May 30th, 2023
Thought you guys might appreciate a project room update since it's been awhile. The above photo is a reminder of some of what we've been seeing for quite some time now. I wish I had thought to take more photos of the process from the beginning but alas, I did not.
As a refresher, the room originally was smaller, with a lot of single pane windows - no two of which were the same size and the room was one step down. It had massive sliders, a lower ceiling and the oddest tile floor. It looked as if someone had broken terracotta tiles and created a mosaic with the shards. It was interesting but hard to clean.
From the first time we viewed the house, before we bought it, we knew that some day, that room would need a little attention. What we didn't know at that point, and apparently the inspector didn't discover either, is that the entire room was a DIY project, (probably not permitted) AND the foundation of it was not stable. We discovered that instability almost two years ago now when suddenly we were getting leaks around the windows whenever it rained. Then the ceiling began to leak too. There was no way around it, whether we wanted to spend the money or not, the room had to be fixed. Ceiling and walls had to come down and the foundation had to be fixed. Dang. Big job!
As one does, we reached out to a number of contractors. We met with them, got their estimates and then we did some research on them. We are no fools. The contractor we ultimately chose had actually won a Builder of the Year award the year before. Sounds pretty good eh? We thought so too. We reviewed and signed the contract, handed over a terrifying amount of money as the first payment and the work began.
What was supposed to have been a two month project somehow stretched out into six months. And they began showing up less and less. And then the day came when, after 3 of the 4 payments had been made, they no longer responded to texts, phone calls or letters. In desperation, we drove by their office and were shocked and dismayed to find a For Rent sign in the window. We had been abandoned. Dang. Now what do you do?
Once the next steps were sorted out, it seemed that we had two choices, try to find another contractor to pick up where these guys left off or do it ourselves. There is so much building going on in Florida since flood of new residents that finding another contractor was going to be tricky. And Expensive. Think about it, we've already paid for the work to be done. Now we will pay for it twice? And at the higher, post-pandemic rates too! That doesn't sit right. Okay, decision made, we will do this ourselves.
And in all actuality that meant that Tim would be doing 99.999999% of it. As you may or may not recall, all last year, I was out of commission. Absolutely useless. And then I started out this year with a stupid broken arm so I wasn't much more useful this year. Timing may not be everything, but it's a lot.
First things first, we got an inspector in to check things out and found out all the things the contractor did wrong. So the first order of business was correcting those things. Once those things were completed and the inspectors checked them off, one step at a time, we (Well, Tim) started getting things done. Nights, weekends and holidays were mostly devoted to either doing projects or learning how to do projects. Neither of us had every done any of the things necessary for this so there was a bit of a learning curve. Thank goodness for the internet. A person can learn almost anything online.
Well after all that, I am delighted to report that we have finally moved back in to the project room which is, once again, our family room! YAYAYAYAYAYAY! It 's not completely complete yet, but we couldn't wait any longer. After living in a construction zone for far too long, the house is beginning to look more like a real home and less like ishkabibble land! Wanna see?
For the past two years, the living room has been the repository for everything too big to put anywhere else. Finally it's a living room once again:
The guest room still needs a little work - most of the artwork is currently living in there while waiting to go back on various walls. But at least there is a bed once again:
The exterior is painted! Well it needs one more coat, but it's mostly painted. And let me tell you, finding a colour that matches the existing colour was a process! No paint chip in existence was close enough. Then one day Tim spied the plate cover of an outside outlet that the previous owners painted over when the house was painted. He removed that cover, took it to Sherwin Williams and they matched it exactly! Wow, that was genius!
And then, the room we've been missing desperately for nearly two years, the family room! Taadaa!
I'm sure you noticed the are still a few unfinished things, like the baseboards and other trim pieces. It's underway, just incomplete at the moment. And it obvious that there is still a wee bit of work to be done because if you turn to the right instead of the left when you walk in you will see:
Soon enough, that will be gone too.
Can we talk about those floors for a minute? We had never laid tile before so we had no idea what a pain in the arse that job is. Tim read up on it, got what he needed, borrowed a tile saw (thank you Paul) and finished putting the tile down. The contractors had done about 3/4 of it before they disappeared. But of course all of it had to be grouted. Have you ever grouted? We had not. In the video's it looked fairly simple. Work the grout in and then wipe the excess off. We decided that Tim would grout, I would wipe. I had my bucket and my sponges and I was ready to go. But hmmmm. In the video's the wiping seemed much simpler, easier, almost graceful. I was not so much wiping and scrubbing. And scrubbing. AND SCRUBBING! And in the end, after we were sure that the job was done, after everything dried, there was still some grout left on those dang tiles. RATZ.
But, we quickly figured out that by using a steamer and a plastic scraper, I could still remove it. That involves sitting on the floor, steaming and scraping, steaming and scraping and then vaccuming up what I scraped off and repeating over and over. Fine. I can do that :) It took about a week to go over the entire floor but I got it. Well I got most of it. EverytimeI think I got it all, the light hits the floor just the right way and I find another spot I need to work on. So it continues.
Also learned that grout stains. The way I found this out:
This pair of shorts is now a yard work and messy projects pair of shorts.
