Tiny Little Frog is here! My favourite map ever!
This past Wednesday was hiking day, as per usual so Joy and I headed out on our Photo Safari! Finally one of our favourite Hiking places re-opened (It's been closed since July!) so we did not pass Go, we did not collect $200, we went directly to Carlton Reserve! Yahoo! The fact that Carlton was open once more was a happy surprise which set the tone for the entire excursion. This shall be called the Hike of Happy Surprises!
As you already know (gosh I've said it enough times now!) we start out early on these hikes. We love that early light:
And we don't mind the wet feet from the heavy dew:
One of the best surprises were the number and variety of birds that we saw! Lately on most of our hikes we've primarily seen the same birds over and over. This time, there was a much more interesting variety. We think that it might have to do with the place being closed for so long? I did not get pictures of every bird we saw. Sometimes they just zoom by so fast that I'm not quick enough. Other times, I just stand there gaping in awe and just plain forget to lift the camera for the shot which is the reason I have no photos of the two hawks we saw. Dang. I'm not sure why I didn't get the 4th kind of woodpecker (yes we saw 4 different kinds in one day!) or the cardinal but hey. It is what it is and I got what I got. But here are some of the others:
There were actually a lot of different kinds of butterflies but I only was able to get a good photo of one kind. There were a lot of different sorts of bees (I don't think I got any of those), dragonflies (got one) and so many spiders!
There were flowers and seed pods galore. The seed pods are especially dear to me because, other than the deliciously cooler temperatures, it's the only way we know that it's autumn here. While they may not be pretty in the traditional sense, I think they are beautiful.
We were out there for about 4 hours and only managed to cover about 4 miles which is kind of slow, I realize, but that's because there are so many things to see. And if you don't just stop and look around, you will miss the most amazing things. We go to great lengths to capture the photos we are seeking but it's only because we enjoy photography so much and the quality of our work matters to us. We go off trail, climb up on top of things we shouldn't climb on, kneel, sit and lay on the ground, wait so patiently a LOT and wade into tall grasses, prickly thickets and marshes trying to get just that perfect photo.
Okay, here it is, the end of the road, my favourite category, The Rando Files:
It truly was a hike of Happy Surprises. It was our first bluebird of the season, the little yellow warbler bird is nearly impossible capture because they move so darned fast. The little frog on the map was a delightful surprise, the beautiful day that never got too hot, the fact that Carlton was open again were all surprise. The fact that we didn't have to jump any creeks or build any frond bridges or double back at all were wonderful surprises. It wasn't crowded, we saw no feral hogs or bitey snakes and Joy did not get eaten up by mosquitos.
Every hike should be this good. Sounds like a plan to me.
Do you enjoy puzzles? How about real life mysteries? I do. Or at least I used to.......
Yesterday was a Wednesday like almost every Wednesday. It was hiking day with Joy (I will write that up for you tomorrow). I had my camera bag and my water bottle bag loaded and ready to go before 7:30 am. Just before Joy came to pick me up, I did what I do every single morning which is to pour some water in the small water dish that I keep in my potted garden so that tiny things, like Butterflies and Bees have access to water. I wrote about this year or so ago, I don't know if you remember or not.
The "water dish" is actually a rock I found (on one of our hikes coincidentally) that has a depression in it which turns out to be perfect for holding just enough water for smaller creatures. It was perfect for them and they really seemed to appreciate it. I have seen many little beings utilizing it on a daily basis. Yay!
But I found, very quickly, that filling it from the hose or a glass or even a water bottle was tricky because it was so small. So I used a tiny pitcher that I had. (note the past tense). I had this tiny pitcher for a very long time. It was one of my first purchases at an antique store. I think I was in high school at the time. I bought it because I was charmed by it's tiny size. I had no idea what on earth I would ever do with it. It was cream coloured with a blue design and made out of some sort of china. It had "Staffordshire" printed on the bottom of it. It looked something like this but was not much more than 2 inches high:
I quickly found that I had to refill the little water dish several times a day so during the day I would leave the pitcher outside on the nice wide arm of the old double Adirondack chairs that we have in the courtyard by the potted garden and the water dish. Anytime I passed the kitchen window I would peep out to see if I needed to, as Tim says, "Water the Rock". If I was returning from a walk or the museum or the grocery store, I would check and if necessary, I would refill the water dish with the pitcher, so handy, right nearby and then put the pitcher right back on the arm of the chair.
The Adirondack Chairs were perfect to set the tiny pitcher on. They are sturdy and extra wide. Whenever I sit outside to read I can set my glasses, a drink and/or my book on those arms with no worry about any of it falling off. If you are unfamiliar, the chairs look a little like this only without the snow:
Soooooo yesterday when I returned from the hike, I stepped into the courtyard and before I walked into the house, I did what I always do and I checked on the water level in the dish. As I suspected, it did need to be refilled. Without looking behind me I reached for the tiny pitcher aaaaannnnddd...it wasn't there. What? I turned and looked and nope, no pitcher. Well that's odd! I was absolutely positive that I watered the rock before I left that morning.
I went into the house and put all of my gear on the kitchen counter and looked at the window sill above the kitchen sink which is where that tiny pitcher lives when it's not outside and it was not there either. "Curiouser and curiouser", as Alice said.
I turned around and went right back outside and took a closer look. Aha! There on the ground by the back leg of the adirondack chairs were a few tiny china crumbs and a wet spot. Dang. Very obviously, my tiny pitcher somehow got broken. I was bummed. I told Tim about my broken pitcher and he was surprised and sorry for me that it happened. Insert sad face here.
Clearly this wasn't a situation where a passing lizard or frog kicked it over in a fit of pique or in a case of general rambunctiousness. While I suppose it's possible that squirrel or even a bird could have accidently dashed a bit of crockery to the ground as they zoomed by, they absolutely would not have cleaned it up. And the small collection of china crumbs that I found did not account for the entire pitcher. Where were the rest of the broken pieces?
No idea. Clearly someone, and I am positive it was by accident, bumped the chair which made the pitcher fall off. Obviously it broke and our mystery guest realized it and picked up all of the pieces. Removing the evidence maybe. Or just to clean up their mess perhaps?
I suppose it's my fault. It was stupid of me to leave the pitcher outside. But you know, I've done this for more than a year now with nary a problem so I guess it never dawned on me that it could possibly be an issue. Plainly china and courtyard pavers are not a good combination.
I admit that I'm sad about the loss of my cute little pitcher. But I am more curious than anything about who did it? Or should I say, whodunnit? We don't get a ton of visitors. And the builder guys never come in the courtyard. The courtyard is in the front of the house. The project is in the back of the house. If you want to talk to one of our builder guys, you have to go into the backyard to find them. If someone was in the courtyard, why were they there ? And Who the heck was it?
We will probably never solve this particular mystery. But mystery it is. Guess we need to get Inspector Poirot on the case.
Buttery, Flaky, Light and Delightful. Ladies and Gentlemen I give you, The Croissant. Every time I say the name I feel a little pretentious but when I eat them, I feel, perhaps a little Parisian? Clearly, I am a fan.
