So Tim is away on business again. And you know what that means, right? It means that there is a Tim-sized hole in this house. It's noticeable. It's apparent. It's lousy.
He used to travel a lot for work. I mean, a lot! Neither of us liked it very much but it was part of the job and so you learn to deal with it. And then he changed jobs and it was only an occasional industry related conference now and again. I still missed him terribly when he was away, but it was such an unusual occurrence that, well one does what one must and we coped. But things changed, as things always do and now he has to travel quite a lot again. And it's necessary. Neither of us much like it. But we manage because, well, there aren't lots of options.
In fact there are exactly two options. The first is to muddle through as gracefully as possible. The second is to whine and complain, grumble and moan about it which doesn't change it at all and would only serve to make us both more miserable and so we do not do that.
What we do though is stay in contact. We text here and there throughout the day when one or the other of us has a moment. He calls every night and we catch up. We both make an effort to think of interesting things to talk about during that call. He might take a photograph that he knows I will enjoy. I will bake cookies for him to enjoy upon his return.
I try to be helpful before he leaves and make sure that everything he needs for the trip is clean and ironed and the suitcase is aired out. He tries to think of something fun for us to do the day before he leaves. I help him with his "check list" in the morning before he walks out the door. He kindly tolerates my fussing and the "check-list" review.
But I think the most important thing that we do to get us through the time we have to spend apart is to really appreciate and enjoy the time we do have together.
When we first got married, Tim was still in the Marine Corps Reserves. That meant one weekend a month and at least two weeks every summer he was gone to drill. But during Desert Storm, that supposed two weeks turned into months as he did desert training in preparation to leave to be a part of that military action. It was a scary time, not knowing if he was going to have to go and if he did go, the question is always, will he come back. I think having that question as a part of our relationship history is a reality check that keeps us appreciating what we have together.
When I was in high school I had friends who fought in the Vietnam war. Some of them did not return. I was always a good and faithful letter writer. If someone wrote to me, I would absolutely write back. There was one fellow in particular that was a really good correspondent. We wrote to each other every single day. But the mail being what it is and mail in a war zone being even worse, sometimes I didn't get a letter from him for weeks at a time. And that's when the worry sets in. So I complained and whined and carried on something awful. But all the fretting and worrying and stressing that I did changed absolutely nothing. Each day would crawl by and the mailman would not bring a letter for me. Day after day of no contact, not knowing what was going on, always leaping to the worse possible scenario. And the hardest part of it was having absolutely zero control over the situation. Then suddenly two weeks worth of letters would arrive in one day. The relief is impossible to adequately describe.
I should have known better. My dad travelled for his business too. He was gone more than he was home during my childhood and often for months at a time. Occasionally he sent my sister and I postcards from where ever he was and that was always a thrill. There were no computers then, no texting, no video chats and long distance phone calls cost more money than he was willing to spend. But those postcards meant the world. I do recall, however, one occasion, when I was very young and my sister was even younger, our dad returning home just before Christmas one year. He burst in the door and expected his girls to run up to him very excited yelling "Daddy's Home". Instead my sister glared at him from across the room. He went to pick her up and she pushed him away, saying, "Get away from me, man". He was devastated. But she honestly had no idea who he was.
We are so fortunate now to have the technology we do to help maintain that connection. Still the best way to have a successful connection despite a geographic separation is an internal process. It's in your heart and in your mind. It's a choice a person makes to trust the other person, to love them, to believe in them, to appreciate them when you are together and when you are apart.
And most of all, when they walk through that door once again, you want them to be glad that they came home again.
I believe that we can all agree that there are some traits that we inherit from our parents such as eye colour and shoe size. There is also the genetic predisposition to certain medical conditions that we each have simply by virtue of having been born into our particular families.
Then there is the whole nature versus nurture debate that still goes on as regards certain things. Am I a decent baker because my Nana was an amazing baker? And then is it a genetic predisposition or is it a learned behavior? Am I tidy because I grew up in a very tidy home? Or is that just a Sam-thing? Am I a musician because my mother was? Or would I have leaned in that direction even if my entire family were tone-deaf? Am I a reader because my father was or would I have been regardless of my living circumstances?
It's easy to ascribe some likes and dislikes, behaviours and interests of mine to my parents and even grandparents. But it doesn't always happen that way. Occasionally you find that in a family of athletes, there is that one kid who not only has no athletic ability but also no interest in it. Or generations upon generations of doctors in a family that suddenly produces that one kid who becomes instead an accountant or a drummer or a plumber. I think the jury is still out on the nature/nurture thing.
It's interesting to think about. One of my only very slightly weird behaviours that I wonder about is my passion for chapstick. Strange eh?
I have them stashed all over the house. On my "desk", my bedside table, my make-up bag, my purse, the side table next to my favourite reading spot and there is one in both Tim's car and mine. I think that is quite enough yes?
And I have all sorts: original, medicated (I'm not actually certain why I have that one), one with sunscreen in it (a very good idea) and one that is tinted with colour so it's closer to a lipstick than a chapstick. I am not a fan of the flavoured ones however. They either make me hungry from smelling the flavor (chocolate chapstick indeed) or because it's a gross very artificial scent, it kind of makes me gag. I don't need a sparkly chapstick either thank you. I'll leave that to thirteen year olds everywhere. They wear it well. I would not.
My mother was the same way, only worse. She not only had chapstick all over the house but she always had at least one tube in her pocket. And if she had more than one pocket odds were good that she had more than one chapstick. Shorts pockets, jeans pockets, jacket pockets and even bathrobe pockets. None were free of chapstick. She tucked them into little covered dishes and pencil jars, desk drawers and bathroom cabinets, book shelves and windowsills. They were everywhere.
So did I learn this from her? Or via genetics would I have had this chapstick monkey on my back anyway? I have no idea.
I generally do not keep chapstick in my pockets (anymore) because more than once a chapstick has, accidentally, gone through the laundry. It's not so bad if it goes through the wash because I usually do cold water washing and as long as the cap is on good and tight, nothing leaks out. HOWEVER, a dryer will not only melt the chapstick regardless of how well the cap is on, but it will also thoroughly spread it throughout everything in the dryer including all of the clothes and naturally the inside of the dryer. What a mess. The clothes were not salvageable. The dyer, eventually, was.
Because I have become this chapstick fiend, I do not wear lipstick. Or maybe it's the other way around. I'm not sure. I do know that I cannot seem to find a colour of lipstick that suits me. It's either too dark, too pale or too wrong of a colour. On the few occasions that I've been professionally made up, when I look in the mirror the one thing I always want to immediately take off is the lipstick. My eye goes immediately to the lips. It's just wrong.
Coco Chanel once said that when a woman is fully dressed and made up and bejeweled for her night out, she should first stand back to a full length mirror, then quickly turn around. The first thing the eye goes to is the thing that's wrong. Change it. I get that. Those dark or colour saturated lipsticks are just not for me. They look amazing on other women. They just look 12 different kinds of wrong on me.
In my last paying job, I worked with some truly amazing people. It was, without equivocation, the best job I've ever had and one of the many reasons was my co-workers. They were, each and everyone of them, awesome. One was a lovely lady named Rose. She was classy, smart, fun, sweet, talented and drop dead gorgeous. She always walked in the door looking like a million bucks. And her make-up was perfect every minute of every day. We got along great from the very first moment we met. But there was definitely one thing about me that drove her crazy (there was probably more than one, to be fair) The fact that while I dressed nicely for work, did my hair and my face, I never wore lipstick. She said it made me look unfinished. And I'm quite certain that she was correct.