We are overjoyed to have our house back and in the very near future, when the trim is done, the pictures are back on the wall and perhaps we have blinds at the windows, we will be even happier.
It's been a long and rocky road that involved a lot of work, a lot of time (and money!) falling off a couple of ladders (Tim), throwing out a back (also Tim) so much Advil and ice packs (both of us). And I'm happy to report that, although everything I've ever read says that situations like ours are the cause of many destroyed marriages, in our case, there were no fights, no arguments, no angry words or cold silences. We just keep on keeping on.
Once the project room is finally really completely done, we will take a little break from projects before moving on to the next one. Yeah, we have a list.
Hope you had a great weekend! We are still celebrating having our house back! woohoo!
May 26th, 2023
It's been a couple of weeks since I did a Photo Safari report so I think it's about time! Yesterday, Joy and I headed out to Curry Creek (as you can clearly see by the sign). Because this is the time of year when the temperature starts to rise and the rain begins to fall, we decided to head out extra early hoping to miss the worst of the heat and humidity.
To our surprise and delight, the weather was gorgeous. It was very mild with a lovely breeze. The downside was the the grey and gloomy sky which isn't ideal for most photographs and the concern about possible rain. But what's life without risk. Off we went anyway. I will call this the Very Grey Day Hike because it was.
We had a good strong rain the night before so, right off the bat, there were beautiful raindrop photo ops. Love those! For some reason, I find raindrops very difficult to properly capture. Not sure what I'm doing wrong but whatever it is, on this particular day, I got it right. Woohoo!
When we started out, we were completely alone. It's not a very well travelled preserve so it's not unusual for us to be the only humans there, but on this particular day, in a short time, other folks began to arrive. One pair brought not just their cameras, but even camp chairs and drinks so that their bird watching and photographing could be done in style. Tip 'o the hat to them! Smarties. They set up near the Swallowtail Kite's nest which was one of the things we wanted to check on. Joy and I feel I little protective of those particular birds because, we were the ones who discovered that they were there at all, saw them building the nest and reported it to the city who got all excited about it :) Our report: The babies are growing!
One of the funniest and most unexpected moments of the hike came when Joy looked up and said, "Oh My Gosh! Ducks!" Then she pointed, not down toward possible water, or even the trail but up, very very up. I following her pointer finger and sonuvagun! There were the ducks in the the trees. Tree Ducks? Yup. I can honestly say that I have never before seen a duck in a tree. There were three of ducks and they were not just in a tree, they were in a very very tall tree, like maybe 4 stories high? It's hard for me to judge the height of a tree. What on earth is a Duck doing hanging around in a tree? I don't know why I'm surprised, they are birds after all.
There were other birds, of course. We could hear them all around us but we heard far more of them than we saw. Still, managed to capture a few:
I think we saw cardinals more than anything. Perhaps because that gorgeous red colouring stands out even on a foggy, grey, gloomy day? Regardless of the reason, I do not mind one single bit:
I found the trees especially compelling on this hike. I think it was something about the quality of the light.
Saw two beautiful butterflies and a cute little moth:
As always, I happysnapped a lot of botannicals! I will try to sort out just a few of my favourites:
I guess that about sizes things up. For you, the Very Grey Day Hike! Well, to be honest and Fair about it, this was for Joy and I too.
Wishing you a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend! Have fun and be safe. Hugs all 'round.
May 23rd, 2023
What a pretty little rainbow~! Any idea what these things are? They are called SunSleeves and I love 'em!
I have to back up a little bit in this story for it all to make sense, so please bear with me as we jump into the WayBack machine.....
When I was a kid having a tan was considered a sign of good health. There were no tanning beds or tanning salons so obviously a tan meant that a person was spending time outside in the nice healthy sunshine! For a child, most likely, it also suggested that we were getting lots of good exercise runnning around like the big old goober that all little kids are. For teens and adults it was probably more about either having a job working outside or leisure time spent laying in the sun, relaxing, lubed up good with Sun Tan Oil (not sunscreen mind you) and making sure that you used a reflector to get that tan good adn even in the places harder for the sun to reach.
I was never one to just lay in the sun but in high school, I knew girls who would apply baby oil liberally before lounging outside to attract yet more sun. The theory was that you had to get that first all over burn that would fade into a nice tan. Seriously, that is what everyone "knew" to be true back then. Boy were we dumb.
I did spend time outside, often parked under a shady tree, reading so I managed to escape the dreaded sunburn other than perhaps some pink on my nose and cheeks for a very long time despite living in some sunny places like southern California and Texas. But finally the day came for my first bad sunburn and it was a doozy. It was during my college days.
At that point I lived in Connecticut and one very cloudy weekend, I spent the day with friends on a boat on the ocean, all of us, sensibly wearing bathing suits. Mine was a bikini with a halter top. We had a great time. So great that I did not realize that I was getting burnt. Wait, not just burnt, I was getting crispy. Deep Fried. I did not, until that day, realize that a person can get sun burned on a cloudy day. Turns out, they can.
