"What happened to your eye?" Yup I'm hearing a lot of that lately. Obviously, I popped a blood vessel in my eye. It's no biggie. Really it's not. The eye is a wee bit more sensitive than normal but otherwise, it's not an issue. For me anyway.
This one wasn't too bad really. It was just that one inside corner of the eye. But sometimes it's the entire white of the eye, or scelera, that turns red. When that happens it truly is creepy looking. Even I can admit it.
But it's not as if I can control it. And it does happen to me with fair frequency. Sometimes one eye, sometimes the other and on rare occasions both. It happens often enough that we have a term for it in our house. "Devil Eye". Yup that's what we have dubbed it. It's no big deal if it's just us here at home. Tim doesn't care. It's when I go out into public. Yeah, that's when the fun starts.
You see, even though my eye doctor claims that it's fairly common for this to happen, it must not happen with sufficient frequency that most people witness it very often. And I know this because of their reaction to me when they see my red eye or eyes as the case may be.
I was at the grocery store yesterday with my one fully red eye. It was not like in the photo. There was no white at all in that eye yesterday. Because it was a beautiful bright and sunny day outside, I was wearing my sunglasses when I walked in. Without thinking, I left them on for a short time. When I reached the produce section, one of the guys working there asked, "Is there something I can help you with ma'am" And he gave me a big friendly smile. Suddenly, I realized I was wearing my sunglasses, kind of chuckled and as I lifted them off said, "I thought it was kind of dark in here"
Because I am the sort of person who looks people in the eye when talking to them, I did indeed peer right into his baby blues so I saw exactly the moment when he took in my blood red left eye. His pupils widened, his eyes opened more fully and then he looked just over my head. Not into my face any longer but right over the top of my noggin. "No thanks" I said, "But I appreciate the offer".
To his credit, his smile remained intact throughout the exchange but he couldn't turn away fast enough. Poor thing. I don't know if it's because the eye looks creepy, because he was afraid I had some dread disease or because he was concerned that I was going to put a voodoo curse on him.
Side note: Even if I knew how to put a voodoo curse on someone, regardless of how much they may deserve it, I would never do it. Ever.
As I continued to shop this happened over and again as I made eye contact. Some people were more chill about it than other people. My checkout guy was the least cool about it. He was smiling and friendly as I unloaded the cart. We didn't actually make eye contact until after I had paid. It was at that point he needed to hand me my receipt. He finally looked me in the eye and this look of absolute horror came over his face. He stopped talking in mid sentence, froze with my receipt in his hand. Then after a few beats, he took a deep breath, recovered, handed me my receipt, all while looking down, apparently examining his fascinating check out station. Poor thing.
Today it's better, faded somewhat but clearly not a "normal" eye. I am working at the museum this afternoon so we will see how the museum public deals with "Devil-Eye'. Maybe they will think I am part of the exhibit? "Devil-eye woman! Beware! She may put a voodoo curse on you!"
Nope. Sorry to disappoint. Not gonna happen.
Within a day or two it will fade and once again people will look me in the eye, without cringing, while we converse. I'm looking forward to it. Normalcy achieved once more.
At least until Devil-Eye comes to call again.
Saturday was my favourite day of the month! You know what that day is right? You guessed it! Saturday was Minock Day!
This month, it was Tim's and My turn to choose what we did.
We decided to meet in Ybor city at a particular parking garage. Why? Tim always has a plan. The parking garage is clean and neat and shaded from the sun, it has a very nice clean public bathroom, there is almost always plenty of parking to be had there AND, most importantly, it was less than a block away from the trolley that would take us to our first stop.
The trolley alone is part of the fun. It is definitely old school. Wooden benches, brass levers, canvas loops for anyone standing to hold on to if all the seats are taken, it is absolutely adorable and blessedly air conditioned which is not old school but I don't care one bit. Florida in July, yeah, I'm fine with the trolley not being a perfectly preserved piece of history.
privOur first destination was Trolley stop number 7. So once we arrived, we piled out and found our way around the corner and past the aquarium, then down what almost looked like a service road to the docks and ultimately to the American Victory Ship and Museum!
First things first, I have to publicly apologize to the Minocks. As I was trying to come up with an idea of what to do this month, I saw a listing for several museums. This is called the American Victory Ship AND museum. Somehow I skipped over the "ship" part, saw the word museum and thought, "Nice! Inside stuff for a Hot Humid Florida July day" In other words, I saw museum and translated that to Air Conditioning. I was wrong.
The American Victory Ship is exactly that, a ship. It is a World War II Merchant Marine Supply Vessel that is docked downtown Tampa and, according to their literature, it is available for private tours, group tours and field trips and can be rented for private events. What? Private Events? What sort of private event would you have here? I admit to being baffled on that one. Oh well.
It was very cool. Well no, that's not true, it was damned hot. But very interesting in spite of it. We paid our admission and then were set free to wander up and down the many, many decks, up and down hallways, into almost every room including the gallery, the map room, the radio room, the captains quarters and, and, and...well everywhere. It was pretty awesome.
The ship, which is 455 feet long, 62 feet wide and 109 feet high, was built in 1945 in only 55 days and served in WWII, The Korean War and the Vietnam War. It has circumnavigated the entire globe twice! And it's last cruise was just last March! Wow! Very impressive! Although I wouldn't want to depend on the life boats. The photo of the gaping hole in metal above was taken from below a hanging left boat. Plan on treading water or better yet, wear your life jacket if you cruise on this ship!
After checking out all of the decks, including the weapons , and resting a few minutes in one of the only two air conditioning rooms on the ship we were ready to move on.
Back we went onto the trolley and a return to Ybor City. From that stop it was only a few blocks more suffering in the heat to get to our next stop, The Columbia Restaurant.
Tim and I had eaten here before and loved it. So naturally we wanted to share that with our friends. It never disappoints.
1st of all, it is huge on history and charm. The Columbia Restaurant opened 110 years ago. Wow! It has been owned by the same family that entire time and is now being lovingly cared for by the 5th generation of the family. There are beautiful tiles and fountains and stained glass everywhere you look.
2nd of all, the service is incredible. Very formally attired ladies and gentlemen made certain that each patron is cared for as if they were a cherished family member. How's that for rare! Our server, Alfredo, must have read our minds because we never once had to wait for a drink refill, our menus, or our checks. He answered every question with great patience and consideration.
3rd, we finally had the opportunity to sit and chat and catch up with each other as we relaxed in that beautiful place. This is not Fast Food in any sense of the word, so we had plenty of time to pass the time of day and solve all of the problems of the world. It was glorious.
4th, and most important of all, the food is nothing short of amazing. Each of us ordered something different and each of us were extremely pleased with our choices. We left very full and very happy.
We tottered back to the parking garage on foot this time, partly to show more of the town to our guests and partly to walk off our meal. Once we arrived back at the cars it was Belated Birthday Time where I was given home made mini oreo cheeesecakes (holy cats!) that were kept in a cooler the entire time - no worries. And then was showered with amazing and wonderful gifts. I adore Birthday Month :)
So other than our pals, heat & humidity, who show up uninvited every July and August, it was a wonderful day, as it always is on Minock Day.
Next month, will be their choice of where we go and what we do. It would serve us right if we ended up shoveling coal in the engine room of a steam locomotive or digging in a coal mine in August.
Yippee! Wahoo! Yay! It's finally done!!!!!!!!!!!
"What is this crazy woman raving about now?" I can hear you saying. Yup I can hear you thinking. It's one of my superpowers.
Our bathroom has been under renovation for the past 3 weeks. It was desperately needed. Not only was it old and out of date, (peach tiles and gross yellowy/beigey/creamie "rustic" plastered wall) but it was falling apart. We literally had tiles taped to the wall. I wish I could say that I was joking about that.
It was more than a year ago that we were ready to take on this project. We got several bids, we started looking at tile and lighting and all of that sort of thing when one of the contractors asked if we had already had the plumbing scoped. No we had not. That had not even occurred to us. Considering the age of the house, it was strongly recommended. Because we recognize smart when we hear it, we did that very thing. As it turned out, the plumbing was in terrible shape and we ended up having to have the entire house replumbed. Dang. We put the reno on hold, had the plumbing issue taken care of and started saving our pennies again. Fast forward to early this past spring.
We again had several bids done and selected our reno guy. He wasn't available until July. Okay. We waited this long, we can wait a little longer.
We used the time wisely by hanging out in tile stores and bathroom supply places all up and down the west coast. Eventually we knew exactly what we wanted and made our purchases. When the reno guy called to say that he could start about two weeks earlier than anticipated, we were already ready to go. So exciting!
Tim and I have been through this reno thing before, we were prepared to make do but we wanted to minimize the upsidedownedness of it all. There is just something about a construction project, even a small one, that tends to take over the entire house. I was trying to avoid that. Keep it to a minimum. Hah! And if wishes were horses .... you know how that goes.
The day before he started, I emptied and cleaned that bathroom. There are two bathrooms in this house, the main bathroom which is on one side of the house and the guest bathroom which is on the other side. For the duration, Tim and I would be consigned to the guest bathroom. It is a teeny tiny itty bitty bathroom. It's so small, as the comedian says, you have to step outside to change your mind. It is small but it works. So, good enough.
I emptied the contents of the vanity into a laundry basket and put it on the floor of the guest room. Anything we might possibly need was in there, we just might have to dig for it. The guest room was already going to be a mess so one more messy thing didn't make it much worse. That was the plan. Let's keep the mess contained. Just the bathroom being worked on and the guest room.
You see, Tim ended up having to break down the guest room to make room for the vanity and the toilet from the other bathroom. He took apart the bed and leaned it all up against the wall: head board, foot board, side rails and mattresses. It makes for an ugly room but I really didn't want them sitting in the middle of the living room for three weeks. I mean, I suppose it would be an interesting conversation starter but geez. No. Just no.
So I folded up the bedding and stacked it in the guest room closet. But there wasn't room for the bedspread and extra blanket. I kept trying to find a spot for it in the guest room but it was taped out. So those things ended up on a chair in the family room. See already things were already leaking out of the designated messy area.
The new medicine chest/mirror and lighting fixture arrived (ordered online) and came in such enormous boxes that those ended up in the living room. The towels bars in a corner of Tim's office. More disorder.
The tile started out mostly just being in boxes stacked in the utility room but in a remarkable short amount of time ended up with quite a bit of it on towels on the kitchen table (on towels to protect the table you see). Reno guy's tools and equipment were stashed in the utility room by my washer/dryer. So now, we have a mess in the kitchen, the utility room, the guest room, the living room and the family room. We over shot our goal and the work had not even really begun!
The reno guy was great, he did a wonderful job. Once he demo-ed the room he found a problem that meant intruding into the closet of Tim's office so that had to be emptied. While our reno guy fixed the problem, he had to remove part of the closet wall (and later repaired it too of course) so Tim spent the 3 weeks of reno surrounded by the contents of his office closet. It was like working in a warehouse!
