I am in the midst of yet another project. I do love a good project. This time it's sorting through slides. It's going to take awhile because it's an entire briefcase full. Hundreds of pictures, very few of them labelled. Joy has already sorted through and began the arduous process of categorizing them. Now it's my turn.
Our dad was very fond of taking pictures. He happy snapped everything, cars, planes, boats and buildings. He commemorated family adventures, pets, countless airports and mother's flower gardens. There are pictures of people we know, people we don't and at least 148 pictures of the Columbia River. We know for sure that it's the Columbia River because he did write that carefully on one of them.
Many of the pictures my dad took throughout his life were regular snapshots. But at some point, he fell in love with slides. I can remember on special occasions, as a child, sitting on the floor while our Dad set up the screen and the projector so that we could watch the newest (or perhaps re-view the oldest) slides. There was something about sitting in that dark room with just that beam of light that always showed swirling dust motes until the first slide appeared on the screen that was almost as magical as sitting in a movie theatre. The slides were in cartridges that fitted onto the side of the projector. I actually remember him loading the cartridges, carefully making sure that each slide was the proper side up and in the order he intended. I vividly recall the Kachunk noise while watching a slide show as Daddy moved from one slide to the next one. If he was going through the slides quickly the Kachunk sound was so fast it almost sounded like a train. Those were fun family nights.
And now, as the two people who inherited these slides, it's up to Joy and I to go through decide exactly how many photographs of the Columbia River we actually need to keep. Do we really need to hold on to slides of people we don't know? Places we've never been or at least do not remember ever being? I am fairly merciless when it comes to such things so I had no problem tearing through the pictures and throwing unfamiliar things and people into a discard pile. But there were a few pictures that even though I had no idea what particular mountain range it was a picture of, or what building it was (or what city it was in) it was such a damned good picture that I had to keep it.
Of the slides that are left, I'm trying desperately to organize them into some sort of logical order. Again, Joy already started the process. She had groupings labelled, "Family", "Disney' (Lots of Disneyland - at one time we lived in southern California y'see) and "Family Places" . Now I'm fumbling around with the remainder.
In the first place, we no longer have a projector with or without a Kachunk noise, nor do we have a screen. What we do have is a small slide scanner. The slides can be viewed after being placed, one at a time, in what is essentially a very slightly magnified light box. It helps. A little bit. But sometimes I do just as well holding a slide up to the window or a light fixture.
The first time I went through, it was just to get an idea of what these slides were pictures of and at the same time to discard anything I didn't recognize and, of course, duplicates (147 of the pictures of the Columbia River). The remainder seemed to be pictures of my mother's gardens in all of the places we ever lived, random buildings, various modes of transportation, all different kinds of landscapes and pictures of water - every kind of water: rivers, ponds, oceans and creeks.
After a discussion with my sister, I put trains, planes and automobiles and garden pictures in the discard pile. (By the way I actually have kept the discarded photos in case I change my mind about any of them but they are in a separate box marked - Discards) Leaving us with Landscapes, Waterscapes and Buildings. I need to go through all of those again to see if I recognize any of them. Unless it is a truly magnificent photograph from an artistic point of view, I'm not sure there is a reason to keep pictures of things we have no idea what are. Does that make sense?
There were also quite a number of purchased slides from famous places. Professional grade photos (in slide form) of iconic New York City, or Holland Michigan. The Amish areas of Pennsylvania and Gillette's Castle in Connecticut. The Hills of San Francisco and Balboa Park in San Diego were both well represented as was Merrimack Caverns. Excellent photos but do we need to keep them?
So right now, the the kitchen counter is covered in stacks of slides and small paper stickers with my notes scribbled on them while I try to make order out of chaos. This is no small task. And I can only work on it a few hours at a time without going cross-eyed. But it is bringing back a few great memories and it does make me feel close to my Dad once more.
Meanwhile, we are for sure hanging on to the pictures of people we know, family and friends and places that we remember. Those are treasures. At least to us. When we are gone and our kids have to go through all of these pictures yet again, they may be saying, "Why do we have 148 pictures of these people and places that we don't know?" and create their own discard pile. Or maybe they will keep one, just in case, and throw out 147.
Well they went and did it, the barstids! Once again, the powers that control television programming, cancelled a show that I enjoy. And not only did they X it out of existence, they allowed the show the end on a cliff hanger!!! Dang! That is just so many different kinds of wrong.
I don't know if you ever watched the show. It was kind of sci-fi Ii suppose. The description refers to is as from the "supernatural" genre but I certainly wouldn't put it in the same bucket as, say, "Charmed" - either version. It was more X-files than Buffy. And it doens't matter anymore because it's done. Gone. Over. Cut down in it's prime. Well maybe not it's prime. It was cancelled after all. AND now we will never know the truth! I am so deeply unsatisfied.
According to the creator of the show, Jeff Rake, it was intended to run for six years. And it was cancelled at the end of year 3. So half way through to The Answers. You are killing me here Hollywood!
Of course this is not the first time that those same Powers That Be out in Lala Land have left viewers high and dry and drawing the curtain at a cliff hanger. Sometimes literally. What turned out to be the final episode of the show Hannibal had two characters diving off a cliff. Kind of on the nose don't you think?
The show Las Vegas ended as the Guest of Honour, so to speak, of a funeral shows up and the shock of that sends one of the primary characters into early labour. What the actual heck? Why is this guy still alive? And more importantly, is Delinda's baby ok? Do she and Danny ever get married? (and a thousand other question).
