So, the obvious question here is why are our clothes hanging in the living room? It's because the dang dryer quit working. ARGH!
The weekend before last, on Saturday, (I don't remember why) I threw in a load of towels. It is unusual for me to bother to do laundry on weekends because...it's the weekend. The weekends for us are now all about fun and exploring and occasional errands, not housey chores! But that weekend, I did that load of towels. They washed up just fine and they dried perfectly normally. No mysterious sounds or alarms or warning bells. No shimmying, no jostling or shuddering. Just wet towels in, perfectly dry fluffy towels out.
And then on the following Monday morning, as per usual, I began my loads of clothes, delicates first. I don't know why, but that is the way I always do it. When the washer was done, as always, I took everything out of the washer and transferred them to the dryer, closed the door, pushed the necessary buttons and...........nothing. Well not nothing. The lights came on, the display read out said "delicate dry" but the basket didn't turn. Hmmmm. So I turned it off and the machine made a terrible clatter bang noise. Ok that's new.
Experimentally, I turned it back on again. The same thing happened right down to the clatterbang noise at the end. Crap. I made a note of the model number and looked it up on line to see if there was some magic I could do to turn this frown upside down but nope. With the symptoms I was noticing the only thing it said was to notify your appliance repair person. Double dang.
Instead I notified Tim. He did the same things that I did except instead of ending by swearing colourfully, he diagnosed the problem. "Sounds like a belt slipped off" he predicted, "Call Jessups. It's still under warranty".
Jessups is where we bought all of our household appliances. They had a great selection and they were very nice and it's local. I had no idea that it was still under warranty and that made me feel a lot better about making the call. When it comes to appliance repair (I have learned the hard way) often it's about the same cost to repair as it is to buy new. Which frankly is a damned shame.
Anyway, so I called the nice people at Jessups (which is how it works here when something is still under warranty). They listened to my sad story, looked us up in their computer, confirmed that it was all still under warranty and said that he would notify the repair person who would call us within 48 hours. Ok. Well, I'm certainly not leaving my wet clothes in the dryer for 48 hours! So I draped everything around the house willy nilly. By the dinner time it was all dry. Some of it was set aside for later ironing. The rest was put away.
And I wait 48 hours. When waiting for that return phone call, every hour passes like 24 hours. A day feels like a week. And there I am trapped in the house, afraid to leave for fear that I would miss the call. What happens if I miss the call? Do they call back? Do I get put on a "bad" list? Do I go to the end of the line?
48 hours passed with no call. I called Jessups back and well I didn't exactly rat out the appliance repair person, it was more that I asked to confirm our phone number since I hadn't heard back and therefore assumed that, maybe, they had the wrong number in their files (sneaky eh?) No, the number was correct. I gave them ALL of our numbers. Both of our cell phones and the home phone. I made it clear that we really wanted to get this call.
And to be fair, before the end of the day the call came in. The repair person called Tim's cell. Tim described the problem, gave them his thoughts on what was wrong and the model number. The repair person agreed with Tim's ideas but said that parts would have to be ordered and it would take about a week for them to come in.
Wow. I was deflated. A week? By this time it was already late Wednesday and the laundry was starting to pile up. There was no way around it, I was going to have to go to the Laundromat. Dang. I hate going to the laundromat.
I went back out to our utility room (where my washer/dryer live) to assess the situation. I made the executive decision to just go ahead and wash all of the clothes and only take towels and sheets to the laundromat. That will cut down on cost and time and number of baskets.
Thursday, bright and early, I began doing the clothes. It was Tim's idea to bring my hanging rack into the house instead of leaving it in the utility room. You see, the utility room has no air conditioning and no fan. It stays relatively cool because it's concrete block and has no windows and is on the north side of the house. But it is no ideal for drying clothes. You need some air circulation for that. Which means in the actual house.
Sooooo, I washed the clothes and then hung up each piece to dry in the living room. Sigh. Socks on a hangar, underwear on hangars, shirts, PJ's and shorts on hangars. It was not a perfect plan but it works. Even the heaviest pieces dried over night. It meant a lot more ironing than usual. But the important part is that it worked!
On Friday morning, bright and early, I raided my change jar for quarters and loaded with baskets of towels and sheets and a zippy bag of Tide pods and dryer sheets, properly masked, off I went. Fortunately there is one laundromat on the island and it is kept very clean and tidy. when I arrived it was completely empty. By the time I left it was packed.
So here we are, one week later and well I haven't yet heard if the part has come in. And once it does we then have to get on the repair person's schedule. They will then have to show up and hopefully, fix the dryer before we can get back into my old laundry day groove. I figger another week at least. And it does not make me happy to say that. But it is realistic.
So today I will wash clothes again and hang everything on hangars on the rack in the living room and perhaps Wednesday I will head back to the laundromat to do towels and sheets. And with any luck at all that will be the end of that.
I had enough of regular weekly laundromat visits during college and when the kids were babies and we still lived in an apartment. Then there was a rerun when the kids and I were on our own in another apartment years later. I've done my time.
Please send positive repair type thoughts. Thankee
Thought I'd end the week with a grey hair update.
As you may (or may not), recall way back in May of 2019 I made the monumental decision to stop colouring my hair. It was a difficult decision mostly because at that point, I'd been colouring my hair so long, I no longer remembered what my actual, real, normal hair colour was. But I had tired of the time, expense and necessity of frequent appointments to touch up the colour. Additionally, I had this bizarre fear in the back of my brain. I did not ever want to look like a joke. I had some crazy phobia of becoming some doddering old fool hobbling around with a cane, sporting wrinkles galore but with perfectly coloured hair that clashed with my eyebrows. And I never wanted to get into that spiral of having to also dye my eyebrows to match. Just, no.
This is not a shot at anyone who chooses to dye their hair right up until their last gasp on this planet. If that is your choice, then I salute and support you. But it's just not me. So I got really brave and told my hairdresser that I wasn't going to colour it anymore. Cut, shape, style you betcha. But colour no. And then together we could discovered A) what my true hair colour was and B) how grey/silver/white my hair had become.
I was honestly disappointed to find that the initial answer was, not much. I had already embraced the idea of (again) grey, silver or white and I was raring to go. My hair had a completely different idea. It just looked like ordinary reddish brown hair. Well dang.
But after about six months, if I sorted through the strands of hair, underneath the top layers I was beginning to see sparkly bits here and there. I got very excited. And now, some 15 months later, I don't have to look quite as hard anymore.
As you can see in the photo at the top of the page, which I took THIS morning, first glance says, ordinary hair. But if I get in proper light and move the hair around a bit you can see:
Sparkly bits throughout the reddish brown and at the temples most definitely white hair. Awesome. White. Not the battleship grey that I feared. I can do grey (begrudgingly) I can do silver (becoz silver is sparkly and I do love sparkle) and I can absolutely rock white.
I tried to get a picture of the underside of my hair because that's where the most grey/silver/white is but dang it's hard to do! I do not have good enough balance to literally stand on my heady, so, instead, I just bent over and then quickly flipped my hair back as Istood up and snapped that really quickly. And hey...what do you know? There's LOTS more grey under there. Look:
And then of course I snapped the part on top of my head because that's the dead giveaway. I could hide the underneath part a while longer if I really wanted to. But there is no way I can hide the top unless I wear a hat. PS right now it's just too hot to wear a hat.
aAs you can see the transformation is really coming along up there. Which I actually never see. The only folks who get to behold that grey/silver/white part are people taller than me if they are looking down. And let's face it, most people are taller then me so I guess the vast majority of people around hereabouts have had the opportunity to admire the sparkliest part of my hair. Cool!
So progress is being made and thus far, I like it. It feels like it's taking a REALLY long time, but than patience has never been my strong suit. Perhaps at the next grey/silver/white hair update, my hair will actually be mostly grey/silver and/or white.
Bulletins as they happen!
Have a perfectly lovely weekend ya'll
So here's what happened.
The above is my most favourite shampoo brand in the world. Or at least in my world. This particular brand has loads of different, ummm, what do you call them, flavours? This is just one of many. Sometimes I choose this one, sometimes other ones. Thus far, I have adored every single one that I've tried. Except the bamboo one in the green bottle. Did not dig that one at all. But the rest? Yummm.
I love the way it smells, the way it feels and the way my hair looks. And I would use this brand all of the time except for one thing. (and yes I've mentioned this briefly once before a long time ago). It's hard to get the product out of the bottle. What?
Well not initially. At first it's not a problem at all. Gravity, y'know? But the more empty the bottle becomes, the harder it is to get the goo inside, out. I am perfectly aware that part of the problem is me. My little arthritic hands aren't as strong as they used to be. But for heaven's sakes. I ought to be able to get shampoo out of a bottle without requiring power tools! And as the bottle gets used up, sometimes, I just cannot.
I don't know what they make these bottles out of, but mercy! I squeeze as hard as I can with my hands. Sometimes I put the bottle against my leg and push both hands with poor results (and sometimes the bottle kind of slipping out and onto the floor with an alarming clatterbang). I have even wedged the bottle up against the wall of the shower and put all my weight into my hands on it trying to squeeze product out to no avail (and risking slipping and falling myself!) It just shouldn't be that hard.
