October 31st, 2017
It's that time of year again. Happy Halloween!!!
I see Halloween as the kick-off for the most hectic time of year. The start of the crazybusynuttyinsanity that is comprised of Halloween followed by Thanksgiving which is trailed by Christmas and ends with New Years. Just three months which become one long stretch of gotta-do's and lists and tightly packed calendars and go-go-go's. Of course it's also filled with family and friends and fun and laughter and lots and lots and lots of love. And no matter how much I enjoy it, it is so compacted full of events and activities (to say nothing of calories) it's more like one big holiday. I think we should call it, "Hallothanksmasyear".
Nowadays the first part of Hallothanksmasyear is the easiest to get through. We no longer have to make costumes or decorate for the parties of small children, I didn't carve any pumpkins and there isn't even any baking involved. It's just a matter of making sure that the pantry is well stocked with candy, leaving the courtyard light on and answering the doorbell with a smile and generous handfuls of goodies over and over again. Not a tough gig at all.
I know that there are people who really get into this first chapter of Hallothanksmasyear. Even without young children around, they dress in costume, seriously decorate, hold themed parties and more. In fact, I know folks who plan all year for this night. And that's awesome. I'm impressed, I'm wowed and I'm inspired. In fact, I was so inspired to do something a little more celebratory that I ate a pumpkin muffin for breakfast. There you go. There are parties and then there are PARTIES! Mine was lower case.
As a kid of course, it was a different story. When we lived in California, which was only one of the many places that we lived when I was growing up, October 31st was a very big deal. The school held a carnival that day. All the kids came in costume, the teachers wore costumes too. There was a costume parade and kids won cheesy prizes. Afterwards we kids hit the bricks going door to door trick-or-treating. Most costumes were homemade back then too. I must say that my mother was very creative. I remember going out one year with a neighbor girl dressed as salt and pepper shakers. Seriously. Not an especially comfortable costume, but creative.
Nowadays I see most kids in store bought costumes, lots of super heros, fairytale princesses and the occasionally animal costume. They are all adorable of course, but I would love to see more imagination involved. Of course, that's me. Who has time to make costumes anymore? I mean, I can't sew a button back onto a shirt with any degree of guaranteed success. I have some nerve expecting others to do something that I'm not going to do. But I would dearly love to see a bedsheet ghost again. Just one. It's not fancy and it's not sparkly but it's home-made do-able.
As I think about it, we can't give out home made cookies or candies anymore because parents throw that stuff away immediately. There could possibly be something bad in home made stuff y'know. And it seems that every year fewer and fewer kids actually do the door to door trick-or-treating anyway, same reason. Something bad might possibly happen. Could we at least employ a tiny spark of creativity with the costumes? I know I know, the kid wants to be Spider-Man or Elsa from Frozen both requiring store bought costumes. But wouldn't it be fun, just one more time, to push their little imaginations farther and make something homemade this time 'round?
Well everyone will do whatever it is that they do and I will enjoy this night, the first night of Hallothanksmasyear to the fullest extent. I will answer the door with a bowl full of candy and a smile on my face. I will make much of their costumes and sneak a few candies for myself. And then I will move on to preparing for the next part of Hallowthanksmasyear which involves far more lists and baking which for me also means more fun!
But I will forever be nostalgic for kids in homemade costumes showing up on my doorstep in droves and homemade popcorn balls wrapped in sticky waxed paper in treats bags.
Happy First Day of Hallowthanksmasyear to you!
Have fun and be safe
October 30th, 2017
Thanks to Tropical Storm Phillipe that was causing havoc somewhere in the Carribean, we had some serious rain on Saturday and very impressive wind on Sunday which in turn made big waves and then, of course, resulted in one of our favourite things, Big Splash!
You probably cannot tell from this photo but this splash was probably 15 feet high. That's about three times my height. Very Big Splash! Way cool. We must have gone to one beach access or another throughout the day yesterday a half dozen times or more. Just cannot get enough of it. It is exciting, exhilarating, thrilling and a little damp.
By the end of the day we were rather salt encrusted, my hair was in uncombable snarls, my skin was wind burned and I was wet through to my skin. It was glorious!
I'm not positive what the attraction is to be fair, it's not as if I were an adrenaline junkie. In fact, as has been very well corroborated, I am a big chicken. I do not go on roller coasters, I don't parachute from perfectly good airplanes or even ride the waves on a surf board. I have never bunji-jumped nor have I attempted to walk on hot coals. But I love being on the shore during a storm which is probably more dangerous and stupid than any of the above activities.
The wind was blowing so hard to Tim had to hold me in place while I was snapping photographs, birds were canting sideways as they attempted to fly. In fact, one bird nearly crashed into me as it attempted to fly. I could have plucked it out of the sky. The pelicans, still fishing in the water had to constantly lift off and resettle to prevent being dashed into the rocks at the jetty and some of the smaller birds were hunkered down behind large rocks. Tree debris were airborne along with our courtyard umbrella until I dashed out and took it down. It was marvelous!
Every Big Splash is different. They fool me constantly which is why, when I go to photograph them I nearly always end up wet. Some are small, some are kind of cute, some rather silly. There are the superbig impressive "I Am Wave, Hear Me Roar" ones and the little tinklingly adorable splashes that would be better suited to a fountain. Some go horizontal more than vertical. Some splashes ripple across the rocks from side to side and some save it all up for one big crash. Some appear as if they are going to be enormous and then end up being nothing at all, others sneak up and surprise you. Some lean left, others lean right and some peculiarly go both right and left but leave a big space in the middle. I adore each and every one of them.
The sound is usually that of a magnificent orchestra playing a really Tchaikovski ish sort of piece, all anger and angst and power just barely kept in check with a few quiet lulls to trick you, to lure you closer and then Big Splash again! And then the ocean chuckles a mean little, "haha fooled you". It can be so loud that it's hard to hear each other talk but other than the occasional "wow!" or "watch out!" there isn't much to say anyway.
The scent of course is that lovely oceany, briney, fishy, clean, fragrance that I adore. It's one of those smells that you either love or hate. I don't know anyone who is so-so about it. I love it. And on a chilly day like yesterday, it bites the nose a bit. I could taste it, it was strong.
I'm sorry everyone I know and love wasn't here with us yesterday to enjoy it with us. But I however you spent the weekend, you had a much fun as we did!
October 27th, 2017
I don't know if you recall or not, but about a year ago I wrote about how suddenly, inexplicably, I was having some sort of reaction to my wedding rings. I had read of people who developed metal hypersensitivities and it seemed that it was happening to me! Everytime I wore my lovely rings I would develop a painful rash underneath them that had teeny tiny blisters. The skin looked raw and red and would swell up so much that I would have to use soap and water to get the rings back off. It would take weeks of not wearing the rings for the rash to go away leaving behind dry, flaky looking skin. But as soon as it healed, I would put the rings back on, hoping that the rash reaction was a fluke and it never was. it was very sad.
It was especially strange because I had no problem wearing bracelets or necklaces or earrings. Just my wedding rings. I read some article about old metals leaking some sort of salts in very small amounts and thought perhaps that was the problem. But now I am thinking not.
The last time we travelled, I once again, put my rings on for the trip thinking well, I will wear them as long as I can and when I cannot bear it any longer, I will take them back off. Oddly, I never had to take them off. It was a few weeks after we returned to Florida that the rash came back. Hmmmm Interesting. Now I am thinking it is some sort of reaction to the water here. We all know that tap water is different around the country. or perhaps it's the soap. Or the combination of soap and this particular water. And I wash my hands a zillion times a time. Any time I am handling food, any time I am cleaning, anytime I use the facilities or work in the yard, or read the newspaper or well, let's just suffice it to say that I am exceedingly clean. It's not a ritual cleaning thing. It's just clean.
I worked in at least peripherally medical businesses the majority of my life. Doctors and nurses are very clean people. I guess I picked up the habit from them. Always washing, I mean. So, my guess is the rash is somehow related. Nevertheless this is where I live now. The place that causes a finger rash under my wearing rings. Awwwwww. I was very sad. I missed my rings. I found myself rubbing the spot where the rings used to be without realizing it. What they represent is very important to me. But I'm nothing if not resilient and life goes on, right?
