Probably the one thing we have more than anything else here is birds. You like birds? We got birds. Lots and lots of lots of birds.
Birds of all different sizes and colours and songs. They are everywhere. At the beach, in the parks, at the hiking perserves, in your yard. They are in parking lots, sides walks and sometimes in the middle of the dang road. They twitter from tree tops, from over head electrical lines and telephone poles. There is no escaping them.
I've never been what you might call a "bird person'. I would never own a bird. My mother did. In my childhood my mother had a few canaries. She loved listening to them sing. Mother would play the piano and sing and the bird seemed to sing along. She really loved her birds.
Don't get me wrong. I do not dislike birds. Not at all. I just do not want one in the house. I enjoy seeing them out the window and hearing them sing as I'm hiking or walking. I watch them hop and waddle along the ground and the soar and glide through the air. I see them paddle smoothly along across the water and sit as still and as silent as statues when it suits them. And apparently I like taking photos of them.
I had no idea how many bird pictures I actually had until I started putting together the slideshow for this post. I'm not absolutely certain what the appeal is with birds. Is that the envy of their ability to fly? I've heard so many people equate flight with freedom and who doesn't desire freedom?
Is it the variety of colour and size and the uniqueness of feathers as opposed to hair or fur that appeals? As far as pets go, I prefer the sort with fur. And while I've had many dogs and cats in my life, and all of them were made to behave and walked on leashes or kept inside, I would never do that to a bird. They have wings, they were meant to fly.
There seems to be an endless variety of song and colour and size and shape. And honestly I was shocked to find birds I recognized here in Florida. Cardinals, crows and blue jays are birds I already knew! I absolutely did not expect to find them here. Florida is such a unique and different sort of place than anywhere else I'd ever lived, I fully expected all of the birds to be completely, well, foreign to me.
I read recently that there are over 500 birds native to Florida! Holy Cats! Originally I was planning to say that I had probably taken pictures of every kind of bird in Florida but clearly I was wrong. Not just wrong but wrongity wrong. I've barely made a dent.
Guess it's back to work for me. Find more birds to take pictures of. Not a problem. If they aren't in my yard, then they are probably just down the street. And in the trees. And the air. And the water. And the beach. And....well they are everywhere!
Hi there! Happy Monday to ya! Hope you had a great weekend :)
How about we start off the week with a bonus hike? Late last Thursday Joy texted me and asked if I wanted to hike early Friday morning. I said, "How early?" with great suspicion. She said, "I'll be there by 7 at the latest". Ok, I can do that!
True to her word, Joy and Bob arrived before 7. I was ready and eager to get started so off we went. We stayed on island and headed down to Caspersen beach once again to finish the hike we started recently. . We had heard rumours that there was a Ferry Landing at the end of the Caspersen Beach trail but we didn't see it last time. What the heck? That must mean that we didn't actually get to the finish line last time, dang it. This time Joy and I were determined to go all the way too the end.
Because we were starting a little earlier than usual, that early morning light was mighty fine and we found lovely dewdropy things to take pictures of:
And loads of birds. Not just making a racket in the trees either. We were able to capture far more birdie photos than usual. Even me! I guess they hide in the greenery of the trees later when it's hotter not just to hide from us, but also the heat of the day. Who knew?
We found wonderful little tunnels and peep holes through the forest that we never noticed before. Magical, mysterious and so much fun to discover new things around every turn.
I mentioned the light. I feel that the best photography light of the day is either early morning or late evening. It is not unusual for me to get out there to take advantage of the late day light, but early morning? Nah, that's normally when I am knocking out my daily list of gotta-do's. What a treat to enjoy the morning light for a change.
Creatures great and small? You bet:
Flowers and other random stuff? You bet:
The big question is, did we achieve our goal. Did we find it? Did we walk all the way to the South Venice Ferry? We did! Yay Us! It was the funniest thing to see too. Walking along the trail, taking photos and chatting softly about this and that, pointing out photo worthy things to each other and then through the trees, we saw yet another trail. That, in itself was nothing new, There are loads of off-shoot trails along the way. But this one looked different. So we dived down into the tunnel through the trees and in short order we saw a small wooden dock. I said, "I think this is the ferry landing". And sure enough it was! Yay, we did it! Kind of an unexpected place for a ferry landing to be sure but that's exactly what it is. Turns out the ferry (that one pontoon boat) runs every day (except Wednesday) on the half hour beginning at 9:30 am.
It was yet another great hike! And goal achieved! Woohoo!
Even though I don't shop in really nice clothing stores anymore, I still get the emails. I suppose I could just unsubscribe but hey, I'm a girl and I like pretty things. Even if I'm just "window shopping". So when the latest seasons fashion online catalogs pop into my inbox I absolutely open them right away. Just to look.
I got several emails such as these recently and one in particular caught my eye. It was by White House Black Market or WHBM as it lately calls itself. The headline was "insta-outfits". "Just add jewlery" said the subheader. Ok that's interesting enough to urge me further so I opened that email first.
There before me were a wide array of one piece outfits that they are calling jumpsuits. Well that's nothing new. Jumpsuits have been fashionable before of course. But then most fashion is cyclical. Things go in and out of style only to be re-invented years later and then suddenly are all the rage again.
Intrigued by the claims, I read on. The WHBM ad declares that the jumpsuit is "functional but fun" and "the perfect outfit" and "easy to wear". Hmmmmmm. The funniest claim is that it is "a joy to put on". Oh that's amusing.
The last time jumpsuits - or whatever they were being called at the time - were high style I was still young and foolish enough to actually try them. They were not a joy to put on. They were a pain in the arse to put on. It was like wrestling a very soft bear. No wait, that's not quite right. Wait, I know what it's like. It's like trying to stuff a wiggly resisiting baby into a onesie. And in fact, a wiggly resisting baby into a onesie that doesn't fit well. There. That's it.
See part of the difficulty here is that those gorgeous models who showcase the clothes are tall and slim jumpsuits fit them perfectly. They look beautiful in these outfits. However, I am not tall or slim and they do not fit me perfectly. In fact, they do not fit me imperfectly either. I hop and shimmy and wiggle and duck. I twist and turn and shrug. Putting on a jumpsuit becomes a sort of cardio-workout.
I had no business for one minute thinking this outfit would ever work for me. I have long arms and legs for a short girl but a very short body. Jumpsuits or any other one piece outfit (like say a dress) are created for people who are proportionate. I am not. So if I find a one piece outfit that fits properly from shoulder to waist, it's too short from waist to hem. If it's perfect waist to hem, then it's far too long shoulder to waist. You see?
And that's only the beginning of the issues. Shockingly, I actually, miraculously once found a jumpsuit that fit me correctly. (Once and only once lifetime total) And here is how it went.
It was for a formal event in college. It was on the clearance rack. (Probably because nobody else's body was weirdly shaped enough to fit) It was gorgeous, a yummy black velvet with very wide legs and and a halter top that was mostly a wide white satin collar with a big black velvet bow at the back of the neck. It was gorgeous, it was hip, it was cool, it was a little different, it was cheap AND it fit me perfectly nearly like a second skin. (Back then I had the body for it - so be quiet) That never ever happens. So of course I bought it. The only thing I was concerned about at all was the halter top which had a tricky closure that was under the big black satin bow that flowed down my back. This is important and figures in later.
The night of the event, I struggled into it (remember baby into onesie) by hooking the halter part ahead of time and kind of ducking into the opening. I did up the back zipper (which went from butt to waist), stepped in to my platform shoes (it was of the time so don't even bother) and frankly thought I looked the best I'd ever looked. Ever! A great feeling.
I laughed and talked and danced and ate and drank and that's where the problem started. If you, like me, have a teensy bladder, you have to pee a lot. And if you drink enough liquid to stay hydrated you will need to pee even more than usual. Each and every time I went to the ladies room I had to get nearly completely naked to use the bathroom. Every Dang Time! Which meant lifting the halter over my head again. Lift it over to get nearly completely out of the jumpsuit and lift it up and over to get back in. Back then fabric didn't stretch like it does today.
Now if that isn't bad enough, my hair back then was really long. Reallllllly long. And I wore it down. At some point my hair got caught in the halter closure with all the on-ing and off-ing. I was trapped with my hair in the closure, halter half on/half off. And as I struggled to get my hair free of the closure, the back zipper and the long flowing bands of the black satin bow decided to entangle. At that point I was fighting my hair, the halter, the closure, the zipper and the satin ribbon as the jumpsuit kept trying to slithering over my hips, half on and half off. I twisted my body into contortionist worthy shapes and I stepped all over the hem of the bottom of the jumpsuit in the stall of a public toilet while the usual long line of restless women continue to wait very impatiently.........
Not a pretty picture.
It's kind of funny now I suppose. What's the old formula..tragedy plus time equals humour?
I cannot say that I was actually traumatized by the incident but I will say that since then I have steered clear or trickster clothing. And at this point in my life I will leave jumpsuits to younger, slimmer, more lithe and flexible ladies. I do not care how "now" they are or how "in the moment" they are. They will never exist in my closet again.
Surprise! Another Photo Safari!
Yes I am well aware that last week I said that report was about the final hike of the season. Turns out I was wrong. So it was a surprise to me too. A Good Surprise! And that was kind of the theme of this hike. Surprises.
We left even earlier than usual and were on the road before 7:30 am in an effort to try to beat the heat. We headed south to the other side of Deer Prairie Preserve. If you recall, after the alarming feral hog hike on the North end last year we have been steering clear of those particular trails. But the south end is a completely different story and it's not a place we think to go very often but we are so glad we did!