Still, I hadn't had one in years. I had not even had even the tiniest glimmer of a thought about croissants cross my mind in years. Then out of the blue, about two weeks ago, I was struck with one of my weirdo cravings. Suddenly, nothing would satisfy me but a croissant. It was my first and last thought every day. I tried to resist. I really did. But when I get these kind of cravings it becomes totally consuming. Eventually, I gave in. (we all knew that I would) "Okay okay okay!" I told myself, "You can have a Croissant. But just one!" Then the dilemma became finding one.
Naturally I checked the grocery store bakery. Every Monday I do the grocery shopping anyway, so while I was there a week ago Monday, I checked it out. I knew that I had seen them there before. I searched that bakery both high and low. I checked out every shelf, every table and every display. Zero Croissants. Dang. I took that as a sign that I was not intended to actually have a croissant. It was like the universe was telling me a big "No".
Oh well, I thought to myself, it's not as if I actually need a croissant. I just want one. I was determined to put it out of my mind. I intentionally thought of many other things. I kept myself very busy. And it didn't work at all. Not one single solitary bit. As per usual, the only way for me to resolve a craving is to give in to it.
Last Friday, Joy asked me to do a little shopping excursion with her downtown Venice. Absolutely yes! Not only would I get to spend a little unexpected time with my sister, but I would be distracted from my croissant desires. This would be a good thing! And it was. We popped in and out of a half dozen or so shops on the avenue and chatted and laughed and did what we always do when we spend time together. And one of the things that we did was to walk past the French Bakery in my town.
It's not as if I wasn't aware that we have a French bakery or even that it temporarily slipped my mind. Of course not! Venice is my town. I live mere blocks away from the downtown area. I have walked past this bakery on a regular basis for 5 years now. I was trying to obey the message the Universe gave me which was No Croissants for Sam!
But as we walked down the sidewalk and we neared the bakery, which is called, "Croissant and Company" by the way, I found myself walking right in. Without a second thought or a moments hesitation, I stepped right up to the counter. To the nice girl behind the counter who stepped right up to help me I said, "Deux Croissant S'il te plait". If I'm going to be pretentious, I am going to do it all the way. She bagged my order, I paid for it, "Merci" in two directions and it was done. So much for my resistance. I defied the Universe!
I did mange to wait until I got home to eat one and it was not just consumed, it was devoured! I fell on that first Croissant like a starving lion on an unfortunate gazelle. It was not pretty. But it was delicious. And just like that, the craving was satisfied. I offered the second one to Tim but he declined so I ate the second on the next day. Far more slowly and politely, but with just as much pleasure. Now I no longer crave croissants. If you offered me one right this minute I would say, "No thank you" without a seconds hesitation and no regret. It will probably probably be years before I have another mad craving for one.
I do not understand these crazy cravings. But I do understand the delight of a beautiful croissant. In the end, I'm glad that I didn't find one at the grocery store. Publix is a great store and has a perfectly fine bakery. But there is something special about buying a beautiful perfect croissant at a French Bakery that completes the experience beautifully.
The origin of the croissant, if you are interested (clearly I was) is actually Austrian! Way back in at least the 13th century there was something called a Kipferl made in Austria that was often filled with nuts. (not unlike a rugelach). In France, in the 1830's, an Austrian artillery officer named August Zang, founded an Viennese bakery in Paris. One of the things he created there was the Kipferl, but he tweaked it a bit to give it more of a French feel by using puff pastry and voila, the Croissant was born. Within 30 years, it was a breakfast staple in France.
There are many variations of the wonderful Croissant all over the world, all with their own geographic twists and often called by other names: Medialunas, Xuixos, Cornetto, and Ay Coregi are a few of the names I came across. One of the longest is from Poland, it is rogale świętomarcińskie. I am not going to embarrass myself by trying to pronounce that. So if I ever travel to Poland and am overcome with a craving for croissants there, I will have to just point and smile. And then I will eat and enjoy!
No matter what you do to a Croissant to adapt it to your culture or countries cuisine, I bet it's still absolutely wonderful. (but wow that was a lot of the letter C!)
I am laughing at myself. The amount of energy and time I put into resisting a craving only to (nearly always) finally giving in to it, is ridiculous. I should have just walked over to the French Bakery a week earlier and purchased the darned thing and gotten it over and done with. Ultimately, we all know that I was going to give in at some point. Maybe I just like torturing myself?
At any rate: Mission accomplished. Craving satisfied once again. Moving on.
Let us all raise our voices in celebration! Huzzah Huzzah! After a long pause, at long last we have some semblance of a roof! YAYAYAYAYAY!
Hmmmm Doesn't look too impressive from this angle. Let me try again:
That's better :) Once again I wanna hear Roof Woohoo's! YAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!
The roof/ceiling is not complete of course. Of course! Like everything having to do with construction there are a lot of different steps and stages involved. And this year, many, Many, MANY, gaps in activity. And that's just how it works now. It's nobody's fault. There is no finger pointing or yelling, no stamping of feet. Just a flurry of activity followed by a long intermission.
Our activity flurry (that followed yet another pause) happened over this past weekend. Our builder contacted Tim on Friday and said that he could get the guys there on Saturday and was it okay to have work happening over the weekend? Well, we for sure are not going to say "No thank you, we prefer our workers to be here Monday through Friday". Heck no! We were grateful that our builder found people willing to give up their weekend!
And these guys tend to start early in the day. I mean crack of dawn early. Which meant we got up early too. I already know that technically we didn't have to get up early. You don't have to bother to write a little note telling me that. You are correct. It was the weekend. We could sleep late if we wanted to. It's not as if our presence was required (or desired frankly). There was absolutely nothing that we were bringing to the table. (well we are paying for it, but other than that I mean). So I suppose we could have slept late if we wanted to, except that we couldn't.
To be more accurate, I couldn't. There is something wrong in my head where I cannot just relax and enjoy my lovely sleep-a-little-later weekend while someone else is working hard near by. Especially if it's for my benefit. Just cannot do it. It's the same way that I cannot just sit and relax during the day when they are working. Trying to just take a break during the day to read a book for a half hour while those construction guys are lifting and hauling and hammering and sawing is impossible. BECAUSE I feel too guilty.
Something similar happened back in Colorado, when Tim and I were both working full (and sometimes, frankly, overfull) time. Every once in awhile, as a "treat" for me, Tim would hire someone to come in and do a full heavy-duty clean of the house, to give me a break. As much as I loved the gesture (and I did), I found myself, first of all, cleaning the house before they got there (because clearly I am insane) and then I would have to leave the house entirely while they worked because I am incapable of just relaxing and enjoying myself when someone else is working . Guilt. Can't do it.
Well also I'm not sure we could have slept through the sound of people building a roof either. So there is that. Even I could hear the associated roof building noises. I mean without my hearing aids even! Oh yeah, it's not a quiet time activity. But the results are awesome.
In short, it was not a restful weekend at all. BUT it was a productive one. As I stated in the beginning. We now have the beginnings of a roof! Yay! I believe the next thing is addressing the exterior of the roof and then insultation on the inside? I'm not sure, honestly. I mean our builder guy is terrific about communicating. He lets us know what's coming up and what isn't even though he expected it to. He is very good at keeping us in the loop. But right now, this minute, I don't actually know for certain when whatever happens next will happen. But it will. Eventually. And the prospect is Very Exciting!
