded effort to improvement and in a relatively short amount of time, my fingers were flying over the violin strings with the same ease as the piano keys. I loved getting lost in the music.
And then I went to college. I had little spare time and no instruments at hand. But occasionally in one of the practice rooms, I could sneak in and "borrow" a piano or violin and play to my hearts content. It didn't happen often but it soothed my soul. And then after school, I married and had three children immediately. You probably think that means that I wouldn't have the time to play. Well it wasn't so much lack of time as it was lack of piano.
And then I inherited my Nana's piano. I was in heaven and made up for lost time. Let's just say that my boys grew up playing underneath my piano while I played. Without realizing it, they hummed Beethoven and Kuhlau and Hayden to themselves while they built great block cities populated with those little Fischer Price people and matchbox cars. I would hurry through chores so that I could reward myself with an hour at the piano or violin. Then do more chores to earn more time. I had to discipline myself that way or nothing else would ever have been done.
This was a hideously ugly upright piano that had the Most Amazing sound and a beautiful light touch. It was a 1910 Storey & Clarke piano that was built in Boston Massachusetts and eventually made it's way up the coast of Maine where it presided in my grandmother's house for many, many years until it came back down the coast to Connecticut to live with me. I loved that thing. Every piano sounds completely different and this one had the most beautiful tone I've ever heard. And I adored it. But then one day we found out we were moving to Colorado. A place that is very very VERY dry. And this old, New England born and raised piano wasn't going to adapt. So I gave it away before we moved and we arrived in Colorado piano-less.
We remained piano-less for about eight years. Tim kept trying to talk me into buying a new one, but either I couldn't find one with a pleasing sound or the price was too high for me to consider. And then I started to develop arthritis in my hands and I knew I would never be able to play the way I used to so I decided that I didn't need to play the music anymore. I still had it in my head. I could hear it anytime I liked. And I made the choice to be happy with that.
But Tim, who often knows me better than I do, eventually bought me an electric keyboard. I piddled around on it for awhile, but never really adjusted to it very well during those two years. And then we moved to Florida.
Of course I brought the electric keyboard with us. Of course I did! Even thought it's a full sized standard keyboard, meaning all 88 keys and of normal piano key size, and therefore takes up a considerable amount of space in a house that does not have space to spare, I still brought it without even questioning the decision. I have learned to listen to my instincts and I'm glad about that.
I must have known that eventually I'd get back to it because a few months ago, I finally sat my fanny down on the piano bench, turned the piano on, plugged in the headphones and opened a book of sonatas. The first few weeks were excruciating. I was so happy that nobody could hear it but me. It was embarrassingly bad. I was nearly ready to throw in the towel and sell the keyboard when all of a sudden one day, the piece I was playing didn't sound horrible.
Not much of a compliment to myself, but Not Horrible, was a distinct improvement. And it was enough of an improvement to encourage me to try harder, concentrate more, dedicate time every day. My fingers began to behave properly and although it still takes me far too long to learn a new piece, I am now to the point where I look forward to 4:00 every day because that is when I stop doing anything else, and sit down at my keyboard to play. And it's getting easier. It's sounding better all the time. And it's making me smile again.
I am not stupid or delusional. I know that I will never be able to play the way I used to again. BUT I comfort myself in knowing that the old masters are no longer turning in their graves when I'm practicing. Though I admit they are still probably twitching a little bit. Oh well, I'm sure at this point they could use the exercise.
I went for a long walk by myself yesterday. Usually I'm walking with Tim or with friends and we talk while we walk. It's a nice combination of reconnecting, learning new things, discussing ideas, dreams and goals and also getting some fresh air and exercise. Multi-tasking. I love it.
Normally, when I walk by myself it's very purpose driven. I am walking to the library to teach. Or I'm walking to a dental appointment. Or the Post Office or Pilates class. That sort of thing. And during those walks, I'm deep in thought. I'm thinking about what I am doing right now, what I'm going to do next and what I will be doing later that day. I'm giving thought to the next meal I am going to make, the next birthday card I need to buy and deciding what colour I will polish my toes. I am considering a particularly difficult passage in a piece of piano music that I am doing battle with and wondering about the characters in whatever book I'm reading, and attempting to develop a new ploy that will perhaps allow me to win whatever level I'm stuck on in Candy Crush. Sometimes I am thinking about all of those things at the same times. Other than managing to not step in front of a moving vehicle, I'm not paying a great deal of attention to my surroundings.