Reno is messy, it's crazy, it's noisy and for the duration the entire house will be covered in a fine coating of very fine dust. The reno guy cleaned before he left every night. And after he left I cleaned again and it still wasn't fully clean until it was all over.
We were very ready for the process to be over and delighted to have two functioning bathrooms again (we are so spoiled!) but it was worth every penny and every second of dust and noise and inconvenience. The new bathroom looks nothing like the old one, thank goodness. It's gorgeous! In fact right now, it's the best looking room in the house!
In case you doubt me, here is a slide show of the progress:
So it seems that because we chose this older home as our home (we keep doing that!) we are also committed ourselves to one major project a year. I wonder what our project will be next year?
Stay tuned to find out!
I get asked with surprising frequency, "How on earth do you write a blog?" and "how do you come up with so many ideas?" and "if I were going to write a blog, how would I start?". All sorts of blog-related questions come my way as soon as people find out that I write a blog. So I thought I would take this opportunity today to try to answer some of those questions.
Therefore here we go. Blog Writing 101.
Obviously the photo is me sitting at my "desk" getting ready to write today's blog.
So to start with, when I entitled this one, "how to write a blog", the first thing that popped into my head was a song by the late great Harry Nilsson, "How to write a Song" which starts out with:
If you write it on guitar
Place your guitar upon your knee
If you write it on piano
Don't do that
Place your fingers on the
Strings of your guitar
Not your piano
If you write it on piano, don't do that
So this isn't a song and we aren't writing it on a piano or a guitar but we are writing. So the principle applies.
Actually the first part is to have a vehicle for the creation of the blog. I use a site called Weebly. I actually create the blog on the Weebly site and it is then published to both Facebook and my own website: readthybook.com. Tim found the weebly site for me and it suits me just fine. I can import photos as single pictures, a gallery of three or a slide show. With text I can adjust the font, put in bullet points in I wanted to, underline, bold, there all sorts of options. Most of which I never use. I find Weebly to be very user-friendly (read Sam-friendly in particular) and whenever I have a problem, I just write too the nice people at Weebly, they get back to me right away and together we fix whatever the issue is. Nice.
Step two is to have an idea. I keep a little spiral notebook where I am forever scribbling down ideas for future blog posts. I get ideas from everywhere. It could be something I read in the newspaper, or online, or a magazine or a book or heck it might be from the back of a cereal box. It might be something someone said to me that sparks an idea. Ideas come from the photos I take, things that we do, places that we go.... In short ideas come from everywhere. And sometimes ideas come tumbling into my brain so fast and furiously that I have an entire page of ideas at one time. Other times, I sit here in front of the computer with....nothin'. Those days the blogposts I produce are, well lets just say, less than stellar.
Step three is a photo to support that idea. I take pictures all of the time and most often the photos in my blogs are pictures that I take. There are, however, rare occasions when it's not. Those few photos I import - for free - from sites like Shutterfly. I just google "image" and the topic and the possibilities pop up. I "save" the photo to my computer and then download it to the blogsite as I need it. Easy Peasy.
The next step is very important. Essential even.
A place to work. In my case, it's a very messy desk.
It's funny. Normally I am a very tidy person. Extremely tidy even. Perhaps even pathologically tidy. But my desk is a disaster. Stacks of library books, my various notebooks, sometimes magazines, pens, glasses, newspaper articles, my calendar, tissues.....what a mess! Every single day when I'm done writing, I tidy it back up immediately. And within hours, it's a wreck again as I add and subtract things from the pile, write down more ideas, grab this or that, write up lesson plans and work at my desk on other projects. Yes I do things other than write this blog each day. Yeesh.
It seems as if I'm never just doing one thing. I am writing while I am also cooking, or folding clothes, or texting with a friend, writing an email, doing some research or cleaning the house. So I write a little, clean a little, write a little, fold a load of nice warm towels straight from the dryer, write a little, go outside and water my flowers, write a little, bring in the mail, write a little bit, read part of the newspaper.....back and forth, back and forth. It's just how I work. It 's part of the process for me. I think about what I already wrote while I step away and when I come back I usually make a few changes, then I step away again and think about what I'm about to write, come back and write it, then step away again over and over. It can take awhile.
At any rate, I suppose the next issue is the actual writing part. Well, again, I start with the idea. Then the photo to support it. Then it's just a matter of actually typing. Once I get started, it just kind of grows. It's an organic kind of thing. The actual process of writing has always come easily to me. Often I do not know what I'm going to say before I start typing. Ideas continue to pop into my head as I am typing. One things leads me right into the next thing which folds into the next and keeps going until, I guess, I just have nothing more to say on the topic.
One of the really nice things about Weebly is that I can write ahead. What I mean is that some weeks I just have days that are so chokablok with appointments and other obligations that I don't have time to write. So I plan ahead. A day or two before I will write several blog posts and schedule them to be published for the days I do not have time to write. I might, for example, write Mondays post early Monday morning and then in the afternoon write Tuesday's post but schedule it to be published on Tuesday. Sneaky but handy.
So that's it I guess. How to write a blog. Or at least how I write my blog. I know that most blogs have a specific topic. Mine kind of doesn't. And that is the other most commonly asked question of me, 'What's your blog about?" I don't really have a good answer for that. I just write whatever I feel like writing about, whatever ideas pop into my head.
Now that I think about it, I must be the most self-centered person on the planet. What do I write about? I write about me! 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year and I've been doing this for nearly 3 years now! Holy Cats! And you lovely people are kind enough to keep coming back and reading it.
I suppose that does lead to the last most asked question which is "how do you get other people to read your blog". But I don't really have an answer for that. When I first started writing this, I told a few close friends and family members that I was going to give this Blog thing a whirl and I didn't have high hopes. In fact I had zero expectations. None. I honestly thought that I would babble onto some blog posts for a few weeks, maybe a month, have a pity readership of a few loyal friends and then it would piddle away into nothing.
But instead, to my surprise, my readership continues to grow. I have no idea how it happened. Honestly not a clue. But I'm pleased, I'm shocked, I'm delighted, I'm surprised and more than little baffled as to how it all happened. But, I guess as long as you keep reading and ideas keep coming to me, this blog will keep on happening.
So thank you all of my readers - without you this Blog would probably not exist.
Fair warning, this will be a teensy lit bit of a rant. I will try to keep it brief.
Second of all, this is just my opinion. It is not a stone cold scientifically proven fact. Just my opinion. Opinions are not facts, they are just opinions. Okay? I just want that clear from the outset.
Now then. I will presume that you have either heard or read of the brouhaha at Macy's over some plates. In case you did not, I will say it again. It's a whole big uproar over plates. The things you present food upon. Plates.
When I first skimmed the article I admit that I was curious enough to click on the link to actually see the plates in question. They are white plates with three circles on them. The smallest circle which is red I believe says something like, "Favourite Jeans". The next circle is a little bigger. It is a different primary colour and says some different sort of jeans like maybe comfortable jeans. I can never remember the second thing in a list of three. I am not absolutely positive what it said but it was something like that. The last circle which is yet another colour and is larger still and says, "mom jeans". That one I remember clearly.
They are not plates that I would ever in a million years buy. But still they are just plates. If you like them you buy them, if you don't like them you don't. It really is that simple. It's not a Big fat hairy deal.
Well some people did think it was a big deal. In fact they thought it was such a big deal that they immediately screamed that this was "Fat Shaming" and demanded - not requested but demanded - that Macy's remove the oh so very offensive plates from their store. Macy's apologized and banned the plates.
Why am I mentioning this? Because, once again, in my opinion, this entire hubub is ridiculous. The only thing more annoying to me than people who demand that others go along with whatever it is that they think, are the ones who do go along with them. NOT because they agree, mind you, Not because they have changed the error of their ways, but because they have bowed to pressure. It sets a bad precedent.
It is as if there is a group of people who have decide that they and they alone are the arbiters of what is right and what is wrong and all have to agree with them. We are all now supposed to have the same likes and dislikes. There is only one right answer and this very loud group of people are the ones who get to decide.
There have been a lot of things that I didn't like, particularly in the fashion world, but I didn't demand it be banned or boycotted. It simply wasn't my taste or my style and so I didn't partake.
For example, the Mohawk hair style of the.....80's? 90's? I honestly laughed the first time I saw someone sporting that particularly 'do. I couldn't help myself. It was so unexpected and so very unflattering that I laughed out loud. BUT I never told anyone else that it looked bad or that they shouldn't be allowed to wear their hair that way. (And now that I think about it, wouldn't it now be considered Cultural Appropriation?) I did what I always do, I applied one of my favourite sayings to it, "You be you and I'll be me". If you like it fine. It's not for me but hey, vive la difference.
It seems that there is a collection of folks who do not have the same easy going attitude. This certain group of people do the same thing with movies, television shows, music, video games and books. They decide that one is offensive in some way and then they seek to have it banned. Removed from the store shelves, taken off the air and out of the theatres. Why? Because THEY don't like it. They are offended by it.
Hmmm. Well, thank you for policing me as if I didn't have a single active brain cell. but what if I am NOT offended by it. What if I do like it? Doesn't matter. They believe that they get to decide for me. Nope. I am not okay with that.
If you don't like it, if you are offended by it, don't watch it, don't listen to it, don't buy it. But I get to make that decision for myself. I do not need anyone else to make my choices for me. If the issue here is that you are concerned that your child will somehow be tainted by the existence of ...whatever it is...then do a better job of policing your child's television & movie viewing, video game playing or book reading. Or even better, have a conversation with your child about how you feel about the whatever it is and why you feel that way. It's called communication and it's a wonderful thing.
I recall some neighbor telling my father one day how upset they were by the existence of the television show, Outer Limits. They ranted and raved and carried on and obviously wanted my dad to get on board the same bus. When the fellow finally stopped talking for a moment, and I think he finished with, "Don't you agree, Larry?" my dad said, "I would just like to point out that your television has an on/off button and a channel selector. If you do not like the show I would suggest that you either change the channel or turn it off."
Anyway, that's it. That's my rant today. I feel better. Thanks ;)
I have mentioned before that almost every week day, Tim takes a break somewhere in the vicinity of noon and if I am home, together, we take a walk. Weather permitting of course. During the rainy season, weather is far less permitting than other times of the year so sometimes we wait and walk in the evening, or mid-afternoon or if it's just a bugger of a day, we skip it entirely.
We miss the walk when we don't take it though. Partly for the exercise, partly for the break part way through the day. I think it's particularly important for Tim to be able to get up from his desk and the computers and the phones and just take that nice little walk.
I've noticed that we tend to have really great conversations during, what I have termed, the noonwalk. Both of us are still energetic and fired up by either something we heard or something we read and there is no lack of things to talk about. By the end of the day we are both tired and kind of brain-dead. While I am still functional enough to prepare dinner, serve it and clean up afterwards, that is pretty much the extent of my capacity at the end of most days. Tim has usually reached the point where point and click with the remote is all he really wants to do by days end. I totally get it.