Bulletins As They Happen!
What a pretty morning! It was cool and golden and felt fresh and new. What's that you say? It's perfect for hiking. Why yes it was, you are absolutely correct. And that's exactly what we did. Which of course means that it's time for the Photo Safari Report! This one is for sure the Bug Bite Hike. It was bad. It was so bad that we ended up leaving the first preserve and moving on to another for fear that Joy was going to need a transfusion before we were done. Poor little thing. She had mosquito bites on her mosquito bites!
To be fair that particular preserve is the perfect environment for biting sorts of insects It's by a river, it's very shady and, of course, it was early on a beautiful autumn day meaning it was cool and damp. Hiking near bodies of water can afford some gorgeous and unique photographs. But other times, it's just bug heaven. This was the latter. And for whatever reason, those mosquitos just love Joy.
That particular hiking spot, the Sleeping Turtle Preserve has some beautiful trails. The early morning light, as I've said umptyump times before is gorgeous. The early morning hike meant wet trails but not to worry. Wet shoes do not stop us. In fact the mosquitos didn't stop us either. Just had us moving a little faster than usual. Some photos of the beautiful trails:
We honestly did not take as many pictures as we normally do at our first stop. We heard a Lot of birds, but didn't see many. It was still not warm or sunny enough for many butterflies or dragonflies and there were remarkably few pretty flowers or interesting seed pods. Here are a few of the things I did see:
We decided to move on to Curry Creek Preserve. Despite the "creek" in it's name, it is a much less "buggy" hike with sunnier spots. We hoped that would also mean more pretty photos. We were not disappointed on any level.
Here are some of my favourite shots of creatures both big and small from the second preserve:
I have to show you how tiny that adorable little tortoise was. Here is a comparative of Joy's shoe to that sweet baby:
Honestly, I didn't even see him at first. Joy is the one who spotted him. We were concerned because there was a workers truck driving around the trails while we were there and nobody would ever see him from a truck! So Joy gently moved him to the other side of the trail where he could continue on his travels unharmed. I'm sure he was very grateful!
We spotted a lot of pretty flowers and other growing things:
This time of year, the seed pods are as pretty and unique as the flowers:
I don't have think I have anything for the Rando Files today. Ratz. BUT there's always next week. Another Wednesday, another hike, another Photo Safari Report.
I will leave you with one last photo. Joy took this one and I just love it. So for no reason at all, Joy's photo of my camera!
Have a Great weekend Ya'll
Behold, my grocery store dress. And by that I do not mean the dress I wear exclusively to shop at the grocery store. No, this is a dress I bought at the grocery store. Even to me, that sounds like of goofy.
Grocery shopping has changed a lot in the last century, Before the 1920's, people didn't go to the Grocery Store, they went to the Market. And if you shopped at the market for fresh produce, you got your meat at the butcher shop, milk either directly from the dairy or from the milk man who came to your door, bread came from a bakery and like that. It was very compartmentalized.
Somewhere in the roaring 20's some really clever person came up with the idea of combining all of those different shops into one. It was called a Super Market. Not "super" by today's standards of course. While there was meat and produce and baked goods, it was limited in both quantity and variety. But it was one-stop shopping which made busy people's lives so much easier. To prepare for tomorrow's breakfast the woman of the house could suddenly buy milk and eggs, bacon and oranges (for juice), bread and either corn flakes, wheaties or cream of wheat all under one roof. It was was an exciting time for shoppers!
By the time I was a kid, most Super Markets had become Grocery Stores. The first Grocery Store that I remember was the Piggly Wiggly chain. I did a little reading about that particular store and they claim to have been the ones who were the First to allow shoppers to make their own selections. Up until then, customers handed their list to a clerk who chose the products, packed it and sometimes delivered it. It was a revolutionary idea to set up a store in such a way that shoppers walked around, randomly, making their own choices! They were also the first store to put prices on every package and have refrigerated cases for foods that really ought to be cold. All that and yet I wasn't aware that Piggly Wiggly even existed until we moved to Texas. It was the most remarkable super market I had ever seen. Every trip to the grocery store was exciting. It was so big! There was so much variety!
Now, here in Florida, we generally shop at Publix. It is a very nice store. Very clean, very organized, the staff are all exceptionally nice and again, it is a big store. Even the smaller ones (like the one here on the island) is a good sized store. It has a wide variety of things. Not just the food items such as: meat and bread and milk and fruit that used to require multiple stops but also (like most grocery stores nowadays) toiletries, cosmetics, over the counter medications, socks and cleaning products.
Almost whatever you need is right there in one store: pet food, lightbulbs, batteries, cotton balls, wrapping paper and school supplies. Greeting cards, magazines, chip clips and silly straws are handy. Paper back books, birthday candles and air fresheners specifically made for your car are within easy reach. It wasn't always this way, but I like it. It's efficient. A time saver. I vote yes to Super Markets and Grocery Stores!
Now, perhaps because we live in an area that has a lot of visitors, our store also has pool floaties, postcards, fishing supplies and sweatshirts that say Venice Florida on them. There are sunglasses of all different styles, hats and an entire wall of clothing. I am aware that these super extra things are in the store but I never really paid any attention to them before. I've been in that store at least once a week for that past five years and the clothing part so unimportant to me that I had kind of forgotten that it was there.
Until this past Monday. I decided to pick up a couple of lottery tickets and there was a bit of a line. Not a long line just a slow line. That's ok. I used to time to people watch, a fun hobby. I utilized my observational skills a bit. And that's when I noticed a lady very purposefully walking over to the wall of clothing. She zero-ed in on the dresses and patiently, one at a time, she would remove a dress, consider it and then hang it back up. Over and Over. Interesting. Eventually she made her decision and walked away. But the dress she left hanging front and center, I kind of liked. Hmmmmm.
In fact I liked it enough that I made my way over to the same rack and took a closer look. The dress was navy blue with a white and sporadic rather odd fish design and, as it so happens, I like both the colour navy blue and odd things. The label indicated that the dress was 100% cotton. That sounded very comfy to me. The label also declared that the dress was machine washable. I do appreciate easy care. And it was very reasonably priced. Hmmmmmm. I tossed the idea around in my mind for all of 30 seconds and then, impulsively threw it into my cart and finished my shopping.
I was a little concerned once I was home and had put the groceries away. I am rarely that spontaneous. What if it doesn't fit? Worse what if it does fit, but it's not comfortable or looks awful? How long does a grocery store dress last? Will it fall apart after the first washing?
Turns out that while it is a little big and I probably should have bought a small instead of a medium, it's super comfortable. And you know what? On really hot days, I don't want my clothes touching me anymore than absolutely necessary. This one only touches my shoulders. I like that. I wore it to the museum with my white denim jacket (it's cold in there!) on Tuesday and I looked perfectly museum appropriate. No one looked askance. Clearly it was good enough. And then when I got home, I threw it right back into the laundry pile. I just did the wash again today, and there it is hanging up ready to wear once more. So Simple, So Easy!