Several people had suggested to me these rubber rings. Well perhaps not rubber, probably some sort of synthetic nylon/rubber/polymer material that a lot of folks wear when participating in athletic pursuits or working out at the gym etc. And I did look into it, but somehow did not feel moved into purchasing one. I think it was the fact that I couldn't try it on. It was an on line ordering sort of thing. But I was considering it when.....
A few weeks ago when Joy and I were popping in and out of dozens of stores on the great dishware adventure, we happened to also go into a few non-dish related stores. One of them right here in my town in a place called The Venice Trading Company that had all sorts of unusual things. Including some jewelry. Specifically including some beaded rings that are stretchy so they will fit over my bizarrely shaped, arthritically twisted knuckles regardless of the sort of day my hands are having. I was enchanted. And at only 3 bucks a piece, I was in cheapskate heaven! But we were searching for dishware, not jewelry, so I did not buy anything and we went back on the dish hunt.
This week however, the dishes are purchased, my fingers are again healed and I had a few moments to spare and a few dollars in my pocket. So, determined, we walked back to the Trading Company. I was excited to find that the little basket was still chock-a-block with rings in all sort of colours. There was only one size small enough to fit me. The flower pattern says that it is probably intended for little girls but that's ok. I'm child-like enough to appreciate it. It was very hard to decide. I chose the two in the photos above. One is dark, one is light. The light colour one has flowers in many colours, red, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, going around the band. The other is strickly light blues on a black background. I am very pleased!
So far, no rash and I assume that's because there is no metal involved. They are very comfortable and I'm being careful with them. I still remove them to wash dishes or work in the yard. But it's so nice, when I come back in and wash up, to once again, wear a ring. It's not the one Tim gave me on our wedding day and those are still the most important, but for now it will do.
I am once again beringed :) And it is a happy thing!
I wish you all a wonderful weekend! Do something Fun!
October 26th, 2017
These two went on a photo safari yesterday! Haven't done that together in awhile. It was great fun.
The weather was actually a wee bit chilly, we dressed in layers and flirted with the idea of wearing long pants as opposed to short ones. But we both bravely chose shorts, with multiple layers on top, rationalizing that we can always tie a sweater or sweatshirt around the waist later. So, sneakers firmly strapped on place, off we went to seek adventure and/or good photographs.
Besides the chilly temps to contend with, we've had a goodly amount of rain lately and parts of the trails were a little mooshy underfoot. Other parts were completely underwater. Not just a little puddle, mind you, but more like a good sized pond. There was no puddle jumping possibilities. Olympic long jumpers couldn't jump these babies. So we did a lot of turning around and retracing our steps to find new trails.
There were few people out which I always prefer. Oddly saw very little wildlife. Lots of critter tracks though, some I even recognized; deer, raccoon, some sort of cat, a few others. Didn't even see many birds although we could hear them. The only "wildlife" we saw really were butterflies, dragonflies and one very cute caterpillar.
These are a couple of the photos I took:
As usual, Joy took the best photos! That girl is amazing!
Eventually, we got tired and came back to my house. And then because we are crazy, we then immediately walked into town for lunch and then walked around more to do a little shopping. More Walking! So I guess we were only tired of walking in the state park, not actually tired of walking in and of itself.
So the final tally for the day was: 1: I got to go hiking at Oscar Scherer State Park which I always enjoy 2: the weather was much cooler which was a nice change 3: Got to spend a few hours taking photographs and I love when that happens 4: had lunch out, always a treat 5: prowling around local shops is very fun but of course the best part of the day was 6: got to spend the day with my sister!
Hope your day, yesterday was awesome and that your day today, is even better!!
October 25th, 2017
Isn't that just THE most adorable cream and sugar set you ever laid eyes on? I thought so too.
I've been helping my sister shop for dishware for the move into their new home which is coming up soon. She, like me, is drawn to unusual things, not the same stuff everyone else has, but stuff of quality of course and classic design. Their new place is very modern so she is perhaps leaning a more toward classic than retro (old fashioned would be more me) but she had a specific colour palate in mind (blue, white and clear glass). And where would a person find things like that? Well, in antique and consignment stores of course!
Oh the treasures we found. Lovely old art deco bureaus with hidden compartments and sterling silver tea services, creamy white linens that had serious weight. There were tiny dolly carriages from the turn of the previous century and English china soup tureens complete with ladles. Glass pitchers in every colour of the rainbow lined the shelves and tufted velvet ottomans were tucked under tables. In short we had a blast.
I'm not certain anymore how many stores we went into or how many different days we dedicated to this project but eventually, my sister found most, if not all, of the dishware she sought. She did a great job and I love everything she bought. It was perfect for the vision she had for her new home. As to myself, I admired many things but was not moved to actually purchase any of it until.......... the sugar bowl and creamer set appeared.
I fell instantly in love with it. I admired the lines, I admired the colour, which frankly surprised me..I'm not really a pink kind of girl, and I especially admired the little tray that they sit on. I held each piece in my hand and enjoyed the solid weight of it. And then I put it back on the shelf and bid it adieu and we moved further into the store. Eventually, my sister had all the pieces she needed and we walked to the register which was right there by the shelf with my little pink sugar/creamer. I made the mistake of walking over to say goodbye to it. I wished it a good home and we left the store.
We walked to the car and put my sisters latest purchases carefully away before strolling on to the next shop which was close by. The entire time we were in the second shop, I was still thinking about that little set. Everything I admired, I was mentally measuring against that sugar/creamer. I just couldn't get it out of my head. That is so unusual for me. Usually I can admire something and then walk away, the end. When we finished up at the second store, I found myself saying to my sister, "I need to go back and set that set". Bless her heart, without even breaking stride she replied, "I know". And back we went.
I justified this purchase with two thoughts, number one: I did not, until this point actually own a sugar bowl. If anyone visiting my house wished for sugar in their coffee or tea, I would scoop sugar into a teacup for them to spoon out as they wished. I would get odd looks from my visitors as they fixed their drink but they were never rude enough to mention my methodology. Thought number two: this set is freakin' adorable! And honestly, I do not often spend money on things that are not necessities. I do my own nails, I borrow books from the library rather than purchase them, I do not subscribe to any magazines or belong to any clubs that require dues paid. Okay! Purchase justified.
I smile whenever I look at them on their shelf in the kitchen cabinet that has a glass front. I cannot wait until someone visits that enjoys cream or sugar in their coffee because then I can finally actually use them. They will look adorable on the kitchen table AND they serve a purpose. There is no reason that function cannot also be art, right?
Let's face it, one way or another they would have ended up in my house. As we walked back to the car the final time, my purchase carefully wrapped and cradled in my arms, my sister laughed and said, "If you hadn't bought it, I was going to come back and get it for you as a Christmas Present" See! Clearly it belonged with me. Sometimes it happens that way.
October 24th, 2017
It's not our mailbox. This is the mailbox of a house near us though and on my walk yesterday I noticed that it was lying on the ground and not looking to be in good shape. I wonder what happened.
That's the thing with me y'see. I always wonder. I am curious. I want to know. I suppose I'm nosy. But it happens every time, I see something that is out of the ordinary, and anachronism, something that shouldn't be as it is and the question pops into my head, "How did this come to be?"
Was it hit by a car much like our mailbox was? Was it kids with a baseball bat knocking it off it's feet? Was it simply time and weather that toppled it?
It's the same sort of thing that crossed my mind the other day when I saw a shoe on the side of the road. One shoe. Just one. It was a left sneaker to be specific, scuffed up white and goodly sized, not a child's shoe at all. And there it lay, laces outstretched as if they tried to break it's fall. How does an adult sized person lose one shoe? I know how a child can. As a toddler, my sister once threw a brand new pair of shoes off of a train. She tugged them off her feet, one shoe at a time and dropped first the left and then the right out the open window waving bye-bye all the while. Afterwards, she was looking around her seat as if searching for something else to toss before the discovery of the missing shoes happened. It wasn't pretty. Do you suppose it was the same sort of situation? A car driving by and a child in the backseat amusing itself by tossing things out the window? Or maybe the adult, for some reason left the shoes on the roof of the car and then absently drove off flinging one shoe onto that particular road? Or maybe the person was being chased by an escaped tiger and literally ran out of their shoe? I wouldn't stop to pick it up if I were being chased by a wild animal, would you?