Generally, we noonwalk the same route. It's roughly a 3 mile circle that takes us past the beach, of course, and depending on how many photos I stopped to take, or number of times I stopped to re-tie my shoes, or how many people stopped us to ask for directions, it's about a 40 minutes intermission in our otherwise busy days, Monday through Friday.
Most of the year, meaning, October through June, it's an absolutely delightful walk. The air is either absolutely perfectly comfortable or along about January or February, a wee bit chilly, and being outside is exactly where anyone would want to be. July through September however, not so much. It's hot, it's humid and by the time we get back we are sweaty and smelly and thirsty. Oh we do it anyway because we are crazy people. I'm just saying that walking conditions are not ideal during the worst of the summer.
But we've adapted to the heat and humidity. I mean it is still hot and we still are sweaty by the time we return, but we don't really notice it so much anymore. Or maybe we just don't think about it. It's like 2+2=4. July and walking outside equals sweaty - so what? Big deal, y'know?
The bigger issue, yes bigger than the heat and humidity, is that this is the rainy season. We anticipate that there will be at least a little bit of rain for at least a few minutes every day. So I always check the forecast first. And not just the overview either, I look at the local, hourly forecast AND the radar. I always look at the radar pictures. Is there is storm on the horizon? Which way is it coming? And then afterwards, we adjust our walk accordingly.
99 times out of 100, no even more than that, 999 out of 1000, this works. The checking of the forecast, checking the radar, checking the actual sky 360 degrees is an accurate picture of what the weather is going to do over the next 45 minutes of our noonwalk. And then there is that one time, that one in a thousand time, when it doesn't.
That was yesterday.
I did, as I always do, check all the things I always check, including the sky. Rain was expected, but not until mid-afternoon. We are in the clear, all systems go, ready for lift-off. And so we set out. We walked, we talked, and everything was both fine and dandy until we got to the absolute furthest point from our home. Naturally. Isn't that how it always works?
There was no warning, no thunder, no lightening, nothing helpful at all. There weren't even all that many clouds and the few clouds that were hovering above us were just kind of a light grey, not the deep dark scary clouds that anyone might possibly associate with a storm. So it was quite the surprise when the sky opened up and peed all over us.
Dang. Tim, because he thinks fast on his feet, immediately took off his hat and plopped it on my head. Our first concern is always the hearing aids. We don't want to ruin them! We headed home at a quicker pace. It was going to be at least 15 minutes, maybe 20 no matter what, so we tried to walk under the protection of trees as much as possible.
The rain was as fierce as only Florida Rainy Season sneaky butt rain can be and we were both soaked through in a very short time. When my hair started feeling wet, I took out my hearing aids and held them cupped in my hand, in my pocket for protection. Now I was still wet but at least the electronics were safe.
Who did that song, "If you like Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain?" Rupert Holmes? Is that right? That song kept running through my head. I actually don't mind walking in the rain as long as the "ears' are safe and dry. The rain was cool and refreshing on such a hothothot day. But by the time we arrived back at the house we were literally soaked to the skin. And our clothes had gone from being a cooling wet to a clammy wet. Ewwwww. We peeled off the drenched clothes, dried off and changed. (Our shoes are still sitting in the utility room trying to dry today as a matter of fact). My hair looked...well it looked like I had been walking in the rain. It's not a good look for me.
But the important part is that the hearing aids were fine. I immediately removed the batteries and left the devices open so that could completely dry. Which meant that for the rest of the day I was reading lips but, hey, what you gonna do? Today they are absolutely fine with new dry batteries and once again, I can hear! Yay!
So I suppose lesson learned, no matter what the weather report says, regardless of what the radar says, during the rainy season, I need to tuck a small zippy bag in my pocket just before we leave the house for the noonwalk. Got it.
I can be taught.
One of the biggest sins to avoid in my house growing up was wastefulness. Thou shall not waste: time, energy, eyesight, food or anything else. It simply wasn't done.
Collars and cuffs were turned, hems were adjusted, gussets were put in, books and magazines were shared, radios repaired, cars were maintained in the driveway, dirty things were cleaned and dented things either loved as they were or they were fixed. Both of my parents were raised during the depression and during those dark times they learned lessons that stayed with them forever.
All time was to be used productively. Thank goodness reading was considered a productive use of time or I would have been in trouble a lot! But sitting in the living room in the middle of the day was absolutely considered a waste of time. A waste of eyesight would be reading "trashy" magazines or romance novels. While I was never told that I wasn't allowed to read either of those things, I did hear the mutters about them being a "waste of good eyesight" which made me laugh because my eyesight was always terrible. I've been wearing glasses since I was 3 years old! A waste of energy would be trying to have a conversation with a person who isn't listening to you. I completely agree with that one.
Fabric was never wasted as long as Nana was alive. She was a genius with a needle. I remember her making curtains from sheets and a valance from a pillow case. AND it looked amazing! We handed clothes back and forth and up and down through the family. When our cousin Janet, who was older than Joy and I and therefore had much cooler clothes, handed down a box of outfits she no longer wanted, we were never embarassed by hand-me-downs, we didn't shun the clothes because they weren't new. Heck no! We were excited and delved into that box with big smiles, both hands and a lot of hope.
I remember one dress we inherited from Janet in particular. It was black velvet. And made of a really good quality velvet too. It was positively yummy. It was not only too big for either of us younger girls to wear, it was also much too sophisticated. Because I was the elder , Nana turned that beautiful sophisticated black velvet dress into a black velvet jumper for me. I adored it. When I outgrew it, it became a perfect black velvet skirt for Joy. I believe that, like most worn out clothes in our house, eventually it became part of a quilt.
But the biggest most important thing to never waste in our house was food. It was a very big deal. Nana would carefully save any leftover vegetables from dinner all through the week and re-present it to us in a green gelatin salad on the weekend. It was disgusting and we hated it but we were expected to eat it with no complain anyway. Don't be wasteful! Nana would carefully shave the blue mouldy bits off of bread or cheese, and tear the brown parts off of lettuce before making a sandwich and honestly I never batted an eye at that. But I drew the line at powdered milk.
It was too nasty to even consider. I would go thirsty before I would drink powdered milk. Real milk is bad enough but powdered milk makes me gag to this day just thinking about it. And when we didn't drink it we were ungrateful children and worse.....wasteful! We learned very early on to take only teeny tiny bits of whatever food was presented to us (so as not to be wasteful) because, frankly, other than Nana's baked goods, most of the food in our house wasn't very good. I completely understood, even back then, why they were the way that they were, especially about food. If you've ever gone hungry you appreciate having regular meals! Still it didn't make reconstituted powdered milk taste any better. Gross!
But now I am a grown woman with my own kitchen and my own rules and I have never EVER presented my family with a leftover vegetables in green jello salad. When things need to be thrown out, they are thrown out. And yet....and yet....that do not be wasteful thing is still ringing somewhere in the back of my brain. And I know this because I bought buttermilk last week.
As you may, or may not recall, last week I decided that I was going to make home made Cole Slaw for Tim. When I finally tracked down the recipe, buttermilk was the only ingredient that gave me pause. I knew I could easily find another use for any leftover raw cabbage (it's awesome on a sandwich instead of lettuce just for a change) but buttermilk?
So I started making a little list of things I could do with the leftover buttermilk. Heaven knows I'm not going to just throw it away..that would be wasteful!
We ended up with the Cole Slaw of course (which poor Tim ended up eating for three days straight! - no waste!) But also buttermilk fried chicken, a buttermilk coffee cake and tomorrow night with the last of it, probably buttermilk biscuits.
There will be a big sense of relief for me when I rinse out that empty buttermilk container and put it in the recycle bin. Whew! I used it all up. None of it was wasted! Nana would be proud.
That's probably why I rarely buy any specialty food items. If I buy, for example, sesame seeds to make Sesame Chicken, now I'm left with most of a container of sesame seeds. What on earth am I going to do with them before they are too old and yucky to use? At that point I am burdened with seeking out other recipes that use sesame seeds. And sometimes they also require ingredients that I do not normally have in my pantry. Yikes! More recipes to find! The pressure has increased exponentially. I don't need that kind of stress! Nobody does!
Still, occasionally stepping outside my pantry's comfort zone is a good thing. I know that Tim enjoyed all of the buttermilk related things that I made. And I had fun doing it too.
And just in case I get a hankering to make something that requires me to buy another container of buttermilk, does anyone else out there have an awesome recipe that requires buttermilk? Would you share please?
Yesterday we decided to completely ignore the lengthy gotta-do list we were facing and just go have some fun. We didn't have much of a plan really. It started with me asking Tim, in late morning as both of us were just starting to tackle a few things on the list but feeling very 'Bleh' about it all, "Hey, you wanna get out of here for awhile?" He said, "Yes!" with great emphasis, jumped up and immediately started putting on his shoes. I didn't even say "let's do .....something in particular". Just 'let's get out of the house and NOT do anything we are supposed to be doing' lit the fire. That was motivation enough.
So we threw ourselves together quickly, (and isn't it funny how we dressed so much alike? I assure you that was unintentional), jumped in the car, pulled out of the driveway and then Tim said, "Where should we go?' I had no actual plan, but for some reason a picture popped into my crazybrain of walking on the pier on Anna Maria Island. So I asked if we could go there, "Absolutely" was the answer and we pointed the car north.
As we approached Sarasota, Tim asked if I wanted to stop in at Selby Gardens first. Selby gardens is a gorgeous Botanic Garden where we are already members so at this point, a visit is effectively free. I like free. I peered at the sky which was darkening with ominous looking clouds and said, "Sure, let's play beat the clock and see if we can tour the garden before the sky opens up".
Now bear in mind that this is summer in Florida with an obvious storm heading our way. This means that A) it's hot B) it's humid and C) most of the garden is outside in the heat and humidity but that also means that D) it won't be crowded. And it wasn't. We like places that aren't crowded.
We slowly walked through the entire garden taking photos and enjoying the peace and beauty of it all. There was a glass art display there during this visit. Some of the art was actually in the gardens and some in an air conditioned building on the grounds. Naturally we had to check out the inside art exhibit at length. And obviously, we lingered a bit enjoying the cooooooooool air.
By the time we left, the storm had changed it's mind and moved on to plague someone else so on we drove to Anna Maria Island.
It really was only about a half hour further but for some reason it seemed like a very long drive. At first the road stretches through an area that feels very refined and reserved with beautiful "Beach Resorts" and high end condominiums and several gated neighborhoods of exclusive waterfront homes. But eventually it becomes a series of little beachy towns of smaller, funkier hotels and rentals and shops and restaurants with lots of colour and lots of kitsch and at long last we arrived at our destination, Anna Maria Island Pier.
Except, there was no pier. The pier was gone! What the heck?
As it turns out, the pier was sufficiently damaged two years ago in Hurricane Irma, that the town decided to just tear it down completely and rebuild it. They have a good start on it, but it's not finished yet. Well Dang. No matter. We parked the car and got out and walked around for a bit anyway, took a few photos and just enjoyed being in a different place. And playing hooky.