I did write to the company about it. They wrote back fairly quickly. It was a very kind note full of apologies and promises that they would look into this issue. Several weeks later I heard back from the parent company (also very nicely written) apologizing for the problem and asking for the lot number on the bottle. Well of course by then I had thrown the bottle away and so that was the end of that.
With a normal bottle of shampoo I could stand it on it's head and let the product slide down to the opening between uses. But in the design of the bottle holding the shampoo I prefer, the little round top prevents any headstands. I finally gave up, threw it away and tried to find something else I liked as much.
After some experimentation, I ended up settling on something that was perfectly fine and a wee bit less expensive. The two best parts are that I can squeeze it if I need to and the top is flat so if necessary, I can stand it upside down. It does it's job. When I use it, my hair is clean and that is the entire point of it. There is nothing in the world really and truly wrong with it except that I just don't like it as much. I missed my old shampoo. Ratz.
And that's when it happened. My moment of revelation. I was standing the shower about to wash my hair and I noticed that the bottles were close to empty. I made a mental note to add shampoo and conditioner to the grocery list. I heard myself say, outloud, 'Or I could reuse these bottles for the old product!" Huzzah!
I cannot swear that it happened, but I think it was just like in the cartoons when a fellow with a problem suddenly gets a great idea and that little light bulb comes on over his head.
The next time I went to the store, I bought my favourites. "Hello old friends", I said to them. I thoroughly washed out the old bottles, took the tops off the new ones , flipped the new ones upside down and carefully balanced them atop the old empty bottles. Viola!
Yes it's an extra step. And no I shouldn't have to I suppose. But hey, it works!
Creative Problem Solving baby. Sometimes I rock!
The salon, or beauty shop where I have successfully been getting my hair attended to for the past 4+ years is right here on the island. Which is exactly where I was looking for it. Knowing as you do (by now) how much I hate to drive, it is logical that I would concentrate my search within my comfort driving zone - which is admittedly very small.
But I got lucky and on only the 2nd try, I found Venice Day Spa and Carolyn, my amazing hairdresser, and life has been easy peasy hair-wise every since. The salon is in the same plaza as our grocery store so it was easy to find with loads of parking if I should happen to drive instead of walk. And life was good.
But since we've lived here, we have watched as one business after another has left that plaza. When we first arrived, there was only one storefront that was empty. And slowly, one by one, the doors shuttered and the businesses have disappeared. Some merely relocated (off-island dang it) others seem to have vanished altogether. Now the plaza is about half empty. (which of course also means half full, but you know what I mean).
So when I recently walked to the store instead of taking the car and I strolled past the salon I was dismayed but not truly surprised to see a big sign in the window that said, "We Are Moving". Ratz. Of course that's all it said. There was no when or where on the sign. I was very VERY curious, but I also knew that I had an appointment coming up soon. I decided that if they didn't mentioned it that day, I would. No reason to panic. Although I confess I was concerned.
The ideas that rambled through my brain! Were they closing altogether? Were they leaving for a different town? Would they stay on island or move off? If off, how far off? How difficult or easy would it be to get there? On no! I would have to find a new salon. And what if I dont' find another place I like? I'll have to give up getting my hair done altogether. I'll grow it back out really long and wear it in braids and ponytails like I used to a long time ago and that way I'll save money too! Yup I went that far. Drama much? Please note how all of my questions were very selfish and self-serving. Apparently I am a horrible person. But hey, at least I'm honest about it.
I tried to just not think about it. Soon enough, I would know the answer and then I would deal with what ever the new reality was. One way or another, there would be a solution. That much I knew.
It so happened that on the morning of my hair appointment there was a big article in the local paper about how the business as moving. And while the article didn't give a specific address, it did list the name of the new street. Cockrill St. Cockrill St.? I've lived here now for more than 4 years and I thought I had walked every single road at least once and I had no memory of a Cockrill St. Which lead me to believe that the move must be off island. Dang. Resigned and more than a little sad, I went to my appointment a few hours later.
As I'm sitting in the chair, Carolyn hard at work on my hair, I began, "So I understand that you are moving.......?" She confirmed that they were and how much bigger, nicer of a place it was going to be. She also told me that the newspaper article go the street wrong. (How does a responsible newspaper get that wrong?) She assured me that they were staying on island (whew!) and the street name is, '"The Rialto". Yeah, they have streets with names like that here.
So that's a couple of pieces of good news. First of all, I know where The Rialto is. It's over by the hospital. And second of all (and best of all) It's on island. Hurrah! My stress level just smoothed right over. Carolyn also told me that they were moving mid-September which means that for my next appointment in October, I will be going to the new place. Exciting!
When I checked out, I made my next appointment (as I always do) and the appointment card had the new address on it. 775 The Rialto. I decided that I ought to find exactly where on The Rialto, number 775 is. Seems reasonable, right?
So I headed over toward the hospital and turned onto The Rialto. I drove as slowly as was courteous to drivers behind me, and...couldn't find it. Dang. So when I got to the end of the street, I turned around and tried again. All in all, I tried three times before calling it quits.
Here's the problem. Venice Island is an adorably quirky place. Sometimes things are a little willy nilly. It's usually part of the charm but once in awhile a little bit of a pain in the arse. The numbers could be anywhere. On the mailbox, (assuming that there is a mailbox - it's not a requirement), or over the garage, or on the front door or painted on a rock on the side of the driveway or..well anywhere. And none of the numbers are the same. Big, small, different colours, different fonts, different, well just different.
And this particular street, at one time, was all residential so with the exception of a church, it's still 99% buildings that look like houses. Some of them actually are houses, some have been turned into businesses. Like I said, quirky.
And then there was the issue with the house numbers, when I could find them. They didn't make sense. They seemed to jump around from the 400's to the 800's with big weird gaps. What on earth is going on?
I decided that it's just too hard to drive AND look for this address at the same time. New plan. I would go home, put on sunscreen and my sneakers and walk back. I see so much more detail when I'm walking. " I will absolutely be able to find this on foot", I sez to myself.
So as soon as I got home, I left my purse on my desk chair, put my cellphone in my pocket and grabbed socks and sneakers. I was determined and a little excited to have a mission! I had just finished tying my shoes when the house was filled with the sound of a giant thunder boomer. Dang. I went to the window and saw the sky filling up with dark ominous clouds, the wind picking up and a lightening flash or two. Well, there went my mission. Drat.
That's when Tim pointed out to me that I could have "mapped" it on my phone and the directions would have led me right to the address. What an idiot I am. The thought absolutely never once crossed my mind. We looked it up on my computer to get the general idea and sonovagun..there it was...Cockrill St. The new address is on the corner of The Rialto and Cockrill St. I'll be darned! It does exist!
Over the weekend we did a drive-by. I know now exactly where it is, what it looks like and have accessed the parking situation. (When I say that I'm not a good driver I mean I'm also not a good parker of cars. The parking situation is an important factor)
It's all good. My hair is saved.
This is our kitchen table. There is a perfect little spot right there for it. It's taller than the average table. I think they refer to it as "bar height". We intentionally selected this taller version so that the chairs would work in multiple places. Such as as that kitchen island
And at the table in the family room
Sometimes we really put thought into what we do :)
The entire reason that I bring up this kitchen table thing is that recently I was watching one of those HGTV house renovation shows. And on this particular episode the home owners were talking with the designer about how to change their teeny tiny kitchen into a larger more useful kitchen. The designer suggested knocking out the wall between the kitchen and dining room. Great idea! Everyone was in favour. But then there was the thing that surprised me. The designer threw out a lot of different ideas of all sorts. The couple thought that everything was wonderful except for one thing. The only thing the couple said no to was having a spot for a kitchen table. The couple felt that they did not need a table because they would either eat at the island or in the living room in front of the TV.
I was gobsmacked. No Kitchen Table? How does anyone function without a kitchen table? Ours gets one heck of a workout on a regular basis. Or at least that's how I felt when I saw that show.
But that got me wondering just how much we really do use our kitchen table. So I decided to document how much the table got used in a week and the variety of ways. So here we go:
First of all it is a perfect place to fold clothes. I dump the contents of the basket, choose one item at random, and begin to fold and stack by owner of said article of clothing and type of garment. Tim's tee-shirts in one pile, my shorts in another, for example.
It's the perfect place to take care of correspondence of any sort. And yes I still write actual letters. I own stamps, return address stickers and envelopes. I even have pens, paper, an address book (a real one, not online) and when the situation calls for it, I buy cards. Christmas cards, birthday cards, anniversary cards, graduation cards, sorry-you-are-sick cards, sympathy cards and well, whatever the occasional calls for cards. Sometimes I just write a short little note in the card, sometimes I just sign it but once in awhile I write a separate full fledged actual letter. Shocking, I know
The table gets used heavily when I am baking. It's perfect for cooling racks. I usually put down either a table cloth or newspaper under the racks to protect the tabletop. And if they are the sorts of cookies or cakes that require decorating, then I use both the flannel backed, plastic table cloth AND newspaper. It works. There is plenty of room for cooling, for decorating and for certain people to snitch one as they walk by.
This particular table is a terrific spot for a larger puzzle. The smaller ones fit perfectly on the family room table but the bigger ones need more room. It's not just the puzzle itself, but the pieces. Gotta have a place to sort them! I like to turn each piece upside right first, then pull out the edges to build the frame first. Then resort by colour. But then that's me. I'm sure everyone has their own method that works for them.
