Yesterday was National Cheesecake Day. How sweet is that?
I actually was unaware of that fact until I got an email from Tim about it. Yes, Tim still works from home. And yes I was also home. And we are both here in the same house. I have no idea why he emailed me from one side of the house to the other instead of just face to face telling me. Maybe just to be funny? He's a funny guy :)
Anyway, I think my initial response was just "cool" or perhaps the marginally snarky, "good to know". It was followed by another email from Tim which consisted of a link to The Cheesecake Factory Restaurant. It seems that in honour of National Cheesecake Day, The Cheesecake Factory was donating $1 of every purchase to Feed America, a worthy organization.
Not only can I take a hint, but this additional information allowed me to rationalize that the charitable contribution angle made is okay to go ahead and indulge in cheesecake. I do love a good rationalization.
So naturally my response was, "I'm in!"
Whenever we have gone to Cheesecake Factory, the intent, even if we eat an actual meal first, is solely to have cheesecake. We do love that stuff. The vast majority of the time we get the cheesecake as a take-away. In fact I'd go so far as to say that 99% of the time we haven't bothered to have the meal at all. Nope, we cut out the middle entirely and just how up at the counter to ordered dessert to-go.
We order it as take out for several reasons. The first and most important being that while I love dairy, I am lactose intolerant in a big sort of way. If I eat cheesecake, which does in fact have creamed cheese in it which is a dairy product, I am not going anywhere for awhile. I will be sticking pretty close to home. But also because I cannot eat an entire slice at one time. It's just too rich, too much, too good, too too. Every slice of cheesecake for me is at least two meals, often three. And it's not because of the calories involved. I wish that were true but it's not. It's just overwhelming. And way too yummy (and expensive) to throw away what I don't finish!
Currently during the whole virus thing, we have been ordering take out about once a week. Usually from local places that we already know and love. Occasionally we will get brave and try some place new. Most restaurants have been focused on take out for about what, 5-6 months now? So they have figured it out. Cheesecake Factory definitely had it down. Tim ordered and paid on line before we ever left the house. They pinged his phone when it was ready. He acknowledged their ping. They emailed back instructions on where to wait and asked what sort of car we were in. Tim responded and in mere seconds, a nice masked lady came out bearing the bag of cheesecake wonderfulness and we went on our merry way.
Over the years, I have made a number of cheesecakes myself. They weren't as fancy as Cheesecake Factory, but they were good. The problem with home made cheesecakes is that once made, we now have an entire dang cheesecake in the house. And if I make it, we will eat it. Nobody needs to eat an entire cheesecake. Nobody. So mostly, on the rare occasion that we have cheesecake, it's ordered one slice at a time at a restaurant. Saves me from myself. And my lack of self discipline.
I'm not sure when was the last time that we had cheesecake. I know it was quite some time ago. Perhaps it was last National Cheesecake Day? It doesn't really matter. The important part was that I had Salted Caramel Cheesecake (merciful heavens!) for dinner last night and then again for breakfast this morning.
AND it was good :)
The other afternoon I decided to stop doing anything useful and productive and instead take a walk to the beach. It was a pretty moment in a pretty day with no rain, reasonable summer temperatures and honestly nothing pressing on my gotta-do list. So before I changed my mind, I grabbed my camera and headed out the door.
We live only a few blocks from the beach. According to my step counter, it is precisely .8 miles from my front door to the sand at Chauncy Howard Beach access point. If I were a bird and could fly it would even less because it would be a straight line.
It's a pleasant walk through a nice residential area and if you didn't know there was a beach a few blocks away, you might be surprised when suddenly, there it is. The houses are all different ages, sizes, colours and shapes but all of them are nicely taken care of with mostly green lawns, (some people have gravel yards ??) trees, hedges and flowers.
I've taken this walk a zillion or so times but not recently. (For which I have no excuse other than rainy afternoons and lazy bones) So while most of what I saw was familiar, some of it was new to me.
There were more For Rent, For Sale and other signs than I recall. And one brand new house being built. What? When did that happen? Concrete blocks construction is pretty quick but wow! I didn't think it had been quite long enough to put up a house since I took this particular walk!
There were of course trees and shrubs and lawns galore. But it's the flowers that do it for me. They are everywhere, they are gorgeous and I adore them all!
And it's not just flowers that caught my eye, sometimes it's unusual or unexpected greenry of other sorts:
I didn't bother to take photos of the trees. There are so dang many of them. Before we moved here I assumed it would be all palm trees. I was so very wrong. It's not just the sheer number of trees it's the incredible variety of them!
But I did take some photos of yard art. I'm always rather taken by yard art. It doesn't matter what kind it is, it always catches my eye. I've experimented over the years with a few things and the only thing that remotely fit the category of yard art that I ever had which felt comfortable to me was a few wind chimes (that ultimately got destroyed by Colorado storms) and a beautiful gazing ball that middle son and his wife gifted me. The gazing ball lived in my Colorado gardens and was the jewel in the crown right up until there was a unpredicted and violent hail storm while Tim and I were at work one day. I came home to find my gazing ball in an unbearable number of pieces. It was heartbreaking.
Since then I've made a few dollar store attempts. But none of them felt exactly right and of course none of them lasted more than a season either (hey, dollar store, right?). So instead I will admire other people's choices:
There were loads of flags. I didn't even bother to snap photos of even a fraction of them. But here is a very tiny sampling:
I actually saw loads of birds and squirrels and lizards and so forth but only took pictures of a few:
There was a canal and a pond that I passed by too:
And of course eventually I got to the beach. Sun, sand and boats. Umbrellas and benches and markers for seas turtle nests. Oh yeah, and the ocean. Almost forgot that part. Ocean.:
So there you have it. In a walk less than a mile long, I saw all that and more. I clearly need to do this more often!
Elephant ears, bunny ears, wolf ears. They all come in pairs. Same for people's ears. We have two of 'em. (do you remember that old saying about how we have two ears but only one mouth because it's twice as important to listen as it is to talk?) Anyway, ears by the twos. That's what I was saying. Every creature, including human creatures, have two ears. And that is a fact. Except for sometimes it's not.
You might have noticed that there was no blogpost yesterday. That's because I was at my ear doctor's office. The good Dr. Lundstrom, my audiologist, had to send my right hearing aid in for repair and yesterday I got it back! You have no idea how relieved I am to hear on both sides again.
I'll back up now to the beginning of the tale. About a month ago I began to notice, occasionally, that sound in my right ear would fade in and out. The sound would be there and then not and then back again. Like a hiccup.
At first I wasn't sure if I was just imaging things. I do have a pretty good imagination. Or was I just not paying close enough attention to what was being said? Or was I in an especially difficult hearing situation at the time? There's all sorts of reasons that a person - particularly a person with a hearing loss - might occasionally not understand what's being said after all.
And then there was the fact that it didn't happen all of the time. Just once in a while I noticed it. And I couldn't find any particular pattern to it. Just here and there, for a few seconds, on my right side, sound trickled in and out and back in again. Hmmmm.
I paid closer attention to the situation and eventually (I'm a little slow sometimes) came to the realization that A) it was really happening B) it had nothing to do with the hearing environment and C) I absolutely was paying attention!
So I did everything I knew how to do to try to fix the situation. Which frankly isn't all that much. I cleaned my hearing aid even more thoroughly than usual, replaced the ear buds and the receiver, put it through the hearing aide dryer and replaced the battery. That's it. That's the end of my hearing aid related bag of tricks.
