August 31st, 2022
Last week, instead of doing another photo safari, Joy and I walked the avenue. We mostly window shopped but we did pick up a few things that she needed and some stores are just so enticing you have to go inside and admire their wares.
Venice Avenue or "the avenue" is one of two truly wonderful and charming retail streets in our town. Venice is one, the other is Miami. Yeah, named after the Florida cities. Not especially imaginative but I wasn't in charge so there it is. No matter the names, they provide delightful restaurants and shops that are small and unique and, for me, perfect for gift shopping mostly. I almost never buy anything for us or our home there.
It was a gloomy, muggy, misery of a day with rain threatening at every turn, which is why we didn't attempt another mini-hike. Still, I suppose, we were walking up and down the streets so that should count as exercise, right? Joy and I both had our umbrellas at hand, just in case, but we tried to not think about the weather and just enjoy ourselves. And so we did.
Now I am one of those people who can admire something greatly and them move on. I can talk about how pretty or clever or well-made a thing is, put it back on the shelf or rack and continue on never giving it another thought. I walk the avenue fairly often and love checking out the window displays and even, when they on occasion exist, thumbing through the sale racks out in front of the stores. I just enjoy looking at pretty things. Looking being the key word.
This particular day, even though we saw so very many things, as usual, I was looking just to look, enjoying the stroll, sort of like walking through an art museum, admiring pretty things. When we paused in front of one of the stores that had a sale rack and I happened across this particular blouse. (photo at the top of the page). It may not be your cuppa tea but it is absolutely mine. I loved the fabric (sooooo soft), the loose-ness of it, the colours, the "patchwork" sort of style and I loved the sleeves. I did something I almost never do. I picked it up off the rack and looked at it closer. I checked out the seams and I admired the craftmanship. I noticed that there are gathers at the cuff of the sleeve and that the back is a longer than the front. I wondered if the v-neck was too low for me or if it were too long for my short self. And then, with firm determination, I put it back on the rack.
Meanwhile, Joy was furtively watching me out of the corner of her eye. She knew this was unusual for me. She pretendly admired a pair of wide legged gauzy fabric pants so that I could continue to admire the blouse without feeling rushed to continue. Then I did something I do not often do, I took the blouse back off the rack. I held it up to the front of me to me to see how long it was and I looked at my reflection in the window glass of the store front.
"That really looks like you" Joy said to me. I nodded. "It's perfect for you" she continued. I nodded again. Then I looked at the price tag, sighed, hung it back up and said, "Nope, can't do it". Even on sale it cost more than I would normally spend on one item of clothing. (I'm pretty frugal as you may recall) Never one to be too pushy, Joy said nothing more about it and we continued on down the avenue. Normally that is enough. Usually just walking away from it would be enough to put it out of my mind. But for some reason this time, it was now stuck in my head.
"Very Odd", I said to myself. "Why am I still thinking about that stupid blouse?" It was a little annoying really. I continued thinking about it for a week to my aggravation. Then I realized that I should have at least tried it on. Then I would know that it's either not my size, not my style, not my age or something else that would have proved to me that walking away was the right decision. At last I was resolved. That's what I needed to do to exorcise the blouse from my stupid head. I made up my mind that one day this week, I would do exactly that. If the blouse was still on the rack in front of that store, I would go over, try it on, it would look dumb on me and I would hang it back up and never think about it again! If it wasn't on the rack, even better.
So yesterday, since it was yet another do not dare hike becoz of the grey and threatening skies day, instead Joy and I ran a few errands, mostly off island. I mentioned my thought about the blouse to Joy and she was totally on board. At the end of our errands, we came back on island, parked the car and walked to the store in question. The rack was still in front. The blouse was still on the rack. I wasn't sure, was that a good thing or a bad thing? I picked it up again and asked myself, "do I still feel the same way about it?" Dang it, yes I did.
The we heard a familiar voice greeting us. A lot of shop people on the avenue have kind of gotten to know us over the years, or at least recognize us and feel comfortable enough chatting, outside of their place of business when we cross paths. This was a lady who works at a shoe store that we frequent. She happened to be walking down the street when she saw us. She saw the blouse I was holding and gasped. She had been admiring it as well. I offered it to her, she laughed and declined, it was not her size. She and Joy together urged me to try it on.
I agreed, let's get this over with. I will put it on and laugh at myself, show everybody (Joy, the shoe shop lady, the shop lady for the store we were in and every customer in there), we can all have a good giggle, and then I can hang it back up, walk away, and I'll be done with it.
