That's a photo of last night's sunset by the way. We have observed since living here that the night(s) before a big storm, the sunsets are especially beautiful! Last night proved, once again, that our assumption is, in fact, true. The air was cool, the breeze was refreshing and the water was just as calm as could be. In fact, it was so calm that we saw not one but two manatees! (they usually spend their time under water so the most you will ever see is there cute little snooties as they come up for air.)
I only mention this because of the coming storm. In case you hadn't heard, there is a storm heading our way. Right now it's south of us prepared to wreak havoc on Cuba. When it's finished, it will come into the gulf. Where in the gulf remains to be seen. It's all a guessing game right now. I mean, right now the map below is what the meteorologists are predicting but even they are saying, "we don't know anything for sure yet" . This is the current map of what they anticipate with Tropical Storm/Hurricane Ian:
At the moment it seems that where we live is not going to be a direct hit which is a relief for us, but at the same time, someone else is living where they storm plans to make landfall and that is very very bad. And even if it does arrive elsewhere, there will be residual storm effects from the outer bands here, there and, according to the map, in lots of places including Georgia and South Carolina!
That said, I think we are pretty much ready for................whatever. We have food, water and gas for the generator. Mostly I wanted to touch base and let you know that you don't hear from me again this week, it just means that internet is down. That's all it means. We will be fine, I am absolutely positive about that!
If nothing else, once the storm has safely passed us by, I will try to post an all clear on facebook. Hope all of you had a great weekend and I will post again as soon as I can!
Hugs all 'round
"Good Fences make Good Neighbors". So said Robert Frost. And while we do have a fence around our backyard, that is not why we have good neighbors. And we do. Honestly, we really got lucky when we bought this house because it came with the best neighbors ever. The are friendly without being intrusive, helpful without being pushy and delightful to spend time with.
And this was especially apparent during the past few months as I've been recovering from surgery. While the surgery certainly wasn't a secret, I mean I blog posted about it after the fact for heaven's sakes, I also didn't advertise it before hand.
Oh of course immediate family knew, but otherwise, I just wasn't ready to talk about it. I guess I was coming to terms with it on my own. And I am, in an odd way for a person with a blog, kind of a private person. There are the things I am comfortable writing about on my blog, but there are also things I only tell family and maybe those few very close friends. There are other things that I only tell Tim and then there are those few tiny things that I only discuss with myself. This one, at first, fell into the only family category.
But one day, as I was coming home from a walk and passed my neighbors house, I saw that she was outside so we stopped to talk for a short time. As we caught up, I was surprised to find myself telling her, candidly, about my upcoming surgery. She was surprised and concerned and very kind. But it was a brief discussion and I changed the subject very quickly. Apparently that was all I needed to do.
Post surgery there were almost daily, cards, flowers, notes, avocados and lemons from almost everyone around us wishing me well and asking what they could do to help. I was surprised but in the best possible way. The care and concern has continued even though I'm out and about and doing very well thank you. I've been taken to lunch, received book recommendations and had other books loaned to me. Puzzles have been dropped off to help me pass the time and there have been many sincere offers to drive me anywhere I need to go.
Well Tim is happy to drive me and he handled being the chief cook and bottle washer just fine, (he is an excellent caregiver) so we really didn't need to call upon anyone for their assistance but it was wonderful to know that so many people were ready to jump in and help. I greatly appreciated the many offers.
I'm doing so well now that my entire journey is pretty much something in the past as far as I'm concerned. I am back up and running. Okay not running, but I'm walking at a sprightly clip. There are no more cards, notes, books or flowers left (or needing to be left) on the doorstep. Things are back to what passes for normal around here.
Which is why it was such a surprise to look out the window on Sunday and see activity in the front yard. What? I stepped outside to find two of my neighbors working in our front yard. They were, first of all, cleaning up an area under one of the remaining palm trees that has some wildly growing things that usually, during the cooler months, once a year, I trim back hard. I have no idea what I am doing of course.
She on the other hand, is a Master Gardener and knows precisely what she is doing. She brushed off my surprised thanks and pointed to a different spot. And to my surprise, suddenly, we have a new shrub!
