I did something spontaneous! Monday I did something, unplanned, that I've only done one other time in my entire life (at least that I can think of).
You have to understand the importance of me saying that I did something spontaneous. I like to say that I'm perfectly capable of being spontaneous as long as it's well planned out. Y'see? Kind of out of character for me. But occasionally I surprise myself.
I needed to do a quick grocery store run on Monday afternoon. My local grocery store is in a good sized plaza filled with all sorts of other lovely business: restaurants, nail salons, my hair dresser, a jewelery store, a barber shop, a dollar store and a Beall's Outlet among other things. To my complete surprise, the parking lot was packed! I expected that to be the case later in the week due to the upcoming holiday weekend but on a Monday? Oh well.
It was so crowded in fact, that I had to go way down to nearly the end of the plaza to find an open spot. No problem. I am perfectly capable of walking from my car to Publix and frankly could use the exercise. Now it so happens that way down on that end of the plaza is Beall's Outlet Store. One of my favourite places to buy clothes. I don't really need any clothes so it never consciously occurred to me to go in there which is why I was so surprised to find myself walking in the door instead of continuing down the sidewalk to the grocery store.
There were clearance sale signs all over the place. Think about it. An outlet store plus a clearance sale. Sam Nirvana. "Okay", I told myself sternly, "You can look, but there will be no buying today. Just a quick peekie and out the door". I totally ignored myself and strolled through the clearance racks. The first thing that caught my eye was a pair of print shorts in teal green and white. I looked at the price tag. $6.99. And then, without another thought, I walked them to the register, paid and continued back out the door.
Did you see that? I bought an article of clothing without even trying it on!!!!! That is not just spontaneous, it's downright shocking. As I said at the very beginning, in my entire life, I have only done that one other time.
Normally if I am clothes shopping there is a lot more involved. First of all I have to peruse all of the options. And I mean all of them. Eventually, if the planets are all in the proper alignment, I select a few things in what I at least assume is my size and away to the dressing rooms. I try and discard quickly unless I think I might possibly really love the item. If I am going to spend money, it's going to be on something I truly adore and will wear it often.
Assuming that this is an occasion where there is at least one thing that I like, I will then try it with multiple different tops. I will walk around the dressing room area. I will sit, squat, stand, bend over. I will look at the article of clothing in question from every angle possible, front, side, back very critically. I think about what else I have already at home to wear with it. I read the care tag. I check seams and closures, be they button or zipper. If the thing I'm considering passes all of those tests I will next walk it around the store thinking about it. I might consider other things against it while I'm out there. Or I might just have it in my hand while also admiring a cute pair of shoes or a shirt I think Tim will like. Once I have exhausted all possible opportunities to procrastinate making this decision, then and only then, I will take it to the register and purchase it. Or put it back on the rack depending on my mood that day.
This time I did not do even one of those steps. Not. A. Single. One. I just paid for it and left. Did my grocery shopping and went home. Cut off the tags and put it in the laundry pile. Mercy!
I finally wore them for the first time yesterday. Oh my goodness. So comfortable. Kind of cute too. A little shorter than the shorts I usually wear but not horribly so (at least I don't think so) and I do not for one minute regret buying them. Hurrah!
The only other time I can recall buying without at least trying, was about ten years ago. It was a lightweight orange sweater, which I still own and still wear. It too was a great non-decision.
So yes, I surprised myself. I was spontaneous. And it worked out great! But don't expect this on a regular basis. The very next day I reverted back to my normal non-spontaneous self. But I have to say that I like to see that part of me shine every once in awhile. Spontaneously, of course!
rightUntil my last library visit, I did not even know this existed. Not the book, not the mini-series, what the heck? I know I'm generally out of the loop but when it comes to authors that I admire, usually I have some semblance of a clue. May I buy a vowel, Alex?
Because I was unaware of this book, I certainly wasn't looking for it. But as I perused the shelves last Thursday, the name Stephen King jumped out at me. (He's a scary guy, of course he jumped out - Boo!). I was curious, because I was unfamiliar with the work and honestly I only saw two thing: the name of a favourite author of mine and a title I had never read before. That is really all I needed to say, "Yup, bringing this one home with me". Checked it out and went on my merry way.
I honestly had no idea it was a screenplay (even though it says so right there on the cover.,..honestly, sometimes I am so oblivious!) and was delighted to find out once I finally took a few minutes to sit down and begin the book on Monday.
There was a wonderful forward by Mr. King that grabbed me from the very first page. It felt as if I was having a conversation with this amazing writer. Goody. So I snuggied into my favourite reading spot and began the very important job of scaring the absolute crap out of myself.
I already knew that I would love this book.
Most 'horror' movies/books/plays do not interest me in the slightest. Not a fan of guts and gore. But there are a few brilliant writers who are just so damned good that I cannot resist. To me his work is more dramatic mysteries that happen to also to also have absolutely ghastly leanings. I love the pacing, the attention to detail, the character studies, the bizarre humour (and there always is some) and the compelling way that the reader is drawn in.
Then there is the fact that this is a screenplay and not a novel. While everyone who knows me also know that I adore a good novel, a screenplay is such a different shade of purple that I cannot resist. As I read, I am both in the scene with the characters and I am behind the camera with the director. Back and forth and back and forth, quick change, jump jump. It's almost dizzying. I love it!
But let's set the stage here. So it's late afternoon but not so late that I need to immediately start dinner. I have roughly 30 minutes that I can dedicate to just reading. I am in the family room curled up in the best corner of an L-shaped sectional sofa surrounded by comfy pillows. The day is gloomy (how better to set the stage for reading a book by Stephen King eh?) so I have one light on. It's a small light offering just barely enough thin illumination to read by. While the room is loaded with windows on three walls, there are blinds down because it has been so brightly sunny all day and it helps to keep the room cool. So I cannot see out adding to the coziness of the space.
The house is very quiet. Tim is working away in his office in the farthest corner of the house from where I am and the only sounds are the mechanicals which provide only background white noise at best. Within one page, I am fully immersed in the story and the back of my brain realizes that I should probably have set a timer because there is no way that I am going to be aware when thirty minutes have passed.
In the story, one helluva winter storm in cranking up. Unbeknowst to me, there is a big time tropical storm heading here as well.
Here in Venice, the sky is getting darker by the minute. The clouds are deep grey, almost black. At the same time, it's also getting darker and darker in the book as the "Storm of the century" gathers steam.
The story takes place in Maine in deep winter which is numbing cold but even so it's growing colder by the minute. Because of the coming storm, the house is getting cooler here too. While I'm sure Tim is very comfortable, the constant AC and the overhead fans churning that AC directly onto me causes me to pull up the little fuzzy blanket I keep on the sofa for just that reason.
Tension grows in the story as it climbs. I'm curled into a ball now and nibbling on my right thumbnail as the pages fly by.
Just as the very first truly horrible thing happens in the book, a big old thunderboomer cracks directly overhead and the sky lights up with multiple lightening flashes. I almost screamed. My heart is pounding as a close the book and set it aside for a moment, collect myself and look at the clock. It's past time to start dinner but instead I go into Tim's office for a minute. It's brightly lit, all the computer monitors have activity on it. Tim is sitting in his big leather chair wearing headphones and has no idea that I'm standing in the doorway and that's okay. I just needed to reach out and touch reality again for a minute. After a couple of deep breaths, I'm fine and the rest of the day continues as it should although dinner was a wee bit later than usual.
We have had crashing rain storms every afternoon this week, complete with hammering rain, temporary yard lakes and rivers, window rattling thunder and crazy lightening strikes. it took me three afternoons of that environment to finish a book I would normally cruise through in one sitting.
It was awesome!
This is my current vehicle. I've owned it for, well quite some time. I bought it, gently used, in Colorado. Let's see, it's a 2004, this is 2018, so it's 14 years old. Still looks pretty spry doesn't it? Well it should. For all of it's car-years, (I mean 14 in people years is still quite young) there's only about 73,000 miles on this car most of them put on by the previous owner. All in all, I suppose, it's a good vehicle. And still, I have almost no emotional attachment to it. It's just a way of getting from point A to point B. And in my case A is usually home and B is usually the grocery store.
I have a Love/Hate relationship with cars anyway. I find them very handy to get places, but I really hate how ridiculously expensive they are to own, to maintain, to repair and I strongly despise how often they seem to require some sort of fussing about and I definitely do not like having to take it to a repair shop and dealing with repair guys. Everyone already knows how I feel about driving so I won't bother to reiterate that part.
For me, the repair part is the worst. It's not only expensive, it can be intimidating and infuriating.
The reason this comes to mind is that my car is, once again, just back from the shop. For over a year now, I have had periodic issues with the front right tire going flat. No warning just..boop, flat tire. Dang. I'd put air in it and it would be fine for awhile and then I'd be ready to go to the grocery store and... boop, flat tire again. ARGH! I have taken it to the repair place (where we bought the tire so - warranty y'know) and they would "fix" it holding back eye rolls and tell me that they couldn't find a problem. I would say things like, "you mean other than the fact that the tire is flat, right?" And they would say right and give me back the keys and off I would go until it was flat again. Aggravating!
So it happened again. I put in air. The next day, flat again. Tried Fix-a-Flat. The next day, flat again. I put air in once again, just enough to get me to the repair shop. This time, when they called to say it was all set Tim took the call. When they told him they couldn't find a problem, he suggested strongly that they " try looking again because clearly there is a problem. This has happened many times before. The tire isn't flat because it's exhausted".
This time they found the actual problem and fixed it. I know because the car is in my driveway and the tire is not flat today ;) YAY! Still I am annoyed. Why couldn't they go the extra step necessary to solve the problem for me? I'm delighted that Tim got them to do their doggone job correctly, but should he have had to intervene for me?
In the 47 years I've been driving, I have owned 6 cars. I remember well the first car that I bought my own little self. It was a cute little boxy apple green fiat. Four doors, no radio. I loved that car. It had only two issues. The first was that the high/low beam stick was on the left side of the column and stuck way out past even the steering wheel. Since I am a horrible person who never buttons their coat, every time I swung into the car on a chilly winters day, my open coat would catch on the stick and break it off. The people who design Fiat's had, at that time at least, unwisely created a car that not only had that stupid stick hanging way out there just begging to be snapped off, but to fix it, the entire column had to be replaced. Not an inexpensive undertaking. Especially for a pathetically poor college kid.
After having to get it replaced twice, I asked the garage if they could possibly change it out to a floor switch. They could and they did! Hurrah! Problem solved! OK, that one was probably all my fault. So I cannot blame Fiat or the repair shop for that one. And the repair guys were remarkably helpful.
But the other issue was infuriating. The windshield wiper on the drivers side only, would fly off the car if used while it was actually raining. And I mean that literally. Driving down the road, it begins to rain, I turned on the wipers and they would go right, left, right , zip and off it would go flying through the air. Damnit. I'd pull over and stop. Get out in the pouring rain. Race across the highway. Pick up my windshield wiper. Take off my shoe to pound it back on. Get back in the car. Now sometimes I could just wait on the side of the road until the rain stopped and resume my travel, but other times, there were places I needed to be at a specific time. So I would have to do that little dance over and over until I arrived at my destination or the rain stopped. Not Fun.
