Youngest son and I were reminiscing this weekend about costumes past. He mentioned that he only once wore a "store-bought" costume. It was of a popular cartoon character. Cheap print on even cheaper nylon and a plastic face mask that inhibited both breathing and vision. It self-destructed before the night was over and was a terrible disappointment. After that costume debacle, we resumed the tradition of home-made costumes.
The boys were all very creative and came up with their own ideas. I helped to implement these ideas as best as I could, given my own craftsy limitations but they did a great job.. One year they had a Halloween party at home that went rather well. Another year they attended a school Halloween carnival. Youngest son claims his favourite Halloweens though were the nights of door to door trick or treating.
I get that. Long ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was a child, I vaguely recall my own Halloween adventures. There was something special, exciting, about being given license to roam the neighborhood dressed as someone or something else ringing doorbells. Packs of small children, costumes rustling, masks askew, hats toppling, rushing up and down neighborhood streets yelling 'Trick or Treat" while the kid nearest the door rang the bell, thrusting our sacks toward the offered goodies then racing to the next house. Back then it was safe for kids to wander through the neighborhoods on that night. It was even safe to accept home made goodies. Those were some of the best! Cookies, popcorn balls, home made candies even! The pack of kids I ran with stopped under every corner streetlight to check out our haul. One particular kid, Vernon, ate the contents of his sack while the rest of us traded less desirables for more desirables. Once we got back home, we emptied our sacks and sorted our haul. Did a little more trading. Then we were even allowed to take a few pieces of our loot in our lunch boxes to schooleach day until it was gone. It was a different time.
I have learned that here in our new town, there is a kids costume parade on Venice avenue. which sounds very fun. Then the kids go up and down Venice Avenue collecting store bought candy from the vendors. I don't know if they go door to door in neighborhoods. Seems like that doesn't happen much anymore. We bought candies just in case. Coincidently it was candy that we also like so if no little witches or goblins ring our bell, it won't go to waste.
However you celebrate, be safe and have a spooky good time!
Some of you have heard this rant before, if not from me, then from someone else. Therefore, you are excused from today's blogpost. Anyone still hanging around, please bear with me. It is nearly upon us again people. Next weekend Daylight Savings will again be inflicted upon us.
Yes, I know, There was a time when it was a good thing. Giving farmers that extra hour of light for harvest made sense. But that was back when we were very much an agrarian society. Not so much now. And even if we were, tractors now come with lights! I know. I've seen them.
Even the name of this event irritates me. Daylight Savings. Sounds like a bank. It sounds to me as though I could take that extra hour and tuck it away somewhere safe and another time, when I need an extra 15 minutes I could go to my local branch of Daylight Savings and withdraw 15 minutes.
Pets are particularly confused by this foolishness. Animals don't read clocks. They operate on "tummy time". At what used to be 5:00, they come and look at you expectantly. "Hey," they say, "what's up? It's time to eat. Where's my food?" You try to explain Daylight Savings to them and they laugh. "Great joke, human. Now where's my food? It's time to eat". "No" you tell them patiently, "Not for an hour" "What the hell?" your pet says, "My tummy says it's dinner time and I have never known my tummy to be wrong before. Food now!". It's hard.
It's not as if actual time has changed anyway. Our planet did not alter it's revolution. Daylight savings only changes our definition of it, our perception of how we are affected by it. And frankly I'm over it. Yes on one end of it, we feel as if we get one extra hour of shut-eye. Who couldn't use that? But the pay back is the other end where we get one hour less. Now I'm feeling like your pet. "What the hell? My body is telling is it's not time to get up yet. I've never known my body to be wrong about that before. Now turn off the alarm and go back to sleep!"
I know it's just an hour. But that one hour, those 60 minutes, 3600 seconds are precious and I resent some faceless, nameless entity playing fast and loose with my time.
There are some brave states who have opted out. Hurrah! Good for them! What are the rest of us waiting for???
Venice Island Beach is really seems to be multiple different beaches: Venice Ave Beach, Chauncey Howard, Golde Beach, Caspersen's, Service Club Beach, but really it's all one very long beach with different access points. It's roughly half the islands circumference. The rest is bay, jetty, and Intercoastal Waterway. Each part has it's unique charms of course, and I kind of rotate through them in my daily excursions. But one of the most fun parts in the evening is Venice Beach Pavilion.
It's a covered area with tables and benches, bathrooms, a concession stand and, my favourite part, musicians. I have not yet figured out if there is a rhyme or reason to when anyone show up to perform though I'm sure there is a schedule of sorts. All sorts of musicians, playing all sorts of music, a little something for everyone. Could be drum solos, could be flute or accordion, could be acapella singers or it could be guitar players with the wonderful lady in the photo here.