It was later that evening that I realized that I looked more like a cooked lobster than a girl. Oh My Gosh. That burn was so bad I had blisters. Every single bit of exposed skin including my ears and the part in my hair, was burned. Showering was painful, toweling off after the shower was painful, laying down in my nice soft bed was painful but the worst of the worst was wearing clothes. Everything rubbed against my poor tortured ruby red sunburn.
Eventually I healed and from that point forward I was much more careful about sun exposure. And that caution was an especially good idea when we moved to Colorado. It's very sunny there. Not everyone knows this but there are more than 300 sunny days every year in Colorado AND because the topography has people living a mile or more high, everyone is closer to the sun and that is a bad thing.
It was in Colorado when I first went to see a dermatologist who told me that while I was fine - at the moment - one day that terrible sunburn was going to come back to bite me in the fanny. Wearing sunscreen, limiting sun exposure, wearing long sleeves and a hat were strongly recommended. I did none of those things except occasionally wear sunscreen.
Back to present days. Now we are in Florida and I'm out in the sun a lot. I like being outside. I'm good about applying sunscreen and fairly good about wearing a hat but limiting sun exposure is confusing to me. So I should be hiking at night? Or in the rain? Not sure how to work that one out. The long sleeves thing was troubling. Summers here are not just hot they are HOT and worse, they are humid. Wearing long sleeves sounds like an invitation to heat stroke!
We began doing our annual Dermotology check ups here and while again, everything initially looked ok, there was clearly some skin damage already apparent and again, that old sunburn was going to bite me at some point, and this time the suggestion was sunscreen, hat, limited exposure AND sunshirts.
Have you heard of these? The are long sleeved (of course) and made of some sort of fabric that wicks away moisture and protects the wearer from the sun. Hmmmm. Interesting. We went to the store straight away to check these things out. And that's where I learned several things: 1) Those shirts are dang expensive! 2) There were very few that fit me properly. My porportions are not the ones any clothing designer ever has in mind 3) they are EXPENSIVE! 4) they were not especially comfortable. I like softysoft fabric. These were not and of course 5) $$$$$. So I declined.
And didn't think about it one bit again until recently when I realized that the annual dermotology appointment was coming up again soon and I had done nothing regarding the sunshirt suggestion. I hate it when my doctor calls me on my BS. Dang it. I expressed my concern to Tim and I said, perhaps I needed to revisit the sunshirt idea even though I hated it.
That's when Tim got me these SunSleeves! All of them together cost less than one sunshirt and my arms are protected and I can wear them with any other shirt that I already have and they are softysoftsoft and they are super easy to take on and off and even to wash. Love 'em! I've been wearing them for all of my walks, even to the museum where, upon my arrival, I peel them off and before I leave I pull them back on.
They are sort of like wearing opera gloves. I feel very Audrey Hepburn! Nobody wore Opera Gloves as well as Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's". I'm not Audrey but here is me in one of my pair of SunSleeves:
And now I have something positive to report at my next dermatology appointment. Yay me! And oh yeah, also I'm more protected from the sun.
And by the way, this whole Vitamin D thing is very confusing. I am constantly told that as we get older we need more Vitamin D which, by the way is provided for free from the sun, but don't you dare spend time in the sun due to the resultant skin damage and possible flirtation with melanoma!! Make up your mind for heaven's sakes! It wasn't easy being young but dang, getting older is the hardest thing I think I've ever done.
At any rate, SunSleeves Ahoy! I vote Yes!
May 19th, 2023
A few weeks back, for absolutely no reason at all, we woke up on a Saturday morning and decided to walk the couple of blocks to visit our local Farm Market. Every single Saturday, these hardy souls get up much earlier than we do and set up camp on Venice Avenue.
Our city blocks off that part of the street in both directions for the occasion and people come from miles around to shop. Locals, visitors, tourists and for all I know, aliens, descend upon our cutie-cute city to see what there is to see.
It's a year 'round event, every Saturday morning like clockwork, the vendors, (over 100 of them!) construct their canopies, back in their craft trailers, set out samples of their wares, paste on smiles and good sales attitudes and hope for the best.
It is literally no more than 3 or 4 blocks from our house and yet, and yet, and yet, we had not visited in probably 5 years. Geez! I guess it's sort of like the folks who live in NYC but never visited the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty. But on that particular day, we decided to check it out and see what has changed in the past half a decade.
Perhaps we didn't remember accurately what it was like at our first visit all those years ago, but it seemed as if it was more of a craft fair before. I mean yes, there were typical farm market things like produce and breads and pastries, but before, we both remembered it as mostly jewelry and shark tee-shirts and tie-dyed everything. Things that, while they are certainly absolutely fine and I'm sure people loved it, did not interest us and that is probably the reason we did not go back.
This time, yes, there was a little bit of jewelry and sunglasses and clothes, but there were far more food kiosks. It's not that I'm just a big of an oink - all thinking about food. It's a farm market. I don't think it' s unreasonable to assume that there would be farm products sold there. Right? I was not disappointed. On this visit things had changed. The things we expected were there and a whole lot of other stuff. There were gorgeous fresh from the farm fruits and veggies, one tent of just honey and bee related products and another of dried fruits, meats and veggies. It all looked delightful!