But I don't wear lipstick well. First the colour thing, which I've already explained. Next I cannot seem to keep it on my lips where it belongs. It wanders all the hell over the place. It's on my teeth, the envelope I'm licking, the pen I'm chewing on the end of while I think, the cup I'm drinking out of and the paper I'm holding by the corner between my lips because my hands are full and I still had one more thing to hold. It's not pretty. Her lipstick stayed put. I don't quite know how she did it but she did. One time each day, after lunch, she re-applied her lipstick. Once. And then continued to look just as perfect by the end of the day as she did when she walked through the door in the morning. I have no idea how she did it. It's was a mystery. And if you detect a little hint of envy in my words, you are not wrong. Because by the end of my workday I looked like the wreck of the Hesperus.
Now nobody gives a rats patootie if I'm wearing lipstick or not. Tim doesn't care. The lizards don't care. If my ESL students, the library people or the visitors to the musem care they have not said so. Oh, and I'm not wearing lipstick by the way, I assure you. But I am wearing chapstick. Mostly the sunscreen one.
So I still have no idea whether my predilection for chapstick is something I was born with or something I learned.
And you know what? It doesn't really matter. What matters is that I have a full supply on hand and a few unopened extras in the hall closet for when I run out. And if those run out, I know where to buy them. In bulk if necessary. We may run out of paper towels but by god, we will never run out of chapstick. Not on my watch anyway.
I don't know about you, but I find the weather report in the newspaper to be one of the more amusing sections. By way of example, I offer the Wednesday report of this week.
First of all those little thunderstorm cartoons are a bold faced lie. Or maybe it was just wishful thinking on their part. While we did indeed have a few tiny showers here and there, they could, in no way, be construed as full on thunder and/or lightening storms. That's how I interpreted the little drawing anyway.
Yesterday, which was Thursday, the high was indeed 90 degrees. That was spot on correct! Good Job Guys! But the "feels-like" temperature was 104. 90 and 104 are not the same thing. 90 is hot. The kind of hot you fully expect in late July. 104 is Arizona. And before anyone maligns me as regards my opinion of Arizona in July let me remind you that I have been to Arizona. In August. And then again in September.
When people hear about the crazyhigh temperatures in an average Arizona summer it's usually followed with, "But it's a dry heat." It is indeed a dry heat. But 115 and 120 (which were the high temps when we visited) is freakin' hot, wet or dry. It just is. When Tim and I were there those two summer months, one of the things that baffled me was that while it was easy bake oven temps outside, inside it was like a meat locker. Two crazy extremes. I would sit outside under the pergola until I though I was going to pass out from the heat and then go inside to cool off where I would only last until I had icicles hanging from my nose and then go back outside to warm up. That's only a slight exaggeration. The other thing that surprised me was that while almost everyone had a pool, almost nobody was in their pools during the day. My guess is that the high temperatures heated the water and if you got in the pool you might risk simmering.
I am noticing that here in Florida the humidity isn't really bothering me anymore. Especially compared with our first summer here. As you may (or may not) recall, we moved to Florida in June two years ago. The contrast between Colorado which has almost no humidity at all and Florida in summer which has all of the humidity was a physical shock to the body and mind. I forced myself to go out every single day so that I could adapt to it. (I had to do the same thing in Colorado to adapt to the altitude). By August, I felt as if I was trying breath under water. The second summer was noticeably better. I still was aware of the humidity but I wasn't as bothered by it. This year, humidity? What humidity? But man oh man, I notice the heat.
And it's funny. I'm the person in this marriage who is almost always too cold. I used to say that I could never be warm enough. But that was probably back in Connecticut when we lived in a drafty old house with winters that seemed to last for 9 months filled with damp, wet, deep in your bones below zero kind of cold. I actually heard myself say to Tim yesterday when he suggested taking a walk at noon, "why don't we wait until tonight when it's cooler". Who said that? Yup, that was me. I had actually just returned from my ESL teaching gig where I walked first to the library and then back home in the "feel-like" 104 sunshine.
So that's my big old whiney-hiney complaint of the day. Despite the humidity, there is a lack of actual rain and it's uncomfortably warm. I have seen nationwide weather reports and it seems to me that everyone across the nation is suffering the fiery sun this year! There does not seem to be anywhere that is safe. Sooooo take heart, there are just a few months to go before autumn and cooler temperatures will arrive to save us all.
In the meantime, drink a lot of water, slap on excessive amounts of sunscreen with SPF a thousand, wear a hat, stay inside when you can and think cool thoughts: Glaciers, iced tea, polar bears, that scene from Doctor Zhivago - you know which one I mean, ice skating, sledding down a big hill, your breath coming out in a fog and ice cream.
Which also reminds me, next Thursday, August 2nd is Children's Miracle Network day! If you buy a Dairy Queen Blizzard, the proceeds go to Children's Hospital. Awesome. Stay cool and be cool at the same time!
And have a great weekend!
I'm sure this is the palest rainbow ever, but there it is and it still counts! Tim and I tried to go for our evening walk yesterday and we weren't even a half mile out before it started raining. The rain was a surprise because the sun was shining. Oh there were a few light grey clouds dotting the sky but since all week long we've been threatened by Dark grey, nearly black clouds, wind, thunder rumbles and flashes of lightening that produced nary a single drop of rain, we were not concerned about the remote possibility of being rained on.
Which shows how little we know, clearly. It wasn't really a hard rain but it was steady and, as always, I'm concerned about getting my "circuits" wet, we turned around and went back home. We were nearly there when we came across a neighbor walking her dog also returning home. We stopped and chatted under the relative protection of a tree for a bit and then she continued toward her house. By this time, the rain was a very light sprinkle. Tim and I debated, should we revisit the idea of the walk or go home. Tim had an alternate suggestion which was that instead we drive into town and get gelato. Because I'm not an idiot, I whole heartedly agreed. So we continued the short walk back home. As we started up the driveway, I looked up over the house for some reason and saw this rainbow blooming (the photo above). Bliss!
Like every 5 year old girl I've ever met, I just adore rainbows.
Not to the point where I have them emblazoned on my tee-shirts or wear small replicas dangling from my ears nor do I have mural of rainbows painted on my walls. No, nothing like that. But whenever I see a rainbow, my heart lifts just a little bit. A rainbow sighting makes me stop for a minute in a way that a pretty flower, no matter how much I may admire it, does not. If I am walking along and spy a lovely blossom (unless I'm taking a photo of it of course), I make the observation that it is indeed pretty as I'm continuing to walk. I never break stride. But a rainbow will bring me to a complete halt. Even if I say nothing at all, a smile will break out on my face, I will feel that little rising of happiness within me and a sense that everything will be okay.
Not sure why it is so, but it is.