Another old favourite of mine, The Pretender, ended with an explosion on a subway car. Then the series was cancelled. What? Did Jared Live? Did Miss Parker? What about Ethan? Oh my gosh! The disappointment of that cancellation lived with me for far too long. But of course, the fan base was pretty strong for that show. Strong enough that it morphed off into books, comics and eventually a made of TV movie with all of the primary actors, to try to wrap things up. It was a lovely effort and much appreciated.
The list of shows cancelled before the actual story's conclusion is a long one: Angel, Dallas, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, and The Glades come immediately to mind. And every single time it happens I just want to howl with rage. I don't of course, I was raised better than that. But on the inside, quietly, I seethe.
Cancelling a show at a cliff hanger is cruel and unusual punishment. It is just so unsatisfactory. Like playing a scale on the piano except the last note. ARGH! Walking out of a really good movie 1 5 minutes before the conclusion. Knowing that there is a trully excellent dessert awaiting and leaving before dinner is quite over. And unexpected relationship break-up without ever getting to find out why.
Actually I'm not sure what is worse. Ending a show on a cliff hanger or having an ending that is just plain awful. One that seemed to have been thrown togehter at the last minute and nobody gave a damn about the show anymore. Or maybe a cat wrote script and the producers looked at it and said with a shrug, "good enough". Newsflash guys, "good enough" is never good enough. If it's worth doing at all, it's worth doing well. Which means that the finale of these shows, bascially, sucked,: Firefly, Game of Thrones, How I met Your Mother, Lost, X-Files and all of the CSI's. Actually now that I think about it, most of not all of the various version of Star Trek should be on the list too. I'm sure there are others. Hollywood is notorious for it. Shame on them!
There have been some shows that had stellar endings. So it can be done. It is possible. And I have no idea why it isn't done more. I mean, shows do have to end. They cannot go on ad infinitum. - some of them may feel as if they have been on the air for eternity but eventually all of them must conclude. And now that I think about it, those big final show of the final season episodes always get a ton of views. Everyone tunes in to see their favourite characters for the last time and to find out, ultimately, what happens. It seems to me that financially it just makes sense to allow a show, especially a popular show, to have an actual real true ending.
It was a long time ago now but I remember the last episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Do you recall that one? The station was bought out and almost all of the people who worked there were fired. Do you remember the worlds' silliest group hug? It was sad, funny, silly and a perfect way to end the show. MASH is a great example. It was time for the show to end, I don't think anyone would argue that. The actual Korean War lasted 3 years, but MASH was on the air for 11. Still they elected to go out with class. I know the actors were crying, I've read that the crew were teary-eyed and I know that most viewer at home cried as Hawkeye's helicopter takes off and sees that his friend, BJ, spelled out "good bye" in rocks in the field below. That was perfect. Supernatural ended recently, another show that was on air for 15 years, which is a crazy long time. Obviously, it was time to go. But it was another complex, complicated, heavily populated show and I had no idea how on earth it could possibly be wrapped up, in a tidy fashion. But they did it. It was not just an ending but a conclusion. Perfect.
But Manifest? Nope. Cliff hanger. It's like when someone is noodling around on the piano and plays all but the last note of a recognizable line. ARGH! Or leaving a movie 15 minutes before the end to avoid traffic. ARGH! Or an unexpected ending to a relationship without ever finding out why he (or she) left you. Double ARGH!
It is dissatisfying in the extreme. I need closure!
I have a pretty good imagination so I can write my own ending for Manifest. It's probably not what the creator had in mind. But since it's been cancelled (on a dang cliff hanger!!), which means I will never know what was intended, I don't suppose it really matters. Still it's the principle of the thing. Come on Hollywood, have a heart!
I don't know about you, but personally, I am constantly confused about familial relationships. I mean, how family members are related, the actual official titles. 2nd cousin once removed. In-Laws, Outlaws. 4th husband's 3rd cousin by marriage once removed. (removed? Sounds like a an operation! - I had my tonsils removed and my 3rd cousin by marriage) The various greats and grands. It's all a little baffling.
My dad was seriously into genealogy and traced his family back far beyond the first of his clan to step foot onto what ultimately became the United States. Back then this country was largely uncharted territory already populated of course by the indigenous peoples of the area which matter not one whit to the Europeans when they arrived. Of course there is nothing I can do about that now some three hundred years later. So I am not going to go down that particular rabbit hole right now.
Instead I will just state the facts as I know them. On the paternal side of my family tree, a fellow named Casper Branner or possibly Brenner (there is some polite disagreement on the spelling) of Germany received a land grant of 400 acres in what is now Fairfax Virginia from another fellow named Lord Fairfax in England. How that all came about, I have no idea. This all happened way back in 1750. Clearly I wasn't around.
At any rate, as was not uncommon in that time, the family were farmers. They were fruitful and they multiplied. Large families were also the norm back then. Farming is hard work and the more free labour available, the better. The Branners (or Brenners) were busy working the land and populating the surrounding areas until at least one person in that group felt crowded. And so they up and moved a little further west.
And that pattern continued until eventually a batch of descendants arrived in Michigan.
Now on my mother's side, not nearly as much is known. All that is for certain is that her family has been hanging around the coast of Maine for a long time. A REALLY long time In fact, once again, since before our country was our country. They were mostly fisherfolk. Similar to my dad's family in a way except they worked the seas instead of the land. And once again, family stayed close to each other until somebody felt crowded and that that person nudged over a bit.