But yesterday's walk was different. I was not thinking about anything, really. I was just enjoying my walk. I was appreciating the lovely temperature which was nearly the same temperature as my person which makes the air feel like bathwater! If I was of a mind to be a nudist, (which I am so very not) it would have been the perfect temperature for it. The sky was a cloudless perfect blue and the sun was illuminating every leaf, every blossom and every blade of grass. The water didn't lay flat and still but it wasn't high, crashing waves either so the boats just bobbed gently.
First I noticed the birdsong. There are so very many birds here, every colour, every size, every song imaginable fills the air. Sometimes I whistled back to them. Then it was the faint but unmistakable sound of a lawn mower. Somewhere, blocks away, someone was doing yard work. I heard a plane over head and a jet ski somewhere nearby. There was fountain in someone's front yard and I could just detect the tinkling sound of a wind chime somewhere nearby.
Further along, I listened to the sound of children playing at recess in the school yard which was shortly followed by churchbells and then that blast of the warning horn on the North Bridge telling folks that the bridge is about to go up! I could hear the sound of my own footsteps and the splash when I stepped into a puddle.
Occasionally there were car horns but usually just the thrumming sound of tires on asphalt. I could even tell the size of the vehicle coming up behind me from the sound. Once in awhile, someone drove by with their radio on and I listened to their music with them. Someone stopped me and asked for directions to the beach, "Go west, young man, go west!" and I pointed out the way.
When I finally got home and walked through the door, I heard the familiar squeak of the screen door followed by the thump of the door closing, and muffled through the closed door of Tim's office, I could hear that he was on the phone. The hum of the dehumidifier in the background of the family room, the click that happens just before the AC comes to life and the soft whir of the overhead fan would tell me that I was home even with my eyes closed. I know these sounds so well. Then Tim's office door opened, I heard it, he came into the kitchen where I was standing with my eyes shut just reveling in the sound of it all. "Hey, how was your walk?" he asked and I could hear that too, it sounded exactly like, "I love you" to me.
It struck me that these are the sounds of life. And I am forever grateful that now, with the help of my hearing aids, I can hear them all again. And considering all of the delightful sounds I was just enjoying, not hearing would have been an enormous loss.
May is Better Hearing Month, my friends. If you haven't already had your hearing screened, please consider doing so now. Don't take the chance that you might be missing out on the wonderful sounds of the world around you.
Yesterday I kept thinking it must be cloudy outside because it felt gloomy inside. What the heck? I checked repeatedly out the window. Cloudless sunny blue sky, so that's not it. Maybe I have a light bulb burned out? Nope. I know it's not my eyes because they just got fixed and now are better than ever! I looked closer at the kitchen light fixtures. Ahhh. That's it. They need to be cleaned.
The lights in the kitchen were the last decision we made during the reno. And, like every other renovation decision, we gave it serious consideration. We looked at a lot of lights in a lot of different stores. We looked online. We looked in catalogues. We checked both small, exclusive light stores and the light sections of bigbox stores.
The considerations were many and varied. Price, of course had to be one of the things. But the light couldn't just look good, it had to actually provide light (what a concept!). Ambience has to be considered. And, honestly, form was just as imperative as function. We plan on having these lights for however long we live in this house, so they had to be something we enjoyed seeing. Whatever we chose had to kind of "go" with the rest of our decorating vibe.
Everyone asked, at all of these various stores what our style is, to help direct us. And, as I've stated before, we don't know what our style is. I'm sure there is a name for it, we just don't know (or care) what it is. Regardless of what we are looking for, it always ends up the same way. We just know it when we see it. And that is what happened with the lights we chose. We liked them right away and put it on the "possibles" list. But ultimately, we found ourselves comparing every other light fixture to these and finally, we committed.
There are eleven, count 'em, eleven lights involved with this project which sounds excessive, but it's really not. The fixture over the kitchen table has 8 lights all on it's own. Two pendants over the peninsula and one over the sink.
If I were going to describe them I'd say, mostly, they look like mason jars. It's a lot of glass. Which means a lot of light, but it also means a lot of cleaning. I am terrified every single time that I am going to drop and break one.
Just like the mason jars they resemble, the glass part just unscrews from the top. But it does require a footstool. For me, so many things do.
So over and over I climb up and unscrew one glass "jar" after another, carefully place it on the towel on the table, climb back down and walk it to the sink, until I have a sink full of glass cylinders. Eventually the sink looks like it should be in a mad scientists laboratory.