It's a harder place to find so of course that means a lot fewer hikers, always a good thing for us. Nobody stepping into our shots, or being loud, or asking questions while we are taking pictures or littering (drives me crazy!). Just us and our cameras.
I'm going to start with the best part of the hike which was also the biggest surprise. This guy:
Joy spotted him first as we came around a curve in the trail and silently alerted me. I tippy-toed up to where she was and at first I was so in awe that I couldn't even line up a proper shot. We all stood there in shock, the deer, Joy and I, starring at one another. He came to his senses first and took off. Luckily, even though he ran into the forest, we quickly realized that the deer had only gone to just the other side of the trees from us, so we could see him, peek-a-boo style through the foliage. We followed as quietly as possible and then saw that he had doubled back so we turned around.
Somehow we sensed exactly where we was going to pop back out of the trees to once again cross the trail and yup, that is exactly what he did. I think he realized at that point that we weren't going to hurt him and while he didn't stick around to have tea and crumpets with us, neither did he race away panic-stricken. It. Was. Awesome!
Another surprise was how dang many dragonflies there were. It was a dragonfly convention! It's not that I've never gotten dragonfly photos before, we both know I have. But never this many or this variety! Here is a small sampling:
Now that I think about it, there were quite a few butterflies as well. Another taste:
There were a few washed out areas of the trail again. We tried to slog through and sometimes it was just a little hop over the wet, other times some careful stepping but now and again it was just impassible so we would just turn around and go a different way. It happens. But I will say the trails were very pretty, mostly very green and usually wide enough to walk side by side.
We saw birds aplenty. Even I managed to get a few photos. Joy excels at taking bird photos, I only got a few. But I'm happy to have gotten any at all! Those little dickens's are hard to snap! They are so fast, so small and while we can hear them singing, they like to hide in the foliage.
Any flowers? Well of course! They don't move as much so they are far easier to capture on film. I specialize in taking pictures of things that don't move much
As always, there is the miscellaneous file:
At the end we were sweaty and hot and hungry and thirsty and more than ready to go but there were a few final surprises awaiting us. Here was the second to last, a moment of near perfect reflection:
And then literally as we were driving out Joy stops the car and says, "give me your camera quick!" so of course I did. She saw this on the side of the dirt road:
An Iguana! Wow! First time ever to see one of those in Venice! Very Cool!
So there you have it a very hot sweaty hike with lots of surprises! Totally worth a little sweat.
Hope you enjoyed!
Happy Summer Solstice to you! It's officially summer! And whatever summer means to you.
When I think of summer I mostly think of days long ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was a kid.
Summer meant, no school for three long months. And even though I was that wierd kid who actually liked school, I also liked the summer break away from school. Summer mean jello parfaits for dinner eaten outside under the streetlight on the corner. It meant shorts and sandals and ponytails. Summer meant lazy afternoons reading books on the front porch or days of running amuck with my sister and all of the neighboring kids.
Summer felt endless. I mean, we knew better, we knew that eventually September would roll around and we would be back in school with new shoes and new teachers and the smell of pencil shavings and chalk dust would fill the air again. But that was so far in the distance that it might just as well not exist at all.
Summer was for other things like family vacation time. That usually meant a trip to visit relatives in either Michigan or Maine. And that in turn would consist long car drives which ended with great adventures. Family vacation was suitcases and paper maps and picnics on the side of the road. My mom always packed a cooler with the making for sandwiches along the way. Sometimes though we got to buy a soda out of that massive, icey cold machine at the gas station. Not the new machine with the glass front. This one you had to reach way down into and the sodas were wet with melty ice and the machine fought back when you tried to take the bottle you wanted.
We rarely stayed in hotels but instead with other friends of our parents or family members who lived along the route. But on the rare occasion that we did get to spend the night in a hotel, that was yet another adventure! Maybe there was a pool! Once in awhile a hotel room might have a colour Television! We ate Kelloggs snack pack cereal right out of the box for breakfast and somehow being allowed to fill the ice bucket from the machine down the hall was privilege. Like I said, adventure.
Once we were home again it meant a lot of time was spent outside in the neighborhood roaming with a pack of other neighborhood kids. A mix of ages, boys and girls, all hanging out together all day long. We hung out in one yard and then another and then another. If we got thirsty we drank out of whoever's water hose was nearby. Occasionally somebody's mom was really nice and brought us Popsicle with a warning to properly dispose of the sticks, she didn't want to come outside later and see popsicles sticks everywhere! Nobody said to not run with the sticks in our mouths though and so we probably did.
We climbed trees and over fences and drew in the dirt. We played existing games and invented other games. We played with everybody's dogs, everybody's toys and rarely did anybody get into a fistfight. If it did happen, it was usually short lived and everybody was friends again afterwards and nobody's mom stepped in to stop it. We policed ourselves and each other.
We went out early in the morning and didn't go home until it was time to eat and by then we were filthy and sweaty and tired. We probably had a bump or a bruise or a scuffed area on a knee or an elbow but nobody made a big deal out of it. Our hair was all tangled and it's entirely possible that there was a hole in our shorts or a tear in a hem or a button missing and that we definitely heard about. But it made no difference and the next day would be more of the same.
If summer had a fragrance it was a combination of suntan lotion (the one in the mint green bottle) sweat and dirt. It smells of library books and play-doh and Barbie dolls and yes each of those things has a specific fragrance.
Summer sounds like different sorts of balls bouncing against pavement, a bat or the garage door. The tink of marbles hitting against each other, the slap of rubber flipflops against the sidewalk and a endless discussions about whether or not Batman could defeat Superman. Summer is hula hoops and giggles and sidewalk chalk.
Those months taste like Pixie Sticks and snow cones as we clothespinned playing cards to bicycle spokes to make that flappity sound. There was the ringring of a tricycle bell. And there was always that one responsible kid in the entire neighborhood who still had his skate key but was kind enough to loan it to each other kid for their skates. Big kids looked out for the little kids and everybody got to play. If a traditional game didn't work out exactly for the gathered group we called, 'house rules' and changed the rules to fit the group.
Now of course I'm adult. And during the summer I'm inside most of the time in the air conditioning so I only get sweaty if I'm out hiking or doing the noonwalk. I can no longer even bear the smell of pixie sticks...I cannot imagine eating them. I'm too clumsy to risk wearing flipflops and I wear sunscreen instead of sun tan oil. I no longer own any comic books, I still cannot properly twirl a hulahoop and it's been eons since I captured fireflies in a jar or freeze tagged anybody.
What is it about adulthood that makes us forget how to properly do summer? Because I know I used to love it long ago. And nowadays I mostly drink a lot iced water and complain about what the humidity does to my hair. Maybe I need to spend some time laying in the grass looking at the clouds to see what shapes I see there and buy an ice cream from a truck. Do you think that will help? I am not sure where to find the time machine that will take me back so I can remember how to do summer right again.
Happy Father's Day yesterday to all Dads and dad-representatives. Yay you!
I saw a 'joke' about Father's Day that really bothered me. It was comparing Mother's Day and Father's Day via hamburgers. The Mother's Day burger was tall, it was multi-layed and loaded with interesting ingredients. Everything looked fresh and juicy and drool-inducing. The Father's Day burger, on the other hand was one layer. It looked as if it might have been stepped on. And it appeared to be mostly bread with a small boot-leather piece of something representing meat and a half melted piece of cheese. It was very sad.
And actually, once I started thinking about it, now and again I have heard some disgruntled dads 'jokingly' muttering about the inequity between mother's day and father's day celebrations. I wondered if there was any truth to it.
I have been given to understand that the busiest day of any year in the restaurant industry is Mother's Day. Which surprised me. Somehow I thought it would be Valentine's Day. But nope. Mother's Day. Father's day isn't even in the top 10. That was shocking.
Then too are the ads. Take a look. Mother's Day ads are for Jewelry and fancy restaurants. Father's Day ads are for grilling equipment and Dairy Queen cakes. Now all of those things are awesome: jewelry, restaurants, grilling and DQ, but they are not equal.
And when I really thought about it more, I realized that in TV and movies Dad's tend to be depicted as jokes. Dads are either the bumbling, fumbling, guy who is almost always wrong or a distant regal king on his throne, respected but not exactly a warm and cuddly relationship guy. Father's day is barely mentioned at all while Mother's day is practically like Christmas. It makes no sense to me.
So we have sad "jokes", disgruntled mutterings, and unequal advertising and representation on screens large and small. Maybe there really is something to this.
So I was thinking about it. If this is true, why would it be? I think I kind of get it.
In my growing up years, and in generations before that, Father's went to work outside the home and mothers stayed home. Dad's earned the paycheck that paid all of the bills and mother's cooked and cleaned and raised the children. That's just how it was.
Mother's were basically in the kids faces 24/7 and Dad's were some mysterious, distant figure who made big decisions and determined punishments. It's no wonder that most kids might have felt more connected to their moms. Historically dads were warriors and hunters, mom's were loving caregivers. Mom's didn't just show their love every day in a zillion different ways but actually said the words. Dad's showed their love for their families by working hard and providing for them, but rarely said the words. Of course the kids had a closer relationship with their mothers.
However, times have changed. It's just not that way anymore. In a two parent household, in most cases both mom and dad work now. Kids are raised by people who are paid to do so and all parenting is done by BOTH mom and dad after work and on the weekends, squeezed in between errands and household chores. It's a tough job but it's shared equally between them. Both parents equally carrying the load. So, in my mind, they should be celebrated equally. They always should have been but now more so than ever.