It's also a great table for games. Especially if there are more than two people playing. AND being the kitchen table means the game is close to food and drink if you need refills. Very Handy. While you are stepping away for a second you can still keep an eye on certain people to be sure they are not doing anything sneaky. This is not a trust issue, this is a practical issue. Keeping honest people, honest. (get your mitts off my tiles buddy!)
And if I take a break to read during the day, I like to read here. Sometimes I read while having my lunch. Sometimes just a couple of quick chapters while I'm waiting for the oven timer to go off, or the water to come to a boil or the dryer buzzer to sound or maybe I'm just killing twenty minutes waiting until I absolutely must start dinner. There are other days when I don't even kid myself about doing anything useful. I just curl up on the sofa in the family room with a book and call it a day. But on a normal regular day, I read here and there as I can. Those days, it's at the kitchen table.
And of course meals. Yeah, we usually eat here too. Apparently that is unusual? We eat, we talk, we laugh at the table. I'm so surprised to learn that some people don't.
That's all I came up with last week, but I know that it has been used in other ways. For example for gift wrapping. It is a large enough surface to wrap almost any package.
Also for projects. If should take it into my head to attempt to create something or (even funnier) sew something, this is where it happens. Plenty of room on a nice big flat surface with lots of light both from the window and over head. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. And when it does I need a place to do it. Obviously, the kitchen table.
As a kid I did my homework and art projects there as did my own kids when they were in school.. As a young mother of three, my friends and neighbors would bring their kids over to play and the moms would sit around the table for tea and talk. We ate every single meal at the kitchen table. But I suppose that was long ago and far away.
And well, I am positive that there are other ways this table gets used that aren't immediately coming to mind. I guess the point is that I cannot imagine NOT having a kitchen table.
How 'bout you?
I read an article yesterday listing the 47 movies in the past 25 years that revenued one billion dollars or more. That's Billion with a B. Not a typo.
First I was a little mind boggled that there were 47 films that brought in that much money. Perhaps I'm naive (no maybe about it, I am not worldly) but Wow!
Once I recovered from wrapping my feeble brain around that idea, I went on to see what films were so powerful, so amazing, so damned good that they garnered that kind of cash. I was more than a little surprised.
Well I wasn't completely surprised. There were a few of the Harry Potter films of course, some of the Star Wars franchise and one of the Lord of the Rings series. Titanic was listed of course and that was the only one that I guessed correctly. But from that point forward it was almost entirely animated films and super hero stuff. Y'know, Iron Man, Spider Man, Captain American, Transformers and that ilk. Are you surprised? I was.
Now I have definitely seen the Lion King and I'm pretty sure I saw at least one Iron Man and one Transformers film but I'm not positive that I saw them in the theater. It may have been at home on TV or DVD. Still I saw them and so I suppose that counts toward the revenue. But I was so surprised to see that the majority of the films listed were, technically, kids movies.
Which is not to say that I have never watched a "kids" movie on purpose. I absolutely have. AND enjoyed it. But it's not my usual fare. And I can only assume (though one should never) that is the case with most adults. So the logical conclusion here is that the predominant demographic for movie theatre attendance are folks who are not old enough to vote.
Kids are the ones who coughed up the biggest piece of that One Billion dollar Plus pie? Seriously? Kids? Or the parents of those kids? More likely I suppose.
Movie theatres have always been a big draw for young people. I remember reading and hearing stories about the Saturday Morning matinees from about 1930 to 1960. Theaters were madhouses stacked chockablock with unaccompanied minors who, for a quarter gained admission, with enough money leftover for a snack, a newsreel, a cartoon, a cliff-hanger serial film that would ensure the seats would be filled again the following Saturday and a main feature. The main feature might be a Western, an Abbott and Costello piece, A Lewis and Martin comedy or perhaps a Tarzan film. Kids went crazy in those few hours of relatively unsupervised freedom. And parents enjoyed a kid-free Saturday morning.
Evening theatre watching was more for adults. Casablanca and Gone with the Wind and The Great Escape were definitely not children's films. But they were exquisite. Entertaining films of course, but also strong, powerful, captivating films that people who didn't throw their popcorn or jujubees at fellow movie goers could enjoy.
And of course there were Drive-in Movies as well. I remember those from my childhood. It wasn't very often, but occasionally we would go to a drive-in as a family. My father and grandmother in the front seat, my sister, mother and me in the back. We kids were always amused when the ticket booth guy would peek into the car and say, "2 adults and 3 kids". Every Time. The movie was almost always either Haley Mills or Jerry Lewis. So, yes, basically , kids fare. I do not recall my parents every going to the movies, just the two of them. Hmmm.
When my boys were young, we lived right around the corner from a Drive-In Theater. I think we only went a couple of times to see a movie but it felt much the same. The big heavy speakers that fitted onto the car window, the playground under the big screen and the concession stand (my favourite part). This particular Drive-In acted as a Flea Market on weekend days, but transformed at night back into the Drive-In movie. We went far more often to the flea market part frankly. I recall the price of the drive-in theatre being low, the films being, at best, second run and the concessions being awesome.
But then those days passed into history, the prices of movie tickets skyrocketted, and the multi-plex theaters were born. There was now one movie and one movie only being shown at a time in each theater, with trailers for coming attractions of course and far fewer movie theater shenanigans by the audience. Drive-in movies became a thing of the past. And Saturday morning kiddie matinees disappeared for ever. Some theatres got very creative and began serving meals. Dine-In Movie Theatres (as opposed to Drive-In) became an interesting idea. Tim and I went to at least one, back in Colorado.
But most theatres were now enormous multi-plex buildings that showed 10 or more different films at a time each one shown in much smaller rooms. Children were accompanied by adults, films became graded by age appropriateness, the seats were almost always a shade of red with a built in cup holder and the floors were almost always sticky. The bathrooms were clean, the concession stand held quite the variety of choices, the volume was almost always too loud and the trailers took up more and more time at each visit.
And I don't really know why, but Tim and I kind of fell out of the habit of going to the theatre. We went less and less often as the years went by. So it really didn't impact Tim and I much when we all went on Shut-Down this past March.
And I'm sure the industry is reeling. To go from making Billions to making zero has got to be a shock. Like driving a car as fast as it can go and suddenly coming to a complete halt by running into a wall. Not Good.
As things begin to re-open and some filming beginning to resume, I wonder what sorts of changes will be made? What results will come ?
I understand that some theatres are beginning to reopen with every other row and every other seat closed off. We shall see how that goes. It will be interesting to see how it all evolves once again.
The one thing you can always count on in life is that things change.
Do you mind if I talk photography for a few minutes? It's something that I truly enjoy. And if pressed to explain why I like it so much, well of course there are a lot of reasons. When it comes to having a passion, there's never just one thing.
One of the reasons is that it helps me to see the world around me differently. No matter how craptastic things in the world may be: a constant barrage of one sort of devastation or another, when I look through the camera, I see things that are beautiful. And sometimes I need that balance.
I also appreciate that photograph is not something that requires any sort of athletic prowess whatsoever (since I have zero talent in that direction).
I like that no matter where I am, inside, outside or upsidedown, there are things to take pictures of and the equipment necessary is contained in my camera bag. There are no membership fees, I don't have to join anything or attend meetings.
I like that it's something I can do alone or with other like-minded folks. In fact, I can go places with people that aren't interested in photography at all and still pursue my interest without being a bore.
And it's a way of exercising my creative side that doesn't involve painting or drawing or singing or dancing or well, any of the things I am incapable of. I get to be creative. And that's cool.
But one of the top reasons that I adore photography is that it allows to me grow. More than allows, it encourages me. I actually see personal growth and improvement nearly every time I head out with camera in hand.
The picture at the top of the page is one of my favourites. I can actually look at that photo and say, "Hey! I did a nice job with that" instead of picking it to pieces and criticizing it to death, which is what I would normally do. I actually won an award with that photo. I'm kinda proud of that.
I didn't start out that way. Nope nope nope. The first few times I used a camera was, maybe junior high school days. It was back in the day of film. Back in the times when, before taking a single shot, you had to purchase a roll of film. (Money out). I was very careful about how each photo was taken because when the roll was full, it then had to be dropped off at a photo developing place and wait. In a week or so, it was ready to be picked up and paid for (more money out), so the anticipation of seeing how those pictures came out was running high. And then the disappointment at seeing the results was crushing. And discouraging. I was NOT a natural born photographer by any stretch of imagination.
I do not remember owning a camera back then, although perhaps I did and just didn't use it for the above reasons. Too costly for something that I was obviously no good at. Somewhere along the line I acquired a Polaroid camera. Woohoo! Finally, near instant results and while the film was expensive I didn't have to pay to develop it at least. But I still wasn't a good photographer. And Polaroid photos always have a funny unrealistic look to them.
Years flew by and when we lived in Colorado Tim bought me a small digital camera. It was pink. I began to take more photos with that camera for two reasons, I didn't have to buy film or pay for it to be developed AND the delete button. I adore the delete button. I have absolutely no mercy or remorse. If a photo doesn't measure up, OUT it goes! But eventually that camera gasped it's last and I resorted to taking photos with my cellphone.
