November 30th, 2017
Well folks, here it is again, the last day of November and you know what that means, right? It means I cannot deny it any longer. Christmas is on it's way and I need to get in a holiday frame of mind.
Longs of time ago, when my Mom was still around, she received in the mail on a regular basis a zillion or so magazines. I think she just couldn't say no to the little faces that came to her door selling subscriptions trying to raise money for their school band or French class or baseball team or whatever. Rarely did a week pass without her fishing at least one magazine out of her mail box. At any rate, back in the day, she actually read or at least thumbed though all of those magazines.
I know this for a fact because by the time the magazines had been read by her, my sister and her daughters, it finally came to me. Originally Mother handed the magazines directly to me during our weekly visits. Later when we lived states apart, the magazines arrived in my mailbox in a manila envelope. The pages were creased and sometimes crumpled with various corners folded down having marked someone's place, there were cookie crumbs in the Vee between the pages and sometimes a wrinkled bit that probably was a bit of water or tea spilled on a page and then dried. But most telling were the underlines, the highlighted paragraphs, the missing pages or parts of pages where something had been cut out and the notes written in the margins. That was my favourite part.
And of course, the Christmas issues of all these magazines was my absolute favourite. I loved it all, the recipes, the heart warming stories, the fashion advice and decorating tips and even the ads helped put me into a ho ho ho sort of mood.
I cherished this connection that I had between these women that I loved so much and me. My mother's writing was singular. Nearly illegible, it would take several people and a considerable amount of time and thought to decipher what she had written. The underlined and highlighted parts should have been self-evident but I did occasionally question their significance. The parts cut out always left me wondering who had custody. The point is, I thought about the others who had read, perhaps over tea and cookies, the pages before me and felt their presence with me. Since we lived so far part, it was lovely to feel them near.
As the years passed, the magazines continued to arrive, but as time went by they became less and less handled, far fewer margin notes, not so many crumbs, hardly any stains and with most pages intact. By then, my sister and her daughters were no longer living nearby and they were so busy, they had no time to read those magazines. And then eventually, as she became more ill, even my mother didn't read them. They still showed up in my mailbox, but pristine. Not a single note, not the tiniest crumb, no sign that anyone at all had every read it, not even my mother. And then of course, the day finally came when she was gone. No more magazines ever arrived in my mailbox.
The Christmas after my mother passed away, I was a little mopey. Yes I knew that first anniversary of her death was coming up in January and I expected it to be hard, and it was, but mostly I was having a difficult time getting into a Holiday mental and emotional state. Everything was an effort. I just couldn't seem to kickstart my usual elf-like Christmas attitude. I faked it as best I could and I think I convinced a lot of people but I wasn't buying it. Then a few weeks before Christmas Day, Tim and I were out doing a little grocery shopping. While we were standing in line at the checkout, I was idly perusing the magazines rack. There was a Ladies Home Journal Christmas issue right in front of me. I picked it up and thumbed through it smiling all the while. Tim, bless his heart, is an observant man. He plucked the magazine from my hand and put it on the conveyor with our other purchases. When he saw my smile, he turned around and picked up every single Christmas issue magazine on the rack and bought them for me as well.
Now I just go ahead and do it for myself. It's my gift to me. It's the only time in the entire year that I buy magazines. But I enjoy reading them, looking at the photos and checking out the recipes, fashion advice and decorating tips, just like the old days. Sometimes I don't finish reading them until March, but read them I do. And then I remember what it used to be like with the highlighted parts, the cookie crumbs, the tea stains, the unreadable notes in the margin and the bits cut out. And that is the Best part of all.
November 29th, 2017
I really like animals. There are moments when I like animals more than people. I like all animals, mine, yours, the neighbors down the street and the ones I see when I'm out taking a walk. I like the animals at the sanctuaries, at the zoos, in the circus and on the stage.
But that doesn't mean I want to actually own them all. For example, while I have a respect and appreciation for snakes, I do not want one in my house. I enjoy watching the birds around here, taking photos of them, listening to their pretty songs when I'm walking around, but I don't want to put one in a cage in my house. The little lizards in the courtyard feel sort of like pets in a very remote sort of way. I don't have to feed them or take them to the vet, but I like that they are there.
I think there are some critters that just feel more pet-like. Cats and dogs of course. Growing up we always had an assortment of both. We do not currently own a pet and it feels odd to not have that furry little face greeting me at the door when I walk in. When I lived on the farm there were cows, chicken, geese, sheep and horses. After awhile, we begin to know each other's personalities, their likes and dislikes, their quirks and charms. Although on the farm it was never wise to get too close to any varmint that was destined to show up on the dinner table.
I admire that majesty of the Big Cats, the enormous wisdom and gentleness of the elephants and the silliness of otters whenever we have been to a place where they are kept. But I wouldn't want to own any of these gorgeous creatures. I'm glad they exist and I am delighted that I was fortunate to see them close up, but I'm always ambivalent about zoos of any sort. I enjoy seeing the animals and then I feel guilty because I'm free to walk about and they are held to a confined area regardless of how nicely created that area is.
And now I'm going to prove myself to be a big fat liar because earlier I said that I love all animals. That's not true. I don't like monkeys. I just don't. I don't wish them any harm but I also do not care to visit them. I cannot even begin to tell you why because I don't know why. But no. There used to be a television show a very long time ago about a family that had a chimpanzee as a pet that was really more of a family member. Gave me the creeps. There were a series of episodes on the TV show, Friends, that featured a little monkey, Marcel. Every time it was a Marcel episode I had the heebie-jeebies and changed the channel. I had to. The wonderful Jane Goodall and her apes? I admire her work tremendously but I don't care to watch it. Coco the gorilla who could communicate through sign language? What an amazing feat for both Coco and her trainer! Communicating directly with another species, not guessing, but actually having dialogues impressed the socks off of me. Still, no. Can't go there. It makes no sense at all and I've long since stopped trying to figure it out. I don't have to understand it to accept it as truth.
