Thank you to everyone who offered up their opinions, thoughts and votes as to which pictures I should submit for the photo contest! I really appreciate so very much that you took the time and trouble to respond to my request! Wow! So Many Great Thoughts!
Actually I was a little surprised at the outcome. First by how many of you responded (Did I say thank you already?) AND by the photos that you were most drawn to. It honestly was different than I anticipated. That said, it's exactly why I threw the photos out into the Blogiverse and asked for your opinions. Sometimes when you stand too close to something, it's hard to see it clearly. My Nana used to mumble under her breath, "Can't see the forest for the trees". Totally get that now.
I sent in my submission yesterday and I want you all to know that I took all of your thoughts, opinions and votes into consideration before making my decision. And I wrestled with it for some time too. I know that the chance of one of my photos being selected is somewhere between slim and none but, as my Dad taught me, if you are going to do something, do it to the best of your ability. All or nothin'. So I am good with whatever the outcome. I truly believe that I treated it seriously, read all of the instructions carefully and submitted the best that I had to offer.
Ultimately I had to consider several things when making my selections: their guidelines (of course, the photos that best represented our city as I view it, your input and my heart & soul. One of the photos I sent in, none of you chose as a favourite. But it was my favourite and everytime I look at it, I remember that day, that moment. Perhaps it's too personal a choice, too emotional of a decision but that's when sometimes you just gotta go with your heart.
Thankfully, I was allowed to submit four photos, so the other three are the ones that got most of your votes (thank you again!)
In case you are curious, here are the four photos that I submitted:
I understand that the contest closes Mid-July and the winners will be announced some time in August. Soooooo I guess we will all find out then :)
Meanwhile, win, lose or draw, I am the big winner because I have all of you folks who are so endlessly kind and supportive. Thank you!
PS I will absolutely let you know if any of my photos are selected! Stay Tuned
(Ok, it's not a great quality photograph, but I suspect that you get the gist of it. Yeah, that's me taking a photo of me with the camera on my phone as reflected in a full length mirror in the guest room).
I think most everyone has a favourite outfit. The go-to garment(s) that, when you choose to wear them, you already know ahead of time that you will be comfortable all day long and you look good. Or at least good enough. The outfit in the photo above is mine.
The shorts are seersucker. Admittedly a very old fashioned fabric but it's so awesome! Cool, lightweight, comfortable and dang cute. Why on earth has it gone out of favour? And bonus points? I found them on the clearance rack of a Beall's Outlet about 5 years ago. Woohoo! They are easy wash, it's not necessary to iron them (though I usually do) and they have an elastic waist band which adds Super comfort! (not the horrible gobby elastic waistbands that make whatever you are wearing look like a diaper!! No, the new fashioned sort that's wide and smooth and awesome)
The top is only one of several that I tend to wear with those shorts. It's made of breathable cotton (which I adore) loose and airy and cool and comfy. Comfort as a concept obviously looms large in my mystique. Almost everything in my closet, from the grungiest of hiking and yard work clothes to my fanciest dress up outfits are, first and foremost, also comfortable. I can honestly say that I only own one thing that isn't comfortable. It's a top that looks perfectly fine but it itches and I keep meaning to throw it away. On the other hand, this navy blue top is a keeper.
When I try on clothes at a store, there is a list of questions that I ask myself before deciding to buy: 1: is it comfortable? And that means in all different positions, standing, sitting, bending over, etc. 2: is it easy care? i.e. no dry cleaning or other bothersome cleaning methodology 3: do I have other things that go with it? That's because I generally buy separates. And I prefer to have more than one option with each top or bottom. Increases my wardrobe exponentially! 4: does it serve a useful purpose in my current life? I rarely have tea with the Queen anymore so I honestly do not require much formal wear and 5: is the price reasonable? And by that I mean is the price VERY low. The shorts I am wearing in this photo were around $5. I do love a clearance sale.
Because the above outfit hits every single point on my list, I went ahead and purchased all of the pieces. On different shopping trips! I believe that I bought the shorts an entire year before the top. Still works together just fine. You might think that the navy blue of the top would make it too hot to wear here in the summer time. Dark colours and hot, humid weather do not automatically seem to fit together. But honestly, it is amazingly comfortable and cool.
I love everything about this outfit. Whenever this is clean, ironed and hanging in the closet, on a hot summer day, THIS is the outfit I reach for. I try to not wear it more than once a week but I confess that there have been times when I did. And the sad part is, and this is always the saddest part, because I wear it so much - and therefore wash it so much - it will wear out way before clothes that don't have quite the same appeal. Dang.
So far, it seems to be holding up surprisingly well, especially for the price. We all know that cheap clothes don't seem to last very long. I can only assume (though one should never) there is a difference in the quality between reasonably priced clothes that are on sale and cheap clothes. But the truth is that eventually the day will come when this outfit will be ready for the ragbag. And I will be sad. Worse, I will have to find a different go-to outfit that is my new favourite and right this minute, I cannot imagine what that would be.
Even if I went to the store to shop for a new, similar, outfit, you know that I would not find an exact replica. That's because fashion changes constantly. Even when shopping in an outlet store where the offerings are not the latest and greatest and most up to date styles. More like previous years top sellers. And that's fine as I've never been "In Style". Honestly, If I look super fashionable ever, I can only assure you that it is by accident. Truth be told, my personal style is about half and half, classic and quirky. Classics are easier to replace with similar but quirky is impossible to find again.
It's not as if I dislike the rest of the clothes in my closet. Nothing could be further from the truth. I like everything hanging there. But there is a difference between liking your garments and having that favourite thing. It's sort of like a toddler and that stuffed teddy bear that they insist upon dragging around with them everywhere they go. The stuffed bunny in the toybox is perfectly nice and they like it okay but it's not the same as the teddy bear. All parents understand this. Heck, all toddlers understand this! Psychologically, I do not fully comprehend the why of it, but I except it as true. The favourite, be it stuffed animals or outfits, is, in a manner that defies explanation, different. It is better. It is the best!
And any day that I get to wear my favourite outfit, is automatically a great day!