Starting from when I was very young, my dad's job had us moving around the country a whole lot. For a change, it had nothing to do with feeling crowded. So that was different from previous generations. And instead of moving just a little further, we moved all over the place, like the ball ricocheting in a pinball machine. Which means that although we visited family, my sister and I never lived close to any of them. Which is probably why the whole family tree thing is a wee bit overwhelming to me. As a kid my "family" was comprised of exactly 5 people: my sister, my father, my mother and my Nana who lived with us part of every year.
I recall attending exactly one big old family reunion in my lifetime. It was in Michigan, my dad's family. My grandfather cleared out one of his barns and tables were set up with boards on saw horses. People arrived in droves. Vehicle after vehicle after an endless stream of vehicles! And when those car and truck doors opened, people bearing covered dishes of all sorts, tumbled out like a waterfall of humanity. There were, literally, hundreds of folks in attendance. I met so many people it felt like I was in the middle of a tornado. I was only a little kid so I can be forgiven for not remembering a single name. But I do recall being impressed that my dad could tell me exactly how I was related to each of those individuals. It was wild. It was weird. It was unfathomable to me.
The only extended family I knew at all well were - on my mother's side, my Nana's oldest son and his wife who lived next door to my Nana up in Maine. That would be Uncle Sangar and Aunt Lydia or in kid parlance, Uncle Sang and Aunt Lyd. For those of you trying to follow this, that would be my mother's oldest brother who was nearly 20 years older than she. Which means Uncle Sang and Aunt Lyd's kids - who would be my cousins were old enough to feel more like aunts and uncles. Clearly they didn't want to hang around with dopey little kids like us. It was THEIR kids, who we knew a little better. Which would be our...2nd cousins? I think. But still that was all the way up in Maine and far away from us.
On my dad's side, we got to know his only sibling, dad's brother, Wilbur, his wife, Letha (read as Uncle Shorty and Aunt Lee) and their 5 kids who were thankfully around our age. Whenever we visited them we were like an untamed herd of kiddos running amuck. It was kind of awesome. Still is was only the occasional visit. We lived far away and did not get to see them often.
So as can you see, we never lived near enough to any family to have that whole aunty/uncle/cousin/2nd/removed/etc stuff become second nature to us. It was not even third of fourth nature. It was as mysterious and incomprehensible as Calculus. (which remains a mystery to me to this day)
All of that as a back drop for the following:
A couple of days ago I had the pleasure of meeting my niece's step daughter, an altogether delightful girl by the way. I will call her, DG for Delightful Girl. And while we were chatting, DG said something about me being her step great aunt. And I mentally came to a halt for a second. "Damn that sounds old", was my first thought. The second thought was that while I am, indeed, a pretty great aunt, Great Aunt sounds wrong. I know that it's correct, but it shouldn't be.
See if you can follow this:
My niece is DG's step mother. The (step) mother's mother, who is also my sister, would be her (step) Grand Mother, right? So why am I a great aunt? Shouldn't I be a grand aunt? On the tree line, I am on the same lateral line as my sister. If my sister is the Grandmother, wouldn't it follow that I would be a Grand Aunt?
Bear with me a minute. If my mother were still alive she would be the (step) Great- Grandmother. That's where the great belongs, on that line! If my mother's siblings were around, they would be the (step) Great Aunts and Uncles, right?
So what the actual heck?
Gosh I am so confuzled.
I suppose in the grander scheme of things it really doesn't matter. DG can call me whatever she likes. Great Aunt, Grand Aunt, Regular Aunt....... Just Sam works fine too. I give up.
Behold! Jewelery Hooks! Tim put this up for me to hang my necklaces on shortly after we moved here. It's so much better than a jewelry box for keeping things neat and tidy. Just the sort of thing that I like.
Up until yesterday, there was a lot more stuff on those hooks. A lotalot. Too much really. (I wish I had thought to take a before photo) And most of it was big chunky stuff. Stuff with lots of angles and dangles. Just the sort of things that practically invite tangles. (sorry didn't mean to rhyme there) And earlier in the week, after nearly pulling out my hair with frustration trying untangle 3 pieces, one of which was a multi-strand necklace, I kind of stepped back and said, "Wait a minute, when was the last time I even wore that?" And the answer was, 'more than 5 years ago' which was, essential a different lifetime.
So as I spent far too much time in the kitchen under really good light, with two straight pins very slowly separating each from the other (and ultimately finding success, yay me) I considered the situation.
Most of it was costume jewelry. Good quality, but still, not real anything. Just costume. So not an enormous financial investment. All of them were pieces that served me well back then when I was working a regular 9-5 job and dressed nicely every day. But none of them were the kinds of jewelry that work with my life now. As a Florida resident and retiree, my daily wear now is shorts and sandals or sneakers. Anything I can wear on the beach. During the summer I can absolutely guarantee you that I will be sweaty every single day and on hiking day I promise you sweaty and dirty. In winter my wardrobe is jeans and sneakers. Still super casual. If I'm not hiking odds are good that I could be be pruning trees, washing windows, walking on the beach or making cookies - not a single activity that requires statement jewelry.
Maybe it was time to thin the herd. The question was, what would I do with anything I decided I could live without? I suppose I could donate it to Salvation Army or GoodWill. I have donated lots of things to those places in my lifetime. But I don't know. Jewelry, even stuff no longer pertinent to my life, feels so personal. Too personal to just discard willynilly.
I couldn't imagine foisting it off on neighbors or friends, "Here, have a piece of jewelry I no longer use and has nothing to do with your life at all". That isn't thoughtful.