It was a great plan, except, I liked it. I liked it a lot. Dang it all.
I stepped out of the change room to oooo's and aahhh's and words of encouragement. Ratz. This was not the plan at all!
I went back into the dressing room and put my own real top back on and gave it all a minutes thought. How do I justify this? I ended up with: this is my reward to myself for getting this far through this particular, rather unpleasant, chapter in my life and doing it pretty darned well. Yeah, that works.
Honestly, it wasn't that expensive, $36 with tax, but becoz I'm such a cheapo, it's still more than I would normally spend. I get a little panicky when I spend money so I could feel my heart rate go up immediately at the thought of buying something I don't actually need. I have blouses, I have tops of all sorts. This is not a requirement. I went back and forth and back and forth.
Finally, I made my decision.
I am so tickled with my new blouse! I love it, love it, love it!
August 29th, 2022
This is the front of our house. And the back of Tim's car. Oh well, I didn't plan this photrograph very well, did I? Regardless, yes, front of our house. As you can see, there is the house, a cute little courtyard encircled by a wall and some rather large shrubs on the outside of the wall.
Recently we had some trees cut down. They were MASSIVE trees. Just absolutely enormous palm trees. I am told that they were "Washington Palms". Washington Palms grow to be in the 80-90 feet tall range. Whoa! They absolutely towered over the house. I'm not sure who thought it would be a great idea to have sequoia wanna-be palm trees that close to a house but I'm sure it seemed, to them at least, to be a great idea at the time. It was not.
I tried to find a photograph of the front of our house when the trees were still standing, but clearly I failed in that task. My computer used to allow me to "draw" on a photo so I could have showed you where these massive beasts used to be but in the last so called update, that feature was removed. Dang. Ok, the trees used to be side by side on the outside of the courtyard wall between the two giant bougainvillea bushes. Can you kind of picture it?
We really like green growing things. We genuinely do. And even though these ridiculously huge trees looked downright silly in front of our little cottage of a house, we were happy to live and let live even though trimming them was a major pain in the arse. Yes, Yes, I know palm trees are iconic. Everyone romanticizes them and associates them with the tropics and Florida and beaches and vacation. Lovely! Beautiful!
But here is the thing about palm trees that not everybody knows. They need a lot of attention. Some of them kind of prune themselves. When they need to shed a frond or two, they just kind of whisper "Timber" to themselves and release the frond. Then at some point, I notice it on the ground and drag it around to the side of the house for the lawn guys to take away at their next visit. Others palms need to be trimmed by humans. These Washington Palms were of this ilk. Usually if a palm is not too tall, I can stand on a stepladder and use my big old chonkers or a saw to cut off the dead fronds. But when a tree is 50 something feet up or more, well, I don't have a ladder that tall. Few people do.
In which case, most folks hire a tree trimming company to come by several times a year to trim their giant monster palms. And here is the thing about that. While the tree guys do a great job, it ain't cheap. I'm not saying that it's not worth the money. I'm saying that there are other things I could spend those couple of hundred bucks on. Like groceries. Or gas.
And the trimming part of the equation is moot anyway because in our particular case, the doggone trees up and died on us. Sigh. So there we were with two colossal dead trees smack in front of the house. Not pretty. Also dangerous. While we've been unusually fortunate this year (thus far, knock wood) regarding the tropical storm/hurricane season, we do live in Florida where such storms are not uncommon. And dead trees are the first to go in a bad storm. Giant dead trees are just as susceptible as smaller ones to the whims of a heavy storm, but when they go down, they do far more damage.
So, they had to go. Early one recent Saturday, the tree trimming guys came by with their gear and those trees are now history. And I tell ya, the sound of those big daddies hitting the ground when they were cut down is still resonating in my brain. I could feel the vibration right down to my toes. The thought of something that dense and thick having possibly hit our house or one of our cars during a storm makes me shiver just a little bit. I think we made an excellent decision.
The tree guys pointed out another tree that while not actually dead yet, was well on it's way. Tim said, "Take it down" So that one is gone too. That last 3rd tree was in what we call the "island'. We have one of those half circle driveways and in the middle of that half circle are a bunch of things. One of which was another of those brobdingnagian sized Washington Palms. It's gone now too, see?
It looks so much better and it feels so much safer. And as you can see, there are plenty of other trees around. There is no shortage of green here. Well maybe in the lawn in front of the house. That looks a little patchy though it's getting better ever day.
We have decided to save our admiration of giant palm trees for the ones in other people's yards. We will not have any of those on our property again. Ever.
Anyway, that's probably the most exciting thing that happened around here lately. We live life in the fast lane for sure.