So we felt a little renewed and refreshed from our small adventure that didn't turn out exactly as expected. But as is always the case with us, we had a great day!
Hope your weekend was a really good one too!
Wow! Fifty years ago! I was 16 that year. We lived in Texas. The evening that the amazing footage of Apollo 11 landing on the moon and Neil Armstrongs famous footsteps aired on television I was standing in line with my friends to buy a ticket to a movie. I no longer remember what movie we saw, but I vividly recall watching the grainy black & white televisions that were mounted in the ticket booth and in the theatre lobby. Everything and everyone came to a complete halt and we all goggled as we watched history being made. I was such a science fiction fiend that this was especially huge for me. And it was actually kind of mind boggling for a little while. This was science fiction come to life! Wow!
I think anyone over the age of 5 probably remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing at that moment. And I find that both incredible and impressive. We have lived here for just over 3 years and I still cannot for the life of me remember our home phone number but I just this minute remembered what movie it was my friends and I went to see that night. It was "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid". If I think about it a little longer, I might remember what I was wearing. It is just a crystal clear memory that it might just as well have been last week instead of half a century ago.
It was such an exciting event. It felt life altering. It seemed as if life, as we know it, would never be the same again. The Future or Bust was the prevailing mood. Science fiction books were more popular than ever before, the genre spread out into movies and television. The sci-fi specific vocabulary became part of the normal vernacular. Without that moment, I have doubts that Star Trek or Star Wars would ever have happened. Can you imagine?
But then, of course, we didn't return. To the moon I mean. Which I always thought was kind of strange. At the time of the moon landing, there was talk of finding ways to create colonies on the moon. People debated endlessly and with either excitement and/or trepidation the idea of these colonies and what it would mean. Picture it: Children born and raised on the moon! Exotic vacations to the moon! Harnessing solar energy from the moon! Ideas were bandied about with abandon. It was a moment in time when it felt like anything was possible.
And then, and then, and then.......we haven't been back. Kind of disappointing really. Fifty years ago, I suspect that we all just assumed that by now it would be a rather ordinary thing to hop a quick flight to the moon. Not much different than a flight from the US to, let's say, Australia. But, nope.
It was particularly disappointing to people like me, science fiction nerds, space cadets. I was so into it, I should be embarrassed, but I'm not. When we lived in San Diego, from 1st to 3rd grade for me, I went on a school trip to Mount Palomar, an observatory high in the California mountains. I never got over that trip. I had long been a sky watcher anyway, so to find out that some people do this as a job???? It was thrilling beyond words can ever describe. I got to repeat and expand that experience in college when I made it a point to take Astronomy as one of my science courses. In the dead of winter, in Connecticut, we would stand on the roof of the school, joyfully freezing our fannies off, talking about stars and galaxies and nebulas and black holes while turns looking through a real quality telescope, night after night after night. My imagination ran wild.
I'm going to assume that money has been the biggest hindrance for forward motion regarding conquering space. That's what they called it back then. Conquering Space! Sounds very warrior-like and almost noble, doesn't it? But it doesn't matter because it didn't happen. After awhile, people kind of lost interest in space exploration. There was a rather vocal group who felt that the enormous cost of these projects could be better used right here on our planet instead. Another, even more vocal group, declared that it never happened at all. We didn't go to space, we didn't land on the moon and that it was all trick photography, shot on a Hollywood set. A third group denounced space exploration as an affront to God and warned of dire consequences if we did not heed their warnings. And time marched on.
About 15 years or so ago, Tim and I visited Cape Canaveral. It re-ignited my fascination with all things space (not necessarily spacey). We were lucky enough to have accidentally timed our trip with the preparation for a new launch. We saw that enormous flatbed that carries the craft from Point A to Point B at a snail's crawl. We saw the mock-up of the Apollo launch. We prowled the museum exhibits and displays for hours and we were utterly captivated by it all.
I remember reading about the experimental biodomes and biospheres that everyone assumed would allow the Moon (and eventually other planets) to be colonized. We saw it in movies and read about it in books. We were so sure it was going to happen.
It's certainly not a new idea. The first mention of a moon colony that I'm aware of was all the way back in 1638. Bishop John Wilkins wrote about his predictions of colonizing the moon. Sorry, Bishop Wilkins, here is it 300+ years later and nope.
It started to feel far more possible in 1954 when science fiction writer, Arthur C. Clarke wrote with remarkable detail what those moon colonies were like. It was as if he were reporting something that had already happened.
I was encouraged to read that there is a NASA plan to return to the moon in 2024. The cost of course is in the billions with a B. I have no idea what plans other countries have that may be similar but I do know that China, Russia and the US are especially interested. They always have been. Back in the day, it was called the "Space Race". Each country wanted to be the one that got to the moon first.
Maybe that was where it all went wrong. Instead of insisting on being the first country to land on the moon, perhaps it should have been a group effort. We could have been the first world to land a human being on the moon instead of the first country. By thinking more globally we cold pool money, training, research and all of our scientific knowledge and aspirations and this amazing universe could finally be known to us. By checking egos at the door, we maybe could walk through a brand new doorway into the future. And maybe that future starts with a colony on the moon.
There are so very many "firsts" throughout our lives. First steps, first words, first day of school! First job, first friend, first formal event. Oh my goodness there are so many Firsts! And for most people, while we go on to have 2nd, 3rd and 127th of things, and all of them are important, it's the "First" of anything is the one that stands out the most.
I imagine the inside of my brain to be sort of like the dusty, cob-webby attic of someone who never threw anything away. It's a big place that is just jam-packed with stacks and stacks of things in no particular order that makes sense to anyone. Things on top of stuff on top of doo-dads. TskTsk Tsk. It's all such a mess. EXCEPT for the section that holds firsts. All of that is just a tidy and orderly as it can be.
This comes to mind because back in Colorado, a couple who are very dear to us, just recently bought their first home. We are so very happy for them! Woohoo! Congrats! This is a huge! What an exciting step in their lives!
And of course it brought back memories of Tim and I buying our first home together.
When Tim and I first married, he gave up his smaller apartment and moved into my only marginally larger one. It consisted of a living/kitchen area, one bathroom, two bedrooms, Tim, me, the kids and two cats. We made it work, but knew we had to find larger quarters ASAP. So with great trepidation, we immediately began looking for a home together. Our budget was minuscule. It was so small it barely existed at all. But our realtor, bless her heart, was game to try. And she showed us home after home after home. And they all looked the same to us like rectangular boxes. Some of the rectangular boxes had two floors but most had one.
The interior layouts were virtually identical. There was nothing really wrong with any of them but none of them were really right either. My request was a more functional kitchen with work space, the boys specifically requested a yard big enough to throw a football around and Tim wouldn't consider anything that didn't have two bathrooms! But otherwise, we were open to suggestion. Or at least we thought we were.
It felt as if we were looking forever. One house was so saturated with cigar and cigarette smoke that we could barely breathe inside. Another house had a funky staircase that required anyone - even someone as short as me - to duck when walking up it or risk a concussion. A third had a backyard that while good sized, sloped so severely down that it was virtually unusable (and how on earth do you cut the grass? Seriously, it was more a cliff than a yard!)
After some months of searching and feeling very discouraged, Tim and I had a serious talk about realistic expectations. Perhaps, we thought, perhaps we need to dial down our hopes in our first home together. After all, a house is just walls, doors, windows and floors. What makes it a home is the people inside. So with a new attitude screwed firmly into place, we set out once more to visit homes with our realtor.
On the way back to our apartment from another uninspiring home tour, and actually on the brink of committing to a house that would suffice even though we didn't love it, Tim spied a for sale sign that we had never noticed before. It was on a road we rarely drove down and the house was set back from the street. It was surrounded by a stone wall and a thick row of maple mature maple trees. No wonder we hadn't noticed it before. We drove around the block several times and drove by slowly.
It was a older white colonial with blue trim and an enormous yard that sat on the corner of a busy road and a road we didn't even know existed so we were able to see the front, one side and even the back of the house by driving around the block. We fell deeply and instantly in love with this old house and couldn't wait to get home to call our realtor and ask about it. Why had she never mentioned it?
Obviously, the reason she hadn't brought it up to us was because it was over our budget. Dang. It wasn't over by a lot but still, did we want to over-extend ourselves? Was that even a possibility? We played with the numbers, stressed a lot, and ultimately decided that it just wouldn't be a smart decision to take that sort of financial risk. We didn't wan to be "house poor". We knew it was the right decision but we were very sad. And honestly it made looking at any other little rectangular box house even harder because we compared everything to that cute little white colonial that we had never even seen the inside of but already knew it was perfect for us.
We were torn between just buying any house that we could afford to get out of that cramped apartment and just making the best of it and quitting the house search entirely. Maybe we should stay put and save up awhile longer before house hunting again with a bigger budget. It was a discouraging time as we debating between the two ideas. We were unenthusiastic in the extreme about both options.
Out of the blue, one day in the midst of all of our back-n-forth, our realtor called us with some exciting news. The owners of the house had dropped the price. It was now in our price range! I think I may have cried a little bit. We immediately made plans to see the house inside and out!
Our instincts were correct. Not only did we love the outside of the house, we also loved the inside. The fact that it had been sitting empty for two years didn't dissuade us. The inspectors report listing the myriad of things that were wrong with the house did not impact our decision either. That was our house! And we immediately put into motion the wheels that make a house purchase possible.
In our excitement over actually getting to buy this house we both loved. I never stopped to think about the process involved. I honestly had no idea of all of the time and paperwork necessary. You need our credit history? Of course, here you go. And pay stubs, sure! And our eye colour and shoe size and...what else? My first born child? No. You cannot have that.
But eventually of course, even though the process itself was daunting, we did get through it and eventually came that terrifying and long anticipated day when we sat down with the mortgage people and signed page after page after endless page of paper and at the end, we were given the key to our first home together. The key to our future really.
Even though it was a small house, it was so much larger than our little apartment that I couldn't imagine how we would ever fill it up! But of course we did. And we began to make it ours. We stripped every single room of it's wall paper and painted all of the rooms. We refinished beautiful wood floors. The boys personalized their rooms. Eventually the roof was repaired, the septic system replaced, the well pump fixed and the electrical updated. We bombed for fleas immediately (A serious issue) but everything else was fixed over time. We replaced all of the doors and windows and reno'd the kitchen but kept the funky glass doorknobs. I built a garden or two or three and Tim built a patio. And we made so many wonderful memories in the ten years that we lived in that house.
When we moved to Colorado and we began a new house search we kept saying, if only we could have just packed up our entire Connecticut house and moved it with us to Colorado. That's how much we loved that little house. Even though we eventually ended up building a beautiful and much much larger home in Colorado that we loved, it still didn't touch our hearts quite the same as the adorable little First home in Connecticut.
And now here we are in our third home together. We love this little house too. (We seem to have gone backwards from a little house to a big house back to a small house.) But as much as we adore our new house and are enjoying fixing it up and making it our own, and as much as we also love our new town, our new state, our new friends, our new lives! It will never have quite the same spot in our hearts as our First home together.