Do you remember when I wrote about how we had a couple of ginormous palm trees cut down and that there was an empty spot in front of the courtyard wall? The naked spot between the two large bougainvillea's bothered me. I was debating what to do with it.
Well it is empty no longer! We now are the very pleased owners of a pink Plumeria!
Okay it looks like a baby now but eventually, once it's used to it's new home (perhaps the next blooming season?) it will have the most gorgeous pink blossoms! They look like this:
I thanked both of them repeatedly and promised to pay them back in baked goods and was told to not be ridiculous. It made them happy to do this! They insisted that no repayment of any kind was necessary. My Goodness! How did we get so lucky??
I was instructed on the care and feeding of my Plumeria and have been faithfully following instructions. It's been four days now and so far, so good. I haven't managed to kill it off yet, thank heavens!!
So how exactly do you thank a neighbor for such kindnesses over and over and over? Well of course, by being kind and a good neighbor in return. But I do believe a lot of baked goods are in order here. That is absolutely something I can (and will) do.
So, like I said, the best neighbors ever!
I finally FINALLY got my arse to my hairdresser so that I could become transformed from a sheepdog to a human. Geez! It was more than three months between haircuts this time around and wow, that is just too long.
I am always astonished at how transformative a haircut can be. And obviously, the longer between trims, the bigger the difference. Once again, I wish I had thought to take a before photo but I did not. The closest I could come was about two weeks post surgery, which means the end of July. At that time I looked like this:
The hair was not great at that time, but it was also not horrible. That was probably the point where, normally, I would have been heading out for a trim. Instead I waited. I was trying to wait until I felt up to at least pretending to be a normal human being and then I waited a bit longer. And then a bit longer than that. In fact, I waited until September. Whoa!
I'm not sure why I waited so long. I suspect that, at that point in my recovery process, my hair just wasn't a priority. Too many other, more important things on my mind. But eventually I knew that I just couldn't put it off any longer. If for no other reason than to get my bangs under control.
Growing out bangs is one of the most awkward of all hair related moments. I've written about it before here. I've tried clips, barrettes, braiding, hair bands, pretty much everything you can think of and honestly, none of it is a good answer for me. Usually. This time, it didn't bother me much. Again, other priorities. I was, shall we say, distracted, from the hair issue.
And then all of a sudden one ordinary morning I woke up, showered, attempted to do something (anything!) with my hair and realized that it looked horrible. Not merely bad, no it had gone all the way to truly horrible. And this wasn't just my opinion. When I arrived at the salon, my lovely hairdresser came around to corner to greet me, came to a complete stop and her eyes opened VERY wide in shock.
Oh she is a professional. She caught herself, smiled warmly and said, "don't worry, I can fix this". HAHAHAHAHA! She did a great job and when she was done the floor was littered with bits of hair that were about 3 to 4 inches long. And I once again looked human.
A little different wouldn't you say?
The one good thing I could say about my hair before the appointment was that for the first time in a long time, I could whip it up into a ponytail. On a really hot and humid day, that felt good. But this looks better. More kempt. Tidier. More intentional.
Have you ever known a person, man or woman, who always looked the same to you? I mean no matter the hair length or style, regardless of the combination of beard, mustache, once they have radically changed something, nobody notices? Not only have I known people like that, I always thought I was one of them. Until the day, a VERY long time ago, when I came home from getting a perm so instead of long straight hair I had long big loopy curls and while my older two children ran up to me with no problem, the youngest one burst into tears and demanded his "real" Mama. I guess I did look a little different after all.
A change in hair colour is a whole different thing. A horse of a different colour, as it were. It's really hard to miss a different hair colour than usual. Especially if it's wildly different. When I used to have a standing appointment for hair colour, every 7 weeks, faithfully, I would show up and let my hairdresser do her magic. And sometimes the colour was in the blonde family, sometimes red and occasionally different browns. We both had fun with it. Until one day it stopped being fun and started being a chore and then I stopped.