Weird, I'm good with snakes, okay with bats except when they surprise me...boo!, mice are cute, and as far as I'm concerned, fish are just fine but keep those monkeys away from me.
Unless it's The Monkees and then it's okay. I know all the words to all of the songs. So for those of you keeping score it's Monkees, yes and Monkeys, no.
November 28th, 2017
If you know me at all, then you know the significance of this past weekend. For the past 12 or is it 13 years now, the Friday, Saturday and Sunday following Thanksgiving is the weekend of the annual Christmas Cookie Baking Marathon! This event is so important to me that when I was working I would even take that Friday off from work (something I didn't even do when I was sick and should have taken the time off) so that I could make those cookies.
Ever since we left Connecticut, on this particular weekend, I make a ridiculous number of cookies and mail them to our kids. It has become a tradition. I'm not very talented or clever and certainly not artistic. But what I CAN do, is make cookies. I love to bake and I'm fairly good at it. So I suppose, it is a way to give something of myself to my children so that, even though we don't get to see each other very often anymore, it is a very real, tangible, connection. It is very important to me.
A friend asked me this morning how many cookies when I do this. To be honest, it's different every year. This year it was 16 kinds of cookies and one batch of fudge. She was wowed and said, '16? I had no idea that there even were 16 different kinds of cookies". I just laughed. Someone else asked what kinds of cookies I make each time. Again, it changes.
I try to make at least one of each of the kids favourites. Six kids (the boys plus their girls, I consider them all MY kids) means at least six different kinds right off the bat. This year, Jessie requested chocolate chip cookie bars. It's just a chocolate chip pan cookie cut into squares but she loves them. In the past her favourite was ginger snaps but I'm fine with changing a favourite. Hurley especially likes frosted sugar cookies. You know the ones. They are cut out in shapes, bells, Christmas trees, stars, etc. and then frosted and dusted with sprinkles. The cookie never changes but the decoration does, different colours, different sugars, etc.
I know that Corbin loves peanut butter so I do the peanut blossoms with him in mind. That's the peanut butter cookie with the Hershey kiss on top. So yummy. Julie is particularly fond of cookies with nuts in them. I use an old recipe called Lily cookies. It calls for walnuts, but I always substitute pecans. I have nothing against walnuts and often use them in baking, but I prefer pecans in this recipe. Fortunately, Julie agrees.
Oldest boy has always adored anything lemon. I make my lemon bars especially for him. He has actually never said to me, please make the lemon bars, but he also never says to stop making them. So I am going to guess that it's still a favourite. His lovely lady has a passion for my oatmeal toffee cookies. I always make sure those are included as well. It's a little twist on an old favourite and makes them so very chewy.
I always make a few of my personal favourites too. There are just a few cookies that it doesn't seem like Christmas without. My recipes come from all over the place. Most of them at least started as old family recipes. But sometimes I fiddle with them a bit adding a little something or changing it up at little. Other recipes come from friends, magazines and online. But some cookie recipes I thought up all on my own.
Every year I make sure that there is at least one new cookie in the box. Something I've never made before, never heard of before, never thought of before that weekend. That is the most fun part. Oh, I enjoy it all of course, but inventing my own new cookie idea? That is the best. Stretching that creative part of me and thinking of something I've never thought of before is awesome. This year, I came up with three new ones. It was a banner year for new ideas. Some of those ideas are better than others. And I eagerly await the reports that will be coming in from my taste testers. These are good, these are okay, these were terrible. I need that report card!
Of course I don't do this alone. 16 cookies and one batch of fudge in three days is a lot. I have an awesome inhouse sous chef. Tim is right by my side the entire time, washing the dishes between batches, helping to decorate, looking at each recipe as I'm working and anticipating what I need next and encouraging my crazy ideas. Simply could not do this without his help.
So in short, another Christmas Cookie Baking Marathon is behind us and I'm ready to move on to the next Christmassy task. After I wash the kitchen floor again. I am a good baker but a very messy one.
November 27th, 2017
It's funny how "traditions" are created. I don't believe I ever once in my entire life said, "Let's start a new tradition. From now on.....blahblahblah". We just do what we do and well sometimes, it seems to take hold.
For example, this year, our second Thanksgiving in Florida, was a much smaller group. But my sister and her beau joined us as they did last year. And we ate turkey and ham, lumpy mashed potatoes (that's how you know they are home made y'see), stuffing and gravy, buttermilk biscuits and two kinds of pie just like the previous year. The rain stopped long enough for us to take a walk to beach between dinner and pie, just like last year. I took photos of us on the beach, just like I did before. We talked a lot and laughed even more, just like we always do. And then the biggest win, my sister asked at one point, where the jigsaw puzzle was. I blinked for a second and then remembered that last year, I intentionally had set up a huge jigsaw puzzle that I bought especially for the occasion on the table in the family room. She remembered and she missed it. I quickly found a cheapo dollar store puzzle that I hadn't yet opened and handed that to her to start working on. Apparently, that is now an important part of our Thanksgiving tradition.
I love that. It was not at all intentional on my part but I am so happy that it happened. I will remember for next year to buy a new better puzzle and have it already set out on the family room table for everyone to work on.
As the year moves forward and we have our second Christmas, New Years, Valentines' Day etc here, we will see how many other traditions we have, without realizing it, created.
How was your Thanksgiving?
November 22nd, 2017
'Tis the day before Thanksgiving and how do I know? By the half ton of these ads that came with today's newspapers. Yeesh. It's as if Thanksgiving isn't a real holiday at all anymore. It's just a preamble to Christmas.
I think that is unfair. Thanksgiving deserves it's own separate, individual, unique identity and I fear it is getting lost in the great Holiday Season Chaos. I say "holiday season" not for any politically correct avoidance of the word, "Christmas". I never avoid the word Christmas. Christmas, Christmas, Christmas. See? It's just that from Halloween through New Years it's just kind of one big collective thing.