Happy New Home Volesky's! May you be forever happy there ;)
Seems like I have a tendency to lose things lately. And this is something fairly new to me. I'm always so excruciatingly organized and tidy that everything is exactly where it ought to be. I never lost anything. And now? Well, it wasn't that long ago that I wrote about nearly losing an earrings. And of course I have often been accused have having lost my mind. But this time it was a recipe. An entire recipe! How on earth could I have lost a recipe?
Here's what happened. I said something to Tim recently about noticing that we had more ground beef in the freezer than usual and I was wondering what he would prefer that I use some of it for. I came up with an impressive of list of ideas: meatballs, stuffed peppers, chili, spaghetti with meatballs or meat sauce, tacos and then before I could continue he said, 'Or hamburgers. " And because I always want to please him as much as he pleases me, I agreed. "Hamburgers it is!", I declared and then I debated what to make to serve with the burgers.
I had, not that long ago made a macaroni salad. And while it was good, it was too recent to repeat. And then I made a potato salad not long before that. Again, too soon for a rerun. Then it occurred to me. Cole Slaw! I haven't made Cole Slaw in quite some time but I knew that I had a really good recipe. Tim loves Cole Slaw. There! Decisions made.
Now then, while I do own more than a few cookbooks, I have to be honest and tell you that the vast majority of my recipes come from a difference place.
These giant 3-ring binders hold my most precious and often made recipes. Some of the recipes are gifted to me by friends and family, some I have made up myself, others I have cut out of magazines or newspapers or even from the backs of product packaging. The only recipes in the confines of these binders are ones that I have tried and presented to great reviews. Basically, if it ain't good, it ain't in these binders.
You see that one binder is for sweets and one for savories. I'm organized that way. So I had no doubt at all that I would find the recipe I had in mind, in the salad section of the green binder. I had no reason to believe otherwise. I had no hesitation yesterday when I hauled the binder out and opening it to the section on salad so I could add any ingredients to my grocery list that I didn't already have on hand.
To my great surprise, it wasn't there. How could it not be there? Where else could it possibly be? I slowed down and flipped through the salad section one more time. It was probably right there in front of me but I didn't see it. One page at a time, I carefully checked and.....nope. No recipe for Cole Slaw. Dang!
Could I have lost my mind entirely one day I accidentally put it in a different section? Doubtful, but I suppose anything is possible, So I went through the entire book, soups, appetizers, casseroles, entrees by carnivore and.......nothing. Dang again!
So, defeated I began looking on line. I couldn't remember the name of the recipe other than, Cole Slaw, but I knew that one of the ingredients that might be considered unusual, was buttermilk. So I began my online search for Cole Slaw recipes containing buttermilk. There were many of them. ( I think you could type in "recipe" followed by almost any noun and something would pop up) But none of them were the one I had in mind. I was discouraged. I really wanted to make this doggone Cole Slaw for Tim. And the more I couldn't find it, the more important making it seemed to become.
This afternoon when I got home from the museum, I calmly decided to look through the book one more time. I pulled out the big green Savory Recipe Binder, opened it to the salad section, turned two pages and there it was. Right there in front of me. the recipe I had cut out of a newspaper at least a million years ago, for Kentucky Slaw. Weird eh? House Pixies! That's who I am blaming. Well known mischievious house pixies.
Quickly before it disappeared again, I wrote down the necessary items to pick up on my way home from teaching tomorrow. I've carefully left the binder open on the counter to that very recipe so it cannot vanish again.
Now don't even try telling me that this sort of thing has never happened to you because if you do, I will know you are lying to me. I hear all of the time about people losing their keys, their cell phones, their appointment cards or glasses only to find them again a short time later. So I know I'm not the only one.
House Pixies. It's an epidemic!
Have you ever noticed that landscapers and lawn service people wear long pants and long sleeved shirts? Maybe I've noticed mostly because we have a lawn service to take care of our yard so I see the guys right here, hard at work while I'm watching, with no small amount of guilt, from the air conditioned inside. We aren't the only folks who hire out their yard work, almost everyone here, for whatever reason, hires a company to do most of this hot, dirty job. And I see these people out in the Florida heat wearing long sleeved shirts, long pants, hats and gloves. I always wonder how they tolerate that much coverage in the hot, humid Florida summers.
I assumed (though one should never) that it was for sun protection. After all, these hard working people spend their entire working lives outside, exposed to the sun and therefore potential sun damage. It not only makes sense, it is the smart thing to do.
I always wear sun screen and no matter how much I put on, if I've been outside for awhile walking or working or playing, eventually the power of the sunscreen will wear off or get sweated off resulting in some pink skin. I know we are supposed to re-apply sunscreen every..what two hours or something?...but that isn't always possible or practical.
As it turns out, while protection from the sun is part of the reason for the long pants/long sleeves thing, it isn't the entire story.
Over the weekend while Tim was hard at work on another project, I decided to do some tree & shrub trimming. Oh I know, if I wait long enough the yard guys will get 'round to it. But they have their own schedule of what gets done when and there were a couple of things that had been bugging me. And it was a pretty weekend for a change, not a rain cloud in sight. While it was warm it wasn't hot and not horribly humid either. Perfect weather to get out there and get some yard work done. Good Physical Labour! It's good for the soul.
Armed with my favourite chomper tools, a pair of gloves (because I'm not a total idiot), sneakers instead of sandals and some older shorts and a short sleeved tee-shirt, I set to work. The shorts and tee-shirt were probably not the smartest decisions I've ever made. Sadly, I honestly thought I was being smart by choosing older clothes. The shorts already had one tiny bleach stain and the tee shirt was probably in the 10 years old age frame. Both cotton, so easily washable and nice and cool for doing hard work outside. I did have on sun screen, so I did one thing right.
So there I am whacking away at things with absolutely no knowledge of whether or not I am doing it correctly. I chopped off excess branches of things all over the yard, front, sides and back. I even dug up a couple of things that had clearly died (not a leaf to be seen). And because we have all sorts of different kinds of greenery, most of which I do not know the name of, it was an interesting collection of a wide variety of trees and shrubs.
I did all of the cutting first. That seemed the most efficient way of handling it. And once I had beaten everything into submission, then I cleaned and put away my tools, and finally, collected all of the branches and carried them 'round the side of the house to a pile for the lawn guys to take away on Wednesday. That's the day they always come by.
It took me a few hours to get it all done, but I felt quite accomplished. The photo of the pile above doesn't nearly do it justice. The pile is longer than I am tall by quite a large margin and comes about to my knees. It's a significant accomplishment. I was good and sweaty when I was done. But the important thing was that it was, in fact, done. the yard looked better, the trees and shrubs look healthier and hurrah, Good Job, Sam! I patted myself on the back before coming inside to shower.
It was while I was in the shower that I noticed it. There was an especially furious itch all down the inside of my left arm. Just the left one. So I looked. The tender skin on the delicate inside of my left arm from right where the short sleeved shirt ended to my hand, was bright red, bumpy and itched like I had been attacked by fire ants. Except that I had not been attacked by fire ants. When I stepped out of the shower into the cooler air of the room it went from itching like mad to itching and hurting. Not fun at all.
The photo above by the way, I took the second day so you really cannot see the severity of the rash because by then it was improved but it is, at the very least, a nice visual of my chubby little arms.
I checked out our Over-The-Counter medicine stash for......something. Anything. And came up with exactly nothing. Ratz. I asked Tim to help me look and he quickly located some Benadryl Cream. We slathered that on liberally but the nerves in my arms were now so jazzed that even places that had no rash at all were beginning to tingle and itch. Dang! I tried applying ice packs, I took some Alleve, nothing was helping. so okay. " Try to not think about it", was my next plan. "Give the cream some time to work" I kept telling myself.
But it didn't help much. It was better than nothing but it wasn't much. I suspected that the correct course of treatment here was going to be Benadryl topical AND oral. Once it gets systemic, I knew we had to treat it outside AND inside. So off we went to Target.
About two hours after taking Benadryl capsules and reapplying the cream I began to feel some relief. AHHHHHHHHH. Soooo Much Better. What it is about an itch that is so awful? I would rather feel pain than itch. I can eventually compartmentalize and ignore most pain but an itch demands to be heard.
I have long suspected that an itch is at the very least a close cousin of pain. And it turns out that I am correct. The exact same areas of the brain that are activated through pain are activated by an itch. Aha! I love it when I'm right.
The rash remained through the weekend and only a small bit of it remains today, thank goodness. But my lesson was learned. When doing yardwork, long plants/long sleeves are definitely required. And maybe a Hazmat suit.
The clothes I wore for this project by the way, are irredeemable. Covered in tree saps that several washings and pre-treatings refused to impact at all. So I suppose I now have one perfect yard work only outfit. Just what I always wanted. (not)
I love bread. Every woman in my family does. I suspect that it is typed right on our DNA. And it doesn't much matter what sort of bread either. White, wheat, oat, rye, pumpkernickel, multi-grain, oh me oh my, the list goes on and on and all of it is wonderful. Except cinnamon toast that has been ruined by putting raisins in it. That is awful. I have to pick out the raisins.
Think of all of the many and wonderful ways that bread exists: lovely flaky old fashioned biscuits, yeasty dinner rolls, seriously New York bagels (the very best kind), buttery croissants, crumbly yummy scones, loaves, buns of every sort, savory dumplings...holy cats, I'm getting hungry now just thinking about it.
Bread, being a carbohydrate, it one of the simplest and easiest foods to digest as well. Which is why crackers or dry toast can sometimes ease an upset tummy. Carbs are also an excellent source of body fuel! And if it's a whole grain bread there is also very necessary fiber being offered up. So you see, there are medicinal properties to bread.
Unfortunately, there is a down side. Carbs also easily convert into sugars in our body. And we all know how bad sugar is. That has been hammered into our consciousness for a long time now. How many diets do we hear about that avoid carbs? The slim,beautiful and famous folks who eschew all things bread like to keep their svelt figures?
Sigh. I am not svelt by a long shot. But I do try to take at least reasonable care of myself.
Consequently, I do try to avoid carbs a lot more than I really want to. But I will be honest, I eat them. Not nearly as much or as often as I would like but I do eat carbs. And one of my most favourite ways to eat carbs is in bread. And my favourite way to eat bread is as a sandwich. I know that I will sound like Joey Tribbiani when I say this but one of my favourite foods is sandwiches. Grilled cheese and tomato, yes! Yummy hot calzones! Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey sandwich, me oh my! A breakfast sandwich with eggs and cheese on a biscuit - holy cats!
And while I do love a good home made sandwich, occasionally we venture out to pick up a sandwich.
A good burger is a hot sandwich. Tim has a favourite place in Port Charlotte, probably a half hour away. It's called, Wings and Rings, I think. Good burgers. Even I, the person who rarely eats meat has enjoyed a burger there on occasion. Still that's a half hour away! So if we want to eat locally, our options are a wee bit more limited.