Recently I noticed in the grocery store a stuffed duck in the produce section. It was nestled into the yams as if it were a nest. There was no one in the produce section but me at that time and it wasn't my duck. I envision another restless toddler tossing her toys around as her parent made vegetable selections and assuming that the duck would be returned to her. Or maybe a slightly older sibling teasingly hid the toy planning to retrieve it only to have Mama or Daddy urging them to hurry along. I doubt the duck arrived there under it's own power! I can only imagine what life was like in that household later when the duck needed to be there at bedtime and could not be found.
Don't you wonder about these things? Have you ever seen, for example, one earring in a parking lot? Just one. Well earrings fall off, sure, but I wonder about the person who was wearing it? Was it after an evening out? Or before the evening began? It makes a difference. On the way home, yes it's a shame to have lost an earring but nobody is going to notice after the fact. On the way in however, people will notice and be wondering why that woman is wearing only one earring? Is it a new fashion ? A funky trend? Or is it a political statement? Or did she lose the earring in a tussle...oh I hope that wasn't the case. But it does make me curious and I wish I knew the truth of it.
Truth can be elusive. There are universal truths. There are factual truths and hidden truths. There are truths of perspective and there are truths of convenience. It could be a half-truth, a sworn truth or the truth and nothing but the truth. It could be an educated truth, or mid-guided truth or a truth of indoctrination. Perhaps an informed truth, an equally mis-informed truth or a superstitious truth. And yet, in the mind of the speaker it's still the truth. I have to wade through all of it to learn the actual truth which is the rarest and most important truth of all. And I want to know it.
October 23rd, 2017
It's going to rain today.
I don't mind, not really. It does make me think of that old Mama's and Papas song though, the one about Rainy Days and Mondays. But it doesn't, "get me down" like in the song. Rather it gets me sleepy and quiet.
It only rained a tiny bit last week, maybe a little 10 minute shower here and there so the lawn is thirsty. I did manage to stir myself into moving the sprinkler around a little bit so that the plants and trees in the front got watered but the back? Nobody sees the back but me and the bunnies. I didn't bother with that back. Sometimes I'm lazy like that. I guess I knew that, eventually, a day like today would happen.
I was going to grocery shop today but I don't especially enjoy grocery shopping in the rain. Running from my parking place into the store, being wet and chilled in the store-level AC, which is much cooler than is truly necessary the entire time I'm shopping. And then worse, carriaging back to the car with all my groceries getting soaked and then after loading them into the car, returning the carriage. Hey I'm already wet, I may as well properly return the carriage at that point right? Then of course, once home, I now have to bring the bags in the house necessitating another walk in the rain. Soooooo no. No grocery shopping today. We will make do with what we have for today.
Another thing I won't be doing today is washing the floors. And that is for two reasons. One being it takes longer for wet floors to dry on a rainy day. The other being, the instant someone goes outside and comes back in they will be tracking wet onto my nice clean floors. So no. I will not be washing floors today.
Come to think of it, it's also not a good day to do any hand laundry. Kind of the same reason. It's the sort of laundry that does not go through the dryer and must be hung up to dry. On a rainy day, it does not dry well. So no hand laundry either.
Oh! That also goes for paint. I will not be resuming painting the family room today either. Paint will not dry quickly on a rainy day. That just makes sense, right? Put no painting on the rainy day list.
But I could make bread or cookies. I think baking is perfect for a rainy day. And I could read a book. Book reading should be absolutely required for a grey and dreary day. Napping works well also. Listening to that pitter-patter of rain against the windows could lull the crankiest baby or me to sleep better than a lullabye.
I might manage to do some ordinary laundry and I probably could stir myself to sweep a little or empty the dishwasher, maybe even change the sheets. But I will be moving slowly and taking lots of breaks because today I am dancing to the rhythm of the rain.
Hope you all had a terrific weekend.
October 20th, 2017
It's Friday again, my friends. How quickly the weeks fly by, eh? It's nearly Halloween, which means we are on the edge of Thanksgiving with Christmas close behind and a brand New Year quickly following. I'm tired just thinking about it.
I hope you've all had a great week and have an even better weekend to look forward to.
I thought I would give myself and you a break today and leave you with not a lot of words, but a series of pretty sunset pictures to Ahhhh you into the end of the week.
Hope you enjoy. I'll be back on Monday!
Hugs all 'round.
October 19th, 2017
I made a mess.
It wasn't intentional but that doesn't change the fact that a mess was made and I am the guilty party. It's not the first time I've made a mess and I'm sure it won't be the last. And since one of the first rules I made in the household starting from when the boys were little was, "If you mess it up, you clean it up" that meant that I had to clean it up. Okay.
It was hot sauce. I was making chili and as per usual I was doing too many things at once and therefore flying around the kitchen like a ladybug. I grabbed the brand new bottle of hot sauce off the panty shelf and, as I was walking back out of the pantry, I was also removing that bizarre plastic "safety sleeve" at the same time as I was just giving it a good shake (as I always do with hot sauce in case the ingredients have separated a little). Okay lets review I am walking, I am removing and I am shaking. Got it? To my great surprise the next thing I saw was the lid flying off and hot sauce flinging itself everywhere. Polka dots of hot sauce were on the walls, the floors, the doors, the cabinets, the shelves and some of the other items in the pantry.
I don't know what you do in this situation but I nearly always have the same two part response. First I stand completely still, in shock I suppose, then all the marbles in my head fall into the proper holes and I start laughing. In this particular case, I laughed until I had tears in my eyes. I continued laughing while I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. Later, while eating the above mentioned chili, Tim went to refill his water glass. When he returned he asked, "Why is the floor sticky?" and I started laughing again.
I don't know why I find it so funny. I guess I have a strange sense of humour. I've been told that far too many times to count so I suppose it's true. But nothing is funnier to me that real life. And when things surprise me, that is my go-to response, laughter.
There was the situation involving me and a brand new, full half-gallon of orange juice. I was struggling with that little pull tab that unlocks the plastic cap. I had the orange juice jug standing on the counter and I held it in place with one hand as I pulled and pulled at the lock tab. The doggone thing still wasn't coming off. Finally I yanked with all my tiny might! The lock tab came off, the cap came off and in fact the entire half-gallon of orange juice came right off the counter and flew through the air, juice spewing as it tumbled, almost gracefully, in an arc and came to land with a gurgle and a clatter on the floor. I stood stunned for a moment and then the laughter began. I nearly wet my pants laughing at that one.
The list goes on and on and on. I am an accident waiting to happen, apparently. But it's not just me that accidentally makes messes y'know. It can happen to anyone!
One of my adorable daughters-in-law was helping me clean up after dinner one night. Together, very companionably, we chatted and cleaned, loading the dishwasher, clearing the table, wiping down counters and stove tops and packing up the leftovers. She moved to put the now very full left-over container in the refrigerator and somehow the entire thing slipped out of her hands and boom, spaghetti and red sauce everywhere. The fridge, the floor, the walls and her. She turned and looked at me in shock, hands still poised in front of her as if she were still holding the container. I saw little tears forming in her eyes as she said, 'I am so so sorry! I will clean it up" My laughter nearly drown her out. I couldn't even talk I laughed so hard. Laughter must be contagious I guess, because then she started laughing and together we wiped that mess up, giggling all the while.
When I first relayed the story of my most recent mess, so many people suggested that they would not have laughed about it but perhaps cussed a bit. I am so sorry to hear that because the laugh response is definitely a happier one. if you make a mess you are going to have to clean it up anyway, right?. If I laugh while I'm cleaning, when I'm done I'm in a good mood. If I cuss while I'm cleaning, I'm in a bad mood. I'd rather be in a good mood.
So the new addendum to the house rule is: If you mess it up, clean it up but giggle as you go. I think that is a good rule.
October 18th, 2017
What on earth do these photos have in common? Well, most of you have probably never seen any of these particular photos before today for one thing. These are pictures I have submitted to a website called: Viewbug. My sister hipped me to this place and I am completely hooked.
Now as I'm sure I've mentioned a million or so times before, my sister is an amazing photographer. She takes it very seriously and it shows. She has fancy equipment and what's more, knows how to use it. Her pictures have been seen around the world. She has been a finalist in contests that have hundreds of thousands of submissions before. In short, her stuff is good. No, it's better than good, it's amazing. Therefore when she told me that she had some of her work on this site and suggested that I do the same I was flattered. I went to the website expecting to see pretty pictures. It was so much more than that. This wasn't just beautiful photography, it was Art, capital "A".