You are all very familiar with this guy by now, right? This is is the dad half of the red bellied woodpecker couple that moved into the birdie condo that was created in the dead palm in our courtyard. All well and good. They have been very nice neighbors, entertaining, quiet for the most part, and (as I once said before) they don't borrow yard tools and then forget to return them.
Well, as of yesterday, this guy swoops into town:
It's a different kind of woodpecker. I think it's a Downy Woodpecker but of course I am no bird expert. I was so surprised when I saw this guy drop in and start poking around the same tree as the other woodpeckers that I just about dropped the plate I was drying (while looking out the window obviously).
This new guy, Downy, just boldly fly right up to the doorway of the birdie condo and stuck his head inside as if to say, "hello! Is anybody home?" Then strutted up and down the outside of the tree for awhile.
I said, 'What the actual heck?' Are they friends? Cousins? Frenemies?
I did a little reading and according to what I found it says that red bellied woodpeckers are very territorial and will fight other birds that dare show their little feathered faces 'round their nests. Really? Coz what I saw was very cordial.
The red bellied woodpecker, from here on in known as Red and the other guy, Downy, seemed to be old friends. They cruised up and down the outside of the tree, each on one side, seeking particularly delicious bugs. It was as if they were out shopping together. Or perhaps sharing good times on a bug hunting trip. They did not appear to be mortal enemies. Which kind of flies in the face of what the experts say.
It was fascinating to watch them. Sometimes Red was inside the nest looking out while Downy cruised around, sometimes both of them were outside together. Occasionally one would fly off and then return over and over.
Today I notice that only Red is around. In fact, I saw Mr. and Mrs. Red both this morning. She was inside the tree, he was outside. But Downy has thus far, been nowhere in sight. Did they have a disagreement? Or perhaps Downy was just passing through and stopped by for a quick howdy do? It's a mystery to me.
As I said before, I don't know much about birds of any kind really, but these guys in our courtyard just fascinate me. I spend a ridiculous speculating about what they are saying or doing. Occasionally I offer them human voices, that is I speak for them and offer them scripted dialogue that is probably completely Not what is going on at all.
Just a short time ago, I observed Mr. Red cleaning house. Whatever will they do next?
I am so easily amused.
Well dang, another one bites the dust. Add this to our slowly growing collection of broken picture frames.
I don't know if you remember, back about 4 or 5 ago, I was so excited to write about these picture hanging command strips that Tim found. We used them to hang art all over the house. All sorts of art and all sorts of sizes. As long as we stayed within the weight limit clearly indicated on each particular size of command strips it worked beautifully! And not one single nail had to hammered.
I try to avoid using hammer and nails to hang pictures. Mostly because I'm really bad at it. And we have a lot of art. So imagine every wall in your house with nail hole after nail hole (because I measured incorrectly the first and sometimes second time) and a few ooopses where the hammer slipped and hit the hall instead of the nail. Yeah. It's not pretty.
Initially, I avoided hanging any art at all in this house just to avoid having spackle and mesh and paint repairs to do. (If I don't damage it, I don't have to fix it) But the walls looked naked and the art was languishing in boxes in the utility room taking up space. I'm not sure which was more bothersome to be honest, the naked walls or the art taking up valuable space. After about a year I was thinking that if we weren't going to use our art, we should probably just get rid of it.
While it was a logical thought, it was a sad one. We love every single piece of art that we have. And we have a lot. More than there is actually room to hang up. Some pieces were gifts, others we purchased and some were inherited. There are oils and water colours and photographs (none of mine) and pen & ink and a few are just prints that we loved. About half of them are beautifully and professionally framed the rest are Sam-Framed from cheapo frames bought on sale at Michaels and Walmart.
By the way, gravity does not care one single bit if a frame is wildly expensive or really cheap. When the command strip lets go and the piece hits the tile, the frame breaks. Dang it. And obviously, so does the glass. Sigh.
99% of the art went up in the same few consecutive weekends. Some of it crashed back down to the ground fairly quickly. Those, I attribute to an operator (that would be me) error issue. Either I didn't guess the weight correctly (very possible) or I didn't follow the directions 100 percent correctly (even more probable). Those we reframed or repaired and rehung right away. And for awhile, it looked so great! The artwork that we loved looked back at us in nearly every direction from nearly every room. Yayayayayay!
But now, every once in awhile, with no forewarning at all, one of them leaps from the wall to it's death. And it's so random! There seems to be no rhythm or rhyme to it at all. One giant one in the kitchen crashed to the ground around Christmas time two years ago. A beautiful painting in the living room that was a cherished gift fell last autumn just a few weeks after an inherited picture of an old barn ended itself in the guest room. Then nothing else until the cat picture (which was my mother's) yesterday. I just don't get it.
Other works have been hanging just as long all over the house and remain - apparently safe and secure. They were all hung the same way using the same product in the same general time period. Yet this one falls and that one does not. The living painting that jumped off the wall was one of six pieces in a group. Five remain. I do not understand.
And I keep debating with myself. Should I just preemptively take down all of the art so no more frames are broken and I don't have to endlessly sweep up glass? We would be back to naked walls again but at least the art would be saved. But on the other hand, what if the remaining pieces were never going to fall? What if everything else is as immovable as granite exactly as it is? Decisions decisions decisions.
Eventually, I will have all of the broken stuff reframed - whether I pop for some cheapo sale frames myself again or have it done properly by people who actually know what they are doing. And then I will have to make yet another decision, do I use command strip picture hangars again? Or do I risk using actual nails?
I am positive that I did not see an expiration date on any of the command strip picture hangar packages. Positive. However, I admit that I did not do any research, which is unlike me. I guess that would be step one. But it would be silly to have an expiration date on a picture hangar product wouldn't it? Yes you can use our product to hang your pictures but only temporarily.
Once I have pictures hung up, there they stay (usually) until the end of time. Or until we move. I don't re-decorate. Once it's done, it's done. Why? Well as we all know, I am seriously tight with a buck. Decorating is expensive! Re-decorating seems like an unnecessary expense to me (to me! This is just me talking about me) As long as something still works it stays. However, the instant that it no longer works, it's outta here and replaced. If a table breaks, it's gone. On the other hand, if it only has a scratch a chip or a worn area I call it "character" and it stays.