August 26th, 2022
Wednesday was Photo Safari Day! It was another short jaunt, I'm just not ready for any of the biggies yet, but it was, as they almost always are, still a terrific time. This one kind of named itself because one of the most notable parts was that we saw not one, not two but THREE hawks! So this will be forever known as the Three Hawk Hike. I believe that all three of these are Red Shoulder Hawks. (Jo, please correct me if I'm wrong) Kinda awesome.
It had rained heavily the night before so some of the trail was more than a little wet. I was all the way to mucky. And while Joy and I have been known to slog through muck before, this was not the day for it. Which meant that our trail options were limited. But that was fine too. We found enough dry or even semi dry spots to enjoy the beautiful preserve and the gorgeous morning light.
There were so many dragonflies that it felt as if we were walking through some mystical fairy land at times. Alas, there were no castles, actual dragons or unicorns. Dang. I did manage to capture photos of these four.
There were some exceptional botanicals. One never known this time of year what is out there still blooming in the August heat but we hit the jackpot this time. It was a bumper crop so before you start looking at the flower photos, better take a bathroom break and bring back a snack:
There were a few other creatures that we actually saw, not just saw the footprints of (though that's always exciting too). And I did manage to get a couple of photos. Just so you know, my favourite photo from this entire hike will be in this group. Let's see if you can figure out which one it is.
It was a great hike even though returned filthy, hot, sweaty and tired. Or maybe because we did?? Either way, there you have it, another photo safari report. This time, the Three Hawk Hike!
Hope you enjoyed.
And have a wonderful weekend!
August 25th, 2022
Please bear with me until I remember how the heck I used to think of things to write on a regular basis!~ Funny how quickly the knack goes away but awesome how quickly it comes back once I really try. I remember that I used to keep a running list of things that occur to me and I've started up another one. At the top of that list was an update on the birdbath.
To remind you how it all started, quite a few months ago now (geez time flies!) I mentioned to Tim one night over dinner that I thought I might like to have a bird bath again. We had one in our giant flower garden in Connecticut and it was a very popular birdie hangout. Here it would also be a place for them to cool off on a super hot day which is to say, Florida summers.
Quite honestly, I had figured out in my little punkin' head how to make one from things we already had on hand. But just a few days later, Tim arrives home from an errand with a bird bath. Actually I think it was supposed to be a pedestal planter. BUT the top part was still a nice heavy duty plastic bowl (for all intents and purposes) and certainly would serve as a bird bath! Yay! I was so excited!
Originally I set it at the end of the path in the courtyard in front of the climbing wall of bougainvillea. Perfection! It looked like something out of a magazine too. But as it turns out, birds do not give one single dingle for esthetics. They want it they way they want it and that was not what they wanted. Ratz.
I did everything I could think of to attract them but, alas, they did not show up for it. Which is odd coz our courtyard and the surrounding trees and shrubs are LOADED with birds of all sorts. I suppose that puts a big old kibosh on the "if you build it they will come" saying, eh?
But just as I was going to give up and turn it back into a planter, one evening, Tim just picked it up and moved it next to the woodpecker tree. Suddenly there were birds. We could watch them out of the kitchen window as the birds splashed around to their hearts content and it was really kind of awesome.
Until one day, they just stopped. What the heck happened? So I began cleaning the bath and changing out the water more often. Nothin'. Hmmmmm. We did a little reading and it turns out that birds are attracted to bird baths that are painted blue. So Tim painted the underside of it in blue. Still no birds. We read that they liked to have a perching area close by, so we put a big old chunk of quartz in it that I happened to have laying around. (I do have the oddest things on hand). Still nothing! What On Earth??
Then I remembered my rubber duckies. A few years back, one of the sillyfun things that Tim put in my Christmas stocking was a set of rubber duckies. I was delighted and put them in the guest room bath. I loved the whimsy of it. But other then moving them when I cleaned the bathroom, I didn't really pay attention to them anymore. Perhaps they could serve a higher purpose.
My thought was that maybe if birds noticed other "birds" using the birdbath, they would be inclined to use it as well. So I put the duckies in the birdbath, went back in the house and waited.
Didn't have to wait long either. Before I barely got in the house some mocking birds came by. First they yelled at the duckies a bit, then gradually, they got into the bath began splashing around. They were followed by a blue jay who was followed by some small little brown birds and the list goes on and on. With not one single photo as proof because I was too entranced by what I was watching out the window to think to grab the camera. Dang.