Then it dawned on me! One of our nieces is a teacher of drama and music. Her school does marvelous plays. Statement jewelry does well on stage. It's big, it's sparkly and it's noticeable even at a distance. High Drama stuff. So I reached out to her and she was delighted to have it.
I spent some time choosing which pieces to let go of and folded each necklace (sometimes with matching earrings!) into a paper towel envelope. Hey, don't judge me! In my family it is a time honoured method of transporting necklaces without arriving with a bag of tangle. I then put all of the envelopes into a bag. Followed by re-arranging my remaining necklaces on the hooks in far better fashion. Satisfaction, thy name is job well done.
Yesterday, our niece, Carrie, came by and together we opened each jewelry envelope so she could decide if any of them would serve her drama department. As we looked at each piece she knew exactly which of the upcoming plays each piece could be used. Sometimes she even immediately knew which character of the play would wear which piece! She took the whole bagful. Awesome!
Talk about a win/win. Her drama department has a new infusion of sparkly bits for costuming and I have a far tidier, neater, less tangley jewelry.
There was only one necklace that was hard to give up but it was the right decision. And if I miss it too much, well I guess I will just have to attend the play to visit it. Hah!
This week Joy and I hiked on Tuesday instead of the usual Wednesday due to busy schedules and the weather forecast. During rainy season we look ahead at the week and try to select the day where we are least likely to get caught in a downpour. We chose well :)
I am calling this week's Photo Safari Report the Sesame Street Hike, because this hike was brought to you by the letters J and H:
J for Joy of course and H for both Humphreys (my married last name) and Hurley (my maiden last name). We were amused to see that while most of the trail markers were numbers, some of them were letters. Hah! We are easily amused.
We have hiked this preserve before but yesterday we found trails we had never been down before and actually, because of the current dryer than normal conditions, places that we probably never will again be able to hike. And in fact we finally got to hike a trail we have been lusting after as long as we've been hiking this preserve, which make it extra special. Let me try to explain.
Every time we hike Deer Prairie South, the first thing we see is this beautiful lake:
A little farther to the left of this idyllic spot is a place where there is a concrete dam. The lake water spills over with a merry splash, it is the prettiest sound. Often this water runs hard and the current isn't something to mess around with. On the far side of the dam is, what appears to be, another trail. But we could never get to it without either walking across the top of the dam - not a good decision considering the slippery algae growing there and the, normally, strong water flow - OR wade through the lake itself. Which we have considered many times but A) we don't know what's in the lake and B) we also don't know how deep it is. Hard to swim with cameras. So, unusual for us, wisdom thus far has prevailed and we continued to merely wonder where that trail led.
So without even checking the dam area, we, instead, went to the right as we always do and hit the trails. There were lots and lots of wildflowers. Wow! I just kept happy snapping away at flowers. Can never get enough of those. Here is a sampling:
We were surrounding by literal fields of wildflowers. Mostly yellows but spotted with occasional pinks, purples and whites. Absolutely gorgeous (a little sneezy but mostly lovely)
There were also a few flowers/insect interactions that were captured sneakily:
And birds of course. Actually not as many birds as other hikes. Joy got a lot more of them than I did but here are a few:
There were a couple of scary moments too. Once as we were walking down some of the new-to-us trails where the underbrush on the sides of the trail were so thick is was like a tightly woven wall, we heard distinctly piggy noises. We looked around frantically trying to decide where to go should this wild hog decide to bull his way out of the brush. Instead we made a lot of noises so that he knew we were there and tried to make ourselves sound very large and dangerous. It worked. We practically cheered as the feral pig noises moved further and further away until they disappeared entirely. Whew! Then as we headed down a section of trail that was relatively straight and we could see very far down it, we saw something large and dark slowly moving across. I pointed it out to Joy and said, "What the hell is that?" We both looked through the telescopic lenses of our camera trying to figure it out. We decided that it was either a large hog (once again) or a small (as in young) bear. Dang! This was the trail section and the dark spot was at the very end.
This is where we really began to realize how low the water was. We felt so badly for the birds who depend on this water. Usually these ponds are full to over flowing and huge! Now they are just puddles, tiny streams or dried up entirely. It is no an exaggeration to say that under normal circumstances, we wouldn't have been able to hike very far down those trails at all because they would be under water entirely.
As we neared the beginning of the alphabet, which means the end of the hike, we realized that, oh my gosh, we were on the trail we had never hiked. The one on the other side of the dam! Wow! So as we stood there marveling we also realized that either we would have to cross the dam or turn around the back track for a Very Long Way.
Fortunately because the water levels were so low we were able to safely walk across the top of the dam. We stepped carefully due to the algae creating slippery bits and in a few places the water was well over our shoes. Still, we crossed safely and landed on the other side knowing, finally, what that side of the trail is like! I know it sounds silly, but we were so tickled!
And of course, I have one last set of photos, the rando photo's, which are my favourites:
Another great hike, Another great day. Who knows what adventures we will have next week!
Happy Day After Father's Day ! Hope all of the father's in your lives were well celebrated! My job was to make a big deal out of the guy in this picture, a step-father extraordinaire! Saturday and Sunday was all about him. (we don't do Father's -or mother's- Day. Nope we do the entire weekend!)
We had a great time doing whatever he wanted to do! Which meant that we relaxed, watched some old movies, took a long drive, saw some model homes (just something we enjoy doing) and we had a lovely walk! We took turns taking pictures on the walk.
