June 30th, 2017
I need your help, please.
First of all, is this not just the sweetest thing ? In my bin clearing project, I'm running across all sorts of things I've forgotten about. This was was a gift from my former sister-in-law, now deceased. She made this little garment to bring my oldest child home from the hospital. She not only made the little sacque but all that needlework is hers as well. Just incredible.
I not only brought home the oldest child in this, but the other two as well. They were all three born in cool weather months, so it worked out perfectly. The three of them wore this beautifully made piece exactly one time each. They were big babies and grew quickly so it did not fit them very long. But it's one of those pieces of handmade clothing that is so beautiful, it's like art.
The question is, what do I do with it now?
It's been lovingly saved, carefully wrapped in tissue paper and stored in a bin for close to 40 years now thinking that perhaps someone else in the family might have use of it someday. A little piece of family history moving forward as it were. But it didn't work out that way.
Which brings me back to today's issue. I just cannot bring myself to throw it away. It's not as if I was ever close to the woman who made this for me. We were not friends and even as, at the time, in-laws we rarely saw each other. When we did, we were polite but that's about all. So it's certainly not sentimentality that is stopping me here. Nope, it's respect for the art.
I guess the only thing left to me is to donate it. Unless one of you out there knows someone who wants/needs it. I would very happily ship it to whoever would be the happy recipient. If not, off it goes in the next GoodWill dropoff that I make.
Or maybe you have another terrific idea of what to do with it? I'm certainly open to all ideas.
Thank you in advance for your help. And have a great weekend. See you again on Monday!
June 29th, 2017
For the most part, I like hats. Obviously, I have a few. The above evidence lives on our bureau in the bedroom behind the TV. They do not look especially good there, but as yet, I have found no other place for them to be that is handy. At some point, I'm sure this will change. But for now, it'll do. There is just something about a fetching chapeau that compels me to at least try it on. It's not as if every hat looks good on me, but when it does, it's hard to walk on by.
Here and there you may have seen photos of me in hats. They serve multiple purposes, especially here. They shade my eyes so that I don't have to do that "Land Ho!" pose to look at things. They protect my face from the sun so that I don't have to walk around under a parasol during the summer months. Not that I would mind walking around with a parasol, mind you, there is far too little parasol walking these days to my mind, but I do not own a parasol. Hats also serve as a cover up for those seriously bad hair days.
The top hat in the pile, which is in actuality not a "top hat" but rather a type of newsboy cap. I don't wear it a lot but when it suits me, the purchase is vindicated. I find that I'm wearing it more often lately. Usually on the way to Pilates Class.
The second hat in the pile, the red one with the sparkly bits on it, that one I found years ago, when I was shopping with my friend April. We bought three of them, one for her, one for me and one for our mutual friend Marsha. I don't remember why we thought we needed matching hats. The last time I wore this one was while taking a mid-day walk. I think I was hoping that the sparkly fleur de lis distracts from how awful my hair looks. It was hot and humid and I ended up just stuffing my hair up into the hat while walking and of course, it never stays put and tries to slither back out. Tim snapped a quick picture when I got back from the walk. Yes people, I go out in public like this. Clearly I have no shame. Thank goodness it's such a great hat!
Third hat is a favourite. I bought it years and years ago just before we took a trip to Mexico which means we were still living in Connecticut. It's a straw hat that is very soft completely contrary to the nature of most straw hats. It's foldable (?) so I can stuff it in my purse which is awesome. It's larger than hats I generally wear and kind of gumby-like, in that I can fold it into whatever weird shape I like. On a windy day, the wind folds it into whatever weird shape the wind prefers. Because the brim is so large, it protects the back of my neck from the sun too. I can dress it up with a scarf or a pin, so it can be worn for fancy schmany hat wearing occasions if I like. I probably wear this hat the most often.
The second to last is a snap brim. I like that name. It is a snappy hat. Dressier than the others, I have worn it to work or out to dinner or very casually. It's the one that is most apt to fly off with the slightest bit of breeze, so it's only worn on very non-windy days or for inside events. I like it a lot but I find that I don't actually wear it very often. At one time I had two of them in different colours, but a little girl that I knew needed one of them more than I did so now I only have the one. I know that these come in and out of fashion, but since being in-style has never matter to me, it's a non-issue.
The last one is the classic, all-American ballcap. The second most commonly worn by me. I wear it hiking or working in the yard and generally, I look like absolute crap when I have it on. It says, "Grand Canyon" on my ballcap but that's not where I bought it. I'm pretty sure I picked it up on a trip to Las Vegas. It was part of a set, matching tee-shirt and ball cap. The tee-shirt was enormous, even too big to be worn as a pajama shirt or nightgown. But the cap fits just fine and although fairly wornout (or is it worn in?) at this point, I cannot bear to part with it. The biggest issue I have with wearing a ball cap is the resultant "hat-head". It doesn't happen with every hat, but it happens for me with every ballcap. Once I have opted to wear my ballcap, I am then committed to wearing it all day.
There was a more elegant time in our history. A time when everyone wore hats. Being a milliner was a job. I love watching old black and white movies, and one of things I most like about them is the way people dressed. When I was a little girl, ladies still wore hats, gloves and high heels when they went out. I owned several pair of little white gloves myself and a straw hat with a ribbon 'round the brim and a bow on the side.
Maybe that's where my love of hats began but that is certainly not where it ends. Who knows what my next hat will be? Hopefully not a sombrero. There is not enough room in the hat stack.
June 28th, 2017
A weird collection of tumblers, eh? I happen to think they are the most amazing things ever! If you care to hear it, I will tell you the story about this
First, I must confess that I am an absolute maniac about coaster usage. There are coasters all over the house and table drawers with extras. I am forever tucking coasters under people's drinks. Some times surreptitiously, sometimes rather pointedly. I absolutely cannot stand unnecessary damage to belongings. Accidental is another story, I can be very forgiving, but when it can so easily be avoided? That's an entirely different tale. And those awful rings on a table top are among the worst offenders. A coaster, properly used, is an easy solution. Usually.