Then too, the family unit is different nowadays. Fathers, step-fathers, adoptive and foster father's, grandfather and uncles and male friends standing in as father figures, mom's single parenting and standing as both mother and father, same-sex parent households...the list goes on and on. All equally important and all should be equally celebrated.
Advertisers need to step up and pay more attention to the subtle messages that they are sending and we need to open our eyes and pay more attention to how we are honouring the most important people in our lives. The ones who raised us.
In our family, we tend to be very low-key with our celebrations. It's all about the person being celebrated, whatever they want to do, however they want to be celebrated, whatever meals they want. Basically it's a "YOU" day. But we do it equally because we are equally important in this family.
I hope it's not true anymore. I hope that all Mother's and Father's are both celebrated with to the same degree on their special days. But if that's not the case, it absolutely should be. While they are still around, still in your life, celebrate them, both. Equally.
Give it some thought.
Earlier this week, for no reason whatsoever, Tim and I decided to do an after dinner walk to the beach.
We used to walk over there regularly. Any time of day is a good time at the beach but there is always something special about being there around sunset. But then the Virus came and things got shut down and they closed the beaches and there went that.
It was the right decision, please do not get me wrong. I find no fault with the choice. But when a long standing routine is suddenly stopped, something else steps in to take it's place. Nature abhors a vacuum and all that. So we created a different after dinner routine.
And then now, of course, the beaches are open again, hurrah, and we can go back to the old way of doing things. You'd think that the very first day the beaches re-opened, we would have not just walked, but run, to the sand. I mean, come on, it's just a few blocks from our house. Not like we are trekking across the frozen tundra for miles. And yet we did not. We had a whole new routine to change. Again.
Well that and people. We did want to wait and see if people were just going to go crazy and re-infect everyone. But thankfully, at least here, that has not happened. So once dinner was cleared away and the kitchen tidied up, we put our shoes back on and headed westward.
When we walk to the beach we like to go to a pedestrian only access point to avoid dealing with traffic. And the closest pedestrian access point for us is nearly a straight line. Well it would be if we were birds. The streets are not straight so it feels a little round about but no worries, we still arrived.
And it wasn't crowded. At least where we were.
Oh there were people, but they were for the most part, well behaved, just walking quietly, or swimming, or lounging but staying away from others. And that's a good thing.
Looking out over the water is always a beautiful view, no matter the weather, the temperature, the attitude or my mood. There is always at least a nice breeze, the sand feels good beneath my feet and the sight and smell of the ocean puts me in an entirely different state of being. That's looking westward, out over the gulf.
When we turn around and face east again however, we see the backs of a line of condominiums. Sigh. I'm told that none of those condos existed until sometime in the 1980's when, during a recession, a developing came swooping in with big ideas and the town caved and allowed these condos to be built. I suppose it's great for the people who live there, even part time. All they have to do is step outside and they are on the beach. When they look out their windows they see that unparalleled view! Perhaps it's jealousy on my part, or maybe I was just born in the wrong era (I've been told that before!) but wouldn't it be nice if walking down that road everyone got to enjoy the view of the water, not just the folks living in those buildings.
The funny thing is that from the water, it's hard to tell one building from another. The dunes, the sea grasses, the beach and buildings reflecting the sun with all that glass, it's like a maze! How do you get back to your building? Well they outline the pathways with shells. That's kind of pretty don't you think?
But that's not the view that we came for. We came to see the water and the boats and the birds and the shells and the water and the sunset. And all of those things require looking to the west.
And so we did.
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend! And a break in your routine. (it's a good thing!)
My Favourite Trail Marker, Ever!
Yes Ladies and Gentlemen, it's time for a report on another Photo Safari! And it may be the last one for awhile, so I hope you enjoy it.
Yesterday Joy, Bob and I headed out for Sleeping Turtle Preserve, one of our top three local hiking spots. We arrived bright and early with every intention of spending several miles and several hours hiking and snapping and enjoying the peace of being surrounded by nature.
There was nobody else there when we arrived, which is fine with us. We lubed up with bug repellent because it's been rainy and the particular preserve surrounds a river and this time of year that means there is a good potential for bugs. Then we grabbed hats and water bottle (more on that later) cameras and struck out for the trails.
The instant we hit the trails we were descended upon by hordes of hungry mosquitos and I am not kidding even a tiny bit. They were everywhere. Clouds of them, humming and buzzzing and bitebitebiting ferociously. Joy and I waved our arms around like lunatics and attempted to take a few photos while never actually stopping. If you stopped you would be devoured. It was as if we had never put on mosquitos spray at all! Or maybe these are some different kind of super-mosquitos, maybe they do shots of mosquito repellent for breakfast. Maybe they bathe in it at night. I don't know. I just know that in very short order we decided that No. This was Not Going to Happen. We turned around and practically ran back to the car.
Those buggers took big bites too. Look at the size of this bite on Joy's shoulder! She had bites everywhere!
So we sat in the car for a few minutes thinking of where else we could go but honestly, all of the local preserves have water whether it's a pond or a river or a creek or just a floodplain currently filled with water due to all of the rain we've had recently. Well Dang! The bug spray always worked before...what the actual heck?
We decided that even though it was hot out, what we needed was trails that were more sunny, less shady. I suggested the trails at Caspersen beach which I had hiked with Tim once, but Joy and Bob had never visited. Three votes Aye and off we went.
Caspersen beach is on the island but the south part. In fact the very southest part. You cannot get any further south. And Tim and I found, totally by accident one day, that there was a hiking trail that seemed to go forever and that had few human travellers. On a map it seems to continue all the way to Manasota Key which is in an entirely different town south of us. Cool!
Since I'd only been there once and it was at least six months ago, I warned Joy that I had no idea if there would be anything photo worthy there, but she was game to check it out anyway.
We began with the relief of no mosquito swarms. Hurrah! A good Start! But a lot more sun. And that's when I realized that I had forgotten to bring my thermos. Dang. Tim bought me this great water thermos and an insulated shoulder bag to carry it in and it has been a lifesaver, literally. Dehydration is no joke. Bob had his bag, clearly a smarter person than I, but he rarely does the entire hike so I knew that at some point, Joy and I would be on our own, water-wise. We decided to risk it anyway.
And we are so glad that we did! There were swarms but of butterflies and grasshoppers and dragonflies! I tried to take a photo of a dragonfly swarm. It did not turn out unfortuantely, but no worries, we saw loads of other wildlife. Ready?
We actually saw a lot more than I was able to capture pictures of. At one point, we saw multiples of the same tiger striped butterflies dancing and flitting all around us and I was able to get a photo of none of them. I was just standing there like a ninny, admiring them. Another time there was an orange butterfly that danced along right beside us as we hiked. Felt as if we were taking our pet butterfly for a walk. Didn't get that one either.
That's ok. I'm happy with the pictures I did manage to get. Oh of course I also got pictures of flowers. I always do.
The trails were all sand, sometimes hard packed but more times not which makes it a good workout for the butt. While heavily forrested, there were occasional peeps of the water. Sometimes the intercoastal (which is on the east side) and other times the gulf of Mexico (which is on the west side). " Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink". And never has "The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner" made more sense to me.
We walked the full length of Caspersens. We know that because eventually we came to a sign, back to us that (when we walked 'round to the other side) said, "Welcome to Casperson's Beach'. We did it. We walked all the way to Manasota Key! Wooohoo!
And of course, as always, there are the random photos that I never know how to classify so I clump them all together under miscellaneous.
It was a great hike! Unusual but great. And very hot. And very dry. And when I got home I think I drank my weight in water immediately. But it was also totally worth any mosquito bites or thirst or sore glutes from hiking in sand. Because we had a great time, got some terrific photos and as always, just had fun hanging out together.
Hope you enjoyed it with us!
Soooo today I did the windows, inside and out. Whew! What a job. It looks good though don't you think? And, don't get me wrong. I love when you do a job and it really really looks like you did the job. The fact that I don't do it very often helps of course.
But today I want to make a case for Not doing windows. And not for the reason you think. I know you are thinking that the reason is I'm lazy, which is true. But hey, let's be fair. It is a lot of work. First I have to collect all the necessary gear, that being, window spray, paper towels, a collection bag for dirty paper towels, a broom AND a step ladder. That is a lot of crap to drag around the perimeter of the house.
Is all that necessary? Yuppers. I don't remember having to do this anywhere else we lived but here before washing the windows, I have to sweep the windows. Sounds crazy but it's true. The wind blows a lot here. I mean, it's often just a lovely gentle sea breeze, but that's still wind and it's still blowing albeit softly. And the air is moist. Even on the driest day there is some degree of moisture in the air. You put those two things together and whatever the breeze blows sticks in the corners of the windows, in the corners of the panes of the windows and definitely in the screens. Oh yeah, the screens.