It can be any sort of rainbow, a vibrant one, a pale one or anything in between. A whole rainbow is extraordinary but I am equally captivated by a partial one, a double one or even one of the round ones that aren't technically rainbows but "sun halo's". Still close enough for me. I'm equally fine with natural mother nature created rainbows or the ones that are artificially induced from prisms handing in the window that splash on the walls
We have a window film on the big old window that sits in our front door. It's clear with a design in it that allows light to pass through but also gives us privacy. Unbeknownst to Tim when he chose that particular window film, in late afternoon, just when I'm about to start dinner, the light filters through those designs and casts prism generated rainbows all over our front hall. I smile every day when I'm preparing our evening meal. In the family room I have a little dish of glass flotsam that sits in a window sill. Early in the day rainbows wink and tickle throughout that room. In the guest bathroom is a partial wall of glass block. It's an outer wall. My guess is that at one time it was a door to outside and instead of enclosing it as a solid wall, they chose glass block. It may have just been a design choice but it allows loads of light in a tiny bathroom and due to the nature of glass block, tiny rainbows dance around that space at mid day.
Rainbows are marvels of nature and light and marvelous to me. And yes I fully comprehend scientifically how and why they happen. But I don't care. For me rainbows are and always will be magical.
The world can be a scary place and life is a serious undertaking. I don't think it is necessarily a bad thing to find whimsy and delight and yes, "magic" in an otherwise solemn and resolute world. In fact, I think Magic is absolutely required.
The above is evidence of how very wrong I can be. Oh yes, I am well aware of my flaws. When I think about the correct to incorrect ratio of predictions that I have made in my life, I can say with tremendous certainty that the incorrect answers wins handily. I am not a good prognosticator. Perhaps I should have gone into meteorology.
Before we left on our birthday week trip, Tim put a hold on our mail and both newspapers. It's a smart thing to do. Few things are a better indication of an empty house than a driveway littered with newspapers. And while the island is about as far from a hotbed of criminal activity as a person can get, I think it's always a good idea to not tempt fate. So we got our last mail and newspaper delivery the day before we left and trusted that we would receive the entire bundle of mail and newspapers that arrived during our absence the day after our return as Tim requested. Perfect.
So off we went, had our fabulous birthday week, returned on a Sunday and fully expected to find on Monday morning our big happy pile of newspapers - the full week away's worth - and a tidy bundle of mail. The weeks worth of mail showed up in the mailbox that afternoon, banded and with the printout of our hold request tucked in exactly as we'd hoped. Thank you Post Office.
We arrived to find that the local newspaper did not hold back the papers but a kind neighbor tossed them into our courtyard where they could not be seen from the road. Thank you kind neighbor :) The local paper is only bi-weekly so there were only two papers delivered in our absence, so it was really not a big deal that they didn't withhold them (especially thanks to the forethought of the kind neighbor). I opened them and devoured them immediately.
But, there was no daily newspaper at the end of the driveway on Monday morning. Not the bundle of the entire week away, not even the one paper that absolutely should have been delivered that day. Dang! Well perhaps they will resume normal delivery the next day. Perhaps there was some sort of misunderstanding on their part.
But nope. Tuesday morning rose bright and shiny with no daily newspaper. (sigh) By the time I realized that no paper had been delivered Tim was already on a plane headed for a week's business in California. Doubledang! I really missed reading paper. As I've already established in another post (somewhere) I am kind of a newspaper addict. Without my daily newspaper, the entire day just feels wrong.
I went online and tried to figure out how to contact them but since Tim pays the bills online I have no idea what our account number is and as it turns out, they need that information to process my request, my attempt at contact got me no place. Is there such a thing as a tripledang?
Wednesday the local paper arrived and I devoured it. I read it very slowly to make it last. I even read the ads (which I usually skip) and the obituaries. Thursday, no newspaper still. When Friday rolled around with an empty driveway, I found myself seriously considering re-reading the Wednesday local paper. I thought about just buying a copy of the daily news but it's there is a principle at stake here. We already paid for these papers and they should be at my house! I teetered on that decision for quite some time. Saturday the latest issue of the local news was delivered and I did my happydance! I read it both on Saturday and again on Sunday wisely assuming that the big fat glorious Sunday newspaper would not arrive. This time I was correct. It did not.
Tim contacted the newspaper on Monday and explained the situation. They were surprised that service had not resumed and promised that beginning Tuesday, regular daily delivery would be in place. Tim asked about the papers we did not receive which we should have (at this point two weeks worth!) and, just as a matter of fact, we have already paid for. They hemmed and hawed and finally admitted that we would probably not get those. Sigh. Ok. Fine. Just get us back on track please.
When Tim told me what they said he added that they were going to try to cobble together as many of the missing papers as possible for us. I snorted dismissively and said, "Suuure they are. I'm quite certain that they are scurrying around hard at work on that one" in an unnecessarily snotty tone. (it's unusual but I can be a real pill sometimes) And then I made the BOLD Sam prediction that the newspaper people would not even try to find the missing papers and we would just have to learn to live with a big old gap in our knowledge base. And further while I was annoyed about it, I would learn to live with it and be begrudgingly satisfied just to have daily delivery again. Humph! (what a brat !)
Tuesday morning I walked to the end of the driveway hoping to find that Tuesdays newspaper awaited us and found this lovely big fat juicy bundle of newspapers in a bag that says, "Hope you had a nice vacation. Glad you are back!" in big read letters across the top. I was so excited, I fairly danced my way back into the house! "Look what we have!" I called out! Every single solitary missing newspaper was in the bundle! I was not just wrong, I was wrongity wrong. I was so completely totally entirely wrong! And I am delighted to say so. Somebody actually did scurry around finding every single missing newspaper for us! Wow! Thank you newspaper people!
It's going to take me some time to catch up but I have them all in order from the furthest day out to the most current day and I am ready to roll. So here is my most current and deliriously wonderfully wordy project before me:
Rarely have I been so happy to be so wrong! Let the reading begin!
I almost didn't write this post because I don't want to freak out anyone who was even remotely considering coming to visit us. But in the spirit of honesty, here goes:
I'm not quite certain how it happened, but somehow, as it turns out, we have a lizard in the house. It looks a lot like this one.
They are tiny and they are fast. Like amazingly fast. Lightening fast. Blink and they are gone fast. Magic trick fast. My guess is that when either Tim or I were entering or exiting the house, this little guy (or girl - I have no idea) saw that split second of opportunity and went for it. We had no idea of course.
I have no idea when this happened but I found out recently when I stepped into the utility room. I was wearing no shoes, only socks, so I was probably quieter than usual and the lizard didn't hear me coming. I opened the door and just before I stepped into the room I saw, directly in front of me on the floor, the lizard. The lizard saw me and froze. I said something brilliant like, "What are you doing inside? You don't belong in here" (I'm clever that way) and then ever so slowly, so as not to startle him, I gradually moved into the room. Lizard didn't move except to watch me carefully.
Ssslllloooowwwwllllyyy I walked to the door and even more slowly opened it. "Go ahead, little Lizard" I encouraged, "Time to go outside and join your friends." Lizard responded by dashing under the water heater. Dang. I tried to chase him out from under the water heater by poking the long end of a wooden spoon in his general direction. Important note here: I do not want to kill him. I do not even want to hurt him. I just want him back outside where he belongs. No matter, the spoon didn't work at all. I think he just played it like a dodgeball champion until I gave up.