We stopped by the National Cemetery to wish my dad a Happy Father's Day in heaven. A lot of other people had the same idea. I think we saw more visitors and more flowers there than any other time we've visited.
Tim got cards and books and a balloon. There were some of his favourite candies and a plant for his office. There were meals out and special meals in. I did some baking too, both pie crust cookies and brownies. The brownies were by special request, which is as it should be.
Tim was very pleased with his Father's Day weekend and I am so glad to know that. Because quite honestly, it never feels enough. How do you properly express the appreciation and gratitude and love that you feel for the person who has prioritized not just you but your kids for the past...however many years? Everything he has done was always for us. He placed all of us #1 on his list from the very beginning and there we still are. His first and last thought every day is his family. That's pretty darned special.
And so is he.
After a two week furlough, we are back! The Wednesday Sisters hike has resumed! Hurrah! This week we set out for Myakka State Park, which is a gorgeous park that is usually packed with tourists, and that is why we seldom hike there. But we had the urge this week so off we went. And you know what that means, right? Yes! It's time for the Photo Safari Report!
Joy and I always have a great time so we knew that no matter what, we would have fun. The only questions were: would there be massive crowds and (sort of connected to that) would we find many things that were photo worthy. As it turned it was a perfect morning to go. The sky was gloomy and grey and you could just feel that rain was on it's way, which I'm sure discouraged a lot of folks. (but obviously not us) and because we drove in exactly on the stroke of 8 am, there was almost nobody there but us and the forest. Perfect!
Actually we knew it was going to be a great camera hiking day as we drove in. First we saw things like this:
Which was immediately followed by things like this:
And that's before we even parked the car! Wow!
So let's see how should I start? I guess since I already posted one deer, I could begin there. We've seen deer before at Myakka, but it's usually one or two, in the distance and you have to time the shots as they walk between the trees. This time we saw lots of deer. They were everywhere! And while they were, very wisely, cautious about humans, once they realized that we weren't going to approach them, we had no problem getting pictures. What a delight!
And speaking of wildlife, we saw a few other things, none more surprising than the wild hog! You will have to forgive the quality of the photo as he was quite a distance away (thank goodness)
There were so many alligators that day! We actually lost count. Let's see if I can find a group of them. What is a group of alligators called (besides scary?) It's called a congregation. A congregation of Alligators. Ah! Found it, Here you go:
Birds, of course. Loads of birds! They were everywhere! My goodness, the sheer variety is almost overwhelming. You ready? It's a lot so hang on:
It was so nice to see flowers again too. Not quite as many as there were birds, but still, flowers always make me smile.
Myakka State Park is right there on the Myakka River which is a beautiful bit of water. Had a get a few shots of that too. I've canoed on the Myakka before. Well let's be honest, Tim canoed, I sat in the boat taking photos. Still I was in the dang canoe so it counts! At any rate, water photos:
Joy and I even did the canopy walk which involves climbing up a very high tower and then walking over a bouncy swaying bridge and then climbing up an even higher tower. My knee was not well pleased with me, but it was absolutely worth the climb.
And as always, my favourite category, the random, miscellaneous shots:
So there it is. The first photo safari report in two weeks! Hope it was worth the wait.
Have a wonderful weekend please! Hugs all 'round
This is one of my favourite summer tops. It is nearly indestructible so it's great for packing, it does not require ironing, it fits well, goes with the majority of my shorts, fits well and is very comfortable. The fact that it's yellow is beside the point. Yellow is not a colour I look particularly good in, but when a person (me) tends to shop on the clearance racks of outlets stores, a person get what they get. And in this case the good Far outweighed the bad. Even though currently it is one button short.
But I'll get back to the shirt later. I'm going to start with a statement. I honestly believe that there is some sort of balance in the universe and that when people live similarly well balanced lives (physically, emotionally, mentally....) then, things are pretty darned good. But sometimes, maintaining that balance can be a little tricky. And that's when mind set comes into play.
For instance, Monday morning, bright and early, when I went outside to get the newspaper. " Hum dilly hum, what a beautiful morning! Hello Mrs. Woodpecker!" I said as I walked down the driveway. As I bent down to pick up the newspaper, I came to realize, very quickly, that somebody had allowed their dog to pee on our newspaper! Dang it! Just as an aside, our neighborhood is especially "doggie" and in the summertime, lots and LOTS of folks are out at the crack of dawn, walking their pets. Also, while our newspaper delivery person, who faithfully delivers our paper every day (well almost every day, there have been a few misses over the years but not many) does get the paper onto our property in the driveway each time, but only just barely. So the paper waits patiently for me only a few feet in from the very edge of that spot where the driveway meets the road. Which is where people walk by AND their dogs walk by.
I like dogs. I like them a lot. I have owned quite a few in my lifetime. But I am not fond a newspapers that have been peed on. Can you blame me? So I stood there, looking down at the yellow spotted newspaper that was fragrant with urine and said softly, "So that's the kind of day it's going to be eh" which I now realize is a rather negative statement. At the time I merely considered the situation. Should I just put gloves on to pick it up and throw it away? Then I saw that our newspaper delivery person, bless their hearts, had double bagged the newspaper! Woohoo! I was able to scoot out the second bag with the unsullied newspaper still inside, then remove the newspaper from the clean bag and use it to pick up the icky bag, throw both bags in the garbage (not recycle because recycle has to be clean). And I went inside with my precious newspaper and washed and washed AND WASHED my hands ready to have a crappy day.