And it's not just the damage to a wood table that is the issue. Even on a surface that is impervious to water damage, say my granite kitchen counters for example. The wet rings will not damage the counters, they were professionally sealed, but that wet left behind takes forever to dry and if you don't happen to see it and you lay something on top of it, well now it's wet too! The newspaper, a book, a recipe, a letter, my arm, yes, all now wet, ink running, damaged (or annoyed) because of that wet ring left behind. Once again, use your coasters people! Usually.
I've noticed since we've been here that a coaster is not a sufficient solution. A filled glass with a cool drink in it here doesn't just sweat, it sweats profusely. I mean like hyperhidrosis! No coaster in the world can contain the rivers of moisture that roll off a glass here in Florida. It's not a ring of moisture, it's a pond. I end up using a dishtowel instead of a coaster. Tim puts a napkin between the glass and the coaster and then replaces the napkin, frequently. It's insane. And when you lift your glass for a sip, that moisture drips off the glass into your lap. How fun!
Then there is the spillage issue. It's been well established that I tend toward clumsiness, as in an accident waiting to happen at all times. We did have one brief, near disaster in Tim's office not long ago where one of us, who shall remain nameless but was probably me, accidentally knocked over a glass on the desk in his office. Or as my sister refers to is, Command Central. Quick work on both our parts prevented a total shutdown with only a little bit of paperwork affected and thankfully none of the electronics.
So while grocery shopping not long ago, I spotted the pirate glass. Hmmmm I considered. These tumblers are made by a company called Tervis. By some magic, the Tervis people found a way, back in 1946, to if not completely prevent condensation on a glass, it is, at the very least, greatly reduced. What the heck I will give it a try. It was a whim. Brought it home, loaded it up with ice cubes and water, handed it to my test group (that is Tim) and waited to see the results! It was nothing short of Amazing!
Little to no glass sweat and as a bonus, there is a lid which can be opened or closed like a travel mug, so no spillage. Houston I think we have found our solution! And the next grocery store trip brought home the cherry blossom tumbler for me.
I actually was aware of the existence of these glasses before. My parents once very kindly sent us a set of four short, fat, thick, clear plastic tumblers that I didn't care for. We lived in Colorado then. Tumbler sweat is a non-issue there. The size was wrong for our adult use, as in too small. I didn't like the feel of drinking out of a plastic glass and frankly thought they were kind of unattractive. Lord knows I cannot drink out of an ugly glass. (insert eye roll here) I used them only for visiting children reasoning that at least they are non-breakable. Nobody bought them at our garage sale so they ultimately were donated to Salvation Army. What a fool I was.
First of all, the non sweaty glass thing is awesome. No rings, no watery surprises on the kitchen counter, no dripping in my lap. The lid? Well, no spilling is nice though I must say it feels like a giant adult sippy cup, but how is that different than any take-out or drive-through coffee cup? It's essentially the same. And to be fair, I can take the lid off. I don't HAVE to use it. The handle which is removable and can be moved from cup to cup is handy but kind of ugly I think. So easily solved, I don't put a handle on mine if I don't want to.
Anyway, last weekend we went to the Tervis store to purchase two more. The closest store to us is less than a half hour, somewhere between Venice and Sarasota. They had Loads of options, different sizes, different colours, different designs, it was so hard to choose! Even goblets, ice buckets, and thermos's. It took us awhile, but we made our selections and over time we will, no doubt add to it. I like that they have a lifetime guarantee, that even when, (not if) I drop one on the floor, it will not break, that it's made locally and I lovelovelove the non-sweatiness !!!!!
Eventually, I will get over the fact that I am now drinking out of a giant plastic sippycup. So, if you ever bemoan non-coaster contained glass-sweat as an issue, even just seasonally, look to the nice people at Tervis for a solution. They are on-line. They are now officially Sam-recommended.
June 27th, 2017
Last night at exactly 8:18 I said to Tim, "It's gong to be a pretty sunset tonight". That's all I said. An innocent observation. He said, "Well, let's go then". We chose to drive rather than walk because sunset was going to be at 8:28. We can walk to the beach in ten minutes of course, but we would have missed the prettiest part. So we jumped into his car and off we went.
One of our favourite sunset viewing spots is the Jetty, which was our destination. When we arrived, however, the parking lot was full. Not just full, but full to overflowing. What the heck? I expect this sort of parking lot nonsense during "the season" but it's almost July for heaven's sakes! Tim gamely circled for a few 'rounds but it was clear that the above out-the-window-photo was going to be the be the only shot I was going to get last night at the jetty.
I still found it to be an interesting picture. Especially the words which kind of acted like a caption for the photograph, "Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear". Hmmmm, the things behind me are closer than I think they are. Emotionally? I believe that to be true. All this sorting through those darned "memory bins" that I've been doing has made me realize how true that is.
I never thought of myself as the sort of person who dwells in her own personal past. Once something has happened (with very few exceptions) its done, it's gone, it's behind me. Or at least I thought that was the case. If that were true, why would I have saved all those bins worth of personal history? Sentimentality? Nostalgia? I honestly don't know.
JoDee Messina, the country singer, has a song, "ByeBye" with this line, "Got a lead foot down on my accelerator and my rear view mirror town off so I ain't ever looking back". Okay that's not me. I'm not intentionally running (or in her case, driving) from my past. I just didn't consciously think there was a reason to linger My focus was always the future. So I thought I was always moving forward.
But as I eye these towering stacks of bins that I now have committed to sorting through, I find that the past is indeed, closer than it seems.
So as I continue sorting through this towering stack of bins, I am inundated with things that once were. I read every card, look at every photo, admire each art project and I remember, before moving on to the next. And because I am moving so slowly through it, this project is going to take forever!
And that sunset last night? Still got a good shot. Just not from where we usually go. A little further down the same road, Tim pulled off by a marina and I got this shot. . A different perspective is sometimes the best idea. And maybe that is the best spot to view our life history too, from a different place.
June 26th, 2017
I ran across these recently. Two of my highschool yearbooks. We were the Richland Rebels. Texas y'see. Back in 1969, when I was a Sophmore, no eyebrows were raised over a highschool having a confederate flag as a symbol of their school, at least no eyebrows that they paid attention to back then. It was a different time, ya'll.
The last time I looked at my yearbooks was probably a week or so after I got each of them. There are no signatures in either of these yearbooks which surprised me. I thought I remembered getting at least a few. Perhaps the signatures are in the one I haven't yet found, the missing year, 1970.