At any rate, it didn't help at all. I knew that I had a scheduled appointment with my audiologist coming up anyway, so I waited until then to see her. Once I explained what was going on and what I had done to try to correct the situation, she tested the hearing aids with her fancyschmancy equipment. The left one worked great! 100% score. The right one however, not so much. So she also replaced and cleaned and vacuum dried with her far better tools. Aaaannnnddd...........nothin'. She was just as successful as I was which is to say, complete failure. Dang.
So the decision was made to send it back to the manufacturer to let them fix it. Which is fine. I knew that they would do a stellar job and that the problem would be rectified and I would get my hearing aid back in a couple of weeks. Huzzah.
The obvious downside here is that for those two weeks instead of having the occasional slow fade on the right side, I would have no hearing assistance at all. Ratz. Oh well, I rationalized, at least the left hearing aid is still working. The left ear will simply have to do the work of both ears for a couple of weeks. No big deal.
Well of course I survived, but it's a far bigger deal than you'd think. Here are a few of the things I became aware of:
When Tim and I walk, he tends to walk on the outside - the street side - of me. It's a protective thing, rather charmingly old fashioned and chivalrous. I adore that he does this. It is a very sweet gesture. But that means he is walking on my right side. The not so much hearing side. To hear him properly I would have to either walk backwards (bad idea) or we would have to switch places so that he would be on my left. Which puts me on the street side.
He kept gravitating to the outside to protect me and I kept trying to do the same trying to hear him. It was all subconscious of course. But we must have looked pretty silly constantly shuffling our positions as we walked, anywhere.
When I went to pick up prescriptions last week, I could tell the pharmacist was talking to me. I could hear a muffled voice. But between the plexiglass, the general sound in the store, the high ceilings, the hard surfaces, two masks (his and mine) and only one hearing aid, the poor man ended up leaning down to speak through the slot where he passes the prescription through so that I could hear him. I leaned in hard on my left side while he bent nearly in half to reach that opening. What a ridiculous tableaux. (but what a kind man)
Instead of switching ears during a long phone call, I had to keep the telephone receiver at just that left ear. Tiresome. Made for much shorter conversations I promise you that!
I found myself saying, "huh" and "what?" and "beg pardon?" and "excuse me" and "could you please repeat that" on an endless loop for two weeks. I also noticed that, after awhile, I stopped asking. I realized that I would just smile and nod and have no idea what anyone was saying. Oh my gosh. It was like a flash from the past. The days before I began wearing hearing aids. I had forgotten how isolating it is to not hear properly. How frustrating it is for everyone around me to have to constantly repeat themselves. How frustrating it is for me too! And oh my goodness so tiring so struggle to understand the world around me every minute of every day.
When the doctor gave me back my hearing aids yesterday and I put them back on, it was as if someone had handed me the world again. Ahhhhh, What a Relief! I was immediately so much more relaxed. It's not just physical relief, but also mental and emotional relief. It is a very big deal. But now, once again, life is good :) Like I said, two ears.
So, that's it. The story of why I did not post yesterday. I was a little busy.
Meanwhile, live long and prosper (another famous set of ears)
One day over the weekend, instead of going for a walk, Tim and I went for a drive. Just needed to get out for a bit and stare at something other than our own walls. Y'know? It's the one downside to working from home,. When you live where you work you never really leave the job. It's right down the hall. Behind a closed door true, but it's right...............................................there.
Oh there are a load of perks. Like the easiest commute in the world for example! But that desire to "Get Out" on a day off is strong. Usually we can go walk it off somewhere, but that day was an especially rainy day. On and off and on and off and on and off again. Didn't really want to get caught out in it. So off we went for a drive instead.
We had no particular destination so we flipped a coin (mentally) and turned north off the bridge. In a very short period of time, we passed Patriots Park and there in the vast green lawn before it was a flock of storks! I had never seen so many in one place at a time. I must have said something out loud. Something incredibly brilliant like, "Storks!" or something (I'm a genius sometimes - insert much eye rolling here - ) because Tim glanced over at them too. The next thing I knew he turned into the park and I jumped out with my camera.
I have learned over the years to remember to always bring my camera on a weekend walk or drive. I always regret it when I don't. Point in case right here.
Storks look nothing like the cartoon images of them really except that they are white and have long legs. Think back. Here is what most of the cartoon storks look liked as I remember:
These storks had no hats for one thing (and they would have benefitted from the addition of a jaunty cap in my opinion.) Furthermore, not one of them was carrying a baby around. Maybe they already did their deliveries?
As we walked on we saw a few different birds and other things of at least mild interest to us:
It was a walk. A short one but a walk nonetheless. Back into the car and we drove on.
We meandered on and off of various keys, over bridges of all sorts and down windy, twisty coastal roads.
It was clearly a big boat weekend despite the threatening low grey clouds. By the way, about the line of people standing on the railing? Mere seconds after I snapped that shot, they all jumped off into the water below. I'm sorry I missed that picture! And the light poles just made me laugh a bit. They appear to be holding up the sky. Whimsy, I know.
We kept driving north and when that happens where we are, eventually you wind up in Sarasota. But Tim avoided the roads we might normally drive on which is how we found, "Brooklyn Bagels and Deli"! Holy Cats. We love bagels and honestly a good bagel is hard to find. So of course we stopped to check it out.
Because it was around 1 o'clock and they close at 2, there weren't many bagels left. There were originally maybe dozen different choices, each in it's own labeled bin: "Plain, sesame, poppyseed, cinnamon raisin, asiago salt, etc." We stepped up to the register and Tim gave our order ending with, "asiago salt". That's what it said on the bin. Asaigo Salt. The woman behind the register, who never once smiled or made eye contact, snarled out, "There ain't no more asiago, only salt" Ahhh that's two different bagels sharing one bin. Got it. But how would we have known that? We didn't take offense really, just made a mental note that these bagels looked like Brooklyn and the attitude was a little New Yorkish too. Sooo authentic, I guess?
And also funny. We shared a bagel in the car as we laughed about it and drove on. We wound through the area, reading the names of businesses and interesting streets out loud to each other. The ocean would pop in and out of view here and there along with ponds and lakes. We drove through residential areas, business areas and long stretches of nothing but greengreengreen.
I had a song stuck in my head that I couldn't quite identify so I sang lines of it as we went along, hoping that Tim could help. We talked, we giggled, I read interesting news items off my phone, funny things from various social media sites and eventually we remembered what the song was.
We drove in and out of rain bands and the time passed much too quickly. Eventually we had to stop for gas. As Tim got back into the car he said, "I have good news and I have bad news."
He is such a master of the "poker face" that I can never quite tell - at first- if he is joking or not. "Ok", I answered, "go ahead, give me the bad news first". He put the car into gear and we headed back onto the road, "The bad news. We will have to drive past Dairy Queen to get home on this road".
I laughed. "That's the bad news? Then what 's the good news?"
This time he smiled, "We are stopping there on the way by"
The Drumstick Blizzard, which we both had, is amazing. And my new favourite. I know it's just a "flavour of the month" thing, but I am hopeful that it's been successful enough to be added to the roster of regular flavours. It is exceptional!
And we arrived back home full, a little sticky and far more relaxed for having had a change of scenery.
Hope your weekend was a good one too!