I was so intimidated by the enormity of the talent I was seeing that I was too intimidated to even consider offering up any of my work. Comparatively, my stuff looks like cave drawings. Come on, I use the camera on my phone for heaven's sakes. And while folks who have seen my work have been kind, I know when I am outclassed.
On the other hand, what's life without risk. It's not like there is a penalty for submitting work that nobody likes. So what the heck. After a few days of oogling other people's work, I took a deep breath and very seriously considered my pile of photos before choosing two or three, created my own page and submitted my photos. Then I walked away feeling as if I had done something a little daring, a little sneaky. Like a little kid sneaking an extra cookie out of the jar and nobody knows.
I was, therefore, shocked, to find the next day that a surprisingly large number of other photographers had actually looked at my work! And I got "likes" and heard things like, "Good composition" and "Great creativity". Wow! Nothing like being validated! That's heady stuff! I felt encouraged to post a few more and then a few more until nearly every day I put at least one new photo up and every day I get a few more people looking at my work.
So now whenever I head out with my camera phone in my back pocket, I find myself looking at the world a little differently, asking myself different questions. Am I taking this photo as an 'art piece' for submission to viewbug? Is this a photo to support whatever I'm writing on the blog? Is this something for Instragram/Facebook? Is this a memory photo to look at 10 years from now and nostalgically smile and remember the event? Decisions, decisions, decisions.
I honestly have no idea what I'm doing when I'm taking a photo. It's all about what appeals to me. I see something that, for whatever reason speaks to me and I hit that button. Boom it's captured. I know nothing of F-stops or lenses. I'm aware that there is a lot of science involved and hopefully very little math. I have learned over time that morning and evening light is best for taking pictures. I think winter light is prettier than summer light. Eventually I have taught myself to slow down and to make sure I'm not lifting the "camera' when I hit the button (that was a hard one). Gradually I'm figuring out how to compose a shot where I'm happier with the result. And I know that I enjoy doing it. That's the most important part for me. For whatever reason, I just love taking pictures, capturing a moment. It is a very rare day when I do not take at least one.
I am rather proud of myself for being brave enough to throw something of mine out there into the Universe. It's not something I normally would do. Generally, I do whatever creative thing I do quietly and then that is the end of it. Oh yes, I have photos (and this blog now that I think of it) on facebook and Instagram but the only people seeing those things are friends and family. And everyone at least hopes that friends and family will be kind. Look, I am being realistic. Whether it's a song I've composed, a story I've written or a picture I've taken, I know it's not going to make me famous. I'm not anticipating being 'discovered'. In fact, I prefer living a quiet rather anonymous life. I've never wanted fame although I wouldn't turn down fortune. I'm not an idiot after all.
But it's wonderful to have a platform to share an interest with others of like interest. Most of us will never meet in person. We don't need to. I've never been a "joiner" anyway. Going to meetings and all that goes along with does not interest me in the slightest. This is different. It's about people all over the world sharing with each other something that they have in common and then supporting each other. That's it. And that is perfect.
The internet can be a wonderful thing.
October 17th, 2017
(I originally wrote this chapter on Tuesday the 17th, but there was some sort of connectivity problem and it never posted. I'm going to try it again for today. Let's keep fingers crossed that it works and Happy Weekend Everyone!)
As we often are, Tim and I spent some time down at the jetty last night watching the sun go down and the boats come in and were tickled once again to see .....BOATDOGS! These boat dogs were having a blast. Confident and comfortable sharing this little boat with their people, these two pups were standing lookout in the bow, occasionally checking to port or starboard, but always right there in the front, quietly alert, tails wagging, tongues lolling, heads up and noses to the breeze.
Not sure how many boats I've now seen with dogs on board. All sorts of dogs in all sorts and sizes of boats. And to a canine, they seem to be having a wonderful time. The first time I saw it though, I was surprised. Probably because I grew up with boat cats. That was the norm in my reality.
As I've mentioned before, my mother grew up on in a little fishing village on the coast of Maine. Her father and all 4 of her older brothers were sea farers or one sort of another. And every single one of them had at least one boat cat. While out on their various boats, the cats might sit in the bow, much like the dogs but with a quieter dignity, y'know, like cats. Or they might walk the perimeter, on the railing naturally, or casually climb the rigging. On a colder, wetter day, it would be more likely to find the kitties snuggled up to their captain, helping to pilot the craft. When ashore, these boat cats would trail my uncles, kind of like dogs, following them to work in the boat house watching the men repair nets or assisting them with one woodcraft project or another until they followed them at last into the house to nap by the stove. One particular uncle, Uncle Ricky, told of how on a longer voyage, the cats were good company. The feline would sit at rapt attention, staring intently into his eyes as he told stories into the night or worried through rough seas, never arguing or giving any sass.
Historically, all sailors were fond of cats as rodent control if nothing else. And in some cultures mariners considered any ships cat a bit of good luck to carry on their voyage. Sailors being notoriously superstitious, any positive talisman was appreciated. I also can appreciate the concept of a good luck charm as much as the next non superstitious person. I'm not a rabbits foot sort of soul and in fact that just plain old creeps me out. I don't carry around a 4-leaf clover either. But a good luck whole entire cat, sure, I'm down with that.
Growing up, we must have been extremely lucky because in all of our many moves we roved by car. And in that car was packed luggage, food and drinks, people, dogs, cats, a bird and once even a fish! (The fish was in a cool whip container of water that had a few holes punched in the top and it travelled from St. Louis to Texas in one very long day on the floor of the back seat between my feet for security - his name was Oliver and he survived the journey by the way). Travelling with creatures other than human was not a foreign concept to me as you can plainly see.
Therefore you would think that the idea of shipboard critters of any sort should not have made me even blink. But the first time I saw a dogs head popping up on a boat deck, I laughed out loud! I do remember that! Part of it was the surprise. It was a very large dog. And the dog was on an even bigger boat. It was silly to be so surprised, but there it was. Boatdogs exist! Cool! It was a whole new, but awesome, concept to me. I've seen dogs in life vests frolicking on deck, helping to reel in the days catch, barking encouragement and really getting excited about the whole process and I've seen really mellow dogs that barely open their eyes as the boat rises and falls with rolling of the sea. And I love all of it. Probably because it's obvious to me how much they love it.
Get out there today and do something that you love just as much.
October 16th, 2017
This was my weekend. Yuck. I hate being sick. I suppose everyone hates being sick. But I am kind of weird about it. I deny it. I refuse to acknowledge that I'm anything less than perfectly healthy and as normal as I ever am. A friend once told me that if asked on my death bed how I am, I will probably answer, "I'm fine". Sounds about right.
I am not grossed out by illness itself. I'm not wierded out by germs and I have great compassion and patience with other people who are injured or sick. I will fetch and carry endlessly, fluff pillows and make soup. I'll change channels, change sheets and do endless loads of bed linens because I know how yummy clean sheets feel especially when a person is sick. I will read aloud until my voice is hoarse, make a hundred pharmacy runs and think of clever ways to entertain or soothe the patient.
But I do not want it done for me because that would be admitting that I was sick and I hate to ever cop to that reality. No. Just no.
A few years back I got the flu which was odd because I always get a flu shot. It is the one and only time I have ever had influenza so I can only surmise that it must have been a different strain.
Because I do not get sick (right) I went to work even though I didn't feel quite .......right. It wasn't something I could put my finger on though so I shook it off and showered and dressed in my nice work clothes. I remember being so very tired while showering that washing my hair was an exceptionally difficult chore. Still I powered through.
As soon as I got to work people started asking me if I was ok. "I'm fine" I smiled back and kept going. "Are you sure, they pressed." "I'm fine I insisted" getting annoyed. But as the morning progressed I started feeling achy all over and then lightheaded. Finally the boss ordered me to the doctor. The fact that I went says a little something. The doc determined that I had the flu and called a prescription for Tamiflu to the pharmacy for me. I fell asleep in the office during the exam. Crazy. I'm not sure how I made it home. I did not pick up the prescription because I wasn't sure that I could.
I remember walking in the house, dropping my purse on the floor, and starting up the stairs. Apparently by the time I got to the top of the stairs I was done because I just lay down on the floor and was asleep. Fortunately, I had the forethought to notify Tim that I had been ordered home by my doctor and he was smart enough to know that I should be checked on because he arrived home shortly after me. He woke me up, practically carried me to the bedroom, tucked me up and asked me how I was. "I'm fine" I said just before falling asleep again. I slept for the next three days.