I know that back when I was working and still had kids at home, time was a more valuable commodity than it is now. So it just made sense to pick up candy canes at the store at the same time that I was buying Halloween candy. Hey! It was right there on the same shelf. And oh my goodness yes, I live and die by my lists even now. Of course since my brain follows a butterfly path I could be planning a Thanksgiving menu and think of a great idea of Christmas cookies at the same time. Clearly I always have multiple lists going on.
But while it is apparent, even to me, that I'm as guilty as anyone else at not keeping these holidays as separate as they should be, my point remains. Thanksgiving is losing it's essence, it's specialness, it's je ne sais quoi. I'm not looking for a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving after all. I mean, even Norman Rockwell probably didn't have that.
I realized when I was working with my English as a second language pupil earlier this week how hard it is to describe Thanksgiving as a holiday to someone who has zero idea what it's all about.
I mean there are "traditional foods" I suppose, but that's so different region to region across the US and of course family to family. I described to her the classics, you know, turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie.... but what kind of stuffing? Which cranberry sauce, the jelly or the whole berry sauce? And while we will have pumpkin pie we will also have pecan. Other folks have apple pie or chocolate cake or ice cream! Any since very little of what has come to be quasi-traditional Thanksgiving food, is actually accurate to the original event, it's moot. As a kid we were just as apt to have spaghetti as turkey anyway. But whatever people eat, be it turkey sandwiches or lasagna, people always complain about eating too much of it. I've heard Thanksgiving described as a day of gluttony. That's not pretty. Thanksgiving is clearly not just about the food.
So I tried to think of other Thanksgiving traditions like, the Macy's parade. I remember watching that on Thanksgiving morning as a kid and loving it! It's certainly not a pilgrim based tradition, but it's something that does happen every Thanksgiving, like clockwork. But, other than seeing bits of it in the original version of "Miracle on 34t6h Street" , it haven't actually watched it in years. And what is the last float in the parade? Santa Claus! See I was right! Thanksgiving is really about Christmas. Sigh.
Well wait, there is football. I know there is lots and lots of football on TV that day. So Thanksgiving is about watching a very popular American sport wherein overpaid athletes in colourful garb try to wrest a ball from one another, even if that means coming to violence, with the intent of carrying said ball (which is actually more of an oval than a ball-shaped object) to a specified space on the opposite end of a pre-marked area, over and over. Hmmm. Is that Thanksgving, really?
According to statistics, Thanksgiving is THE most travelled day in the US be it by car, train, bus or plane so perhaps Thanksgiving is about family and friends. All those people spending the money for the ticket or making the long drive to go over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house or aunties house, or mom and dad's. Or perhaps you share your Thanksgiving with friends instead. But families live so far apart from each other nowadays that despite all the flying and driving and effort made, the fact of the matter is, that a lot of people can't get to their loved ones for the holiday. Perhaps they have to work on Thanksgiving (a surprisingly large number of people do) or they can't afford the price of the ticket or, even more sadly, maybe they have no place to go. So let's not depress anyone by saying that Thanksgiving is just about family.
Hmmmmm. This is a tough one. Maybe, when called upon to describe Thanksgiving to someone who has never experienced the holiday before we can just say that Thanksgiving is a day set apart from all the rest to remind us to be grateful for what we have, for our good fortunes, our blessings and to celebrate that in whichever way we chose. I think that works for me.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving however you chose to celebrate it. Be safe, Have fun and be Thankful.
November 21st, 2017
At a gathering recently, I was talking with a very nice woman I had never met before. It was the ordinary sort of chitchat exchanged when people are just getting to know one another. And then she asked me about my hobbies. I drew an absolute blank. Do I have hobbies? Did I ever? I shrugged, laughed and asked her a question that drew the conversation in a different direction and it wasn't a big deal. But I think about it later. Do I have hobbies?
I actually looked it up. A hobby is something a person does regularly in their leisure time that they enjoy. Well, if that is the case, my entire life is a hobby. I enjoy almost everything I do every day! Hey, I'm not retired, I'm a hobbyist!
I read, I write, I take photographs, I walk, I bake, I cook......apparently those are all hobbies! Cool. And while the dictionary didn't say so, I will venture that a hobby does not have to be done alone. After all, my sister and I hike and take photographs together at least once, nearly every week. We both enjoy those activities so I suppose those are hobbies that we share.
Tim and I enjoy some hobbies together too. We both take photographs, we read, we travel and explore. But one of the things we both enjoy doing the most is going to model homes and open houses. I'm not sure if you looked at a list of hobbies that this activity would be alphabetized with the rest, but I think it qualifies. It's something we both enjoy, we do it together and we do it regularly enough that I think we can officially call it, a hobby.
I'm not sure exactly what the draw is. I mean, we do get great decorating ideas. Those model homes are decorated by professionals. They make those houses look amazing! Which is of course, the intent. To make the homes they sell looks as appealing as possible. They give us great ideas too. But sometimes even just regular open houses do that too. With a house that might be similar to ours, occasionally we find ourselves saying, "hey, we had that issue too. Look how they solved it! Brilliant! " Or conversely, "whoa, our house looks so much better!" And frankly, there is a satisfaction in that too.
But also we have an endless resource for the possibilities that exist for our future dream home. Tim and I have been doing this for nearly a quarter of a century together and the entire time we have been designing this mythical house. The plans change as new ideas present themselves and as we have moved from place to place and as kids moved in and out and as we have grown older but when we finally hit that big lottery win, we will be prepared!
I am not certain how the people in charge feel about us attending these events but I'm fairly certain that at model homes at least, they expect a certain amount of people who are just looking. Everywhere we've ever lived there has always been an annual event called, The Parade of Homes, where everyone is encouraged to stop in and admire various model homes around the area. Sometimes cookies and little chilled bottles of water are even offered. Now if you didn't want me there, why would you do that?