It never really dawned on me before to do my clothes shopping at the grocery store, but hey, I am a believer. I really and truly like my Grocery Store Dress! What will they think of next?
Yeah, you recognize this. It's a Wawa. They seem to be everywhere. At least around here. But it's merely a representative of any multi-pump gas station that also has a little store inside.
Over this past weekend we had an experience at a gas station that made me wonder if we were being punked. Surely nobody is really that clueless, that inconsiderate, that rude..... are they?
Here's the story:
One of the things Tim and I did over the weekend was to gas up my car. Because I rarely drive and never very far when I do, I do not have to put gas in my tank very often. Literally months go by with no fill ups. But over the weekend, because he is a sweetie, Tim took the time and went to the trouble of not only filling my gas tank but also taking my car through a car wash. What a nice man!
This was a weekend day, so obviously the gas station was going to be busy. We knew that. We were prepared to have to wait. And as expected, every pump had a car already parked beside it and a lot of cars coming in and going out. The place was packed. No problem. Tim pulled in behind a car that had a young man cleaning the windshield. Tim has done that many times. It's a smart thing to do. Taking advantage of the squeegee set out for that exact purpose. We watched as this fellow carefully and meticulously cleaned his front windshield, the covers for the front lights, the side windows (both sides of the car) the back window and all of the lights in the back of the car. He did a really nice job. Very thorough.
As soon as he replaced the squeegee in the spot provided, we were prepared for him to get back into the car, behind the wheel, put his key into the ignition and zoom away. But nope. That's when he decided to fill the tank. What? No no no. The correct order is, you put the nozzle in the car tank opening, lock it to fill and then clean the windows WHILE it's filling. There is a proper order for things. What the heck?
We grumbled a little but ok. How long does it take to fill the tank of such a small car. No big deal. It's a little aggravating but hey, not really a big deal. Except as it turns out, he wasn't filling the tank. Nope. We thought he was going to do it. I mean, he reached for the nozzle, his hand was actually on the handle. Come on guy, you can do it!!
But nope. Just as he was about ready to fully grasp the handle, the girl in the car with him, jumps out to show him something on her phone. Naturally he had to stop what he was doing to look at - whatever it was - which took a his full concentration. And of course he had to come to a complete halt to do so. And it wasn't enough to look at the thing on her phone. Nope, then they had to stand there and discuss it. At length. They giggled and smiled and laughed and then either looked at the same thing again, or perhaps some other related thing. I only know that there was much cellphone admiration going on and then chitchat and then more admiration. ARGH!
A slot opened up opposite this couple so Tim backed up and moved into that spot. He immediately jumped out of the car, put the nozzle in the gas tank and began the pump as he correctly, began to squeegee the windows. Meanwhile, I glanced at the couple who are now beside us expecting that for sure by now they are done with the phones are he has begun to pump gas right?
Nope. Now they head into the Wawa store. Together. With the car still parked at the pump. The gas nozzle still not engaged. I sat there with my mouth hanging open in shock. Here we all are at this super busy gas station and I am watching this couple as they first walked toward Wawa leaving their car parked at the pump, NOT pumping gas. What the actual heck? About 10 seconds later I see them return to the car and I'm thinking, oh they realize that they should move the car first. Nope. They forgot their masks.
His was in his pocket so he found his quickly. Her not so fast. First she pulled out her purse and rummaged through it. Then she tossed the purse back into the car and, I assume, was hunting through the car. All I could see was her legs. There was some sort of conversation going on the entire time. Occasionally she would pop back out of the car to say something and then boop, back she would go, on the search for her elusive facemask. Eventually, triumphantly, she emerged, mask held high in the air. Yay. Success! Mask Found. Wearing big smiles, arm in arm, masks in place, back they went into Wawa to get...whatever it was they got. Might have been just a potty stop, could have been for drinks or sandwiches, maybe snacks or gum, or just lottery tickets. Wawa has a lot of stuff.
And that's fine. The stuff is there for you to buy. Go head. Indulge in a giant Icee and a Snickers bar. Get some chips and a hot sandwich. Buy the commemorative Tee-shirt. I don't care. BUT DON'T PARK YOUR CAR AT THE GAS PUMP unless you are actually actively filling your tank! Especially at a gas station as busy as this one was.
I have seen a lot of inconsiderate, rude, thoughtless and entitled behaviour before. But that one took first prize that day. I have no idea how long they were in Wawa because Tim was done filling the tank, cleaning the windows and anything else that needed to be done. We were on our way out of the station as they were walking in the doors of the shop. Their car was still sitting at the pump like a giant paperweight, other cars having to work around it. I can only assume that once they finally emerged from the store, goodies in hand, they would eventually, finally fill that gas tank and be on their way.
I have no idea what on earth they were thinking. Were they thinking at all? I know that when you are young and in love it feels as if the two of you together are the only people in the world. But news flash, you are not.
I have, of course, seen other equally thoughtless and self-centered behaviour before, but this was a new one for me. Just when you think you've seen it all. Wow.
You might recall, a few weeks back, I wrote about Tim and I exploring part of something called the Ted Sperling Nature Park up in Sarasota. The part that we walked that day was the Mangrove Tunnel. And it was very cool with fiddler crabs and well, the spooky Mangroves. But we knew that eventually we would return to do the rest of the hike.
That is where we headed on Sunday. The remainder of the hike lay within the confines of South Lido Park which in turn is a terrific place! First of all, can you say, "Free Parking"? It is a rarity in a lot of beach areas and very much appreciated. Also there was a very large, very nice, very clean public bathroom. Yay for that. There was a lot of different beach access points, big yay there, picnic tables grills and secured garbage cans and a nice looking playpark for kiddos.
It's hard to describe this area. This particular part of Sarasota is it's own island or Key (or Cay it's sometimes spelled) and has the famous (or infamous perhaps) St. Armands' Circle with it's wonderful shops and restaurants. There are big fancy schmancy homes and lots of condos and vacation rentals, a beautiful beach which we already were familiar with. But we had no idea this beautiful nature park was stuffed into this little space as well! Who knew? Not us. South Lido Park and the nature trail are on the outside edge that has both beach and wooded area. Here's a birdseye view:
We were obviously not walking by the condos and hotels. Nope we were hiking around the other side.
It's a popular place, particular with locals who were picnicking and listening to music and sometimes literally dancing on the sand. Kids were having a game of catch or splashing in the water or napping in hammocks strung between trees. It was a happy place. And part of it is bay rather than gulf, certain kinds of boats and jet skies can drive right up to their chosen picnic spot!
Looks like a party to me :) There were the boats and jetskis in the water, but there were also kayakers and paddle boarders. A nice variety of ways to be in the water, other than swimming I mean.
But we primarily stayed on the trails. They were nicely maintained with spots of both sun and shade and occasional little offshoots that take you back to the beach just a little farther away from the crowd. We checked out all of the trails including one with a board walk that crossed some sort of very shallow tributary. There seemed to be a little bit of everything.