In fact, the first question I always ask before buying any new cellphone is, "Tell me about the camera". I continued taking pictures more and more. I almost always had my cellphone with me tucked into my back pocket so I was always camera read. And I slowly began to improve. Eventually I suppose, if I do anything long enough, I start to learn things without even intending to. Things like composition and lighting and slowing down a bit. Patience was the hardest part of it I promise.
When we moved here to Florida Tim bought me a real camera. I was suddenly retired and therefore had time on my hands to practice a lot more. I began to get experimental, I play with all the buttons and dials on the camera. I began to mess around with various filters and slowly gained more confidence which, oddly came through making a lot of mistakes. Because that is how I learn best. My delete button gets quite the workout.
And that leads to my favourite part of photography. And that is that I never stop learning. There is always another level to reach, another goal to achieve, a new dot in the distance that I'm working toward.
The secret to happiness is having attainable goals. And Photography makes me happy. I hope that whatever your hobby or passion or talent is you make it a point to spend time doing it and that it continues to make you happy.
This is my make up bag, such as it is. It's on the smallish side. And it occurs to me now that I could probably throw out some of that stuff because I almost never use it. The bag itself originally was one of those cheap-o travel bags prefilled with teeny tiny shampoos and toothpastes. Once we returned from whatever trip I bought it for, I repurposed it into my make up bag. I don't remember what I was using before this. But that's beside the point.
I wasn't born into a family where the women wore make up so trying out mom's eyeshadow as a little girl never happened. My mom wore chapstick, not lipstick. So I grew up not really thinking about it. By the time I hit my highschool years we lived in Texas and it was the latter part of the 60's and early 70's. The hippy dippy days. Where even in Texas the natural look was a thing. Of course those native texas beauty queens achieved their natural look via make-up back then, but hey.
The only time I had make up on my face, someone else applied it. It was transformative to suddenly look in the mirror and see a different fact looking back at me. Kind of strange but kind of cool too. Still it wasn't until college that I began buying make up for myself. And being a poverty stricken college kid it was really cheap crappy stuff. Put that together with the knowledge that I didn't have a clue what I was doing and well, I'll just say that the results were definitely mixed.
And then I got married, moved to a working farm and immediately produced three children. I didn't have the time, the inclination or the funds to put on make up. Also the cows and chickens had no opinion about make up one way or the other. So for a long time, I was make up free.
Then one day I had to get a full time job which meant investing in a real hair cut, as opposed to the really long hair whipped into a ponytail or braids and real clothes, instead of jeans and sneakers AND wearing make up. Since I was at least smart enough to know what I didn't know, I went to the professionals. I went to the make up counter of one of those really big department stores, perhaps a Macy's?
I wandered around rather confused looking at all those mysterious potions and lotions until one kindly lady behind the counter asked if she could help me. When I shyly explained my situation, she was both delighted and excited, "You sit here honey," she said, "I'll fix you right up". She explained what she was doing and why throughout the process. And while the results looked very nice it was also a bit much for me. Still I bought the whole kit'n'caboodle, went home and experimented until I came up with a down-sized version.
And that is what I automatically applied, every single morning, for the next twenty or so years. I didn't give it any more thought than brushing my teeth. Shower, do my hair, put on my make up, get dressed. Like an automaton. Until this past March when we went on lockdown.
I'm not sure what it was about the advent of the quarantine/virus but everything kind of came to a screeching halt. Even thing that didn't necessarily have to be affected by the shutdowns. I suppose it just seemed like nothing mattered.
And at first it felt strange NOT putting it on, but eventually it became the new normal. And I kind of liked it. It was liberating. One less thing on my gotta-do list. Except that whenever I ventured out into the world, masked, I realized that nobody can read facial expressions anymore. All anyone can see is my eyes. So in the spirit of once again putting my best foot, or perhaps face, forward I would bother to at least wear eye make up. Mascara in lieu of a smile.
I know that everyone says that looks don't matter and that we shouldn't judge others. But we do. Everyone judges. They may not mean to but they do. I do, you do, everyone does. And therefore, whenever I must be out and about in public with a mask, I take a few minutes and make the minimal effort necessary to look the best I can under the circumstances.
It's the least I can do. And never let it be said that I didn't do the least I could do.
A friend of mine recently asked a small favour of me. And because she is one of my most favourite people on the planet, and because I at least try to be a good friend, I was delighted to help out however I could.
My mission, should I choose to accept it, was to locate for her a toss pillow. A very specific sort of toss pillow. She wanted something about a foot square, white or ecru coloured with a beachy picture on it. She had already searched her own town exhaustively and came up empty. You see, she does not live in a beach town. I, however do, and logically it follows that such a thing might be more readily available in my town. I accept the mission.
As she described what she was imagining, the design would be something in an ocean-y colour and a design that would bring the beach to mind. Something like a shell or a starfish or maybe a mermaid, perhaps. A mermaid would be fun.
I know that when I picture something that I want to purchase, I am very specific. Sometimes so specific that what is in my head doesn't exist in real life. So rather than guess and purchase something on her behalf and then have to turn around and return it, it seemed to me that a better idea would be a photograph what I see, send her the pictures and let her decide from there. We both agreed that was a good plan.
So late last week, off I went on the great toss pillow hunt.
Not only is Venice an adorable beach town, it also has a couple of streets that are lined with wonderful and unique shops and restaurants. It seemed reasonable(to me at least) to start there. Cute little boutique shops are loaded with unusual and wonderful things of all sorts. Yeah, let's start there.
I walked up and down and went in and out, of every shop on both the Avenue (that's Venice Avenue) and the next street, Miami, on the off chance that one of them might have precisely what she was looking for. The shops were very quiet. Most of them had nobody in them except the sales people and me. It was kind of sad. Still, every single one of the sales people was so helpful and kind when I explained what I was looking for. Each of them easily granted me permission to photograph the wares, all the while knowing that I would not be purchasing anything that day. The samples above are from just three of the shops. I promise you that I wandered through many, many, MANY more that day.
The most interesting part to me was that no two shops had the exact same toss pillows. Oh they might be similar, true. But none of them were duplicates. Do the shop owners get together and discuss this ahead of time? How does that work? Hmmmmm.
Another thing that fascinated me was how many different ways there are to interpret the exact same idea. A starfish, a starfish and a starfish. Exact same creature. But each pillow bearing a the likeness of a starfish was unique. Very Well Done!
Well in the end, it was a fun afternoon of prowling through adorable little shops, taking photos, chatting with sales people and walking around downtown, which I really haven't done much of lately. And that in itself is silly because we live only about a half mile away and I love to walk soooo why am I not walking the avenue and peeking into the shop windows? I have no idea.
Eventually though, I ran out of shops and came home to download photos and email them to my friend.
It came as no surprise to me that none of the pictures was exactly what she had in mind though she expressed great appreciation for my efforts. On my part, I plan to check again in a month or so when the shelves are restocked with Christmas shopping in mind and there will be different options available. In fact, I look forward to it :)
All in all it was fun and different way to spend an afternoon. I am mystified however, by the shocking absence of any pillows with mermaids on them. Perhaps it's just not mermaid season.
I woke up early this morning to the unmistakable sound of rain on the roof. Yes, even without my hearing aids on, I could hear the rain. It was torrential. It wasn't just tippytapping gently, it was the entire percussion section of an orchestra drumming. So I did what any sensible person would do. I smiled and fell back to sleep.
When I woke for the second time about an hour later (what a slacker!) I could not longer hear the rain and since the curtains were closed I certainly could not immediately see what was happening outside. My assumption (though one should never assume) was that the storm had passed. So I was quite surprised when I went into the bathroom to take my shower, looked out the window and discovered that it was still raining out.
This time the rain was different, steady but gentle, softer and more fragrant. It was the quintessential summer rain. Ahhhh.
Once I was dressed, even though my hair was still wet, I grabbed an umbrella and my rubber flipflops and went out to rescue the newspaper. Fortunately our newspaper delivery person, wise to the ways of summer in Florida, had double bagged the paper and it was still dry. Yay! I also noticed that the garbage and recycle had been picked up.
So I tossed the newspaper on the front mat and trundled, one at a time (needed one hand for umbrella wrangling) the bins around to the side of the house. Every time I stepped in a puddle I was prepared for a chill that never came. The water temperature was much like slightly cooled bath water. Perfect.
Mission accomplished I casually strolled back (there was no need to run) to the front of the house, picked up the newspaper and went back into the house. I closed the umbrella and removed my flipflops, dropped the newspaper on the counter and left the wet things to dry in the utility room, smiling all the while.
What a perfect start to a Monday. Unlike the old song, Rainy Days and Mondays do not "get me down". Instead I am relaxed, a little sleepy. I feel no need to rush, no desire to play 'beat the clock' which is my usual state. My list of gotta-do's for the day suddenly loses importance.