Whenever I took it to the Fiat garage they would look at me as if I were crazy and try to get the car to duplicate what I was telling them it did. And of course it did not. Because it wasn't raining! It only happened in the rain. I kept taking it in over and over. They got less and less transparent about how crazy they thought I was until finally I limped there during a rain storm. I walked in with said wiper in my hand, looking as if I had been dunked in a bucket from repeatedly dashing out into the rain to retrieve my wiper from the street. I flourished it at them.
"Why is my windshield wiper in my hand?" I queried in my cold angry voice.
"Because it's not on your car?" one of them tentatively answered.
"Correct! Why is it not on my car?" I pressed
"Because it came off?" Ah! this fellow has been through this with me before!
"Correct? Why does it keep coming off?" I glared through steamed up glasses and dripping hair.
Slowly as if approaching a wounded wild animal, two of them came around to the front of the shop. One of them took the offending wiper, the other the keys I offered them. I waited, steaming silently sitting in those horrible plastic molded chairs, soaking wet and chilled through while they worked.
Their solution was to switch the drivers side and passengers side wipers. True, the driver's side wiper no longer flew off, but the passenger side did and contrary to some people's apparent belief, I actually would benefit from being able to see out of the entire windshield while driving.
I ended up fixing it myself by epoxying the wiper arm in place.
Things like that make my blood pressure go so high, it's nearly in the normal range!!! So frustrating.
So anyway, right now my car is fine and all is well with the world again and if someone asked me if I liked my car I would say yes without hesitation. But the next time something goes wrong on my car, I'll be all pissy again and claim that I hate that damned car. When in fact, it's not the car at all. It's the cost of keeping the car running.
Here you go, an example of a perfectly ordinary August afternoon in Florida. This is a photo from yesterday afternoon around 4 ish. That's the witching hour for Florida August afternoon storms.
It's not that the gutter are blocked. No indeed. They are just as clean and clear as can be. But the rain was coming down so hard that it was more than the poor gutter could bear. Which is kind of a theme. It's also more than the ground can absorb so the back yard appears to be underwater and there are rivers on both sides of the house. It's interesting to watch. And I confess, the first few times it happened, it was a little scary too. Now however, with two previous Florida August under our belts, I'm not sure Tim even noticed that it was raining at all.
The thunder and lightening was a giveaway even if I hadn't noticed the sound of the rain hammering at the roof. The boomers didn't just sound as if they were directly above the house! They sounded like they were in the living room! Crash, Bang, Boom, Crack! Full orchestration! If we had owned a dog I'm sure it would have been hiding under the bed at that point.
I went from window to window to window like a little kid, observing the rain coming down and the 'rivers' of water coming up and the rain pouring from the eves looking for all the world like icicles.
It had been a gorgeous day. There was even a tiny bit of a breeze when we took our noon walk which was very much appreciated. A few big puffy white clouds played peek-a-book with the sun and boy oh boy was it hot. The sort of hot and humid we fully expect in summer in Florida of course. But it was such a perfect looking summer day that if you didn't know that it was going to rain in the afternoon, you never would have guessed.
Until it started getting dark. And then darker. And then darker still. And then the wind begins to pick up and I rush out to take the umbrella down. And then there is the distant sound of thunder slowly getting closer and closer. Then the rain starts. First gentle little pittypats of rain that grow bigger and stronger and then, it's like the clouds broke open and the rain poured out.
Of course it didn't last all that long, the torrents of rain I mean. The regular ordinary rain went on for several hours. But the exciting part only lasted about a half hour. Still it was kind of wild watching that tiny pond of accumulated rain in the backyard become a lake.....
Until I could see no grass in the backyard at all and the trees looked like islands poking up from a lake.
I'd like to point out that the inside of the house was perfectly dry.
I wisely moved the grill to under the overhang and it stayed dry too. The grills stayed dry. I however did not because while there is room for the grill under that overhang, it is not yet big enough to accomodate one normal sized griller person. So I grilled steaks in the rain wearing my rain gear, hood up! And the steaks came out beautifully. I am dripdry so it's all good.
And once the storm was over, the rivers on the side of the house went away, the lake in the back of the house disappeared, the temperature dropped significantly and everything looked fresh and new and smelled great.
It's another stunningly beautiful morning here. I walked to Pilates class and back wearing sunglasses and was the sky is the most beautiful shade of blue.
And I am not at all surprised to see that the afternoon forecast calls for rain again right around 4 o'clock. Of course it does. This is August in Florida.
It's something that happens to me far more often than I really care to admit. A case of mistaken identity, I suppose. An simple honest error.
Yesterday, Tim and I went to see some very high end model homes. Lovely homes. It was the sort of place that was not only gated, but you had to to inside the visitor's center to "check in" and get a pass. I waited patiently while Tim talked with the lady behind the counter. Tim must have mentioned that he was with his wife, because I saw him gesture toward me. The lady behind the counter turned her head to say hello to me and instead, her eyes opened very wide, she stepped back a half step and her smile turned into a thousand watt beam as she said, (here it comes), "You look just like Barbra Streisand". Because I knew she meant that as a compliment and because I've heard this far too many times before, I smiled back and just said, "Thank you".
Really? Do I really? I don't see it.
Is it the nose? Is that the entirety of the similarity? Just the proboscis? Well, I suppose our hair is nearly the same colour and is cut in vaguely the same style. Is that the basis of the comparison? It's a mystery to me.
I have to say that if it was just that one occasion, that one woman yesterday, I probably wouldn't give it another thought, but it just keeps happening. I don't have nay idea how poor Ms. Streisand feels about the comparison.
At a party at a neighbor's house not long ago, I met quite a number of people I did not know. All of them were very nice people and I had a lovely time. But just before I left, I was saying my good-byes to the hostess when the dearest little old lady came up to me and took my hands. She looked so very sincerely into my eyes as she said, "I just had to come over and tell you that you look just like Barbra Streisand." It was intended to very kindly, I could tell. But, but, but...I don't! Do I?
This is not intended as a shot at Ms. Streisand. She is an amazing talent. Her voice is a national treasure. To have that gift would be amazing. I can carry a tune in a bucket. When I sing, I generally hit the note I'm aiming at, but compared to her, I sound like a bullfrog croaking. I don't know her personally of course, but I will go ahead and assume that she is a nice lady. I'm a nice lady. She has a son, I have three sons. And that's about as far as I can go with similarities. Like I said, I just don't see it.
But oddly, she is not the only famous person I have been compared to. A physician I once had told me that I looked 'just like' Mayim Bialik. Really? That was a surprise to me. But I've heard it many times since. In fact, in one restaurant in Colorado, a very sweet little girl, around 8 or 9 years old, followed me into the ladies room clutching a piece of paper and a pen and nervously requesting my, or rather, her autograph.
I asked her who exactly it was that she thought she was talking to. When she told me Mayim Bialik I said that I was sorry, but I wasn't that person. She just stood there, blinking back little tiny tears, her smile trembling and held out the paper and pen. "Honey, honest, I wish I was her because then I would be very happy to sign your paper. But I'm just not her!" Then I washed my hands and left the restroom. I felt so bad for that little girl. I don't know if she thinks that I really was Ms. Bialik and that I was lying to her to get out of signing an autograph? Or what?
But again, I just do not see that I look like this woman at all!
The only thing that we have in common, as far as I can tell is we are both female and we both have sons. She is not only an actress, which I am so very not, but she is also a smarty pants scientist. She has an advanced degree in NeuroScience, for heaven's sakes. We are nothing alike! Not that I don't admire her, I do. Just I don't see that we look the same.
Of course even that is not the end of it. I am frequently mistaken for total strangers. Just regular people. I am told, nearly everytime I meet someone new that I remind them so much of...or I look just like... their sister, their dental hygienist, their neighbor..... And on more than one occasion a sad drunk will demand that I forgive them for something because they think that I am, Gloria or Rebecca or whoever they did wrong.. I have no idea of course what Gloria or Rebecca or the sister, hygienist or neighbor actually looks like so I cannot tell you how accurate these other people are in their declaration of how much we "look exactly alike". But I'm going to assume that I don't because so far, I never have.
And since I apparently "look just like' so very many other people, I can only conclude that I must be the most average looking person on the planet! I must look like every 3rd woman in America! Or I am a human chameleon. It's got to be one or the other because I cannot imagine that all of these people are delusional.
Then of course, there is the very first person that I looked "just like". My sister. Pretty much from the day she was born, we were told that we looked like twins. We don't see it. I mean, we are both women. Close in age. With similar colouring. Nearly the same height. But that's it. Still we are told this all of the time. "You must be twins!" My sister used to deny not only being twins, but even being related! She cracks me up.
So here is the other person that apparently I look just like (I'm the one on the left).
Nope, we just don't see it at all. I asked Tim and he agreed that we do not look like twins. At least not identical twins. But then, he is a very smart man and we've been married a long time. After awhile, you know the correct answer to any question asked.
I leave it to you, my readers. Do I really look like any of these other people? Do you know Gloria or Rebecca? Do I look like them?
So this is me, Sam. But you already know that. Some of you also know that "Sam" isn't even really my name. It's the name I go by and have all of my life, but it's not the name on my birth certificate. The official moniker given me upon the occasion of my birth is "Sandra Faye Hurley". My father filled out the paperwork y'see and he wanted me to have a quote unquote 'normal' name.
My mother wanted to name me Samantha Lynette. Lynette is her middle name and it have been passed along to me. I don't know why she chose Samantha. It was not a common name at the time. My guess is that she read it in a book somewhere and took a shine to it. Regardless of her intention, my official name remains, Sandra and not Samantha. All fine and good. There is really nothing whatsoever wrong with the name Sandra except that it's not me. I've been called Sam as long as I can recall. I even have some baby pictures with my name on the back, "Sam - 6 months" things such as that. So I suppose, in a way, my mother won that round.
However, whenever I am introduced to someone as Sam, they generally respond with, "is that for Samantha"? It's such a rediculous story to recount, time after time after time, that sometimes I just say, "yes". It's not true but it almost was. Other times, depending on how cheeky I'm feeling that day, I might respond with a teasing, "Could be". Which, strictly speaking, isn't a lie. I'm just saying that there are a lot of people out there in the world who mistakenly believe that my actual real name is Samantha, and it's not. I'm just setting the record straight here.
I know that around the time that I was born, Sandra Dee, the actress, was kind of a big deal. That may be where my Dad got the idea but I don't know that for a fact. I do know that growing up there were a lot of other Sandra's in my classrooms. There were also a lot of Katherines - my guess would be Katherine Hepburn as the inspiration. The name Elizabeth was pretty popular too. As was Elizabeth Taylor. Coincidence? I don't think so.
But there were also quite a few Rebecca's and Mary's although it was generally Mary something. Such as, Mary Beth, Mary Anne, Mary Francis. And both names were required to be spoken each time. Even if it was just to differentiate between all the various Mary's.