Last Saturday Tim and I took a nice little walk in an itty bitty preserve I had forgotten even existed. It's right here in Venice (off island) at the end of a road that gives nobody even the suggestion of a reason to travel down. But if you do, you will see as you drive through the chain link gate (which sometimes is closed and locked) into the teeny tiny parking lot, the trail head is obvious.
It's only about a mile long and paved the entire way (which is unusual) and peppered with constant reminders to Beware the Alligator and of course Do Not Feed the Wildlife. I suppose if the alligator bites you, you are literally feeding the alligator. So don't do that. We did not see the gator anywhere. And we looked!
There is a canoe/kayak launch, benches here and there and even a little pavilion perfect for picnics. And of course trees. And flowers. And butterflies (see above - Tim took that photo!) And the river. And the small critters.
Well see for yourself:
It was a short walk but a very pretty one and a nice surprise on a lazy Saturday afternoon. I have only walked that path once before and it might have been 3 or even 4 years ago and I had completely forgotten about it.
So I'm especially glad Tim thought to take us back there for another visit. Maybe next time we will see the gator.
Have a great weekend. And however you choose to spend it, please have fun and be safe.
Hugs all 'round
Technically and officially the rainy season here in Florida begins in May and continues through October. In truth, during an ordinary year, the rainy season kind of arrives sometime in June and finishes up in September. Which is not to say that there is no possibility of rain any other time. Or course it's possible, it's just a lot less likely.
In case you didn't already know this, rainy season rain is different from rain other times of the year. To begin with, during the Rainy Season, rain is possible every single day. It's not an absolutely carved in stone guarantee that it will happen, but it is possible. Sometimes it's only a 15 minutes downpour in late afternoon. Perhaps just a drizzley, sprinkley, misty kind of rain just in the early morning. Other times the rain is a full day event but it could also just be an on again off again sort of deal. You can feel the humidity in the air all day long and the gardens become extra lush.
This year however, things were different. Even though the rainy season officially began in May according to the calendar, all the way through May and June and even into the beginning of July, the weather was instead, hot and dry. Really Hot and Really Dry. Like high 90's hot and no rain at all. The lawn to feel a bit crunchy. Flowers drooped, leaves and fronds began to brown. Every day I looked skyward and saw only beautiful blue and here and there a puffy white cartoon cloud. Ponds began drying up and the water level in rivers was starting to drop. We were beginning to wonder what the heck was going on.
Until a little more than a week ago. Finally the rainy season arrived.
At first it was just over night rain showers. I would wake up in the morning only to find raindrops on flowers and that smell of refreshment in the air. There were puddles on the ground and birds bathing in those puddles. It was glorious.
And then it began to rain in the evening. Great huge thundery storms that drowned out normal conversation and flashes of lightening that would do paparazzi proud. The kind of storms that make the house feel like it's rocking.
The time of day for the start of these storms became earlier and earlier until we would wake to grey skies and there were only brief moments of sun throughout the day. And even though the rain bands were sporadic I was often reluctant to take a walk because you knew that there was the possibility of rain at any point during the day.
Planning to grill has become a test of wills. Will it, won't it rain while I am trying to prepare dinner outside? That has become the daily question. I stand there in the kitchen, grilling utensils in hand, food seasoned and ready to go, starring out the window at the sky trying to learn her secrets. We pulled the grill up against the house so that it's under the overhang and if I work it right, even if it's raining, I can walk from the door, close up against the house all the way to the grill and back without getting wet. Unless, of course, the rain is coming in at an angle, in which case yes, I'm going to get wet. But as long as dinner does not, it's all good.
I go on no walks without a zippy bag in my pocket now. If the sky opens up, the hearing aids come off and go directly into the bag, zipped closed and back in the pocket. Even if I'm soaked to the bone, the electronics are safe.
Planning a beach day? Go ahead. I mean if you were going to get in the water you were planning to be wet anyway so the rain really shouldn't matter. Unless there is lightening. If the lightening starts, get out of the water, get off the beach and go home. That's just sensible.
I try to plan grocery trips around rain bands. I just hate loading and then unloading a car full of groceries in the rain. Usually I time it well, but occasionally I don't and in that case, once again, I get wet. I won't die of it. It's just rain after all. And honestly, when it's really hot out, sometimes the rain feels good. I need to remember that.
Come to think of it, as a kid, we would put on our bathing suits and run in the sprinkler. We put on our galoshes and raincoats and rain ouside to be in the rain, jumping in puddles and laughing like lunatics. Nothing felt quite so wonderful on a steamy hot summer day. Why would it be any different now? Well other than that fact that I generally do not grocery shop in my bathing suit. As a matter of fact, I have only worn my bathing suit one time since I bought it. What? What sort of crazy person lives walking distance to the beach and has only worn a bathing suit once in 4 years? Well I guess, my sort of crazy person. Whenever I'm at the beach I'm in regular people clothes. I have not gone swimming in the ocean since I was a kid. Nowadays, I wade in the ocean rather than swim. I can do that in shorts and so I do.
But I digress. What was I saying again? Oh yeah, the rainy season. Don't be too discouraged about our weather here. Just because there is the possibility of rain every day, doesn't guarantee that it will rain every day. It does not. Yesterday, for example, although the prediction was rain we saw nary a drop. It turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous day.
But since the possibility of rain exists every single day of the rainy season, planning outdoor events is tricky. I mean even during a time of no pandemics. The virus just adds another layer of difficulty to an already quirky time of year.
So make a note: In Florida, unless you have a really strong back up plan, do not organize so much as a picnic during the rainy season.
Joy and I once again braved the elements and set out upon the trails at Sleeping Turtle Preserve. FYI I have never once seen a turtle there. I suppose it's because they are all sleeping?
As per usual for summer hikes, we left in the wee hours. The sun hadn't cleared the tree tops yet and the sky was still dark blue. Because it had rained heavily the night before everything was wet and in very short order, our shoes were squishy and our white socks, grey.
But there is something so very special about that early morning light. At every turn, every twist of the trail we would find ourselves gasping in delight and then trying to capture with the camera eye what we saw with our real eyes. It never seems to come out quite the same way.
The temperatures through the entire 3 and a half miles of wandering through the forest were so much kinder than is usual for this time of year. For a change at no point were we wiping drips of sweat out of our eyes or looking for the shady spots to gulp water from the thermos to stave off dehydration. An unexpected but very welcome surprise.
It was probably that even nicer than usual weather that kept us out there roaming and snapping and chatting for more than four hours. Of course the fact that we tend to choose our trails so randomly that there is no discernible pattern at all which means it's very easy to get turned around (and around and around) could have something to do with it as well.
It's of no consequence anyway. While we might occasionally become temporarily misplaced, we have never yet actually gotten lost. At some point, we always find our way back.
Four hours for less than 4 miles sounds as if we are walking really slowly doesn't it. Well in truth we do. If you walk to quickly, you could miss things. Especially the small things.
We heard so many birds. So Many Birds. Saw only a few. Joy got a lot more bird photos (and far better ones) than I did. But I managed to get couple. And a couple of random bugs. Oh and some lizards too. But then, they seem to like to pose. The best butterfly shot started this post.
As always my favourite category, the miscellaneous photos are up next:
Well I reckon I need to go bleach my socks now if there is any hope of me every wearing them again. Hope you enjoyed coming along on our photo safari! Have a wonderful day!
Welcome to my life.