We are always gracious. We don't touch anything, we are respectful and courteous, we wipe our feet before entering and leave wet umbrellas on the porch. We always mention the parts we like about the house, the décor and/or the floor plan or perhaps even the area. We try to be good guests.
And the best part of this "hobby"? It costs nothing at all. And for a cheapskate like me, that's like catnip to a cat. As hobbies go, not too bad.
November 20th, 2017
Isn't that special? No. It's not. It's so not. This is the sight that greeted me as I stepped outside the utility room door with a new bag of garbage in my hand with plans to just stuff it on top of the other existing bag already in the garbage can and trundle it to the curb for pick up early Monday morning. Instead I spent far too much time scrounging around in the dark picking up old garbage and rebagging it. We had, again, been hit by the refuse marauder!
When we first moved here it happened a lot for about a month. Never saw the critter in question but saw the results nearly every day. At first it was a mild annoyance but it quickly escalated into full scale irritation. It usually happened during the night but occasionally I would find evidence during the day. And no matter how many times during the course of a day I would fling the door open hoping to surprise and therefore scare away the mysterious creature, I never saw it.
So as I say, this went on for a about 3 or 4 weeks and then abruptly it stopped. I assumed that the animal had found a better source of higher quality garbage and was relieved. I thought no more about it and was glad it was over.
And then a few months ago, I stepped outside one day to again find garbage strewn the full lengthy of the side yard. Clearly it had been one heck of a wild party. Back to rebagging garbage on a daily basis. It gets old fast.
I tried all sorts of things to discourage the creature. Heavy rocks, bungy cords, a contraption of wood that made it complicated for me to get inside but was a snap for the trash thief. Finally I brought the garbage can inside the utility room. Let me explain. The utility room, which is attached to the house is primarily used for storage but is also my laundry room. There is not a great deal of extra space and a garbage can takes up significant real estate. Also, well it holds garbage and especially in hot weather, may I just say, ewwww! I don't care to have my nice clean laundry anywhere near old nasty garbage thank you. So back they went outside.
I tried moving the cans to various places but the little so and so's always found them. And again, I wasn't absolutely certain what sort of critter we were dealing with here until one afternoon when Tim saw a fat raccoon waddling across the back yard. "Oh no!" I yelped and sprinted for the utility room door. Yup there it was. We were hit again. As I went through my now usual task of cleaning the mess up I noticed that the raccoon seems to be particularly fond of all things dairy. Yogurt lids, pizza box lids, cheese packages, all nibbled and gnawed on. Interesting.
Now we don't actually produce all that much garbage. Generally just a couple of bags a week. Most of the food refuse goes down the disposer. But apparently we have just enough to entice their super sniffers. Even when I double bag!
To be honest, I am a little bit impressed by their ability to get the lid of the garbage can. There are times when I cannot. I tug and pull and in general make an idiot of myself and end up, with a few choice words, walking just the bags to the curb and leaving the actual garbage can behind. The raccoons however, open that garbage can like it was a soda can. To be fair, sometimes I also have trouble with opening soda cans. Which isn't a flattering comment about myself, but still true.
Anyway, the second go-around of daily raccoon garbage can visits also, unexpectedly stopped. Once again, I was relieved. I did briefly wonder if something untoward had happened to the animals but chose to not think about that too much. Mostly I enjoyed NOT picking up garbage from all over my yard and rebagging it. And life went on. Until last night.
I know the raccoon is just living his little raccoon life and doing what he can to take care of his family. I do not want to kill the raccoon. I do not even want to hurt him. I just want him out of my garbage.
I am open to suggestions!
November 20th, 2017
November 16th, 2017
Woke up today to a grey gloomy chilly morning. Although it isn't currently raining, it feels as if, at any moment, the sky will unzip and rain will pour down on us all. So naturally, I headed over to the beach.
While I was smart enough to wear long pants, unwisely, I did not wear a sweater or jacket. It was chilly. Of course the fact that I was wearing sandals probably didn't help. The sand was distinctly cool beneath my bare toes! The wind picked up as I got closer to the water and I tried to huddle into my own shirt. It was glorious!
There were few people on the beach this morning. Those who, like me, were foolish enough to venture out were bundled into sweatshirts and quilted jackets. There were a few brave souls in shorts but to be fair they were all running. Probably to keep warm!
On my walk over I saw a couple of things that caught my eye.
There was this flock of birds in the middle of the road. Just milling about. They didn't seem to mind me standing in their midst. I felt that I was either accepted or ignored and either was we were both fine with it. And I was enjoying being a part of their "gang" until a car drove up. The car stopped. I moved. The birds didn't. The car crept forward. The birds didn't budge. I tried to "shoo" the birds. Nothing. The lady in the car looked at me, I looked at her and shrugged. She honked. The birds fluttered their wings but otherwise, no movement. I was about to tell the lady where to turn to detour the birds when she pointed first to me and then to the birds very firmly with that stern teacher-like look on her face. I'm thinking, "Hey lady, they aren't MY birds!" as the birds edged ever closer to me making me look like a big fat liar! HAHAHAHAHA!
My first really good laugh of the day! It was a riot.
Then later I noticed this:
Florida's favourite fruit! Oranges! It's so weird to me that it's getting colder and colder day by day, but Oranges are ripening? In my mind still the growing season is over. But it's not here. In Florida the growing season is, well all year long. Not sure I will ever not be surprised. But that's probably a good thing. I love that I still wow every single day when I go to the beach. Every Single Day it looks different. Every single day I realize how lucky I am to be here. I felt the same way in Colorado. Every time I drove home from work, I went up a hill. At the top of the hill, just before I turned left I saw that mountain range and wowed. Every Single Time.
I suppose I am easily amused, easily entertained. My Nana used to say, "simple pleasures for simple minds". And while that is not at all flattering, she is most probably correct. And I think I'm okay with that.
Hope your day has at least one really amusing moment and one wow moment in it. I've already had mine.