So basically, almost every girl I knew growing up had either the name of a famous performer or a name out of the bible. And then there was me. "Sam". Of course in Elementary school teachers insisted upon calling people their given names. It was never Tom, it was Thomas. Andy was forever Andrew and Wilbur could never hide behind just Will. So for my elementary career I was Sandra. Any of the other kids who cared to, assumed I was Sandy. I was not and tried to tell them so. A few of them refused to call me a "boy's name" and at least one of them tattled on my to the teacher who gave me a good scolding. Sigh.
But once I reached Junior High, or Middle School as it's now called, I had the confidence to politely correct any adult who mistakenly called me anything but Sam. Most of them were cool with it. And so we come 'round to today where fully grown adults have name like, "Sunshine" and "Moonbeam" thanks to the hippydippy days of yore. Nowadys, nobody bats an eye at an unusual name. And in fact, unusual names are now the usual. When was the last time you heard of a newborn babygirl named, Mary?
My own kids have unusual names. I actually didn't name them, their father did. And while it was on the cusp of a more acceptable time for unusual names, they still struggled a little bit in the world initially. Often people mispronounced their names. Whether it was intentional of not, I do not know but poor Hurley was called Harley for years and by people who should have known better, like teachers and coaches. Corbin was often mistaken for Corey and oddly, Darwin, and he would patiently, endless correct them. But I think Thatcher had it the worst. Thaddeus, Fletcher and oddly Patrick were the names people most often called him. At one point he just referred to himself as "T". Just the letter, "T". Maybe he thought that would be harder for people to get wrong. But it just led to them asking what "T" stood for and the circle goes 'round and 'round.
While I would never criticize the name a parent chooses for their child outwardly, on the inside sometimes I shudder just a little bit when I hear that someone has decided to name their children something very different, like, "Moxie CrimeFighter". That is the daughter of magician, Penn Gillette. I'm sure she is a lovely girl and perhaps she likes how unusual her name is. But I also think that she is going to spend a great deal of her life, "explaining" her name.
The same thing happens with children who are given seemingly regular names but with unusual spellings: SanDee, Aimee, EmmaLee, Carleigh, Konner, Jaycob, Ean, Zoie, Jordyn, Alexzander, Xzavier, Maddison...... Every one of those people will spend a ridiculous portion of their lives spelling their names to people. And that's fine. Parents just need keep in mind what that child will be facing somewhere down the line.
The first printing company that Tim and I went to, when we wanted our wedding announcement cards made up, refused the order. Why? Because since it was just an announcement and not an invitation and it was from us and not our parents, the cards read, 'Tim and Sam Humphreys announce their marriage...' not Timothy and Sandra. I was dumbfounded that they would refuse the order. "Why?" I asked. "They didn't approve of such things". It took me a few minutes to realize what the heck they were talking about. Finally the light dawned and I was furious, "In the first place, how dare you judge anyone? How is it your job to decide what is or isn't right? In the second place, I happen to be the Sam in this announcement so your assumption is wrong twice" Once they realized that I was serious and that I was indeed the "Sam" in the equation they decided that they could indeed print the announcements after all. Then I was the one who refused them. Big Nope. The second printer didn't care if we were people or sheep and the announcements were printed with no further ruckus.
I am 100% for having the freedom to name your child whatever you wish. Spell it however you like to: from Michelle to M'sh'l (seriously), name them whatever you wish: Fifi Trixiebell Geldof and Hello Baby Darling come immediately to mind.
Whatever you name your child, they are stuck with that for a lifetime. Regardless of what name they decide upon, that parent is going to be yelling that name out the back door when it's time for dinner for a long time. The parent is going to be writing that name onto school forms, and tax forms and medical paperwork for many, many years to come. And without question, they are going to explaining and spelling that name until the child is old enough to do it for themselves.
Our names are our very first identity.
Not long ago I saw another of those groups of photographs entitled, "You had one job to do..." and of course I read it and giggled a lot. I'm sure you have seen them. It's photos of real life situations similar to the above photo. Things like: "School Zone" written carefully but completely misspelled in the roadway, or signs reading "Plan Ahead" but the last 3 letters are crammed into a corner because the writer, didn't. Because I'm easily amused, I love those lists.
Perhaps it's funniest when we are the perpetrator? How many times have I searched the pantry in vain for the peanut butter and when I cannot find it, assume that we are just out, add it to the grocery list and move on with my day only to later find it on a shelf in the refrigerator? What was I thinking? It doens't hurt the peanut butter, but I defy you to spread it easily on a cracker straight from the fridge! Or the time I was helping Tim move something heavy and awkward. He said, " Ok we are going to step to your left" I immediately stepped to my right. Very patiently Tim continued, "Your military left, Sam" and I then stepped to the left. It probably shouldn't, but those moments set me off into paroxysms of laughter.
Or maybe it's funnier when it's someone else's error? I recall a time in college when my roommate, a perfectly lovely and intelligent girl woke me from a sound sleep in near hysteria because the toy her beau had given her the night before was missing. Between wrenching sobs she explained that the night before, her new boyfriend had given her a small stuffed kangaroo. A milestone, that very first gift so quite important to her especially given that she was absolutely smitten with this fellow. Apparantly, she had returned to our room, very late and decided to balance the little kangaroo at the top of the mirror over our shared dresser and now it was gone.
Shaking sleep away and knuckling the sandman's leftover sand from my eyes I told her to calm down. As she continued to fret I assessed the situation. I looked at the mirror, absent one toy kangaroo, looked at the top of the dresser, also sans Australian critter, I next looked underneath the dresser. Yup there it was. While she wept and carried on, I wrestled the dresser away from the wall and rescued the toy........Girraffe. Not a kangaroo. I sighed and picked up the giraffe and carried it over to her. "Kangaroo? Really? Kangaroo?" I am not certain why correctly identifying the toy was so important to me. It's not like there was an entire zoo's worth of stuffed toys in our room afterall. I laughed about that for days.
There is one on our local TV lately that cracks Tim up every single time. It's a lawyer trying to get enough people together for a class action lawsuit. The commercial starts off with bold red words running across the white background and a booming voice informing us all that, "If you or a loved one were killed in an airbag involved accident call this number..." Wait. What? You are saying that if I was killed in an airbag accident I should call you? Heaven has cell phones? And litigation?
Tim and I experienced another one over the weekend. We went to look at some new model homes. Why? Because it's entertainment for us. Never mind that. The point is that there we were viewing some lovely homes. We were rather impressed with the models, the eye to detail and the quality of the work done. This was a builder we hadn't seen before so we were going slowly and enjoying the process until.....
In the last model, there we are in the master bathroom which was beautifully appointed. Everyone was so stunning that it was nearly like artwork. But then when I turned to admire the big beautiful shower, I stopped.
Have you ever looked at something and you know it's wrong, but you aren't quite certain why it's wrong? That was me. Silently starring at the shower trying to figure it out what was wrong with what I was seeing. As soon as Tim stepped into the room he saw it, of course because his mind moves at about 5 zillion miles an hour.
In this spacious and gorgeous high-end shower, the shower head was placed directly above a large, stunningly beautiful tiled built-in bench. I'll say that again, the large, stationary shower head was directly above the bench. The only way anyone in that bathroom was going to be able to shower would be to sit or stand on that bench. We tried to not laugh but nearly exploded before walking back out the door. How do they not realize that is wrong?
Things like that happen during construction, though. When we were building our house in Colorado, there were a few situations. We visited the house fairly regularly during the process, which was so exciting. But occasionally, the day after our visit we found ourselves calling the builder to ask a few questions. Like the time:
That I visited a few days after the cabinets went into the master bathroom. I was very surprised, upon opening the linen cabinet, to find an electrical outlet carefully afixed to the interior wall. Of the INSIDE of the linen cabinet. It was another of those moments that I stood their starring at it for a few minutes trying to determine why it was wrong. When we called the builder the next day for short list of questions, they very accommodatingly put us on speaker phone as there were various tradespeople available to answer our questions. When I asked them if they had a particular reason that they put an outlet inside the linen cabinet there was silence on the other end of the call. It was a long silence. Finally, a hesitant voice spoke up, "coffee machine?" he suggested. Sorry no. I don't keep my coffee machine next to my bath towels. Do you?
Oh! And then there was the kitchen thing. It was a lovely large U-Shaped kitchen with loads of cabinets and a gigantic island. When we saw that the island had arrived, I was beside myself with joy. At first. As I circumnavigated the island repeatedly I realized that it wasn't centered in the room. It just seemed awfully close to where the stove would eventually be. When I questioned the builders about it though I was quickly shut down. "It is built exactly to spec" I was informed brusquely. "Honest guys, I don't think it's in the right place," I pressed. "Trust us" I was told with great authority. Then the day came that the appliances finally arrived. Hurrah! Another big step forward. I couldn't wait to get in there. And then I tried to open the oven door. I say "tried" because it hit smack against the island which, as you recall, they were POSITIVE was in the correct spot. Nopenopenope. Hillarious! I was laughing so hard when I called them that time that I could barely get the words out.
Well I am already having a Murphy Day today, so I am fully prepared for a lot more of that stuff going on. Luckily for me I have such a warped sense of humour than instead of getting mad, I will just be giggling all day long. Good thing I wear waterproof mascara!
Have a wonderful day filled with loads of laughter!
Over this past weekend, Tim and I decided to drive down to Pine Island. Why? Mostly just because we had never been. That's how we roll.
Pine Island is the 118th largest island in the US. And what's more it is also the largest island in the state of Florida. In fact, it's large enough to have 4 separate towns! Makes me giggle a little bit. Our little island of Venice which is just the one town, Venice and at this point most of the town of Venice is actually off island. Comparatively, Pine Island sounds ENORMOUS! And it truly was good-sized. We prowled around the place checking out the area and the towns which are more like cute little villages. It reminded me a lot of Maine. Tiny villages with a lot of trees and water and undergrowth in between. Except with palm trees and Mangroves and no real beaches. So I guess nothing like Maine at all.
On the way home as we headed up the highway we saw this before us. Now I'd like to point out here that my weather app specifically said, "no rain". Not low chance for rain, not even slim chance, but no chance for rain. I dunno guys, that looks a lot like rain to me.
But isn't that awesome to see! We had two choices, go ahead and drive into it or pull over and wait for it to go by us. Well of course we drove into it! Torrential rain that even the wipers struggle to keep up with. The sound of the rain not just drumming but hammering on the room of the car was downright scary as was the push/pull feeling of Tim and the storm battling to stay in a straight line. Tim won by the way. I think he was exhilarated by it all. I think I held my breath the entire time.