So there you have it. That's the story for today. The mysterious falling artwork. Maybe we have a poltergeist?
I wonder if you guys would mind helping me out.
The city that Tim and I live in is holding a contest. They are seeking photographs for their 2023 Calendar. And I'm thinking, what the heck, maybe I will submit a few pictures. I got nothin' to lose right? It's good to stretch yourself, to do things that you might not ordinarily do. And this is absolutely something that I would not normally do!
There are rules, of course. Things like, the pictures must have been taken within the city limits of Venice. Which meant first I had to learn exactly where those city limits were. It isn't always obvious. Luckily for me, Tim found a map online somewhere which very clearly outlined the area. Good start!
Then too, the pictures have to be in colour, very minimally altered (for instance it's okay to crop them but not to photo shop them) and they have to be landscape and not profile in presentation. Okay, I can do those things.
The pictures must represent our city naturally and cannot be of people (although there can be people in the background). The photos also must be of a certain size. That part is tricky because I have no idea how to determine a pictures size. The pictures must be recent and must be submitted by July 15th which is coming up quickly so I must make a decision about this. Dang. Right now that is the hardest part, which is why I am asking for your help!
The only thing standing in my way right now is my inability to make a decision. Maybe you can help me choose? I can submit up to 4 photographs.
With that in mind, here are the pictures I am considering. If you wouldn't mind letting me know which one (if any) that you like, I would very much appreciate it:
So that's it. The only ones that are even half way decent that fit the criteria.
I find this sort of thing rather scary actually, but I'm digging deep and finding the courage to through my offerings out into the world (well my corner of it anyway) knowing full well, that it is VERY unlikely that any of my photos will be chosen. Still, I am operating on the thought that if the worst that happens is that they don't like anything I send, it really makes zero difference in my life. It's not a big deal. Therefore, why not go ahead and do it. After all isn't the old saying, "Fortune favours the bold". I wasn't actually looking for fortune (thought I am not stupid, I wouldn't turn it down either) just possibly having one of my photos on next years calendar.
So if you wouldn't mind and you have the time, if you could let me know which (if any) of the photos here you like, I would be eternally grateful! Thank you !!
It appears that, unintentionally, I lied to ya'll on Friday. The last thing I said was that I would "see" you again on Monday. And this is Wednesday. Ooops. My bad.
Hope you've had a great few days. We absolutely did!
We started out with a Minock Day! Been way too long. As you know, Minock Days are always the best days. They invited us up to just relax in their pool and let me tell ya, on a super hot summer Florida day, that is awesome. Tim and I have lived here now for six years (already??) and we are accustomed to Florida summer. We know it's going to be hot and humid and potentially for a few months. But this past week was a little beyond the pale. Every day was not just hot but "weather advisory" hot. The temperature might have been in the low 90's but the 'feels like' was over 100. Yikes! We always enjoy Minock Day. We always talk and laugh and eat and talk and laugh some more. But add in a nice cool pool on an especially hot day and now you have added "Ahhhhhh" to the party. It was Awesome!
Tim and I also tried to beat the heat with a visit to our local non-pool water. Come sunset we wandered over to the jetty and were lucky enough to time to visit with some cooler air, a few dolphins and a gorgeous sunset:
Tim, who is such a smarty pants, had another great idea which was to go to the movies! Yeah! Those places are WAY air conditioned. Great Plan! But we didn't just go to any movie theatre, we went to the CineBistro. It looks like an ordinary theatre from the outside:
But the inside is so much more ummm, what is the descriptor that I am looking for? Lux. That's it. Lux. Tim ordered the tickets online so we walked in the door, 30 minutes ahead as instructed, tickets already in hand. Well actually on his phone, but you know what I mean. We had great seats, top row, center, perfect view. The aisles were nice and wide so there was no skootching through trying to not step on people's feet saying," excuse me, pardon me, sorry". Nope there was PLENTY of room to get by. And the seats! Oh my goodness! Each seat was a leather, or leather-like maybe, recliner (RECLINER!) with two cup holders per patron. So comfy cozy. There was also a swing-away tray for each seat. Why would we need a tray, you ask?
Well it's right there in the name cine-bistro. This is the bistro part. As soon as we were seated a lovely young lady came up to hand us our menus and explain how it all worked. We made our selections which were brought out by an equally nice young man. We could have chosen just appetizers, popcorn and candy, just drinks or nothing at all, by the way. By the time the previews were over, we were finished and our trays removed and we settled into enjoy the movie (our first movie in a theater in several years by the way). We saw Top Gun which was awesome!
Somewhere in the middle there we celebrated Father's Day, for this guy here. He's so silly :)
I've been having a wee bit of a connectivity problem here so while I'm typing this up right now, I am not absolutely certain when it will be posted. But I'll keep trying! And hopefully, I will see you here again tomorrow!
Hugs all 'round
This was our view over the weekend. As you can see, the sky looks a little ominous. The entire weekend weather was either About to Rain, Actively Raining, or Just Finished Raining. But that's typical for this time of year. Our rainy season began on June 1st just like always.
Which does not mean that it rains all day every day. Nope, not at all. It just means there is a higher probability of rain than other times of the year. And then the rain, when it happens, could be rain of any variety. It could just be a little sprinkle, or it might be the late afternoon torrential downpour that lasts about 15 minutes, or yes, it could be an all day rainy affair. On the other hand, it might be perfectly lovely and sunny all day long. One never knows.
Which makes it hard to plan anything outside. Inside plans are absolutely fine. And the bonus there is that inside is where the Air Conditioning is. And during our long hot summers, AC is a very very good thing.
Of course some people, a lot of people actually, have swimming pools down here. Which makes sense because you can use them any day of the year. And a dip in the pool when the temperature rises feels mighty good. We don't happen to have a pool But what we do have is very close access to big water. The Gulf of Mexico is Right There! And wading through the surf or even swimming in the ocean is a pretty dang good antidote to the heat.
So don't feel bad for us living in the hot humid summer of Florida please. Any time we want to escape the heat we either go inside. Any sort of inside will do as EVERYTHING is air conditioned or we head to the water. It's just a few blocks away. And it makes everything better.
we We haven't quite reached the "dog days" of summer but they aren't far away either. That's ok, we are prepared. Lots of tall cold glasses of tea, books and puzzles and movies to be enjoyed in the nice cool air conditioning and loads of time spent by the sea.