I'm not certain why I am so resistant to the idea that I am human and therefore flawed. I am not impervious to germs and bacterium and there will be times when I am less than 100%. It's simply a fact. One that I refuse to accept.
It makes me a difficult patient. I do not want to go to bed, no thank you. I do not want to get into my jammies. I do not want to be fussed over. I don't not want to be checked on when I spend the next three hours laying on the bathroom floor. And I do NOT want to be asked if I would like to try a little bit of soup, thank you no! I try to be gracious. I know my loving husband, who is a wonderful caregiver, is just trying to help. But I have to bite my tongue to keep from biting his head off with my replies. I appreciate how fortunate I am to have someone willing to put up with the sick version of me and take care of me in spite of myself.
Because I hate being sick so much, I work very hard to stay healthy. I exercise, try to eat healthy, wash my hands a lot, drink water, and get my flu shot. (although I admit that one time it didn't help, all the other times it did). I keep a good attitude (I'm convinced that good attitudes help too. I may be deluding myself but it certainly cannot hurt). Just sometimes, no matter how hard I try, some nasty germ still finds me.
Whatever the bug was that I managed to contract this time around, it was thankfully short lived. Horrible but brief. Today I'm fine. A few pounds lighter, but fine.
Hope you all stay healthy through this annual season of the dreaded flu. And if you do get sick and you are lucky enough to have a loving caregiver, remember to be nice to them no matter how you feel.
October 13th, 2017
It's your day, Triskaidephobics! It's Friday the 13th and this close to Halloween too. How appropriate.
Ever wonder how certain ordinary things have come to represent something bad or portend evil like, black cats for instance. Why black cats? How is this little cutie face something evil? By the way, this was Gypsy, one of the many kitties in our past. She was the dearest, sweetest (not the brightest by the way) cat ever. Not an evil whisker about her. So why does she represent something bad?
Well, superstitions came to pass out of ignorance. Things that people couldn't understand a very long time ago, were attributed to powers beyond their understanding, sometimes good (when things went they way people wanted them to) and evil (when things did not). And the evil/good attribute is utterly dependent on each specific culture.
For example, the Scots believed that a black cat signified prosperity (things must have gone well in that house where a black cat lived) whereas in western cultures a black cat was thought to be a witches "familiar' and therefore a demon. Possibly a crotchety old woman that others thought to be a witch owned a black cat and the association was complete. In Japan black cats are a positive thing in most of Europe, very bad.
There is just no understanding superstitions really. Perfectly reasonable, educated, rational people can have a very real, irrational, unreasonable fear of opening an umbrella inside the house, which obviously brings bad luck (??) Well I suppose if you accidentally knock grandma's antique vase off the table while opening said umbrella, it will indeed mean bad luck for you. But that is probably not the umbrellas fault.
But that's what phobia's of any sort are; unreasonable fears. Regardless of what your 21st century, educated brain is telling you, the body still reacts with fear. Literally, a phobia is a strong, irrational fear of something that posses little or no real danger. We all have at least one. Think of a superstition like a phobia. There are probably as many superstitions the world over as there are phobias.
Itchy palms brings good luck and/or money. Walking under a ladder is bad luck (if the paint spills on you, yes). Finding a horse shoe is good luck. Breaking a mirror brings 7 years of bad luck (I wonder why 7 years specifically?) And it's good to know that to reverse all that bad luck, you only have to knock twice on wood.
Even saying, "Bless you" when someone sneezes is a superstition. A long time ago, folks believed that that a sneeze opened the body to evil spirits. Saying "God Bless you" which morphed into just "Bless you" was a charm that shielded the sneezer from being invaded by those spirits. I am guilty of this one. It's automatic. If someone sneezes, even a total stranger, without a second's thought I say, "Bless you". They nearly always thank me. Which is sweet but I don't think either of us is concerned with evil spirits. I think we believe we are just being polite.
It is thought that the origin of the bad luck associated with Friday the 13th stems from the Last Supper where Jesus and his 12 apostles gathered for the last time. But was it a Friday? In Greek and HIspanic cultures it's all about Tuesday the 13th. In Italy it's Friday the 17th.
So you see, it's just a day. An ordinary day. Any power it has, we have given it. If we believe that bad things happen on Friday the 13th, then bad things will indeed happen. It's called a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So have a great Friday the 13th my friends. Or a bad one depending on what you prefer.
October 12th, 2017
Apparently my New England/Colorado sensibilities are refusing to accept what a Florida autumn looks like. I found myself fiddling around with courtyard décor this week. And yes, we area all well aware of my distinct lack of artistic ability. It's not perfect, but it'll do. It's like a nod to true autumn.
I guess it was no longer sufficient to just have apples in the house. I was actually considering making a jack-0-lantern but between the temperatures, which are not conducive to jack-0-lantern longevity and hungry night critters, I decided to not bother. This will have to suffice.
About those night critters of which I spoke by the way. I'm told that there are raccoons that get into people's trash though I have seen no sign of them. Our garbage cans remain unsullied. But I am aware that raccoon's do not have a particularly discriminating palate and for all I know, jack-0-lantern pumpkin is an elegant repast for them. There are also a few coyotes that roam. I have nothing against the coyotes. They are not menacing people and I've heard of no pets that became lunch in the area but people here are freaking out about it anyway. Poor coyotes. Just trying to live their little coyote life, eating squirrels and bunnies and probably lizards. But I digress.
I am starting to want to make autumn foods, not just the yummy desserts of which I usually speak, but things like baked macaroni and cheese and chili and stews and roasts. But it's still a little warm out for heavier foods like that. I am beginning to contemplate a Thanksgiving Day menu and even thinking about Christmas the teensiest bit. Sure signs of autumn.
It is cooling off a little bit and the humidity is much improved. But it's not sweater weather yet. I'm still out prowling the island in shorts and sandals on foot. And I've been eagerly waiting for cooler, nicer weather to get back out on my bike. I know that tourists are out on their rental bikes even in the middle of the worst part of summer but as someone who occasionally IS a tourist I feel perfectly qualified to state that tourists are crazy. I prefer to wait until the humidity and temperatures both ease up to do any serious biking. Biking is hard work! It's fun but any physical activity is killer in the July - September window which makes it a lot less fun.
I've started getting Christmas catalogues in the mail and they are stacked neatly in a pile on one of the end tables in the family room for me to peruse at some future date. Obviously another sign of autumn. Local restaurants are suggesting that people make reservations for Thanksgiving dinner, bakeries suggest that you order your pies and the butcher shop wants you to sign up for your turkey early. The grocery stores have row after row of enormous bags of tiny little candy bars and lollipops for trick-or-treaters.
And, now that I think of it, most of these are things happen everywhere this time of year. So I suppose, other than the palm trees, autumn looks pretty much the same no matter where you roam across these United States.
October 11th, 2017
Who feels like baking today? Me, Me! I do! Well, to be absolutely honest, I feel like baking most everyday, but I resist. Who needs to eat that volume of baked goods? Not I certainly. And since it's been a long time since I had a houseful of kids and their cohorts to eat said baked goods, it's best that I don't indulge in this activity anywhere near as often as I would like. However! Today I have a good excuse. There are three rapidly deteriorating bananas on my counter top which is the exact number of bananas required to make banana nut muffins ;) Funny how that worked out. Do you want to bake muffins with me? Sure you do. Sounds like fun!
As always, the first thing I do is gather all of my ingredients. We will need:
mashed ripe bananas
First up, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Isn't that an odd concept.."preheat", heat the oven before you heat it? It's like pre-boarding on a plane. Get on the plane before you get on the plane? And as whichever comedian it was who said it, "We don't get ON the plane, we get IN the plane". Communication people!
At any rate. Next up is mashing the 3 really ripe bananas. One of my favourite parts. It's like kneading bread. Get out all of my aggression and hostility. Personally I use an old potato masher that I picked up at a yard sale. But a fork, I'm sure, will do just fine. If you have a baby in the house, you will also know that if you have no other option, you could mash bananas up with your hands. Babies can mash bananas like nobody's business! They are the masters of banana mashing.