Naturally, I sat down and looked through it. A highschool yearbook is like a time capsule. Girl's hair - ratted up, hair sprayed into submission and teased into "flips", the clothes - knee length skirts and dresses for the most part. I think my senior year girls were finally allowed to wear pants but it had to be part of a "pant suit" good heavens, do you remember those? The boys all looked so clean cut and spiffy, at least on the outside. No jeans to be seen in my school. For the guys it was button-up dress shirts and slacks and short hair. The football boys wore ties on Fridays, if I recall correctly. I do remember the giant elaborate corsages the A-list girls wearing on game days.
Naturally I looked myself up. Gadzooks!
No glasses. Hmm that must have been the year that I did a lot of squinting. I've been wearing glasses since I was 3 years old. But I do vaguely recall one year of trying to not. Disastrous. You will note...no "flip" hairstyle. I've never been stylish except perhaps by accident.
So I looked at each page. I was never a "joiner so I am in very few groups photos. I looked up a few old friends and that was a fun memory jog. But mostly, while I recognized a few names, there weren't many and even fewer of the photos looked familiar. And so I asked myself why I was hanging on to these enormously heavy books? I graduated highschool 46 years ago. And while I recall fondly a few really good friends and the good times we shared, my highschool days were not the pinacle of my life. I have moved on in a big sort of way. I decided that I don't need the yearbooks anymore. Out they went without a glimmer of remorse~!
I am still in touch with the good friends that I made way back then. I don't need the yearbook to help me bring them to mind. And if I ever find the missing yearbook which is the one I think has all the signatures, I will read every page first and then decide what to do with it. Probably, it will join it's bretheren in the landfill.
I am loving this pared down life that we are creating. Not so much "stuff" weighing us down. That said, it is the history of me. It's part of who I am and what created me. I will continue sorting through boxes and see what other surprises I find. It's worth a moment to remember and sometimes a laugh if nothing else.
June 23rd, 2017
It's Friday again, my friends. The weekend is on the horizon and my brain has already taken flight. Three last, totally random and unrelated thoughts before I head out for day.
First, I love serendipity. In the above photo, I noticed that how the beach umbrella perfectly matched the colours of the ocean that day. And since the ocean changes colour constantly, it was a lovely surprise. I wasn't even certain what I was seeing at first. From an angled distance I was thinking, "odd looking wave" which made me move closer and closer until I realized that it was not part of the water but instead a beach umbrella. In fact, I must apologize for the blurriness of the photo. That happens whenever I take a distance shot and then enlarge it. I took photos from afar and then as I was approaching that little bit of sand dune rise to take a closer shot, suddenly the gentleman dozing underneath the umbrella stood up! Oops. I hadn't realized that anyone was underneath. So I crept away without the photo I had really hoped for.
Second thought was these guys. I don't know if this is a great job or a terrible job. The windows they are cleaning are on condos that sit right on the beach. There is nothing between these window and the water except sand. But these guys don't get to see the water because they work back to it. It's like being a guard who stands back to the Mona Lisa in the museum all day or the police man who directs traffic around the Eiffel Tower. I wonder if the window cleaners can at least see the ocean in the window reflection? I wonder if the guard and the policeman occasionally turn around?
Lastly, I'm sure you have heard the expression, "Low Hanging fruit" meaning something that is easy to obtain with minimal effort, right? Well, this must be where that expression comes from. Literally, Low Hanging Fruit. LOLOLOLOLOL And no this isn't a "fool the eye" camera angle, that fruit is very nearly touching the tips of the grass growing beneath it.
Sorry, I get silly when I'm sleepy.
Have a wonderful weekend! My plan is to do take my own advice :)
June 22nd, 2017
I have now done something I swore I would never do again. Which makes me a Big fat liar. The fat part being the key word. I joined a fitness class. The above is my exercise mat. Never had one of those before. Apparently it is important. Which makes sense as the class is called, Mat Pilates.
I've been in various fitness classes of one sort of another before. Never with much success. I attribute much of the failure to myself. I have a bad attitude about group-think, I very much dislike being told what to do and very poor coordination - read as clumsy as a long ear puppy wearing socks. But something desperately needed to be done. Desperate times call for desperate measures and all that. My usual walking, biking, home exercise program were no longer sufficient to hold the ravages of time and cookies at bay.
Once upon a time I could stay fit by running. I loved running. Eat all the cookies you want without a single negative result. Man that is my kind of exercise. And the running as well was great. It was something I did alone, for one thing and it cleared my head. I solved problems while running. I wrote music while running. I wrote short stories while running. And sometimes I thought absolutely nothing at all while running and that was the best of all. And then I blew out my right knee. I had no insurance at the time (the original injury was many many years ago) so I wrapped it up tight and kept running until I couldn't run anymore. Than I walked and biked. But that just wasn't giving me the same amount of fitness that I was accustomed to.
It was very sad. Especially the cookie consequences now that I was no longer running!
But I realized that I had two choices, learn to live with body changes that I do NOT like or do something about it. I choose the latter. By happenstance, one of my neighbors is a fitness instructor. I learned that she was doing some small classes (less than 10 people on average) close enough by that I can walk to class. I had actually never heard of Mat Pilates before so I had no preconceived prejudice against it. Why not give it a try.
In the past I have taken various sorts of Fitness Classes. There were all kind of various dance-as-excercise classes, none of which were successful. I am not graceful, first of all, which was wildly apparent to Everyone in the class. I am apt to trip and fall or accidentally smack someone standing regrettably close by. And for some reason I could never remember the step combinations. Fail.
I took one straight on fitness class which was facilitated by a former cheerleader. I had to grit my teeth each class just to quietly endure listening to her endless mindless chatter and cutesy babytalk. And it was so hard to keep my mouth shut when I was the recipient of her sad little disappointed face when I was told over and again that I was "letting her down" when I couldn't do something to her satisfaction. That did not go well.
The last class I tried was yoga. Several fails there. I do not sit still well, I'm fidgety. I got bored quickly because everything moved so very slowly. And of course my tendency to topple over was a bit distracting. It was after the yoga class that I decided that I must just not be a group activity person and swore to never put myself through it again. So even trying this class is a leap of faith.