We saw this distant storm phenomenon in Colorado too. I cannot tell you the number of times we saw storms actually created. Looking toward the mountains, we could see the kernel of a good rocking storm. The clouds would slowly begin to gather and darken and then suddenly sweep toward some destination known only to the storm itself. In Colorado we also sat on our back patio and watched tornados dip down out of blackened cloudbanks, and then back up again. Over and over, they bounced up and down, teasing us. And then we finally watching the funnel grow longer and longer and eventually touch the ground. We watched from miles away witnessing it's growth as it became bigger and stronger as it swept up debris, lurching from side to side across the plains as it moved toward us. Also exciting. I am pretty sure I held my breath that time too.
I remember earth tremors in California. Not full on earth quakes, but noticable enough to make everyone just freeze in place for a few seconds. Waiting to see, what is this? I've stood on a ridgeline in Connecticut and watched the terrible beauty of a fire on the opposite ridge at sunset. Fire on the earth against the fire of the sunset, peek-a-booed between clouds of smoke and the blackened remains of the forest left in it's wake.
I saw dust devils dance across the dusty summer landscape that was cracked and parched in Texas and gasped for breath like everyone else in the Santa Ana dust storms of Southern California. I've seen the startling beauty of the morning after an ice storm in Connecticut where every twig and branch, every road surface, each pine needle, every single thing is encased in ice causing the sun to beam rainbows over the snow.
We have now heard first hand, the banshee scream of a hurricanes fury and later saw the devastation it left behind. In Missouri we eyed the rising water inching up over the banks of the mighty Mississpi River with suspicion and wariness. And in Maine shoveled ourselves out of unbelieveable snow banks storm after storm after storm.
Mother Nature has endless tricks up her sleeve. And there honestly isn't much that we mere humans can do about it except hang on for the ride.
I actually think it's good for us. We humans tend to be kind of arrogant, a little cocky with our "top of the food chain" attitude. It's humbling to be brought to our knees once in awhile by something bigger and stronger and less controllable. I don't blame her for being annoyed. Look what we are doing to her planet!!!
I have this deep dark fear lurking in a little corner of a distant cobwebby closet in my mind that some day Mother Nature is going to be so furious with us over what we have done to this earth that she will be very very angry. I have this feeling it will be like the Hulk saying, "Trust me, you don't want to see me angry". Kind of scary. Uhoh, I'm holding my breath again guys.
Just a few days left of August.
August is my least favourite month. Everywhere I've ever lived for my entire life this has been the case.
For one thing, it's too long. 31 days indeed. humph. It's also the month when if there are going to be fires, they are going to be really bad fires. Fires are terrifying. August is the month when Mosquitos are most active. It's also the month that reports the most episodes of Heat stroke to no one's surprise. And because of the unrelenting heat, it's the month that we, personally, have the highest electric bill because of air conditioning.
August is the month that only Mad Dogs and Englishmen stand out in the noonday sun. Dog Day Afternoon was probably August. It's too doggone hot to spend much time outside without keeling over. And this is the month when the humidity makes me feel as if I'm trying to breathe underwater. As much as I love being outside, it is absolute torture to be stuck inside. But if I go out I feel like I'm suffocating. So naturally I go out anyway, but I'm miserable the entire time. Sweaty, hot, humid, grouchy, cranky..... Grumpgrumpgrump.
That is August to me.
Never mind that the word August means, respected and impressive. I remain unimpressed with the month of August. Now as a person's name, I'm cool with it. I have known people named August, Augustus and Augusta. All good people, classy, elegant, smart, kind people. As a month however, August stinks. And since we are still being plagued with Red Tide, this time I mean it literally. Between the temperature, the heat index and the ghastly stink of Red Tide most people spend most of their days inside right now. Heat index, yes back to that. Every day the temperature itself isn't that bad. I mean for a high summer month. 89, 90, 91. That tends to be the actual temperature range and I can deal with that. However, the heat index, which is the "feels like" temperature, jumps it to numbers like 104. I do not care for those sorts of numbers.
There are no holidays in August. In fact the most exciting thing to happen in August are the Perseids meteor showers, which are pretty darned cool and of course it's much cooler at night when they are visible. So Ok I'll give August the Perseid Meteor Showers. But that's it! That's the only thing in the Pro column so far.
Originally, well as far as historians know history, way back in 753 BC, what we now call August, our 8th month of the year, was called Sextillis because it was the 6th month of the Roman Calendar year. It wasn't until the Julian (and subsequently the Gregorian) Calendar that the name was changed to honour Augustus Caesar. Oh those wacky Romans.
The August birthstone, Peridot is a pretty stone. That light green is a soothing and lovely colour which is a surprising choice for such a hot month. Ok that's two positives for August. And Gladiolous are the birthflower. Not a huge fan of gladiolius, but it is a flower and in general I like flowers so begrudgingly I will allow that one too. That's three positives for anyone keeping count.
But it's also a stormy month. Torrential rain, thunder & lightening, droughts, wildfires, tornadoes and hurricanes abound in August. All bad stuff.
Sylvia Plath called August an odd uneven time. "August rain: the best of the summer gone, the and new fall not yet born."
Tove Janisson wrote, "One evening in August you have an errand outdoors and all of a sudden it's pitch-black. It's still summer, but the summer in no longer alive."
Some things that should have been in August weren't. I always imagined that the famous gunfight at the OK corral took place in August. (It actually didn't, it was October). August seems like a perfect month for the Battle of the Alamo (except it was April)
However, the Loch Ness monster's first sighting was in August of 565. Perhaps the sun had gotten to those people who reported it? In 1792 the French monarchy toppled. Scotland's famous rebel, William Wallace (think Braveheart) died a gristly death in August of 1305. Yikes!
See? Nothing auspicious happens in August. It's just a long and miserable slog from beginning to end. The positive part is that all the other 11 months of the year are fabulous. And I've always believed that to have the good you also have to experience the not so good. Balance! That's what it's about. The good is just so much better in comparison to the bad. It serves a purpose.
Sort of like slamming your hand in a door. It feels so much better when you stop.
"Making your way in the world today
Takes everything you got
Taking a break from all your worries
It sure would help a lot
Wouldn't you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
And they're always glad you came
You want to be where you can see
The troubles are all the same
You want to be where everybody knows your name
You want to go where people know
The people are all the same
You want to go where everybody knows your name"
Those are the lyrics to the Theme song from Cheers. And well, Flapjacks isn't Cheers. It's not a bar, though they do have a liquor license. And Sam doesn't own the place, but Jeff does and he is a terrific guy. Diane and Karla aren't taking care of you but Rusty and Jess do and they do it very well. And we aren't Norm or Cliff or Fraser showing up every day, but we are Tim and Sam and we generally show up once a week. Usually on Sunday morning.
When we first moved here, we checked out a lot of breakfast places. We enjoy having breakfast out one day of the weekend. Almost every place we tried, we liked. The people were nice, the food was fine, the prices were reasonable. But we found ourselves, every weekend, trying a new place. I don't think there was any deep dark plan involved, it was just, "let's try this place' and so we did.
Some of them, like Perkins and Bob Evans, are, in fact, very good. But too big, too many people, and a little impersonal. They are large chain restaurants and as such, they have this whole restauranting thing down cold. They know what they are doing and they do it well. But, probably because they are chains, it's get in, feed them, get out. We were looking for a place that felt more homey. Which is kind of silly. If we want something that feels homey, maybe we should eat at home?
Then we tried a lot of much smaller places, some of them right here on the island and all of them were good. Every single one of them was very good. Good service, good food, good prices, no complaints. But the fact that every weekend we wandered off to try another place subconsiously told us that we had not yet found "our place. We didn't even know that we were looking for an "our place" at the time.
Then one weekend morning, we stumbled across Flapjacks. We liked the ambience instantly. A small cozy comfy place with calm and happy colours and a fresh flower in a tiny vase on every table. Awwww. They have a varied menu and specials every week. The food was excellent, the service was great and the staff had the perfect personalities. We found ourselves going there again the next week. We ordered different food which was also excellent. Same great everything else. Hmm. Maybe this something that we didn't realize we were looking for.....maybe this was "our place".
I believe it was the third time that we went, without asking what we wanted to drink, the correct drinks order (coffee for Tim, hot water for me) showed up on our table with our menus. Yup, Sold! This is our place. We have such a great relationship with this place that Tim has even given it a nickname, "Flappy's". Anytime we have guests staying with us, we manage to find our way there at least once. Our guests always love it too.
The owner and the servers always chat with us for a bit every time we come in. It's like visiting friends every week for an hour or so. We love that. Tim almost always orders the same thing. Jess brings Tim his coffee, looks at him with a smile and asks, "The usual"? He almost always nods yes. "Links or patties"? she asks. "Surprise me" he says. She laughs. The surprise might be a fruit cup. He likes that just fine too. I tend to change my order from week to week. There are far too many awesome choices on that menu!!
We have eaten lunch there a time or two as well and their lunches are at least as awesome as their breakfasts. But it's harder for us to get away for lunch. For us, Flapjacks is mostly a breakfast place. Our breakfast place. And in fact, if it's really busy and there are no tables open, it's one of the few places where we are willing to wait for a table. Yup, it's that good.
And it's not far from home. It's off island, but not far off. Just a few blocks off the Venice avenue bridge. I could probably walk there, though I never have. I should make that a mission. In cooler weather it might be fun to make Flapjacks a walking destination. For lunch maybe.
In our life together, Tim and I have eaten out probably far too many times. And there were a lot of places we enjoyed and kept returning to, Texas de Brazil in Colorado comes to mind. Some of the waitstaff there came to know us after awhile and we felt quite at home. But that was a dressier, fancier (and therefore more expensive) place. Not a weekly visit kind of thing. We had never had "our place" before and while we had no idea really that we wanted one, I love that we now do.
Tim's late father and stepmother had a place that they ate at often. Usually several times a week. It was just down the hill from their home and had a gorgeous view of the ocean. I don't recall the name but there were murals of giant parrots so maybe the word Parrot is in the restaurant name? At any rate, the staff there made my in-laws and therefore anyone they brought with them, feel as if they were cherished guests, family almost. It was a new experience for me the first time we went with them, but I liked it right away. The relationship between guest and host. A novelty. I guess I didn't know that was even a possibility until then. I mean, after all, Cheers was just a TV show right? Not like real life, right?. Except maybe it was, just a little bit.
I think in the back of our minds, maybe Tim and I always wanted that sort of feeling too. It was just a matter of finding it. And we have.
If you ever visit us, expect to visit Flapjacks. And if you are a local and haven't yet been? It's time. Maybe Flapjacks could be "your place" too.
P.S. I've been meaning to write this blogpost about Flapjacks for months. Every week I intend to take photos of the food but it's so darned good that I fall on my meal like a starving hyena instead waiting the ten seconds it would require to take a photo. Every single Sunday after I've stuffed my face I say, "Ratz, I forgot to take the photos again! Next week I will remember to take the pictures first and then I can blog about this place." And every week I don't. So here it is, without photos of the amazing food. You just have to show up in person and try it yourself. I promise you will not regret it.
Good fences make good neighbors. Robert Frost said it and I think he was correct.