So I say, go head and bring on the summer, we are ready.
This is the final post of the week as I have early appointments for the next two days. Have a good rest of your week and a great weekend! See you on Monday
I had a few people ask about the bird bath experiment. In case you missed that one, I had the idea that since it's so hot here in the summer time, perhaps the many many birds that hand around our yard might appreciate a nice birdbath. They could cool off splashing around or just get a drink. Hydration is hot weather is essential!
I was going to kind of create one out of things already here, but Tim, because he is a dear sweet man, brought home this very cool looking grey, textured ummmmm urn (?) thing that had a clear plastic inset. I suspect that it was intended to be a planter but sure, there is no reason at all why it couldn't be a birdbath. Awesome!
I read up on bird baths, did my best to adapt it and placed at the far end of the courtyard in a place much as was described by the birdbath sites I read on line. And then we waited. And waited and waited. No one single bird paid a bit of attention to it. They, in effect, turned up their beaks at it. (that's the 'birdbath' in the courtyard in the photo above)
Well dang. Try to do a nice thing, humph. Maybe the birds would like it better if I moved it to a different part of the yard. Or perhaps if I painted the plastic insert? Maybe that would help? I did more reading. I considered a lot of things. One of the things I debated was giving up on the birdbath idea and just making it back into the planter it was originally intended to be. I have not had terrific luck growing flowers here in Florida. Everywhere else we ever lived I had pretty gardens, here, not so much. But I could try again I suppose. Back and forth I went. Bird bath/Planter. Bird bath/Planter. What to do, what to do. I thought about it and I talked about it. Apparently I talked about it a lot. Because one day, Tim went out into the Courtyard, picked up the bird bath and moved it out of the pathway and into the garden part. And there it sat. Still completely ignored by all things feathered.
Over this past weekend one day while we were running errands and therefore out and about, suddenly Tim pulled into the Lowe's parking lot. "What do we need at Lowe's?" I asked. I followed him into the building through the garden center. I love all garden centers. Quite often, if we have to go into a home improvement store I tell Tim that, "I'll be in the garden center". He nods and goes off after whatever he needs while I get to wander through the lovely flowers and plants and have a wonderful time. I treat it almost like a visit to a botanic garden :)
I paused outside to admire some big pots of brightly coloured flowers that were on sale. Tim suggested that if I'm going to turn the birdbath into a large flower pot, this might be a good opportunity to get started. YAYAYAY! I was excited to even think about it.
As I wandered around admiring the many choices, I tried to get my thoughts in proper order. The first thing I needed to consider was that quite honestly, even after living here for 6 years, do not know much about Florida flowers. I admire them, but I do not know the names of many. So I stared with what I do know. For example, the fact that where the planter is now is a sunny spot so I only bothered looking at flowers that had "full sun" written on their tags. And since I do not have the best luck with my gardens here in Florida, I didn't want to make an expensive investment. Perhaps starting with something on the lower end would be the right choice here. "On Sale" is the price range I was considering. The next choice was, if possible, I would love to have something fragrant. There are a lot of absolutely gorgeous flowers out there in the world, but remarkably few of them have fragrance. I have no idea what that's all about but I love a smelly flower :)
All of these categories helped me to narrow down possibilities. At the end, it was just a matter of deciding what colour I wanted. This is what I ended up with:
Isn't it just the sweetest little thing? It's called a Lantana. Some are annuals and others are perennial. I believe that this particular one is an annual. They come in a lot of different colours. For whatever reason, on that day, I was drawn to this cute little yellow one. I don't know if you can tell but there are multiple different shades of yellow involved. It's cheery and happy and cute as a button.
I chose to buy just the one plant. Let's see how it goes with one. If I manage to keep one alive and well then we can move on to adding to the planter. There is plenty of room. I am starting small but hopeful.
I was very excited to read more about this little Lantana plant once I got back home. Not only is it a rather rugged plant that can tolerate less moisture and more sun than most, but it also attracts bees, butterflies and (biggest and most awesome surprise) hummingbirds! What? That is so cool!
For now it's still in the pot that it came in. I thought I had some potting soil leftover. Turns out, I do not. So for now, this will do. We will see if I manage to keep it healthy and happy.
Here is my new plant in my planter turned bird bath turned back into a planter:
It'll look better once I get more potting soil and perhaps another flower or two?
Life proves to me over and over again that no matter what sort of plans I make, it's important to be adaptable. And in the end, even if it's not what I originally intended, most of the time, it's not bad at all.
What on earth has happened to me? There was a time, not so long ago, when I looked really nice every single day. I wore pretty clothes. I put on make up every single day. I took great pains to make sure that my shoes complimented my outfit. I put actual thought into my jewelry selection each morning. I had an actual hair-do. sigh.
Now I slap on whatever is comfortable with little to no jewelry at all. I rarely wear any make up and when I do it's Very Basic. My shoes are sensible and my hair is more of a don't than a do. I mean really, look at this picture. I'm 68 years old and I'm wearing my hair in pigtails! Who does that? Apparently I do.
Worse? I was out in public like this and what's more, I didn't give a rats patootie either. Which is a big change for me. I used to care. I used to care a lot. Particularly if I was going to be somewhere in the world. I was very cognizant of seeing and being seen and the implications therein. Now, I don't seem to care.
Other people care. I see them every day. It 's nice that they care. Perhaps because we live in a tourist destination, I see a lot of folks looking super nice. They, clearly, dressed up in their new vacation clothes! I love that they made the effort. It always makes me feel a little shabby by comparison, but not enough for me to do anything about it.
Here's another example:
Not so bad. Is that what you are thinking? Hah! Yes, there I am wearing a cute little summer dress. Sometimes when it's really hot and humid out a dress is cooler, somehow, than shorts and a top. It's a loose flowy dress and yes, I am wearing a little sweater with it because no matter how hot and humid it is outside, the air conditioning inside makes me cold. So there.