The screens are another whole thing. To wash the windows from the outside, first I have to take down the screens, sweep them, wash them, wash the windows and put the screens back. One extra step for each and every screened window. Yay! (that's sarcasm for the uninitiated)
Anyway so the windows are first swept, as I said, and then the screens removed and cleaned and then the windows are cleaned which generally requires a step ladder to reach the upper panes because, as everyone who reads this blog already knows, I am short. Using a step ladder inside the house is no biggie because the tile floors are nice and firm and flat and level and everything that the great outdoors is not. When I place the step ladder in the earth it's wonky, not anywhere close to level. And as soon as I put my foot on that first step , if there is any give at all in the ground, it sinks, at least a bit, and if there is a rock in the way of the sinking it will suddenly tilt in an unexpected direction. It's really a good workout for the old reflexes. Yes I dearly love using a ladder outside (more sarcasm)
And then there is the wildlife. And by wildlife I mostly mean wasps. I mean yes, there are birds which occasionally means scraping off bird poop (yuck) and occasional spider webs but they seem to be more forgiving if their web gets broken. There are lizards of course but they always zip out of the way of wherever I am. Very thoughtful, lizards. Any other bugs in the vicinity have usually hidden as soon as anyone or anything comes near. But wasps? They are aggressive and territorial. Never mind that the territory they are getting aggressive about is actually ours.
I've written before about how wasps have decided that the eaves and window corners on the back of our house are the perfect place to build their nests. Whenever we notice them, we wait for a rainy day and/or cool evening and knock the nests down and spray like mad. And then the wasps rebuild in the exact same place. Over and over and over. I am baffled by this behaviour! Get a clue, Wasps. Buy a vowel! Go Away! I say to them repeatedly. And then they return only to build again. Sigh.
So it's been hot and humid and not the correct weather for knocking down wasp nests without risking life and limb so sweeping and washing the windows along the back of the house becomes a game of Dodge Wasp. And it's not really as much fun as it sounds.
And this is Florida in June. This particular June feels more like July. July is not as unpleasant as August but it's still hot and humid and that kind of sucks. So there you have multiple reasons why a person shouldn't wash windows. But it's not the reason I was thinking of.
And I have to go back to Colorado to tell this story. The house we bought there backed up to the open prairie with a distant view of the ridge line . Every single morning we saw the sun rise over that ridge. It was pretty awesome. And the designer of the house wisely put a lot of windows along the back of the house to enjoy this view. Big windows. Huge windows. Two story high windows. And a big old sliding door too. Lots of glass. Lots and lots of glass. Not only was it a lot of glass but I kept it so clean that birds crashed into it. It was horrible.
In very short order Tim ordered some window films for all of the windows on that side of the house. And for multiple reasons: 1. It cut down on the actual temperature of the house, 2. it prevented sun damage to anything in those rooms 3. it allowed for privacy because these particular window films prevented anyone on the outside from seeing in, but from the inside we saw out perfectly. Like one way glass. It was very cool. And to our surprise 4. because the birds couldn't see through the glass they stopped crashing into the windows. Whew!
Fast forward back to today, here in Florida. We do not have windows anywhere near that large here but we do have a lot of windows for a small house, especially on the back. And we do have a ton of birds here. We have had a few bird-crashes our first year here. None fatal, thank goodness but the sound is stomach turning let me tell ya. I put one of those static film decoration things in one window because that is supposed to work but it kept falling down. I had no idea what to do. I kept cleaning the windows, because that is what one does and birds kept crashing into them.
And then the rainy season came. And that means constant splashes on the window, and bounce back splash from the rain hitting the dirt on the ground in front of the windows and the wind blowing tree furb and seeds and pollen against the windows and insects building nests against them and well, the windows got dirty ok? It was impossible to keep up with it.
I kept telling myself, "tomorrow I will clean the windows" and then the next day it would rain again so after enough days went by it was a week. And when enough weeks went by it was a month. Enough months went by and sunofagun the entire rainy season went by and suddenly it was beautiful out again. But nobody could tell because the windows were so filthy the sun wasn't coming in at all. Yuck!
On the other hand, no birds were crashing into the windows, the temperature was lower and no sun was sneaking in to fade any furniture and absolutely nobody could peek inside so we had total privacy. Hmmm. Not sure there is a market for it but hey here we go, "Filth - Nature's window films"
Nope I don't think that's gonna fly (no pun intended)
Meanwhile, although I've made my case for not cleaning windows, you will notice I came up with this theory while cleaning windows. And now they are nice and clean again and we shall see how long it is before another bird crashes into the glass. Or until we come up with another alternative to prevent it.
Now if we could just get those dang wasps to leave town.......
Last Friday was a very ordinary day. I got up early, as I almost always do, took my shower and got dressed, just like usual. And then dived into my day. Just like always.
But I was feeling unsettled, a little contrary, kind of out of step with myself. I kept trying to shake it off but it stayed with me. By the time the noonwalk was over I knew that I was hot, tired and uncharacteristically cranky to go along with everything else. Which means I also knew that my best course of action was to be kind to the other person in my house by not being there.
Of course there are limited places to go still. Things are open, but I'm not completely comfortable going to most of those places unless it's absolutely necessary. I have not yet eaten in a restaurant since the virus made it's unwelcome entrance. (we do take out at least once a week though) I have been to the grocery store weekly, the hardware store twice and Walmart once, each time wearing a mask and washwashywashy afterwards. I understand the importance of the whole rigamorole but it makes me want to avoid the entire process by not going and not doing. And to make things worse, on Friday last week, the library was still not open.
Even I, a person who is almost always in a good mood, the Pollyanna of Bayshore Dr., the annoyingly cheerful person has their limitations and I think I hit it on Friday. So I decided, despite the heat, despite the humidity, despite that fact that I had already walked several miles, to do my last errands of the day on foot. My idea was to walk and sweat my bad mood right out of myself.
I set out in no rush, pockets filled with the things I needed. Money in one pocket, my phone in another, my mask wadded and stuffed into the third pocket and my ever-present, just-in-case-it-rains small zippy bag in the last one. (It was an unusual pair of shorts that not only had two functional back pockets but also two perfectly usable front pockets! Woohoo to pockets)
I saw very few people because most folks are too smart to be outside in the heat and humidity of the afternoon and perhaps it was just the timing but there weren't even many cars so crossing the street was an amble instead of a trot. I passed businesses that were closed, some that were open but none of them were busy. I could hear the hum of air conditioning units at every turn. As I walked past the empty school yards, empty parking lots and a few empty lots that are waiting to become something else, my spirits just fell lower.
I found myself walking more and more slowly as I neared my destination but eventually, no matter how much I procrastinated, I arrived. I pulled my mask out of my pocket and put it on and hated how much hotter and more humid I felt with it in place. I walked into the store, bought my one tiny purchase and barely had time to cool off before I needed to go back outside into the heat again. Immediately, I removed the mask and stuffed it back into my pocket.
I decided, arbitrarily to take a different route home and pointed myself in that direction. It was a good choice. Instead of businesses I was in a residential area with shady trees hanging over the sidewalk and flowering things filling the air with perfume. I saw birds in bird baths and little dogs in windows watching me walk by. I found my attitude picking up a little bit without any real effort on my part. Maybe I just needed a change of scenery.
At the last possible minute I decided to walk through part of downtown Venice. The shop windows are fun to see even though sometimes the sidewalks are crowded. I patted the pocket holding my mask. If necessary, it was still there. As I turned down Miami Avenue, the street I chosen on a whim, I passed the beautiful fountain in the tiny park at the top of the street and I saw..... something. What was that?
It looked like a bubble? A bubble? I assumed that there was some small child blowing soap bubbles as they walked down the street. But when I passed through to the other side of the park, there was nobody. Literally not a single solitary soul on the sidewalk of either side of the street. And yet...there were bubbles. More bubbles. Lots of bubbles! What on earth?
I followed the bubbles to a bubble machine dangling from a metal flower pot holder in front a sign indicating that The Art Gallery Was Open!
The street was filled with bubbles. I was practically swimming in them. The tiniest bit of breeze can safely carry bubbles for a long way and the capriciousness of the breeze had them dancing both up and down the road. I stood quietly and watched the bubbles floating, bobbing, and spinning along and suddenly, I wasn't in a bad mood anymore. Suddenly I was in a great mood.
I think probably everyone should own a bubble machine and any time you are in a less than stellar frame of mind, turn it on. As it turns out it's nearly impossible to be in a bad mood when surrounded by bubbles.
And there you have it. Dr. Sam's solution for a bad mood. Bubbles. Either the kind you do yourself with that cheapo bottle and wand from the dollar store or an fancy schmancy bubble machine that does the work for you. If neither of those work, try a bubble bath. That's the ticket.
Over the weekend we celebrated Flag Day! Actually it was yesterday, June 14th. Did you know that Flag Day became an actual official Day of Note when President Woodrow Wilson signed the decree in 1916? True stuff. AND did you further know that June 14th was specifically chosen as the day because the original Stars & Stripes Flag was passed into resolution by the Second Continental Congress on June 14th 1777?
I will admit that I knew neither of those facts until I looked it up. But there you have it! Flag Day Factoids! Cool!
I did know that when the American Revolutionary War began we had no flag. Well no official flag. Many of the small ragtag regiments had their own personal flags to rally 'round but there was no official American Flag because well, at the point there was no official United States of America. Nobody knew how that war was going to turn out. They had hopes of course, but it wasn't a done deal.
But it happened. The United States of America became it's own separate country and needed it own flag. The agreed upon original flag had 13 stripes of alternating red and white and 13 white stars on a field of blue. Why 13? Well at that time there were only 13 colonies. As our country grew so did the number of stars, one for each state.
Ok that last part you probably already were familiar with but did you know that way back in 1885 a school teacher in a small town in Wisconsin, a gentleman by name of Bernard Cigrand, began the idea of flag day and lead the first formal observance of flag day in his school. He continued to promote the idea throughout his life. Thirty years later, (and he was still around to appreciate it) Flag Day became an official Day of Observance. I didn't know that.