I actually attended my first class on Tuesday. I had no idea what Mat Pilates meant and to my surprise, I did NOT research it ahead of time. Quite unlike me. I think I was afraid that I would talk myself out of the class if I looked too deeply into it. So I walked into the room knowing nothing except that I knew that I already liked the instructor as a person. I like her even more now as the class facilitator. Being calm, gentle and encouraging is the key to my fitness success, I suspect and that is her. She doesn't expect miracles but does gently push everyone with a great sense of humour.
There were only six of us in the class, 5 women and 1 lone man. The instructor asked me to come 15 minutes early so that she could go over a few basic things. I liked not feeling totally ignorant once class began. The rest of the attendees were kind and encouraging too. I really appreciated that. There were some things I did fairly well and some things I couldn't do at all. Most things fell in the middle. The next day the instructor emailed me to see how I was doing. Wasn't that nice? And while I can tell still today that I did some serious work on Tuesday, I don't feel crippled from it which is a different experience from in past classes. I believe this may work out.
Tomorrow morning at 7:45, I will hang my fitness mat over my shoulder and walk over to the class for the second time. Hopefully this will become a new and very good habit for me. And give me the results that I'm looking for which would be a terrific BONUS. Wish me luck and perseverance.
June 21st, 2017
Well, there I am in the white jacket, and of course that is Tim behind me but who are those other lovely people? That's the Minock family. Marsha sitting beside me, her hubby, Paul beside her and one of their sons, Kane next to Tim. These people were our best friends and neighbors in Colorado and, lucky for us, remain our best friends today even though we have however many hundreds of miles between us now.
Every time we go back to Colorado to visit, they host us, feed us and in general make us feel as if we are the most important people in their lives. They have already come to Florida to visit us where we at least tried to do the same for them.
Not long after we moved into the house we contracted to have built in Colorado, Marsha and I met. It was one of those days when the rain was teasing, on, off, on, off, sometimes just sprinkly, sometimes a little harder but I felt like taking a walk anyway. So my umbrella and I set out. Part way around the neighborhood, I saw someone else walking, with an umbrella, toward me. Naturally we stopped to talk and laugh about our mutual insanity. From that point forward, we walked and talked together most week nights, year 'round. Regardless of the weather, we had that hour or so almost everyday to talk, to laugh, to share our thoughts with another person who "got" us.
Once our husbands met and realized that they got along as well, suddenly we had our first "couple" friends. These people became an extension of our family. If we had news, they were the first people we told, if it was a holiday, these were the people we shared it with, if we needed something, these were the first people to show up to help. Like that. We took a few trips together, we explored new restaurants together, we helped each other with projects, spent a lot of Sunday evenings on their patio.
Naturally we had done things with other couples before, but usually it was something like, Tim's good friend who had a wife/girlfriend/significant other. And while the guys were genuinely friends and enjoyed spending time together and the spouses were politely pleasant to each other and maybe even liked each other, there was no giant click. For that rare moment to happen in every direction between four people is HUGE. This was one of those moments.
It hard to explain and so I won't even try. I've had very few really close friends in my life. Most of them I am still in touch with, still care about, still enjoy. Most of my close friends, even though I rarely see them, and there is a long time between contact, when we do talk or text or email, it's as if no time at all has passed. The giant click is still there. Despite all the years and all the changes in our lives and all the miles between us, friends, I mean the realdeal friends are precious.
I hear people talk about having hundreds or even thousands of friends. Hundreds or thousands of friends? Really? I know hundreds of people. I am friendly with them. But it's not the same thing, at least not to me. I think we need another word. The word "friend" is so over-used and cavalierly used that it has lost it's significance. There has to be another word for those people that are not merely friends.
I'll work on. If you have ideas, do please share. And in the meantime, thank you to my friends for being in my life, for putting up with me and mostly for being who you are.
June 20th, 2017
Don't you just love plumbing issues? We should not have been surprised. We bought an older home, built in 1962. Older homes are prone to problems. And actually we've been through this before. Our house in Connecticut, which we loved, was even older than this one. Built in 1940, our CT house needed a new roof, new septic system, new pump in the well and changes to plumbing and electric before we could do anything "pretty". The first five years of improvement to that house were all invisible. At least with this house, we got the kitchen done first.
We had decided that this year we were going to reno the bathrooms. Take 'em right back to the studs and start from scratch. We picked out tile, vanities, mirrors and fixtures. Then someone wisely suggested that we find out what was going on inside the plumbing hidden in the slab foundation of the house before doing the pretty stuff. Good thought! And that's how we found out that we needed to have the entire house replumbed. Sigh.
That meant that nobody could be living in the house during the process - no water, no bathrooms, means no Sam living in the house. As it turned out, Tim needed to travel back to Colorado for business anyway. So I went with him. Good timing. It was great to visit old friends and Tim got a lot of good businessy stuff done, but both of us wondered what we would be coming home to.
Turns out, it's not so bad. Now we know for certain that our plumbing is problem free and up to date, hurrah! We have one functional bathroom, although it now has a concrete floor - kind of industrial/contemporary looking. The second bathroom is currently not usable, all the stuff that belongs in the bathroom currently being in the bedroom and all. The fine layer of dirt that is on every single surface of the house and the fingerprints are all cleanable. We have found a tile-guy who, for a very reasonable price will put down new floors in the bathrooms (and then we will have two bathrooms again - yay!) although he can't start until maybe July, maybe August. That's okay. At least it will happen. All of the side yard was dug up and is now just dirt that washes away a little more with each rainstorm. Also fixable. Just need some grass seed and a few sunny days in a row.
What turns out to be the biggest issue is actually the courtyard patio. The plumber guys tore up as little as possible, I will give them that. And further, they neatly stacked all of the pavers carefully against the wall of the courtyard. Thank you guys! I genuinely appreciate that. The thing that I don't have is a specific pattern to put it all back together.
The courtyard patio has become the hardest puzzle I have ever worked on! Each day, I work on it, between rain bands and other projects and so far, I have one row successfully completed. Apparently it all goes back together in one specific way. Which way is that? I just do not know. I always think I know. And I am always wrong.