Regardless, I was so happy! It worked. Right up until it didn't anymore. Turns out birds are fickle creatures. They stopped again. No bird activity whatsoever. I was just baffled. Well maybe they don't want to share with the ducks who are such snobs that they refuse to "talk" to them ? So I took the ducks back out, but I decided that I kind of like having them outside in the courtyard and I tried to put them in a lot of different spots and ultimately they ended up on top of one of the posts at the entrance to the courtyard.
One day a Mockingbird flew up to the top of the post to yell at the duckies up there, but as usual, the rubber duckies were too classy to yell back. And there the rubber duckies remain, in the rain or in the sun.
The birds, meanwhile, do occasionally use the birdbath but, as I remind myself, this is rainy season, which means there are puddles after the rain which is probably a more "natural" bird bath and they would naturally gravitate toward those.
Anyway, that is the birdbath update. If anything else interesting happens, birdbath-wise, I will absolutely let you know!
Tomorrow I will do another Photo Safari report! Yup, Joy and I (and Bob!) were out tromping around the trails once again, cameras in hand. It was another short hike, but a pretty darned good one (though a little mucky)
Hope to see you here again tomorrow!
Hugs all 'round
August 17th, 2022
We did it! First photo safari in far too long. (in case you are unsure, that's me on the left in the green shirt and Joy on the right with the white hat)
It was not a long hike, not more than about 90 minutes but that was plenty long enough for the first foray. We left early enough that while the temps were certainly warmish, the full on heat/humidity/rain hadn't yet kicked in. Nice. And as a bonus, we were the only ones out there and that is always nice. It was quiet and peaceful and beautiful and we saw some amazing things.
First of all, when you leave early there are early morning sun photos to be had.
And since it's relatively cool out at that time of day, there are dew drops and leftover raindrops here and there:
And the trails were lush from our daily rain storms so the greens were deep and dark and the vegetation abundant and flourishing:
In fact, the creek had overflowed and prevented us from crossing to the second part of the preserve, but that's ok. I think for the first time back out there, half the preserve was plenty. The river was still and dark and quiet and provided some absolutely perfect reflections:
We were lucky enough to capture a little bit of wildlife. My favourite, and the most unique (for me anyway) was the armadillo. Those buggers move fast and as it zoomed through the underbrush, I tried so hard to get a clear shot without upsetting the animal. It's an odd angle, but it's clear and clearly an armadillo:
Unusual for me, there were some fungi that I just couldn't resist snapping photos of:
There were a surprising number of lovely botanicals considering how late in the summer it is right now. Perhaps the cool, green shadowy forest is just a better place for flowers?
I'd say, for a short hike and the first one in months, we did okay. It was fun, I was shocked at how "heavy" my camera is, and once I got home and cleaned up , I absolutely had a little nap. But I'd say the photo Safari was a rousing success!
Hopefully there will be more to come as the weeks go by!
August 10th, 2022
Hello Hello! It's been one month since we last met so I thought this might be a good time for an update! As you can see, I'm still me. Maybe a few more grey hairs and a couple more wrinkles, but still me :)
I'm doing fine, in case you wondered. In fact, I'm told that I am doing a spectacular job. Nice to know :) Recovery is slow and is taking WAY more time than I want it to so it's been a real test of my patience, but it's happening, little by little.
As I predicted, there is nothing interesting or exciting going on here. Well, I suppose they are exciting to me. Small victories. I was very excited the first time I did a pile of ironing. Took me most of the afternoon, but I by god did it! Woohoo! And now I'm back to doing most everything just like always. Yesterday, for example, I did the entire full normal noonwalk with Tim. A banner day!
I'm not yet released for lifting heavy things yet or driving and I have to wait two more weeks to start my exercise routine once again (slowly and gently I was firmly warned) but that's all good stuff to look forward to:)
In case you wondered, I did hear back from the photo contest. If you recall, it was about the 2023 calendar photos for our city. None of my submissions was selected for the calendar but they did send me an email asking my permission for them to use one of my photographs on social media to promote the city. (of course I said yes). If I ever notice it out there in the world being utilized, I will let you know. It was this photo:
And that kind of brings us up to date. Hard to believe that I used to have enough going on in my life to write a little something multiple times every week! Hah! Actually I think that Joy and I are going to do a teensy tiny itty bitty photo safari later this week (weather permitting). It will be my first one in awhile so I have no idea how it will go or if it will result in any photos worth mentioning. BUT if it goes well, then maybe next week, I will have a new post for you.
Just wanted to check in. How are all of you? What's happening in your world? I've missed you!
Hugs all 'round
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.