Normally I start each day as if I was blasted out of a cannon, my mind awhirl with a thousand thoughts and the thread running through that chaos is the list of things that need to be done. The list gets prioritized and re prioritized and re re prioritized constantly throughout the day. I move from one chore to the next to the next without a break. If I eat breakfast at all, it's on the run while doing other things. While I do ordinarily take a lunch break, it's not unusual for it to occur mid-afternoon which means that when dinner time rolls around, I am not yet hungry. I t's not at all unusual for me to skip dinner. And when the dark of the day finally falls and we are settled in on the sofa to read or watch TV and chat a little, I'm normally so beat that instead, I just conk out. (to be fair it's a super comfy sofa)
But today, today I'm not rushing, I'm not racing, I'm not flying through the house trying to do twelve things at once. Today I will do one deliberate thing at a time and take lots of breaks. In fact, I would not be at all surprised if today, once the things that honestly do need to be done are completed, that I chuck the gotta-do list entirely and just sit and read the afternoon away. Or alternately read and nap.
I cannot help it. Rain is hypnotic. I feel as if I am in a daze all day long. It's almost as if I'm dreaming the day away.
Some people fall asleep in the hot sun. Not me, I fall asleep on a rainy day. And more shockingly, I don't even feel a bit guilty about it. I am absolved of all guilt on a rainy day, which is a whole other kind of relief.
Soooo right now that is my plan for the day. Drag my lazy sleepy rainy-day butt through any chores that absolutely positively must be done and then phone it in for the rest of the day. A little reading, a little snoozing, a little gazing out the window day dreaming and watching the rain fall. Ahhhhhh. Lovely.
Unless of course, the sun comes out. If the rain stops and the sun begins to shine again, all bets are off.
One evening recently, after dinner was eaten and the kitchen cleaned up, Tim and I decided to wander on over to the jetty to watch the sunset show. It's something we used to do frequently. Though lately we have not.
I think we got out of the habit when the beaches were closed during shut down. Then too, it often rains in the evening during this time of year. And now we are trying to avoid crowds. As you can see, the sunset show is a very popular one here abouts.
But that night, we couldn't resist it's siren call. So we masked up, avoided crowds (telephoto lens you see) and just stood there, capturing these shots and enjoying. And without immediately realizing it, relaxing. I don't think either of us realized just how tense we were until we began to let it all go.
While we were there we weren't thinking about the virus or politics or protests or riots. We weren't considering bills, the heat & humidity or making mental grocery lists. We weren't concerned about hurricanes or tropical storms or flooding or climate change. All of the worries and concerns and stresses of life were gone.
It was just us, the sand, the sea and the glorious colours of the sunset for awhile.
I wish you a wonderful weekend. And a pretty sunset or two. It's good for what ails ya, as my Nana would say.
Hugs all 'round. See you again on Monday
Behold! This is the library here on Venice Island. She's a beauty for sure. It's official name is, "The William H. Jervey Jr. Venice Public Library". Whew! That's a long name.
When we first moved here the library was completely different. The old library was a very squarey brick structure that felt like an old school house to me. Serviceable of course, but nothing fancy. It seems that it had a problem with mold though. And after addressing the problem over and over and OVER again for years, the town decided to just tear down the old one and start over. This is what they started over with. It's snazzy.
Before all this virus stuff descended upon us, I was at this library several times every week. Sometimes to teach my ESL (English as a Second Language) students and sometimes to restock my own pile of New Books to Read. This library, like all libraries, was a very familiar and comfortable place for me.
Here is the thing about me and libraries. We moved a lot when I was a kid. I mean a lot. And every time we moved I would have to adjust to new everything. A new house that had new sounds and new smells, a new neighborhood with new kids. There was a new school with new teachers and new rules, and people with new accents and new colloquialisms. While all of the travelling and moving certainly helped me to become a very adaptable adult, as a kid, sometimes it was hard.
Thank goodness some things didn't change, or at least they didn't change much. And one of those things was the local library. Oh the lady behind the desk had a different name and a different face, but her attitude was the same everywhere we lived. Hushing and stamping, hushing and stamping, that was pretty much what the librarian seemed to do. And that was fine. That was her job. And it was familiar to me. The buildings were certainly different from town to town, but the important part was that every town had one. Be it large or small, brick or stucco, new, old or on wheels, it was still a library and inside were books. Lots and lots of books.
And once I got the the stacks, the rows, the aisles, the shelves, I was in my happy place and it didn't matter where we lived or how different it was. The books were always the same.
Clearly I have an affinity for libraries. I have never lived in a town that didn't, at the very least, have a bookmobile. When I was a kid I visited weekly. When I was in college, it was more like a daily trip. When I was a young mother, my kids and I made weekly visits. There was even a special shelf in the house where library books were kept. Nothing else, just library books. That way, they never got lost. When you wanted to read, you stopped at the table and selected your book. When you finished reading for the day, you returned it to the shelf.
As the boys got older, somehow I stopped. I suppose I was too busy with working at my job and then coming home to work at my other job, being mom, wife and chief cook and bottle washer. There was very little time left for reading and I missed it terribly. But in all truth, I didn't even really have the time to miss reading very often. I was too busy being behind on everything that always needed to be done and forever trying to catch up.
And then we moved here. And life slowed down. And I got my new library card. And once again, while the exterior of the building was different, the books remained the same. In short order I developed a routine. I would take out 3 books at each visit. No more, no less. When I finished those books, I would go back for more. And then, I began volunteering as an ESL teacher at the library. They have these lovely dedicated rooms specifically for the purpose of tutoring. I became accustomed to those room in no time flat. It wasn't a change to adapt to so much as an expansion of my comfort zone. And for quite some time, that was my part of my new routine.
Until this past March. Everything came to an abrupt halt. And we had to adapt to something new once again.
As I said before, I am highly adaptable. I adjust. When I find a new shape in my life I then find a new way to be comfortable with it. But a void is harder to get accustomed to. And when the library doors closed, it wasn't just ending my work with my ESL students and removing hours of dedicated time every week from my schedule, it was also cutting off my book supply. ARGH!
But now, at long last, the library opened once again. Yay! And, to my great surprise, I did not rush right out to borrow books. What? I'm a shocked as you are. I'm not even certain why I didn't immediately zoom over to restock my pile of New Books to Read. But I did not. Not until yesterday.
Yesterday afternoon, I stuffed my pockets with my library card, my mask (of course) and reading glasses, put on my sneakers and sunscreen and walked on over. I knew it would be different inside, but of course I had no idea how different or in what ways. So I walked in, cautiously.
Naturally there were signs all over the place about masking, and not going in if you are sick and stickers on the floor to guide visitors in one and only one direction through the stacks. There were very few people inside but all of them wore masks. There was Plexiglass at the information desk manned by the masked librarian (sounds like a super hero doesn't it?). Aaaannnddnd that's about it for changes. Check out has always been self-check at our library. But the books, the books were, as they always are, the same.
I was not required to interact with a single person for the entirety of my visit. I selected my standard 3 books at random, moved over to the self-checkout, and then out the door and walked back home. On one hand, it felt very safe, the no human interaction part. On the other hand, it was kind of sad to have not even made eye contact with a single soul. Life keeps changing. And it will continue to do so. There isn't much that stays the same. It 's just a fact.
And yet, while libraries have updated with computers and other coolio techological advances of course, but they are still libraries at their heart, which means they are still filled with books. And books make me happy.
I'm already knee deep in the first book that I borrowed and I know the others will follow shortly thereafter. Then I will be back for more.
Don't be alarmed. This is just the aftermath of "routine bloodwork". The sort that has to be done prior to an annual physical. Seriously. No biggie.
On the other hand, while I have had this exact bloodwork done countless times before in my life, this is the first time I've had it done during a pandemic. And of course, everything is different now.
And this will be the tale of two perspectives. First the story from my point of view.
Roughly one year ago, I had my annual physical at the end of which I set up the appointment for my physical this year. They handed me my appointment card and an order for the bloodwork to be done a week or so prior to that appointment. I put the paperwork in my calendar on the appropriate week (as a reminder to me) and went on with my life.
When I turned the page in my calendar from July to August, there was the paperwork doing it's job of reminding me to set up the appointment. So I went online and went through the necessary steps and voila, appointment made. I did not have to deal with a single actual human being. Once the appointment was made, the system automatically sent an email to my cellphone with a new doodah attached.
The attached dooddah was a click-through that I was supposed to enact when I arrived (15 minutes early) for the labwork appointment. Supposedly this would alert the desk that I had in fact, arrived. So as soon as I parked the car, I pulled out my cellphone and clicked the button. It popped up a little window to type in my cell phone number. So that's exactly what I did. It then sent me a further message that I was confirmed and that I would receive a text when the lab was ready for me. I would be allowed in, masked of course, at that time as long as I also had my lab order, (check) photo ID (check), Insurance Card (check) and credit card for any co-pay (check). While I sat in the car, I gathered all of what they wanted. I glanced at the time. It was 7:38.
About five minutes later I got a phone call (not a text) from the lab telling me that I could come in. I walked in. They asked for my lab order. I handed it to them. Then I was lead to the blood draw chair in the next room. All of the rest of the stuff I had ready for them was not requested so I stuffed it into my pocket with my phone. The phlebotomist was pleasant but with a very soft voice and a pretty accent. Between her mask, my mask, her soft voice and accent, I had to ask multiple times for repeats to answer her questions. She was patient with me and didn't seem to be perturbed about it, which I appreciated.
As she was tying that oh my gawd so tight band around my arm just prior to the stick, my cell phone rang. I glanced toward my pocket and saw that it was a call from home. What? Why would Tim be calling me? He knows where I am. Oh well, nothing I can do about it now. I will call him back afterwards.