I like my neighbors. We get along quite well. But I also like my privacy and I respect theirs. A fence, especially a solid fence, helps that along. I've always felt that my home is my sanctuary. If I am forced to be an involuntary witness to my neighbors life and they to mine, that safe place feels sullied. I feel more vulnerable and I don't especially like that.
So months ago, when our neighbors to our North came over to tell us that they were going to replace the fence between us my first question was, what sort of fence. When I learned that it was to be another privacy fence, I was relieved and had no further input on the entire fence issue. Pretty much whatever they wanted to do beyond that was fine with me.
The fence guys began working earlier this week. They were kind enough to stop by and tell me that they had started and to ask if they needed to be concerned about dogs or small children since they would be in our yard as much as the neighbors yard (actually as it turns out even more as the fence line is far more accessible from our side). No dogs, on small children and be my guest was my response.
It was a rather ordinary wood fence, silvered by time and weather but it did the job separating our properties. Between the mounds of various sorts of greenery and this fence, I barely was aware of the existence of my neighbors at all. The fence, behind all the trees and plants, looked like this:
They began work on Monday and immediately got to work taking down the panels between the posts. With very large and very loud saws buzzing and a little 'encouragement", the fence guys fought their way through the jungles of green on both sides of the fence, cutting and heaving and thumping and crashing until they had a few huge piles of fence panels sitting in both yards. I checked on their progress periodically because, well, I wasn't absolutely certain where the property line was and I was curious to see where the project would actually end.
You see, the neighbors to our North are also our neighbors to our East. Their land runs on a diagonal beside and a little behind us. They are the house that stands between us and a view of the water. They have it, we don't. I knew I would learn something from this project that I had been at least vaguely curious about for some time.
At the end of the first day, I could see into their yard, and they could see into mine for the first time ever. I knew it was temporary but it was still an odd feeling to look out and see only fence posts between us. I"m all about having a view, but this wasn't the view I really wanted. Although my neighbors are rarely actually in residence, I don't especially want too look directly into their yard. Or even at their guest house. That's what this building is, not their actual house, but their guest house. I also wasn't wild about people looking directly into our yard or house.
To my surprise the fence guys didn't return again until yesterday. This time they brought a bigger truck, to stack all those wood panels in and a bobcat that careened madly up and down our driveway, our sideyard and our backyard all day long. Like Giant Angry Bumble Bee. More sawing, more sledgehammering, a full day of crashing and banging and now, there are no fence posts either. And I see that the guest house has a little grill and obviously that is the AC unit for it too.
It's the oddest thing. The neighbors property now feels so much closer to me than it did without the fence. I honestly never realized how little space there is between us before. Both of our houses sit a ways back from the road. Both of us have lots of greenery in front of our houses. So we really saw very little evidence of each other up until this point. Interesting.
I have no idea when the fence guys will be back. But they did tell me that the new fence will not be wood but instead some sort of PVC material. I wonder if it will be white? I've seen those before. The only reason I ask about the colour is because now that they are done removing the fence I know exactly where my neighbors property line ends behind us. It stops about half way across our backyard. And there reason I know this is because:
Their real house, well part of it, is the building on the left seen through the big gap where the fence with all of it's lovely climbing florals is missing a big section behind the pretty purple flowers. I usually can only see just the roof of their house. So ultimately, when the fence guys return, they will put new fence up and I wonder how they segue properly between the vine covered wooden fence and the PVC fence? If it's a different colour too that will look, interesting. Kind of a harlequin effect.
But you know what? I don't care. As long as the fence is replaced I'm fine. I will feel safe and protected once again. I will have privacy again. I will no longer have noisy, fence building strangers with insane bobcat drivers out tearing up my lawn and honestly most of the fence is behind trees and shrubs and won't be very visible anyway.
And you know what? Even if it sticks out like a sore thumb I still won't care because there will once again be a fence and our property will again be our sanctuary.
This is the sofa in our family room. It's a really big sofa. It would fit at least 4 and probably more people seated comfortably. And yet, usually it's just the two of us, sprawled and lounging even more comfortably.
Although there is no assigned seating, Tim always sits on the left side directly facing the television. I generally sit on the right side with my feet up on the chaise part. I might be watching TV, but I also might be reading, or writing or doing something on my tablet. If it's chilly (to me) I have my nice soft blanket rolled up and ready to snuggle under.
The ottoman has two trays on it. That's because those nice soft giant ottomans are not flat and even surfaces and are therefore terrible for setting food and/or drinks on it. I mention this because, although I did not realize it at the time that we made this particular furniture selection, most dinners in our house are eaten here.
I foolishly assumed that we would be eating at our kitchen table. Silly me. I might have chosen an actual coffee table as opposed to a giant ottoman if I had known. Oh well, one makes do, right? It's no big deal. Even though Tim enjoys his TV, he has always been wonderful about hitting mute or pause on the remote if I am talking and he never ever acts as if he wants me to hurry up and finish what I'm saying. If we are having a conversation, he is fully engaged. It's a compromise on his part, I am reasonably sure. So, yes we eat dinner in front of the TV in the family room, but conversation still happens. Ok.
Here is the reason for this lead up:
Yesterday, while I was vacuuming the sofa, (yes I vacuum our sofa) I noticed what an absolute slob I am! Holy Cats! Tim's side of the sofa was immaculate. Oh his pillows are dented and lumpy from being beaten into submission on a regular basis, but other than a stray thread there was nothing to vacuum up. My side however, looked as if someone has been throwing out crumbs to feed the birds. What the heck??
Now I will say in my defense, that I find it awkward as all get out to eat on the sofa. If I try eating normally, as one would at a table, the mouth to plate ratio is all wrong. The height differential I mean. But leaning wwwwaaaayyyy forward and down to the food would be clumsy and dangerous and I risk falling forward into my food. On the other hand, lifting the plate higher and closer toward me as I eat is a delicate balancing act. My balance has never been good. Then too, I am rather........animated, shall we say? I gesture when I talk. I draw pictures in the air as I speak. When dining ala sofa, this becomes a risky proposition.
On the other hand, Tim's table manners are exquisite. All of his siblings as well. It was something I noticed fairly early in our relationship. Obviously, his parents took the time and effort necessary to teach all of those Humphreys kids how to dine. Not just eat but to dine. There is a different and I am envious. He makes it look so easy and natural.
I try, but it's not second nature to me. I wasn't raised that way. Oh I don't mean that we ate like pigs in a trough for heaven's sakes but first of all, unless my Dad was home, which wasn't all that often, we didn't eat actual meals. We just foraged. We ate, please understand, nobody went hungry, it was just, whenever someone was hungry, they prowled the fridge and the cupboards until they came across something that appealed and they ate that. Done. We didn't chew with our mouths open or belch at the table but which fork to use? There was only ever one fork at any table I ate at so it wasn't even a question. Elbows on the table? Probably. I was usually reading as I ate. An elbow helped prop up a good book. Singing at the table? Often and sometimes in three part harmony. Spills? Frequently happend. I've never been graceful and y'know the talking with my hands thing.
I thought I had gotten better. I've really made an effort to improve my table manners, using Tim as my model. In fact I would have had to improve. It would have been hard to have gotten worse. One of our first formal dates was at a nice restaurant. I was nervous. I hadn't gone on an actual serious "date" in a long time. One of the first things I did was to bump my knife accidentally which made it hit my water goblet. It tipped dangerously, I went to right it and instead managed to knock it completely over where the water ran across the table and into Tim's lap. GROAN! Let's see, as I recall I also somehow flipped a cherry tomato, with dressing on it of course, off my salad plate, airborn and onto the floor. Scraped my knife against my plate while cutting which makes that awful metal against ceramic sound that sets people's teeth on edge. And ended up wearing at least a little bit of my dinner on my shirt. I'm shocked that there was a second date.
So I suppose compared to that, I have indeed improved. But clearly there is still work to be done. I'm so embarrassed. I thought I was such a neat and tidy person all this time and yet, the truth of the matter is, I am the worst slob in this household! Too bad we don't have a dog. Then I'd only be the second worst.
One day over the weekend Tim and I were in the mood for Chinese food. We found our local favourite place in Venice shortly after we moved here. It's very clean but it's not a pretty place. While there are tables and benches, I have NEVER seen anyone eat in the restaurant. Everyone picks it up to take out. Every Single Time. Communication is tricky occasionally as we do not speak any dialect of Chinese and English is a difficult language. But eventually, with much patience and a lot of smiling and gesturing, the ordering always gets done.
I always order the same thing. I am so boring. But it's what I like! Vegetable Fried Rice. It's actually a little bit different each time, or at least the vegetables tend to vary. This visit it was heavy on broccoli. I like broccoli, that works for me. Other times it's been primarily pea pods or mushrooms or celery. It doesn't matter to me. It's what I always order and I always am pleased with my order. I like my vegetable fried rice with duck sauce on it. You can cringe all you like, that is how I eat it.
Tim's order varies more. He is far more adventurous with food than I am and a lot less picky. This visit he ordered dumplings and General Tso's Chicken and spring rolls. But it might just as well have been something else. It always smells really good though far too spicy for my delicate little taste buds. He prefers soy sauce and szechuan sauce with his order so I made sure to pick up plenty of each sort of packet that we both favour.
As we drove home, breathing in that wonderful flavour and salivating a bit I remembered a short video I saw recently....somewhere..... It was of a variety of folks from Mexico trying the Amercian version of Mexican food. The reactions were interesting. One older lady glared at the tacos suspiciously through narrowed eyes, then poked at them as if she expected something to jump out of it. Finally she said to someone off camera (which was translated to English and captioned across the bottom of the screen) "What is it?" The off camera person said, "it's a taco". She looked at the offending taco again and shook her head, "No it's not" she said very firmly. Cracked me up. Some of the folks trying the American Mexican food actually enjoyed it, other people firmly did not and of course others stood in the middle of the argument with a definite "meh" reaction. Not good, not bad, just meh. It was interesting.
I suppose I already knew that what we call Pizza or chili or cashew chicken or any other ethnic specific food probably really isn't very authentic. I just never really thought about it before then. It makes sense. Every culture has it's own locally inspired dishes which probably is what helps us to develop our specific preferred palate. So in borrowing another cultures recipes, it makes absolute sense that those dishes would be tweaked a bit to satisfy the new cultures tastes. Up to and including creating whole new recipes that only feel like it might possibly be authentic, like Nachos which were invented for and by Americans.
And I thought back to our trip to Curacao a few years back. We ate local cuisine almost every single day. Some of it we liked, some of it I didn't (I'm pretty sure Tim was fine with all of it) but one night we found an American Restaurant in town. Kentucky Fried Chicken. Yup, KFC was in right there and it was busy too! And we were curious. Was KFC in Curacao the same as KFC at home? Interesting question. So we checked it out. The menu was a little different, though I don't recall in what way (it was a few years ago now) but it was noticeable and everything was a lot more expensive. Tim placed his order to go and we took it back to our hotel and sat out on the balcony to eat. Tasted completely different. If you think thatfried chicken is fried chicken you would be wrong. I am not certain if it was different spices, different oils or a different kind of chicken but there was a distinctly different taste. And actually, now that I think about it, that makes perfect sense.