I went to get a flashlight so that I could see what I was doing and while I was doing that, he left for another hiding place. Ratz. Now it bears noting that lizards are harmless. They do not bite. They do not sting. They do not stink. And I have no idea why on earth this one prefers to be inside.
There were no other lizard sightings for a few days. And then last Friday when I went into the guest bathroom to clean it, there he was, starring up at me innocent as a little rose. Except of course it's a lizard. 'Well guy, should we try this again?' I asked him as I slowly put down my cleaning supplies. He looked back at me as if to say, "You and what army?" The instant my knees hit the floor he dashed under the vanity. 'I see you" I told him as I peered underneath. "I see you too" I imagine that he said back to me. Turns out that I cannot reach him in that back corner under the vanity. "Dang!" I sat back on my heels to think.
This time I decided that I'd wait him out. I moved back into the guest room far enough that he couldn't see me, not even the shadow of me, and I waited ready to pounce. And I waited. And I waited. "Well gosh, this is boring" I thought to myself, "There are so many other things I could be doing right now!" I got hold of myself, grabbed the cleaning supplies and went ahead and completely thoroughly cleaned the guest bathroom. The lizard is now springtime fresh. Once again, when I checked under the vanity again, he was gone. Snuck out while I was cleaning obviously.
The most recent occasion of finding him was when I was vacuuming in the family room yesterday. I was plugging in the vacuum and saw movement out of the corner of my eye and caught him skittering from under the TV cabinet to under the sofa. I didn't even try to get him out from under there. It's so low to the ground even my arm doesn't fit beneath the sofa. When I finished cleaning the family room I left with a warning, 'Some day Lizard, some day I will win and you will be outta here!" As I was walking from the room I swear I heard a tiny high pitched giggle.
Now that Tim is back home I am certain that this will be resolved. Anyone who is icked out by the thought of a lizard loose in the house take heart, the lizard eviction process has begun. As I say, Tim is on this which is the same thing as saying it's taken care of. This housecat of a lizard is the same as gone.
Your inside days are numbered, Lizard..This is your last warning!
The main street of Venice Island is actually not Main St at all. It's Venice Avenue. I've always loved what a beautiful introduction Venice Ave is for visitors to our fair isle. As a visitor approaches that initial rise onto the Venice Avenue bridge the first thing to admire off to the right is the old Venice Train Station which is lovely preserved piece of Venice history (and now serves as a bus station). In the same area is a glimpse of the gorgeous Legacy biking/hiking trail. Then as visitors up and over the crest of the bridge they can look out of either window to lovely views of the water and boats of the Intercoastal Waterway which leads right out into the gulf of Mexico. Then has the car hums back down the other side of the bridge onto the island there is a traffic light and directly ahead is our part of Venice Avenue.
One side of the Avenue is traffic west, the other side is traffic east so there are two lanes in each direction with the prettiest little median in between. Lined with beautiful palms trees and dotted with greenery and flowers it is a feast for the eyes. The top of Venice Avenue is bordered by shops and restaurants, benches and awnings, a park on one side, and endless things to see. This gradually segues into blocks of lovely old houses with an even prettier, wider median that has a path weaving through it and old oaks gently canopying the street. And all of this leads you eventually straight to Venice Beach. It's a straight shot west.
But right now it's not so pretty. It's all torn to crap. Oh I get it. Sometimes you have to make a mess before you can make something look better. I do understand. And I agree that the road needed to be resurfaced. It was pretty lumpy, bumpy. And if the arborists all agree that some of the trees were damaged or diseased and needed to come down, well that happens. But I have seen the artists rendering for what they intend to do to "improve" the look of Venice Avenue and well, hmmmm. Not sure how much of an actual improvement it is.
It will be different than it was for sure and sometimes different is good. But sometimes people change things just for the sake of change. So it's not better, it's just different. And other times people latch on to a new idea just because it's new, and again, not necessarily better.
Part of the charm of Venice Island overall is it's history and I love the way history is celebrated here. The first time I visited the island I was captivated because I felt as if I was stepping back in time a little bit. There was the feeling that everything here had always been that way and that it always would be; frozen in time (well as frozen as anything can be in Florida). Venice Island is unlike any place I've ever been. It feels like old Italy, no wait, more old Florida, no wait, it's the deep south, hold on, it's a seaside village.... I guess it's hard to describe. It has a small village feel for all that it is a city and there is a real sense of community with it's residents. It's peaceful and sweet and alluring and it is a little bit like living in a bubble because as soon as I drive back over the bridge off the island, that feeling is gone. It is unique.
I fear that the "improvements" are going to take away that uniqueness and while I am certain it will be very nice, I am concerned that our Lovely Old Venice Avenue is going to be rather generic looking, like any other nice Left Coast Florida town. And that would be a damned shame. I hope I am wrong.
And meanwhile it's a mess. Just this weekend somebody (I assume a visitor) was the wrong way on the only part of Venice Avenue that is open and traffic was rather a mess from that. And for now, when the wind blows down the street, the dirt snakes through the safety barriers onto the sidewalks, the al fresco diners, through any open doorways and onto the passersby. And then too, not to be superficial about it all, it's just not pretty right now.
It's all supposed to be fixed and ready to go in November and if that's true it will most likely be the first construction project in the history of Florida that was completed on time. But I have my fingers crossed and I am trying very hard to reserve judgement until I see the finished product. And in the meantime, I am making it a point to frequent the shops and restaurants on Venice Avenue because you gotta know that this construction zone mess is impacting them negatively.
Anyone local who is reading this, please get out there and support the businesses on Venice Avenue now through the end of this project. Everyone else, please keep a good thought. This too can happen to you! Construction projects are necessary and what's more, they are everywhere!
Well, it had come along eventually. The last day of the Birthday Mystery Trip. We elected to go into town and poke around Asheville for awhile. Some people had specific shops they wanted to check out and others of us (like me) were just happy to wander around and happen across wonderful things. If we didn't walk on every single street in downtown Asheville, we covered at least most of it. We are intrepid shoppers.
Inexplicably, we found, right on the streets of Asheville in a large open area, a cornhole game set up. Naturally we had to play. Julie won handily and as it turned out, she had never played before! Beginners luck? Or is she just a natural?
We admired the artwork, both statues and murals that we saw along the way and enjoyed listening to the streets musicians as we strolled along. We went to multiple bookstores, where Julie and I both found some wonderful reads and Jessie found an adorable pair of "reader" eyeglasses that I loved but did not buy. (If I hadn't already bought the book they would definitely have come home with me though). We darted in and out of a lot of clothing stores seeking the perfect tee-shirt for Jessie, Chocolate stores primarily for Hurley but honestly, we all enjoyed the chocolate stores, a potato chips shop where Julie and Hurley found wonderful treats and walked by shops of every shape, size and specialty imaginable.
One of the ones that cracked me up the most was a yarn store that knit "cozies" for the lampposts outside the shop. Looked like the lampposts were wearing afghans. One of my favorites of all the shops we saw happened to be the last store. It's called the Mast General Store. It was glorious. So much to see everywhere you looked and most of it had a rather retro vibe. Including an old fashioned candy section that was enormous! Barrels upon barrels in row upon row of Mary Jane's and Toffee's, Jelly beans and lollipops, Pixie sticks and root beer barrels and everything in between. You could choose just one lollipop or a dozen because they priced it by the pound. That was so fun! Julie found a very pretty amber suncatcher and Jessie finally found her perfect tee-shirt. Hurley and I contented ourselves loading up our buckets.