In a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon thoroughly mix together 1/2 cup of cooking oil and 1 cup of granulated sugar. I am not certain why, but a wooden spoon really does work best for mixing this. Do not use an electric mixer, the bananas aren't supposed to be pureed, just mashed.
Two eggs come next. Add them one at a time, fully incorporating one before adding the other. Just makes it all come together more smoothly. When I'm in a mad rush, I just throw them both in and people are lucky I got the shells off first. But honestly I can tell from the texture if I added them together or one at a time. Strange but true.
The batter is now a lovely bright yellow colour. It looks perfectly happy. So let's throw in the mashed bananas. Which initially looks rather disgusting, but after you stir madly, not so bad, I promise.
It's time now for 2 cups of flour, 1/2 tsp of baking powder and 2 tsp of baking soda. I generally add the baking powder and baking soda to the flour first then sift it all together into the batter. That way there are no clumps of dry ingredients in the wet ingredients. Always kind of gross to bite into something sweet and get that dry mass of salty yuck. We will not be having that happen here today!
It's all looking a little dry and goopy at this point so to remedy that it's time for 3 tablespoons of milk and stir
Then a mere 1/2 tsp of vanilla and stir again. We are nearly done now! It's getting very exciting!
Once the milk and vanilla are fully stirred in it looks better. Yes! That's the texture I was looking for. Perfection! So it must be time to mess it up! That's right, time to add the nuts. I've used walnut or pecans but I suppose any unsalted nuts you have in the house would be fine. Make sure they are chopped up into similar sized bits. Not too finely though. A nice coarse but even chop is perfect. I like LOTS of nuts in this recipe (and I'm sure you are not surprised at all about that). I didn't measure but I'm going to say, probably a cup. Go ahead stir them in gently.
Make sure your muffin tins are greased. You can use shortening if you like, I often do, but it so happened that this time around I used that spray stuff. I am honestly not a huge fan of the spray stuff but I have a can of it and I didn't have much shortening. I would rather save the shortening for another baking adventure like maybe gingerbread or molasses cookies than use it up greasing a pan.
I use a ladle to scoop batter into the muffin tins. I just works well for me. The bowl of the ladle is the perfect amount for the giant muffins I like to be the end result. But you do whatever works for you. Lord knows that kitchenstores have a zillion different options to choose from.
Ready for baking. Every oven is different of course, so I would say, set your timer for 20 minutes and then check on the muffins. Add time as needed. I happen to know that my oven requires exactly 25 minutes. You know they are done with they are a lovely golden brown and if you delicately stick a thin knife into one muffin, it comes out clean. When they are ready they will look a little something like this:
Let them cool in the tin for about 5 minutes before removing them to cool on the rack. Let them cool completely before storing. These happen to freeze exceptionally well in a zippy bag with all the air squeezed out. That's if there are any left to freeze. They tend to disappear like magic!
I wish you could smell this smell. Computers are amazing but as yet, I cannot transfer this fragrance to you and it's a shame. Because now here comes the best part of any baking adventure. Quality control. Hey it's a legitimate and essential step in any cooking or baking project. I nominate....me! for this task.
Oh yeah. That's yummy!
Hope you enjoyed baking with me today! Let me know if you think this "baking lesson" was a good idea. If so I will occasionally do it again. If not, I'll bake quietly by myself :) Either way, it's all good. Hugs all 'round.
October 10th, 2017
This is my most recent "guilty pleasure. Peanut butter filled pretzels. Yummmmm. And not just any sort, mind you, the store brand which comes in a rather large container so that I can be not only bad, but really bad, I suppose. They are crunchy and salty with that creamy, peanut-buttery middle. Perfection. At least at the moment, they satisfy my cravings perfectly.
For years, I mean years and years and years. A. Very. Long. Time, M&M's were my guilty pleasure. What am I saying? I never felt guilty about it one single bit. M&M's were, in my opinion, nature's most perfect creation. I had them in the fridge at home. I had them in my desk drawer at work. I had them ON my desk at work (the party sized bag of course) and thanks to my friend, Aaron, in a clearly marked, M&M emergency container in my purse. It was usually empty of course because, well, M&M emergencies happened. Any chocolate was a pleasure, but M&M's specifically were what I craved.
But shortly after we moved here, that constant M&M craving went away. And was replaced by a craving for all things salty. It was so odd. Until now, I had never been especially interested in salty things. Suddenly, that was the one thing I wanted most in the world. Finding out what new thing was going to fill this new "hole" took some experimenting. Veggie chips were good. Ritz crackers, not bad. Pita chips, meh. Craving remained unfulfilled. Then, one day, I happened across a box of the peanut butter filled pretzels and the light dawned. Could it be? Was this finally the one? I bought the box, brought it home, opened it up and Yes, Yes Yes! This is it! This is the thing!
I'm mystified as to why this is my new "thing'. They are dry. They are salty. The peanut butter inside is definitely not what you might call top notch quality. And if you peek inside (I did. I couldn't resist) there is nothing appetizing looking about them whatsoever. And yet! It satisfies my craving, at least for now, like nothing else.
Without any scientific proof whatsoever, I am going to take a shot as to why my cravings changed. When we lived in Colorado, at nearly 6,000 feet up, the blood thins and the body has to work harder to manufacture iron which is very important. And with my tendency toward anemia already a fact, maybe my body was craving what it was missing - Iron. Oh and there is iron in chocolate. And if you eat as much of it as I did, well there you go.
Currently I live at 7 feet. That's right. 7 whopping feet above sea level. That's one foot ten inches more than my own height. My body apparently now creates enough iron to satisfy it's greedy little clutches. However, it's warm out. In fact, from July through September it's freakin' hot and humid. And if ever I was going to sweat, that would be the time. I need to replace the salt that my body sweats out. Craving salty things! Hey maybe that's it! I cannot explain the peanut butter part. Well wait, peanut butter has protein (along with a ton of fat of course). Since I rarely eat meat maybe it's the protein in the peanut butter?
Well that's my theory anyway. As the temperatures cool off we will see if this addiction for peanut butter pretzels goes away. I can't remember exactly how it went down last Winter. Everything here was knew. I do know I was craving salty and I remember being surprised by it. I also know that while I still enjoy chocolate, I no longer have that deep down craving for it. And in fact, there was a box of chocolates in the fridge for MONTHS last year that eventually I just threw away. THREW AWAY??? That's just crazytalk!
The only salty thing I have thrown away since we moved here were empty bags. And while I do not lower myself to lick the inside of those empty bags before throwing them away, I have been known to lick my finger and press it to those lovely salty, crispy, pretzel crumbs to get every last bit.
Satisfying cravings. There is at least one of the secrets of happiness.
October 09th, 2017
There are surprises and then there are surprises!
For example, Tim and I had both read about a boat show that was happening in Sarasota this past weekend. I would like to mention here that we both learned of this from different sources. We both enjoy Boat Shows in general and this one was in the Sarasota Marina which has a lovely park with nice wide sidewalks that go all around it's perimeter. In fact, there is a sign that indicates, "Fitness Trail" with an arrow pointing at this walkway encouraging folks to circumnavigate. We enjoy walking there and thought it would be a nice bonus after the Boat Show.
We arrived and were surprised to immediately find a parking spot. Normally, at a boat show, that is not the case. That should have been our first clue. We walked the short distance to the marina and while there were a lot of boats (it is a working marina after all) and there were lots of people, there was no boat show. We were surprised again and this time, disappointed.
But undeterred, we skipped to part two of our goal, the literal walk in the park. To get to the park, we merely had to walk past the boats docked along the front and found.....
the pretty walkway was flooding! Surprise again!
At first we were mystified. It was a beautiful day, light breeze, mostly sunny with a few big puffy clouds. What's the deal with all of this water? Did somebody leave the faucet running?
Of course we didn't let a little water deter us. We aren't going to melt after all. When we got to the park, it was just more of the same. Water, water everywhere. The water was so high that is was bubbled just tad higher than the walkway. It felt as if, at any moment the boats would just slide forward right up onto the sidewalk. And in fact, at least a couple did. Tim found a bench that wasn't already flooded and behind him I could see the water creeping up.
As we waded through, we wondered what was causing this flooding. It was especially tough to reconcile on such a gorgeous day. Was the park and/or the marina sinking? Was this evidence of global warming? Then it struck us. Hurricane Nate. It was all his fault.