It felt like forever waiting for the artificial colour to completely be gone so that I could find out what the real colour of my hair was. Frankly, I expected a lot more grey/white/silver and I was more than a little disappointed to learn that the actual colour of my hair is kind of mouse brown with bits of grey/white/silver here and there. I can only assume that will change as time goes by.
It was just another change in a lifetime of changes. When we were very small, our mother used to do Toni Home Perms on Joy and I. They were supposedly especially made for children and called "tonettes". The smell was ghastly, I vividly remember the smell. Eye watering! And the results were never good. We always ended up looking like sheep. Fuzzheads. When the perm would start to grow out, Mother would trot us off to the hairdresser who would cut the remaining fuzz off and then trim what was left into a "pixie" cut. Not everyone looks good in a pixie cut. Joy does. She looks adorable, like an actual pixie :) I look like a boy. It's not good.
As I grew up and began to take more control over what my hair looked like, I opted to grow it quite long. Drove my poor Mother mad. She really hated it. Sometimes I just wore it the way it grows, long and straight. Other times I would braid or ponytail it.
Once I had children, long hair was a bit more inconvenient and I began having it cut to somewhere between chin and shoulder length, depending on the mood of the hairdresser that day. As the boys got older, my hair once again, got longer. Until I started working in medical offices. Oddly enough, they preferred that their professionals actually look professional and back in those days, it meant returning to the somewhere between chin and shoulder length again. Sometimes I had bangs, sometimes I did not.
I actually do care what my hair looks like, just not enough to spend a lot of time or money on it. Additionally, I don't have a lot of skill in that realm either. When I meet a new hairdresser for the first time I always tell them the same thing: "I need something super easy that does not look like a hat, a wig or a helmet" That's it. Those are the parameters. I'd say the guidelines were met.
I just do not have the patience or the talent for fussing with my hair. Once upon a time I owned a set of "hot rollers" and if I wanted to change up my look, I would slap those babies in my hair in no particular order or pattern, rather willy nilly, and for a few hours anyway (my hair is stubbornly straight) I would absolutely look different. Better? Probably not but definitely different. Nowadays, the only time I look different is when I'm overdue for a haircut.
I will try to be better now about going regularly again. I loved that big transformational moment, but I think just attending to it regularly so it's not so monumental a change would be a good idea.
The three hero's of this story! I am so wowed by this. Probably, it's something that everyone on the entire planet knew except for me, but on the off chance that I'm not the only one, I will share with you this awesome tip that I just recently learned.
It was something that popped into my facebook feed. Occasionally odd things just show up. Usually it's things that I don't give two hoots and a crap about, but every once in awhile a recipe or an interesting story or a helpful household tip appears that I am forever grateful for.
According to the little video that I saw, the above combination of salt, dish soap and white vinegar can remove stains from pots and pans. Even those ugly little bits that have been on the cookware so long that it seems to be ingrained into the metal. I don't know where that icky stuff comes from. Rumour has it that these discoloured areas have something to do with the city water that so heavily treated in certain areas around the country. But of course I have no idea if that is true or not. All I knew for sure was that I really didn't care for the way it looked.
I swear to you that I clean my pots and pans. In fact I am one of those ridiculous people who literally clean my dishes before I put them into the dishwasher. I don't know why I insist upon doing so, but I do. So they are very clean. Cleaned twice in fact. But still those blemishes persist. I would scrub and scrub to no avail. I've even used Brillo with very poor results. I dislike brillo and any other brillo-like products. I don't like the smell, I don't care for those little metal filaments that imbed themselves into your fingertips, and it seems as if the effort to result ratio is WAY off.
So I was resigned to simply living with the marks on my pots and chose to believe that they were just something that comes from age and use. Much like the wrinkles around my eyes? So anyway, I saw this little video and I was surprised and honestly in disbelief that it could be true. I mean really, is anything on media today true? Could it really get rid of those marks? I was dubious to say the least.