We saw a lot of butterflies. I managed to get photos of a few:
There were a lot of flowers and other interesting plants:
Probably the most exciting part of the day was when Tim rescued a jelly fish! We saw quite a few small jellies floating about at the water's edge. The best we can guess is that the wake of a passing boat or jet ski might have pushed the poor little jelly fish up onto the sand and he couldn't get back to the water. Poor thing. Tim found a stick and carefully kind of rolled it over and over back into the water where it it immediately bloomed. Then bobbed and floated back out with the rest of it's crew! Tim Humphreys, hero to jellyfish!
There were birds everywhere but most of them just hid in the thickets and high in the trees surrounding us. We could hear them but only saw them if one of the suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, zoomed by us. I did however, get a few sea birds by the water who either aren't quite as camera shy or just don't care.
It was a short hike, only about 2 miles long, but we enjoyed it. I hope you did too :)
Joy is Back! Woohoo! So of course, today's post will be our first hike in awhile. In honour of the occasion, I will call this one, the Joy is Back Photo Safari Report!
For our first foray back onto the trails, we decided to revisit Oscar Scherer State Park. We got there before it opened and had to circle a few times 'til the gate was unlocked. It's a timing thing. Part of the reason we like to start our hikes early is the lighting. Early morning hikes offer some really pretty early morning shots like this:
Another reason we like to hike the trails early is that there are far fewer people. We don't like to hike in a crowd. But mostly it's because that's when the birdies are active. If you want photos of birds, the best times are early in the day or late in the day. The coolest bird we saw was a bald eagle way in the tippy top of a tree in the distance. But still very clearly an eagle. This is the time of year when they return to reclaim their territory. Joy was the "eagle eye" who spotted it:
We found some interesting bugs as well. Some familiar, some very very very Unfamiliar! As in ..."what on earth is this?" which is almost always followed by, "How cool!" :
Do I even have to mention all the pretty flowers that are blooming now that the worst of the heat is gone?
There were squirrels and bunnies a plenty too, all keeping a careful eye on us. In fact, there was one trail that we opted to not traverse specifically so that we would not disturb the rabbit. We try to be thoughtful:
I'll finish up with my favourite category.....the rando files:
Well I guess that's the highlights from the Joy is Back Photo Safari. We will be back out there, somewhere, cameras in hang, next week. Which means I will have another Photo Safari Report for you next week!
Have a GREAT weekend!
I promise you that this will (probably) be my last post about the book sale at the library. But wow, this just ...well....it's... I guess it really is true that you get what you pay for and at sixteen books for five dollars, this book cost roughly 31 cents. I guess that's fair enough.
This was the first book I chose to read out of the bag-o-books that I got last Thursday. I chose it randomly out of the stack and took it with me to the museum on Tuesday, just in case it was a quiet day. And it was. We had only 4 guests the entire time I was there and there just wasn't much other busywork that needed to be done. So, patting myself on the back for being smart enough to bring a book, I settled into read.
It's the story of an Irish family living in the countryside of Ireland in the 1920's. I was captivated from the first page. It was well written, moved forward nicely and had very well developed characters that, ultimately, the reader really gives a darn about. It's not Hemingway or McCourt or even Gabaldon but it was a very enjoyable read and I finished my museum shift mere pages from the end of the book.
So naturally, as soon as I walked back in the door at home, I quickly finished the tale. Well I thought that was what I was doing. Nope. When I got to that last page I was surprised...no wait, I take that back...I was shocked to read the final sentence. "End of Book 1"
End of book one? Why didn't the start of the book say, Beginning of Book 1? Or maybe on the cover it might have indicated that this was part of a trilogy? The cover just says, "a novel" which is true, it is a novel. There is the title and the author's name and a very old photograph of five children. That's it. No Part One, No Trilogy warning. This came out of the blue. ARGH!
Inside the front cover I found that the book is signed by the author (nice bonus). The following pages have things like the regular publishers stuff, the Dedication Page, ("To John, the believer"), Acknowledgements and the Author's Note. Nowhere on ANY of those pages does it indicate that this book is part one of three. I even re-read the back of the book which has the little summary part and information about the author (who co-incidentally has retired to Florida!) but the summary also fails to mention the fact that there are two more books in this series. Dang.
It was published in 2006 so it's possible that out there somewhere in the world are the remaining two parts and now I must find them. I need to know what happens! Partly because it really was a good story that didn't really feel finished (and now I know why!) but partly, I confess because now that I know there are two more parts, it's incomplete, unfinished. Like a puzzle with two missing pieces (ARGH!) or a television show being cancelled at the end of the season on a cliff-hanger (ARGH!) Or someone playing or singing a song all but the last line. (ARGH!) And side note, why on earth would anyone do that? Continue the song to the very end! Please! I'm begging you! Commercials do that all the time when they utilize an existing song for their ads and then the song is stuck in my head for days!
So now, as I said, my mission is to find the other two parts of the series. The first logical place will be the library. Perhaps it's there? It's possible. Unless they were also purchased at the big book sale by other unsuspecting folks who now also have only part of the story. I suppose that's possible.
And if I cannot find it there, I will have to resort to Amazon. And if I must, I must. I cannot leave this story unread. I must find out how it ends. I am not the person who ever leaves the play before the last act. Nope, I always stay to the bitter end. Oh gosh, wouldn't it be funny if after all this angst, I search and search and finally find the other books, and they are terrible? HAHAHAHAH
Doesn't matter. I need to find them anyway.
Pavement Rejuvenator eh? Sounds a little like Snake Oil to me. Funny I should say oil.....
One thing I will say for sure about the very pretty town where we live, it's very well maintained. It's always clean, there are lovely flowers everywhere, the parks are nicely cared for and clearly, as you can see by the photo above, the roads are looked after. I appreciate all of those things. And actually I think it's really nice that the town bothers to go to such lengths to notify it's citizens when things are about to get ugly.
Tim and I returned from a noonwalk recently to this tag on our mailbox. The town sent some poor souls out to walk all over the island, putting this paper on every single house in town. Wow! That's impressive.
What wasn't quite as impressive was the actual "Pavement Rejuvenator" itself. Big Stinky.
The inconvenience I expected. We were, essentially, trapped here in the house for a few hours that day with all the big noisy trucks and workers doing their jobs. An important job, no doubt, but for some reason, the area directly in front of our house seemed to be HQ that day. That seemed to be where most of the trucks and workers were congregated. Not a huge deal. The windows were closed which cuts down on the noise and in all honesty, there wasn't really any place we needed to go that day anyway so being blocked in was really not a big deal. And if we absolutely had to get out, I have no doubt that they would have maneuvered those big old machines this way or that to find a way to let us out.
It wasn't even the oily icky ugly residue left behind that bothered me much. You see, to get to the absolute edge of the road, the product actually also went onto everyone's property. So there was a nice even coat of "Pavement Rejuvenator" not just on the road but also parts of the lawn, the mailbox, the driveway (and therefore the newspaper in the driveway). And the bottoms of our shoes anytime we stepped into the driveway, the lawn or the road which also meant it came into the house. (grrrr)
The biggest annoyance about it all was the smell. It's a petroleum product and therefore it has that unmistakable and absolutely nauseating petroleum smell. For days afterwards, that nasty ugly icky fragrance lingered in the air. And sadly, it followed us back into the house. That oily scent kind of "clings". Anytime I was outside I wanted to immediately come back in to change clothes, wash my hair and shower. Get the newspaper and shower, water my potted garden and shower, get in the car to go to the grocery store come home and shower. Well of course I didn't, I would be water logged by now if I did, but the desire was strong.