Being patriotic citizens, we have had our own American Flags before at our various homes. In Connecticut there was a flag holder on one of the columns by the front door which was very handy. It only held small flags, all of which seemed to come on rather flimsy aluminum poles which bent at the slightest breeze. We had to replace the flag every year.
When we moved to Colorado, we bought another one of those handy dandy flag holder thingies and again, put it right on one of the pillars of the front porch. And it was a hefty one too so we could have a nice big American Flag on a sturdy wooden staff. And that lasted right up until one of the impressively strong Colorado winds whipped through unexpectedly and snapped it right in half like it was a matchstick while Tim and I were both at work. Dang.
We replaced it with a smaller holder and smaller flags which occasionally were pulled (by that same wind) right out of the holder and danced around the neighborhood or into the prairie and fields behind us. It became not only tedious but expensive to constantly replace.
When we moved here we had every intention of starting anew but since our house sits back from the road and there are some rather large (and lovely) shrubs, trees, and hedges in front of the house, it would be nearly invisible. We considered attaching it somehow to the mailbox but we discarded that idea in favour of actually receiving our mail. I predict that the mail delivery person would not be overjoyed to have to do battle with a flag to put the mail in the box. And so we went flagless for nearly 4 years. Awwwwww
Then Tim found out that there is a veterans organization that, for a very small sum will put up a flag for you before every flag-oriented holiday and then take it back down and (the best part) store it for you at their facility for an entire year. The best part is that the money goes to veterans in need. What a terrific idea! We voted Yes on that one with no hesitation. So we filled out the form and sent in the check and on Friday a very nice gentleman, a WWII veteran as a matter of fact, showed up with our new flag and with some other fellows put a bit of PVC in the ground as a holder and stuck our new official American Flag into it and went on their merry way. In a few days they will come and pick it back up (and leave the PVC in the ground for future use).
A quick glance up and down our street will show the exact same flag situation in front of almost every house. Along with a lot of garbage cans. Sorry it was garbage pickup day and not everyone has brought in their can yet. But you get the idea. It's lovely to see.
So we are delighted that Old Glory is flying in front of our house again. And will for every flag related day for an entire year. Wherreupon we will send in our money and do it again. And again. And again.
We are big fans of avocado in this house. It's the perfect addition to almost any sandwich, hot or cold. Naturally it goes beautifully with taco's, fajitas, burritos and nachos. I love avocado in salad or an omelette. It's just fine on toast or crackers. And there are few things that are not improved with the addition of a perfect guacamole.
So yes, we like avocado. It's on nearly every grocery list that I make. I've gotten really good at selecting them at the farm market too.
One of our neighbors told us that the owners before the previous owner (that would be two owners back) of our house had a fine fat healthy mature avocado tree in the backyard. It was so prolific, in fact, that all of the neighbors benefited from the fruit it produced.
I was shocked because, while I don't spend a lot of time in our backyard, I know dang well that there is no avocado tree back there. And in fact the reason the tree isn't there anymore is the because the previous owner (that would be one owner back) of our house cut the tree down.
WHAT? Cut down a perfectly good avocado tree? Who would do such a thing? Maybe a person who doesn't like avocado? Or perhaps one who doesn't like their neighbors? Or doesn't like to share. Well, I thought, a little more rationally, maybe the tree some weird avocado tree disease or damaged in a storm and needed to come down. It's sad but I know it happens. I said as much to our neighbor who then informed me that that none of that was the case. The previous owners just didn't like it and therefore, it had to go.
Well that did it. I decided to replace that tree. AND furthermore, I would do it old school. Flush with the success of my recent yeast making experiment, I decided that I would grow the tree from an avocado seed.
I was feeling really confident. Not only did I do a little online research, I actually remember doing this very project in elementary school (I think in California). So logically, a person who can start their own yeast (still wows me) can certainly do an elementary school project and start an avocado from seed. Right?
The next time we had avocado with a meal, I so happened that we required two of them. I figured what the heck, I may as well start two and double our chances. As we cut into the fruits, we were careful to not puncture the seed. Then, I rinsed the seed, cleaning it carefully and gently, using three toothpicks suspended it at the top of an jar full of water and put it in the kitchen window.
And then I waited.
According to everything I read it can take up to 4 weeks for anything to sprout. That sounds like a long time. But I've had gardens before. Flowers, vegetables and fruits. While patience generally goes completely against my nature, I am well aware that when gardening (any sort of gardening) there is a lot of waiting involved. I was prepared to be patient.
I've had lots of gardens in my life. Most of them were exactly what I anticipated them to be. The flowers were abundant, the fruits and vegetables fed us very well and while it's hard work, it's the sort of work that feels good. My mother always had beautiful gardens and somehow it makes me feel close to her when I do any sort of gardening. Even something as small as this.
I checked on it every day, making sure that the water level stayed where it should be. Occasionally I turned the jars so that the sun shone on every side. I talked to them encouragingly and occasionally sang them a happy song.
In my mind, I imagined all of the lovely avocado laden dishes we would make. I pictured plucking ripe avocado from the trees and sharing with neighbors, just as it used to be long ago. Having bowls of beautiful ripe fruit on the kitchen table just waiting to be eaten. I was ready.
Well four weeks were up last week but I kept them going for 7 more days. And nothin'. Not so much as a single sprout on either fruit.
It's pretty disheartening when a fully grown adult is unable to successfully execute a first graders science experiment .
As I chucked out the non-fruitful fruits and washed the jars, I decided that instead of just giving up, I am going to so a little more reading and give it another try. That's how gardeners do it. Even puny little window sill gardeners like me. Instead of being totally discouraged, I am more determined than ever.
Wish us Avocado luck!
Looks like Joy and I had our cameras out and were hard at work walking miles and taking pictures once again this week! Yup, it's true. Another Photo Safari coming at ya!
It was a great hike, an amazing hike really. There was nobody there but us for one thing. We like when that happens. And we each took nearly 300 photos. Wow! Don't worry, I won't make you look at all of them.
Here we go.
You know how each of our hikes ends up having a theme? Well this one had several themes. For one thing, lizards. The little buggers were everywhere and instead of all skittering off the instant they saw us, a lot of them hung around long enough to have their pictures taken! Coolio. And when I say a it was a lot of lizards I mean a LOT! This is just a sampling:
But it was also the hike of obstacles. There were downed trees blocking trails that had to be clambered over, overflowing streams to be jumped across and occasionally we had to just turn back due to completely flooded out trails. But it didn't stop us! Nosiree! We had to double back a number of times rather than wade through deeper water but usually it was either a small puddle to jump over or a larger one that we could edge our way around. But it never once stopped us. We are either very brave or very foolhardy. I vote for brave.
We started really early in them morning. It's getting to that time of year when the temperature is going up and the humidity right along with it. I can deal with the heat but coupled with the humidity, it's not as much fun as it sounds. Though, to be honest, once we get into our photography groove, we really don't notice silly things like mosquitoes, thirst and sweat. Then again, we were prepared. We wore sunscreen, bug spray, dressed in cotton clothing (breathes well) and I carried a thermos of cold water. We were prepared.
It started out so pretty though with dew drops and relatively cool (ish) breezes.
It warmed up fast though and the dewdrops, except in the deepest shadows soon were gone. And instead we saw some extraordinary bugs. I had actually only ever heard of the hummingbird moth before this hike, so it was amazing to get that photo. The grasshoppers were enormous and none of them were actually hopping so that was unusual. Oh and I caught a bee in flight! I've never done that before so I especially tickled with that photo.
We've had a lot of rain so the river was high and as the morning wore on, the breeze died down so the water was still, almost mirror-like. Makes for pretty pictures. There was one boat that glided by us silently on the river and we saw a few other boats on the banks of the river with no people anywhere in sight, which makes ya kind of wonder......
As always there were some beautiful flowery things. I'm sure most of them are wildflowers of some sort of another which is just a fancy weed frankly, but I don't care. I love them just the same. AND I have no idea what any of them are so don't bother asking. Unlike Joy, I am too lazy to take the time to look them up for identification.
And then there are always the things that just defy categorization. Just a collection of random unrelated things. This is always my favourite part :)
Not all of the trails were washed out or blocked with fallen trees and branches. Some were dry, beautiful and picturesque.
I suppose this has all gone on long enough. Time for all of us to get on with our day now and stop looking at pictures of the photo safari. You heard me. It's time to stop. It's done now. The Blogpost is over. Time to get back to whatever you were doing before or move on to the next thing. Dang that means me too. Ratz. Now I have to stop having fun and go be responsible. Which I suspect involves laundry and cleaning bathrooms.
Have a perfectly lovely day. Thanks for looking at my photos!
Hugs all 'round
Yowza! Here's something new and exciting! A Brand New Microwave! Woohoo!
And since I am the one who killed the old one, I am especially grateful to have it.
It's exactly like the one we had before (except that this one is fully functional) and it fits the old space perfectly. Tim ordered it a few weeks ago and it was delivered and installed yesterday afternoon. It is gorgeous.
It's funny how excited I am about an appliance that I rarely use. I understand that it's possible to actually " cook" in a microwave but I've never done it. I'm sure there are instructions about that sort of thing in the lengthy manual that came with it, but I never read those things. I know that I should but I don't. They are just so dang boring even when I try to read them I retain exactly none of it. But I keep the instructions in their original plastic bags just in case there is ever a problem and then I can look it up. And that I will do. But to sit down and read it like a novel? Not going to happen.