November 15th, 2017
I guess I am unusual in that I do not have a favourite colour. Oh day to day, I may gravitate toward one colour over another, but it changes every day. I don't have an all-time favourite song or movie. I don't even have one food that stands out above all the rest. It's a daily thing, different all of the time. I'm in the mood for one thing today, something different tomorrow. It can even change hour to hour! I suppose you could say that I am fickle.
But one preference that doesn't change is that I like contrast. Like leather and lace. Hot apple pie with cold ice cream on top. Salty pretzels dipped in chocolate so it's both sweet and salty. And it occurred to me this morning that one of my most favourite moments is in the fall when the temperatures start to be cooler.
At the moment (we are working on changing this) we have no exhaust fan in our bathroom so whenever we shower we open the window that is on the shower wall. So if it's a rainy day, it's not unusual to take a shower and get a little extra water. In the summer when it's hot and humid, you can actually sweat while showering. But once it cools off, I have lovely chilly air coming through that window while I'm standing in the hot water and I just love that.
When we lived in Colorado, one of our favourite ways to spend Thanksgiving was to head up to Estes Park high in the mountains. It's where the Rocky Mountain National Park is. They have this wonderful illuminated parade the night after Thanksgiving so if we went the day before, we could have a couple of great days tramping through snowy mountain trails, stay in adorable mountain cottages (and once at the Stanley!), photograph wildlife, enjoy a very cold but great glowing parade and the best part, sit in a steamy hot tub while the snow falls all around us. Awesome! It's the contrast, you see?
I'm not certain what that says about me, as a person, but I know what I like. And what I like is to confuse my senses, apparently. I see it in the photographs I take too. Light and shadow intrigue me. I always wished I was clever enough to make shadow pictures on the wall. I think I managed a bunny a time or two but nothing better than that. Still, the idea of it is wonderful. I have a silhouette cut-out of my boys when they were small. Stark black against cool white that only hints at the actual subject. I have that framed and standing in a bookcase here.
I've seen in decorating magazines, beautiful homes excruciatingly well put together, every room the same colour as the previous one, all in calm and sophisticated neutral tones. It's lovely. I recognize beautiful things when I see them. But it's not for me. My cabinets are white, but my counter tops are Uba Tuba granite (seriously, that is the name) It's a very very dark green that looks almost black with a bit of sparkle to it. Contrast. It may not be the right kitchen for anyone else, but it's perfect for me.
They say that opposites attract. I am not certain that is always true but with colours, it's at least in the ballpark. Black and white, blue and yellow, grey and everything else, pink and brown those are colour combinations that appeal to me. Wheat thin crackers and grapes is a wonderful combination the same as gingersnap cookies and apples. Crunchy and smooth, savory and sweet, spicy and soothing all at the same time. I find chocolate cake to be the perfect dessert for a spicy chili dinner. A little unexpected maybe, but perfect. And smooth creamy and sweet PIneapple sorbet follows a crunchy, savoury salad like peanut butter follows jelly.
I've never much cared about other's opinions. And in fact, a sure way to lose a sale with me is for a salesperson to tell me that what I'm looking at is the Most Popular item right now, or that the thing I am considering is very trendy right now. Nope. I like what I like and that may not be what anyone else likes (or it might be, who knows?). I've never been accused of being stylish. But I have often been told by people who know me that they saw something that was very "Sam". It's nearly always something a little different, something slightly strange and probably something a little retro. My preferences may not be yours, but they are exactly right for me.
And that's a good thing. Socrates says, "Know thyself" and Polonius followed with, "To thine own self be true". After all these years, I guess I know me fairly well by now. How 'bout you?
November 14th, 2017
This is one of my favourite cooking vessels. Nothing beats a cast iron skillet for browning pretty much anything. It gives that lovely crisply seared exterior to anything my favourite carnivore prefers. Because of the nice even heat it provides, this pan is also perfect for any sauce or gravy I am whipping up. It's also nearly indestructible as long as it's treated right, cleaned properly and oiled up afterwards. I've had this one a long time. As I recall, it was a wedding present which means that I've been using it for nearly 24 years.
It does have a downside. It's heavy. Really heavy. This is not something you want to accidently drop on anything. It would absolutely break tile, my lovely granite countertop, the pretty farm sink or my toes. And it conducts heat like nobodys business so it gets hot. Really, really hot which is terrific for cooking but when that handle gets hot, yikes!
I've been just wrapping the handle in either a pot holder or a tea towel but that is a little awkward and bulky. If I don't wrap a towel just right there are thin spots where the heat burns through or it's too loose which makes it easy to lose my grip. Pot holders get thin after awhile and I have to either use two or fold one over which makes it again easy to lose my grip. My hands are small and, on bad arthritis days, they are not cooperative or particularly strong. We have had a few close calls and near misses. I kept thinking that there has got to be a better way!
Enter one of the greatest kitchen inventions ever!
I do not know what this cute little mousie is actually called but I love it. It fits over the handle perfectly, it is not awkward or bulky and is padded enough to keep me from burning my hands or dropping the pan. And it's adorable. Bonus! I found this at a local store called, Venice Trading Company, when I was shopping one day with my sister. At first I wasn't absolutely certain what it was, but thought it was cute. I eyed it furtively, wonderingly and finally curious enough, picked it up. What was it used for? Then it dawned! Perfect for fitting over the handle of my cast iron skillet! I didn't buy it then but I couldn't get the idea of it out of my mind. There was no sign claiming any great kitchen solution. There were no promises that it would do cure lumbago or ease traffic congestion. There wasn't even a label saying what it was called! And I wondered if it would perform as I suspected.
I went back, considered it more and finally bought it. I couldn't wait to try it out. Frankly I was worried that I had just thrown $8 bucks away but I was happy to be wrong about that. It works great! My skillet mousie is my new hero.
The pan is still hot when I cook. The pan is still heavy. But never again will I worry about dropping it or burning my hand through a thin towel or pot holder. Skillet Mousie to the rescue!