The point being, yes I'm wearing a cute little dress, what's wrong with that? Here's what's gone awry. Check out the feets:
Big old clompy, heavy black sneakers! What on earth? The old Sam would never have been caught dead wearing chunky old tennis shoes with a cute dress. I would be wearing strappy little sandals in a colour that complimented the outfit. Or at worst, adorable little flat shoes. But nope, I wore these. Didn't give it a second thought either. I knew I would be walking and quite honestly, if I don't wear proper shoes for walking, my feet hurt.
If I was just say, doing the grocery shopping or getting things done around the house, then it wouldn't matter. I could wear the coordinating and fashionable sandals. (if I had some) But if I am doing some real walking, nope. I am wearing good, comfortable, arch supporting shoes. Which are almost never cute, damn it.
Comfort trumps style anymore. Which I think means that I am, once again, officially old now. These little reminders of my age keep popping up. It would have been unfathomable to me a few years ago to give so little thought to how I look. And yet, just a few short years later, here we are. Comfort is Queen in my life now. And you know what? I am OK with that.
I fallen completely off the style wagon. However, I am managing to still be clean, my clothes are ironed and appropriate (mostly) to the occasion. I have not lapsed into black socks with sandals or a striped shirt with flowered shorts of wildly different colours. At least not yet.
For better or for worse, we all change throughout our lives. This particular change for me means I have relaxed a bit. Maybe a bit too much! But it is what it is, and I am who I am. And apparently, who I am now, is someone for whom comfort is key. I am okay with that.
I read somewhere that there are upwards of 2500 different kinds of palm trees, which seems incredible to me. Also a little excessive but, y'know, whatever. I'm not in charge of palm trees. While I am not as adamantly anti-palm tree as my Mother was, I must admit that Palm trees are not my favourite. I don't actively dislike them, but if I were planning a landscape from scratch, I probably would not have any palm trees in the plan.
That said, when we bought our house, the yard and "gardens" such as they are, were already completed. The mature growth trees, many of which are, indeed, palm trees of one sort or another, and the many different kinds of shrubs were already fully established. And while it perhaps wasn't entirely what we would have necessarily chosen, it was at least done.
Therefore, our first concern, as soon as we moved in, was concentrating on bringing the inside of the house up to snuff. Any thoughts of changing the outside were going to have to wait. So for now, any existing palm trees - whatever their names are - remain. I trim them, I pick up the fronds when they drop (it's like having a yard full of 3 year olds!) and unless they are enormously huge, when they die, I cut them down. If they are of the hugely big variety of palm tree, then we have to hire a professional tree service to cut them down and since yes, we have had to do that already here, we know it's very $$$$$.
So far it seems to have gone well. Or well enough I suppose. However, over the weekend, I did notice two palm trees that seem to have died. One in the front yard and one in the back. The one in the front was a spindly little one, no taller than me so on Wednesday I easily chopped it down and threw the trunk into the ever-present pile of stuff for the lawn guys to take away at their next weekly visit.
The one in the back however was an entirely different kettle of fish. Or Palms. Or something.
This part of the story might be a little creepy, a little scary so I will warn you in advance that if you scare easily, you might want to skip the rest of this post. OK? Ok. Here goes:
In the dang middle of the back yard, one of the previous owners decided that it would be a great idea to cut down a perfectly good (and yummy) mature, fruit bearing avocado tree and instead plant an "island" of various palms. None of them looked especially healthy when we moved in and many of them have since died and I've cut them down. One of the remaining palms is, well, it's unusual. It's very short and kind of shaped like a barrel. The fronds, instead of being sleek and feathery are thick and spiny. Come to think of it, it looks as if someone crossed a barrel cactus and a palm tree. It is not a friendly tree.
Whenever I have had to trim off dead fronds with my chonkers I have to be sure to wear long pants, long sleeves and thick gloves otherwise those prickly spiney bits will slice me up and I come back in the house looking like I've done battle with a cougar. It is not a friendly tree and I do not like it. BUT shortly after we moved in, we noticed that during a heavy rainfall, bunnies took shelter underneath it. Awwwwww. So while Tim and I both disliked the dang thing, it served a purpose and so it stayed.
And then, all of a sudden, seemingly overnight, it went from a live thing to a dead thing and dang it that means I have to get up close and personal with it. After disposing of the dead tree in the front yard I turned my attention to the one in the back.
I stood in front of it thinking. Hmmmmm. I circled it multiple time trying to decide how to approach the situation. Not only are the fronds heavy with what seem to be, for all intents and purposes, huge thorns but the darn thing is thick with these fronds. Layer upon layer upon layer of them protect the center trunk. I obviously cannot cut it down until I reach the trunk so the fronds have to go. Ratz. It looked like this. The part that's green at the bottom front is, apparently, a new offshoot?
It bears a resemblance to Cousin It of the Adams Family does it not?
Ok I geared up which means changing into more protective clothing then I dragged an empty bin around to the back to put the fronds in as I cut them away and brought both chonkers and the thickest, heaviest gloves I could find. I took a deep breath and got to work. Naturally I began with the outside layers of fronds and decided to do one pie-shaped section at a time. The tree is, after all, essentially a circle. And so it went, cutting off a few spiny fronds, placing them in the bin and then cutting off the fronds revealed underneath. Over and over and over. Until, at last, finally, the trunk is beginning to be revealed. Kind of cool.
As I peeped into the opening, I was shocked to see something inside move. Was it a lizard? I mean those little buggers are everywhere. And they move really fast. My instincts however, had me immediately take one step back. I looked again and saw nothing. Were my eyes playing tricks on me? Was it a harmless little lizard? Or......
As I leaned in closer to check, one of these looked back at me:
Once again, instinctively, I immediately took a step back and then froze. I stared at the snake and the snake stared at me. After a moment, without saying a single word or making any sound whatsoever, I pulled myself together, abandoned the half filled bin of fronds entirely, picked up my chonkers and went back in the house. Once I could breath again, I put the chonker away, changed my clothes and washed my hands a lot. Why? I don't know, it just seemed to be necessary somehow. It took awhile for my heart rate to slow down.
Now I know dang well that particular snake is a harmless cornsnake. I know this. It's a fact. But it also does not matter to me one single bit. It was a snake. And we were in the same place at the same time and that is simply not allowed. To be absolutely fair, since he was clearly there first and knowing that possession is nine tenths of the law, I suppose it was his ugly palm tree more than it was mine. Still we pay the mortgage on this place and not him so I suppose that gives me the right to at least attempt to evict him.