But I will keep trying and ultimately, I will win because I am stubborn, I am determined and now, it is a mission. Also I understand that if you put enough chimpanzees in front of enough typewriters, eventually one of them will type Shakespeare. I'm not even shooting for famous authors, I'm just trying to get my patio put back together.
Wish me luck, I'm heading back out into the puzzle zone. Maybe today will be my lucky day!
June 19th, 2017
The lady in this picture is my late mother. Today would have been her 88th birthday! At least we think it was her birthday. Nobody was absolutely positive. Her birth certificate says June 19th 1929. But there are other documents that report it as the 20th and at least one that argues the 18th. But we all agreed that we would call it the 19th as the government likes that day as well.
It's not just her date of birth that is in question. The family story tells that she was named, by her mother, on the day she was born, Lynette Dorothea. Pretty name. But the recording doctor, who was not in attendance but came late to the party, wrote on the birth certificate, well after the fact, Dorothy Lynette. I'm not sure how that turnabout happened, but both my mother and her mother told me this story and I suppose they would know.
She was the youngest child of six and the only girl with all those big brothers to protect her, care for her and tease her. The brother closest to her in age was Maurice, known as Rick, and he was four years her senior. Her oldest brother was nearly 18 when she was born. I suspect that despite all those kiddos in the family, she grew up a little lonely.
She was born, as were all those brothers, in the house her father built in Castine, Maine. It's a very tiny, postage stamp sized town that sits right at the confluence of the Penobscot River and the Atlantic Ocean. It's a surprisingly historic town for all it's lack of size and was quite important in the Revolutionary War. Like most families that lived in Castine year 'round, her family made their living on the ocean. And in fact, her father died at sea when she was 16.
Her mother then took a job working for a well to do family that summered in Castine and then of course, went her new employers elsewhere during the winter. It was to Chicago in the winter of 1952 and my mother, age 23, accompanied her. And it was in Chicago at a lunch counter in a Woodworths that my parents first met. My dad was working a second job there as a short order cook. They married six weeks after meeting which sounds kind of crazy.
My mother had two stories about their wedding. One was that she realized how little she knew about the man she was about to marry when the officiate asked her if she "took this man, Lawrence Eugene Hurley" and she turned to my father and said in a shocked tone, 'Eugene"? The other tale was about the horrible food poisoning that my Dad suffered on their first night as husband and wife. She was certain that she was going to be a wife and a widow on the same day.
So they married and produced two daughters and they moved around for my dad's job. They moved a lot. For the majority of their nearly 60 years together they lived in rental homes, some apartments and a few hotels. My dad travelled by himself even more for work so most of the time it was my sister, our mother and me, and sometimes our grandmother. A house of women. It was a house filled with music and whimsy but not a lot of rules. Then when my dad was about to return home, my mother would gather us girls together and we would all agree to lie the same lie. It might be regarding a new pet in the household, or a mysterious dent in the garage door, or the ear piercings we were all suddenly afflicted with. It didn't matter, we were a united front.
She was funny without intending to be funny and she was quirky without being aware that others considered her so. She was a classically trained pianist and had a voice that could rattle the china in the cabinet though she was a tiny little thing. She was very shy but the few friends she had were loyal for the rest of their lives. She hated to cook but loved to garden. She did not like driving but would walk for miles without tiring. She only ever dressed very casually but loved anything sparkly. She didn't have the patience to sit and watch a television show but would play a few favourite movies endlessly, though she would walk in and out of the room constantly while it was playing and therefore took forever to view the entire film, all scenes out of order. And she adored her grandchildren more than anyone on the planet.
We have a thousand and one funny stories about her that we re-tell each other endlessly.
Happy Birthday, Mother. We miss you still.
June 09th, 2017
We all have them. This is where I keep mine. I speak of those pretty, sentimental things that I don't truly require, but I can't bear to part with. These days, I'm more about practical and functional but these items are the exception to the rule. These are some of the few things I held on during the great purging of 2016.
When it comes to the concept of heirlooms, in general, I believe in using them. I still have, for example, a few lovely old Staffordshire platters that are quite valuable. I serve food on them on a daily basis. I do not keep them packed away for future generations so they can also keep them packed away which was a baffling suggestion from far more people than I expected. Nor do I hold on to these items for my children to some day have to sort through and probably sell. I certainly do not display them as a show of "wealth" or "stature" which I read somewhere was an explanation of why people display their collections. Here is the truth: I keep them and have them out where I can see them every day because, A) they are pretty and that always makes me smile and B) they serve a useful purpose and C) each item reminds me of someone/something that is important to me.
One year ago today, we signed a ton of papers, handed over the keys, shook hands with the new owners, got in the car and began the long drive to Florida. We met in an office in Parker Station at 9 o'clock and literally were on the road before noon. The weeks preceding that moment involved a lot of sorting out. We down sized from a house that was over 3200 square feet (not counting the basement or garage) to one of a little more than 1500 square feet (no basement or garage). Less than half the size. Clearly a lot of things had to go.
Some things were easy to part with. Surprisingly, most of the furniture was the easiest. All of them were large items that we carefully chose, but none of them held any deep, emotional connection for us. It was just "stuff". Wintery clothes? Easy peasy don't need it in Florida. Small kitchen appliances? Here you go. But making decisions about, for example, my Nana's wedding china? That was a lot harder. I sent some of those "family" things to the each of the kids, sold a lot at the yard sale, donated most of the rest but at the last minute, I packed up and kept just a few things for myself.
I wasn't certain what I would do with any of it once we got here either. But that answer revealed itself during the kitchen reno. I remember our builder-guy saying to me at the end of the day that the cabinetry went in, that he could not imagine what anyone would do with such odd little shelves. I smiled and said, "Oh I'm sure I will think of something". These are very narrow, angled shelves, the only open shelving in the kitchen and Tim and I kind of insisted upon them.
You see? These cabinets, I mean the standard, rectangular glass fronted cabinets, could have just ended square, 90 degrees to the wall. That is what our builder-guy expected certainly. But when we asked for the more whimsical, funny little angled shelves, he just shrugged, smiled and did as requested. He came back to check on things many months later, walked right to those shelves and said out loud, "Oh! Pretty. I wondered what you were going to do with those." Mystery solved!