But yesterday, I got a wild hair and decided, what the heck. I already have all of the ingredients necessary. I have a little time on my hands, I will try it on one small cooking pot. First I poured a bit of the vinegar into the pan, then I added a handful of the salt and then topped it off with a healthy squeeze of dishsoap. I spread it around the pan and let it sit for a few minutes and then used a sponge to wash the pan, especially the bottom (which is always where most of the stains seem to be) To my absolute amazement, with very little effort on my part, it actually worked! I was so excited I did another pan and another and another and another until my sink was full of all sizes and shapes of pristine cookware!
Obviously when I was finished with the " treatment" I needed to do a regular wash up just to make sure all of the salt/vinegar/dish soap was gone. Not a problem. I didn't mind one single bit. Especially since my pots and pans looked like new once again. I am very excited! Probably more excited than I should be. The oddest things get me charged up. Hah!
But there you have it, just in case you ever wanted to know this and those discoloured bits on your cookware bothers you, here is a very simple solution. I use my pots and pans hard. I love to cook and do so nearly every day and they looked it. They definitely showed that they have been worked ruthlessly. And now, they are beautiful once more.
So I guess, thank you to Facebook and the mystery video that materialized in my feed. I seem to pay less and less attention to social media as the years go by, but this one time, I am so glad I looked!
If this was great new information for you...Hurrah! If it wasn't, I shall endeavor to be more entertaining next week. Regardless, I wish you a wonderful weekend!
Joy is away for a few weeks so there are no actual photo safari's going on. Not really. BUT I did manage to find a non-rainy part of one day recently to at least go on an extended walk here on the island to see what I could see.
I starting out headed toward the beach because, well, it's the beach. Of course I would start there! Rain was, once again, in the forecast, so it wasn't quite as bright and shiny and sunny as it usually is, but no matter, it's always beautiful. I was surprised (and pleased) at how few other people were there. Which makes it sound as if I don't like people. I do like people. Just I prefer my beaches a little less people-y. Wish Granted!
There were a few beach flowers and some interesting beach art to admire along the way as I strolled down the sand for awhile:
Eventually, I sat a moment to empty the sand out of my shoes and then continued my walk through town. I was lucky enough to find a few critters out and about that that early morning hour too:
There were a few buildings that caught my eye as well. No particular reason, they just appealed to me in that moment:
I love the natural canopy's that grow over many of the streets and also the sidewalks:
The final stop in my trek was the Venice Avenue Bridge. I could see the sky growing ever darker to the west and could hear thunder rumbling in the distance so after this one last shot, I headed for home with no more stops. Made it just in the nick of time too!
So I managed to cover roughly a third of the island in this little walkabout. Perhaps I will do this two more times to, eventually, photo document the entire thing. What do you think? Sound like a good plan?
Why are donuts so wonderful? Is it the fact that they are seriously non-healthy food and therefore taboo which, as everyone knows, ups the desirability factor of pretty much everything. Or is it some associated delightful childhood memory? Is it the fragrance of all of that sugar and fat and more sugar that calls to you? Is it that sweetness melting on your tongue which, ultimately if you eat enough of them, practically puts you in a sugar coma?
I honestly do not know what is it, but it's something and that something is awesome.
Because of the "bad for you" element involved, we do not often eat donuts. In this house, we honestly try to eat with nutrition in mind most of the time. But every once in awhile, as a special treat, we absolutely do indulge. It's usually centered around a special occasion but recently we dropped by our semi-local Five-Oh Donut shop to satisfy my cravings.
It was after a particularly miserable and very early morning doctor appointment which was way up in Sarasota. After we left the doctor office, Tim asked if I wanted to go out for breakfast. It was a very kindly intended offer. But quite honestly, at that moment, the idea of sitting in restaurant having eggs and fruit and other healthy things just didn't sound at all appealing so I declined, with apology and asked if we could just go on back home.
As we were leaving though, and I was feeling completely sorry for myself, suddenly what I wanted most in the world was a donut. Yes, I was comforting myself with food. One of the things that every nutritionist in the world will tell you to never do. That very thing. Yup. I do it all the time.