There is a Firehouse Subs restaurants just off island. We've been a few times. I think the sandwiches are better hot than cold. Just my opinion, you understand. There are two different Subway restaurants in Venice. Both of them are exceedingly mediocre. But recently a Jersey Mike's opened off island. Nice! We are both fans. Still we've only picked up sandwiches once since it opened.
I think one of the keys to a great sandwich is the bread. No matter how good the filling is, if you have less than stellar bread, you have a crappy sandwich. And those "sub" style sandwiches have so much bread that it's even more important.
That's a funny thing to me too, Hoagie, Sub, Grinder, Hero, it goes by lots of names, but it's basically the same sandwich. The names are regionally specific and because of that I suspect that the bread may be slightly different depending on the region of it's origin. Around here they are mostly called subs. In fact there is a place here called, The Yellow Sub. Clever name. The sandwiches are kind of so-so.
I recently learned of two other sandwich shops around here, One is called, Shark Bites Deli. The other, I just noticed over the weekend so I think it's fairly new which is, Traditional European Deli. Both of them need to be checked out. I would rather go to a small independent adorable local place than a chain. Partly because I like to support small local businesses but mostly because they usually have something unusual and interesting to offer.
So without doubt, even though I probably shouldn't, one evening soon, instead of cooking a real lunch or dinner, we will most likely wander by one of these new places and see what they have on their menus. I will sniff the air like a puppy, to see if the bread is made on site, I will inspect their deli meats and cheese carefully to be certain that it's fresh and quality, and look over their veggie section for variety and crispness. And if it meets our exacting standards, then and only then, we will place and order for the all important taste test.
If I'm going to break all of the rules by eating bread, I am also going to enjoy it!
I cannot believe it. I finally managed to get a photo of a dragonfly! Wow!
I've been trying (and failing) for the longest time. But finally I did it! I honestly thought it would never happen. It's not like it is an important goal in the grander scheme of things, I suppose. It's not like I lost the 5 pounds I am forever trying to lose after all. I didn't learn a foreign language or build us a garage. It's just a photograph.
But I've been watching Joy take amazing dragonfly photos for 3 years now while I failed time after time after time..... If I fail at something long enough, it becomes a mission. (Cue the Mission Impossible Music) Even if it's a silly small thing like, putting on eyeliner without crayoning all over my face (that one was a long hard road, my friends) or perfecting a new recipe, or learning a new piano piece and everyone is grateful that I have headphones plugged into the keyboard!). I just keep at it. Work, work, work.
And now I've done it! Woohoo!
And it happened so unexpectedly! Tim and I were walking down the the jetty watching the dolphins and the boats and the pelicans and the water. It was a beautiful day too. Like an intermission in the midst of this very rainy season. There were a lot of fisher people there that day too, up and down the jetty. We had to kind of weave through them on our stroll. I noticed that one fellow had numerous fishing poles set up at the same time. He would wedge the butt end into the rocks and walk up and down checking on them.
As we passed by his little set up, I saw a rather large dragonfly land on the tip of one of those wedged fishing poles. I gasped a little bit and came to a dead stop. Oh my. There. It Is. Right........There. Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh! As I fumbled for my camera (phone) which I had in my back pocket, Tim realized that I was no longer walking beside him and came back to find me. My eyes never left the dragonfly. It was like I had laser vision, locked onto target. I stepped closer tiny bit by tiny bit, not wanting to scare him away.
I crooned to the dragonfly softly, 'I'm not going to hurt you Mr. Dragonfly. Stay right there. I only want to take your picture". I fully expected him to fly away just as I lifted the camera and began to center and focus, because that is what has always happened before. I mean always. Every single doggone time!
I think I was holding my breath as I heard Tim say softly to someone behind me, "She is taking a picture of that dragonfly" He always has my back. Every so slowly and quietly, I raised the camera, centered and focused and snap! And the dragonfly didn't fly away! Shocked, I snapped several more quick shots while I could. Then I decided that I had pushed my luck far enough. I said, "Thank you", to the dragonfly of course. It's just the polite thing to do, and then stepped away and we continued our walk.
I was delighted and frankly, shocked that it finally happened.
I admit that it isn't the greatest photo in the world, but it is, unmistakably, a dragonfly so it counts! Mission accomplished. I'm not sure what this proves. That I have developed patience at long last? That good things come to those who wait (as I have always heard)? That if I keep at something long enough, I will finally get it ? (except with sewing...I will never get sewing) I don't know, maybe it doesn't mean anything at all other than, I can cross that particular photo goal off my list.
Of course, I still want to capture a frolicking dolphin and I would love to get a shot of lightening. That would be awesome. I don't know if I will ever achieve those goals, but I know for sure that if I don't try, I absolutely won't. One down, two to go!
Well, until I add more goals to the list anyway.
Have a terrific weekend everyone!
I've said it before, Squirrels are cute. I know they are rodents, I am aware they can be destructive. But I can't help it. They are adorable, goofy, funny, fuzzy and well, cute.
And usually when they see us, they run up the nearest tree, or do their daredevil acts tight rope walking across phone wires and chattering at us from the safety of their lofty perches. I try to reassure them that I do not want their nuts or seeds or whatever else it is that they have, but they don't never believe me.
Still, even though they shun me and run away twitching their tails in irritation at my existence, I am amused by their antics. I chuckle as I watch them chasing each other 'round and 'round tree trunks and make magnificent leaps from branch to branch of the trees over head. I used to have a cat who meowed at squirrels through the window. I am not certain if that kitty knew it was a squirrel or thought it was just a funny looking cat.
One of the things I have always noticed though is that squirrels always keep their distance from us. We human giants! We scary Sasquatches thunder through their space as they are just trying to catch a quick snack. No wonder they run. We must be terrifying to them. And of course we are in their way, we are so rude! Or at least I assumed that is what they are thinking.
Assumed, past tense, used to assume. I no longer assume anything about squirrels.
A few nights ago, Tim and I took a walk in the evening, not to the beach but to a nearby park. It's a terrific little park with a big swingset and playscape, quite a number of picnic tables, a walking path around and LOADS of enormous trees! We've been in the park before. We've seen squirrels before but this was a different sort of experience.
As we strolled along, one brave little squirrel, instead of running away, slowly came toward us. How cute is that? So I stopped and took his picture. And he got closer, so I took another picture. "Look at that," I said to Tim, "He's not afraid of us!" I was delighted and took photo after photo as he appeared to pose for me. 'I'm ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille".
Then Tim said, "There is more than one squirrel there" So I stopped snapping and lowered the camera. Oh. There were probably a dozen squirrels, very slowly getting closer and closer and closer. Suddenly instead of adorable, they seemed a little, pushy?
We started walking again. Then we stopped and they started closing in once more. And it was even more squirrels now. It was no longer a squirrel gang, it was now a squirrel herd and I was beginning to feel a little uneasy. And in my head popped some random bit of info that I once read about how at one time the American Buffalo was so prevalent that the herds of them thundered across the prairie and shook the ground as they came. The squirrel didn't shake the ground but they were definitely no longer shy around us. And there were still more of them coming closer.
Tim said, "I think somebody must be feeding them". Well suddenly it all made more sense . Tim opened his hands to show them that he had nothing to offer. They sat up to see. But obviously they didn't believe him. Maybe they thought he had food in his pockets? Because they came closer still and from all over the park. It was now a squirrel swarm!
We began walking again, apologizing profusely the entire way, and they followed us all the way out of the park.
I have never had that happen before. My first thought was that the next time we go, we should bring food for the squirrels. But my second thought was, what happens when we run out? I don't want to ever had to admit that I was beat up by a squirrel. That would just be too embarassing!
A moment of respectful silence please for my old friend, Alfred E. Neuman.
I was dismayed to read in the newspaper recently that MAD Magazine was closing up shop for good. Yes yes, they say that they will still have some of the old material available through comic shops and subscribers but nothing new. Just reprints of the old stuff. I am officially sad. It's the end of an era for me. I was a serious fan.
MAD Magazine started in 1952. That is the year before I was born. So it, literally, as been around as long as I have! I think I discovered it when I was maybe, 11 or 12 years old. Up 'til then, I was mad for comic books. Oh yeah, Superman, Batman, Aquaman were heros of mine. And then of course, all of the Archie comics too. I admit it. I was a fan. A nerd but a fan. That's where the bulk of my allowance went for years. And then one day, while scouting comics, I came across MAD Magazine and my world was never the same again.
I was delighted and surprised to find out that there were other people out there with my weirdo sensibilities. It was funny, it was inventive, it was irreverent and ingenious and I adored every issue. It spoke to me in a way that nobody and nothing else did.
Before I actually knew what satire and parody actually were at that young age, I've still had a taste for it. I always did. And the tiny rebel in me loved that the folks at MAD Magazine had exactly zero filters. Everyone and everything was fair game. Pop Culture, Politics, Entertainment, Public Figures and even every folks going about their every day lives, no one was spared. They were ground breaking.
And they also had excellent timing. In the 1950's there was an entire sub-culture that was finding it's voice. They were the skeptical generation, they questioned authority at a time when authority was not accustomed to being questioned. MAD Magazine questioned everyone and everything. They challenged readers to think for themselves. And they did it all so very cleverly.
It was difficult for anyone to get upset with being the subject of their barbs, after all, it was all a joke, right? But they were clever jokes, not cheap shots. Folks didn't get offended as easily back then. And it was enticing, it was a siren call to some very impressive folks. There is a remarkably varied group of names that sing the praises of Mad Magazine. Just by way of example: Al Yankovic (which should come as no surprise to anyone), critic Roger Ebert was also a huge fan. Michael J Fox, Monty Python's Terry Gilliam and rocker Patti Smith are also on record as pro MAD.
Like little old me. So I found myself in good company. Luckily for me, my parents never censored my reading material. I was allowed to read anything I chose. They didn't always understand my choices, but they didn't meddle with them. And I chose, among other things, MAD.
It made me laugh, it made me think and it kept me on my toes. And it amused me tremendously. I still know all of the words to the MAD version of Christmas Carols, it was always one of my favourite issues. (to the tune of Jingle Bells) "Christmas Bills, Christmas Bills, piling on the floor, every day the mailman comes to bring a dozen more " Yeah, now that's going to be in my head for awhile.
I suppose it's not shock that the peak of MAD magazines popularity was in the 70's. If you look at it historically, the MAD magazine attitude was perfect for the era. And then the 80's happened, and people calmed down. The war was over, the protestors grew up. Then the 90's came along and brought with it the Material Girl. The MAD readership got real jobs, got married and had kids and bills to pay. They became the characters MAD was writing parodies about and maybe that just wasn't as funny to them anymore.
I never lost my appreciation for it though. And in fact, one of the things Tim put in Bob's Christmas stocking this year was an issue of MAD! LOL I just remembered that. there will be no MAD in his stocking this year ;( Or any year for that matter.
I think I understand why it's not popular anymore actually. There is no longer a need for it. Our current world situation is already crazy. Real life is MAD MAgazine. We have become parodies of ourselves. We are living our own satire. But it's not very funny.