Many times every day now, I see the things on those shelves and I cannot help but smile thinking of the people who gave them to me. I rarely use any of these things for more than a trip down memory lane. Which is still a purpose and an important one at that! There is a story and a person I love attached each item here. And that makes it all the more precious to me.
Just a note here at the end of today's Blogpost. I'm taking next week off. Everyone have a wonderful ten days! And we can meet back here on the 19th! Have fun and be safe :)
June 08th, 2017
Good Morning! Or is that just a matter of opinion? Yes this is me, first thing in the morning typing away, writing this blog. Sad but true. I'm a little disheveled first thing in the day and not at my intellectual best but I'm very pleasant. Just don't ask me anything tricky, like my name. And the saddest part? I'm a morning person! HAHAHAHAHAHA! I'll give you a moment to pull yourself together after hearing that one.
Actually it's true. If I have a big job to tackle, I get it on it right away, I never let it wait until afternoon or evening. If I have to make an appointment and get to select the time, I always choose the first available of the day. When we travel, I want to just get up and go, not wait around for the rest of the world to wake up. There are just two things I need to go from the above photo to my real self and neither one of them is caffeine. I need to be vertical for at least ten minutes and I need to take a shower.
My morning shower is like a magic elixir. Except instead of drinking this particular wizards potion, I apply it. I step into the shower looking like the Wreck of the Hesperus and step out looking far closer to a real human being. Presto Chango! As my poor husband can give witness, the transformation is nothing short of alchemy. Yet another reason why, the following statement is true, " Sam don't camp". I would frighten away all those poor innocent little forest creatures.
Tim is a coffee guy. It's not that he is grumpy when he is uncaffeinated, but he certainly feels more prepared to face the day after that first cup. He isn't even particular about the brand or, in dire emergencies the quality of the coffee, as long as it isn't "foo-foo flavoured stuff". He has great appreciation for a top notch cuppa Joe, but does not turn up his nose at McDonalds coffee either if that is all that is handy.
I used to be more of a tea drinker. It was not required for me to be functional, but I do remember truly enjoying a morning mug of Earl Grey or Oolong. Or an afternoon cup, or an evening cup. You see the issue here. If I made a pot of tea, I drank a pot of tea. It warmed me up from the inside out and on a blustery New England day, I needed a great deal of warming.
Nowadays I drink hot water. I actually like it. Still warms me up from the inside out, not that I need a lot of warming here in Florida but, and I know I sound whiney when I say this, sometimes air conditioning makes me cold. Go ahead and say it, "Isn't it supposed to?" Personally, I believe that AC is supposed to make the air cool, not cold. There is a difference.
And I'm sure the biggest issue on that topic is perception. What temperature do I consider cool as opposed to cold against what another person believes to be true. For the sake of argument, let's say that other person is Tim. Or nearly any other person on the entire planet. I actually do recognize the fact that I'm just one of those odd people who are almost always too cold. And honestly, it's easier and far more reasonable for me to put on a sweater and/or drink my cuppa hot H2O than for everyone else to endure being to warm.
But I digress. My brain wandered off in a completely different direction and my fingers followed it. Sorry. I'm back now. But I should go jump into the shower and get ready to take on this day, see what it brings.
I hope that your coffee or tea or whatever kickstarts you brings you a terrific Thursday!~
There we go magic transformation complete!
June 07th, 2017
Welcome to the rainy season of sunny Florida! Last year we left Colorado on June 9th and arrived here June 11th so it's nearly been a year. We were aware that we were moving to Florida during what is traditionally known as the rainy season but as it turned out, last year there was actually remarkably little rain. I remember being surprised by it and thinking, "I thought this was supposed to be the time of year that it rained a lot?" then assumed I had made an error and moved on from there.
As it so happened, I was not wrong. Last year was just remarkably dry for a wet season. Everyone around here remarked about how unprecedented it was and they hoped it was not the start of a weather trend. This year is making up for it. Or perhaps this year is just more "normal". I probably won't know for certain until we have lived here a few more years and have something to gauge it by. But meanwhile, remember when I wrote earlier in the week about rainy days? Well, it's still raining.
As rain goes, I am finding it to be rather interesting. The bands of rain ebb and flow. Sometimes it a full on deluge, then it's just a gentle pitter patter, then the sun peeks out for a few minutes, then the down pour begins again. All the green outside growing things are loving this. The lawn is fully perked, the plants and shrubs are growing before my very eyes and I can smell the soil growing richer by the moment when I dare to venture out. Yeah, that's the tricky bit.
I cannot just stay inside. Can't do it. So between downpours yesterday, I put on my rain jacket, grabbed my umbrella, put on my rubber sandals and headed out to see what's happening here abouts.
To my surprised, the beach was not totally deserted. While certainly not crowded, there were a few hardy souls about, eyeing the yellow flag flying from the lifeguard hut and the ominous grey sky. My guess is, vacationers who were unlucky enough to choose this week to be here and since they were at the beach they were, by god, going to be on the beach. I get it.
I walked through puddles, umbrella unfurled and exchanged smiles at others doing the same. Easy to get "cabin fever" after a few days and even just a short walk helps. Yes, I had my umbrella up even though it wasn't serious rain coming down at that point, just a little sprinkledinkle, but I saw no point in getting any wetter than necessary. And as soon as I started hearing the thunder getting closer again, I headed back toward home. The rain started coming down a lot harder and the wind was picking up so that by the time I splashed my way to my own front door, I was pretty wet.
I no sooner had shoes and rain jacket off and umbrella dripping itself dry in the utility room when I saw, out the kitchen window, my patio umbrella take flight. I gaped stupidly for a moment then shoved my feet back into my wet sandals and flew out the door myself. I chased the umbrella down through the, by now torrential rain grabbed it by the bottom of the pole just as another gust was lifting it. I reached up with my other hand and while wrestling against the wind, cranked it back down. Whew. We nearly had a Mary Poppins moment there! I carried the thing back and tucked it behind the patio furniture. The wind continued to pick up.