So since I admit to only rarely using it, what do I use my microwave for? Well primarily for re-heating things. Like maybe, I don't know, leftover pasta. Occasionally I have a yen for popcorn and so we almost always have a package or two of microwave popcorn handy. And....that's about it.
So why do we even have a microwave? I guess partly because it's kind of a standard appliance nowadays. While personally I could function just fine without one, it would be like not having a refrigerator to most people I suppose. The function that I truly do appreciate about this particular microwave oven and it's position in the kitchen, is that is also functions as an exhaust fan! That part I use. A lot.
If I designed my own kitchen from scratch, it would have an actual real exhaust fan over the stovetop and the microwave would be a drawer. Most microwave ovens (including mine) are either too high or too awkwardly placed to be easily used by me. Over the stove is above my line of vision, I have to stand on tiptoe to put things in or take them out. So let's see, I am reaching UP and bringing DOWN something very hot which, if I bobble it (and with me that is always a possibility) means making a mess and getting burned. Not ideal. But in this particular little gallery kitchen, space was a premium. I would have had to give up storage space to accommodate and there is no way I'm ever giving up storage space.
So when we reno'd the kitchen we soon came to realize that the only place the microwave could be is over the stove. And since it's there anyway, it may as well also function as an exhaust fan. And it did too. Right up until I had a little kitchen fire. What???
Sigh. It's a sad, sad tale, my friends. And I do not look good in this story. Be prepared.
Four years ago, when we bought this house, the very first thing we did was completely reno the kitchen. I mean completely totally and entirely had it torn down and started from scratch. It took 4 long LONG months and way too much moolah, but it was totally worth it. Loveloveloved my new kitchen.
But just a few measly months after it was finished, I was preparing...something...I don't even remember what it was, but I do remember that I was still adapting to cooking on my new stove (and they all have a different feel to them) and in a new (to me) altitude. Or in this case, lack of altitude.
I will explain. We moved to Florida from Colorado. We moved to Colorado from Connecticut. So when we first moved to Colorado, suddenly we were more than a mile higher up than we were before and I kind of had to learn to cook all over again. It affected everything I made but it especially impacted boiling (takes for freakin' ever) and baking. But eventually I got the hang of it. So there we were in Colorado for 11 years. And then we moved here where instead of being thousands of feet up we were now only 7 feet up. Yes that what I said. 7. One more than 6, one less than 8. And I had to relearn how to do things again.
Baking came back to me faster than boiling, apparently because whatever I was making required lots of steps. One of them involved melting something in a little pan on the stove. I turned away to do prep another step in the process (which meant stepping, for what felt like, just a moment, into the pantry) and before I stepped back out there were flames shooting out of the little pan onto the underside of the microwave and smoke roiling through my beautiful white kitchen. Clearly things come to a boil much faster at this lower altitude. Make a note of that.
I stood like there an idiot trying to process what I was seeing (because sometimes I just don't think very quickly) and before I could act, the smoke alarms went off which caused me to clap my hands over my ears and had Tim flying into the kitchen from his office. Now Tim does think quickly. In ANY sort of emergency, he is the guy you want! He turned off the stove with one hand and grabbed the pan with the other. He took the pan outside and put it on the courtyard patio (flames now gone) and came back in the house and began opening windows.
I was still standing in the middle of the kitchen trying to compute what had just happened when Tim checked to make sure I was okay. I was physically fine of course, so he began cleaning. Cleaning? That's when I saw the oily grey nastiness on every surface in my kitchen. I chased Tim out and began cleaning it myself.
I think I partly wanted to do it myself because, well the entire thing was my fault to begin with, so this was certainly a good punishment. But also because it helped me come back to reality from whatever freaked out, alternate reality limbo fugue state I was in. I sobbed while I cleaned because I was sure that I had completely, totally and entirely ruined my beautiful new white kitchen.
Turns out however, that with enough elbow grease, time and the right cleaning products, 99% of the kitchen was fine. And only the microwave was injured in the fire. And not everything. Just the exhaust fan part. Well dang.
Well, we have been muddling along okay without a properly functioning microwave for a few years now. On the rare occasion that I fry something, I would simply put a box fan, facing out, in an open kitchen window. And most of the year that works just fine. But during the summer it's not so good. All of the heat and humidity that is outside needs to stay outside. Once a window is open however, it is going to do it's best to try to sneak back in. And that is bad, very bad.
It's summer again here, despite what the calendar says. (I know it won't actually really be truly calendar summer until later this month) but trust me, it's summer already. So the arrival of my new microwave-slash-exhaust fan is perfect!
And I have learned my lesson. I never EVER step away from anything on the stovetop. I solemnly swear.
Like most people, it had been far too long since I had a haircut. With the virus lock-downs and closures starting in March, by June my hair was beginning to look more like a mop on my head than a hairstyle. It was all so very sad. But in the grander scheme of things (I find that I say that a lot these days) the way my hair looks is not nearly as important as being healthy. And healthy I am. So I mostly just whipped my hair into a silly little ponytail and just rolled with it.
But then came the glorious day when someone at the salon where I get my hair done called to see if I wanted to make an appointment. Heck yeah I do! And so I did. And it was last Friday. Hurrah hurrah!
I knew that it would be a different sort of appointment because everything is now. Once I made the appointment I was told what to expect, so I was mostly prepared. But knowing something intellectually is never exactly the same as actually doing it. So here is how it went.
I showed up right on time. I was told that there would be no waiting inside. Gotcha. So as soon I parked the car, I walked to the salon and called to let them know I had arrived. I stood literally outside the door waving at Val, the very nice lady who answers the phone there. She smiled, waved, said hello back and that Carolyn, my hairdresser would be right out.
I knew I had to be masked, so that was already done. I wondered if she would recognize me, but never fear, Carolyn came directly to me with a very welcoming greeting, took my temperature and lead me into the inner sanctum.
I was reminded a little bit of stories I had heard about speak-easy's during Prohibition. Where you knock on an unmarked door in a dark alley, someone slides open a little panel and asks for the password.
Once inside I was given a few squirts of hand sanitizer and then directed to the ladies room to wash my hands. Apparently the hand sanitizer was just in case I felt it necessary to touch anything on the way to the ladies room. I did not. But I always appreciate the opportunity for a thorough handwash. Done. Ok.
Back to regularly scheduled programming right? Well not quite. Next was having my mask taped to my face. What? Well how else are they going to properly cut hair with those loops around your ears? Once the mask was taped to my face, the ear loops could be removed and then everything could happen. Just like normal? Well almost like normal.
Wearing a face mask while having your hair washed, conditioned and rinsed is going to get your mask a little wet. Having wet hair hanging down while it's being combed is also going to at the very least get your mask damp. And having a serious hair cut is going to make teensy tiny hair fly around and get stuck in the mask no matter how hard everyone tries for it to not happen. And those tiny hairs are so dang itchy!! But it's never a good idea to scratch while a hair cut is going on. Bad things could happen. So I ignored the itch as best I could (which is not very good in truth) but held statue still which she cut and trimmed and shaped and did her job.
Once the scissory part was done we moved on to the styling part which, because I was damp and itchy felt like it took twice as long as usual (which was totally not the case, I'm just kind of a big baby). My nose was twitching with itchiness! Whenever I am wearing a mask, my nose immediately begins to itch. And it takes everything in my power to Not Scratch. This was so much worse than usual. It Was Like Torture!
Finally she peeled the tape off my face (and some of my hair which got caught in the tape - oops) and had to do a little minor repair trimming. But finally, my patience was rewarded. At long last, it was done. I looked human again. And my hair looked more like actual hair and less like a bad wig. At my request she cut my hair a wee bit shorter than usual and it feels great. I cannot ponytail it now, but then, I don't need to either. I paid, made my next appointment, thanked everyone and calmly, casually even, stepped outside the door. Whereupon I ripped my mask off and scratched and rubbed at my face until the itching stopped. Whew! What a relief!
The instant I got home, that mask went into the wash where, hopefully, all those little hairs washed right down the drain.
So happy to have my hair trimmed. And glad to have made it through another post-virus appointment relatively unscathed. But more than anything I am so glad to have that dang mask off!
The finished product. So Much Better!
Frightening photograph right? Well it certainly wasn't as extreme as in the photo above but last night was still a little exciting. We woke up around 12:30 am to both cell phones and the house phone going crazy! It was more than a little disorienting to go from sound asleep to wide awake so quickly.
I answered the house phone which is silly because without my hearing aids on I really have trouble understand what is being said. Especially with all the racket of both cell phones ringing like mad at the same time. So I hung up the house phone and read the text message coming in instead. Tim and I had both cell phone call messages and text messages indicating that we were under a tornado warning and it was strongly suggested that we seek immediate shelter. The alert system in our county is extremely thorough.
Since we were already in the house, we felt about as sheltered as we were going to get, so Tim turned on the TV for more information and I, like an idiot, opened the front door to check for rampaging tornadoes. Calm down. I'm not a complete fool. If I had heard any tornado noises or felt the creaking, rocking and rolling feel of being in the midst a tornado or if I had even seen out the window anything that appeared to be evidence of a strong wind, I would not have opened that door. But I didn't hear it, feel it or see it. And so I did it. Opened the door I mean.
I unlocked the door and tentatively peeked out. All appeared to be calm. Then, I opened the screen door and listened hard. Still peaceful. I stepped out into the courtyard and there was just the merest drizzle of rain. Nothin'. I locked everything back up and went to Tim and asked him, "Are they sure?