How bizarre that a weather event that was happening in New Orleans, LA and Mobile, AL was impacting us so strongly! Think about it. New Orleans is, at minimum, a ten hour car drive away. And that's with Tim driving, not me so you know there is no lollygagging. Wow! And this wasn't even one of the big storms. Yet this flooding was happening where we were. Storm surge! Kind of mind boggling.
On our way home, Tim decided to drive along a road we particularly like because it runs right along the water. Water on one side, beautiful homes on the other. Think, Pacific Coast Highway. This particular road goes both north and south, though probably 95% of non-residents only turn south on this road. The south turn takes you for a long beautiful drive that curves and wanders for many miles. The north part is probably less than 2 miles long and there is no turn around at the end. It's also a bit narrower and honestly a little less well maintained. So of course, we turned north. You might have seen the facebook video I posted of this drive. But just in case you did not, here is a still shot.
That was another surprise! Whoa! The part that looks like beach on the right is actually the front yards of some incredibly gorgeous homes. The water just deposited a small beach there in the driveway. We turned around (k-turned in someone's driveway..sorry about that folks) and went home.
Still we couldn't resist checking out our little beaches here on the island. The yellow flags was waving fiercely at the lifeguard station and undertow alert flags as well. There were only a few people out walking the beach and nobody swimming but as expected there were a couple of die-hard surfers and para-sailers in the water.
The jetty was closed because about half of the parking lot was flooded. It was wild. But okay. We were duly impressed and now fully recognize the importance of paying attention to not just OUR weather but anyone in the gulf region. Got it! We will be careful. Exciting, cannot deny that but we also realize the potential dangers. We will be cautious, we promise.
If you don't mind getting a little wet, there was great splash though.
October 06th, 2017
Back to culling. It's this whole zen ish sort of thing. Making your life simpler by having less "stuff". About not defining yourself by the amount of "stuff" you manage to accumulate in your lifetime. I don't disagree with it. "Stuff" can hold you back, tie you down and complicate your life unnecessarily. Less "stuff" makes our lives easier and sets us free.
However, I'm not a minimalist really. I have pictures on top of the big old cabinet in the living room, tchotchkes in the bookcases with the books, an entire shelf of vases in the pantry, a treasure box of shells on the bottom shelf of an end table in the family room and we all know that my Christmas tree looks like Christmas threw up all over it. It definitely looks like people life here. This is not a museum, an art gallery or a model home. The idea is to have less "stuff" not no "stuff.
I've been putting off going through my clothes and shoes for awhile. In fact, I've managed to not go through the guest closet (where I stashed a lot of it) for well over a year now. Procrastinater extraordinaire! But yesterday I got the urge to at least begin. I started with shoes. I don't know anyone who wears my size shoe. Nobody else in the family does at least. And it's a shame. I hate the thought of just throwing out some really good quality shoes. So instead I decided to donate whatever I managed to part with.
And how on earth did I manage to accumulate so many? With the exception of the hiking boots of course, these are all "work" shoes. Well, y'see, my foot size hasn't changed and I worked for a long time in a professional environment where I wore heels nearly every day. Over the years, when you buy decent quality shoes and take good care of them, all of a sudden you wake up one day and you have this. It's not as if I had hundreds of pair after all but this is a nice bakers dozen.
My life now doesn't require this many shoes or even this kind of shoe honestly. I think I have worn heels twice in the past 16 months. Which means I could probably get away with keeping just one pair for high heel wearing occasions. But you know that's not going to happen. I did get serious though. I tried them all on and walked around the house with them. (which looked pretty funny with my shorts and my sandal tan, I'll tell ya!)
There is something alluring about a good pair of high heels, whether they be strappy sandals, pumps, open toed, sling backs, gladiator or anything else. We walk differently in them. We stand differently in them. Once a person has mastered the fine art of walking properly in them, there is a level of confidence attached. People treat you differently when you are wearing high quality clothes and shoes with confidence. And in my case, I'm taller. I love being taller.
So after much consideration and no small amount of regret, this is what I ended up with. A half dozen pair of heels. Okay, it's not a huge amount of progress but it's still a step forward. (forgive the near pun) I can wear heels with skirts, slacks, dresses or even jeans Yes people, heels can even make a pair of jeans look dressy. So if we go out to dinner or to the theatre, both of which we have been known to do, I can put on any of these shoes even with a pair of jeans and I am good to go. With a nice top of course, not a ratty old tee-shirt.
Some day I may whittle it down even more but for now, this is good. I kept both pair of black heels because I couldn't decide between them. The red ones are because, well they are red. Red shoes are sassy and snazzy and sometimes that is exactly how I feel. Red shoes are the bampow of a wardrobe. Couldn't get rid of the red ones. The two neutrals (beige and bronze) well one is basically a high heeled sandal (for warm weather) the other is a closed toe sling back for cooler weather. Good basic wardrobe design...neutral...goes with virtually everything. The sparkly ones? Well one never knows. I might need to attend a movie premiere or an awards ceremony or some other black tie affair. Hey, it could happen! And I am prepared! The hiking boots are well, for hiking of course. I've been known to hike.
So the rest I boxed back up, loaded them up in the car and immediately drove them to Goodwill before I changed my mind. The shelf in the guest closet has more room now, which was at least part of the point of this exercise. The other part was streamlining my life. Getting rid of anything unnecessary. And you just have to trust me on this, black patent leather Cole Haan Heels are absolutely necessary.
October 04th, 2017
One year ago today, I took a deep breath and the advice of a surprisingly large number of people and began writing my blog! That very first one was about the reno of our kitchen, complete with photos and not a lot of text.
It was tentative, as first steps usually are, but I learned as I went along and now I probably have too much text. Somehow, I always seem to have a lot to say. But it was very clear that I had no idea what I was doing. It's been made fairly clear over this past year that I still really have no idea what I'm doing, but I hope it's also evident that I'm having a good time doing it.
I felt rather arrogant believing that anyone would be remotely interested in anything I had to say. And worse, I had no idea what I would be saying. I knew from the onset that I didn't want to be held to rigid parameters so there would be no definitive description. I have been asked, countless times, "what is your blog about?". Hard to answer. Initially, I couldn't answer that because I didn't have any idea what I would be writing about. That is still the case. Every day, I sit here in the early part of the day, usually still in my pj's, bedhead a halo around my head, squinting at the screen wondering what I'm going to say. And the, somehow, an idea pops into my head and I'm off to the races.
Occasionally, I have an idea ahead of time and then I can prepare a bit more. Even more rarely, I will actively seek the photos for a topic. But usually it's just a photo I've recently taken that gets me launched. So I guess the blog is about whatever I'm thinking about that moment. And it seems that I'm always thinking about lots of things. Sometimes the ideas come from other people's suggestions. I love when that happens!
Thank you, my readers, for occasionally taking the time to read my blog and sometimes leaving me a comment. I love when whatever I've written touches people in some way. Even if it's to correct me (actually I greatly appreciate when that happens! So thank you) and even if it's to disagree with me. When a reader and I do not share the same feeling about a topic, there is a terrific exchange of ideas and I love when that happens! Engaging in an intellectual debate is my meat and potatoes. Sometimes a reader will completely agree with me and feels compelled to tell me so which I also adore. There is such satisfaction in being validated by others.
So basically I think I'm saying that I'm going to keep writing until I run out of ideas and I don't see that happening anytime soon. This blog is sort of the journal of my journey through life. The photos I'm going to keep taking for my own pleasure regardless if anyone else ever sees them. The words are just the thoughts flying around in my head. Sort of an internal dialogue. Up until I blogged, most people never heard them. My biggest concern was that committing those words and photographsin such a public way would leave me feeling a little vulnerable sometimes. Honestly, it still does. But as my readership continues to grow, I feel more confident that it's all okay.
So a huge Thank You to everyone who has ever read this blog Thank you for coming along for the ride. I appreciate the company.
October 03rd, 2017
Living in Florida, the signs of autumn are a little harder to discern. There are no trees sporting a bright red/orange/yellow coat of leaves, and while the air is a wee bit cooler and the humidity is far more reasonable, it's certainly not the crisp chilly autumn of my youth, nobody is bundled up in sweaters and scarves, and the frost is absolutely not on the pumpkin.
The signs of autumn are far more subtle than other places I've lived. Oh there are a few indications: the Halloween costumes on display at Walmart, pumpkin spice latte signs in the Starbucks windows and of course, my favourite, apples for sale in the farm market.