Did you know that Coca Cola slightly adjusts their recipe for different countries? They do! I know that even candy companies have slightly different versions of common place American candies that go to other countries. Even the packaging is a tiny bit different. My guess is that the same thing may happen for candy that comes here from other countries. Myabe they Americanize it for us?
Think about it, American touts itself (or at least used to) as the Melting Pot of the world. All the people who came here from so many other places helped to create this country. They brought their language, some of which we have borrowed, their celebrations, which we claimed as our own and their food, which we love! You think I'm wrong? I have 4 words for you: croissant, Christmas and spaghetti.
Here is a great idea for a fun trip. Traveling the the world eating other countries versions of our food. Seems fair, in America we eat our version of their food. Did you know that I was a full grown adult before I ever had Chinese food? As unadventurous as I am regarding food, my family growing up was even mores so. No spices, no flavour and nothing unfamiliar. Maybe that's why I enjoy food so much now??
I'm sure you already know that fortune cookies were invented in California in the early 1900's. So while they were created by a Chinese company, it was in America. So does that make them Chinese? Or American? Who cares. Whatever the origin, they are fun and a look forward to them at the end of every meal of Chinese American take out!
I don't know if you call tell or not, but there are 3 completely different sorts of bulbs in this light fixture. I didn't know about this until yesterday. We have lived in this house for two years and change! I just learned this yesterday! How crazy is that?
It's more than one sort of crazy really. This 3-bulb light fixture/fan combination is in our bedroom, smack dab in the middle of the ceiling, as if it were a dining room, which it is not, and therefore it kind of hangs over the end of the bed. It's kind of silly looking. Then too, while it's a reasonably-sized bedroom, it's not large by any stretch of the imagination so a 3-bulb fixture is kind of overkill. I rarely perform surgery in that room. Also most 3-bulb fixtures allow you the option of having 1, 2 or all 3 bulbs turned on. Not ours. We have just the one ordinary regulation light type switch. It's either all on or all off so the 3 blub thingie is utterly wasted.
The final sort of crazy is how long those bulbs lasted. When we moved in, every light switch that worked (note that point) turned on a light that was either a middle of the ceiling fixture/fan combo or a lamp. The house was fully furnished when we bought it. 99.9% of the stuff in the house we sold to a used stuff guy. He came in, walked through the house in absolute silence, mouthing words to himself as he wrote mysterious things on his clipboard while looking around. He didn't take a great deal of time but he seemed very thorough even so. The following day, two guys and a big truck showed up and they cleaned house. I mean they took everything including the washer/dryer, pots and pans, towels and sheets, plant pots, furniture, lamps, hangers and artwork. It was a clean sweep. EXCEPT, he did not take lightbulbs or the installed light/fan thingies. (he also didn't even look in the utility room so we got stuck with all of that crapola but that's a different story)
So we had overhead light if nothing else. And it all worked so we didn't touch it. Why would we? The old, "If it ain't broke don't fix it" thing. Oh periodically I shut the fans off to wipe down the fan blades but otherwise, why would I mess with it if everything was working?
I'm not sure I even realized that only one bulb in the bedroom light fixture was working. I just knew that when I flipped the switch, like magic, the light came on. That was all I felt that I really needed to know. Until yesterday.
I walked into the room with an armload of clean sheets ready to re-dress the bed. I raised the armload to light switch height and with my elbow (hands were full remember?) I flipped the switch. Except nothing happened. I assumed that my elbow just did a remarkably poor job of an easy task. I dropped the sheets on the bed and tried again, this time with my official light switch flipping finger. That's the index finger guys, be nice. This time there was a single tiny pop and then more nothing. Dang.
I shoved the sheets to one side and crawled up onto the bed (it's rather high) and looked up into the light fixture, realized that there were three different bulbs in there, none of which are working, and burst out laughing. It's a good thing I was already on the bed because it was easy to just lay down and relax into my laughter. It just looked so ridiculous!
So for the record there was the one efficiency curlycue bulb - not working, one clear 75 watt bulb - also not working and one frosted "soft light" 45 watt bulb - ditto. I have no idea which one held out the longest, but bravo to that one. Two years is a long time to illuminate a room.
Once I pulled myself together I went out to the utility room and rummaged around hoping to find one bulb. Just one. Didn't care what the wattage or efficiency or relative softness was, just one bulb of any kind. Gotta have light. Eventually I unearthed one more clear 75 watter and replaced the existing one. So once again we can see in the darkness. Yay!
But I'm uncertain what to do with those other bulbs. I mean, they don't work. On the other hand, we really only need the light of one bulb. It looks rediculous, the mix of bulb types. Maybe I should invest in 3 much lower wattage bulbs and then all 3 would work but even I know that three 30 watt bulbs adds up to 90 and that's far more than I need in that room. Hmmmm.
It's clearly not an immediate problem. I mean that last hold out bulb lasted for more than 2 years so I have time to figure this out.
The funniest part to me is that while for two plus years I didn't know that we had mismatched bulbs in that light fixture, now that I know, I notice it every single time I walk into the room. And every single time, I shake my head and chuckle. Sometimes I'm so wierd.
These are currently my favourite pens. Yes I have favourite pens. Kind of crazy I know but still there it is. I have always, as far back as I can recall, had writing implements that I preferred to use and these are the ones I favour now.
I found them about two years ago at my local Dollar Store. I love that place. I just speaks to the frugal in me. I don't even recall what I was looking for that day, a measuring spoons maybe? I did buy a set of red ones there our first summer in this house. I still use them too. So maybe it was that visit. Whatever the reason, while I was in the store, I wandered around a bit. Up and down each of the aisles, just looking to see what there was to see, making mental notes for future reference, and I saw the pink pen. It probably caught my eye just because it was so different from all of the other pens. It was pink and sparkly and heck, it was only a dollar, sure why not. The pen that held my favoured status up to that point had recently run out of ink anyway and needed to be replaced.
The old pen came from the Land Title office where we signed the mortgage documents for our Colorado house. I honestly could not tell you if they gave me the pen or I accidentally walked off with it. I hope it was the former. It was a great pen for all that the ink was blue. I honestly prefer black ink but oh well. It had a nice shape and size for my hand and it rolled so smoothly across the paper. It just suited me perfectly. It sat in the pencil jar on my desk in the kitchen of the Colorado house for ten years. I used to to write grocery lists, sign birthday cards, address envelopes and write myself an occasional memo for all of those ten years. It's no wonder that it was running out of ink.
I was excited to try out my new pen. It was slimmer than the Land Title blue ink pen so actually it fit my hand just a little bit better. It also glided across the paper perfectly, no skips, no blots and hurrah! the ink was black! I was so happy with my new pen that I went back and bought more. In fact, that day I bought every single one that they had. The next time we went back to Colorado, I brought all of those pens and sprinkled them around like fairy dust. Everyone received a pink sparkle pen! Use this pen and think of me, I said. I'm sure they thought I was a little crazy but actually come to think of it, these are people who already know me. This was not a surprise.
I am not the only person who uses my pink sparkle pen. I've seen Tim sitting at my desk here in the kitchen of our Florida home signing official documents of one sort or another, using my pink sparkle pen. I told you, it's a nice writing pen! And I must be doing a lot more writing these days because my first pink sparkle pen just ran out of ink. In only two years! Wow! So back I went to buy another. The thing about a Dollar Store is that their inventory changes constantly. I hoped that they still had pink sparkle pens. Cautiously I approached the stationary aisle and held my breathe. No worries. Lo and behold, not only did they have the pink sparkle pen they also had green and purple! I bought all three!
Theoretically, I am set now for six years with sparkle pens. I confess that there is a small downside to these pens. Those little sparkly bits on the outside occasionally fall off. I often find, later in the day that one of them has landed on my leg or my arm and is clinging there. I occsionally pick a single sparkle off the chair or the countertop. Minor inconvenience. And frankly, in my opinion, everything is improved with a little sparkle.
While I've always had a favourite pen, the top of the top, the best of the best, was in high school, when my father gave me my first fountain pen. Oh how Ioved that skritching sound as I formed the words. I had to learn to write all over again. Fountain pens are beautiful writing implements if they are used properly. They have to be held at just the correct angle and with the write amount of pressure. It's a fairly light touch. If you press too hard, it blots. The fountain pen was so deliciously fussy. I am not certain why that appealed to me but it did. The pen cap had to be used every single time. I don't think there a single pen that we own in this house right now still has it's pen cap. Why? It's unnecessary on ball point pens. As if it were merely part of the packaging. But on a fountain pen, if it isn't properly capped when not in use, the ink will dry up or leak. I think I loved the entire ceremony of drawing more ink up into the barrel most of all. I suspect that it all made me feel as if I were a "real" writer. Yes my aspirations went back that far. I carried that pen with me everywhere. And then someone stole it. Yup. Right off my desk at school. I suppose it was my fault for leaving it on my desk with my papers and books when I tottered off to the rest room. When I returned it was gone. I was devastated.
In later years, I recall another favourite pen that I used at work. This one was when I worked at Hospice in the administrative office. It was an unusual looking pen. The outside was very pretty. It was reminiscent of an old botanic print. Anyone who "borrowed" my pen from my desk would be chased down, by me, if they walked off with my pen. I had no problem at all, tracking that pen all over the building if necessary, and rescuing it. And I did not care who it was who lifted the pen either. It is my pen and I want it back, thank you! I even announced one day when I was searching for my missing pen, AGAIN, that who ever took it would be found because I will l (and I quote myself) "hunt you down like the dog that you are". The pen was later secreted back to my desk mysteriously. I don't know why I am so possessive of my pens.
A few years ago my sister gave me a beautiful pen from Brighton jewlery. It's smooth and shiny black with a sparkly band around it's middle. It came in a very soft little sack that was made specifically for this pen. It lives it in a zippy pocket of my purse and only seem to use it for very special important paperwork. Silly I know, but gosh I love that thing. I guess I want to have it forever.
Paper however. I don't seem to care abut at all. And in fact it's kind of bizarre that I am so particular about what sort of pen I write with when I don't seem to care at all what I write on. I write on the backs of envelopes, whatever freebie notepads Tim gets in the mail, the corners of a newspaper page, cheap-o spiral note books....... I used to own some lovely writing paper that was a gift. t was a I recognize the value of beautiful writing paper, but I honeslty have no idea where it even is, assuming that I still even have it.
Nope for me it's all about the pen.
You can probably see where I'm going with this. My severe lack of sewing ability has been well-documented, not only in my family and my old Home Ecomonics class in middle school but also on this blog. It's a fact, though not a pretty one. Still despite this flaw in my character, occasionally there are things that require repair which normally cause me to ever so reluctantly haul out my so-called sewing box.
I thought this would be another of those times. I have this pair of light blue shorts you see. Well technically I suppose they aren't shorts at all. But they aren't long pants either. They are something in the middle and I roll them up to just below the knee. Two hundreds years ago they would have been called knee-britches and men wore them. Now, I'm not sure they are called, clam diggers maybe? Regardless of what they are called, I am fond of them. They are loose and comfy and a little sloppy which is just my style. Especially in the summertime.