When I stopped by, they were playing Beatles songs and quite well, everything was recognizable, sing along-able, dance to it-able with this added cherry on top of the sundae. Not sure what to all her instrument. It's a washboard and thimble sure, but there was also a bell, a few different horns and miscellaneous percussion type things on there. She played it with style, with aplomb with character and personality. While the guitar players were stationary, seated and technically correct, she marched around the entire area, she smiled and winked and laughed and sang. She played directly to individuals and couples. She brought the performance from pleasant to memorable.
I was charmed and delighted. Be someone memorable today!
It's kind of a study in neutrals, I guess. But I love this photo. Reminds me of the expression, "seeing things in black and white"? Well I never really understood that. Other than taking a white piece of paper and black crayon or paint and starkly applying in such a way that those are the only two colours, there is no such thing as just black and just white.
Can't apply it to life certainly. There are too many variables, too many exceptions, too many colours! Take the statement, "I don't like hunting. I don't believe in killing animals". Okay. That sounds like me. But, while I'm mostly a vegetarian, I confess that I do occasionally eat meat. I love a BLT sandwich for sure. Well that little piggy died for my sandwich. I didn't kill him sure, but somebody did. And hey, I killed that spider that snuck in the house the other day. And any blood sucking bug that manages to get into my house dies the instant it is discovered without a moments remorse. So you see, conditions! Not just black and white answers.
Life is complicated. But it sure is beautiful.
Nearly every night, I go to the beach to watch the sun go down. Sometimes with Tim, sometimes alone, but the draw I always feel to the sea is strongest in the evening. And of course we know the sun isn't going up or down, it's the earth revolving. But the poetic illusion remains. Even the terms, Sunrise and Sunset support the fantasy. Knowing the science behind it all does not ruin the magic for me. Even though essentially the same elements are involved each time, like snowflakes, no two sunsets are identical. And I find that beguiling. We gather there on the sand or on the rocks, we like-minded folk, not speaking, perhaps a nod of acknowledgement but nothing more and gaze westward. We watch the fire in the sky appear to sink into the sea and wait for the colourful bloom that follows filling the sky just ahead of the darkness that swallows it. Then shuffle or pedal homeward at peace once again feeling that for just that moment, all is right with the world.
THIS is what autumn looks like.
We are just back from a trip to Colorado. And I have to say the difference was almost jarring. First of all, they have something back in Colorado that is nearly absent here in Florida. It's called, "Seasons". In other states, a person just never knows what is going to happen day to day, sometimes hour to hour. In Colorado the air was chilly, crisp you might say, down right cold sometimes. And the colour is magnificent.
Not quite like back east though. When we lived in Connecticut, in autumn, driving up our street on a sunny afternoon, the many shades of purple, red, gold, yellow and just the sheer volume of trees could make the street appear to be on fire. It was breathtaking.
I don't think I realized when we moved here to Florida, how nostalgic I would become for more seasonal delineation than an uptick in tourists. It's still very green. Things are still blooming. Nothing has changed.
I will be okay. I will adjust. I do love the sunshine, I always have, and I dearly love being so close to the water. But I wonder how I will adapt to winter? Oh dear, I don't have to shovel anymore. Such a pity, what a shame. (heehee)
Yesterday, Tim and I took a tour of Ybor City. This little jewel in the Tampa area is approximately one square mile of brick streets and fascinating history where cigar smoke is soaked into the lintels of all the old buildings and Cuban Sandwiches are on the menu. At one time this little town was the cigar capital of the world with over 200 cigar factories employing thousands of workers. All gone now of course and while the history still lingers, in it's place we found a plethora of restaurants, bars, tattoo shops and a giant Church of Scientology. Still the historic architecture primarily reminded us of the French Quarter of New Orleans which is so very charming and the history of the town is colourful. There was a barbeque restaurant nearby that smelled incredible and some day we will return to eat there. One of my favourite bits of information: There is a little gated park in Ybor City and once within those gates, visitors are technically in Cuba. When the original owners of that land died, they willed it to Cuba. Yes, Cuba inherited that tiny little park. So Tim and I were, technically in Cuba in the photo below. No passport required.
Credit where credit is due. Tim took this photo. It's always been one of my favourites. For a long time it was the wallpaper for both my computer and my phone. I've long been a sky watcher. Did you do that ever? Lay in the grassy lawn watching the clouds and seeing the pictures in the shapes. I took an astronomy class in college that meant many a night atop the building with a telescope peering into the heavens and seeing the pictures in the starry skies. And even before that, when I lived in California there was this school trip to the Mount Palomar Observatory that was life altering. I was a huge NASA fan too. I still marvel at the pictures that are sent back to our little blue marble and I dream. Wouldn't it be the most amazing thing to see it for myself. (can you tell I was also a big Science Fiction fan?)