While I was glancing at my phone, the nice lab lady had already filled one vial and was working on the second. Dang she's quick. Soon she was slapping a wad of gauze on my arm and taping it in place nearly as tightly as the original band. Mercy! I paused in the lobby to ask if they needed anything more from me, one hand in my pocket ready to retrieve ID, insurance card or credit card but nope, I was free to go. Hmmmm.
As soon as I got to the car I called the house to find out why Tim called me.
Now the story from Tim's perspective:
It's fairly early in the morning and he has not even had his coffee yet when the house phone rings. That in itself is unusual. We don't get many calls on the house phone. But the caller ID says "LabCorp" and he knows that is where I am. There is a moment of, at the very least, concern. Why would they be calling?
Well, they were calling, wondering where I was, because I had an appointment at 8:00 and of course I was supposed to be there 15 minutes early and basically where the heck was I?
Now Tim is wondering where the heck I am as well. He knows that I already left for that appointment. He also knows that, even with me driving (slow poke that I am), it's not more than a 5-7 minute drive. If I'm not at home and I'm not at the lab, where am I? What could possibly have happened? Was I in an accident? Did I finally truly lose my mind and get lost? Did I run away from home? Was I kidnapped by aliens?
I was so sorry that he was unnecessarily worried. I am baffled as to why the lab people first of all were calling my house when I had already checked in with my cell phone as their little app requested of me. And further, why they were using the house phone number instead of my cell phone number? ARGH!
It's moments like this when I remember, way back in computers were a brand new idea that many folks were, frankly, very dubious about. But we were all won over by the promise of how much easier it was going to make our lives. Humph!
Oh and totally unrelated subject but still something I observed this morning: I am rarely on the roads at 7:30 am but I was not at all surprised to see the volume of folks out walking their dogs or jogging at that hour. Of course. It makes perfect sense. Even now in hothothot August, at 7:30 am it's absolutely fabulous outside So that I anticipated. However, I did not expect the small child driving down the street (literally the street) in her little pink battery powered pretend car with her father? grandfather? uncle? walking behind her. In The Freakin' Street! Nor did I expect to see as many people as I did walking in the road when there is a perfectly good sidewalk right there parallel to the road. Here is a tip. The side WALK is for walking! Get the heck outta the road!
Ok I'm done now. Hope you have a perfectly lovely day!
This is one of my favourite photos of my father. From left to right it's my sister Joy, our dad and me on the right. It was taken in the back yard of the second house we had in La Mesa California. I still remember the address: 8488 Denton St. My mother, who normally did not take pictures, snapped this one on Christmas day. I'm trying to think of what year it might have been and of course I'm not certain. Late 1950's is my best guess.
Today would have been his 95th birthday.
Lawrence E. Hurley was born in a small farming community in Michigan in 1925. He had only one sibling, his younger brother, Wilbur with whom he was very close. His parents, Della and Ira were good, hard-working souls with big hearts. My dad grew up working the family farm. He was only 4 years old when the Great Depression hit. According to my father, living on a farm was not a bad way to get through a rough time. No matter what, there was food to eat and as long as you had animals and food, you had something to barter with for the things you didn't have.
My dad might have gone on to be a farmer as expected except for one thing. My dad was a reader, and like most readers, he was also a dreamer. And he dreamed of different kinds of things, different places, different ways of life. He had great respect for farming. And he knew that farm life had taught him a great deal; lessons that would stay with him always. But he also knew that wasn't the life for him.
So when he was old enough, he joined the Navy to see the world. Well, he saw part of it. And when he was assigned to the radio room, he learned that he had an affinity for mechanical things. So much so that in later years, my sister and I referred to him as, 'Gadget Man'.
Right around the time my dad was about to leave the Navy, he met my mother in 1952. It was in Chicago at a Woolworths as I recall the story and it was a whirlwind romance. They married six weeks after they met and they remained that way until my mother passed away in 2012.
When I was born they still lived in one of a series of tiny apartments in downtown Chicago. But by the time my sister was born, they had moved to the burbs of Illinois. Their first home together, in Rolling Meadows, was a brand new build. But they didn't live there very long.
My dad was moving up in his career. He applied for a job at General Dynamics and, much to his surprise, he was hired. The job was in California and so they loaded up the car and headed west. My dad stayed with General Dynamics, through countless moves, a lot of travel for the company and many promotions until he retired. Actually retiring wasn't his idea, it was theirs. He was adamantly opposed. But what you gonna do?
Well, in my dad's case he joined service organizations. A lot of them. Usually, eventually holding a position of some authority and responsibility within those organizations. He also got involved politically. Like becoming the Mayor. Yeah, he did that too. He also began teaching computer classes to seniors. He loved that one especially. "Gadget Man" that he was, naturally, he embraced new technology instead of shying away from it. He liked being busy. That farm mentality of 'hard work is good work' never left him.
He was a rock. The guy that everyone else always counts upon. Whatever you needed, he was there. You only had to ask.
He loved history and books. He adored books. He was the sort of person who could get completely lost in a book, totally unaware of everything and anything around him while he was reading. He loved his dogs. He loved his country, his community and his family.
He was a loyal friend. If you were a friend of his, he would always stand by you. He was an optimist who always preferred to see the sunny side of things. No matter how craptastic life might have been at that moment, he absolutely knew that things would get better. And they always did.
He was a very rational and reasonable man. He would coach us through life by helping us think our way through. It is still a method I employ to make decisions, "If this, then that" . He never punished me although he once told me that he was disappointed in a decision that I had made. I was crushed. We ultimately worked through it of course because regardless of anything else, he loved me.
He loved Westerns and Science Fiction TV shows and movies. I am quite sure that is where I developed my fondness for both. When we lived in Texas, he took to wearing cowboy boots and they became his normal footwear for the rest of his life. He came to visit Tim and I in Colorado once and we took him to Sheplers, a western wear store. He was definitely in his happy place there. He bought a cowboy hat and it looked snazzy on him.
To help fill his time once he retired, he took his interest in history, his love of family and books and put that all together to research family history. Ultimately, he had an entire book of photographs, anecdotes and information of his family all the way back to the first ones who dared step foot in this country. Which was back before the United States was an actual country.
He did not care for vegetables, was tone deaf, and in the words of my mother, couldn't dance worth a damn. He loved to laugh, was secretly very nostalgic and poetic and had the energy of three people at all times. At one time he was on a bowling team and I remember a flirtation with golf as well.
I have shockingly few photographs of him. I think, sadly, he was almost always on the other side of the camera, the guy taking the pictures. I know that I had some but digitally somewhere along the line as I changed computers and transferred things like photos, enough of them have gotten lost over the years that I mostly have memories of him rather than photographs.
My dad passed away in January of 2015. Five years ago. Miss him still.
And today would have been his birthday. I would have made a pecan pie for him. He adored pecan pie.
What a pretty bag! It's colourful and sparkly. It has flowers and swirly lines and wishes the recipient a Happy Birthday! Who was the very lucky person who got to open this bag? It was me! And it was a lovely surprise this past Saturday.
Late Saturday Morning, we pointed ourselves north and set out to spend a long over-due day with our friends, The Minocks! YAYAYAYAYAYAYAY! It had been far too long.
It was a beautiful day for a drive as we loaded up the car with loaner jigsaw puzzles, blueberry muffins and peanut butter/chocolate chip cookies. Our rule is to never show up empty handed (as it so happens we never leave empty handed either ;) A nice bonus)
They are the kind of friends who always greet us with hugs and smiles and as if we were returning conquering heros (we are not but it's nice to be treated that way). Immediately we launched into a chatfest of catching up on each other's lives. We admired the most adorable photos of their grandsons, we found out what sorts of TV shows each other have been binging during this time of relative isolation and got to see paint chips soon to be used. We talked of day to day realities and long term plans and dreams.
Eventually we caught up enough that, peanut butter/chocolate chip cookies in hand for sustenance, we headed out to see the progress on the house they are building (It's Gorgeous!) and to drive by the house the younger son has bought and will soon be moving into! So Exciting! We talked the entire time.
Afterwards, back we drove to their temporary home to finish dinner prep: jalapeno popper appetizers, lasagna, salad and garlic bread for the main course and a dessert of frosted brownies and Tin Roof Sundae (which is to die for). We talked, we laughed, we giggled, we chortled, we guffawed. We admired the misters peppers garden (jalapeno and tabasco both) and his first attempt at making his own tabasco sauce! Enterprising!
Somewhere in the middle there was Belated Birthday Celebration! Woohoo! Where I made out like a bandit. Funny silly stuff, lovely earrings (which I immediately put on), a new puzzle (woohoo), a flamingo kitchen towel and chocolates! It doesn't get much better than that! And we talked some more.
After dinner, we talked and laughed a little longer but it was getting late and we could hear thunder rumbling off in the distance and we still had quite the drive ahead of us. So with great reluctance, we hit the road, with a pan of brownies and Tin Roof Sundaes - BONUS! and more hugs and waves good bye.
Tim and I talked about how wonderful our visit was as we drove home through increased thunder, stunning lightening displays and eventually torrential rain. Totally worth while. It was just such a great day!