The next day I stood in the window starring at that ugly, dead little palm tree trying to decide what was more important, finishing the job? Or just leaving it as it is and then having to stare at that really ugly dead thing out the window for the rest of our lives. Maybe it's time to move again?
Nope, I cowboyed up. I put on my armour, grabbed my weapon of choice and with narrowed eyes and a steeled spine, I went back outside to finish what I started. I felt much like the Earp Brothers must have felt as they approached the OK Corral. I made noise as I approached. I apologized for startling him yesterday, but strongly suggested that the snake find another place to call home. I righted the bin (which had fallen over), took a deep breath and Very slowly and Very carefully resumed cutting off the fronds.
I cut a few and stopped for a minute, cut a few more and stopped for a few more minutes. I took a short break after every layer I removed to thoroughly examine every inch of the stubby tree. I was looking for colour or movement or anything out of the ordinary. I saw nothing and so I continued. Finally the bin was full, I could do no more until garbage pick up day (I'm not leaving those spiny fronds for the lawn guys to pick up and get all shredded. Nope these can go out with the garbage). Only about a third of the fronds have been removed so far. Next week, I will work on it more. Very slowly and Very carefully.
I feel rather brave actually. I am kind of proud of myself. And once that butt ugly dead palm tree is completely de-fronded, I will cut it down with a song in my heart and a smile on my face. But in the meantime, I still have a few snake shudders to get out.
Thus ends my tale. I wish you a snake-less weekend :)
I see a photo of Joy (on the left) and me (on the right) and our cameras in our hands. We are very clearly out in nature so that can only mean one thing! It 's time for another Photo Safari Report! I am calling this one the Turkey Day in June Hike and soon you shall see why!
We decided to go to Myakka State Park. Even though it is an absolutely gorgeous place, we don't go there very often. We certainly don't avoid it because of the Beautiful Myakka River:
Fear of the amazing wildlife is never a reason for us to stay away either:
And we aren't concerned one bit over the 37,000 acres, the treetop canopy walk, the thickly forested trails, the open meadows, the marshes or the suspension bridge.
Nope, we tend to stay away from Myakka for two reasons.
Reason #1: During rainy season the river floods making hiking virtually impossible. It's still generally driveable and there is a road that bisects the park so if you drive very slowly odds are good that you will see things from the safety of your car. The flooding tends to drive the wildlife much closer to the road than they would normally be. But only part of our photo safari goal is seeing things camera worthy. Another part is the actual hiking. We enjoy the exercise and we aren't getting any taking pictures through the car window! (the third part is spending time together of course)
Reason #2: When it's not rainy season there are people. Lots and lots and LOTS of visitors. We totally understand why people would want to go to Myakka State Park. Heck, it's the same reason why we like to go there. It's gorgeous! BUT we prefer to photo safari in places less people-y.
So this past Tuesday, we decided that it was a sweet spot sort of day, out of the heaviest of the tourist season (which is actually year 'round nowadays) but before the heaviest of the rain. AND we were correct!
One of the things that makes any Photo Safari a particular success is when we see something unusual, something we don't normally see. Sometimes something we have never seen. And this visit to Myakka provided something that I had never seen in Florida before. Turkey's! We saw FLOCKS of them! I honestly couldn't quite believe my eyes. Quite frankly I had no idea that turkeys were even native to Florida. I foolishly believed that they were strictly a New England kind of bird. Once again, I was wrong.
We also saw an inordinate number of deer. We love seeing deer, but it's not really unusual anymore. They are lovely, gentle and beautiful creatures, but fairly common. We still take pictures of them of course:
But then we happened across something we almost never see.....baby deer! Fawns! Not just one but two. Twins! They were so adorable!
It was also dragonfly day! Holy cats! There were so many dragonflies and of such variety! They were colours of the rainbow. And not just dragonflies, but cooperative dragonflies. They practically begged for us to take their pictures as they posed :
And speaking of large numbers of wild animals, we did see far more alligators on this hike than usual. Most of them were quite a distance away and only captured thanks to the invention of the telephoto lens. But a few that were a little closer than I am strictly comfortable with. Not on purpose. We had no idea that we were so close. We were just hiking the trail along a little tributary, happened to look down and yup there he was. Don't worry, you will know which photo it is.
There were other wonderful and beautiful critters of course. We saw lots of gorgeous water fowl of one sort of another naturally, Myakka is first and foremost a river. Water automatically means water birds:
And a few non-water related birds that are also NOT turkeys:
And a coupleof other critters:
I captured a handful of botanicals, not as many as usual though I will say that the vast fields of wildflowers were gorgeous! They just didn't translate very well to photography. Clearly I'm doing something wrong. Oh well, I did get these:
Last but not least, my favourite as you well know, the rando files:
Okay, I'll admit that was a little long. I would apologize but I was just so excited to share all of this with you. The "Turkey Day in June" hike was one of the best we've had in awhile! Who knows when we have another Photo Safari this awesome?
Hope you enjoyed!
This is a pile of my (mostly) unopened reader spectacles. Yes there do seem to be a lot of them. No, it's not excessive. Why? Because I break things. Not on purpose. I am not stomping on them or flinging them around the room in a fit of pique. I'm just clumsy. And as it turns out, glasses do not hold up well to being dropped on tile floors. Who woulda thought??
Consequently, Tim just orders my reader prescription of glasses in bulk on line. Not even joking a little bit. I wish I was. At least once every year since I started wearing readers, I tell him that I am on my second to the last pair (or perhaps the last pair) and he dutifully jumps on line and places a re-order. They aren't prohibitively expensive (thank goodness!) and I do have them stashed all over the place which accounts for at least some of the many pair. I have a pair in both of our cars, my purse, by the computer, my bedside table and occasionally I will somehow find a pair on the kitchen counter without remembering leaving a pair there. (??)