Well that's not going to happen. At least not in this lifetime. But future generations? It's possible. They might travel to faraway planets, go to other galaxies and plot different star charts! I wonder what their dreams will be?
Isn't this just the very picture of Peace. Quiet, no other people around (well except me sneakily photographing them), beautiful quiet ocean, even the sea birds were quiet, sun starting to set. Very Zen. Ahhhh And I do see all that. But I also see the sand. Lots and lots of sand. I think I swept up that same amount of sand in the house yesterday.
That's the thing nobody tells you about living at or near the beach. Sure, sure, everybody cautioned about summer humidity which was no big deal, we managed that. The warn about the bugs, but we only see them outside. They scare you talking about the alligators, and we haven't seen one yet...and are kind of disappointed about it. The tell you about the predominant elderly population and it turns out, it's kind of nice to be the youngsters on the block. All those warnings. Nobody mentioned that my house would become a sandbox.
It's not that I don't love being so close to the beach. I do, I do I do!!! And I go there at least once every day (so most of the sand in the house is probably my fault) but somehow I never put 2+2 together and came up with the endless sweeping. I don't mean to complain, it was just a surprise. And no matter how well you sweep, or how often you sweep, somehow, there is always more.
Totally worth it for evenings sitting on the beach, watching the water and waiting for the sun to go down. Peace.
It has been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Here are my eyes. Can you see into my soul? Really? What does it tell you about me?
I ask sincerely. It is so easy to be fooled nowadays, it seems. I read about scammers and con men (and women) on a daily basis. I read, yet another case, in the newspaper over the weekend. To my shame, my first instinct is to blame the victim, call them fools, too trusting, too gullible, too naïve. But really that is not fair.
We are already aware of the harm that sociopaths and psychopaths can inflict, those folks who have no moral compass. Their internal wiring is so damaged that they simply do not have a conscience. They can be very charming and convincing. But are all con artists sociopaths? Or are they just amazingly good actors?
There are some actors who are so good at the roles they play that fans get carried away and confuse the actor and the role they play on television or in movies. They aren't really trying to "con" anyone, but yes, in a way, in that period of time they do want you to believe that they are the character they play. Still, it's not with the intention of doing anyone harm.
I have no guile. It's just not in my construct. But here are my eyes. What do I see? I see those lines between my eyes, probably from years of squinting. Too much eye liner. Well that's happens when I'm in a rush. I'm almost always in a rush. My eyes are blue. Lots of people don't know what colour my eyes are. Probably because of my glasses. All you really see is the glasses. And if I'm outside, the sunglasses. My eyes are hidden most of the time, as it turns out.
But I'm not intentionally hiding anything. I'm not trying to trick anyone. I'm a terrible liar, not convincing at all. I have no intention to hurt or steal or anything else nefarious. But I don't blame people for being wary and careful. There are way too many people out there who are far too versed at lying.
It's a scary old world out there. Be smart, be careful, be safe.
In an effort to be marginally more healthy, we have instituted Meatless Monday at our house. Monday was selected specifically for the alliteration. Seriously, that is the only reason. This was a noble sacrifice on the part of my other half. Tim is a carnivore, period. I swear this man could have steak for desert. Or breakfast. Or any other meal for that matter. But he bravely agreed to this experiment. This is only the 3rd week so I don't suppose there are any noticeable differences to be seen yet. But on the other hand, it can't hurt.
The first Meatless Monday I made potato/cheese pierogis. I don't know if they were actually any healthier, but they were meatless. With steamed veggies as a side it was a filling meal. The next week it was veggie pizza. Again, I question the healthier aspect, but absolutely fulfilled the meatless requirement. Tonight will be cheese ravioli and a salad. No idea what I'll make in subsequent weeks. I'll have to get creative.
We are fortunate in that in our town, just off the island, is an amazing huge farm market. Detweillers. Oh me, oh my! The options are many and varied. I never know what I'm going to find there, because they are utterly dependent on what they can locate but it's all so good. The pineapple alone makes me swoon. Because of them, I've tried fruits and vegetables I've never even heard of before, or at least varieties previously unknown to me.
Sadly, they also have a fabulous bakery (hard to walk past that) and locally made ice cream (which so far, I have managed to resist). They make their own Clam Chowder which Tim declared very New England. Locally caught seafood is also an option. They even have a deli for cold cuts and cheeses. Out front are gorgeous plants. I have walked through there in a green daze several times. Detweillers has been one of our greatest finds since we moved here.