I do not know who invented this but whoever it was, was a genius. Probably someone, like me, who was tired of fumbling around with potholders and tea towels. See there is the difference between a genius and me. I recognize a problem just fine. This is an issue. But it never dawns on me to create a solution. The genius recognizes the problem and then resolves it. Awesome! Thank you unknown genius. You and your skillet mousie are my heros today!
November 13th, 2017
It would appear that Tim was trying to push me off a cliff here right? Not even close. First of all, not a cliff. It's an interactive chalk art painting and second of all, we were play acting, just hamming it up for the photo!
Yes another Chalk Festival was in town and yes we went to admire another year of chalk art. It's different every time y'see. And this year we got to take our guests! We had two of our favourite people visiting for a few days and we did loads of fun things. But today it's all about the Chalk.
In my own personal history, I associate chalk with school. Now mostly, I loved school. A big reader with a voracious appetite for information, almost every part of school was my cuppa tea. Not the being called on part, I hated that. As a child I was so miserably shy that being called on in class was tantamount of having my fingernails pulled out with pliers. And of course, there was my arch nemesis, math. I can still hear the squeak of the chalk on the blackboard as the teacher wrote out a math problem. I remember breaking out into a sweat when she called me forward to solve the problem. The dusty musty smell of the chalk, standing so close to the board, the feel of that smooth little cylinder of chalk in my hand as I rolled it back and forth, trying to not cry as I stood there not knowing the answer. Horrible associations with chalk.
But now that I have a few chalk festivals under my belt, it's all changed. Now it's just the most amazing thing ever. The fact that it can be interactive art is an enticement certainly. Usually in museums you cannot even stand close to the artworks without a guard nudging you back. Some of these pieces are not only touchable, but walkintoable. Not a word but you know what I mean. I also love that the artists are right there. Not only watched them working, but struck up conversations with them. They are passionate about what they do, as well they should be.
We saw vertical chalk art, horizontal chalk art and chalk art on the grass. Some of it was intended to be seen from above, some from a specific vantage point, others through a lens, some just from any direction at all. There was chalk paint, aerosols and those little pastels that nearly look edible. Pots of water, rags and brushes of all shapes and sizes. And I love it all.
It's the faces that I admire the most. The results are magical to me. It's the only explanation I can come up with. They are wizards and it is all done through magic. Here is some of the best of what we saw:
And I'll go again too!
November 09th, 2017
Got this in the mail yesterday. Note please, that it is addressed to MISTER Sam Humphreys. Clearly this person does not actually know me or anything about me. I threw it away. But I didn't get mad or even annoyed. Makes it easier to sort the mail. This piece of mail actually was from a crematory society suggesting that I "Plan Ahead". That also didn't bother me. They have a business that they need to keep healthy which means they need clients. Everybody does what they gotta do and the first and most important job of any business is being successful. So I get it.
I'm a fairly even keeled individual. I do not often lose my cool. I generally laugh off what other people might get steamed about. When I worked at the audiology office, there were often phone calls following any postal mail promotion from angry people, incensed that we had the audacity of send them mail they didn't want to receive. Some calls were just requesting that their name be removed from our mailing list. That's fine, we can do that. But other people would just rant and rave and threaten and altogether act completely out of proportion to the situation. Those people we would hear out, assure them that if they gave us their name and address we would have them removed from the mailing list and even then they would be angry refusing to give us the information. *insert much shaking of head here* I was always astounded and a little amused that people actually make angry phone calls because they received promotional mail. I always wanted to suggest that they just throw it away. Just toss it! Chill!
I also had a brief visit from representatives of particular church. Everywhere I've ever lived I've had periodic and unrequested pop-in visits from these people. But I don't get angry about it. Instead I step outside and listen to them. I nod and smile and when they suggest that I visit their church I smile and politely decline. Their visits are brief, they are perfectly polite and pleasant and it takes nothing from me to hear them out. Is it ever going to change my mind? Nope. But it costs me nothing to be gracious.
A few days ago while zooming around the house doing 12 things at once, which is sort of my thing, I crashed into the coffee table. Now the coffee table is actually more like a large wooden chest on little muffin feet. The coffee table has been in the spot it's in from about a year and a half. This is not new information. And to make it more ridiculous, when I cannot sleep at night I often get up and go to the family room, in total darkness mind you, which means walking by this coffee table and never once even stubbed a toe on it. I have a bruise roughly the size of Rhode Island on my leg from this crash which actually moved the table I hit it so hard but all I could do was sit there laughing at myself. I certainly didn't get PO'd.
Somebody, somewhere along the line, scratched my glass cooktop. This is a new scratch and it's a good big one too. No idea how it happened or who the culprit is. No point in getting my hackles up over it. I sighed and finished cleaning the stovetop (which is how I noticed it, I thought it was spilled food) and went on with my life. Getting angry isn't going to fix it.
I bought some lovely autumn coloured chrysanthemums for the courtyard in late September. They looked so pretty. For about a minute and a half. Almost the instant they reached their new home they began to die. I nurtured and babied and encouraged them along and finally gave up entirely on one and threw it away. Eight bucks in the trash. Oh well. The other one is still limping along. The way I see it, it's nearly time to decorate for Christmas anyway. What the heck. So naturally, I bought a replacement to keep the sick one company. I figure they can keep each other company in what is clearly a flower pot death camp for the rest of the month. That's just the circle of life, especially with plants. Wait until I put poinsettias out there. You can nearly watch them as they fade away. It's the oddest thing. But nothing to get upset over. I could just buy fake plants if I insist upon plants at all!
None of that stuff makes me mad. It's just stuff. It either makes me laugh or I just shrug, deal with it and move on.