A while back, while taking a walk I tripped over something. It might have been an uneven or cracked sidewalk , it could have been a twig or a loose pebble, it may have been my own big feet or a particularly lumpy bit of air. It doesn't really matter. The point is I went flailing, out of control through the air and up against a fence. I wasn't injured at all and in fact barely noticed that it happened. (It's not an uncommon occurrence, after all) except that the fence was clearly the sort that eats trousers. I continued my walk with a small tear in my comfy blue long shorts (or whatever they are called). Dang.
It was a relatively small tear and I thought maybe nobody would notice. Except of course, everyone did. Every doggone time wore them after that, someone would mention it. It was always very polite. Something along the line of, "Of dear, look there, you have a little tear in your shorts." Followed by the advice, "You need to sew that up now before it gets any bigger". Trepidation would then strike and my blood would begin to chill at the mere thought of tackling such a project. So I stopped wearing them.
What is the point, I asked myself one day, of owning shorts if you aren't going to wear them. I had to decide. Am I going to fix them? Or am I going to throw them out. I couldn't bring myself to throw out a pair of perfectly good shorts with only one small tear. Which meant that now I had to fix it. Dang. I considered it at length. The colour thread required, the best way to sew it without leaving a pucker or three hundred yards of knotted up stitching, which is my usual style. Do I sew it from the back or from the front? I felt, quite honestly, like an engineer approaching a singularly difficult river crossing solution.
Tim was the one who suggested to me that I try an iron-on patch. One on the inside of the pants and one on the outside. Brilliant! I am in favour of any solution that does not require actual sewing. Off we went to Jo-Anne fabrics.
Now I must interject here that I adore walking around fabric stores. I love the colours and the patterns and the textures. The weight and the sheen and the intricate embroidery delight me. It is a feast for the eyes and the imagination. That's as far as it goes, you realize, I cannot actually create anything with any of these stunning fabrics but I love them all. I am wowed by the buttons, enchanted by the rainbow of thread choices, and mystified by most of the implements arrayed before me. So I'm not in a place that makes me uncomfortable at all when I'm in a fabric store. Instead, I'm like a happy visitor to a foreign land :)
Tim found the small plain iron-on patches for me right away. And I agreed that would be a great idea for the inside patch. But I knew I didn't want some square piece of random iron-on fabric on the outside of the shorts for all the world to see. No, if I'm going to be sporting an iron-on patch that is visible, it's going to be a pretty one. So the search continued. Finally we found that section in the crafts area. There were dozens to choose from. I didn't want anything sparkly (although I like sparkly, these shorts would not benefit from sparkle) and I didn't want anything with skulls or superhero's on it (just not my style) so I finally settled on the small pastel bugs in the middle photo above. One of those would be a perfect fit I was sure. They maybe weren't pretty but they are darned cute. I can live with cute.
Once home, I set up the ironing board and read all of the directions multiple times. I cut the inside patch to the correct size, turned the shorts inside out then, taking a deep breath, pressed it on, as per the instructions. It looked good. Then I turned the pants right side out, chose my patch and carefully, and thoroughly pressed it into place as well, again according to instructions. Not bad! That was easy! I was so pleased with the results that I decided to wear the pants the very next day.
Actually looks kind of cute right? I was so tickled with myself. All right! Bring on the torn garments, I can fix those now without drawing blood even one time! Awesome!
Toward dinner time I noticed that the cute little outside patch was missing.
I understand how I can be bad at sewing. It's a skill after all. Not every person has every skill. But this was an iron-on patch. I even read the instructions and what's more, I followed them to the letter! What the actual heck?? How can a person be bad a ironing on a patch for heaven's sakes.
Sigh. So I am back to debating. Do I try another patch? Wear them with just the inside patch on and ignore the outside? Do I attempt to sew the outside? Or do I give up entirely throw the pants away?
I honestly do not know.
Note: Now that the text and photos are BOTH working (yay!) I am going to attempt to recreate the missing blogposts from Monday and Tuesday (Monday's today and Tuesday's tomorrow).
I wish there was a button I could push that would flush out of my memory banks all the nonsense and useless information that my brain insists upon keeping so as to make room for new stuff. My friend Aaron has this theory that I like. It's a great visual. He suggests that the memory portion of the brain is like a shelf. You can pile all sorts of stuff on the shelf but if you put too much on one end, the stuff on the other end starts falling off. That makes perfect sense to me.
Think about it. Do you really still need to know the phone number that you had in 2nd grade? I still remember mine: Hopkins 65724. I keep wanting to call that number and see who picks up the phone. If it's me, I will totally freak! I also, bizarrely remember the phone number from one particular address we had in St Louis: Underhill 83843. I will probably remember those two phone number until the day I die. However, for reasons that baffle me, my brain refuses to memorize our house number here. We have lived here for two full years now. When someone asks for our home phone number, I still have to look it up. It's in my cell phone listed under "Me". I think if I could somehow delete the Hopkins and Underhill numbers from my memory banks, I might have a better chance.
And then there is the silly superstitious nonsense that is stuck in my head. "Breaking a mirror brings 7 years bad luck". Wow! 7 Years! That seems punitive. "A hat on the bed is a sign of bad luck" . That's just bizarre. I absolutely do not see that connection. Walking under a ladder is bad luck" and "A black cat crossing your path brings bad luck". Did you notice that most of these sayings involve bad luck? Where's the good luck omens. Although come to think of it, the word omen sounds bad. Too close to ominous. Knowing any of that does not improve my life one bit. I can ditch all of it with no remorse.
My Nana had a saying for every occasion. Some of them made perfect sense to me like, "If you lay all of the good intentions, end to end, it still doesn't get the job done." Ok Nana, I get it. Time to get off my lazy butt and get my work done! But there are other sayings that mean nothing at all like, "If you drop a knife on the floor, a stranger will come to your door". It rhymes which is kind of fun but what the heck? Butterfingers as predictive devices? I don't so. Here's another one, "Opening an umbrella in the house brings bad luck". Only if I get crazy with that open umbrella and knock something off a shelf and that has more to do with the bad behavior than the umbrella. Poor maligned misunderstood umbrellas. I don't need to keep any of that information.
Then there are the universal adages: "A stitch in time saves nine." Absolutely not true if I'm the one doing the stitching. We can deep six that saying. "A penny saved is a penny earned". Thank you captain obvious. I think I don't really need that one either. I mean it's true, but yeah, but so what. If I pick a penny up off the sidewalk and put it in my pocket I'm now up one entire cent. Yes. And...? Not exactly a revelation.
How about the stuff we learned at school that is totally not true. Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity. No. No he absolutely did not. Mr. Franklin did a whole lot of cool stuff. Not a single one of them was discovering electricity. Or how about "in 14 hundred and 92 Columbus sailed the ocean blue and discovered America"? Columbus and his cohorts may indeed have been sailing on the big blue ocean in the year 1492 but he absolutely did not discover America! And then there is William Tell shooting the apple off his sons' head. William Tell didn't even exist! He was just a character in a legendary story! Geez! If I could ditch all that kind of nonsense, think of the extra space I'd have to remember things like to take my grocery list with me to the grocery store! I think that would be a fair trade.
Sadly there is no delete button, no brain flush device that will pick out the unimportant stuff and get rid of it yet still keep the important things I want to hold on to forever. Maybe I could gather up all these ridiculous, unimportant and useless bits of information and send them to the cloud? Or maybe any information I'm not using I could donate to someone who needs it, like 7th grade math class. Still haven't used any of that Algebra, it should be like new!
Or keep doing what I've been doing so far and use all that useless blahdeblah to win a ton of Trivia games. :)
Not long ago, and I don't recall the reason but it made sense at the time, someone asked me what movie did I regret seeing. Hmmmm. I suppose on a list of regrets in my life this would rank very very far down, like in the millions (I have loads of regrets) but still this was the first thing that came to mind. The movie, "Bridesmaids."
Now, I know that I have a strange sense of humour but I do have one. And I also know that loads of people thought this movie was the bees knees. I was in the audience at the theatre; I heard the laughter. However, I didn't crack a smile throughout the entire thing.
Nope, I sat there stone-faced wondering when the funny part was going to happen while the packed theatre around me roared and giggled and slapped their knees and wiped away tears of laughter and I just never understood why. I didn't make a big deal about it. I said nothing. I didn't pout or whine, I just kept waiting for the funny part that never came.
I don't know why, but the "humour" in that film just didn't reasonate with me. It did not tickle my funny bone. Not a guffaw, not a chuckle, not even a grin.
Humour is subjective. So there is my saving grave. Much like literature, music, art, and favourite flavor of ice cream, what each individual finds amusing is personal. So the really nice part of that is that there is no "right" or "wrong', it's just what is right for you. Though people will sometimes try to make you feel as if your opinion is wrong.
This is a conversation I actually had many years ago:
other person: "Arthur is a terrible film. It's not funny and it promotes alcoholism"
me: "I thought it was funny. And the character, Arthur, was charming and a little sad."
other person: "You are wrong. It was a horrible movie."
me (laughing): "I'm just stating my opinion. Your opinion is that it was a bad movie. My opinion is that it was a funny and charming film. It's neither right nor wrong, it's just an opinion"
other person: " You are wrong"
me (laughing harder): "about the movie?"
other person: "about everything
Okay, I clearly wasn't going to win that one. But the follow up question to Bridesmaids movie was, "ok if you didn't think Bridesmaids was funny, what movie did you think was funny?" I had to really think about that one.
Hmmmmmm. I thought Young Frankenstein was brilliant and crazy funny. Ummmmm. The original 'Odd Couple' with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau totally cracked me up. I think there are funny moments in a lot of films. Even dramas and action/adventure films can have some excellent comedy moments in them. But so-called "comedies", by and large, I don't find so comedic.
The 3-stooges, nope. Abbott and Costello had some wonderfully, funny stuff but I didn't care for their really broad, physical comedy. Jerry Lewis with Dean Martin, nope. The Jerry Lewis voice alone gave me a headache although I did like some of his later stuff. Same thing with Jim Carrey, I am good with his later work, just not the highly physical over the top crazy stuff. Again this is just my taste, my opinion. Other people think the exact opposite and that's perfectly valid.
I do love to laugh though. Nothing makes my day like an unexpected, head thrown back, tear streaming, belly laugh. It feels so good to just let go and howl with laughter over something clever or ridiculous or clever AND ridiculous.
And I seem to be surrounded by funny people. My kids are funny. They are hilarious. I do not think a single phone call between us has ever happened without me cracking up with laughter at least once. When they were youngters, I used to have to turn my back to scold them because what they did was so dang funny, but I didn't want to encourage the bad behavior. Tim is hysterically funny and quick. He comes up with funny responses while I'm still processing the question. He makes me laugh every single day. My sister and I always end up giggling when we are together. My mother often made me laugh and she was never even trying to be funny, she just had a totally different perspective on life that was the funniest thing to me.