Because Tim is a nice man, he did not point out the foolishness of my request and we made the quick stop. Five-Oh Donuts is a wonderful place with "Arrestingly Good Donuts". That is their own descriptor by the way. They have the standard stuff, of course: glazed, frosted and filled, but they also constantly come up with new and interesting ideas. The hardest part of visiting there is making a choice because what I always want to say is, "Yes, I will take one of everything please". But of course I do not. We each selected two donuts and we waited until we got home to eat them.
The anticipation just about killed me. I could smell that yeasty sugary wonderfulness wafting through the car the entire drive home. By the time Tim's coffee was ready, I was prepared to devour everything in the box. But I resisted. I only ate my own. I considered (for about 30 seconds) saving my second donuts until the next day. And then I laughed and laughed and gobbled up the second one too. Heaven.
I have known people who do not care for chocolate. I have met people who don't really enjoy pizza. I have even heard that there are folks who dislike ice cream. I do not understand any of that but I accept it as true. However, I have never EVER heard of one single person who dislikes donuts.
I'm sure there are lots of folks who opt to not eat donuts. Probably very health conscious people with far more self-discipline than I. But choosing to not eat them is not the same thing as disliking them. I'm sure everyone has a favourite flavour that they prefer above all others but really, is there anybody out there who actively hates donuts? Really? Is it true or are they just saying it? Sometimes people say things just for effect or they are trying to convince themselves. Because frankly if you tell me that you despise donuts, I'm not sure that I will believe you.
In the words of an old friend of mine, (you know who you are!) "I never met a half dozen donuts that I didn't like". I'm with you, kiddo!
And in case you are wondering, it worked. Afterwards, I felt much better. The healing power of a donut cannot be denied.
You see that note? I wrote it. I put it on my keyboard. And the directive popped into my head throughout the entire day yesterday. And in fact, I remember considering, as I was about to start dinner last night, "should I take it out now while I'm thinking about it or wait until after dinner?" Ultimately I decided to wait. It was a decision made in the name of efficiency. The assumption was that I would, most likely, creative at least a little bit more refuse to add to the bin while in the process of making dinner. It was not a good choice though as this morning the garbage cans remain at the side of the house instead of at the curb where they would already have been picked up, dang it all!
We are lucky enough where we live that year 'round, we have two garbage pick up days each week, Monday and Thursday am. Which means that, if we want our trash taken away, most people around here wheel the bins to the curb on the night before. Generally,Tim and I do not generate enough waste to need to use both days 99% of the time, we only use the Monday pick up. In fact it is a Very Rare Occasion that we take advantage of that second day. This week however, since the Monday pick up day was a holiday, Thursday was the plan.
For a change we had a rather full bin and it being the end of summer with hothothot days, it was, ummmmmm, shall we say, getting a bit fragrant. Let's face it, that garbage was ripe and ready to go. But Thursday pick up being outside the norm for me, I was concerned that I would forget. So I wrote notes. I left them in obvious places (like my keyboard). AND I asked Tim to please remind me, if I forgot. And still, guess what. I forgot. Ratz.
Why do we do things like this to ourselves? Why?
Then there was the duck sauce incident. Sigh. We always have duck sauce in the house because I put it on my fried rice. And I don't want any comments on what a travesty that is. I'm the one eating it and that's how I like it so hush. My order at our favourite take away Chinese food place is veggie fried rice. AND I've learned to just buy my own duck sauce and keep it in the fridge rather than use those teensy little plastic wrapped packets that they provide. (I dont' care very much for theirs)
The duck sauce resides in one of the racks in the fridge doors. You know, along with all of the other condiments and odd ball things. We have the usual mustard, mayo and ketchup in the door rack on the right side along with salad dressings, tubes of garlic and tomato paste, horseradish (ick) and a couple of thermoses of water. On the left side, however, are the less frequently used things such as chicken broth, soy sauce, aloe vera (for sunburns) and, obviously, duck sauce. Just a little tip, unless those racks are completely totally and entirely filled, the jars and bottles rattle around a bit every time the door is opened and closed. Usually it's no big deal.
Well apparently the last time we ordered Chinese food, I did not properly twist the cap on the duck sauce closed. At some point, the jar tipped over in the closing and/or opening of the door. Which means, eventually the top came off and the duck sauce came out. With each opening/closing of the door, more came out but nobody noticed because, well, who looks at the condiment racks in the refrigerator unless they are looking specifically for a condiment?? Not I, certainly. And on that particular side, since it's more odd ball stuff, I probably look even less frequently.