There were multiple restaurants represented and several different sorts of bakeries as well (yummy) There was a local coffee roaster and you could smell that throughout. Someone who makes their own hand lotions, soaps and shampoos was entertaining a lot of folks and a hand rolled cigar distributor was a huge surprise! An alpaca everything tent was on hand as well as the plants people with their jungle filled canopy.
Mushrooms, seafood and hand made pastas! Jellies and jams and preserves of all sorts! Cheeses and pretzels and bagels and...wait a minute, hold the phone. Bagels? Well yes, we did buy two bagels, one for each of us. We keep trying to find really good bagels down here and of course, still have not found it. BUT gotta keep trying right?
There were ice cream vendors and racks of gorgeous cookies and even products for your pets! We saw jars of pickles and fascinating salads and pies, oh lordy, the pies. Me oh my! Bins of teas, boxes of cheesecakes and the Venice Ale House was there too. There was even a musician serenading all of us, underscoring the event. It was delightful all the way around.
All we bought were the bagels, but what a lot of lovely things to choose from.
I think it's fair to say that we won't wait as long to visit again. I remind myself that these are all local folks trying to make their way in as relatively unfriendly world and our support helps to keep them going. Personally I would much rather spend my money on locally made products than factory made things from heaven knows where.
Is there a weekly farm market where you live? Do you visit it? Or like us, did it kind of drop off your radar as even existing? If you haven't been in awhile maybe it's time to go back and give it another chance.
Meanwhile, Have a perfectly lovely weekend!
Hugs all 'round.
May 15th, 2023
Roses and Hydrandeas! A perfect combination. (Much like Tim and I) Awwwww.
Whether you were on the giving or receiving end of it, how was your Mother's Day? Mine was absolutely lovely. It started with these gorgeous flowers and two cards (it's always two cards in this house, one funny one and one sweet one) and then donuts for Breakfast! Yay donuts!
I got some wonderful texts and emails and phone calls and taken out for the dinner of my choice. Which ended up being take out from Crisp and Green - a local place that I adore. Sometimes I like eating in a restaurant but other times, I just want to relax in front of the TV dressed all comfy and sloppy and enjoy our meal that way. Yesterday was that day.
Even thought it really was kind of hot out, we even went for a short hike in a local preserve - again my choice entirely - and I took some photos while Tim and the various birds had conversations. He is amazingly good at duplicating their various songs so the exchanges go on for a long time. I have no idea what is being said, but it sounds so pretty.
The flowers Tim gave me are just gorgeous, I'm guessing hot house grown since they are so very perfect. Maybe that kind of kick started me having flowers on the brain yesterday because on our hike, almost every photo I took was of wildflowers so I had even more flowers to love. Of course the preserve posies are less than perfect, but sometimes that is part of what makes them special.
Sort of like mom's. We are not perfect either. But maybe it's that lack of perfection that makes us special. We are human and therefore flawed. Some days I am a little more flawed than other days. Does that make me more human? When I think back on those wonderful days when the kids were little, most of my memories are just the best things ever. I really really really loved raising my boys.
But of course, I do have regrets. Things I wish I had not said, or perhaps a tone I wish I had not used. Sometimes the regret is what I didn't do and probably should have. Or a situation I probably could have, and should have, handled better. But there is no time machine where I can go back and change any of it. So I try to focus mostly on the good stuff. The laughter, the hugs, the silliness and those moments of unbearable sweetness that still make me emotional just thinking about.
I'm sure my mother felt much the same way. Perhaps all Mother's do. Being a mom is the longest, hardest and BEST job I've ever had. Thank you to everyone who helped to celebrate me!
Here are some of the pretty wildflowers I captured on our Mother's Day hike:
And a couple of other shots:
Hope your Mother's Day, again regardless of whether you were the recipient the giver or both, was absolutely perfect!
May 12th, 2023
The above rendering is of a human colon. It's complicated looking organ is it not? Yikes! What a mess! But I needed some sort of image for the top of the page and this suited since I thought I'd write about the colonoscopy I had this past Monday. And what an absolute delight that was. Insert a great deal of sarcasm here.
Well I suppose the actual procedure is no biggie. As far as I was concerned, it was simply a nice little nap. As anyone who has ever actually had a colonoscopy knows, it's the preparation for the procedure that is the issue.
This was the third one I've ever endured. One in Connecticut, one in Colorado and now one in Florida. There were lots of similarities but I don't think the differences were so much state to state as it is that things change in the medical world over ten years time. And thank goodness for that.
The first time for sure was the absolute worst. Possibly in part just because it was a new experience. But also because I was instructed to drink a literal gallon of the worst smelling and nastiest tasting stuff it has ever been my displeasure to be made aware of. And even worse than just having to drink it was the span of time in which it was supposed to be ingested. It was twenty (?) years ago so I do not recall the exact time frame but it was too short. I am positive of that part. Trying to force my body to not just drink, but keep, something that smelled and tasted that bad by essentially chugging it was just too much to suffer. It was revolting.