On the other hand, I recently saw somebody in the grocery store shopping with an elderly person. They were shopping just ahead of me. From the conversation, which everyone in the next three aisles was privy to, the women were mother and daughter. The daughter was horrible to her mother. Not physically harming her in any way - I would have been on the phone immediately over that - but impatient, rude, unreasonable and unkind. The daughter said nothing threatening - again, cell phone in my hand - but it was enough to make me sad and uncomfortable. I was debating whether or not to say anything and if so, what exactly would I say, when the older woman fumbled and dropped the box of tea she was holding. I reached for it, automatically as I heard the daughter blister her mother verbally, "For God's sake mom, stop touching things!". I stood up and handed the box back to the mother with a smile. I made sure she had a good hold of it with both hands and said, "Slippery little devils eh?" The woman smiled back warmly. Her daughter marched over and snatched it from her mothers hand, glared at me and said to me, "You aren't helping. I'm trying to teach her something here." I kept eye contact with the daughter and responded, "I'm trying to teach you something too". I wished them both a good day and went on my way leaving the daughter mouth agape and fury in her eyes.
That made me mad.
I'm expecting guests today hurrah! So I'm taking a 3-day weekend my friends. Enjoy the rest of your week and we will meet back here on Monday, deal?
Hugs all 'round
November 08th, 2017
It's finally done! Well as done as it's going to be for now. In absolute honesty, I need to still paint the trim work both top and bottom but oh well. That's going to wait until I'm feeling calm and relaxed and that is not today. But otherwise...It's done! Yes, at long last the family room is completely repainted! Woohoo!
It's not a colour I had originally considered. And it doesn't go with the area rug at all. And that is because blue is not a colour we have ever painted anything. We usually choose warmer colours, golds, greens, reds so naturally when we chose furniture and accessories that is what we gravitate toward. But it's plenty warm in Florida already at least outdoors and I guess we needed to cool off, at least visually.
And as you can see, I have one, exactly one, painting hung up at this point. BUT the important part is that the painting is finished. What a relief.
I like the colour. It's light but it's cool, as in temperature cool, which the room needed. There are 14 windows in this room which means lots of lovely light but when it's hot out that's also a lot of heat which is why there are the shades. These particular shades we selected because they let in light but cut down on the heat. Very nice. When it's a cooler part of the year or a rainy/cloudy day I put the shades up otherwise, they stay down.
We started this project a few weeks before the big hurricane. I dutifully took out all the nails, sanded all the rough spots, spackled and sanded again, cleaned everything multiple times and taped it all off. Then we went about selecting a colour. Tim actually chose this colour and I think he did a good job. Again, it wasn't what I expected but I like it. Kind of sea blue or maybe sky blue or maybe robin's egg blue. Whatever blue it is, it makes me smile. And then we started painting. For all that it is a good sized room, with all those windows there didn't seem to be all that much wall space so we, foolishly, thought this would be a quick job. Not. Going around all the door ways and windows to say nothing of the window seat slowed me way way way down. And of course, moving furniture around and around as we do different parts of the room is a good workout.
But things were moving along and then, half way through the 2nd to last wall, we ran out of paint. Ratz. Before we could get back to the paint store, Irma came to visit and that put a hold on EVERYTHING! It took awhile to get through the post hurricane mess and back to whatever passes for normal in our lives and then a little more time passed while we rested up and then finally back to the paintstore and then back to moving furniture, taking down the blinds and hauling in equipment and supplies.
And now it's done. The painters tape is off, the ladder and paintpots and brushes and rags are gone, the furniture is back where it belongs and I am basking in the lovely peaceful blue of the family room. Everytime I walk into the room now I smile. It's really and truly done. Yes! We Rock!
And at some point, I will probably get the artwork off the floor where it's leaning up against the wall, hidden behind other furniture and onto various and sundry walls. And at some other point, I may even haul out a ladder and all of the tape and brushes and get my wits about me to paint the trim. Or maybe not. Right this minute it is not high on my list of gotta-do's.
I know that there are other room that needs to be painted. Tim's awful, two-toned purple office comes immediately to mind (it came that way people, not our idea) but I am not going to tackle another painting project anytime soon. At least not during hurricane season because it's obvious that painting lures in big bad hurricanes. Don't you see the correlation? That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Two other angles in the room if you care to see:
November 06th, 2017
This is my new office. Well sort of. I am a Literacy Volunteer through our local library and was recently assigned my first pupil. I was told that she had no English at all. Turns out she does have a tiny bit and that was a very good place to start.
We met today for the first time and we had a blast! I'm trying to stick to practical language, every day words, phrases and sentences that she will be using on a regular basis before branching out into things that are trickier. But the English language being what it is, we found ourselves in deep water almost immediately.
Turn ON the lights. Turn OFF the lights. Easy right?
Now, put the pen ON the table. Take the pen OFF the table. Excuse me, what?
It's really not the same thing. That was a difficult one to explain especially with the language barrier between us. It's kind of conceptual.
At least she has a sense of humour and that helps. The funniest words ever, apparently, are "garbage can". I don't think I will ever be able to say them again without at least smiling at little bit. She learned the names of things that were in the room. Actually some of them she already knew: pen, telephone, clock, door, window and surprisingly, umbrella. But "sunglasses" was a mysterious new word and so was water bottle.
The difference between "In" and "On" was sneaky too. We had to act that one out any number of times before it was apparent. Put the book ON the table not IN the table. But the paper IN the garbage can not ON the garbage can. See? It's small word but a big difference.
And it's something I never really thought about before today. I have always believed that communication is crucial. And yet, the difficulties in properly communicating escaped me. Until now.
Well, that's not exactly true is it? When my boys were very small and just learning language, there were many occasions when they would be very frustrated trying to express something to me but not having the vocabulary to do so. They would try and I would guess (often incorrectly) and we would pantomime and they would cry and sometimes I wanted to cry too.
We won't even talk about all the years of French I took in highschool. I survived the class, but I remember little of it. Unfortunately I never learned to think in another language and that is key. I would have to translate the question into English, mentally formulate my response and then translate that response back into French. Meanwhile everyone else was two paragraphs ahead of me. It wasn't pretty.
I did a little research ahead of this first meeting and learned about her country, her language and its alphabet, the similarities and differences to ours. I know that will come in handy when there is a sound in English that does not exist in her language.