Ok that was my fault. I should have thought to do that earlier in the week! I made a mental note, came inside, removed wet shoes, toweled off my hair and was considering putting on dry clothes when I noted out of the corner of my eye something passing by the front window. What on earth? Naturally I went to see what it was. Palm fronds all over the courtyard. Of course. While I stood considering that mess, I heard a very loud cracking noise followed by a big thump. What was that? Did something fall on the cars?
Back into the rubber shoes and out the door. Just outside the courtyard walls, in the driveway was an enormous branch from a tree that isn't even in our yard but next door. Geez! It was very heavy, but slowly and with great cursing, I was able to drag it to the side out of the way, fighting wind and rain all the while and since I was already soaked to the skin, I picked up all the other deadfall and added it to the pile. Once back inside, I again dried off and had a hot cuppa. Well, I guess I got my exercise afterall. Interesting thing this "rainy season".
I checked the long range weather forecast and I saw rain every single day for the next two weeks and that is as far as they will predict. I have a feeling that pile of tree rubbish is going to get a lot higher before this is all over.
On the other hand, I don't have to water the lawn or gardens for awhile and thus far, we have not lost power (knock wood). And no matter how I look at it, it's still better than shoveling snow.
June 06th, 2017
We were walking down the beach one evening over this past weekend, minding our own business, until lo and behold, this sight came before us. A giant, inflatable Unicorn! Not the sort of thing I see every day. I was so surprised and so tickled by this that I burst out laughing. It's the sort of thing you cannot in-see. I would like to note here that nobody was offended by my laughter and in fact, did not seem to notice it at all.
It is obviously, a floaty toy for the water. There are handholds and a place to sit well, and it's made out of plastic of course. But it might just have well been a real unicorn, it is that unique. Very cool.
Except for the part where the instant I saw it, my brain began playing a song I had not thought about in probably forty plus years. Way back in the late sixties/early seventies there was a Canadian band called the Irish Rovers and they had a huge hit (at least where I lived at that time it was big) called, "The Unicorn Song". It's an adorable little ditty about Noah calling all the animals onto the Ark and God's orders to him, "Cats and Rats and Elephants and As sure as you're born, don't you forget my unicorn".
My brain is still playing that song. Cannot seem to stop. I'm sure this has happened to you as well. Happens to me a lot. It's called an "earworm". Not an actually worm of course, it's more of a cognitive "itch". There are a lot of unproven theories about it all but essentially, there is something about that particular big of music or lyric that triggers something in a person's auditory cortex that causes the music to repeat on a loop. It needn't be the entire song, sometimes it's just one musical phrase. But there it is. Over and over and over....
It turns out that certain people have more of a tendency toward earworms, Musicians are at the top of that list. People with OCD also rank pretty high. Women are more prone to earworms than men. And anyone who is fatigued or stressed is a prime candidate. Well, hmmm, I am a musician, a woman and I'm tired pretty much all of the time so, I guess I am the poster child for earworms.
The late Shel Silverstein, who wrote the Unicorn Song, also wrote a lot of the music for the band, Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, later called just, Dr. Hook. Dr. Hook was a favourite of mine and interestingly, to me anyway, a lot of their music earworms me too. I do not think that is a coincidence Mr. Silverstein!
Much as I would like to, I cannot blame the composer or either band. It suspect that it's just the way my brain is wired. I don't remember a time when I didn't have at least one song circling around in my brain. In fact, I have days when whatever people say will remind me of a song and then that song repeats until someone else says something which brings to mind another song and that circles until, well you get the idea. A simple cheery, "Isn't it a beautiful morning" from a fellow morning walker and suddenly the cast of Oklahoma is singing, "Oh what a beautiful morning" in my head.
It doesn't actually bother me at all. It's like being in a weird movie. Everything I do has music underscoring it. Very cool. And it's way in the background of my mind. It's not a distraction at all. In fact, I'd say that instead it enhances my life.
If it suddenly started to bother me, I have read that there are ways to combat the dreaded earworms plague. Chewing gum is supposed to help or listening to a different song. (which in my case would simply lead to a different song playing in my head for awhile). Solving Sudokus that are especially difficult is supposed to stop an earworm in it's tracks. Alas I am mathematically impaired. I wonder if crossword puzzles would work the same way? The last suggesting was to just play the doggone song and listen to it in it's entirety. I am positive that one does not work for me as I often earworm the entire score of one musical or another. But it's nice to know that these suggestions work for other people.
I've read that more than 97% of people all over the planet have, at one time or another, experienced this phenomenon. It may be called other things, Ohrwurms, repetunitist or melodymania, but whatever it's called, it's interesting.
So my Unicorn Song and I are about to get ready to dance and sing through our day. Maybe it's why I'm almost always in a really good mood. On the inside, I have some great tunes playing. Hard to be in a bad mood when you are listening to great music. Sorry you can't hear the songs in my head. It's a party in there.
June 05th, 2017
Woke today to Big Old Thunder Boomers. The kind that feel as if it's rattling the furniture. Now if I can hear thunder before I've put my "ears" in, you know it's loud. For one sleepy moment I thought, "Earthquake?" And then I remembered where I was and knew it was more likely not. As lightening flashed, illuminating the early morning dimness, I scrambled out of bed to see outside. Yup, the palm fronds are flying sideways, it's just a good old Florida Thunderstorm. Suddenly I was completely awake!
I'm always of two completely polar feelings on a day like today. First, the thunder and lightning and wind are so exciting! The lightening charges the air and sparks everything up. The energy of the wind physically hurling things around. The crashboom of the thunder waking everyone. The storm is saying, "pay attention, look at me, aren't I magnificent?"
And then on the other hand, the darkness and the sound of the rain make me sleepy. I want to spend my morning making soup and bread in the cozy quiet of a rainy day kitchen and my afternoon curled up on the sofa all cozy in the family room listening to the rain pattering on the roof and alternately reading and napping. The storm is also saying, "Sshhhh, it's okay, go back to sleep".
So what did I do? Well of course, I threw on some clothes and drove to the beach. It was an interesting drive. The rain was coming down hard and the wind pushing things into the street, but there were few other cars and nobody foolish enough to be biking or walking and while my AC doesn't work, my wipers still do so it's all good.