I used to be such a linear thinker/planner/doer. If I started a project at Point A and ended it at Point G, you could absolutely bank that B-F were done. Not only done, but done well. Lately, not so much. And it's all my fault. Seriously, it is. And I don't know what happened to me.
Take the last Friday for example. I put one load of laundry in the washer and had another on deck, ready to roll. Then I decided it would be a great day to make a batch of brownies while the laundry was going. So I consulted my recipe book and lined up all of the ingredients necessary on the countertop. So far, so good.
Then the phone rang. While I was on the phone, I noticed some leaves had tracked into the house so as soon as I hung up the phone I got the broom and dustpan to clean it up. Broom and dustpan in hand, but still in the utility room, I remembered that I also needed to replenish the paper towels in the kitchen and the toilet paper in our bathroom. So I snagged one of each. My arms were really full at this point so I left the broom and dustpan in the kitchen leaning up against the sink and continued toward our bathroom.
Now at this point I was still carrying both the papertowels (which I should have also left in the kitchen) and the toilet paper. As I walked to the bathroom I noticed that I had accidentally left the light on in our bedroom. I turned off the light with my elbow and saw that the closet doors were left open. I set the toilet paper (but not the paper towels) on the bed to close the closet doors - a job that requires at least one hand apparently - then job done. I walked out of the room.
As I leave the room I peeped into Tim's office and saw that his large mug of iced water was nearly empty. Being the nice lady that I am, I tippytoed in and got his mug, walked back into the kitchen to refill it, and returned it to his desk. Meanwhile, the roll of paper towels was still neatly tucked under my elbow. As I left Tim's office, I stubbed my bare toe on the doorframe, which reminded me that I ought to be wearing shoes. Now where did I leave my sandals again?
Oh yes, the family room. Off I go to the family room to find my shoes. They were, exactly as I left them. I put my shoes on and noticed the sofa looked all mussed. So I tidied things, returning toss pillows to their proper spots. I also noticed the dirty plates and napkins from the previous nights dessert were still on the ottoman/coffee table so I picked those up and headed back to the kitchen (paper towels still under my arm).
Dirty dishes in the dishwasher, used napkins into the garbage. Done. Good! Now what was I doing before? I saw the broom and dustpan. That's right, I needed to sweep. So I swept the front call, the kitchen, the living room, the hallway just to cover my bases since I wasn't sure what precipitated the idea in the first place.
What else was I doing before that? Oh yeah, laundry. I checked on the washer, it was done. Shifted that load to the dryer, except the things I air dry and began a new wash load. I hauled forth the air-dry garments and draped them artistically around the house on various wooden chairs to dry. I set the paper towel roll on the puzzle table in the family room because I needed both hands. And this was when I saw some crumbs on the rug and realized that I really needed to vacuum all of the area rugs.
Back to the utility room to get the vacuum. Now our vacuum cleaner, which works great, recently lost some sort of important "pin' thing that keeps two rather important parts connected. So vacuuming requires a special sort of finesse. And two hands. And total focus. I got the job done but as I returned the vacuum to the utility room I noticed that the dryer was now done and, I'm going to be brutally honest here, I was surprised to see that. Mostly because I had completely forgotten that I had put a load into the dryer in the first place. (sigh)
Removed the dryer load and transferred the wash load to the dryer. Back to the bedroom with the clean clothes to fold them and what the heck is a roll of toilet paper doing on the bed? Oh yeah, I meant for that to go to the bathroom. Off I go with the toilet paper roll to the bathroom. Once that's taken care of, I checked to see if Tim needed more water. He did. I refilled his glass once again and delivered it.
Once I left his office I kept thinking there was something else I needed to do but what was it? I stood at the kitchen window looking outside. Oh yeah, water the flowers. I went outside and took care of watering the flowers, returned inside and removed my now wet and sandy shoes and put them in the utility room to dry. Oh look, the dryer is done again. Removed the clothes and walked to the bedroom with them to fold and sonuvafun, there is already a pile of unfolded clothes waiting to be dealt with. I put everything else on hold to fold and put away those clothes.
Now what was I doing before that? I couldn't remember. And then I wandered back into the kitchen and saw all the ingredients for brownies laid out on the counter. Oh yeah! I was going to bake a batch of brownies. Dang. And look! The paper towel spindle is empty. I had completely forgotten about the paper towels which as you may or may not recall were still on the puzzle table in the family room.
See what I mean? Lately my brain is a maze, I need a map and a compass to get through a day. Life has become an Escher drawing. And I am dismayed.
I used to be the person everyone else came to with questions. I was "Answer Lady!" Like a geeky white collar super hero. At every job I ever had, anytime someone else didn't know the answer, I knew it. And they knew I knew it so they came to me. And if I didn't know the answer, I would find it. Straight lines. Problem solver extraordinaire.
So far I'm still getting done everything that needs doing. I may need a little nudge here and there to stay on top of it all, but everything on my gotta -do list is still getting done. Just now, I'm having to write the list down.
I'm not sure if this is just because I'm getting older or is it the added stress of what's going on in the world right now or I'm just slowly losing what's left of my mind. Or perhaps some combination of factors. But I want to go on record as saying that I. Do. Not. Like. It.
I've been watching this one particular hibiscus bloom evolve over the past 5 days. That's all it took from the first suggestion of a bud to past it's prime. Just 5 short days. And that seems far too brief a time, doesn't it?
If I look at the hibiscus bush (shrub? tree? I have no idea what category it falls into) as a whole, it seems as if there is something blooming all of the time. Sometimes so many blooms at one time that the greenery is nearly completely obscured. Other times just a few pops of red here and there. And other times, just one solo bloom. But still, flowering activity is going on in some stage. So I never really considered the "life time" of one single flower.
Up until this week when I bothered to register the existence of our hibiscus at all, it was as one large unit. I never once considered the hibiscus as a collection of individual blooms before this week. Isn't that a strange thing.
The hibiscus is right there. It 's in the courtyard in front of our house. Anytime I return from running errands or taking a walk, I see it. Whenever I'm relaxing in the courtyard or cooking on the grill, it's right there. I'm glad it's there. I love the bright colour and how it attracts butterflies and honey bees. I enjoy seeing bunnies and frogs and lizards nestling underneath. But when it registers in my mind it is as "The" hibiscus, not these hibiscus's, or even those hibiscus blossoms.
At least not until this week. Taking the time to take note of one specific bud and watch it grow and bloom and then pass quietly by in those very brief 5 days certainly made me think about it more, appreciate it more, take more notice of it.
And the back of my brain (which is so much smarter than the front of my brain) kept trying to tell me that there was an important message in there somewhere.
I'm not absolutely certain what that message is but I'm working on it. It could be about appreciating each moment of each day because, like my little 5 day hibiscus, we each get only a limited number of days.
Or it could be a reminder to consider people as individuals instead of as groups of any sort. A reminder to not think or speak of others in broad terms, no sweeping generalities.
Maybe it's a reminder that life is, at it's most basic level, very simple.
Hopefully I will figure out what the message is that I was supposed to have figured out. But in the meantime, I will enjoy our lovely hibiscus and I will try to take the time, more often, to see things a little differently and appreciate life more.
So many things have changed since Covid-19 showed it's ugly face. Most of the things I used to do I can no longer do. Or at least not easily. Or not safely. And I'm all about safety. And easy. I like easy. The museum and the library both closed so two of the things that filled up my time card were no longer available. No volunteering for me at least for awhile.