In short, It Was Nasty.
According to the flyer we received, any material tracked into our driveways (or into the house?) will "weather off" in three weeks and leave no stain. But the same literature does say that children and pets should be prevented from stepping in treated areas so as to avoid tracking it into the house. It should also list adults who are just trying to access their own mailboxes for heaven's sakes!
This all happened last Friday and here it is Tuesday and the smell has diminished. It's not gone, but it is better. The road and the edge of the road and the edge of the driveway where the dang newspaper lands every single day, still looks oily. Presumably 3 weeks from now it will look fine, as promised in the flyer. We shall see.
I am going to presume that's it's a "short term pain for a long term gain" situation. And I will try to stop complaining about the yuck on the bottom of my shoes anytime I need to walk across the dang street. Who knows, maybe when it's all cured and the three weeks have gone by, maybe the road (and the driveway) will look absolutely Great! Maybe the roads will look 20 years younger!
Hmmmm, maybe I need a little pavement rejuvenator.
Library Sale! Oh wait, I should be clear. They weren't selling libraries, they were selling books at the library. At any rate, what you see in this bag is an entire sack of happiness ;)
I just happened across the article in the local newspaper. I do read the paper every day, but it's not as if I read every word on every page. Like the sports section and the classifieds, for example. I'm not into sports and I'm not planning on buying anything being sold via the news. But other than that, yeah, I at least skim most of the pages. Admittedly, I pay more attention to some sections than others.
Like the A pages. I always do read that front page, including the continued on parts, editorials, and naturally the comics. Everything else gets at least a cursory glance. But I almost never pay any attention to the ads. I don't know why that is true, but, in fact, it is. We all make choices. Apparently that is one of mine. But it's why I'm surprised that I noticed the article at all.
The article was in the A section above a good sized ad for a local restaurant and beside a story about the improvements to our local dog park. (There is a really nice beach front dog park here on the island. Doggies even get their own beach area to frolic. But as we have no dog, it's not really required reading on my part). So it would have been understandable if I had missed it. But somehow I didn't. Yay!
Our local library - as do many libraries nowadays - has a little used book store. I walk by it every single time I go to the library but I had never been in it. Why on earth would I buy a book if I can borrow one for free? But according to the newspaper, last Thursday, Friday and Saturday for a measly five bucks, I could buy an entire sack of books! Ok now that makes good sense! I'm in!
It was a pretty day so I walked over (dumb idea), with my money in my pocket and hope in my heart. The event began at 10:00, I arrived at 10:06 and there was a line that was soooo long...Oh My Goodness! Clearly I live in a book reading kind of place! No worries, I was prepared to wait. Eventually some frantic looking ladies with lanyards indicating that they were in some way affiliated with the library, came by and asked every person how many bags they wanted. How many bags? Wow! I foolishly assumed that there was a finite number of books they needed to cull out of their inventory so we would be limited to one bag each. Nope. People were asking for 2, 3, 4 (or more) bags! Holy Cats!
Me and my one little bag slowly made our way to the front of the line so that I could peek inside. I was trying to get the lay of the land, so to speak. I had no idea how it all worked and I like to kind of size things up in an unfamiliar situation before jumping in. I saw racks and shelves and more racks and shelves and tables and tables pulled into the library lobby and that seemed like a good place to start. Except that mostly what I saw was people. Lots and Lots and LOTS of people!
Most of the people were folks like me, excited to get a new batch (or 2 or 3) of reading material. Luckily there were also library workers constantly attempting to replenish those shelves and racks and tables. I say attempting because there were attendees literally clearing shelves. Literally. They weren't randomly selecting one book and giving the summary a quick read to see if it's something they might enjoy. Nope. They were doing one armed sweeps from the shelves into their bags. Holy Cats!~ I wasn't comfortable competing with that level of "shopping" so I moved on to the used book store itself.
There was, of course, another line. Because it is a small store, that day made to feel even smaller by the sheer volume of people in it, they were only allowing so many people in at a time which makes perfect sense. They had a large, quiet man standing in the front giving the go-ahead to people one or two at a time. He was very good at his job. He never had to raise his voice but he stood firm with quiet authority every time someone tried to skip the line altogether or even cut into the line. He was awesome.
While I waited, I couldn't help but hear conversation around me. Sometimes it was just book talk about favourite genres or authors. I learned that a much larger percentage of people there than I certainly ever anticipated were there specifically to get books for their developments clubhouses. Other times it was about plans of attack, as if this was an important battle that future generations would have to learn about in history class. Ok, it may not have been a battle, but it was absolutely a skirmish.
And it's going to be excruciatingly obvious as you read this next part, that I have never ever gone Black Friday shopping or participated in one of the massive high end store sales (although I've heard stories and it sounds like what I experienced here).
It was a mass of humanity. People were absolutely crammed into the narrow aisles and it was the most peculiar experience to have zero respect given to my personal space. I was pushed, shoved and bumped over and over. As I squeezed myself into my first aisle people reached over my head and right next to my face. Arms thrusting past my face, my arms and even my legs as they grabbed books all around me. It was an entirely new experience to reach for a book only to have it snatched away before I got a good grip on it. It was wild! If you ever mentally pictured library going, book loving people as quiet, polite well behaved ladies and gentlemen wearing glasses, with sensible shoes, sipping tea as they read, you are entirely wrong. This was not this group. It was not so much a book sale as a feeding frenzy of book sharks.
I tried to make myself as small as possible and, as one of the shorter people there, I concentrated primarily on the lower shelves which weren't quite as popular with those taller folks. I spent much less time than I normally would making my selections but I did choose them one at a time, after skimming the summary. I had no idea how many books were in my bag but it was getting pretty full. I gave it a quick check. I definitely could squeeze a couple more paperbacks in there but, I was starting to feel more than a little claustrophobic by then and decided that whatever was in my bag was sufficient. I had gotten my money's worth.
I fought my way back out of the stacks and headed toward the exit. The doorway was in my sight and I was slowly moving toward it with the crowd, when I noticed a table of oversized art books. I don't actually know the correct name for them, but I have always referred to them as coffee table books and everyone knows what I mean when I say it, so let's call it that. Without intending to, I found myself stepping out of the exit line toward the table of big beautiful books.
Immediately in front of me was a book on Impressionist Art. One of my favourites! As I thumbed through the book the noise, the crowds, the pushy/shovey disappeared and it was just me and those beautiful examples of one of my favourite genres of art. My heart filled. Yes! This is my book! Then I saw another similar book, this one on Renaissance Art. I need that one too. And then a third book on famous photographs, Dang I needed that one too! I lifted the first book only to be reminded of how very heavy and awkward those big books are.