Once done, we Uber-ed back to the house to spend the remainder of our time together once again, talking, laughing, watching the ducks, watching movies, eating good food and making great memories. Corbin very thoughtfully brought some unusual snacks for Hurley to review for his Instagram site (including one from Scotland that was Whiskey and Haggis flavoured!) It was interesting to watch Hurley with Jessie as his "camera person" film his review. Mostly, we just enjoyed the novelty of being together.
We had some great meals too. One of my favourites was a place called, Louellas, which I neglected to take any photos of. It looked a little shabby on the outside but inside it was clean, the people were very friendly and the food was terrific! They had hulahoops and yet another set up of cornhole outside for patrons. I cannot hulahoop but Jessie hula'd the heck outta those hoops. Hurley and Corbin took another crack at the cornhole game too. I thought that was a wonderful idea and I wonder why other places don't offer things like that. Probably has something to do with potential lawsuits. Seems that most things do anymore.
One of the things that bind groups of people together (and particularly our family) is good food. We found a lot of it here and applied ourselves with great enthusiasm! I was too busy enjoying the food to remember to grab photos of everything, but here is a cross-section of some good southern cookin'.
Sunday we were up and out and on our way, the kids to the airport where they flew home (eventually - due to delayed and cancelled flights. It was an unfortunate mess but eventually everyone safely arrived where they needed to be though it was a realllllly late night for Corbin and Julie in particular) . Tim and I got back in the car and drove the eleven plus hours to our starting point.
So that's kind of it. The entire story. I'm sure I missed a few things but you got the gist of it. Start with Awesome and move forward from there.
Once again, it was the best surprise of my life and the best birthday of my life. Everyone in my family is now forever absolved from ever having to celebrate or even acknowledge, my birthday again. I left with a heartfull of wonderful moments.
Ready for more about the Birthday Mystery Trip? Okay then. The next stop, which was also the final stop on this trip turned out to be Asheville NC where instead of staying in a hotel which is what we normally do, Tim rented an entire house! It was a lovely place, set back from the road and nestled into a lovely, green copse. This was the view from the kitchen table. Not exactly a hardship, right? Green lawns, a pretty little creek, trees galore and although you cannot really see them here, many different sorts of ducks and geese which turned out to be very entertaining to watch.
We arrived, once again, in late afternoon and once we hauled our crap into our temporary digs we set out for town to find food. Asheville is adorable. It's a college town so there is a specific and creative vibe to it but there is also the edge of history which has been beautifully preserved. Our landlord made several restaurant recommendations, which was very kind, and we checked out one of those, The Twisted Laurel. He did not steer us wrong. The food was excellent. We ate outside and watched the world go by before returning to the house. We finished the evening by watching the ducks until it was too dark to see them anymore.
The next day we decided to go to the Asheville Botanic Garden. It was beautiful but I question the name. It was actually more of a Nature Preserve with lovely bridges, a stream, hiking trails, loads of trees and a few clumps of interesting native flowers here and there. We hiked up and down trails for hours, taking photos and enjoying such a beautiful and peaceful environment.
Once it got too hot to be out in the sunshine anymore, we drove around the general area for awhile admiring the small towns, making note of various restaurants, getting the feel for the place. Every time we crested a hill and I saw those beautiful mountains in the distance I thought of Colorado.
Eventually we made the way back to "our" place to clean up and change for our fancy dinner and, unknown to me at the time, my BIG surprise (which I wrote about on Tuesday). That evening, after dinner and finding out about the kids being there, eating, talking, laughing, and in my case, crying, we all six of us, went to the house and got the kids settled into their rooms. Nobody wanted the evening to end and we stayed up way too late, catching up! Eventually we had to end the day and rest up because Friday was BILTMORE DAY!
Ever since the first time I heard about Biltmore House, which was a Very long time ago, I have wanted to see it. I have a "thing" for history and design and houses old and new and a preserved old grand home like this just fit perfectly into my particular niche. Julie has an even bigger passion for this sort of thing than I do, which is impressive ;) Biltmore did not disappoint. We had reservations ahead which were very wisely made for early on a weekday so while there were other people there, it wasn't massively crowded. I cannot begin to describe how amazing this house is. Jessie kept comparing it very accurately, to scenes from the TV mini-series "Outlander". I think even the guys were captivated by it. It's really difficult to describe the grandeur, the attention to detail, the magnificence of this home. And it actually was a real honest to goodness home for this family for three generations! Mind boggling!
I was both surprised and pleased with how much of the house we had access to. The tour just went on and on and ON! And still we only saw a small fraction of the 250 rooms and 8,000 acres that comprise Biltmore House. We only saw a small part of the gardens which were gorgeous, naturally. There was a Chihuly exhibit on the grounds as well. Perfectly suited to it's setting!
Afterwards we ate at a lovely buffet restaurant on the grounds and wandered around the "village" area. There were yet more gardens, more Chihuly glass, shops, a small petting zoo, a little Vanderbilt museum and a stables area that offered horseback riding (which we did not do).
Overwhelmed with the enormity of what we saw, weary from the walking and reeling from processing it all, we retreated back to the house for more talking and laughing, puzzle working, movie watching and ultimately pizza eating.
We had only one day left of our adventure and we needed to conserve our energy. I'll wrap up the trip tomorrow so if you have been enjoying coming along for the ride, I'll see you again soon :) If this isn't your thing, that's just fine. I promise that next week I will have moved on to the next idea swimming around in my noggin.
Yesterday I jumped ahead to the absolute BEST part of the birthday week mystery trip but honestly, every bit of it was wonderful. So today I'll back up to the beginning. And remember I had no idea what was about to happen at all. I just knew we were travelling. And there is always a certain amount of prep involved with any trip.
First of all, I had to put on vacation colour polish on my toes. Generally I wear a colour that isn't too showy and goes with everything. Usually either coral (which honestly goes with everything I own and I have no idea why) or this metallic rose/gold colour which practically matches my skin only shiny. But a vacation calls for a change. Before vacation I always find something that is utterly out of character like sky blue or pale yellow with sparkly bits or a jarringly bright orange. This time it was bright peony pink. Not only did it not go with anything I packed but it clashed wildly with my red sandals. It was perfect :)
Then of course I had to plan meals around what was already in the 'fridge to use it up rather than throw it out. At the beginning of the week, it's no big deal and meals are not really out of the ordinary. However as the week goes on, the meals get stranger and stranger until I am practically reduced to serving peanut butter with cornflakes and tap water. Waste not, want not and all that.
I always feel the need to do a huge house cleaning too. I'm not sure why it's so important to me, but I want to come home to a very clean house. Not that it usually isn't tidy but there are degrees of clean. There is the "it'll do" level where I am satisfied if nothing is sticky, the house doesn't stink and while it's obvious that people live there, there are no piles of debris stacked around on any of the horizontal surfaces. Then there is "company clean" where I want everything to fairly gleam with polish and cleanliness. The house smells of lemon with faint hints of bleach, there are vases of fresh flowers around and nothing is out of place. When things are "company clean" you know that I have not only cleaned the things you immediately see but even the things you don't usually notice, like light fixtures and the top of the refridgerator. The" I'm about to travel" clean lies somewhere in the middle.