Oh I still had cooking and baking and laundry and cleaning (laundry and cleaning are eternal). But while they are necessary and help to take up time and I honestly don't mind doing most of those things (mostly) it's not exactly nourishing the soul. Cleaning and laundry are especially dull. Necessary, yes. Interesting, no.
I was very fortunate in that just before closure, I had visited the library and therefore had a small stack of unread books. I took my time in reading them so as to stretch it out. Then I started re-reading old books. And then I was considering re-re-reading old books.
I was beginning to be able to quote some passages from memory when a fellow reader offered to do some book trading. Yay! I was saved!
Naturally just because someone else is also a reader, it doesn't mean that they have the exact same taste in reading material. Of course not. We are all unique individuals. And that always is very cool because then I am 'forced' to read things I would not normally select. It's good to shake things up once in awhile.
Probably if I wasn't in such a reading material drought, I would have declined the book offer specifically because these aren't books that, under normal circumstances would even catch my eye. Nope, I would glide right on past them on the shelf.
But things being what they are, and they usually do, I had nothing else to read and so I gladly accepted the offer. And I am so glad I did!
The first one I decided to read was by Joe Hill, "The Fireman". It's started out strangely and only got more and more weird as the story went on. I had to stop every few chapters to think about it, sort things out in my mind and get steady with it before moving on. In another time I most likely would not have bothered. But I could tell from the very first paragraph that the quality of the writing was absolutely top notch so I forged ahead.
It was an excellent choice for the 1st read in a pile of book that are so unlike what I would normally read specifically because it was that fantastic quality of the writing that kept me going. By the time I was 3/4 of the way through the book I was seriously into the story. By the end of the story, I was sad for it to be over.
So I dove with far less trepidation into the next book, Paradox Bound, by Peter Cline. And that book turned out to be really good too. This time I embraced the weirdness. I was prepared for something different, something unusual. I was ready for whatever strangeness the book was going to throw at me. And of course, it did.
As I have read my way through this pile I am liking these unusual books more and more and I am so glad that I was sort of forced out of my usual reading rut. I have only 3 unread books left. And I am excited about all three of them.
The library has re-opened now (although tutoring has not yet resumed) so once I have finished these last few books I suppose I can just go back there to feed my book addiction. But I'm betting that I will no longer hang out in the historic fiction and biography sections. Nope I am certain that, now that my mind is open to other, slightly stranger, different books, I will be bringing home a wider variety of reading material.
And that is a good thing. Opening my eyes and my mind to new ideas. Always a good thing. And it never would have happened if I hadn't been forced into it. Cool!
It was such a teensy speck against the white of the tub and it was so dang early in the morning that I'm surprised I even noticed. The fact that I was barely conscious as I peeped out of sleepy eyes slitted against the bright light should have factored in as well. But despite all of that, I saw it. I noticed that speck of dark in what should have been an expanse of white porcelain the instant I looked in the direction of the tub.
It was only just 5:30 am but I woke up this morning in that way that clearly states that no matter how ridiculous it is to get up at that hour for no damned good reason, my body was not going to cooperate and fall back to sleep. So I rolled out of bed and shuffled toward the bathroom with thoughts of a long hot shower in my foggy brain.
I did what I always do. I stepped into the bathroom and shut the door before turning on the light so as to not wake Tim. I hung up my robe and took one step toward the tub when the dark speck in question became apparent to me. Full Stop. What the heck is that?
I blinked several times thinking perhaps it was one of those rascally floaters in my eye but no, the speck remained. Cautiously I approached. Dang. It was a spider. And not a teensy one either. I was now fully awake. Completely totally entirely wide awake. Double Dang. I turned off the light, opened the door and got my phone, returned and did the reverse, hoping that the spider had, in the interim had the good sense to leave. It did not.
So I took several photos, cautiously of course and debated my next course of action.
I could squash the spider I suppose. But honestly, I have nothing inherently against spiders. I know they do an important job eating other more pesky bugs that I also do not want in my tub or anywhere else for that matter. And I also know that the odds of this particular spider hurting me in some way are exceedingly low. This arachnid is just trying to live his little spidery life and I respect that. I just don't want him living that life in my bathtub.
Second option was to try to remove him from the tub and release him (or her) once again into the wild. The question was, how to do that most effectively. I considered trying the paper and cup method which I have seen other people do with great success but I have never managed it properly myself. I could try to gently surround it with a paper towel and ever so carefully pick him up and deposit it outside but I was honestly concerned that I might inadvertently injure the poor thing.
I chose option three which was to go into the family room and play games on my phone for a half hour and then return to see if it was still there. As it turns out, that particular spider could take a hint and was nowhere in sight when I returned.
Still there was that lingering after taste so to speak. Before I even considered getting into the tub which, lets face it leaves one in a very vulnerable position, I scouted the bathroom. I looked behind things and under things. I checked corners high and low. There was no sign of the spider or anything else that didn't belong. Not so much as a dust bunny (I do clean the bathroom several times a week after all)
Even so, the entire time I was showering I was keeping a half an eye out for that little 8 legged wee beastie. I was fully prepared to to jump out of the tum or scream or well I have no idea what I thought I was going to do if it showed it's face, but I was ready. Let's face it, knowing me, if I was in the shower and saw the spider, I would most likely have been startled and jumped a tiny bit, which means I also would have slipped on the wet surface and grabbed at the shower curtain to steady myself which would have torn down the shower curtain and potentially the rod as well. Sigh. Let's just agree that it was not a relaxing shower. Or a long lingering shower either. It was, in fact, it was a super quick one.
I never saw that spider before and hopefully I will not see it again. But the question remains, where the heck is it now? Where did it come from? Where did it go?
My house is fairly clean. I clean a little bit every day. I do a big clean once each week. I even get down low and clean baseboards now and again. I get that long wand attachment thingie for the vacuum cleaner to get into corners and under beds and dressers. Periodically I take everything off of the closet floor and clean closet floors. I'm crazy enough to even wipe down the inside of cabinets every so often as the mood strikes me. So I'm baffled by this spider's existence in my house.
I think for my own sanity, I am going to choose to believe that this was a Star Trek spider and he was accidentally transported into our bathtub by mistake. When he realized his error, he whipped out his little spidery communicator and said, "Scottie, one to beam up" and was then teleported right back out.
Whew! I feel so much better now. Glad we cleared that up!
I went grocery shopping yesterday and, as I was standing in line to check out I had the pleasant realization that every single thing that was on my grocery list was actually on the shelves for the first time in, well, quite awhile now. It was a wonderful surprise. I think I had become so accustomed to there being at least one item unavailable that my grocery list had become more of a wish list.
For a few months, every trip to the grocery store was filled with some degree of trepidation. The questions always hovered, "Which aisle will be empty?" "What substitute item might they have for the items they do not have?" "How many people will I see blatantly defying that 'one per customer' signs and take everything on the shelf instead?" and of course my favourite, "How creative can I get with what little product I can find?"
During the meat shortages we ate a lot of chicken. I mean a lot. It was one of the meats we were able to buy in bulk (thank you Costco). Luckily chicken is versatile. There are a ton of things that can be done with a chicken. And I think I did them all. But, there comes a point when no matter how a chicken is prepared, your mind and your body know it's still a dang chicken, which is the same thing you had the previous 14 days in a row and, as Tim once said, "I think I'm about to sprout feathers". Hah!