I hung the bag-o-books on my shoulder like a purse and the straps immediately were alternately digging into my shoulders and slipping down my arms. That's ok, for books, for art I can do this. I picked up the first art book and held it against my hip like I used to carry school books and babies. So far so good. The second book on the other hip. Like a careful balancing act. I scolded myself. You can do this! Except that I actually couldn't. I had no hands free to pick up the 3rd book. And I quickly came to realize three things. One: Dang those coffee table books are heavy! Two: While I can do anything I absolutely have to do, I didn't have to do this. It was not a life or death situation. It was a want rather than a need. Three: I was an idiot who chose to walk the mile to the library instead of driving. I put all three books back and sadly walked away. sigh.
I had to be honest. The red bag of books was already slipping and I knew that I would be dropping and picking up the oversized books all the way home. That is no way to treat a book.
Once home I removed the books from the bag and admired them in their stacks. I came away with no beautiful over sized coffee table art cooks BUT I had sixteen (16!) brand new to me books to read. Hurrah!
It was a new experience and it was crazy. But if the library ever holds another event like this I absolutely will attend. But next time I will drive there.
On Wednesday, I decided to take myself on a little morning walk around the island. It was such a pretty day. Exceptionally nice after a long summer of "feels like" 105 type days with high humidity, a lovely much drier mid-70's felt amazing.
I noticed the gorgeous-ness of the day when I went out to bring in the newspaper and water my potted garden. It seemed not just a shame but downright criminal to be inside doing chores when I could be outside appreciating the beautiful day. So I made an executive decision. The housework could wait. It's not like the dirt is going anywhere (sad to say). I grabbed my camera, put on some sunscreen and a hat and set off.
Since I didn't have an actual plan or destination in mind, all twists and turns were strictly arbitrary, as were my photographic decisions. I just went where my feet took me and snapped whatever called out to be captured. Very Zen of me, yes?
One of the first things I came across was a sleeping bunny. Such a surprise. I crept by quietly then stopped and turned to take the shot. The air was cool and the grass still dewy at that point and I was walking down a road that, at that time of day anyway, is not especially well travelled, so it was quiet. As quiet as the great outdoors gets anyway. Which isn't all that quiet. There were birds making quite a racket nearby and the tinkly sound of somebody's windchimes to say nothing of the rusting leaves in the breeze, but the bunny slept on. I've taken plenty of bunny photos but this was my first sleeping bunny. I tiptoed on by.
As it turned out, I walked to the east side of the island first, that is toward the intercoastal waterway which also means I walked under the north bridge, climbed the stairs to the Venice Avenue bridge and eventually walked toward town. I took photos as I walked: Birds, greenery, buildings that appealed and of course the bridges. I found terrific shadows on the way and some great angles. I find bridges to be truly beautiful in a very industrial sort of way.
Once back in town, I opted to stroll down residential streets. I wanted to see flowers. And see them I did! Mercy! Generally I still associate autumn with colourful leaves and naked tree branches and for flowers, perhaps crysanthemums. But here there were still a ton of beautiful posies to admire:
Oh and birds! Just the average around town kind of birds, nothing hugely exotic. At least not for here. There were some mighty cute squirrels. And lizards. Lots of lizards though I only bothered to take a photo of one. He was posting, I kind of had to:
I always find myself taking pictures of little details too. A fancy window treatment or a pretty fountain, interesting yard art or a very pretty door. I had to hold myself back to be honest because at one point I realized that there were not two doors within my immediate eyesight that were the same colour! I love that! Never realized it before. The door variety is amazing! Not just the colour, the variety. Hmmmm. That may be it's own walk and photo shoot another time. But I digress. A few pretty details:
Of course I ended up at the beach. We all knew that I would, right?
The water was so blue, the breeze felt good because of course the temperature didn't stay in the mid-70's though it did top out in the 80's and that's still an improvement. There weren't very many people so it was especially nice to just walk along the waterline for a bit and enjoy:
It was a good long walk, almost six miles worth of one foot in front of the other, going where ever the wind blew me. It did me a world of good.
And I saw a sign that struck me as darned good life advice:
Stay on the path. Make that, "Stay on Your Path". We each have a different one. Sometime the trickiest part is finding your path. But once you find it, yeah, stay the course.
Well toy in the sense that our kitchen is my playground, I suppose. I have to admit here that this was not my idea. Nope. This was all Tim. Because he knows me very well, he occasionally sends me recipes (isn't that funny - we live in this same small space and see each other all day long but still he emails or texts me recipes - teehee). I love to find or create new recipes and the above gadget was an essential component to one of those new ways of doing an old thing, which is essentially what a recipe is.
I was dubious when Tim first told me about this contraption, I will be honest. Seemed like an unnecessary thing. This is a small house, I don't need any extraneous gadgetry to have to find space for. Also I subscribe to the Alton Brown method of selecting kitchen do-dads which is to say that the only non-multi-tasker in the kitchen ought to be the fire extinguisher! Everything else has to have more than one use! Keep it stream-lined, keep it simple.
Then too, I have been in charge of meals for a very long time now. Meals are kind of my thing. I have gotten used to doing things the way I've always done them. There are things that I've made so many times in my life now that I it doesn't matter if I'm half asleep when I'm cooking or baking, I can still knock it out. There is a level of comfort with that. And yet, this was an intriguing idea. I do always try to be open to new ideas.
What is it for, you ask? Well it's for cooking things like chicken wings, and chicken legs and I have no doubt that I will find other uses for it as well. The problem I have always had with cooking things like wings and legs is that the chicken part, which is very fatty, kind of lays there in the pan re-absorbing it's own fat as it cooks. Ewww That sounds disgusting to even talk about. To avoid that, up until now, I would sacrifice one of my cooling racks for cooking the chicken but then the clean up is the biggest pain in the arse. Trying to clean stuck up chicken bits off all of those little squares.....ARGH! I get irritated just writing the words.
So, basically, my thought was that if this is another, better way, then sure, let's check it out (especially since it was not a big financial investment).
Step one was finding a pan big enough to fit this rack. Not a problem, I could use with a cookie sheet or a large roasting pan. I selected roasting pan. Next was lining the roasting pan with foil. Anything that makes clean up easier I am hugely in favour of. Then I got the smartypants idea to spray the rack (the entire freakin' rack) with cooking spray. Once again, easier clean up. Lastly was taking out the top rack of the oven. This is tall cooking.
We selected chicken legs for the first trial run. Primarily because they are pretty cheap and these days carnivores pay big to satisfy their taste buds. While the oven was pre-heating, I washed, dried, oiled and seasoned the chicken legs. The I proceeded to load the rack with the chicken legs, joint up. It was easier than I anticipated but it looked funny.
It looked kind of like a butcher shop's big walk in freezer or perhaps that thing at the dry cleaners where they monorail your order from the back of the shop to the front. From there it could not have been simpler. The legs cooked for about 45 minutes at 425 (sounds wrong, I know, but it was very right)
And the result was, I am told, crispy, juicy, NON-GREASY, chicken legs.
And thanks to the foil and the cooking spray, clean up was a snap.
Tim enjoyed it :) I served it with potato salad and all was right with the world. It was easy and inexpensive. Two things that I fully support.