Then of course there is the laundry. It must all be done so that A) dirty clothes have not been fermenting while we are away but also B) so we have everything to choose from when packing. I never know for sure what I'm going to pack until the last minute. Especially on mystery trips. Obviously if we are flying somewhere I need to edit my choices down to one normally sized suitcase. However, if we are driving, I can pack that car to the rafters if I so choose. It was while packing that I learned that this was going to be a driving trip. Rafters it is!
Tuesday morning bright and early, we jumped in Tim's car and drove to...…..a rental car place. (?) I followed Tim who was driving the rental car back home and we loaded up the rental vehicle. Interesting.
It was a very comfortable car and I had my own temperature control for my side so I was happy happy :) We were on the road and heading...….north!
If you are going to drive in Florida the first thing you need to know is that Florida is a much larger state than you probably realize. It takes forfreakinever to get out of this state. But I contented myself with looking out the window, listening to music, working on crossword puzzles and occasionally games on my tablet. I found this quiz on line: "55 Things you should know about your partner". We did very well. It was fun and interesting and managed to kill about an hour of the drive. By mid-afternoon we rolled into Savannah!!!! Our first stop.
I've only been to Savannah once before. But it was the wintertime, wet, cold, gloomy and much later in the day. Not a good first glance but I was still interested enough in what little I saw to mention to Tim, at the time, that some day I wanted to return. Apparently this was the day!
We checked into a funky place called The Bohemian on River Street. It was lovely and weird with chandeliers made from shells and jeweled light covers and a river view. Gorgeous.
We dropped our stuff in the lovely room with a bang and without another moments hesitation headed out to explore Savannah. I don't know if you've ever been there. If not, let me see if I can describe it for you. She is elegant, charming, quirky, classy and welcoming. Like an uptown version of the French Quarter of New Orleans and I adore New Orleans.
Cobbled and bricked streets led to interesting shops and restaurants and lovely homes at every turn. History surrounded us but it's living history. These aren't just museums but people's homes and businesses and churches. I am particularly drawn to the architecture of the place. It's about the details. Both form and function. Sigh, I am in love.
We walked and oogled and photographed and explored our way from the river all the way to the fountain at Forsyth Park which was even prettier than had been described to me.
We passed so many interesting restaurants and adorable shops and of course gardens and parks every few blocks with benches to sit and enjoy the view. We were surrounded by greenery and flowers even in downtown. It was so beautiful!
We ended the day with a fantastic meal and a walk along the river to watch the sunset. Perfect.
All in all, it was an amazing first day and I had no idea that it would get even better as the trip continued. How could it possibly be any better than that first day? Oh, how little I knew.
If you are still interested in the travelogue, stay tuned because tomorrow we move on to the next stop!
Soooo, it's been a week since I've posted. Did everyone have a terrific 7 days? I certainly hope so. I did! My birthday week mystery trip was wonderful, fabulous, amazing, terrific and an incredible surprise! I will tell you about the entire trip, but first I'm just going to skip ahead to the very best part. Throughout the week I'll get to other awesome parts of the trip but today will just be about the pinnacle, the tippitytop, the best of the best.
I will set the scene. Last Thursday evening. Tim had told me before I packed to bring one nice outfit. Not a formal thing, no black-tie event, but a decent, out-to-dinner type outfit. So I was prepared, clothing-wise. Reservations were for 6 pm. Ok. I was ready. My new cute sea-green capri's, a pretty summery white blouse, white shawl (in case it gets chilly 'coz AC makes me cold!), my navy wedge heels. I had no idea what the name of the restaurant was but I was prepared for anything. Or so I thought.
About twenty of 6 we drove into town and began the futile search for a parking spot. At one point we thought we had one, but it turned out to be a loading zone (mis-marked as a regular parking spot) so that didn't work. We finally found a parking garage, there was one available parking spot that was not quite on the top floor and we began walking toward this mystery destination. I fretted a little bit because our reservation was at 6 and it was already after. "do we need to call and let them know that we are running an eensie bit late?" I asked as we walked. "Nah" Tim responded, "I think it'll be okay."
The restaurant turned out to be called, Tupelo Honey. Is that adorable or what? My first thought was that it must be a fabulous place because it was packed with a lot of people waiting . Just masses of people talking and laughing and, apparently, content to wait for their table which is always a great indicator of a restaurant worth waiting for.
We squirmed our way in through the crowd and up to the desk. It was rather noisy at the front and I was doing my usual head-on-a-swivel looking everywhere, taking it all in while Tim talked to the hostess. It smelled divine. I'm sure I gained a few pounds just breathing it all in.
It was a bustling busy place crammed with people, but despite that, all of the staff were smiling and the guests looked very happy to be there. More good signs. After a few minutes, a little blonde girl led us down a narrow path to a table toward the back. I didn't see any empty tables so I was confused. Where was she taking us? Was there another table around the corner? The little blonde girl turned around and walked back to the front. I assumed that there had been some sort of mistake so I turned to follow her back to entrance as well confident that we would sort this all out. Tim stopped me and pointed to that last table again. I looked at the table again. There were still people sitting there. Four people. Two men and two women.
Oh wait a minute. That guy looks just like Hurley. Honest, he could be youngest son's dopleganger. Blink blink. And that looks like his wife Jessie sitting next to him. And daughter-in-law Julie! And middle son, Corbin! Holy Crap! Double-take, Triple-Take.
There before me were 2/3 of the rest of our family! I just couldn't seem to process it. I stood there frozen in place. Tim pulled out my chair and with his gentle nudge, I sat down, stunned. I began to cry. I couldn't seem to stop crying!
'Why are you here?" I asked. "I don't understand". I think I said that a dozen times.
"Happy Birthday!!!" was the response.
"How long will you be here?" I finally changed questions.
"Until Sunday!" "We are staying with you guys" "That's why I rented an entire house" were the kinds of answers I got.
I couldn't seem to process what anyone was saying.
Luckily the waiter came for our food orders so I had time to collect myself while looking at the menu. I don't even remember what I ordered to be honest. Though I do remember that it was yummy.
Eventually, bit by bit, person by person, they filled me in.
So, as it turns out, way back in November, Corbin and Julie came up with the idea that for my 65th birthday he and Julie would come here, secretly, to surprise me. He contacted Tim who, knowing how hot and humid it can be in Florida in July suggested an alternate idea which was that we could meet somewhere else. Corbin and Julie contacted Hurley and Jessie who also thought it was a good idea. (Oldest son and his beloved were not able to join us). Between the five of them, they went back and forth with emails for months, throwing out ideas and suggestions and finally coming up with this plan. The amount of planning and organization and coordination involved was nothing short of preparations for a space shuttle launch. And I had NO Idea At All!
It was the BEST surprise of my life and resulted in the BEST birthday of my life.
The kids arrived earlier on Thursday, met up at the airport, rented their own car (together) and drove into town. They wandered around town a little bit, checking the place out and dodging sporadic rain showers for awhile and then picked up the birthday cake they ordered for me. Oh yeah, Hurley & Jessie did some research and ordered a birthday cake for me from a local restaurant and carted it ahead of time to the restaurant where the staff kindly accommodated that. (photo above) It was delish! I do remember eating the cake. Sooo Goooood.