While I kind of did enjoy the creative part and actually was proud of myself with most of the results, there were times when shopping was kind of stressful. We got through it tho, we didn't starve, we didn't go without anything that was absolutely essential and now most products are back on the shelves, hurrah.
However, I am now noticing a different trend. The price tags are a wee bit higher on things. The prices are creeping up and while, as an individual item it's really not a big deal, when it's all added up, the total can be a bit of a shocker.
In the olden days (pre-virus) I used to go to the grocery store multiple times a week. Yeah, I know, crazy. Generally for just that one thing I forgot. Usually, I decided each morning what I would prepare for dinner that night and well, sometimes I didn't have all of what that particular dish required. Or maybe I suddenly got the urge to bake something I haven't made in a long time and naturally I would need to rush out to buy everything for that project. So it was practically a daily trip. And once there, I had no qualms about buying any other little item that caught my eye.
There was always so much. Abbondanza! Grocery shopping, if you had the time and the inclination was fun. There were items I'd never heard of before, new things to try, choices for recipe experimentation and every single aisle was crammed with options! I could spend a very long time on each shopping trip.
Nowadays, in an effort to mingle with strangers as little as possible, I plan an entire weeks' worth of menus at a time. Yes indeedy. Every Sunday night I plan all of the meals for the next 7 days and then I make my shopping list from there. Many of the meals involve leftovers from other days which is so efficient! I'm rather proud of myself. My thought was that I would be shopping less often - a good thing and spending less because I am using food more efficiently - another good thing and only buying what we actually need - which is the very best thing. I am throwing out a lot less food these days.
And bonus to this was that I was actually spending a lot less money on groceries! Woohoo! How great is that? (the answer is, really great) And that lasted for about a month. Because now, even though I am still planning a week's worth of far more efficient meals at a time and shopping only once a week, somehow, the final tally is beginning to, ever so slowly, get bigger again. Ratz. They are on to me.
It's happening in tiny bits. We adjust slowly to one tiny increase at a time. The same way that gas prices go up. Generally the price doesn't go from $1.98 a gallon to $5.00 a gallon over night after all. Nope. It's a penny or so at a time. Doesn't seem like much. No big deal. It's just a penny. But 5 pennies is a nickel. and twenty nickels is a dollar and, well you get the idea.
Do you remember that old science thing about boiling a frog? Theoretically (or so the myth goes - frankly I never tried this myself. Ick!) If you put a frog in room temperature water and very very VERY slowly increase the temperature one degree at a time, the frog will eventually boil to death and never notice.
My guess is that the frog myth is exactly that, a myth. And wildly untrue. Because this particular frog is noticing.
This past Saturday was all about this guy. Tim's birthday was Saturday and we did our best to celebrate him because he is worthy of great celebration :) Woohoo! Well, we did our best given what we had to work with in this virus situation.
Since our birthday are so close together,we used to take a trip for our birthdays and celebrate our special days together! It was a lot of fun. Oh the places we have been :) Sometimes it was a long road trip Other times it was travel that required an airplane. Occasionally we just did a short drive over a long weekend that sufficed as celebration.
The point being that we had become accustomed to celebrating our birthdays, jointly, by being somewhere else. This year we very firmly stayed put. And it felt a little weird. But to be fair, with everything that's going on right now, it would feel a little strange to be somewhere else. I was asked recently where we were going on vacation this year. I looked at them in disbelief, "I don't know, Costco maybe?'
I know that some brave souls really still are going on actual vacations and good for them. I, however, am reluctant. Perhaps I'm just a scaredy cat or maybe I'm just lazy. But it's all the folderol that's involved in going anywhere these days. Having to clean clean clean and washywashywashy and masking and making reservations to even go to a museum. And then there is the "what actually is open where we are going?' question and the social distancing and well, it's just exhausting to even think about. For me, it lessens the enjoyment of the trip.
And so this year we didn't travel. Well we didn't travel very far. We got up late, relaxed and enjoyed a donut breakfast (yum!) then drove south and wandered around just seeing what there was to see. We did stop to check out a few model homes, masked once again, but some of them, although the sign said they were open, were actually not. Some had these big don't touch anything signs everywhere (I wasn't planning on it), a few had a limit on how many people could be in the model at one time so we had to wait for other's to leave, and at one the sales person followed us through the entire house. I reallllly do not like that.
Afterward we ordered chinese take out from our favourite local place and just settled in to watch a a little TV. There was cake involved too. Gotta have cake for a birthday.
Tim had emails and text messages and phone calls. There were cards and small gifts and I know he felt celebrated. Just a lot differently than we used to do.
It made me think about all of the other celebrations that we all used to do without giving it a second thought, graduations, promotions, baby showers, bridal showers, weddings, anniversaries and so forth. I know a few weddings that are on hold until next year (hopefully) but I wonder how everyone is celebrating things that deserve celebration while still socially distancing? Is it all on Zoom nowadays?
Tim's and my birthdays are small potatoes. We are find with it being very low key. But there are some things, bigger event things, more momentous occasion things that normally take place on a daily basis. Are they all on hold? I am curious. How are you guys celebrating things that deserve celebration these days?
Meanwhile, Happy Birthday to my Sweetheart :)
In keeping with the Birthday Rules and doing only exactly as I please on my birthday, Joy and I headed out bright and early yesterday for another photo safari! Woohoo! It was a great way to start the day. It was a hike filled with so many things that I adore.
Things like flowers:
Insects of all sorts:
Some wonderful birds too. One of which was a great surprise. We could hear the grouse for a long time but couldn't see it which was driving us mad! We would return it's call over and over and actually twice saw it quickly cross the path in front of us but so quickly we didn't have time to snap the shot. Finally, we gave up and continued down the trail. Suddenly, I just had a feeling that the bird was right behind us so I turned and there it was, standing in the trail looking at us. Under my breath I said softly to Joy, "Turn Around". Very quietly she did so, we raised our cameras and the bird ran like mad to the other side but we still got the picture. Hurrah!
And then there were two other surprise guests:
It was a Terrific Birthday Hike. Couldn't have asked for better! Great company, good exercise, and some decent pictures!
I came home to some beautiful flowers and a bag of M&M's which I immediately dived into. I was starving after all that hiking! The flowers really are lovely. Hydrangea and Freesia.
I had just enough time to cool off a bit and re-hydrate and then it was time for the noonwalk. We are insane to be out doing our daily walk in the hottest part of the day, but still we do it, nearly every day! By the time we returned, once I had several more glasses of water (It's hot!) I finally took the time to shower and change. Ahhhh. I felt like a whole new woman!
I answered phone messages, read so many lovely emails and texts and IM's and Happy Birthday messages on yesterday's blogpost !!!! Then with only a few hours left before dinner, I had to decide what to do? There are always things that need doing around the house and yard but then I decided that I would just sit on my prodigious butt and read the rest of the afternoons away. Remember - no chores is on the list of Birthday Rules!
I no sooner sat down with my book in my favourite spot on the family room sofa, got settled in, glasses on my face, book open, ready to find out "what happens next" and I fell asleep. Out Cold! I should feel guilty but I don't. Not one bit. After all, it was apparently what I wanted to do and on my birthday I get to do whatever I want to do!
I woke up just in time for dinner. When asked what I wanted (remember my birthday, my choice) I was actually still feeling kind of full from all of those M&M's earlier, so I just wanted a sandwich. Jersey Mike's came immediately to mind. When Tim brought it home, mine had a nice little birthday message on it. Awwwwww.