One at a time, I carefully wash each cylinder and rinse it in hot vinegar water (for the sparkle!) and set them on yet another nice soft towel on the countertop. I do this so very carefully, holding each one with both hands so as not to drop it. Not only am I clumsy by nature, but my arthritic little hands have a tendency to bobble things even more than I used to. Bear in mind that I don't want to leave fingers prints on my newly cleaned glass globes, so I am holding these with a smaller, thinner towel to carefully convey each one to where it needs to be.
Ever so gently, I dry each globe thoroughly and at long last, back I go to the stepstool. One cylinder at a time goes back and screws into the fixture until Finally, without having broken a single one, I can step back, turn on the lights and taadaa! It's beauteous! What a difference!
I think I held my breath the entire time because I found myself taking deep restorative breaths afterward. Check one more things off the to-do list. I always feel so accomplished when it's done.
And now, I hate to admit it, but the windows need to be washed next, inside and out. Dang. I'll be dragging the stepstool out again.
I got a little carried away last Thursday.
I had been resisting the urge to bake for weeks. Apparently this is what happens when I keep squashing the siren call to sugar and flour and yeast. When I finally give in, it explodes.
I all started with me doing pantry inventory while making a grocery list. In the back of a shelf I found a can of fruit cocktail. Why? I asked myself. It's not something that is usually in our pantry. And then I remembered. When we were doing the pre-Hurricane Irma grocery shop, trying to find food that required neither cooking nor refrigeration we were really stretching our imaginations. Once past the essentials like M&M's and cookies, we were kind of at a loss. This was our first Hurricane preparedness drill after all. One of the things I grabbed was this can of fruit cocktail. It met all of the requirements, was at least a healthier than most of the rest of what we bought and had a pull top lid. We didn't even require a can opener. Woohoo! It ended up being the only thing we didn't eat.
Of course I checked the date and even though Irma was 8 months ago, it was good. Still, I didn't want to find it on the shelf again in 8 more months so I need to find something to do with it. My first thought was a version of a pineapple upsidedown cake. But somehow I lost my really good recipe for that so I looked online. During my online search, I stumbled across a different recipe for something called Fruit Cocktail cupcakes. Hmmm. Intriguing. I had all the necessary ingredients already on hand. Hurrah! So I made those. They turned out looking pretty darned good. And while they were cooling and I was getting ready to make the boiled icing, Tim wandered into the kitchen to do a little quality control.
Before I could say, 'Wait, they aren't iced yet" he had gobbled one down, refilled his coffee mug and said, "Good Muffins" to me. Hmmm. Not cupcakes, muffins. Okay. I don't need to ice them then. I pronounced them muffins and moved on. While putting the unused ingredients for the unmade and no longer required icing, I found that I had one packet of yeast left and it was short dated. Can't let that go to waste. Now I just needed a recipe for bread that I already have all the ingredients for. I was in full baking mode at that point. Cannot interrupt that for a grocery store trip.
HAH! Found one called Sally Lunn bread. It's supposed to be made in a angel cake pan. But ratz, I no longer had one of those. I considered a regular bundt pan but it isn't deep enough. This is a bread dough that raises. A lot! So, instead of one large loaf I made two slightly shorter ones in regular loaf pans. It turns out that Sally Lunn bread requires two separate rises, each an hour long. Well, I'm not going to waste that time when I'm in complete baking immersion. Of course not.
I rummaged around a little deeper in the pantry and found a bag of mixed morsels, peanut butter and chocolate. Where on earth did this come from? I point the finger at Tim. At Christmas time when we go ingredient shopping, Tim walks along the baking supplies aisle and just puts one bag of everything in the carriage knowing that I will find a way to use whatever it is. AND he also knows that I enjoy creating something new. A challenge! What shall I make? Well I made chocolate chip peanut butter bars and they were awesome. Chewy and gooey and wonderful.
By the time the cookies were done, the bread went in to bake. By the time the cookies were cooled, bagged and tucked into the freezer, the bread was cooling on the counter. By the time the kitchen was cleaned up, the bread was cooled and dinner was started. It was, for me, an absolutely perfect day.
And now here it is, six days later. The cookies are history. Gone. One loaf of bread has been eaten. Most of it became a pretty darned good toasted garlic bread. About half the muffins are still in the freezer, the other half consumed. And this is why I try to resist the urge to bake. If I bake it, we eat it. Apparently we have no self-discipline whatsoever.
Ever hear that old expression about being fat and happy? I think that was us.
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.