Rest in Peace, Alfred E. Neuman.
This year I decided that I didn't want to make a cake for Tim's and my birthdays. (My birthday is today, Tim's is Thursday) Not because I'm too lazy to make a cake, although I am admittedly fairly lazy, but because we do not need to eat an entire cake. And that's what happens. If I make a cake, we eat a cake. If I made a pie, we eat a pie. Cookies we aren't so gluttonous about. It is, afterall, possible to eat one cookie. Unlikely, but possible. Cookies freeze easily and with no harm done to the integrity of the cookie. So when I make cookies, and I do, usually I bag and freeze them and we can indulge once in awhile with a cookie (or two) and 1) we have not eaten the entire batch in one sitting and 2) the rest of the batch doesn't have to be thrown away to either prevent us from eating it or because it has gone bad. It makes sense.
But cookies, while yummy, aren't special enough for a birthday. After all, I make cookies all of the time. A cake or a pie is more of a rarity which makes it more special, more celebratory, more festive! Still the decision had been made...No Cake!
No cake? What a drag. We still felt the need to do something special and birthday-ish. We considered going to a bakery to buy A slice of cake but oddly, around here, you cannot just walk in and buy a slice of cake. An entire cake, yes. But one slice, no. Dang. There are however, bakeries where you can buy one slice of pie. I wasn't in the mood for pie.
Ice cream would be my special day dessert substitution go-to normally. I have even upon occasion requested Dairy Queen, for example, as my birthday goodie. But - and this is even more unusual - I wasn't in the mood for ice cream. Sam? Not in the mood for Ice Cream? Has the world gone mad? Hey I don't explain 'em, I just report 'em. And today's report was...no ice cream.
So it was decided that instead of any of the usual choices, we would have cheesecake. And not just any cheesecake. Oh no. It had to be Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake. Why? Because there are roughly 5 zillion calories in each slice. Slice mind you. Not the entire cheesecake, one slice. And it seems that sabotaging my diet is the primary way that I choose to celebrate the day of my birth.
So off we went to Sarasota on Saturday for cheesecake. (yes technically that's the weekend before our birthdays but it's close enough to count!) On the way we talked about when was the last time we were at a Cheesecake Factory. We think it was around 8 years ago. We used to go there with our friends Brian and April. For some reason that was just one of the places we ended up when we were together. Not every time, but often enough that Cheesecake Factory is the place I associate with spending time with them. But then, Brian and April moved away (sniff, sniff) and we just didn't go back. Just somehow didn't go.
Until the birthday treat this year! Oh me oh my, so many choices. So Many Choices! There were at least 30 different possibilities and I am not even exaggerating. It took forever to decide. At long last I ended up with the Oreo Dream Extreme and Tim picked the Caramel Turtle Pecan. We couldn't wait to get home to eat them! Holy Cats! I was concerned that maybe after all this time, I wouldn't like it anymore. After all we all remember the Hostess Twinkie debacle, right?
Not to worry. It was still decadent wonderfulness and two days worth of eating. Seriously. I couldn't finish even that one slice. But I saved it and finished it the next day. It Was So Good! And, bonus points, it followed the birthday rules.
Do you remember the birthday rules? Well just in case you don't, here they are:
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.
So taadaa! Happy Birthday to me today! I plan on having a wonderful marvelous fabulous day from Top to Bottom. And even though you aren't here to celebrate it with me, I wish you the same.
Hugs all 'round
Graphs and charts are used all of the time. Information is collected and collated and plotted out and presented in a way that makes the speakers point immediately clear. We did various graphs and charts in math class at school too. All of those X and Y axis's and intersecting grids. Makes me shudder to remember. I wasn't very good at it.
But while I understand research and I appreciate a good visual statement, I also still have a couple of active brain cells left so I know that numbers can be manipulated to indicate whatever it is that the presenter intends to be known. I do know that. And still, I was tickled to read in the newspaper on Saturday, that Venice, my city, was rated second best place to live in Florida by ChamberofCommerce.org. (In case you are curious, Palm Beach Gardens was number one.) And in fact, they went so far as to call Venice an, "'idyllic town". Why, that is downright adorable!~
Of course, I agree with most anything nice said about the town Tim and I have chosen to live in. We did choose it for a reason after all. But I was dismayed to see a different article on the same page claiming that, "Crime is up in Venice" for the years 2017 and 2018!!!! What? Crime in my beautiful, "idyllic" paradise? That is more than a little dismaying.
Naturally I read on. Of course I did. Wouldn't you? Tacky of me I know. But, I can't deny it. We all do it. It's the same reason that we read the headlines on those stupid trash magazines at the checkout stand or make it a point to look at a car crash as we drive by. Something deep down inside of us wants to know the ugly truths.
Well this particular ugly truth, as I read the article got very specific. This wasn't just some number manipulated graph or chart. The author of the article names names. Well, he named crimes. Specific crimes. Not just "tier one crimes" but very precisely spelled out criminal activity. Like for instance the big one, Murder.
As it turns out the murder number has remained the same in my precious little Venice. (Not just the island of course, the article is speaking of the entire town). No, the number of murders in Venice hasn't changed. It has stayed level at zero. Yup. Anyone who died in Venice for the past two years passed via accident or just nature taking it's course. Nobody killed anybody. Whew! That is a relief. Good to know.
Robberies however, that's a different story. Robberies went up by 100%. Holy cats! The number used to be 1. Now it's 2. Two entire robberies in my sweet little Venice. Heartbreaking news. Well it is sad. Anytime someone is robbed, it's a darned shame. But still, I don't see this as being the sign of a major crime spree.
Aggravated assaults are down as are burglaries. (assaults down from 23 to 22 and burglaries went from 44 to 38). In case you are not aware of the difference: Burglary involves a person illegally entering a building in order to commit a crime while inside; robbery is generally when someone takes something of value directly from another person by the use of force or fear. So there you are. It should never happen but sadly it does. Still it's nice to know that it's happened less often.
So with all of these numbers going down or staying the same, what st up with that headline stating that Crime is Up in Venice? What's crime is on the rise?
Are your ready for this? Bicycle Theft. Yup, bicycle theft is up a whopping 44%! That is insane. Who knew that this little paradise was such a hotbed of bicycle crime? Not me!
It's true that there are a ton of bicyclers here. On any day of the year you can expect to see scads of folks out bicycling around here, there and everywhere. They bike to the beach, to the store, to the restaurants and sometimes just circling around. People of all ages and abilities, whether they live here full time, part time or are just visiting, heed the call of pedals and wheels.
There are bike racks everywhere you might care to stop, there are bike repair stations, bike stores, a business that will deliver rented bicycles to you, bike races of all sorts, bicycle events and there are specifically designated bike trails. Suffice it to say, we got bikes .
So I suppose the opportunity is there. And how very simple and easy for a thief to jump on an unattended and unlocked bike and just pedal away. In seconds they are gone. I don't know if there is some bike theft ring operating out of Venice Florida or if it's just a crime of convenience. I'm not sure anyone else knows either.
The biggest part of the problem of course is that people tend to leave their bikes unlocked. I have noticed this myself, usually when I'm locking my own bike and I see that almost none of the other bikes in the rack are properly secured. I shake my head and go on my merry way. Being an honest person, it would never for a second dawn on me to take something that didn't belong to me. But clearly it is occurring to someone. Or perhaps a lot of someones.
I get it. People are on vacation in this beautiful place that truly does feel like paradise. It feels safe here, it does. So it never dawns on any of them that anything remotely bad could possibly happen to them here in this beautiful place. So they just don't go to the, apparently, extreme bother, of locking their bike. Which would, in my guessitmation at least cut down on the bike thefts.
My Nana used to say that the purpose of a lock was to keep honest people honest. And I suppose that is true. If a thief really really really wants to steal a particular bicycle, they probably have bolt cutters close at hand. Quick work to cut the lock off and either ride the bike away to relative safety or load it into a pick up truck and drive off. But a lock would at least slow them down. Whereas, a kid up to mischief seeing an unlocked bike and driving it away would be not just slowed down but completely deterred from their prank by the simplicity of a lock.
Do you remember this old story? For the want of a nail a shoe was lost. For the want of a shoe, a horse was lost. For the want of the horse, a knight was lost. For the want of the knight, a battle was lost and for the want of a battle the war was lost. All from the lack of a nail.
Same goes, just a bike lock and not a horse shoe nail.
There is such a simple solution here. People, lock your bikes! Let's turn around that ugly crime statistic...that one smear on our reputation.... We won't keep our standing as the #2 place to live in the entire state if this secret gets out. And this is solvable. Easily solvable. In this case, it really is up to you. Bike? Lock!
Here I am, all decked out in Red, White and Blue, ready to celebrate our country's Birthday! Woohoo!
How was your Independence Day Holiday?
Our reno-guy chose to work yesterday which, while a surprise, was welcome because that brings the finish line that much closer. But since I didn't expect it, there was a little dancing in the kitchen and utility room as I attempted to do some laundry and make macaroni salad and cupcakes. The reno-guy however, kept trying to do his job! The nerve! His job yesterday entailed occasionally turning power off and on and of course the water which was in direct opposition to what I was trying to do, thus the Terpsichore. It was tricky, but we worked it out.
We actually didn't have many plans other than picking up the tile Tim ordered, having a little dinner time cookout and of course the traditional stroll to the beach to watch the firework. Sort of like a perfectly nice Saturday only with fireworks.
Except, the tile wasn't ready when we arrived. Dang it. They think maybe it will be there today. So I suppose another drive to Sarasota in on the docket. On the return trip, the skies opened up and it poured. Absolutely torrential rain. I glared out the window (even though rain is not unusual this time of year and therefore not entirely unexpected) and warned Mother Nature, "Fine, get it out of your system now! There will be no rain on our fireworks this year, do you understand?"
And apparently it understood because, after our little grilled kielbasa dogs and macaroni salad dinner, (with cupcakes for dessert) we hauled bagged chairs and our butts (and one umbrella just in case) to the beach to what, what we knew would be fireworks show.
We got there just before sunset. And it was an especially beautiful one. Sort of the show, before the show. It was, as it always is, marvelous. The beach was packed. But everyone was in great spirits which always adds to the enjoyment. On the walk back home we could hear and sometimes see, private fireworks shows here and there but also some thunder and lightening. For some reason, it felt a little like a "call and response" song. Dueling entertainment.
I have always loved fireworks. When I was a kid, I imagined that far off nebula's and galaxy's looked like fireworks. I was a fanciful child. Every now, whenever I get to see a fireworks show, it takes me back to to memories of lying in the grass as a child, staring at the star filled night sky, punctuated by the sizzle and bang of fireworks and feeling like I was an astronaut looking out the window of my spaceship.
Anyway, so that was our 4th of July. I cannot wait to hear about yours!
A snake skin and a pair of slippers. Hmmm. What? Has she completely lost her mind? See, I can hear you thinking. What possible relationship do these two things have? Well I'll tell ya.