So there you have it. An absolutely Perfect Birthday!!
Sorry for the extra long post today but it was an extra great day ;) Thank you for being a part of it!
Have a wonderful weekend. Hugs all 'round
This is the most recent photo of me that I have, taken this week as a matter of fact. And today, is my birthday. Woohoo! As of today I have existed on this planet for 67 years? Wow! That's kind of a scary big number isn't it. But it is what it is and I am who I am and today I am 67. I have to keep saying that number over and over because it's hard to wrap my brain around it.
It's not just that I'm now 67 years old (wow) but that the time has gone by in a blinding flash. Zoooooom! Everyone older than me said it would one day happen and they were absolutely correct. Time passes much too quickly so I need to cherish every moment of it. So I hereby vow to truly be present in each moment of my life. Hopefully if it doesn't slow time down for me, maybe I will at least have each moment fixed in time as a specific memory instead of a blur.
Meanwhile I anticipate being thoroughly birthday-ed today. Yay! And at some point I will even accept the truth of how marvelously aged I have become. Therefore, my birthday wish is that the wisdom part of the "age & wisdom" thing will finally kick in and then I will be not just be an old lady, I will be a wise old lady.
So since I anticipate being thoroughly birthday-ed today, I am going to be incredibly self-indulgent and instead of writing a brand new post, I am going to merely re-post my annual list of Birthday Rules. Why? Mostly because I can. But also because the rules are still valid and pertinent and I believe them to be true. Here you go folks, the Birthday Rules. Happy Birthday to me.
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.
Despite the fact that it's July in Florida which means that the weather is both hot and humid, Joy and I are still insane enough to continue our weekly hikes. Seriously, we must be certifiable. Or at least passionate enough about our photo safaris that a little unpleasantness is not enough to deter us. And, as one or the other of us frequently points out, "an artist must suffer for the sake of their work". I don't know if being sweaty and hot and slogging through muck truly counts as suffering or if what we do is really art, but still it's what we do.
Ready? Let's go.
The thing that struck me the most about this hike were the flowers. Loads of flowers, buckets of them, piles of them, fields of them in every direction everywhere we went. It was glorious. The fragrance was indescribable. It didn't feel quite real. Almost like a dream sequence in some romantic movie.
It naturally follows that if you have flowers you also have bugs of all sorts. Mostly dragonflies, but a few butterflies, a couple of gnarly spiders and the most surprising of all, a bee swarm! Holy Cats!
We started early so there was a lot of dew on the ground and the leaves. That early the light is so gorgeous bouncing off those dewdrops and appears as if someone sprinkled glitter everywhere. There had been a rainstorm overnight so the water table was high which further means that we had to slog through a few puddles and jump a couple of streams. Oh and there was a rainbow! That was a beautiful surprise! Totally worth it.
And birds. Of course there were birds. Lots and lots and lots of birds. As always we hear we more of them than we see. But we tippy-toed quietly enough that occasionally several would blast across the path in front of us, much too fast and unexpectedly to get a picture. Still I got a few pictures here and there. I hope you enjoy silhouette shots because for some dang reason, almost all of my bird photos from yesterday turned out to be silhouettes. Ratz. Oh and I swear to you, these are all different birds. Not the same bird over and over. Although there does seem to be a disproportionate number of woodpecker photos. Sorry about that.
And there was a surprise bridge that we never saw before. That was a "what?" moment. It had to be new. There is no possible way that we both would have missed seeing that before, right? Of course, we might have been on a new trail. There are so many there at Carlton that each time is a completely different adventure. And honestly, we don't use a map. We just decide at each cross road which way we feel like going, so we are all over the place. It's a wonder that we've never gotten lost.
The new bridge wasn't very long. Of course there was no hand rail and even though it was wide enough, it was a little bouncy. It was just unsteady-feeling enough that I was a bit trepidacious. Joy was fine. She played around and had fun with it. e Of course we had to document it.
As always I have my rando photos too. They just don't fit into any other particular category. But I still like 'em just fine. In fact, sometimes, I like them the best.
So there you have it, the most recent Photo Safari Report!
Hope you enjoyed. We did!
Behold! The humble Whoopie Pie. Well humble but delicious.
In truth, I suppose it's not very pretty. Certainly not fancy. And the name is downright silly. I always feel kind of ridiculous when I say it out loud. Go ahead, Try it. Say Whoppie Pie out loud while maintaining your decorum. It's like the clown prince of dessert names.
But dang they are good.
I'm told that the name of this delectable treat came from the reaction of those who found whoopie pies in their lunch pails. As in, "what for lunch today? oh my! Whoopie!" I have my doubts about that story.
I do know that they were first commercially produced by Labadie's Bakery in Lewiston Maine in the early 1900's. Which would by why I know about them. It's that Maine connection. My mother hails from a teensy little town on the coast of Maine. And her mother (that would be my grandmother) was an amazing baker. She was a very so-so cook but her baking more than made up for it. And since my sister and I spent most of our summers through our childhood in our grandmother's house in the ittybitty town on the coast of Maine, we are Very Familiar with whoppie pies.
Essentially it is a cookie sandwich. Unlike the Oreo cookie sandwich, which oddly was invented right about the same time, though in Hoboken NJ and not Maine, it is a soft sandwich. The top and bottom parks are almost, but not exactly, cake-like. And the filling is soft and fluffy and thick and awesome. Now I like Oreo's. I like them a lot. But I LOVE whoppie pies.
Probably it's that childhood connection thing. But I don't care about the why of it. I only care that they exist.
I know that there are other parts of the country that also boast Whoppie Pies but those do not taste the same. The filling in those other ones tends toward marshmallow. Now I like marshmallows. I like 'em just fine. But they do not belong in whoppie pies. Nope not a bit. And I am quite certain that some folks will be inclined to argue that point with me. Don't bother. My mind is made up.
Middle son and his wife once gave me a cookbook of whoppie pies and I was stunned to realize that they can be made in different flavours! I dont' know why that never occurred to me before. Chocolate chip? Oh yeah. Oatmeal? Sure why not? Red Velvet? Me oh my! And the fillings of course can be adjusted to suit the different flavour of the 'cake' of the sandwich. Brilliant! And yummy too. I had so much fun playing with those different flavours and combinations for awhile.
But since I do not make them often anymore, when I do bother to do so, I go for the original most of the time. Two soft rich chocolate-y cakes with a big old pile of fluffy vanilla yumminess squished in between. Mercy.
When I make them, I keep them in the freezer. Oh yeah, they can be eaten directly from the freezer. It keeps them firm, not hard. And there is something about cold and chocolate that is a match made in heaven.
And now that I've tickled my own tastebuds with this idea, I think I may have one for breakfast. Hey, if I'm having it for breakfast, it becomes a breakfast sandwich. Sort of like eating oatmeal cookies for breakfast. It's oatmeal, therefore it must be healthy, right?
Fine you have your breakfast of choice and I will have mine. We will see who's tastebuds are happier. (the answer is mine of course)
Hurrah for the Red, White and Blue! Oreo's that is. Ok. So perhaps that isn't exactly a traditional Independence Day photo. But then this year the 4th of July didn't feel very traditional.
All normal fesitivities were cancelled. The usual trek to the beach (all 12 minutes of walking involved) to watch the official Venice fireworks over the water was scratched. Gatherings for fun and games with friends and family was O.U.T. Big cookouts with burgers and dogs and s'mores was not happening. There were no parades, no annual boating events, no swim-a-thons, no nothin'.