So while Tim and I spent the first two and half days together, just the two of us, on the mystery birthday trip weekend, the remainder of the trip was the six of us. And it was awesome. Epic even.
Best. Birthday. Ever.
It was around this time last year, as I recall, and come to think of it the year before that (you see a pattern emerging) that I took a week off. Well, I'm doing it again! You see, it's Birthday Time! My birthday is on the 9th and Tim's is on the 11th so we celebrate twice in one week!
Originally actually Tim and I celebrated our birthdays together on the 10th. It seemed efficient and fairly humble. Just something small and very family oriented. Dinner with us and the kids, a special treat for dessert, a few simple gifts and cards and it was very sweet. But the kids grew up and started lives of their own and moved away, then we moved, then we moved again. It's getting to be a habit! So now it's just us. And we decided a few years back, in fact, before we moved to Florida, that since we couldn't be with our families on birthdays we needed to do something to make our birthdays extra special. We began making a vacation out of our birthdays.
Often it was actually more of a staycation with lots of relaxing and day trips which suits me right down to the my toes. But other times it was a bigger trip, further away and even more exciting and that is just fine with me too. And I never know what it's going to be.
You see, Tim likes to surprise me. I like to be surprised. Isn't it nice how that worked out? So while we both have next week off, only one of us knows how and where that week is being spent. It could be at home with daily excursions which sounds very fun. It could be a matter of jumping on a plane or a bus or a train or a boat or a space ship for all I know, and that sounds very fun too! But I have no idea. None. And what's more, I like it that way! I love the surprise! But I'm also the person who doesn't want to know how the magician pulled the rabbit out of his hat too. So you are warned, if you happen to know, do NOT tell me!
Tim is thoughtful about this surprise, he will give me a hint or two about how to pack, if packing is needed but that's about it. And my anticipation grows ;) I have had a GREAT time on every vacation we have ever had so I know whatever it turns out to be, it will be the best time ever ;)
So, in short, I will not be here next week but I have no idea where I will be! How exciting is that??!! Meanwhile, just because I liked it so much the first time I wrote it (which sounds very much like bragging doesn't it? I apologize) I am going to repost my Birthday Rules which still apply, regardless of where we are or what we are doing.
1. Number one and most important on this hit parade: It's all about the birthday person. It really is. No exceptions. If it's your birthday, everything that day is about you. Period.
2. Of course, to be absolutely fair, I am not a person who really likes being the center of a big crowd of people. But a small, comfortable, familiar crowd is fine. In fact it's awesome. A small group of people that I really care about it absolutely perfect. If that group consists of me and one other person, sometimes that is the best group of all.
3. And there should be at least one treat that a person rarely has, like cake. Or ice cream. Or cake AND ice cream. And for heaven's sakes, if a person is going to indulge, it should be the good stuff. The real deal. No fake, crappy substitutes. And speaking as a person with Lactose Intolerance, if I'm going to suffer later, I want the suffering to be worthwhile, which means the ice cream must be primo.
4. There should be a few cards, some of them should have sparkles, some flowers, some funny, some touching or maybe thought provoking. I like cards. I set them up on top of the big display cabinet in the living room and admire them for far to long afterwards.
5. There should be some sort of contact from people far away, whether it's phone calls or emails or texts or facebook posts or telepathic thoughts, heaps of good wishes from folks far away makes a birthday extra special. To think that all of those people bothered to take the time to acknowledge your existence on your birthday shows that you matter in this life. That's important.
6. There should be no chores on your birthday. Not one single solitary gotta-do should be done by the birthday celebrant. Those things can either wait a day to be done, or someone else needs to do them. I'm immovable on this fact.
7. The birthday person gets to choose what or where to eat for dinner. And no matter what they choose, that's what dinner is. Doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. It is the ONE day of the entire year where nobody else's likes/dislikes/or personal opinion should take precedence regarding food.
8. It should be a happy day. Only positive comments and thoughts please. It should be a day of smiles and laughter. If there is something negative or sad that needs to be said, keep it to yourself for one more day. Not even boredom is allowed.
In the meantime, everyone please have a great week! I look forward to hearing about how much fun all of you had while I was birthday-ing. You already know that you will hear about my week once I return!
Hugs all 'round
Someone in this household, who is not me, head their hearing tested recently. Tim's doctor thought it was a good idea since his shingles episode was not just on his face, neck and scalp but also on and in his right ear. (poor baby!) Now that the rash is gone (though not the discomfort) he felt it was time to be sure that everything was okay.
It was a very good idea! I encouraged it heartily. The man hasn't had his hearing checked since grade school! As it turns out, everything was fine. His hearing was mostly in the normal range with a little bit of loss in the very high ranges which is absolutely to be expected. He served in the military, enjoys target shooting, has done construction work, used power tools, done yard work all sorts of lawn equipment and of course, listened to VERY loud music. All things that can be very negatively impactful on a persons hearing. So what a relief, things are mostly very good and we will periodically check to make sure that it hasn't gotten any worse as time goes by. Yay!!
While I'm sure there was at least a little bit of trepidation on Tim's part, he completely open to the experience. He was fully prepared to address whatever the results turned out to be. This man knows how to adapt to change.
Everyone does they just don't realize it. Each of us has been adapting to change throughout our lives. At some point we probably needed to get a new doctor, or hair dressers or move to a different school system. It feels both the same and very different because there are so many ways to do the exact same thing! Even going from elementary school to middle school is that weird almost a deja vu sort of feeling. For many kids it's the first time in their scholastic career that they move from classroom to classroom throughout the day. But it's still a classroom, with a teacher, and levels of expectation and books and studying and tests. Still each teacher teaches differently, no two classroom are "decorated" the same way and on and on. It is a very good introduction into learning how to adapt to change.
Although if you think about it, even before a child is in middle school there have been loads of adaptive behaviours. Think about it, the leap from being a precious though dampish blob of an infant who is utterly dependent on their parent for everything to a very mobile, talkative individual with an identity and personality unlike anyone else's who is able to cause destruction, create entire fantasy worlds, occasionally be helpful and express distinct opinions took a journey through hundreds of stages and changes. And that is just in the first five years of life.
So we all do it. We adapt, we change, we grow all of the time. Without even realizing it. So I am baffled when I hear someone say that "They want things to always remain the same" or they excuse someone else's resistance to something new which would improve their quality of life with "They don't like change". It's ridiculous. Nothing stays the same. Every single day we slough off dead cells and grow new ones which means our body changes constantly. Blood continually circulates. We age. We gain weight, we lose weight, we catch a cold, we need new glasses; these are all changes! Our brain changes too. We are receiving new information constantly and we adapt to that so lightning fast that we are unaware it is going on. You hear something on television, or gossip through the neighborhood grapevine, you read some little tidbit that interests you in the newspaper or maybe in an email or an instagram post. Whatever it was, it was new information. Your eyes and ears absorbed that information, your brain processed it and it produced a change and you adapted to it!
People crack me up. Too funny. When it's cold out, we dress warmly. When it's hot out, we turn on the fan or air conditioner. If we are hungry we eat. If we are sick we do whatever we need to do to heal ourselves. In other words, we adapt to change. All day, every day.