The immediate problem was solved. But I already had a poor mind-set. My feeling had always been that days tend to end as they begin. However, by the end of that day, when I mentally stepped back and really gave is some consideration, Monday was a actually, over all, a pretty good day. Dog pee aside. Once I gave myself a serious attitude adjustment it occurred to me that it was entirely my choice. I could be annoyed all day about the dog pee and continue to have a bad day OR I could get over it, move forward and have a good day instead.
And since I would much rather have a good day, I realized that for every rude person I encountered, I interacted with at least 3 perfectly lovely people. Each time I dealt with a terrible and inconsiderate driver, it was balanced out by countless other thoughtful and ultra considerate people behind the wheel.
I found great sales at the grocery store and my car's gas tank was still half full. Despite the LARGE piece of pie I had scarfed down the night before, the number on the bathroom scale did not change and it was a perfectly lovely sunny day. And that should have been my focus Instead of the dog pee, the person who kept insisting that I take advantage of a BOGO at the grocery store that I wasn't interested in, the driver who cut me off and nearly took out a bicycler in the process or the fact that my favourite shirt lost a button.
Back to my favourite yellow shirt with polka dots.
Sounds like no big deal right. So I lost a button, so what? Big Fat Hairy Deal. Welllllllll, for one thing I am a non-sewer. A seriously big time non-sewer. It's not that I don't want to sew anything, it's that I'm terrible at it. No matter how hard I try, my sewing, frankly, stinks. 60+ years of trying tells me that I'm not going to get any better at it. So there's that. And the buttons on this shirt are unusual. Odds are really good that I'm not going to find any more like them. So I sighed and assumed that once I finished putting bandaids on all my fingers from the needle sticks in the sewing attempt, I would then have a shirt with one odd button. Or my third choice which was to sew the button hole closed, sew it to the other side and have no button there at all. Or replace ALL of the buttons. Sucky choices all around.
Here's a better look:
The button parted ways with the shirt at some point on Sunday. And Tim and I were lots of places on Sunday. Lots and Lots of different places including a hike. So the button could have come off anywhere. So it is logical to assume that the button was lost forever and ever, amen, amen.
I do laundry on Mondays and even with the missing button I still washed the shirt. Of course I did! And that's when, shockingly, in the process of doing the laundry, I found the button! Seriously I did! I was folding clothes in the kitchen. I shook out a towel prior to folding it and heard a tiny little "ping". I tracked down the source of the sound and there it was, on the kitchen floor! the missing button! I couldn't believe it!
Once again, balance in my personal universe was restored. Button lost, button found. And as it so happens, button also sewed (poorly but still sewed) back on my shirt! I was excited about it all day long.
It takes so little to entertain me.
Anyway, there it is, me taking charge of keeping my own personal balance, balanced. I honestly believe that it's up to each individual. We can choose to be happy, to focus on the good stuff or we can choose to not be happy and focus on the not so good stuff.
AND, bonus points, it finally has begun to rain. Another Balance Restored!
Over the week or so that I stepped away from the blog, we took a lot of walks. No big surprise there. And most of them were very pretty. Of course they were, this is very pretty place.
Some of the walks were at the end of the day when it was a wee bit cooler. Generally we strolled on over to the beach along about sunset:
And on the weekends, we found our way to various parks and preserves. Before you ask, yes it's hot out. Of course it is. It's summer in Florida. We are accustomed to that. But it's been much drier than usual. Y'see, technically the rainy season began in May. And I'd say the rain is about 4 weeks late at this point. Oh it's raining in Florida. I hear from various friends who live in other parts of the state that they are getting at least a little bit of rain once a day, just like what usually happens. It's just not happening here. Somehow, nearly every day, the predicted rain is taking a detour around us which is so very strange.
Oh we've had a few light showers. And one really good drench that lasted for about an hour.
But it's not enough. The rainy season has to be enough rain to sustain the growing things for an entire year. As it is right this minute however, since the rain keeps bypassing us, our greens are looking a little brown. And that's so sad.
Our walks were still enjoyable of course. And at a quick glance, there is still alot of green in the preserves. The older, more established trees are still hanging in there and the things that grow underneath them, in the shade that they provide, are still green. But elsewhere, we saw a lot of dead and dying plants and grasses, no wild flowers at all (that were still alive at least) and wilting, parched, drooping green things. And because of that there were no bees, no butterflies, no dragonflies....... Oh I got pictures. Of course I got pictures. I like pictures that tell a story, and this definitely tells a story. Just not a happy one.
So I was very happy to also walk in a few other places that clearly have had some rain so I could tell a different sort of story, a happier one, a prettier one:
I'm sure our rain is coming. And with it more humidity because that's how it works. I admit that humidity isn't my favourite thing but right now, rain will be very welcome. Our rainy season means exactly that. Rain, at some point, almost every day. Sometimes rain all day long, sometimes just a quick passing shower, but rain nonetheless. And our browns will turn green again, the flowers will bloom again and the bees and butterflies and dragonflies will return.
But until then I will be doing daily rain dances and singing little rain songs. And then once the rain, at long last, arrives, I will complain about all the rain and things will, once again, be normal :)
Sooooo how the heck are ya? Did you have a good week? I did! And I did all sorts of things since I last blogged at you. One of which was, I learned how to make Guacamole!
Isn't it the strangest thing that of all the cooking and baking that I do, one of the things I had never ever made was one of the things I most adore? I'm not sure why that is, but it's true. Both parts; the loving guacamole part and the never having made it before part.