The second time, ten years down the road, was an improvement at least in that I was given a wider span of time to get it all down and it didn't seem to taste quite as bad (or was I getting used to it?) Also I had gotten smarter and ate less and less as the week prior went by. My thought process was that the less I ate, the less I had to eliminate. Turns out I was correct.
This time, another ten years later, I was given a choice of A) the drink and that would be a big no thank you or B) pills. Without knowing anything else about the process I quickly opted for the pills. As it turns out "the pills" means 24 tablets. Holy Cats!~ 24?? That doesn't sound right. And yet it was. 12 pills taken: 1 every 5 minutes for an hour at 7 pm the night before and another 12 pills again taken 1 every 5 minutes at 7 am the day of the procedure. It was a long night. But it worked exactly as it was supposed to and I was several pounds lighter by the end.
The first two colonoscopies were scheduled for very early in the mornig so while I wasn't allowed to eat the day before and then also drink nothing at all including water after midnight, I didn't really mind. As any woman of my era who has dieted throughout her entire life can attest, being hungry is nothing new to me. I can go without food. But I definitely got thirsty. This time the procedure was scheduled for 3:30 in the afternoon but actually didn't happen until 'til after 4 sometime. My lips were dry, my throat was getting sore and the inside of my mouth felt like I had been eating sand. I was Very Thirsty.
Still, I tried to just keep images of what I would eat and drink afterwards in my mind. And I had some great ideas too! It wasn't visions of sugar plums going through my head but more like pizza and burgers and ice cream and mostly water. Hot water, cold water, tepid water, iced water. Just anything liquid. My voice was gravelly from lack of moisture by the time we arrived at the surgical center and I was processed in very quickly, popped into my little cubicle, changed into a hospital gown, blood pressure taken, O2 tested and a needle was quickly and relatively painlessly stuck into the big vein in my hand. They gave me a lovely toasty warm blanket right out of the dryer to keep me warm and then I waited. And waited. And waited.
It was soooo boring. I did all sorts of games in my head: trying to list all of the states in alphabetical order, trying to remember every address and phone number I've ever had, trying to come up with 5 boys and 5 girls names for every letter of the alphabet, making mental pictures out of the acoustic tiles on the ceiling.......... I was really bored.
But eventually they came for me and wheeled my bed down to the procedure room, got me hooked up to everything and positioned properly quickquickquick then before I could say nighty night, it was lights out.
It took them three tries to wake me afterwards. Like I said, it was a really good nap. The first time, the doctor was in the room and reviewed the results. I remembered that he was in the room but that's it because I fell back to sleep. Probably before he left the room. How rude of me! The second time, a nurse reviewed the same information with me and I retained that a little better but I couldn't focus my eyes probably so I kept one closed the whole time aaannnddd fell back to sleep once again. The third time I suggested raising the head of the bed. My thought being that if I was more vertical, perhaps I would stay awake better. And I was correct.
I sleepily dressed myself and she walked me out the door to Tim waiting patiently with the car. I half dozed as we drove through Culver's to get some food. I half snoozed through the drive home. I nodded off a little bit while eating and fully just gave in and crashed afterwards.
All in all, it wasn't that horrible. A colonoscopy is an important test. And a great nap. If your doctor has recommended it and you have been procrastinating, stop putting it off and just do it. If I, the biggest whiny baby in the world, can go through the prep, then anyone can do it. It's kind of annoying but only for a little while and it could save your life. Literally.
To keep my spirits up the day of the procedure, a friend of mine sent me the following piece by humourist Dave Barry about having a colonoscopy that made me laugh out loud so I'm attaching it for your amusement. Hope it makes you laugh too:
May 09th, 2023
Other than what appears to be a rather violent shade of yellow, do you see anything else wrong with this shirt? Yup, that's it. It's missing a button. I noticed it as soon as I pulled it out of the dryer and immediately went into panic mode. Missing button? Oh NO!
I searched the dryer thoroughly and found nothing. Logically, I next checked the washer and found no button there either. Dang. My first thought was to just throw the shirt away. But luckily I came to my senses and remembered that A) I actually like this shirt a lot despite it's colour and B) I don't own so many clothes that I can afford to just toss a perfectly good shirt just because it's missing a button. Ratz. Sometimes being practical is a pain.
As you may, or may not, recall, I am a non-sewer. I hate sewing. I hate it so much that just thinking about sewing (or attempting to sew) make me itch. Joy, on the other hand, is a great seamstress. She used to make her kids clothes, altering and mending things was a quick afternoon's work and her quilts are works of art. Just like our Nana, sewing is not so much a chore for her as a pleasurable way to pass time.
Unlike me. Clearly, I did not get the sewing gene. I'm the one who got kicked out of Home Ec class during the sewing part because I accidentally ran my thumb through with the sewing machine needle (while using the machine, mind you) and it kind of, sort of, broke the machine. They sent me to art class instead. I wasn't any better at art, but I didn't break anything. Childhood traumas!
It did not improve as I got older. In fact, it only got worse. I've worn things with missing buttons, I do iron-on appliques to patch holes, I fold back cuffs rather than alter the length, I wear skirts and dresses at all sorts of bad lengths to avoid taking it up and I have been known to tape a torn hem rather than sew it, I will confess.