Part of the problem, I suspect, is that I always need them nearby for seeing up close things, what do I do with them in the interim. I do NOT need them for walking, for yardwork, for most cleaning, or watching TV. I do however require them for reading ANYTHING including my phone, recipes, magazines and books, instruction manuals, the writing on any can, box or bag, medicine bottles and so forth. My glasses are also necessary for painting my toes, properly affixing a bandaid (I don't know why), admiring a photograph, checking for small dirt while cleaning and Zooming or Skyping online (so I can read facial expressions). So you see I have them on and off, on and off, on and off, all through my day.
And that's mostly where the problem came in. Oh I am certainly capable of just dropping my glasses. It does happen with alarming frequency. BUT I am also guilty of carrying them on top of my head, like a hairband, folding up in my pocket (crazy plan by the way) or with one "leg" tucked behind the top of my shirt so my glasses become, essentially, jewelry.
None of these are a good idea. None. My hair is very soft. So for the same reason that hair clips, barretts and elastic bands do not stay put in my hair, neither do my glasses being worn as hairbands. And by the way, hair bands also do not stay put in my hair. So I'm walking along with my glasses atop my head and either they slide off on their own OR I forget that they are there, lean forward to pick something up off the floor and off they come, crashing, once again, on the unforgiving tile floor. In my pocket? All it requires is me sitting down and crunch. The leg of the glasses in the top of my shirt also means no bending forward due to falling out AND getting tangled in my actual jewelry.
Something had to be done.
Holy Cats I look like a library lady!
I swore that I would NEVER do this. I would NEVER EVER EVER do this. Not in a million zillion years. And yet, there I am, swearing my glasses on a chain. Sigh. This is an experiment. I have no idea if it will actually work long term or not. But I'm willing to give it a try.
Please note how comfortable I am with you guys. I obviously, absolutely did not gussy up for these photos. This is me with weird hair, no make up, no slightly more flattering light. Just me. And my glasses chain.
I honestly do not know what they are called? Let me look it up really quickly here. Huh! I guessed correctly. That is exactly what they are called. Glasses Chains! When I finally decided (in the back of my brain) that I would give this "glasses chains" idea a try, I saw one I really liked in a shop on the avenue. And then I saw the price tag and I laughed and laughed and left the store. It was very pretty but not $25 pretty. Nope.
Then, unexpectedly, Tim and I were at a GoodWill Bookstore - by the way what a great idea - over the weekend and while we were waiting our turn in line, I saw on a rack, some glasses chains that were $3.99. Ok that's my kind of price tag. They only had a few. And none that were what I imagined at all, but ultimately I chose this one.
It was a good call, I suppose. While it's a kind of blah, very neutral, goes with everything I suppose, sort of colour, the beads roll and there are no sharp edges which means nothing is going to "pick" my clothes. The only other one at the GoodWill store had these very cute little gold stars between the beads and all those pointy little edges would absolutely destroy my blouses. Sooooooo no to the cute little stars.
Anyway, I am now one twinset and one shushing frown away from being the quintessential librarian cartoon. I know that I probably look ridiculous, but so what? Since I started using the glasses chain, I have only dropped my glasses once AND I caught them, by the chain, before they hit the ground.
I know I'm a little late to the party on this, but Tim and I just recently saw the most recent Ghost Busters film - Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Yeah, I know, we are about a year behind everyone else. Nothing new there. The point is, we finally saw it. And we loved it.
Like most people, I fell in love with the first movie way back in 1984. Unusual for '80s movies, it appealed to all age groups without boring, insulting or confusing anyone. The magic combination of Harold Ramis, Bill Murray and Dan Ackroyd was perfection. Annie Potts, Rick Moranis, Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver were the exquisite finishing touches. And lest you think that I was the only fan, I will let you know that it was the second highest grossing film that year. And the highest grossing comedy ever (at the time).
There was of course brilliant casting with great chemistry, but it was one of those times when all of the planets in the universe aligned perfectly so that a great concept came together will equally great acting, writing, directing, etc. etc. etc. All of the necessary elements that make a monster sized hit film were in place. The success of it echoed for years. It was the comedy film that other films were measured against.
And then, in 1989, up popped Ghostbusters II. Couldn't wait to go see that. This was back when we went to the movies now and again. It was certainly not as expensive as it is now. We even got treats at the concession stand! Wow! While we were excited to see it, I, for one, had a tiny bit of trepidation. The first film was so dang good, there was no way it could be topped. At best, perhaps it might be Almost as good as the first. I really did not want to be disappointed. When the second one isn't as good, it kind of taints the first y'know?
Ghostbusters II was good. In fact, it was really good. Not as impactful as the first of course, but it was still very enjoyable. I read somewhere that it was the 8th highest grossing film that year. So it was in the top ten. Nothing to sneeze at. And we thought that was it. That was the finale of the Ghostbusters story. All good things must come to an end.
Except in Hollywood where they keep re-making films. In 2016 somebody thought it was a good idea to re-do the Ghostbusters story only with a cast of all women. It did not go well. In fact it was a box office bomb. Tim and I tried to watch it as a TV movie. Really tried. Really Really Tried. I think we changed the channel about 15 minutes in. Just couldn't do it. It was, in a word, terrible. And if you loved it, I am sorry, but we just didn't.
I was surprised when I heard about Ghostbusters: Afterlife. How dare they? How could they even hope to make a successful Ghostbusters movie with Harold Ramis?? It was inconceivable to me. It came into the theaters and then left without me being even curious enough to read the reviews. So I was surprised the other night, when we turned on the television and there it was on the listings. Tim suggested that we give it a try. I mean after all, we tried that awful 3rd one and lived to tell the tale so why not? If we hate it we can, once again, change the channel. Lord knows there are other channels.
I was dubious to say the least.
And as it turned out, I loved it. It was, essentially, a love letter to Harold Ramis. And I cannot begin to tell you how much that meant. They brought in so many things from the original films, things both big and small and everyone of them was impactful. Not the least of which being the remainder of the Ghostbusting troupe. And of course, Harold. That was magical.
I suppose the fact the Egon Spengler was my favourite character in the original was part of the reason I held back from seeing this most recent incarnation. If the character that Harold Ramis created couldn't be in the film, then why bother? Sometimes I have a bad attitude :) And sometimes it stands in my way. Especially in this case.