I love guacamole so much that whenever we go to a Mexican restaurant, we always request chips and guac right away (as opposed to the salsa and/or queso that most offer before the meal). And that is all I want. I don't order anything else off the menu. Just chips and guac. And honestly, the chips are merely a vehicle. If they offered me guac and a spoon, that would probably work just fine too.
Sometimes I crave guac so hard that I will make BBQ chicken nachos at home for dinner, which I actually do eat some of, but I always buy some ready made guac to serve with it. Guac with nachos you say with a funny look on your face? Guac with BBQ chicken nacho's especially? Actually you probably already made a face when I said BBQ chicken nacho's. heh. I can only assure you that BBQ chicken nacho's are amazing and wonderful. Having guac available as a topping only elevates it.
The guac I usually buy is a store brand, made in house, from my local Publix. It's made of very fresh ingredients and is chunky and yummy and magically does not automatically turn brown the instant your back is turned. BUT it's not the best guacamole I've ever had. Nope. Nor is it the guac that is made right at the table in front of me at our favourite local Mexican restaurant (although that is pretty darned good)
Nope. The best guac I've ever tasted is made by one of my daughters in law, Jessie, who is my own personal guacamole guru. Her guacamole is so good, that, every time I've had the good fortune to eat it, I rhapsodize about it for days afterwards. Oh me, oh my! I had no idea what she did that was different than anyone else, but holy cats, I just never quite got over it. It became the guacamole against which I compared all other guacmole. Which is why, when Tim suggested making chicken taco/fajitas over the weekend and therefor we decided that guac and chips would be perfect with that, I immediately texted Jessie to request her recipe.
She wrote it up right away and emailed the recipe to me and off Tim and I went to our local farm market to buy ingredients. Fresh counts! She was very specific about ingredients which is important. I like that! For instance most recipes just say onion. She very specifically wrote, red onion, not just tomatoes but "plum tomatoes. Things like that can make a huge difference.
Her recipe was awesome for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that one of the steps in the recipe involves doing the 'guacamole dance'. Seriously, she wrote that right in the recipe. HAHAH! I love that! Also wonderful tips like, don't over-mash the guacamole because, "chunky guacamole makes tasty guacamole". She isn't wrong about that either!
Once home, I gathered ingredients and the necessary implements and commenced finely chopping stuff, consulting her recipe carefully the entire time. While Tim was grilling the chicken, I concocted. Ultimately I presented:
hhI sent her the above photo and she approved. The consistency looked right. But of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, right? Tim made is taco/fajitas (not quite one or the other but a combination of both) and I, kindly, shared the guac and chips. Sort of. I definitely ate the majority of it.
It was good. Better than the store bought, better than the restaurant, but not as good as Jessie's and I am not certain why. Obviously I did something differently. Perhaps I didn't do the correct guacamole dance?
It happens all of the time and I have no idea why following a recipe exactly and precisely often does not have the exact and precise desired outcome. My friend Marsha, who loves my potato salad so much that she requested my recipe, told me not long ago that she made my potato salad. I asked her how it turned out and she said, "well it's good, but not quite as good as yours". I was so perplexed that I went back and re-read the recipe I sent to her. It was correct. That's how I make it. Why would it not taste the same? I had the same experience when I made Marsha's AMAZING caramel corn. It was good, but not as good as hers.
It happens with all of the recipes I've inherited from people I know when I've had the good fortune to have tasted the real deal. I follow their recipe carefully every single time. And every single time, while it's good, it's never exactly the same.
And despite that, I will keep making Jessie's guacamole. It will never be as good as hers but it was still pretty darned tasty. Perhaps I will get the knack of it after a lot more practice. What a shame, having to keep making all of that (awesome) guacamole. I will just have to keep trying (and tasting) until I get it right.
The picture has no bearing on today's topic, I just liked it.
I sat here at my keyboard starring at the screen for far too long this morning with zero ideas for a blogpost today. So I've decided that what I need (and you too probably) is a break from blogging. I need to step away to get refreshed and renewed and maybe some inspiration!
So, I'm taking this week off from blogging. It's not a vacation, we aren't going anywhere or doing anything special. Just a wee bit of a blog-break.
Hopefully, next week I will be filled with some new ideas and a great attitude to begin once again.
Everyone please have a wonderful week! And with any luck at all, I will be back here next Monday with something new to say!
Hugs all 'round
This big old empty lot had a house on it two days ago. This is our view across the street. That driveway which in the photo goes across the lot is being demo-ed right this minute as I type these words. We are excited to see what ends up being built.
It's kind of funny how you get used to things. When we moved in here, almost exactly 5 years ago, the house that used to sit on this lot was a rental. And it was more than a little run down. Which, frankly, was a surprise because every other house on our street, in our neighborhood and, in fact, most of the island, is lovingly cared for. This one was sadly neglected. It was, as many houses here are, a one level house with a carport that was situated diagonally across a lot that had a few enormous trees in front of it. Awhile ago, most of the trees came down, but the house remained, slowly becoming older and sadder as time went by.
Initially it kind of stood out like a sore thumb to us. If it had a glowing neon sign on the roof it would not have been more spectacularly decrepit looking. And we couldn't help but notice the ever changing cast of characters who came and went. I never actually met any of the renters or their guests, but occasionally I would see someone across the street in a quick peripheral glimpse. And then one day, it seemed that nobody lived there at all.
But you know how they say that you can get used to anything? Well I guess that's true because after awhile, the house across the street wasn't on our radar at all. While we might notice a new plants in front of someone else's house or newly painted shutters or even a different mailbox, the run down house across the street just became kind of invisible.