He indicated that television that was, just at that moment showing a map of our town, streets and all, and a large red area that indicated exactly where the tornado currently was sighted. Interesting. It seemed to be on the other side of the Venice Avenue bridge! Ok. AND heading away from us. Also Ok. I mean, I'm sorry for anyone else affected but happy for us.
And just as quick as a wink, it was over. Stand down soldiers. This was just a drill.
Thank goodness! Nothing to worry about. Just a random bunch of cranky wind skittering around from the Tropical Storm in the gulf that has brought us a lot of rain lately. Nothing to worry about.
And yet...and yet! Less than a week ago, there was a surprise microburst-type tornado that tore up a parking lot and part of a sports field in the same general vicinity that this new one was spotted. And that one a few days ago actually touched ground! Whoa!
So naturally, I was a little jazzed. The late night ringing of the phone definitely got my adrenaline going. Even though it was really late, there was no way I would be able to fall asleep anytime soon.
So Tim turned on the TV in the bedroom for a bit and I lay there trying to calm my breathing and my pulse and relax. Just relax. Go back to sleep. Zzzzzz Sssslllleeeppp. You are getting sleepy, I crooned to myself. No you are not, I said back to myself. As Tim turned off the television, put the clicker on the bedside table and immediately conked back out. I starred at him in the dark. How can he sleep at a time like this? And then I remembered that a few years ago, during Hurricane Irma, while I paced the floors and snuck peeks out the window during the worst storm I've ever been in, he had fallen right to sleep. Dang.
Well, if he can do it, I can do it, right? I tried harder to fall back to sleep. After all, before the phones all went crazy I was asleep, right? This was just an intermission. I should be able to conjure that sleepy feeling back and fall right back to dreamland. Nope. No sleep happening anytime soon.
Eventually I gave up, got out of bed and wandered out to the family room to watch TV and play games on my phone. Apparently my body felt that it had already had quite enough sleep for the night and perhaps I should stay alert just in case the tornado circled back around. Oddly the one thing I kept wondering about was where it was exactly that we were supposed to "hide" in the house if a tornado actually touched down in our immediate vicinity. I kept wavering back and forth between the utility room and the bathroom. Occasionally I would consider and then reject other rooms, 'round and 'round and 'round. Well it occupied my time anyway.
So it was a long night of re-runs, Hallmark channel movies, wondering about tornado related things and endless channel flipping, always hoping to accidentally come across something wonderful. It doesn't happen often, but it has happened before. I guess I was hoping it would happen again. Last night was not one of those times.
Yesterday on the other hand, although I was tired, the sun came out (for the first time in days) and it was a perfectly lovely day. I know that elsewhere the tropical storm made landfall and is therefore making someone else's life miserable. I would feel guilty about being relieved that it wasn't us this time, except that Hurricane season has only just begun and who knows what other storms are on their way, where they plan to make landfall, and what sort of havoc they are going to wreak.
And in the plus column, tonight, I ought to sleep really well.
Whoa! That's kind of scary! Sorry I didn't mean for it to be. I just need a photo of teeth.
Yesterday was my first remotely medical appointment post-Covid. It was time to see the dentist. (hence the fairly terrifying photo of my pearly whites)
Looking at that photo I think about those horrible braces I wore for 4 years. The top teeth are nice and straight (tho it seems that i have a tiny chip in one front tooth. hmmmm) but the bottom ones are still a crookedy mess. All that pain and expense and annoyance and that is the result? Somebody owes my dad a refund!!! But I digress. Sorry about that.
Sooo I made the appointment six months ago at my last check up. It's what I always do so I won't forget. And they are kind enough to mail me a reminder card a few weeks prior just in case I forgot to put it on my calendar. Thus far I have never forgotten, but I suppose it's always a possibility. Then at the beginning of the week I got a call from my dental office. My appointment was for 11 o'clock on Thursday and they asked if I would mind changing it to 3 in the afternoon instead. sigh.
I agreed to it because once upon a time I was the lady in the office (not dental but still medical) forever calling and asking people to please agree to move around their appointment so I know what it's like to do that job. I try to always get morning appointments. Partly because I'm a morning person, at my best early in the day. But also because once the appointment out of the way, I can then get on with the rest of my day. When there is a mid-day appointment it just interrupts everything. (or at least it feels as if it does) But hey, in the bigger picture, it's not a big deal.
While I had her on the phone I asked if there was anything protocol-wise that I needed to know. As if surprised she said, "Oh yes, that's right" and went on to tell me that I couldn't come into the building (meaning the waiting room) until the exact time of my appointment. Ok.
So I left in time to arrive at exactly 3 on the dot. And since I walked there I actually did precisely that. (score!) and walk right in. More than half of the chairs had big signs on them saying "this chair closed". Usually patients sign in. There was no sign in sheet. And the sliding window into reception was closed. It's never closed. So there were two more things that were different. As soon as the receptionist heard me come in the little window slid open and she said hello and that she would be right out to take my temperature and then she quickly slid it closed again. Ok. My temp was fine so the hygienist directed me quickly to her room.
My hygienist was wearing disposable jacket over her scrubs which was something new and a mask and clear visor, which wasn't new. First off I was given something to swish and spit and that was something else that was different. I remarked on the unique taste and was told that it was a peroxide rinse. Ok.
The rest of the appointment was as it has always been. A very thorough cleaning and polishing (by the way, the taste of the polish after the taste of the peroxide rinse was a singular combination) followed by the doctor's once over.
I did fine. No recommendations or suggestions. Everyone was very professional and kind - which they always are and stayed as distant as possible - which was new but not unexpected.
Over all not as strange as I thought it might be and I'm sure in time, this will just be the new normal and I won't think anything of it. Thus far, none of the changes are difficult to deal with, just an extra step or two. But for now, everything I'm doing for the first time since the virus appeared turns ordinary things into unique experiences.
Curious to see how the next one goes.
Have a wonderful weekend please. Ours will be very rainy according to all of the weather reports. But it will be a good one regardless but we will make it so!
Well this is me looking pretty darned pleased with myself. And all because I gave blood yesterday. See that snazzy purple bandage on my arm? I wear it like a badge of honour.
My blood type is O positive which is the most common sort (38% of all people). That alone makes it important for me to donate but add in the fact that O positive is compatible with any other positive blood type and I had an even better reason to donate.
I learned recently that something like every 2 seconds, someone, somewhere is in need of a transfusion. Holy cats! How on earth do they keep up with the demand? Well the sad truth is that they don't. And oftentimes a transfusion is the literally the line between life and death. So whenever I can, I donate.
The problem is, often I cannot. Y'see, I tend to be a little anemic. It's nothing I have a lot of control over, it's just the way I'm built. So whenever the call comes that there is a need for O positive blood, I head on over and try. And often I am sent right back home with a pamphlet of handy-dandy suggestions on how to boost my iron levels. All of which I am quite familiar with but bless their hearts for trying to help.
When the phone rang this time, I was happy to learn that the blood mobile was the donation site. Hurrah for the Big Red Bus! That means that it's on island, literally less than a ten minute walk from our house. I like that. And it was by appointment only due to social distancing and all of the other Covid precautions which means it should go more quickly. As a walk-in you never know how many people are ahead of you.
I knew it would be interesting, dealing with these new protocols and I was prepared for almost anything. My appointment was 9:15 and I set out at 9 on the dot. (Just in case there was traffic or I happened upon a neighbor who wanted to tell me or ask me something on the way or someone stopping me to ask directions - hey it happens. A lot.)
OneBlood, which is the name of the company, had a tent area set up outside the bus to get me started. I showed up masked of course, because I assumed they would want me to. A woman not in scrubs and wearing heels asked if I had an appointment, yes I do. She asked my name, I told her. She told me to have seat and then said, WAIT! and carefully cleaned the folding chair. Once cleaned, I sat, and a nice lady in scrubs anda mask went through the usual folderol that happens pre-donation.
In this case, my temperature, blood pressure, Oxygen levels and then the big one, the one that sometimes trips me up, my iron levels. So I held my breath to see if this was the end of the process for me but no, I passed! Just barely, but I passed! Next was a tiny bit of paperwork. I mean very tiny. Probably because I'm already in the system. And then I was moved to another chair..."Wait!" while the first lady cleaned off another chair further away.
Then I was called inside whereupon I faced the the next hurdle. The bus is loud. It's loud because well, it's bus and it's running the entire day long to keep the power going for computers, for interior lights and for Air Conditioning. I'm wearing a mask. Everyone is wearing a mask. So I'm trying to understand what everyone is saying to me without reading lips, over the sound of the bus, and not one person had a particularly strong voice. Dang.
Somehow we muddled through as I was directed first to a place to sit and go through a tablet presentation with a ton of personal questions that ended up with one of those finger signatures that never looks like anyone's actual signature. Next a private conversation behind closed doors in a room so small and crowded that the two of us barely fit. But it was a very quick conversation so whatever it was that she said, (I still do not know), it must not have been very important.
I was then directed to one of the donation bed/chair thingies. It's like a built in recliner that is always in a recline position. Actually quite comfortable (though the room is always so freakin' cold!). The phlebotomist, did a wonderful stick (no bruise at all!!!) and handed me a soft ball in a plastic bag to squeeze and in no time at all, I was done.
I was unhooked from the various tubes and bags and unseemly bits of medical equipment, handed a bag of goodies (ooo prizes!) and told to help myself to a cookie on the way out with thanks. I did not have a cookie (I've had their cookies before...not tasty) and left feeling so very good about myself.