Change isn't a bad word. Different isn't a scary thing. It's just an unfamiliar thing. And the best way to make an unfamiliar thing, more familiar, is to embrace it.
Every time I've moved in my life, and that's a lot of moves, one of the first things I always did was to explore my new environment, get out there and learn it, get lost, wander around, see things, make it more familiar to me. I have always adapted more easily to change than most people I knew and I think I finally figured out why.
Caterpillar to butterfly :)
Tomorrow is Independence Day. The 4th of July! Picnics and BBQ's and fireworks abound as almost everyone in what is now the United States of America will be celebrating the day when, 242 years ago, 13 colonies worth of people decided collectively, that they wanted to be their own country and no longer merely a distant part of another country. Yes!
And since it's a Holiday, I will be out celebrating and not here typing :) Nope, I'm taking the day.
It's also one of my sisters-in-laws Birthday! Happy Birthday to her!!! Can you imagine how awesome it would be to have your birthday on July 4th? The entire country celebrates your birthday with you! And with fireworks to boot! Woohoo! Sweet :)
I'm not certain yet what we are doing. The forecast suggests rain. We already did a rain on the beach while waiting for the fireworks 4th last year. It was hilarious! We looked like drowned rats. It wasn't pretty, but it was funny. The firework show went on anyway which was the reward I suppose. But I'm not sure I care to have a second getting drenched on the beach fireworks watching 4th, y'know? It's been done.
Then there is the shingles issue. Of course by the time we would be walking over the beach the sun would be going down, but it's still kind of warm out. And heat tends to aggravate the situation. so that wouldn't be fun for Tim at all.
And of course there is the red tide. That's the saddest part of all. Red tide is an algae that exists in the gulf (probably elsewhere too, but for sure the Gulf of Mexico). 99.9% of the time it's non-issue, dormant, invisible to eye or nose. Nobody is even aware that's it's out there. Until it blooms. And then the stink, lordamighty, the stink is unimaginable. It makes people cough too. Nasty stuff. And even worse, it kills fish which get washed up on shore and then holy moley, let's add another stink layer to the already existing stench. Gag! Unfortunately, the red tide nonsense arrived maybe a week ago. It is slowly dissipating to be fair. In fact, took a test walk to the beach last night to see how it was. MUCH improved. There were people playing volleyball on the beach, a good sign, splashing around in the water, which is even better and I didn't hear anyone coughing which is more good news. But when I walked down one beach access point further south, there it was, a line of dead fish which is bad news. Hmmmmm. Need to give this some thought.
So the fact of the matter is, I have no idea what we will be doing for Independence Day. I'm sure food will be involved. Food looms large in our mystique. Hey, Maybe the movie Independence Day will be playing on TV?? That seems appropriate.
BUT whatever we end up doing, I guarantee you, we will have fun doing it.
I wish you all a safe, fun and happy Independence Day! Let the Celebrations Begin!!! See you again on Thursday
This article popped up in my news feed today. 50 summer foods you should never eat. I don't know why I read these things, they either depress me or tick me off.
Never is pretty definitive. NEVER. As in not at all under any circumstances ever. Not even just once in awhile. Or on the rare occasion. But Never Ever. Wow! That sounds pretty strict. Made me wonder what was so horribly awfully terrible that we should NEVER eat .
Well of course ice cream was on the list. OK I get it, it's fat, it's sugar, and for those of us who are lactose intolerant, fairly scary food, but it's also yummalicious. That's not a word, but it should be. As an occasional, once in a long while, extra special treat, ice cream makes a special day even more special. Ice cream should be allowed on rare occasions but nope, they say NEVER. Sigh.
Well that's downright sad but okay I get it. They, they mysterious "They" say no. So I will eat frozen yogurt instead. Nope! Turns out Frozen Yogurt is also on the NEVER list. What? Well yes, I suppose, if I really look at it, it is rather close to ice cream and of course I love it so it must be bad for me (that seems to be how that works). Ok. No Frozen Yogurt. Sigh. I'll have a snow cone.
NOPE! Snow Cones are also on the NEVER list. What the heck do you guys have against anything cold and sweet? It seems snow cones have too much sugar, as do frozen juice bars, Koolaid, sweet tea, diet soda, lemonade, slushies and any of those iced blended coffee drinks. Well now you are just being crazy. But the experts say NEVER so I guess I'll have to just drink water. I like water. I drink it all of the time, hot, cold, in between. But it's not special. Sigh. Okay I'll bring a big old thermos of iced water to the picnic.
What else will we serve at this mythical picnic?
Well, I was just going to throw some steaks on the grill.....? NOPE! Anything on the grill is a NEVER. Something about the carcinogenic properties inherent with grilling. What about the yummy properties that are also inherent with grilling. Sigh. What about sandwiches then. Pulled pork sandwiches maybe? NOPE! Anything smoked is also on the NEVER list. Seems smoking meats doesn't just preserve it, but also has lingering carcinogenic affects to say nothing of the evil bread that the meat is shoved between two slices of. No ribs, no hot dogs, no hamburgers, heck not even veggie burgers can be grilled or served on bread. EVER. It's on the NEVER list. Sigh
How about salads then? Macaroni salad, potato salad, maybe some deviled eggs? No, no and No. The fat thing. Same goes for nachos, potato chips, queso, soft pretzels and guacamole. They are also on the NEVER list. Could I maybe throw some corn on the cob on the grill then, I mean corn is a vegetable so that's good for us and it's extra good grilled right? Nope. It's on the NEVER list. Corn and peas are both "high sugar" vegetables and therefore tantamount to poison and then of course, the grilling thing. Sigh.
Seadfood is healthy though so maybe Lobster rolls are okay? Sitting on the dock, watching the boats sail by, smelling that lovely salt air and eating a lobster roll? Or fried clams? NEVER! Fat and Fried both. Anything fried will kill you on contact apparently since it's on the NEVER list. No French fries, no onion rings, no fried chicken, no funnel cake. NEVER EVER. Sigh. Kinda takes the fun out of a good carnival. Oh and no cotton candy or candy/taffy apples either if you were thinking of it. The Evil Sugar! They too are on the NEVER list.
And in case you were considering some trail mix or churros for a snack, forget it. Also on the NEVER list. Fruit cocktail? Nope. Fudge? Of course not. And don't even think about a pie. Pies are like weapons of mass destruction.
What's left? Well, green salads seem to be okay and most vegetables. I don't see melon or citrus fruits on the NEVER list. And of course water is always okay although I've tasted some pretty nasty water out there in my travels. Bigger sigh.
As it so happens, I like green salads, I like vegetables and I like fruit. But it's not very special. It's what I eat every day. So kind of what they are saying is to not ever have anything special. Be bored out of your mind with your food. Maybe that's how we lose weight, by being so incredibly bored with the food we are eating that we lose interest in it entirely? Bah!
Food is supposed to be a delight. Meals are intended to be a joyous occasions and events like carnivals and picnics and birthdays are to be celebrated. Part of my personal celebrations involve food. All kinds of food. Foods that aren't ordinary. Foods that taste good. Foods that we don't normally have. Foods that are fun!
For the record, I am going to eat stuff on the NEVER list. I am. I know I am. Not every day. Not every week. Not even every month. But I am going to eat it. And I'm going to enjoy the heck out of it.
NEVER read a NEVER list. It's not fun at all.
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.