I had Pilates class this morning and not once, not twice but three different times either somebody said something funny, or something amusing happened and I laughed, out loud and I mean LOUD! I'm not sure which did more good for me, the laughter or the workout. Probably it was equally good.
Y'know, I'm thinking that the Bridesmaids movie aside, I find most of life humorous. I laugh throughout my day. Sometimes all by myself in a room I will see something that gets me chuckling. Or I'll do something so unbelievably stupid that I have to laugh at myself! What is that saying, "A person who can laugh at himself is truly blessed, for he will never lack for amusement". :)
Tim is fond of saying that funny is funny. And he is not wrong. What he means is that he is rarely ever offended by a joke as long as it is genuinely funny and not a veiled shot. He has no use for people who use humour as a weapon. And rightly so. If you are angry, say you are and why and we will deal with it. But funny, real humour, is a gift. And I think it lightens our souls a little bit, lifts any burdens we are carrying if we can smile a bit, giggle some and occasionally just let it all go and laugh until we cry, bring it down a little, calm down some, then catch each other's eyes and start laughing all over again. Yeah, that's the absolute best.
I wish you each a lot of laughter today. " It's good for what ails ya", as my Nana would say.
Oh man, TGIF in a big sort of way today. Or is it just me? Somehow this week has seemed like a month long. Can't say why, really, but it's so. I cannot be the only one who feels this way, right?
And you know, when I feel this way, kind of tired and a wee bit cranky and totally over it all, I think about what might make me feel better. Sometimes pretty things help. Yup, I think I am need of pretty things.
Then it occurred to me that maybe some of you were feeling much the same way. In which case, here you go, pictures of pretty things. And honestly, flowers are among the prettiest of things. Just looking at the photos I am imagine walking through a garden, that lovely fragrance surrounding me. Ok I think I may be feeling a tiny bit better.
Did it help you? No? Maybe you just don't respond to flowers the way I do. What's something else that is really pretty and soothing? I know the best place to find peace for me. Maybe you just need a little bit of it today too. Okay, here is my second try:
Don't you feel better now? Come on, just a little bit? All right, just one more set and then that's it. That's all you get. Okay, what is something else that makes me happy? Food! Especially food that is really bad for me. Now, just looking at the food is actually fine for you, healthy even, not a single calorie. So here is some guilt free indulgence. Unless you are licking the screen. Don't lick the screen. That's kind of gross.
Still not there yet? Wow, tough crowd. All right this is my absolute last try at making you smile and feel happier. If these don't work, you just aren't trying. You ready?
Get some rest, have a few laughs, enjoy every single minute of your weekend. Monday will be here again before we know it!
Hugs all 'round
I did not want to write this blogpost. Bigger than that, I didn't want to feel as if I had to write it. But if I insist on thinking of myself as an honourable, honest and decent person, I cannot limit myself to airy, light, foo-foo posts every day which, frankly most of my stuff is. And I know it. I do not delude myself. Nothing that I write here is Pulitzer level. I'm good with that.
So here it is. Red Tide. I don't know if you've heard of it. We had not until we moved here and even then it was a vague sort of knowledge because other than a few days one week either last summer or the one before, it just didn't apply to our actual lives. But now it does. Most of the west coast of Florida is currently being plagued by it big time. And it just sucks.
If you are as unfamiliar as we were until recently, Red Tide is a phenomenon known as an algal bloom that exists all over the world in salt water environments. The growth of this algal bloom depends on wind, temperature, nutrients and salinity. Right now it is blooming at an unprecedented level.
Historically there have been other very large "blooms". There were two in the 1950's that lasted six months each in fact! But this one....this one. I don't even know what to say about this one.
Red Tide on it's own is smelly. And that's not even the worst part. It makes people cough. It burns your eyes. People with respiratory problems might feel a sore throat or even shortness of breath. And that is not even the worst part.
Red Tide kills fish. Poor fishies. Day after day, dead fish wash up on shore. Not just the little fish either. While I haven't seen it, I've read reports of mantees, dolphins, sea turtles and even sharks found on the beaches, victims of the Scourge of Red Tide. It's breaking my heart.
AND it's offending my delicate olfactory system. Imagine an algae that is already smelly. Add in dead fish. Lots and lots of dead fish. If the wind is moving from west to east, that disgusting, gagifying scent permeates Everything.
Picture an especially fragrant landfill on a very hot day. Add in a water treatment plant. Now put them beside a cat food factory and a fish cannery. Still not as bad as a really bad Red Tide Day.
Two or three days ago, I was leaving the house to go to the grocery store. The instant I left the house the stink was like a slap in the face. I wondered what it was as I nearly ran for the car. I thought maybe someone was using a new fertilizer on their lawn.....something distinctly fish based. But when I reached the grocery store which is about a mile away, I could still smell it. I saw a family come out of the grocery store and the little boy immediately pulled his tee-shirt up over his nose. The little girl whispered to her mom in a whisper that could have been heard in Vermont, "Mommy it stinks here". Mommy shushed her but she wasn't wrong. It stinks.
This morning the wind was blowing toward the water so I didn't detect a single bit of it. Yay! I walked to the beach. There was not another soul to be seen. I walked onto the beach toward the water and yup, there it was a line of dead fish and a stink that could gag a maggot. Immediately I turned about and went home.
Some days are fine. Some days you would never know it was a problem. Other days, it is unmistakable.
I saw a chart at some point this week that indicated that Venice (where we live) the number which should be 0 of that red tide menace was in the 400's. I thought OMG! Then I saw that Manasota Key which is just south of us was in the 1600's. So that put things in perspective. It could absolutely be worse.
The so-called experts seem to disagree on what is causing this. Each of them is certain that they are correct and the other experts are wrong. Which absolutely does NOT help us find a solution. The one thing that they are absolutely sure of unfortunately, is that they have no idea how to fix it. Great. They assure us that it will soon be gone. How soon is soon? And then, Will it return? And if it does, when? If then what?
I hate to admit that our paradise is flawed but flawed it is. Hurricanes we can deal with. Not so sure about Red Tide.
I presume that you are aware that most libraries have summer reading programs for kids, right? I love that they go to the trouble of thinking up ways to keep kids brains sharp during their down time from school. I've long admired the dedication libraries have to keeping a laser sharp focus on engaging youngsters and enticing them into the glorious world of the written word year 'round but especially during the summer months.
Our library has gone one better. They also have a summer reading program for adults! What? I just think that is so awesome. Libraries really do rock!
Well I've always known that. Anyone who knows me at all knows that I adore libraries. It's one of the first things I look for every single time I've ever moved. From childhood forward. "Yes, yes, nice place. Where's the library?" Kind of like that. And in fact, before we chose to live on Venice Island in this latest move, any house we considered, any town we considered, Tim would show me on a map on line, "Ok here is the house, here is the grocery store, here is the library..." He gets me.
Because I can be fairly oblivious, I had no idea that our library had this program. Usually I'm fairly focused on my goal. I am either at the library to work with one of my ESL students, or I'm returning books I've already read and therefore also finding new books to read. So my brain is completely immersed in the lesson plan I've put together for the student I am working with that day or I'm dropping off books I've read and heading directly for the racks to find new books. That's my entire focus.
It's not like I'm crashing into other library patrons or book racks. At least not on purpose. I'm not quite that unaware of my surroundings. But I tend to not read the posters and signs that are sprinkled around. I am there for a specific reason. I'm not sight seeing.
So I was surprised one day in late May, when one of the librarians walked up to me seconds after I stepped through the door. She explained that there was a summer reading program for adults and asked if I wanted to participate. She pointed to a sign up sheet. I rarely "join" things and even more rarely put my signature to anything without giving it a great deal of thought but in this case they were only asking me to do one more thing than I was already doing. The only extra step I needed to take was to write a brief review of any book I read and turn it in. Easy Peasy. Bonus points? They do drawings from the reviews that they receive and the winners get....something. I missed that part.
I got so focused on the fact that someone was asking me to do two things I adore: 1) read and 2) write, that my brain kind of shut off after that. What is it that I could possibly I win? Don't care. So I smiled and said, "yes, thank you", applied my scribbledy signature to their sign up sheets and the nice lady handed me the black bag in the photo at the top of this page. Woohoo! I also get a carry bag? How cool is that? I will definitely put the carry bag to use. Probably at the grocery store.
I made my book selections and walked back home. Once back in my house I realized that there was stuff In the bag! What sorts of goodies did I get? Well, there was information about the library of course. I expected that. And there was a book mark. Awesome. I added it to the collection. Yes, I have a collection of book marks and I keep them in a cigar box. Yeah, I know, crazy. The cigar box was my dads. It's a real cigar box. What a crazy thing to keep, I hear you thinking. Well, I often have more than one book going at a time and I treat books with respect. Which means I need book marks, or something to use as a book mark and therefore I need a place to keep them. The cigar box works perfectly AND makes me think of my dad every time I use it. It sits on the side table next to my favourite reading spot. There are a pair of reading glasses there, a chapstick, a fuzzy blanket, a pile of unread books, a lamp and a few other favourite things.
In the bag, there was also a lanyard that says, "find yourself at the library" on it. I have no idea what on earth I'm supposed to do with the lanyard. I suppose I could put a little card with my name and address on it in case I forget who I am some day? Do people use these things?
Then of course there were the pile of blank book review sheets in the bag as well. That's exciting! I have already filled out quite a lot of the ones I was given and submitted them but I have a few left. The nice library lady assures me that if I run out, they are happy to give me more of them. There's a relief. I think I only have four left and I just read two more book that I need to write up (unfortunately neither of them was great so they won't require much writing). Writing a book review is like asking me my opinion and lord knows I have opinions on nearly everything. Generally I am pretty good about keeping my opinions to myself unless I am asked. But the nice library lady asked. So Yay!
While I will read virtually anything, lately I find myself gravitating toward biographies, autobiographies and memoirs. And I prefer to read about unknown people rather than famous people which is what led me to these particular selections. The middle one was flat out terrible. The top one was okay. I haven't yet read the bottom one but I guarantee it will be ready to return with the others on Friday. And of course, I have no clue what books I will come home with on Friday! That's part of the fun :) Finding an amazing book that I never knew existed. (and of course finding a terrible book points me away from that particular author as well - still new information and that's always a good thing)
I have no idea if your library has a similar program for adults but then, I didn't know that my library did either! Woo and Hoo!
Or perhaps you haven't been to your local library for quite some time. Maybe you believe that you are not a reader, that you don't enjoy reading. It's okay. That just means you haven't found the right book, the right topic, the right author. It's time to go back and see what there is to see. Check it out! You might be pleasantly surprised. My library has written books, audio books, magazines and even movies! Something for everyone.
Books are not 'one size fits all'. There are a lot of books that I haven't especially enjoyed. But there are far more that I absolutely loved. Takes a little time but I promise you there is a book for everyone. My Nana used to say that there was a lid for every pot and a saucer for every teacup. Kind of the same thing with books.
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.