Hopefully it won't be quite so long until our next visit. We will get to see even more progress on the new house (or maybe it will be finished!) Their younger son will have moved into his new home. The grandbabies will be even more adorable and even more puzzles and desserts will be exchanged. We will talk talk talk and laugh a lot and never run out of things to say, because somehow, with them, we never do.
The best day of any month....Minock Day!
Look! Up in the Sky! It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's.....
Never mind, I just always wanted to say that.
What I wanted to write about today was a singular experience that I had this week. I went for a hike by myself. All alone. Just me, myself and I.
Oh I take walks by myself all of the time. Sometimes with a purpose. An errand or an appointment. Sometimes just for the pleasure of some physical exercise and fresh air. And sometimes on those walks, I even take my camera.
The difference is, when I am just out taking a walk, I am around civilization. I am never far from a house or a business. I am walking on sidewalks or streets. There is always pavement of some sort beneath my feet. I have a continuous cell signal. It is something I have always felt perfectly safe doing.
Of course to be honest, Venice is a very safe town. According to some crime statistic chart from 2019, Venice is the 12th safest city in the state of Florida. And considering how large Florida is, that is a lot of cities. So walking around I always feel perfectly completely entirely safe. If I should trip over my own big feet and get hurt, there are people around to help. And a good strong cell signal if it came to that.
Hiking is a little different. Not that there is a huge criminal element lurking in the surrounding preserves and forests (they are not) but more about the isolation of it all. If I fall down and break a leg in the forest, there's nobody around except me. I am pretty sure that the squirrels would be of no help at all. And often times no cell connectivity. So it seems prudent to only hike with someone else. Right? That's what we are taught. Safety in Numbers.
And quite honestly, it's more fun. Oh I don't mind being by myself sometimes, in fact I often look forward to having time alone. A nurse named Betty, who I once worked with and always admired described it to me once as "enjoying the pleasure of my own company". But hiking with a camera in my hand and someone like minded at my side is a joy. And the fact that my hiking companion usually is my sister, Joy, is just a bit of serendipity, I assure you.
But right now Joy is travelling. (and sending me beautiful photos from far away places) So if I want to hike, for awhile, I will mostly be hiking solo. And earlier this week, that's what I did.
I hiked the Caspersen Nature Trail. It's a wee bit more than 3 1/2 miles of trail and since I was taking photos it took me far longer than it should have to cover it. Because I didn't come up with idea early enough, I didn't head out at the crack of dawn (as Joy and I usually do) and therefore it was hot. Not just hot, but heat index over 100 hot. So it was not one of my brighter ideas. Still, I did have the good sense to bring water and wear sunscreen and a hat so I wasn't entirely stupid.
However, because it was hot out, the only birds I saw were the Pelicans flying over head (picture at the top of the page). The rest of the birds, far smarter than I, were hiding in the shade. Probably laughing at me as I walked past them.
I saw a lot of dragonflies and butterflies and got a photo of not one single one of them dang it. They were too quick, too wily and too unwilling to just "hold still for a minute please!" Highly uncooperative.
So the hike ended up being primarily Berries and Blossoms. There was quite a variety of both so I'll start with the berries. Well I call them berries. I don't honestly know what they are, but they look like berries so until I know better, that's the category I am lumping them in:
And as far as blossoms, naturally there were a lot of those. There always are :)
And of course my favourite category, the miscellaneous photos:
I had a good time. I enjoyed being out in nature again. I enjoyed listening to my own thoughts for awhile. But I really missed Joy's company and I look forward to when she returns and we hit the trails again together.
Poor sad little accident prone mailbox. I'm not sure why this keeps happening but it does. People keep whacking into our mailbox and then sneaking away. Sigh.
This isn't the first time, y'know.
When we bought the house there was no mailbox. I suppose the previous owners had a post office box instead. So one of the first things we did, once we signed on the dotted line and the house was ours, was to buy and install a new mailbox.
We took some time and put a lot of thought and consideration into the purchase. Once selected, Tim did some research on where precisely the post office wanted the box to be before digging the hole. He made sure that the mailbox was secure and stable and firmly in place. Then he carefully placed the numbered stickers on both sides of it. Hurrah! We had a mailbox. We could finally get our mail at our house instead of picking it up at the post office.
It was only a few months later that someone in the dark of night, swerved or swung wide and knocked it down. Excuse me, they not only knocked it down, they obliterated it. There were pieces of mailbox strewn up and down the road, across the street and in our driveway. The perp left behind their sideview mirror and some broken light bits as souvenirs. Best guess says that they were going too fast. Although I cleaned it up immediately, I was still finding bits and pieces for weeks afterwards.
Naturally Tim replaced the entire mailbox. He moved it a little bit and we bought a bigger, stronger, sturdier mailbox. It wasn't long after installation that I found a dent in the side of the box. At least it wasn't knocked down that time, dented not destroyed. Okay. I can live with that.
Occasionally we see evidence of a near-miss (shouldn't that be near-hit?) Tiretracks in the grassy area that comes close but doesn't quite connect. Nice try there! There have been other minor dings and scrapes but nothing worth making a big deal about. Until this past Tuesday.
This last hit was in full daylight. The mailbox was perfectly fine when I went out to bring in the newspaper in the morning. But by the time the mail truck came by it was down. I wouldn't have known except that the mail lady came to the door, our mail in her hands and said, "Hey did you know that your mailbox is broken?"
I blinked stupidly at her while trying to process what she said. "What?" I ran out to check and sure enough there it was. On the ground. Dang.
The mail lady handed me our small pile of mail and reminded me that they cannot deliver to the house until and unless the mailbox is repaired. Double Dang.
I tried. I really really tried to fix it myself but I didn't have the smarts, the understanding, or, as it turns out, the correct tools to fix it myself. To be fair all I saw was a large screw that required a Philips' Head Screwdriver which I had in my hot little hand. It was tricky trying to balance the actual mailbox with one hand all the while lining it up and trying to put the screw back in place. But since that wasn't how to properly fix it, (as I later learned) the piddly little bit that I was doing wasn't going to repair it anyway.
It turns out that most of the entire apparatus needed to be taken apart. A new hole had to be drilled. Things had to be reconfigured and wow, there were a lot more pieces involved that I certainly realized. Which is how I learned that I had zero idea what I was doing when I tried to repair it myself.
Needless to say, the box is back on the post now and looks pretty good. It's not quite as sturdy as it once was and is, in fact, currently attached by about half as many fasteners as usual (lord knows where the rest of the various bolts and screws and washers are). But it's up. The door doesn't completely close anymore either so on a rainy day we may have damp mail. Still, as I said, the mailbox is back up.
At least it's up for the moment. The next time it gets whacked, it'll be down again and I'm not sure it will be fixable one more time. Which means we would have to buy a new one. Again. This time Tim is thinking, concrete or steel. Maybe armed guards, barbed wire and land mines.
Come to think of it, maybe this is why the previous owner had no mailbox. It kept getting whacked and they got tired of replacing it! Aha! Well we are made of sterner stuff! We don't give up! (And I don't really want to have to go to the post office every day to get our mail)
New line item in the household budget: New Mailbox once every 4 years. Dang.
I believe I've mentioned before that Sarasota has a pretty little park that is a lovely place for a short walk. It's right on the bay next to a marina which is, no doubt, where the name came from, Bay Front Park.
Often, if we have a weekend errand that takes us to Sarasota, we will also take the time to stop by for a leisurely stroll. And that is what we did over the weekend. Rain was predicted but while we were there, it was still mostly sunny. Perfect!
For a small park, there is a lot of see and do. To start with, there is a paved and measured walk that goes all the way around. They call it the "Fitness Trail". Not so much a trail as a sidewalk but still.
There are not one but two restaurants. The one in the park, "O'learys" has live music and jaunty yellow umbrellas over the outside seating. I've never eaten there but clearly a lot of people do. Seems like a great place to relax, enjoy a casual meal and watch the water. I especially like the party lights. Just adds a little something :)
The other restaurant in actually in the marina. I'ts called, "Marina Jacks" and we have had a few meals there. We've eaten both inside and dined al fresco. From both spots, the water view is mighty fine.
As soon as we arrived, we noticed the racket of wild parakeets. Man they are loud! All them squawking at once at high decibel and sounding for all the world like a crowd of angry shoppers all trying to be heard, talking over each other. We could definitely hear them, but we couldn't see them. Their bright green and yellow feathers blended perfectly with the foliage dang it. And then suddenly, the entire flock would burst out of one tree and zoom to another and the yakyakyaking would start up again. Soooooo in short, no photos of the wild parakeets. We did find some other birds though:
And then there was the little black and white dog who walked up to me and sat at my feet gazing adoringly into my eyes grinning a funny little doggie grin. I said "Hello", he licked my knee and walked away. I did get a picture of him.
We walked past what passes for a tiny little beach, a lot of interesting trees and a playground. We relaxed on a swing and admired the big bridge in the distance and of course the boats.
There were some statues here and there. One of which has become rather controversial.
No, not the dolphins, the sailor and the nurse statue from WWII. That statue has become such a hot topic of conversation and argument that the town of Sarasota is today having a meeting discussing what they are going to do with it. Odds are good it is going away forever and personally I think that is very sad. I stand strongly against censorship and that's what this feels like to me.