At one time we had high hopes that the owners were planning to fix it up! Wouldn't that be nice! I know it's a lot of work and time (and money!) because we are doing the same thing with our house which is of the same general era. And it seemed that while the house was sitting empty it would be the perfect time to take on a reno project or two (or 12). And then we heard rumors around the neighborhood that the owners were just going to tear it down and start over. Aha!
But months went by. Months and Months and Months of nothing happening. So we stopped thinking about it. And since we have long since stopped really "seeing" the house I were very surprised when I went outside two days ago to bring in the newspaper and I saw this:
I stood like like a statue for a few minutes mesmerized by the work of that huge machinery then ran back in the house for my camera to grab a few quick shots. On my way by, I told Tim that the house was coming down and he went outside to watch too.
We weren't the only oglers either. The demolition of that house was quite the draw for a lot of people. Tim is the one on the far right.
Throughout that first day there were groups of people watching the show blatantly, a few bicyclers pedaling ever so ssslllooowwwlllyy past and a couple of far more discrete walkers who tried to be very covert about their peeking. Cars drove past at the slowest speeds we've ever seen, moms' carriaging babies lingered in the shade of nearby trees and even pets seemed to be fascinated by the goings on.
The demo will be completed today for sure and at some point all of the various steps involved with a new build will commence. I've no idea when it will happen of course. I've heard that it will be a big house, two stories at least, which means it will have a view of the bay but I don't know anything for fact not being privvy to that information. But eventually, we shall see. And then everyone will, once again, be entertained. But this time instead of by destruction it will be by construction. And it will be fun to watch.
I tell ya, it's an exciting life! Something new and different happening every day!
Have a terrific weekend!
Although there were plenty of useful, practical and purposeful things I could have done this afternoon (there always are), instead I spent a few hours experimenting with my camera. I feel like I've gotten to a point where I'm half way decent out in the forest taking pictures of the kind of nature that holds still so I can capture it. At least most of the time.
Taking pictures inside, however, is an entirely different kettle of fish. Or in this case, blueberries. Lighting is the trickiest part. I had to wait 'til afternoon to get the pretty golden light in the kitchen window to even begin. Well to be honest I did try to take some photos in the morning and they all came out way too dark. Crap natural light in the morning. See? And I edited in as much light as possible. Still very dark cherries. Much darker than in real life.
I knew I would use the kitchen for this experiment. Partly just because I love my kitchen. Partly because it has such pretty light in the afternoon. But mostly because, as I walked from room to room saying, "Hmmmm" to myself a lot, I kept returning to the kitchen in the end. So I guess, at least for today, I was following my instincts.
Why did I choose fruits for this photo experiment? Well, for one thing, fruits hold still. I find that very helpful. Also fruits are pretty. Just on their own they are photogenic. The question was, how can I maximize those inherent good looks.
So I tried different fruits and different containers:
And sometimes no containers at all:
I used different towels underneath the containers and sometimes no towels at all:
Different light from different angles
And in the end, while I have a long way to go when it comes to any kind of photography and especially Inside camera work, I feel like I learned a lot today. Just playing around, experimenting, trying this 'n' that. I spent a great deal of time standing in front of my cabients looking inside and saying, Hmmmmm to myself. Would this work? Would that be a better choice? Should I try this? Why not that?
It was fun to stretch, fun to try, and my goodness I do love digital photography where anything I don't like just gets deleted! It has taken me a lifetime to learn to not be afraid of failure. It was that fear of failure which made me reluctant to try anything new and different for far too long. What a shame.
You know, years ago, I had a philosophy professor who would frequently say, "A hundred years from now, who will know the difference?" He was right. No matter how badly a photography experiment goes awry, 100 years from right now, nobody will know or care. So why not go for it.
I once had a wonderful boss named Susan who would quote Norman Vincent Peale to me. "Go ahead and shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land among the stars". How wonderful! And how very odd that while I remembered those two things, I rarely put them into play until recently.
I am enjoying my photography experiments and I'm not at all concerned about any failures.
It was not a very productive afternoon as far as getting things on the gotta-do list done, but I learned, I had fun and in the end, it was also delicious :)
Gotta take care of the skin you live in. Don't know if you have noticed but we live in Florida and while it's beautiful and sunny almost every day, in the summer time, well, it's hot ya'll.
Here is an example of one. Somehow this shirt magically prevents sun damage. I'm thinking it's not so much magically as it appears that the wearer is pretty well covered. And it seems to me that kind of coverage would be hot. In the summer here, I am already hot. This would just make me hotter, right? I'm not a fan of being uncomfortable.
Supposedly, it is very comfortable and "wicks away moisture". oookkkaaayyy. But it still has long sleeves which is concerning. I just cannot wrap my brain around wearing something that looks like that in August. Outside. On purpose. Without suffering heat stroke.
According to what I read, it's made out of some sort of polyester fabric. Polyester? In my experience Polyester does not "breathe" like, say, cotton does. I am dubious.
But I will check into it. Over the weekend I plan go to Beall's (or preferable Bealls outlet) to check this out more. These are not inexpensive articles of clothing. Of course not. Specialty items never are.
Who knows. Maybe these SPF shirts are the greatest things since sliced bread and I will soon have an entire wardrobe of them and wear them daily. I try to stay open minded. But I have questions. Lots and lots of questions.
If all else fails, I will just stick with the sunscreen.
Bulletins as they happen.
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.