We all understand why, of course. It's a safety thing. Pre-virus we didn't give a second thought to jamming a zillion or so strangers onto the beach to light up sparklers and talk and laugh with each other while waiting for the big show. Holiday gatherings had a "come one, come all" sort of attitude about them. And what would the 4th be like without high school marching bands and clowns and horses and gymnastic clubs and boy scouts and firetrucks parading down the street while children of all ages line the sidewalks and wave and cheer?
Well it would be whole lot like Independence Day was this year. Kind of quiet.
But our thought was that if we can't do what people usually do, then we will do something completely different. So we drove down to Punta Gorda. It's an adorable little town about 45 minutes south of here. On the way we stopped for pizza at a place we've never tried before. Of course, we ordered by cell phone (from the car!) and ate it outside because there was NOBODY else out there. It was good pizza I'm telling ya! Coal Fired pizza is what the sign says. I say, it was yummy.
Then we continued south, up and over the big water and down to the park that runs along the waterfront in the historic district. It's our favourite part of Punta Gorda. There were exactly four other very people there, two sets of two. And all of us politely kept our distance as we walked along.
We admired the sailboats, charming homes, pretty gardens and the gazebo. One of the flowers in particular reminded me of fireworks :) Part of the park was closed off for some reconstruction work so we couldn't get to the pier, dagnabit. But still it was a lovely place to walk.
Eventually we got back in the car and continued on to the Juan Ponce de Leon park, also in Punta Gorda. Not many people there either. Which was fine with us. We walked along the boardwalk through the mangroves and on the teensy white sand beach, read all of the historic signs and called it a day.
By the time we got back home it was getting late enough that we just decided to relax a bit and watch some TV.
Along about 8:30 we began to hear the familiar poppoppop and banging sounds that indicate fireworks are happening somewhere. We kind of suspected that there would still be locals doing their own unofficial firework shows. So we jumped in the car and headed out to find them.
We drove down to the jetty where we could just stand on the rocks with almost nobody around and admire the fireworks going on all around us. On the beaches, in people's back yards, piers, docks and off of boats for heaven's sake's. It was literally a 360 degree view of unsanctioned, unofficial, awesome fireworks.
So let's see, we have lived here for 4 years now. In that time we have seen one official awesome on the beach fireworks show, got drenched by an unexpected and torrential rainstorm that rained out an on the beach fireworks show, traveled for our birthdays, so we were away a different year and now this one where we got to see a very unofficial fireworks show.
I guess our annual Fourth of July tradition isn't all that traditional since we seem to celebrate it differently every year.
How every you celebrated yours I hope you had a great time. And I further hope that next year, maybe things will be a little more, traditional.
The little lizard is actually standing on a flood marker. It means July of 2001. But I thought it was amusing that the day we saw that was July 1st, yesterday. And that means that we are now officially half way through the year 2020 and thank goodness for that. I think we can all agree that this has not been a banner year. We made it halfway through, so it makes me believe that we will make it all the way through.
But meanwhile, could you stand one more photo safari report this week? Yesterday Joy and I got really brave, doubled our bug spray, and headed back to Sleeping Turtle Preserve. The last time we were there we were literally driven out by killer mosquitos swarms.
This time however, either the mosquitos had moved on to wetter pastures (it's been unseasonably dry lately) or we were better prepared. Either way, off we went, cameras in hand, ready to face whatever surprises awaited us.
You know how I always say that each of our hikes ultimately has a theme? Well the surprise this time was that there was no theme. No one single thing that we noticed over and again. Didn't happen this time 'round. We did note that all of the places that were completely flooded out or at least mucky were dry yesterday so we actually had more trails to hike. That was nice!
Are you ready? Here we go: Three yellow flowers. One by itself, one with a fly and one with a butterfly. (sometimes I think I'm so dang clever - even when I'm not)
And then we saw this giant flying stinging thing. Fortunately neither of us got stung by it (whew!) because it looked very scary. Not so scary that we didn't take photos of it of course! Yeah, I know we are kind of crazy
One of the coolest things we saw was in a clearing that had one tree in the middle. The tree was gigantic! Really huge! And it was surrounded by a very impressive thicket of all sorts of shrubs that were pretty tall themselves. We noticed a lot of birds in the area and moving in and out of the thicket. So we crept closer and closer and eventually realized that they were cardinals. There were multiple pairs of them and it was awesome to watch them.
Other unusual and beautiful flowers, naturally because they are everywhere!
And as always photos from my miscellaneous file:
So there you have it. One last Photo Safari report this week!
I'm going to take a 3-day weekend my friends. I wish you a safe and enjoyable Independence Day Weekend! Meet you here again on Monday!
Hugs all 'round!
Taking a Leap of Faith. While it's not a literal physical jump, it's still pretty huge. And we've all done it at least once in our life. Even the most timid among us has, at least one time, taken a chance, a risk, made a decision for which that was no guaranteed outcome. It's scary!
My sister once gave me that advice when I needed it. I was long ago. And after patiently listening to me after I unloaded an entire pile of emotional baggage upon her (poor thing) she told me that sometimes in your life, you just have to close your eyes and jump. It was great advice.
It might have been when you joined the military or went away to college, or started your first job. It was possibly your first date, your wedding day or when you made the decision to geographically move far from everything and everyone you know.
Taking a Leap of Faith means listening to yourself above the words of everyone else in your life. Knowing deep down in the darkest most cobwebby corners of your heart, your mind and your soul that you are making the right decision for yourself, even if it isn't what others would decide for you. And more importantly it's knowing that if it turns out that you were wrong, and it was not the correct choice after all, that you are able to pull yourself up my your socks and figure out what to do from there, on your own without playing the blame game or expecting someone else to haul your butt out of the fire.
It's believing in yourself, trusting your own instincts, going with your gut, as they say. The faith is having faith in you.
The earliest explorers did that. And it didn't always turn out the way they expected (Christopher Columbus, I'm talking to you!). Every immigrant who came to this country said good bye to everything familiar, sold everything they had and loaded their families onto big ships and saiedl across a scary ocean to start life over in an unfamiliar place. They took a Leap of Faith, that this would be a better life.
During the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and both World Wars, people held on to the hope and belief that eventually it would all be over and their lives would start anew in a better place and it wasn't easy to be hopeful, it wasn't easy to believe. The Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, every recession that has occurred since the beginning of this country was defeated and overcome by hope, belief and leaps of faith.
Every singer, actor, magician who auditions; each painter, author and sculpture who submits their work; every time a person gets out there looking for a new job they are taking a leap of faith that things will get better, it will all work out, it's going to be ok.
And you know what? Most of the time, it's true. Most of the time the results are positive. I applaud the courage and the bravery of everyone who believes in themselves, who trusts that everything is going to work out, the ones who insist that they have made the right choice in daring to risk it all. Everyone who has ever taken a Leap of Faith is heroic in my eyes.
And now here we are, how many months into this virus with no end in sight. It's easy to get down, to be bummed , to get the blues, the glooms, to be depressed. But I believe that eventually it will get better. It will get easier. Things will work out. Right now I am going to be the one who poo-poo's the apocalyptic naysayers, I honestly truly sincerely believe that if we are smart, if we make the right choices, if we aren't selfish and stupid about this thing, eventually it's going to be over. I am taking the leap of faith this time, and choosing to believe that if we give it enough time, it's going to be ok.
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.