Meanwhile, if anyone has some fab vegetarian meal suggestions for Meatless Monday, please let me know. We really want to make this a success.
In the film, Forrest Gump, Forrest famously philosophized that, "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get." And he was not wrong. You don't know what you are going to get. But according to him, regardless of which one you choose, you still have a chocolate. And well, hey, chocolate. Right? Chocolate is celebratory, it's special occasion (even if the occasion is Tuesday afternoon) it's decadent (death by chocolate anyone?) and has some serious history behind it.
I maintain that in addition to the above, life is also like a batch of good home made biscuits. Stop laughing. Biscuits are simple things, as life should be simple. They are cozy and homey and comfortable, as your life should strive to be. Making biscuits is easy, as long as you follow directions and pay attention, just like life can be easier for the same reasons. Much like life, a person get really good at making biscuits with practice. As simple as they are, one mistake can ruin a batch, just like one mistake can ruin your life. The best biscuits require a lot of leaving it alone, don't mess it them too much, just like life, stop messing with it. And just like life, it takes heat to bring them to perfection. I've never met anyone who didn't like homemade biscuits, although some more than others. Same goes with life.
I think I've made my point. Move over Forrest, Chocolate is wonderful but sometimes, life is also like a batch of biscuits.
When most people who live in Florida hear that there is a Category 4 Hurricane heading their way, their first thought isn't, "Surf's Up!". Nope, rational, reasonable, regular, ordinary people think things like, evacuation routes, go-bags, boarding up windows, buying water and candles and gas for generators.
To be fair, the worst of this massive storm is on the east coast where there are hundreds of thousands of people without power, seeing flooded homes and businesses, and storm damage to face upon their return. But while we have been spared the eye of the tiger this time around, there is still plenty of wind and rain and the authorities keep warning up that power outages are very possible here too.
I have to admire the optimism. When I headed to the beach this morning, I had a feeling I wouldn't be the only one there. This photo captures the very essence of lemonade out of lemons. And while I have no intention of grabbing a board and heading for the waves in my lifetime, I am glad that there are those who do.
I remember, what was it 12 years ago?, Hurricane Charlie dropped in to visit the Port Charlotte area of Florida. My parents lived there then. As I recall, the anticipation was that the Hurricane would hit farther north, so that is where the bulk of the preparation was. Charlie however, had other thoughts in mind. My parents were fine, minor damage to their home, lost the pool cage of course, but other homes in their neighborhood would just totaled.
About six months after the storm, Tim and I flew down for a visit. My dad drove us around on the "Hurricane Devastation Tour". We were dumbfounded. Six months after that hurricane had passed, the trail of destruction was still jaw dropping in it's intensity.
And now, these many years later, here comes Hurricane Matthew which is predicted to be all that and a little bit more. Of course, here we sit on the west coast (or left coast as I hear people say) and the expectation is that the storm is aiming for the east coast. But still, even we are under a tropical storm watch/warning and will get the outer bands of rain and wind. And we have family, not just here in Florida but also in North Carolina which is on the target for hurricane's roll. To say nothing of the larger sense of community, the family of mankind.
Hope everyone stays safe. Please do whatever you need to do to stay out of harms way.
I do love to take photographs. As anyone on my Facebook feed is well aware. Maybe I should apologize, but I won't. I can't draw a straight line with a ruler so let's call this my "artistic" expression. Sure, sure, cameras are so darned smart these days that everyone takes great pictures, I know. But I find such unadulterated joy in capturing something, a moment I guess, that I feel is special, I cannot resist sharing it.
The photo below I took last night at the Jetty which is Humphris Park here in Venice. Tim and I were going to bike over after dinner but only got a short distance when it started to rain. Dang! So we turned around and biked back and by the time we returned, the rain had stopped. What the heck? On again off again rain. We drove over instead.
Hadn't been there since the advent of Red Tide. Red Tide, as I understand it, is an ocean born algae which, I don't know why, occasionally "blooms". The results of which kills fish, which wash up on shore and the smell, lord a mercy, the smell. Gack! Obviously I had avoided the stench for about a week.
Last night, as Hurricane Matthew bears down on our state, but has not yet arrived, this was the moment that I captured. Not a traditional sunset photo, although it was taken at sunset. But, as I have always maintained, there is beauty everywhere.
Today, I challenge each of you to find the beauty. It's there, I promise.
Before and After So the kitchen is finally done almost 3 months after starting. Yay! It is a thing of beauty! Makes the rest of the house look like crap by comparison. Guess we have a lot of work still to do
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.