It came to my attention while I was making a grocery list . Prowling through the pantry, freezer and fridge, looking to see if there was anything we were out of or nearly so, I saw the tipped over jar and automatically righted it. My fingers came away a bit sticky. What? So I looked closer, put down the pen and paper and removed the jar entirely. DANG IT! Big Old Pile of refrigerated duck sauce. Turns out that while it was a very tasty spill, it was not an easy clean up. And now duck sauce is back on the grocery list.
I have nobody to blame but myself. I am the only one in the house who uses duck sauce and since I am chief cook and bottle washer, there is a 99.999999% chance that I am the one who put it away without tightening the cap. Turns out I boobytrapped myself. Big dummy.
Oh yes and then there was the time, (over this past weekend in fact) when Tim was working on a project. While he was busy with that I decided it would be the perfect time to dust, vacuum and wash the floors. Once that was all done, I offered to help him out with his project and he was happy to have an extra set of hands. I became sort of the 'runner' trotting back and forth to garbage bins, fetching things as needed and refilling his water glass. Which means I was..what was I doing class?...That's right! I was walking through the dirty project area and across my newly cleaned floors over and over and over.
You can actually see my dirty footsteps! Yes I did that to myself once again! Sabotage is one thing, but sabotaging yourself? It's kind of crazy. Dang it, I say! Rasenfratz! Kreplach! Iggysnatz! And all of the other made up substitute swear words that I thought up when the boys were little.
I cannot be the only person who trips themselves up. In fact, I am positive that I am not. I hear stories all of the time of similar sorts of things going on in other households. But do we learn from these mistakes? Well, speaking solely for myself, yes, sometimes I do. But then I go on to make brand new exciting other mistakes instead.
(insert much shaking of head here)
The human animal continues to be one of the oddest creatures in existence. I mystify myself on a daily basis.
Well hello hello! Hope everyone had a terrific nice long holiday weekend! Tim and I spent most of it getting stuff done around here, but we did take a few breaks. And one of them was to spend a little time, one afternoon at Myakka State Park.
It wasn't so much a hike as a combination of short drives and short walks, but my camera was in my hand and therefore, it counts! Myakka State Park is a different sort of place to visit. There is a long, beautiful winding road that goes completely through it with periodic places to park, get out and hike. Often we ended up just pulling over on the side of the road because that's where the picture needed to be taken.
This wasn't something we planned ahead, it was more a random, "hey, we finished what we intended to do today, what do you wanna do now?" moment one afternoon. I have found that mornings and evenings are generally the best times to do a photo safari. Partly for the quality of the light and partly because the cooler parts of the day usually provide the best critter activity. BUT afternoon was when we had a little unexpected free time so that's when we went.
Obviously, for the above reason, we had very low photo expectations. To our surprise, those expectations were a little surpassed. I was pretty sure I would be able to get some photos of the river and I was correct. The Myakka River is always photo worthy:
If we had come away with just these river photos, I would have been happy and considered it worth the time. But, for some reason, I got a ton of photos of various sorts of white birds. It could be just that in the heavily forested and sun bleached afternoon, the white birds were the only ones that stood out against the dark forest enough for us to really notice them. Or perhaps white birds don't mind the hottest part of the day? Regardless, here is a sampling:
To our surprised, we did find a few other birds and some other creatures venturing out into the heat of the day. What is that old saying about Mad Dogs and Englishman venturing into the noonday sun? Apparently it applies to a few other animals as well. Including Tim and I, now that I think about it. Who is crazier, the wildlife who have nowhere else to be or people who do have nice air conditioned places to hang out on a very hot day? Don't bother to answer that one.
I guess that's the most of it. I believe I shall call this particular photos safari, the Afternoon at Myakka Hike. Not very creative, but accurate.
I will leave you with a couple of rando photos. Hope you enjoyed this little abbreviated photo safari report :)
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.