First I decided to fully search the entire house for the missing button. Clearly it fell off the shirt somewhere! I looked under everything - found two hair ties and several dust bunnies, I took all of the cushions off the sofa and even went through a vacuum cleaner bag (yucky job). I even checked the car. No button. double dang. Next, I allowed myself a full blown, adult sized, internal tantrum which culminated in eating an entire pint of Talenti Ice Cream. And then I felt a little better.
At this point, I had to just face facts. I wasn't just going to have to sew on one button, but all of the buttons now because the odds of finding the exact same button anywhere were somewhere between slim and none. Crap.
I whined about it to Tim who suggested that before I worked myself up into a rage, perhaps we should go to a sewing store and actually see if they have similar buttons. Even though I was dubious about the probability of finding a matching button, off we went to Joanne's Fabrics. We searched through all of the button cards and ultimately learned that I was correct. No matching or even close to matching buttons. Of all the times to be right about something. Tim suggested just finding another button that would work and having one odd button, that way I only have to suffer through replacing one. But I am way too OCD to have one mismatched button. (on the other hand if all of the buttons were different, that would look intentional and I'd be ok with that. But it doesn't change the reality - I would still be replacing them all)
Once we got back home, I had to sulk for a few days first, then finally, I kicked myself in the butt, mentally, and firmly told myself to Cowboy Up! It's not digging ditches after all, it's just sewing. Just sewing - HAH!
At any rate, it was time to get out the button box. This is my actual button box:
Now why I, a non-sewer, even have a button box is a bit of a mystery even to me. Habit perhaps? Nana had giant coffee cans filled to the brim with buttons. That's cans, plural. Any time a garment of any sort was no longer repairable, the first thing Nana would do was cannibalize it. She cut out the zipper (if was still good) and saved that with other zippers, cut off the buttons and put them in one of the cans, and then cut the good parts of the garment at the seams, washed and ironed those pieces and save them for future use. No Waste! Obviously there would be no reason for me to save fabric or zippers but buttons, yes. If I think of it before I throw something away, yes I still do cut off the buttons and add them to the button box. And there they usually just sit there quietly forever.
This time, however, I sorted through looking for buttons of the correct size. It took some time and a lot of patience. Not something I have in tremendous amounts. But eventually I found enough of the same - or similar enough - buttons to replace them all. I put them in a little pile and then closed the button box and put it away. Then did nothing at all with the shirt for several more days. I knew I was going to have to start this project with calm. I was not feeling calm.
Eventually came the day I couldn't put it off any longer. I dragged out my sewing box. This is what passes for my sewing box. And by the way, I have never once had to replace a single spool of thread in this box. That's how little I sew. Everything in this box is original from the time that I first put together a sewing box, which is so long ago now that I no longer recall it's original.
I sat at the kitchen table in front of the big bay window on a bright sunny day, gathered up all of my implements of destruction (thank you Arlo Guthrie) AND a box of bandaids, took a deep breath and began.
The first hurdle of course, is threading the damned needle. I cannot even begin to describe how annoying this part is. The back of my neck tenses up so much that before I've even begun the project, my neck aches and the ache begins to creep up and up until I also have a headache. Great start eh? I tried threading with my reading glasses on and then, when that doesn't work, with them off. I tried threading from the right (with my right hand) and then from the left (left hand). After about 15 minutes of it not working, I set everything down quietly and walked away to calm down.
Eventually, of course, through some sort of magical intervention, I actually got the needle threaded. Woo hoo! And in under a half hour too. I think that's a new record. Encouraged, I began to cut off the old buttons. I sawed away at the old thread with my little mini-scissors in vain. I snipped and clipped and hacked and pulled and, once again, occasionally had to just walk away to calm down, but at long last, all the buttons were off and I could start putting the new buttons on.
Actually I decided that that would be a great time to take a break. I would start fresh once more after a nice little walk and a snack. Deep Breaths, deep breaths.
I returned from my break and started anew. It took multiple more occasions of stepping away and returning, several finger stabbings and bandaid applications but ultimately I was successful. I spent most of the day working on it but dang it, I emerged from the fray triumphant! I did not let that button defeat me!
As long as you don't look at the back of the buttons, which is a gnarly mess of tangled thread and snarls and knots, I would say that overall I did not do a bad job. What's important here is that it's done. I've since worn and washed the shirt and it came out of the wash with all buttons still attached so I must not have done a terrible job of it.
I'm rather proud of myself. Despite the tantrums and procrastination and whining, eventually I did it. I kind of feel like I want to say Taadaa! And so I shall.
May 05th, 2023
How about a bonus post this week? Yes? Things change don't they. For a long time (multiple years in fact) I wrote up a new blogpost every weekday. Monday through Friday, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. And that's a lot of posts! 260 a year! Wow! And then I started to, occasionally, drop one each week so it was only 4 posts a week, randomly dropping one day here and there, so about 208 posts annually. Last year there were big gaps, weeks with no posts at all - reasonable and understandable during my medical leave of absences. And when I got better and started posting regularly again, somehow, it got chopped down to only two posts a week. (?) Not sure how that happened.