Pumpkins are nice, don't get me wrong. I do love pumpkin pies, pumpking cakes, pumpkin breads and while I am not very good at it, I've been known to carve a jack-o-lantern or two in my time, but apples, there is my little autumn heartbeat.
My favourite eating apple is a McIntosh. Hard to come by down here but my local farm market carries them for a few weeks and I eat them just as fast as I can buy them. Granny Smith of course, are best for baking. And then there are roughly a zillion or so other types of apples on display and I need to try them all. The only ones so far that I definitely do not care for are the ones most often seen in ads and commercials, Delicious apples. The name sounds so appealing but I just do not like them at all. Pretty to look at but no thank you to eating.
Courtland, Macs, honey crisp, Figi's, Pink Lady, on my the list does go on and on. Johnny Appleseed knew what he was about when he planted apples willy nilly. Apples are not just a great sign of my favourite of all seasons, Fall, but they are so versatile. Caramel apples, toffee apples, candy apples yum. Pretty much any apples on a stick is a good idea. Apples pies, cakes, cookies, tarts, crisps, turnovers, Yes I love them all. Apple cider, apple butter, applesauce, apple bread, all divine. In fact, better than divine, they are divoon (thank you Stacy). Apples with porkchops, apples with sauerkraut, apples with sweet potatoes and bacon. Apple in salad, apples with pears, apples in chutney and compote too. Baked apples, fried apples, dried apples and the dried apple dolls my great grandmother used to make, mercy!
I like my fruit seasonally, I admit. Strawberries in June, Peaches in August and apples in October and then stop until the next season. I am aware that I can probably find most fruits any time of year nowadays but somehow it takes part of the delight of it all away from the experience. When I wait until those apples (for example) are ready in the fall, when they snap when I bite into them and the juice sprays out onto my chin and I end up wiping it off with the back of my hand and slurping a bit to not waste a drop, when the taste is both sweet and tart and the flesh is firm to the touch but not rock hard, when there is so much flavor the room is scented by them as soon as I sit them in a bowl on the table.....well I would rather experience that for a few weeks a year and glut on them at that time before eagerly awaiting the next perfect apple season, than eat a mediocre or tasteless, mealy mooshy imperfect apple year 'round.
Not to imply that perfect apples look perfect because they most definitely do not! It's not about how they look, it's about how they taste, how they smell, how they feel in your hand. About the size of a softball, about the same firmness too. No signs of worms living within of course, but a few gentle bruises don't put me off. I will rinse it under the tap and shin it up on my shirt. I do not know why a shirt shined apple tastes better than and unshined one, but it does. But they might be oddly shaped, lumpy and awkward. The perfect apple probably does not sit well on the countertop, which is why they are corralled by bowl in my house.
As a kid we prolonged the apple experience by having arbitrary rules. First the apple eater had to twist off the stem while saying the alphabet. supposedly, the letter the stem broke off on was the first letter of the name of the person the eater would marry. This was a VERY important step. Some people then peeled their apples. If you peeled it, the peel was supposed to come off in one perfect spiral. I like the peel myself so that was a non-issue for me (unless I'm baking of course). If sharing an apple, it would probably be cut first in half, so that the lovely heart shape of the core was revealed, the shiny brown seeds glistening within then in quarters and then again for little wedges of apple. We would flick the seeds callously to the ground. We were warned to not eat the seed for fear that they would take root in our little bellies and grow inside of us! We would caution each other but giggle while we said it, even as little children we knew how silly that idea was. Then we would crunch away, gobbling up that appleish goodness, then lick our fingers clean. Sometimes the dog would lick our fingers clean for us. What's a few germs between friends eh?
When I was in college, I very rarely managed to get to the cafeteria for meals due to my work and school schedule. So instead I walked a few blocks to a mom & pop grocery store and bought a bag of apples and a box a cookies then stashed them in my dorm room closet. I pretty much lived on those through the autumn. It was enough and it was perfect.
I've already eaten my apple today and I have enough to get me through this first week of October. It may not keep the doctor away, as in the old saying, but every October you will find me at a farm market with a bag, a peck, a bushel of apples until they are gone once again. Then I will wait until next year to dive in and indulge, once again, in my happy appleness!
What is your favourite first sign of Autumn?
October 03rd, 2017
I offer you here a random sampling of chairs from around my house. Each is different but really, when you get right down to it, they all perform the same function. They all offer you a place to sit. Not standing, not lying down, but specifically, sitting. Simple enough.
Sitting is a good thing. The perfect way to share a meal, drive a car, tie a shoe, or read a book. I probably sit too much, which would explain my porportions but regardless, there are times when sitting is not an option.
At the doctor's office, the lady behind the desk invariably says, "fill this out and take a seat". Similarly at the DMV, the dentist office, the bank and anywhere else a person is required to wait. At school we were told to "find a seat". School desk chairs are notoriously uncomfortable but still, we all did as directed and found a seat. Casino seats are very comfortable. They want patrons to be there as least a long as there is still jingle in our pockets. Trains, planes and automobiles are all designed for people to sit.
Digressing only slightly, I have this theory about chairs. Well chairs and butts to be specific. I have this idea that bottoms, the human gluteus maximus, the derriere, if one's sensibilities are more refined, are similar in nature to goldfish. Goldfish grow to the size of their environments. Meaning, that if they are kept in a tiny bowl, the fishies remain tiny. If they are moved to a larger bowl, they grow larger. I believe that if we sit a lot, our fannies grow to the suit the size of the seat of that chair....the sitters environment. I have no scientific evidence to support this theory other than the size of my own butt and the chair I most often sit in, but I stand by my theory.
Back to the matter at hand. I don't expect much of a chair other than it allow me the opportunity to sit in it at least marginally comfortably for whatever period of time I am required to sit. It's especially nice if my feet touch the floor while I sit and I am not left feeling like a 3 year old, feet dangling in the air. I tend to sit very straight which probably comes from all those years of playing violin and living in fear of my teacher, Mrs. Kring, poking me in the back with the very pointy ivory tip of her own bow in her effort to improve my posture. Then there is the short girl problem of the person in front of me invariably being taller than I which also requires me to pose in that chair with what appears to be excrutiatingly good posture but is rather, an effort to see.
What is my point? I'm getting there, albeit slowly. Recently I treated myself to a pedicure. It's something I rarely do. In fact the last time was more than a year ago. So I had forgotten about the massage chair trend. Every nail salon that I've been to in at least the past 15 years has massage chairs for it's customers. While I appreciate the effort to offer what most people would consider a luxurious experience, I do not like massage chairs.
As I have mentioned repeatedly and anyone who knows me is aware, I am short. 5 feet two inches if I think tall thoughts and stand very straight. These chairs are clearly intended for someone taller than I. Nothing hits in the right place. They push buttons that have the chair massaging the air above my head. Additionally, the customer is, apparently, supposed to lean back. I'm not comfortable leaning back. Leaning back implies that I am relaxed. I am not relaxed during a pedicure. Think about it. There we sit in a public place, shoes off, with a total stranger doing things to my feet. It's an odd situation all around. I sit up straight. If you want my feet to be where they can be worked on during this session, I need to sit up straight. Otherwise, they are dangling somewhere in space. Sometimes the chair shakes rather violently during it's massage circuit. That seems counter productive while you are painting my toes. Wouldn't you prefer me to be still? The parts of the massage that actually touch my body are uncomfortable. They poke and prod and rotate painfully. It's just not relaxing to me. I have had massages that I've thoroughly enjoyed and benefitted from but it was not done in a chair with a dozen other patrons sitting at my side and it definitely didn't leave me bruised.
So it's very clear how I feel about a mssage chair. Imagine my surprise yesterday, when I reclined in the dental chair and immediately realized that oh no! Another massage chair. I get it. It's supposed to help relax me. It did not. While not as uncomfortable as those in nail salons, it also was something I would not voluntarily choose. It felt like kittens were kneading my back. I don't particularly care to have the experience of kittens kneading my back while I am at a dental appointment. To say that it was a surprise would be an understatement.
All I require of a chair is that it sit there quietly and allow me to place my keister on it's horizontal surface for a few moments. I do not need it to move around, unless it's rocking. I love a rocking chair. But that is a story for another day.
It's good to be back people. I've missed you. Hope you missed me a little bit too!
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.