So there you have it, the latest gadgetry in our household. I think next time I will make chicken wings instead of legs and my mission after that will be to see how else I can utilize this thing. Two purposes is good, but three is better. Anything after that is the cherry on top of the sundae.
If you have any ideas for other things I can use this cooking rack for, I am all ears :)
All of a sudden, we have walls!~ Woohoo! And What a difference it makes too! The new family room is going to be awesome.
It's the funniest thing about any big house project like this. There is a lot of waiting and then an amazing scurry of activity and then more waiting and then more hustlebustle and repeat. During the waiting times I kind of get used to whatever step we happen to be paused upon. After a few days it seems as if well, that's just the way it's going to be now. And I stop thinking about it. I'm sure it's just a protective instinct.
If I fretted about the project hurrying up and moving forward, it wouldn't change a thing. But I would have driven myself utterly mad by now. And we would still be waiting for, well, whatever we are waiting for at that moment. And it could be anything. We could be waiting for inspection, or product (especially now when construction materials are hard to come by), the weather or the availability of whichever tradespeople we need at that moment.
So this past Saturday while I taking a shower and almost sort of kind of waking up, I was surprised to hear Tim come in to tell me that "The guys are here". The guys? I cracked open the bathroom window, peeped out and saw, yup, there they were, the construction guys! On a Saturday! Wow! I am so impressed with our construction people.
In a matter of a few short hours we went from this:
To what you saw at the top of the page. Wow!
Before it kind of looked like a patio. Now it looks like a room. Well the beginnings of a room anyway. And it's so much bigger than the old family room. Space! The Final Frontier! It's going to be awesome. Well eventually. I don't want to anticipate a completion date because I don't want to be stressed about it. At some point in the near future, the project will be complete, we will be able to put the house back to rights. The guest room will once again be a guest room and not furniture storage, the living room will no longer be squished trying to hold the wrong furniture and we will, at long last, have our new big comfy family room for puzzles and games and TV watching and whatever else we damn well please.
We are told that the next step has to do with yet more concrete (inside the cement block I think?) and then the roof trusses. Yeah, a roof might be nice. There are so many steps and everything is dependent on the completion of a thousand other things. And it feels like it's taking forever sometimes, but it is moving forward. We have walls. Yay!
Now we just need some windows and a door maybe?
Also, we're thinking we probably ought to move that tree.......... Yeah, the one in the doorway. Clearly we didn't think that out thoroughly. The tree has got to go. But I'm not in a rush. There is plenty of time. While we wait for the next step.
But in the meantime, let's celebrate the walls! Yahoo!
Break out the balloons and the confetti folks! Happy 5th Blogiversary to us! Yayayayay!
Hard to believe but five years ago today, I sat down for the very first time, having not one single clue what the heck I was doing, and wrote and posted my very first blogpost. Wow! I still don't really know what I'm doing, so that hasn't changed, but I'm a lot more comfortable doing it.
So much has happened over these past 5 years !! I've gone back and re-read old posts and good heaven's, for someone who believes that they live a quiet and uneventful life, I seem to have had an awful lot to say!
My goodness, I've written about fashion and food, vacations and day trips, photo safari's and personal opinions. Lots of opinions. Sooo many opinions. I've talked about the mundane and the extraordinary, 5 years worth of holidays and birthday, events both happy and sad and everything in between. I've shared my dreams, asked for ideas, and simply reported the facts. Anyone old enough to remember Dragnet? "The fact ma'am, just the facts". I think mostly I just talk about whatever is on my mind at that moment.
There have been weeks when I had so many topic ideas in my notebook that I could have written for weeks in a row and on the other extreme, days when I sat down and stared at a blank screen with an equally blank mind. There have honestly been times when I thought I was about ready to shut it all down and other times when I was so excited and ready to sit down and start writing that I practically giddy.
I am still shocked when I look at my stats and see my readership numbers. You know, there was a time, about two years in, where I looked back over the numbers to try to find a pattern. Is there a topic or a writing style that people particularly respond to? Is there a day of the week that readership is consistently higher? But nope. There was no rhythm to it at all. So I just wrote about whatever was on my mind that day and it seems to have worked out just fine.
So Happy Blogiversary to us. Thank you for taking the time now and again to give it a read and to hit the like button once in awhile. I love the notes and comments and emails that people send and try to respond to all of them. Even to the folks who disagree or take issue with what I've said. For now, the blog remains. At some point in the future, perhaps it will be over and it will just be a distant memory for me. But for now, I'm still having fun.
Thank you so much for coming along for the ride. Happy 5th to us.
Today is the 1st day of October and the last day of a standard workweek. We are ready for a new month and more than ready for the weekend. And if the day ends as pretty as it began, we will probably walk over to the beach after dinner to watch the sunset.
There is something magical about a setting sun. No matter how crazy your day, your week or your life is, standing (or sitting) outside, feeling the breeze and looking at the horizon as the colours come up and the sun goes down, there is a release. We let go of whatever sits heavy in our minds or our hearts, even if it's just for a few minutes, as we watch that firey ball in the sky sinking lower and then lower still. Finally it is just a wink on the edge of the world and then it is gone.
Tim and I have been delighted observers of this show for more than 5 years now and we've noticed something that happens nearly every time.
Most of the folks who also come to the beach to watch the sunset zoom in about 15 minutes before the last gasp. They are quiet and almost reverent for that quarter hour. They at least appear to be enjoying that sense of calm and serenity. But the instant the sun is out of sight, the very nano-second that the star of the show has left the stage, the jump back in their cars, on their bicycles, or into their shoes and zoom right back out. Which means that they are missing the third act of the play.
Oh the pre-show is pretty awesome, I have no qualms in saying so. Watching the colours gather and that perfect light gilding everything it touches, yeah, that's worth watching for sure:
Bearing witness to the end of the day, watching as the sun dips lower and lower still until it appears to have sunk into the sea is very wow. Don't get me wrong. It's a different every single time and never stops impressing me. And obviously others feel the exact same way because unless the weather is terrible there are always other folks there with us there enjoying the show.
But the best part, the part most people don't see because they've already turned their backs and departed the area, that part happens after the sun has technically set. I call it the bloom. The burning ball of fire is gone but the colours left behind are not only still there, but better. Much, Much better. If you leave the show before the 3rd act, you've missed the best parts.
The silhouettes against the fingerpainted sky! I promise you that you absolutely do not want to miss that part:
My advice, the next time you watch a sunset is to not hurry away. Linger awhile longer. Wait to watch the last bloom, see the world in silhouette. Stick around as the colour slowly fades and all of your stress and cares fade away with it. Even if it's just for a little while, all is right in the world.
It's a crazy world, my friends, and we are always rushing around trying to do a dozen things at once, always feeling as if we are running behind, as if our goal is just about to slip through our fingers. There is some task or someone who is calling to us, needing us, every second of every day. Here is an opportunity to let all of that go, even for a short time. It's helpful and healing and should never be another chore or another box to be ticked and absolutely is not be rushed through.
Go, sit, relax, enjoy the show and allow yourself a little time to be restored.
Have a Great Weekend! (and if you can, watch a sunset or two)
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.