It was awesome. I loved it. And I will happily watch it many more times. Apparently I am a Ghostbusters Fan for life.
June clearly is a time of Floral Bounty as Joy and I found out yesterday on our Photo Safari! That's Joy in the photo above displaying yet another gorgeous field of posies! There has been just the perfect combination or sun and rain lately to make even wildflowers go crazy! I love it!
Because most of my photos this time around ended up being of flowers, I am going to call this the Wild about Wildflowers Hike. Mostly because I honestly am.
I like all flowers, don't get me wrong. Gorgeous cultivated gardens, annuals, perennials, potted gardens, be they flowers, veggies or herbs, I adore them all. But there is something about the resilience and unexpected beauty of a wildflower. Something that isn't tended to at all that still thrives and is beautiful, that just speaks to me.
We went back to Carlton, one of our local favourites that is so huge and has so many different trail options. But now that we have entered the rainy seasons, more and more of it will be flooded and therefore untrekable, except perhaps by boat. And since we don't care to boat our hike, who knows how many more good hikes there we will have this year! We take the opportunity when we can.
Of course we saw lots of things besides flowers. Of course! But I'll show you a sampling of the many and varied flowers first. Sometimes it was just one errant bloomer in a bunch of grasses but there were also full fields of flowers! I cannot begin to tell you how that lifts my heart and soul:
We had one unexpected party in our hiking group. Joy and I were off in a whole other preserve that runs alongside the first and I was taking a photo in one direction, Joy in another when she whispers to me very softly, "stop". I froze (we are both well trained and trust each other). I ever so slowly turned in the same direction she was facing only to see:
To our great surprise, instead of bounding away, as one would expect, she looked genuinely curious about us and very friendly. We starred at each other not moving for a few moments and then we were shocked to see her take a tentative step toward us. I think we both held our breath. After the second step forward, I made the mistake of raising my camera too quickly and it frightened her. Of course she bounded away quickly. But wow! What an awesome moment.
What other critters did we see? Well some birds of course. Joy got far more and much better bird photos than I did. There was a kite, a hawk, a warbler, a cardinal and some gnat catcher thing that I saw but did not capture. But I did get a few photos. We saw soooo many woodpeckers, y'all. Oh my Goodness! I could easily have named this the woodpecker hike! Please note, every dang bird you will see here is some sort of wood pecker:
And a few other creatures, all gorgeous in their own way:
And I suppose it's fitting to end with my favourite of all photo categories, the Rando Files:
So I reckon that's it. The Wild for Wildflowers Photo Safari was pretty awesome. I know Joy and I had a blast. Let's see what happens next week!
It would be awesome if you guys could literally join us on a hike sometime! For now though, this will have to do. Hope you enjoyed!
I know that last year right around this time I wrote about and probably boring you to tears with stories of the woodpecker family that moved into the dead palm tree in our courtyard. Well, they are back! Because the tree still stands, they moved right in and I am delighted. As neighbors go, they are not bad at all.
For the most part they keep to themselves, they don't play loud music late at night and they never ask to borrow tools that will never be returned. I can see them from the kitchen window and I do enjoy watching them, staying updated on the goings on.
Usually if we go outside, they immediately either go into their little house or they fly up into one of the nearby trees until we leave. But occasionally, if I'm just watering my little potted garden or sweeping the courtyard, the birds will stay and watch me. I talk to them softly as I go. It's just nonsense talk really, I am just trying to get them accustomed to my voice. They tip their heads from side to side while I chatter away probably thinking I am a total wierdo. That's ok, I'm fine with that.
It occurred to me recently that as the temperature and the humidity is rising, that those poor birds must be very thirsty. Generally I see them (and other birds) bathing and drinking from puddles in the driveway and even in the streets after a good rain. But what happens if there is no rain? Do they just go thirsty? Poor little creatures. What they needed was a birdbath!
Now, as you know, I already have that rock with a depression in it that I keep filled with water for butterflies and dragonflies and bees, but it's far too small and shallow for a bird. So hmmmm I needed an idea. I am pretty good at re-using and re-purposing things so I put my brain to work and looked around.
As it so happens there were 5 big concrete pavers left over from the reno. I decided that if those were stacked, that would be a great base for a birdbath. Now I just needed a basin to go on top. A little more searching revealed that the catch dish for my largest plant pot, once cleaned up, would work just fine! I was very excited.
I told Tim about my idea. He listened and nodded but didn't comment. The very next day, he had to do a quick run to one of our local home improvement stores. Upon his return, he asked if I would help him unload the car. Of course! As I neared the car, he opened the back and there was................................
An actual birdbath!
Well that's not true. I think it's supposed to be a planter. BUT I put a brick in the bottom to keep it stabilized, and the basin that sets into the top which the store intended to be filled with soil and plants instead I filled with water! Let's call it a birdbath!
I decided to put it at the very end of the courtyard, the complete opposite end of where the chairs and tables and potted garden are. Coincidentally, where it sits is also near the woodpecker tree. Nice. I has nice clean water, and easily cleaned basin, it's in a protected area near trees, shrubs and a wall for their feeling of safety and not near a peopley spot. It sounded perfect.
Except that, they haven't used it. You can always tell when birds are using a bird bath even if you don't witness it. There always ends up being little feathers and dirt in the water (from their bathing) and sometimes a little birdpoop too, dang it. But the water is just as clean as it was the day I set it out. Drat. What I needed to do was a little more research.
So among the things that I read about successful bird baths is that they water level is important and of course that depends on the size of the bird using it. Also a non-slip surface is helpful. And a bright colour. Birds are attracted to bright colours. Dang.
I put some flat rocks of very sizes in the basin with the water so shorter birds wouldn't drown. The rocks also help to create the non-slip surface, but the plastic basin itself has a few ridges that might help. The colour, however, I cannot do a thing about. So I'm not sure how to solve that.
To date, the birdbath sits unused. And I suppose if they decide to completely ignore it forever it can always be turned back into it's original purpose as a planter. But for now, I'm going to give it a little more time. Maybe it's just a new idea and like a lot of people I know, birds are resistant to new ideas and changes. For now, it remains a hopeful birdbath and I will continue to wait and see.
And it does look pretty cute in the courtyard.
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.