And then I woke up this morning with an idea for a different topic and said to myself, "Be sure to write down this idea before you forget so you can write it up next week". (I absolutely have to write everything down anymore - geez) Then I asked myself why I was saving it for a future post. Why not just write it up today? It's not like there are laws or rules on the blogsite after all. And even if there were, it's My blogsite! If there ARE rules, they are My rules which means I can change them.
Suddenly I feel so very strong and powerful :)
The topic for this post (which I was originally planning to save) has to do with penmanship. Mine specifically. My handwriting is horrible. I suppose my arthritis is partly to blame, my fingers no longer do as I command them! But I have to be honest, my crippled up digits are only part of the problem. My handwriting has always been bad.
One of the elementary schools that I attended actually graded students on their handwriting. Because it wasn't an academic subject, it wasn't given the usual A,B,C or D but instead the dreaded S or U. Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. Those were the options. Win or lose. You were either in or out, up or down, good or bad, there was no grey area when it came to penmanship. Every marking period I brought home a nice list of A's and B's on my academics and S's for everything else EXCEPT penmanship. Oh dear.
It's not like I didn't try. I did! I tried very hard! I really did not want that Unsatisfactory marring my lovely report card. And yet, there it was, marking period after marking period. U for penmanship. Sigh.
I suppose it's a genetic thing. My mother's handwriting was appalling. Practically illegible. Any letter or note she every wrote to me, I'd have to puzzle out. Sometimes it would involve consulting with other people - "What do you think this word is?" And we would, as a group, try to sort it out. It was, very nearly, a parlour game.
I was given writing exercises to do - endless loops across the page - and shown example after example of perfect penmanship to attempt to emulate. "Slow down!" they told me over and over, "If you would just slow down" which didn't help at all. I remember tearfully re-writing and re-rewriting my homework night after night in an effort to produce a better product. Which was an exercise in futility because the ugly Unsatisfactory still showed up without fail.
Eventually came the time when I managed to create some sort of handwriting that was deemed "good enough". My papers were no longer returned to me marked "unable to read" and I gave a huge sigh of relief. I no longer had to fight with my pens. My writing, while not satisfactory, was good enough. I can live with that.
Of course at some point, perhaps junior high school?, I was given a typewriter and from that point forward Everyone was happier because my handwriting was no longer an issue. Except of course for my signature and I heard multiple lectures about how awful that was. Oh well.
My great grandmother (on the other side of the family ) had exquisite handwriting. I believe it was called copperplate. I have a few cherished letters from her and although the ink is a little faded, her beautiful handwriting is still a marvel to behold. Nearly art. It's less like writing and more like drawing I think. It's very nearly calligraphy. Makes mine look even worse by comparison.
Nowadays, I actually write, I mean with pen and ink- actually writing on paper, very little. A signature in a birthday card, a quick note left for Tim when I go out during the day, or maybe a grocery list is about the extent of it. Everything is done on a computer with a keyboard which is just upgraded typing. So the only person truly inconvenienced by my awful penmanship is me. I admit that there are times in the grocery store where I have to stop and stare at the list in my hand - my own list which I wrote - to figure out what a particular item listed is.
Yes, yes, I know, I could write my list on my phone which is actually typing not writing but I absolutely hate typing on my phone. Those tiny little buttons ! ARGH! So I still take a pen and write on paper, tuck the paper in my pocket, go to the grocery store and then stand random aisles trying to determine if the word I'm looking at is plums or tums.
Here are a few random word samples that I wrote for this post. This is my real handwriting and I 'slowed down' and 'made an effort' just so you know:
I actually do still hear those teacher voices in my head when I'm writing, especially when I'm making a sincere effort to write legibly. So sad. I think you can probably make out most of the phrases. From top to bottom it's : dancing divas, feline frolics, bedazzled beauty and timid tortoise. Not too horrible, right? Right?
Okay. Well all of that was to say the following.
I had to pick up a prescription at the grocery store recently and the pharmacist said, as they always do, to sign the screen on the left . All righty. But the stylus to sign with was missing so he suggested that I just use my finger on the screen. It not only looked nothing like my actual signature, it didn't even look like writing. It was just scribble. And that passes, every single day, as an acceptable signature. What the heck?
Worse is when I have to "sign" medical papers on line and they say to just draw your signature with your mouse. I cannot draw with my mouse. I can barely click with my mouse. That "signature" is even worse. UPS and FedEx deliveries that have to be signed for is again, using a finger on a screen. It's just ishkabibble, it's not writing!
All of those years of being browbeaten over my horrible handwriting and nearly illegible signature was for naught. It's irrelevant anymore. My so-called signature is basically and S with a line followed by an H with a line and a curlicue on the end for the "s".
I feel, oddly , vindicated. Years of Unsatisfactories have now been, not just throw away, but mentally torn into tiny pieces, burned and then thrown into a black hole. As it turns out, Good Enough really and truly was good enough. So there!
Now this time when I wish you a happy weekend, I really mean have a Great Weekend. See ya sometime next week!
Hugs all 'round.