First of all the snakes skin. I found that when I took out a bag of garbage the other night. It was sitting there on the concrete just outside the utility room door. And honestly my first thought was, "Somewhere nearby is a naked snake". I'm not lying. That was the first thing that popped into my head.
I have seen a snake at the back of the yard twice now. But apparently I am terrifying to snakes because the instant that it sees me it heads for the hills. Well there are no hills in Florida so I suppose it heads for....the bushes or the fence or the neighbors yard. The thing is, this snake is fast. I have never in my life seen a snake move so quickly. It's a blur. I couldn't tell you anything about what it looks like other than, it is clearly a snake, moving away from me, rapidly apace. I am assuming that this leftover skin used to belong to that snake.
Maybe I am just choosing to assume that as opposed to believing that there is more than one snake in the vicinity. I'm not truly afraid of snakes. I'm not. When I see one I do not scream or run or attempt to kill it. But I also do not engage. Do NOT engage. While I don't hate them and I'm not afraid of them, I don't especially like them either. I know they serve an important purpose keeping the rodent population down. Good! That is a good thing. But let's face it. Snakes are creepy.
They move but they have no legs. I find that creepy in the extreme. It's just....wrong...somehow. And since this particular snake outgrew it's skin, we now know that not only do we have one, it has been known to be right outside the utility room door and it is now bigger than it was before. Three things I am not especially overjoyed about knowing.
The slippers well, I've had them for at least ten years. I spied them walking through either Kohl's or Target, I forget which, on a lunch break from work one day. I had no intention of buying anything at all really. I was just walking around, killing time. But then I saw those slilppers (which were obviously on sale or I wouldn't own them) and went Wow! So unlike anything else I've ever bought. Fuschia Pink suede moccasins with a fake fur leopard lining. Come on! How perfect are they? I suspect I was having a moment where I was annoyed at myself for always being so doggone practical. I didn't even own any slippers. I just wore shoes until bedtime. I needed slippers right? On a chilly Colorado evening, how nice to take off the heels after work and step into some fuzzy and dang cute slippers instead. See? I had to buy them?
And while we lived in Colorado I wore them too. Almost every evening, especially fall and winter but a little bit of spring too. Colorado has some chilly spring evenings. And I loveloveloveloved them. They were pretty worn out but I couldn't part with them so when we moved here, I tossed them into the suitcase along with all the other shoes. And then promptly forgot about them because I have never once needed them here. Not One Time.
Then right around the same time as I found the snake skin it happened to be a day when I was in a mood to....Purge..as my friend, Lori calls it. As such I was evaluating the contents of the floor of my closet, which is where all of my footwear resides. Way, way back in a dark corner of the closet floor were these slippers. Aha! Something to toss. "Well old friends" sez I, I sez, "it's time for you to go" and surprisingly without a moments remorse, there they went into the garbage. I can't believe that I didn't care one bit.
Are you seeing the links now? I threw the slippers into the garbage. I found the snake skin while taking out the garbage. I wore the slippers on my feet. Snakes have no feet. Snakes are animals (well reptiles but I'm using the term very loosely) and the slippers had a fake leopard lining which is definitely an animal.
Yeah, that's how my demented little mind works. Those links make perfect sense to me. A little scary isn't it.
Welcome to my world ;)
Tomorrow is a holiday so I won't be here. Enjoy your Independence Day! Be safe and Have fun! I'll be back on Friday. See you then!
Say Adios to the old bathroom! Yahoo! Finally!!! After scheduling and rescheduling and re-rescheduling, finally the reno begins today!
As you may, or may not recall, last year about this time, we had planned to reno the bathrooms (one at a time of course - always have to have at least one functional bathroom!) and instead ending up spending beaucoup bucks replumbing the entire house instead. sigh.
When we bought the house we knew there were things that had to change and we prioritized them pretty well. We decided that if we did one major project every year, we would eventually have the home we knew this house could be. And of course that kitchen reno when did immedistely after we moved in was the first thing on the list! The bathrooms, obviously, were second on the list, but got bumped back one, as I just explained. so this year, at last, the bathrooms! Yeehah!
They are small of course. Back in 1962 when this house was built, houses tended to be smaller. One car garage (which for us is now our utility/laundry room), small bedrooms, small living rooms, small bathrooms.....small is the operative word. But since we were downsizing, that was a good thing. This house had good bones and was in the location we wanted to be. We knew that this house could eventually be the right home for us and we are patient people. Patient people with vision. We could see what was possible.
We saw, in the kitchen, beyond chipped blue Formica counter top and the handing cabinets that completely prevented seeing into the next room even though it was called an "open-kitchen". We saw beyond the drawers that fell apart when we tried to open them and the stove with the crusted, rusted and tilted burners. We could envision that cramped closet that held the washer dryer so compactly that nobody could actually use the dryer as a pantry instead. And ultimately, we brought the vision to life. It looks so awesome now. I just love our kitchen .
Now we are doing the same thing with the bathroom. That horrible peach tile, for example which is literally taped to the wall. I'm not joking even a little bit. Tim had to use black electical tape to secure some of the tiles to the wall while we waited for our reno guy to be available. Every time I cleaned, I did so very very gently and carefully so as to not dislodge any further tiles. It didn't always work. And that peachy colour - awful! Especially with the wierd yellowish white walls. What colour is that anyway? It reminds me of french vanilla ice cream. Whatever colour it is, it looks terrible with peach.
And of course back in 1962, apparently waterproof wallboard wasn't yet a thing. Sooooooo yeah, I'm guessing that behind the tile that wallboard is pretty much hanging on with toenails. To be honest I am a little concerned at what is behind the walls. Old houses are scary behind the walls. The stuff we do not know is lurking behind walls is terrifying to contemplate. But I guess we will find out soon.
The faucets drip no matter how tightly you turn them off and the paint on the ceiling was peeling because before we moved in, there was no exhaust fan in the bathroom. No Exhaust fan!! In Florida. In summer. In a bathroom. Of course there was peeling paint! (before we had an exhaust fan put in I mean)
But there is no point in looking backwards. Nope. We are only looking forward now and we cannot WAIT for our new bathroom to be done. Our reno guy says that roughly 3 weeks from now we will be back in business with two functional bathrooms. One of which is gorgeous brand new and I am so excited! Woohoo!
In the meantime, we will deal with the inconvienences brought about by living in the midst of a reno. We are of course lucky to have the second bathroom, but in the middle of the night, traversing to the other side of the house in the dark to pee will take a little getting used to. And the guest bath is even smaller than the main bathroom if you can believe that. But it works. Finding places to put things temporarily was interesting.
Tim broke down the guest bed and has all the pieces including the mattress leaning up against a wall in the guest room so that the vanity, toilet, tub and so forth had a place to be that isn't in the middle of the living room for the next few weeks. But that entailed stripping that bed of everything. Sheets, pillows, blankets. Those are stacked in the guest room closet now.
Everything that was in the vanity of the main bath well..that's here there and everywhere. The shower rod, curtain and liner are in the utility room. The shampoos and soaps are in the guest room shower of course with toothbrushes and toothpaste. But most everything else (I'm astonished by how much stuff we had in that vanity!) is now all in a jumble in a laundry basket in the guest room. If you need something, you have to dig for it. And since all of the things that we used to reach for sleepily, without thought, we now have to give consideration to. "Where did I put the sunscreen? Where are the band-aids? That new bottle of shampoo?"
And then mostly, just having someone else in the house that you really do not know always weirds me out. Working around the noise and the mess and that other person that isn't a friend or a family member is always a challenge for me. But in this case, it's one that we welcome. Few strangers have been greeted more happily than our reno guy. "Hurrah! You have come to save our bathroom! Welcome in!"
We have had great fun choosing new tile, paint colours (still haven't made a final selection there), lights, mirrors, etc.etc. and we know that in the end, this is all going to be worth the time, the money and the inconvenience.
When it's all done, you know I will post photos so you can see the before and after. That's always fun right? And in the meantime, wish us - no structural issues - please!
Saturday was Minock Day! Woohoo! The best day of every month!
To catch up anyone who isn't familiar with the situation, the Minocks were our best friends back in Colorado. Then Tim and I moved here three years ago and the Minocks were still our best friends so we visited back and forth and emailed and texted and made long distance phone calls. Then this year, they moved to Florida also but about 2 1/2 hours north of us. Which is still much closer than Colorado but too far for daily or even weekly visits really. So we all decided that once a month we would all get together! Generally we find something to do that is somewhere in between where we both live.
This time Marsha chose. And she chose very well. We all met at the "International Independent Showman's Museum". Whoa, that's a big name! I'm still not absolutely certain where this place is. It is either in Riverview or Gibsonton Florida. We honestly thought we were in Riverview but I noticed that on the tee-shirts in the gift shop it said Gibsonton. The name Gibsonton, by the way, does not flow easily off my tongue. I always sound as if I have only a marginal familiarity with the English language when I say it out loud.
Tim told us that Gibsonton was originally a wintering and retirement place for carnivals the same way that first Sarasota and then Venice were the wintering place for circus's. Interesting history that. No, really, I mean it. It is a fascinating history that I knew nothing about prior to this. Check out this link if you are curious:
At any rate, neither Tim not I had ever heard of this place and what a shame because it is a little hidden treasure! The gentleman at the front desk explained that it wasn't just Circus memorabilia and history, it was, and I quote, "Anything under a tent". So Circus's absolutely, but also Carnivals, Sideshows, Country Fairs and Wild West Shows. It was awesome.
I was particularly amused by the fun house mirrors as you can see. Not sure why it tickles me so, but it does. We spent a couple of hours reading everything, watching all the mini-video's, admiring the displays of entertainment both old and new. We saw old costumes complete with fancy headdresses, antique cotton candy machines, a full sized Ferris Wheel and a Carousel. There were wonderful old event posters, quite a number of actual mid-way games and prizes from long ago, a mock up of a burlesque stage show and one of my favourites, a calliope!
When we finally finished up our visit at the museum, we were all starved so we set out to find food! And somehow we ended up at a Jamaican BBQ place called, 'Trust Me'. So we trusted them and it was not trust misplaced. It was excellent! And it was quite busy, so many people came and went while we were there! Great choice!
So we talked and laughed and ate. Then we talked and laughed and ate some more. And I learned the meaning of the word 'Inverness'! All this time I thought it was just the name of a city in Scotland. Turns out it's also a garment! "A sleeveless cloak with a removable cape" Who knew? Well certainly not me. I LOVE learning something new :)
Afterward, reluctant to end the day yet, we found some model homes in the general area to look at. There were at least 6 models, perhaps more. After awhile I lost count. And at the end we all said which one was our favourite. Oddly enough, we all had the same favourite! So we went and looked at that one once more.
But it was getting late and we both had to head back to our respective homes. Awwww :( BUT, today it's July which is a whole new month and now we can look forward to and plan the next Minock Day! Woohoo!
Thanks for another wonderful day together guys!
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.