We saw flowers of course. No matter where you go here, there are flowers. Whether you plant them intentionally or not, they will spring up pretty much everywhere
We did enjoy watching the boats. Oh and there was a funny, quirky, serendipitous thing too.
Tim and I actually started our day at the jetty here in Venice. And as we walked along we noticed a much larger than usual boat. There were a lot of boats out that morning and this one stood out. Even though initially it was pretty far out toward the horizon line, we could still tell that it was a Very Big Boat. The point is that we noticed it. And eventually we realized that it was coming in! Wow! That's cool. So we stood there watching until I could read the name on the side. It was the Julie M. Ok. So there we are in Saraosta later that same day, standing in the park watching the boats and way out there, amoungst a crowd of even more boats, Tim notices a much larger than usual craft. He pointed it out to me and said, "I think that's the same boat we saw earlier today" We watched as it slowly made it's way into Bay Front Harbor and there it was on the side, the Julie M once again! How cool was that! We watched it until it docked. Man I'm glad I wasn't piloting that thing. It was enormous!
And of course there were the views. It's hard to go wrong with those.
Anyhoo, that was our Walk in the Park this past weekend! Thanks for coming along ;)
I have a story for you today.
Late last week I announced my desire to bake some bread. It was, at the time, pertinent to the conversation. It is unusual during the summer to have that feeling. Why would I want to heat up the house when it's already plenty hot outside? And yet, there it was. I was in a bread making mood and there was nothing more to be done about it except decide what sort of bread to make.
Tim requested pepperoni bread. I was actually thinking Oat bread or wheat bread personally. Pepperoni bread wasn't even on my radar but once he suggested it, nothing else would do. My baby wants pepperoni bread, my baby gets pepperoni bread!
The recipe came to me long ago from my good friend Sandy who is one of the best bakers I know. It's a never fail and always enjoy recipe. I haven't made it in at least four years, i.e. not since we moved to Florida. So I suppose it was long past time to dig this recipe back out of the archives and get to work!
Friday morning off I went to the grocery store deli counter to buy the part of the recipe I did not have on hand: a lot of thinly sliced large pepperoni and thinly sliced provolone cheese. I was there early enough in the morning that it was not yet busy with customers but the staff were busy filling in the refrigerated display cabinet and setting up behind the counter. Still the lady behind the counter was very nice. Even when she had no idea what I was talking about when I said, "the large kind of pepperoni".
Between her mask, my mask and the noise around us, I believe that she thought she mis-heard me. So when she stared at me blankly, I repeated my request and then went on to gesture with my hands, "Not the little pepperoni that you put on pizza, the bigger pepperoni for making pepperoni bread". I showed her the relative circumference of each in turn.
She hmmmmed for a few moments and said, "I don't think we have that" but she did go to the case and poke around for a few seconds. She returned with the exact right product but asked hesitantly, "Is this it?'
"Yes! " I said happily! She proceeded to cut through the many layers of packaging before slicing a few small cuts and, as they do, held one up for me to see if the thinness of it was what I had in mind. It was perfect and I told her so. She continue slicing pepperoni and then provolone, then carefully packaged and labeled both and sent me on my way with a "Have a good day" wish for me. A Nice Lady.
I was in such a great mood making the bread. I do love baking and bread is right up there at the top of my list. It is time consuming but I had nothing else going on that day. So I went through all of the steps necessary in bread making.
I especially love kneading the dough. Not sure why, but I absolutely do. And my work was rewarded because it proofed up big and bubbly with that yeasty fragrance that is unmistakable. I cut the dough in half, one last brief knead for each half, then I rolled each out, brushed them with olive oil and carefully layered the pepperoni and the provolone. Then each was jelly rolled into a nice fat, long loaf and put into the oven.
Oh the fragrance in the house as it baked was delightful! I sang to myself as I cleaned up my mess (I am incapable of baking without making a mess) and eventually it was done. It was perfection! Golden brown on the outside with a nice hollow sound at my tap. I put them on racks to cool but I couldn't wait to try it.
So I cut two small test slices, one for Tim and one for myself. His eyes lit up as he munched it down and then returned for a second slice. Which sounded like a great idea so I followed him. Oh it tasted just as good as it smelled!
But as he bit in to the second slice, Tim stopped, took the bread back out of his mouth and then pulled out what seemed to be a sort of string of something? Is it the cheese?
No. It was definitely not the cheese. After a little investigation we realized that it was a piece of plastic! Although she cut what seemed to be a lot of layers of packaging off the pepperoni before slicing, it seems that she didn't cut off the final one. Damn. And on the tiny so very thin slices, I didn't see it either. So I literally baked plastic into my bread., Double damn. And. We. Ate. It. Triple Damn!
I pulled the small amount of leftover pepperoni back out of the fridge and starting picking at the edges. Sure enough. I was able to work off a small pile of thinly sliced plastic bits.
Gross! I was so annoyed. Mostly with myself for not noticing. But then, why would I have paid that close of attention? Who expects to have to pick at each slice of pepperoni and work off a plastic edge before using it? It never happened to me before so why would I have expected it to happen this time.
Initially I was really ticked. I had to throw it all away. Beautiful gorgeous pepperoni bread right in the garbage. Dang. To say nothing of the waste of product and time. And the disappointment!!
But then I remembered that the nice lady behind the counter didn't even know that there was such a thing as large pepperoni. She was only doing the best that she knew how. Anyone can make a mistake.
I can forgive and move on. We are fine.
So anyway, I'm over it now (even though I admit I was plenty steamed then!)
But that's my pepperoni bread story. At least that's the one for today.
Hope your day is a terrific one!
I think it's fair to say, at least most of the time, that I am a person of average intelligence, right? I am educated. I read. I know when to "Pull" a door open or "Push" a door open. I am not only capable of learning new things, I delight in it. So I think we can all agree that I can think of myself as being reasonably intelligent. With the exception of math. If it's math, then no. But otherwise I'm good.
But every once in a while, there are brief, beautiful moments, when I have a flash of inspiration, a spark of genius, a few surprising seconds where I am so very clever that I can barely believe I am the one who originated the thought.
This is about one of those times. Ok that is the background. Here is the story.
I am short. We all already know that. And most of my shortness is my torso. For a short girl I have long legs. But from hip to shoulder I am disproportionately short. I look, basically, like a box on sticks. Which means, for the purpose of this particular story, that vee-shaped necklines and scoop necked shirts and square necks are hazardous. All of them always dip too low and I find myself either constantly pulling them up throughout the day or showing off far more decolletage than I ever intended.
I find myself wearing a camisole or tank top under most of them. Sometimes it looks kind of cute, sometimes it looks kind of stupid. And in the summer it's one more layer of clothing which means a little hotter and a little sweatier. And one more article of clothing to wash. But there are limited options here. I can constantly be pulling it back up. I can wear the extra layer underneath and be too hot. Or I can go ahead and let the neckline droop
I think when I was younger, it probably didn't bother me as much. I was young and everything was still perky and my skin was smooth and supple. Somehow a small bit of cleavage or a peep of lingerie in someone youthful is just fashionable and fun. But at my age, not so much. Nobody wants to see that. Especially not me.
I hate having to constantly be fussing with my clothes just as much as I dislike having the necklines too low. But neither do I like clothes that fit really tight to my neck. First of all they are not flattering on me at all. Crew necks highlight the boxiness of my torso. Turtle necks don't just look bad, but I feel as if I am choking. Higher vee's and squares and rounds are very hard to find. Which leaves me where I started.
I assumed I would just spend the remainder of my life doing what I've been doing which is constantly "fixing" my shirt though the day.
But when I got dressed the other day, first I put on my grey shorts and then I just grabbed the first short-sleeved shirt at hand which happens to be a vee-neck. I looked in the mirror and sighed knowing what I'd be doing all day long..fuss, fuss, fuss. And then I looked at the back view of myself in the mirror and said, outloud mind you, "Too bad the front isn't as high as the back eh?"
And that's when it struck me. Why don't I just turn the damned shirt around? And so I did.
Not too bad.
Come on, if you didn't know that this was the back of the shirt, would you know it? Would you automatically think, "Hey that lady has her shirt on backwards?"
And it felt just fine too. Because my neck isn't enclosed in a turtle neck, I don't have that choking feeling. And maybe it's the drape of the rest of the shirt that makes it not feel so boxy as a regular crew neck.
Actually my favourite part is the back. I adore all those little buttons down the back.
I didn't have to adjust my shirt all day long. It sat perfectly comfortably, totally fine just exactly the way it was. I actually wore this out in public. I ran errands. I went to the grocery store. I took a walk. Not one person starred or looked askance at me. I didn't hear any furtive whispering. Nor was anyone bold enough to just walk up and tell me that my shirt was on backwards.
Let's face it. Women's fashions are so quirky (and occasionally bizarre) that who is to say what's right and what's wrong? If it wasn't for the tag in the back, there are times when I'm not absolutely certain which is the front or the back on some clothes.
I know it won't work for all shirts. Some shirts have darts or pockets or stitching or a design that makes the front unmistakably the front. But for the shirts it absolutely will work on, I think I have stumbled on to something here. Houston, we have a solution! Hurrah!
Genius. The stupid part is how dang long it took me to think of it.
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.