May 04th, 2023
I know, I know, last week I said that there would be no Photo Safari Report this week. Looks like I was mistaken. Oops. Sorry about that. Can you stand another one? Because honestly, it's up to you. I'll just post it here and if you want to read it you can and if not, it's here anyway :)
At any rate, this one was not like the usual hikes Joy and I take as it is not in a preserve but rather just a trail that wanders around for about four miles 'round trip. The beach was always on our right, somewhere behind the trees and undergrowth with little hidden pathways and the intercoastal was forever on our left, also mostly hidden.
I guess I will call this the Caspersen Beach Hike even though it's really all the same beach. The entire west side of the island is beach, all the same beach, but with differently named access points. This one is Caspersen. So, it works.
We stayed mostly on the trail. Not for fear of getting lost but because it's the ONLY path on this particular hike. Impossible to get lost :)
But we did walk down a number of little paths both to the left and to the right to see what there was to see by the water. It's incredible how much the view changes from one vantage point to the next:
What else was there to see? A few birds, mostly sea birds but not all!
There were a few other critters:
Even a few flowers and other pretty botanicals:
And maybe a couple of other photos?
Wishing all ya'll a terrific weekend !
May 02nd, 2023
This is, quite obviously, a can opener. Handy little gadget. Tim bought this one for me at least 10 years ago, back in Colorado. And it was, at the time, an especially thoughtful gift because the handle was made specifically for people like me who have arthritis in their hands. That over sized crank was very helpful and much appreciated. I used the absolute heck out of it in the subsequent years.
But because it was been well used, the blade has (as blades do) dulled and it had gotten to the point where I would have to go 'round any can 3 or 4 times at minimum to open it. Ridiculous and of course painful for my hands. It was aggravating. It was time to seek out a new can opener.
So I went online looking to see what sort of new innovations there are in the realm of can openers. New things are being invented all the time. Why not in can opener world? Don't laugh because I was not disappointed. I found a product called, "Kitchen Mama", a name that made me smile all on it's own.
Have you heard of this product? In case you have not, here you go. It's the silliest looking thing and the least can openery looking can opener I've ever seen. More than anything it looks like an oversized capsule. And guess what, there is no crank. No crank? Then how does it work? Perhaps by magic? Perhaps not.
I read about it, watched a You Tube video, and read about it more. Then I told Tim about it and he was sufficiently impressed that he ordered it for me. It arrived over the weekend. I tore into that package like a badger!
I didn't even bother reading the instructions (well to be fair, I almost never bother with the instructions - shame on me). I just loaded the batteries in, found a jar of olives in the pantry that, sure, could be opened, why not. I set the giant capsule on top of the can, pushed the button and voila!
A perfectly opened can of olives with No Sharp Edges!
Holy Cats! I was so excited! I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning. I was overcome with an urge to open every can in the pantry. I did not, of course, but I REALLLLLY wanted to. I have since opened a can of baked beans (to go with the hamburgers I made for dinner that night) and that can opened up just as beautifully and effortlessly. WOW!
I cannot recommend this can opener enough. If you are looking for a new can opener, check out the Kitchen Mama one. In fact, even if you aren't, look it up on You Tube and watch the video. Coolest Gadget Ever!
BUT that wasn't the only thing in the package. No. When Tim ordered the new can opener for me, he also ordered something else. And it took me a few minutes to figure out what it was. I'll show you a picture:
Looks a little Star Trekian or maybe something from the Jetsons. Actually come to think of it, the new can opener made me feel a little like Jane Jetson too. (remember that old cartoon?) Give up?
It's a jar opener! I did not request one. Never felt I needed one actually because Tim is my official jar opener. Any jar that needs to be opened that I cannot open on my own, I hand to him without a word, and he opens it and hands it back without a word. No conversation necessary. We both know our roles in that particular little dance. But he is either tired of being my jar opener OR he is thinking...what if he isn't around when I need a jar opened? Or what if he is busy on a work phone call and I am having a jam jar emergency? It could happen!
Of course I had to try it out. Of course I did! And this one I did read the instructions for. I will be honest, this one took me a couple of tries to get the "feel" for doing it. But once I got it, I got it. And from that moment forward, it's been easy peasy. And what was the first thing I opened? Ice cream of course!
Worked perfectly too :) Tried it again last night on a jar of spaghetti sauce. Awesome!
Two gadgetty products that I highly recommend. I have never been a gadget sort of person so I'm surprised at how much I love both of these. My dad was really into gadgets. My sister and I gigglingly referred to him as "Gadget Man" when we were kids. heh. Gadget Man. I guess was his super hero name.
But me? Not even a little bit. I have said no thank you very much please to lots of gadgets from bread makers to pasta machines to snap on strainers, no thanks. I have nothing against them, just never felt the need for them. I don't like a lot of extraneous stuff cluttering up my kitchen. But dang, these two gadgets have won me over. Especially the Kitchen Mama Can opener. That thing is a game changer.
There you have it folks, the tale of two gadgets. And I highly recommend them both.
And since the whole thing feels so space aged to me I will close today with the phrase that everyone recognizes but is still of the future:
"Live well and Prosper"
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.