Once I got home I looked through the bag. There was a lot of informational stuff and:
While I appreciate the idea behind the tee-shirt, it's unlikely that I will be wearing it anytime soon, unless it's white doing yard work or out hiking. But that ice cream coupon! Woohoo! Yeah baby. I will absolutely be using that one!
I spent the rest of the day taking it slow. I am a delayed reactor to a blood donation. At first I felt absolutely fine. I came home and had something to eat, drank a lot of water, checked emails, read the newspaper and about an hour later started to do the ironing and that's when it hit.
Suddenly, I was a little wobbly, a little short of breath, a little light headed. But I knew it would happen. So I would iron a few pieces and sit for a while. And repeat. Then I just sat on my big old butt and read for most of the rest of the day. Not exactly a hardship.
And totally worth it. Today I am absolutely normal again, or at least as normal as I ever get. And I did a good thing. The next time they call me, I will do it again. Or at least I will try.
Here is me sporting my new free tee-shirt. What is it about free tee-shirts that they never fit very well? In the grander scheme of things, it's no big deal. Donating blood on the other hand, that is a very big deal. If you can do it, please consider it. You never know whose life you may save. It's sort of like being a super hero, but without the cape and tights.
Joy and I were out hiking with our cameras again today. Bob came too. This sign is very clear about horses but it said nothing about cameras so off we went.
We never know what sort of hike it's going to be ahead of time. Each individual hike seems to have a theme but we never know what that theme will be early on. We have hopes, of course, but we never know the outcome until it's over. When we've both gone to our respective homes and reviewed the photos that's when we realize what sort of theme that hike had. Turns out this hike was mostly a botanical hike. With a few bugs and lizards.
We saw birds aplenty. But they zoomed by so fast they were like little feathered rockets. And we heard birds tweetytweeting in the trees but couldn't see them there, dang it. If it had been a listening safari it would have been in the top 5 category. It was downright noisy at times!
But the unique thing about this particular photo safari was what we heard. We kept hearing things that we absolutely could not identify. There we were hiking along, always keeping an eye out for photographable things when we heard the first UHC (unidentified hidden critter) sound.
Joy said, "Do you hear that?"
I stopped and listened hard. "oh wow, yeah, I do! What on earth is that?" fully expecting Joy or Bob to actually know what it was (coz they usually do).
Wide eyed, she answered, "I have no idea!"
Wow! That almost never happens!
We walked on further and heard, sometimes the same sounds, sometimes a different but still UHC noise, which again, nobody could identify. So we began to guess. The conversation when something like this:
"Maybe it's a frog' I suggested, "it's kind of a froggy sound"
"But there's no pond anywhere near here." Joy pointed out.
"True, but it still sounds kind of like a sort of frog to me" I responded
"Or a duck" she suggested
"No pond, remember?" I reminded her
"Oh right. Maybe there's a pond nearby that we just cannot see, like on the other side of the treeline".
"Well that's certainly possible" I agreed
And we would stand and stare through the forest thick with green growing things of all sorts and sizes as if we had x-ray vision (which we do not) and see absolutely nothing and all and we would walk further.
Then later, again hearing a totally different mysterious OHC racket one or the other of us suggested that perhaps it was a Cicada, since this is the year that they are supposed to return. And the other one said the new sound was a little like a small yipping dog. And the first one said maybe cranes. And the conversation ended with the possibility of aliens. But, even though these different unidentified sounds continued throughout our hike, we never found out, for sure, what they were. The hike is long over and Ii's still a mystery.
On the other hand, I did get some decent photos. And if you care to view them, I have a slideshow of them right here:
Anyway, that's it. That was the photo safari this week! It was kind of hot but the photos were totally worth it. Hopefully, there will be another and different report, next week! And maybe, eventually, we will know what sort of OHC made those sounds!
I love this app. All I have to do is have my cell phone with me and my steps are tracked. Even if my phone is in my purse or my pocket, as long as I have my phone with me while I'm walking, at the end of the day, I know how far I've walked. It's very cool.
I'm already walking, so that's no big deal. Just, now I feel more virtuous about the walking I'm already doing. So if I eat a pint of ice cream and therefore gained a pound or so I can say, "I have no idea why I"m not losing weight. I walked X miles this week, see?" And show you the app as proof. Then the whole not losing weight thing becomes very mysterious. Because I do walk a lot of miles. Obviously.
The above screen shot was from today....thus far. And the day ain't over yet.
Bright and early this morning, I walked with my friend Sally to the airport and back. Then Tim and I did the noonwalk. And then I did the grocery shopping. And don't let anybody kid you. If you do a full grocery shop you will be covering some serious ground. Especially if, like me, you park the car in the far distant reaches of the parking lot each time.
The biggest disappointment is how few calories are burned. Look at that, 6.48 miles so far today and only 538 calories burned. Do you know how few cookies that is? Hardly seems fair. But at least now I cannot say that I don't know. Because then I would be lying and you know how I feel about lying. Even to myself. Oh you don't know? Ok, well to put it simply, lying is bad. 'Nuff said.
I also like that I can see how much actual time in my day has been devoted to walking. And then I can say to me, "Hey! I exercised for 2 and a half hours today! I do not understand why I'm not losing weight?" Said as I stuff a few more potato chips into my mouth. But wow. A 2 1/2 hour workout! Yeah! That sounds powerful. That sounds righteous. Way cool.
By the way, the days when it appears that I didn't exercise at all? That just means I wore shorts that didn't have pockets. If I don't have pockets I have no place to put my phone because I hatehatehate carrying a purse and only do so if absolutely necessary. Turns out that it is very rarely absolutely necessary.
And by the way, why do so many girl-clothes not have pockets? Surely I am not the only girl who doesn't like carrying a purse! Pockets are important! Bring back my pockets! Enough of that rant. That might be another blogpost another day.
Back to the app. One of the really nifty things that particular app did was, when I installed it was that it asked me a bunch of questions to personalize it just for me. Things like age, weight, height etc. Now the Goal that my app has set for me is perfect...for me! Not you or Tim or anybody else. Just me! And from that information, it set my daily Goal. I shoot for achieving Goal every day instead of a certain number of steps or miles or amount of time. And despite the number of cupcakes I manage to scarf down in that particular day, my Goal remains the same. Just FYI.
I can compare days, weeks or even months of activity coz it does reports on my Goal reaching achievements. Sweet! So when I still cannot figure out why I haven't lost weight in spite of the s'mores I ate, I can look at the app and see if, perhaps, I just didn't hit Goal every day that week.
And some weeks I do. Some weeks I wear clothes with pockets every day and I knock that goal out of the park every single day! Woohoo! I feel extra virtuous on those weeks. I might have pizza AND Chinese food that weekend (and then wonder why I'm not loosing weight)
Sadly it doesn't track other exercise I get. Not the ballet barre work, or the crunches or planks or any of my other pilates core work. None of that gets tracked by the app which is, no doubt, why I haven't lost any weight at all and has nothing whatsoever to do with having eaten copious amounts of M&M's.
But, despite that one tiny failing, this still a great app and I am so glad I have it and I check it nearly every day. It was free (of course - you know that I'm not going to pay for it!) and I'm pretty sure they make some sort of similar one for just about every sort of cellphone.
So there you have it. Sam recommended. Fitness tracking app on your cell phone. The perfect defense for why you haven't yet lost any weight to offer up to anyone rude enough to ask. Like doctors. They ask that sort of question. Which is rather personal don't you think? And rude. Downright rude.
Well here is a first. Apparently, I have nothing to say today. Wow. I'm not sure that's ever happened before. Usually I have lots to say. Lots of opinions and observations, adventure reports and photo safari's to discuss. Generally, I go places and do things and then tell you about it. Or I have passing questions and random thoughts. Occasionally something serendipitous occurs that I feel compelled to share.
I might have seen something in a TV show or had a conversation or read a book that sparked an idea that I talk about. Once in awhile when I'm about to experience something new and I share the before and then the after. You guys are my sounding board which is kind of odd because most of the time when I'm sitting here typing, it's sort of like I'm talking to myself.
I mean I know you are out there. I get likes and comments and questions and emails and texts and well, there's all sorts of ways to communicate with people these days. And I am grateful beyond measure for all of you!
But you aren't geographically here. Most of you I've never met and likely never well. Some of you I do know and and even smaller group is actual family (hi guys!) But none of you are literally here. So I don't know until after the fact if what I'm talking about that day is interesting to you, if I'm striking a chord, if the funny bits are in fact funny.
So when I do this, when I sit down to write and throw my words out into the blogiverse, I suppose I'm taking a risk that anything I say connects to anyone else. It's not as if it's a high stakes risk. No blood will be drawn, no battles will be fought. The worst that has ever happened is that someone took issue with something I said. I wrote back that while I respected their opinion and appreciated that they took the time to read my words and write back, I stood behind what I said and that was the end of that.
It's not as if I can get fired after all. And my life is not on the line. Which makes this a supremely low stakes game. I'm just talking about stuff in my life. I'm not curing cancer. I'm not inventing something life altering and I haven't found a way to travel through time. I'm just talking.
In my mind, it's as if I'm sitting at the kitchen table with you and we are chatting over a cup of tea and some cookies. Just a casual chitchat with friends.
So if, for the first time in more than 4 years I actually have nothing to say, I suppose it's not the end of the world. Unusual, yes, but not devastating.
Maybe tomorrow will be different. Maybe tomorrow I will sit down here at my computer and be flooding with a zillion different ideas.
We shall see.
As it is, it appears that while I had nothing to actually say, it took me an entire page to say that to you. Irony.
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.