Once I parked the car I realized that I was not going to be able to take a decent photo from inside the car. The rain was coming down hard enough that if I turnd off the wipers, I couldn't see out the window. If I left th wipers on, I had to try to time shots between swipes. Ratz. I'm going to have to get wet. Ok. At least I was smart enough to grab my rain jacket before leaving the house. And it was a good thing too because the between the rain and the spray from the waves crashing up on the rocks, I was totally soaked the minute I stepped out of the car.
But there it was. The crash of the thunder competing with the crash of the waves, the wind and the sea, the power, the energy, the exhilaration of it all just cannot be denied or ignored. The storm simply will not allow it. It demands it of you. As wet as I was, it was thrilling to be out in it too.
Finally, logic prevailed, I jumped back into the car and headed home. Shortly thereafter of course, the brief rain band passed on by and I stepped back outside into the calm. It was still cloudy and cool and there is yet more rain on it's way, but for the moment it was just quiet. I could hear bird song again and the steady dripping of rain off the patio umbrella and the eaves. Everything looked very clean and new and there is a special quality to the light that only happens right after a storm.
So now, regardless of any plans I originally had for the day, it seems that I will be making soup and bread this morning and then alternating reading and napping while listening to the sound of the rain on the roof this afternoon. It's going to be a good day. Rainy Days and Mondays, kids. When a day is also a song, well it just doesn't get much better than that.
June 02nd, 2017
Apparently, it's here. Hurricane season that is. It officially began yesterday, June 1st. And you know what that means, right? Time to PANIC PANIC PANIC!! Run around in circles like a crazed chicken, wings flapping and squawk, squawk, squawking to the sky because will solve everything. Go to the store, when there is not even a cloud in the sky, just because it's the start of hurricane season you understand and definitely buy all of the frozen goods (that one always baffles me), all of the water, all of the plywood and all of the generators. That's how one prepares for a Hurricane - by hoarding! And panicking!
Actually, around here, it seems that despite the media's frenzied attempt to get everyone whipped into a froth of hurricane panic, everyone is very calm and relaxed. Why it's almost as if there wasn't actually an actual hurricane anywhere in sight! Ummm, that's because there isn't.
I agree. It's a good idea to know what to do, just in case a hurricane does wander this way. But I, for one, don't appreciate being beaten to death with the dire warnings I see every day on TV, in the newspaper and on-line. The latest one, which I am hearing and reading everywhere is that this year is supposed to be a "higher than average year for hurricane activity". Well, that past 11 years here have seen little to none, so I'd say that average is pretty good!
In actual fact, the last hurricane to make a direct hit on Venice was in 1944. The city of Sarasota, which is about a half hour north of us hasn't seen a straight on smackeroo in over a century! I'm feeling pretty good about our odds.
No matter where a person lives, geographically, there is some potential weather event possible. Whether it's Flood, Earthquake, Blizzard, Tornado, Drought, Mudslides, Avalanche, Hurricane or Tsunami, Mother Nature has lots of tricks in her bag to show you who is boss. And it ain't us. Regardless of where you live, the possibility of some calamity exists. There is no completely "safe" place.
I've lived in most areas of this country, at one time or another and have witnessed Floods in Illinois, Blizzards in Connecticut, Tornadoes in Colorado, Earthquakes in California and just about everything else. I think I'm good. I suspect that the reason nobody here on the Island is panicking is that the snowbirds are gone. The only people left, except a much smaller number of tourists, are the people who live here full time. They have been through this before. Been there, done that, sent the postcard is their attitude.
In fact, our neighbors, people born and raised here as a matter or fact, recently gave me great advice. "If the prediction is Category one, you can ride it out. If the prediction is Category two, it's okay to hunker down and stay if you want. But if the prediction is Category three, get the heck out!" I'm not stupid. I know good advice when I hear it. So we will pack our "go-bags" and keep water in the pantry and gas in the cars and keep our home owners insurance current. But otherwise, despite everything the media is just begging us to do, we will not panic. Life, as usual goes on. Can't control the weather and it serves no purpose to worry about it. And so, we don't.
I will continue to resist media's desire to control what I do, what I like, where I go and the what I think. I am starting to feel as if I am fighting a noble fight.
Stay safe, be smart and have fun!
June 01st, 2017
Pleased with our results from sprucing up the courtyard, Tim and I turned our attentions to the family room. It's a nice sized space but still cozy with lots of light, and while we are quite aware, thank you, that it still needs to be painted and pictures hung, there was something else that was not quite right. I couldn't figure out what it was that to be fixed, try as I might. I spent a lot of time considering and discarding various ideas. And then, the other night Tim had a brainstorm. "I think," he said, "It all needs to be turned". He was serious. His suggestion was a 180 degree turn of everything in the room. Ok, let's do this!
It is not unusual for us to move furniture around, within the same room or shifting things around between rooms. Since we seem to focus on one colour palate, everything works with everything else regardless of the room. Although why a person would want a kitchen table in their bedroom is beyond my imagining, ours would still look good in there. I change table centerpieces and move tchotchke around all the time. Small changes can make a big difference.
Large furniture and complicated electronic things are kind of a pain to move, however, so we had to be in the right frame of mind to tackle this project. The day came over the weekend. Tim was in charge of lifting heavy things and unhooking/rehooking everything requiring cables. I moved smaller things and breakables. And of course, I wanted to take advantage of the absence of large heavy things to vacuum under and behind them so not only were there cords and wires everywhere, furniture askew and pillows flung to the 4 winds but amidst it all was me, frantically shoving my vacuum around. Poor Tim. Imagine Atlas holding up the world while some small woman is vacuuming under it and around his feet. Sort of like that.
There were no injuries, but lots of sweating was involved. I am always at least a little bit amused at the mess that is, of necessity, created while trying to make something look good. It's true! Baking? There is a mess. Great art? Mess. Building a house? Ever visit an active construction sight ? It's a total mess. Cleaning out a closet? Messymess. And rearranging our family room - temporary mess.
Of course it's all sorted out now and we are very pleased with the results. The shift around to the other side was exactly what the room needed. Everything thing seems much more open and far more comfortable. It was the right choice. I still need to paint and pictures still need to be hung, but I think it looks better. Once again, Tim was right.
What a difference a day makes. A sometimes a 180 turn too.
For comparison sake, here are the photos again, side by side:
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.