I suspect that the word she enjoyed learning the most today was "sparkly" in reference to the little fake jewels on my sunglasses. Oh yes, she loved "sparkly". Which works out nicely because I like sparkly too.
In the future I'm hoping to do a few field trips, grocery store, pharmacy, police station, school, who knows what all? I think that would be helpful to her. I know if I were in her shoes it would be helpful to me.
An old friend of mine, who was born in another country, once told me that the most important phrases to learn in any language were, "Help", "Where is the bathroom" and 'I do not speak ...whatever the language is". I get that. In fact, I am right this minute making a note to myself to show her where the bathrooms are in the library. I'm embarrassed that I didn't think of it today. And even that can be tricky. Bathroom, restroom, lounge. Sometimes it doesn't say any of those things just doors with the words "women" on one and "men" on the other. Or "dudes' and "chicks" "boy" and girls" or just pictures. Horrors. That is going to be hard to explain. But I will.
I'm having a wonderful time. And she seems to be too. More importantly, she is learning. My hat is off to her. As my old French teacher would attest, it's kind of ironic that the girl who never really learned French is teaching someone else how to speak English. I guess the old adage really is true, Those who can't do, teach.
I teach. That's awesome.
November 06th, 2017
Guess what we did this weekend. Go ahead, guess. Yes! We went to the Venice Ave art show. Boy you are a good guesser!
It's an annual event and it's just a short walk from the house so, why not? It's actually something we were familiar with before we moved here. I mean the concept of an outside art show. When I lived in Connecticut, I often attended the one in Mystic which was also on the main street through town which is closed for the duration. And in Colorado, they had one every year in O'Brien park. Other than the state in which they are held, they are all much the same. Cute little covered tents filled chockablock with art work of various sorts to be admired and purchased. The artists are right there and are happy to tell you all about their work which is always interested. The art is different ever year and I suspect it is regionally themed. In Colorado, for example, there were a lot of works depicting, in one way or another, the majesty of the Rocky Mountains. In Mystic, the village itself and the river bearing the same name were featured strongly.
Here in Venice Florida however, it seems that anything goes. Of course there were photographs and paintings of the ocean and Florida wildlife, but there was so much more!
There were so many other things that I didn't manage to get a photo of. I was particularly impressed with some elaborate copper fountains that were already showing signs of verdegris, and then there was the young man who carved and then painted pieces of wood in a way that was both a collage of ideas and 3D, that was unique! Also on site were sculptures made out of huge chunks of polished rock, whirlygigs that I was enchanted by and jewelry. Lots and lots of booths of jewelry. There was some beautiful hand made furniture and pottery pieces too. There was metalwork, mixed media, oils and pastels. We saw pen & ink drawings and things that I'm not absolutely certain what they were.
It is always inspiring to see so many people who have such singular talent, each with their own special vision. I love seeing new ideas, new interpretations of the world around us. It was a lot of fun and a nice way to spend part of a beautiful Sunday, even if we did have to share the day with upwards of about 40,000 other visitors.
It's the one downside of living in a place so damned adorable. Other people found out about it and want to visit it too. Oh well, it's a small price to pay for the many charms that are our adopted home.
How did you spend your weekend?
November 03rd, 2017
Another step completed in the great bathroom reno project! Woohoo!
To recap for those of you who missed that chapter in the story, our intent this year was to completely blow up and redo bathrooms! We picked out tile, vanities, mirrors, faucets and everything else necessary. We talked to contracters, we were ready to go. Well almost. One of the builder guys asked if we had had our plumbing scoped. We did that puppy head tilt to the side and said, "excuse us? what?" And he went on to explain about houses built before a certain date, which ours was, and houses with no basements to protect pipes, as nearly every house in Florida is, and the issues therein. There seemed to be no point in spending big bucks on a complete reno and then have the infrastructure go to hell. So this sounded like a reasonable idea and we are reasonable people so we set it up. Had some lovely people come in and scope the old pipes. We saw the video. He didn't have to tell us the bad news, we could see if for ourselves. Long story shorter, the entire reno budget instead went to repiping the house. The entire house. Yes.
So, upshot of that was the bathrooms are still being re-done just one little bit at a time. Save up a few dollars, do something, save a little more, do something else. So far, the floors have been replaced (yay!) there is a new vanity in the bigger bathroom (yay!) and new shower nozzle sprayer thinger (I don't know what it's called but yay!). We've talked to a guy aBout putting in an exhaust fan (and that will be yay as soon as it's done when the guy gets back from his vacation) and yesterday the tub was reglazed.
The original colour was........I do not even know what to call that colour. Yellow/beige/off-whie/yucky, some combination. I asked the guy yesterday what he would call the existing colour and he paused for a long time and finally said, "well it's kind of yellowish?" with a question mark at the end. And has seen better days. When we first talked about the reno the plan was to get a new tub, but it turns out that they do not make tubs in that size anymore. It's one inch narrower or shorter or something but the point is, no other tub will fit in that space. Great. So the only option left was to have it reglazed. It's a good quality heavy duty cast iron tub so the structure of it is fine just that colour...ghastly!
It only took the tradesperson about three hours to do the job, which is nice but the job has to "cure" for 72 hours before it can be touched. Soooo no big deal we are using the guest bathroom for a couple of days. Monday he will return, move the protective papers, caulk and we are good to go. Hurrah! And now it's a beautiful, shiny, pure white. The yuck colour is gone. I cannot begin to say how happy I am about that!
The only down side is the lingering smell. My God, the smell. I was assured the it is not toxic in anyway, thank goodness, but it did give me a headache yesterday and yesterday everything we ate or drank tasted exactly like the air smelled. Disgusting. We closed the bathroom door to contain it and put little cups of vinegar and mouthwash around to counteract it but I guess it will just have to dissipate over time. It's worth it in the long run and I can honestly say that the smell is vastly improved today. By Monday it should be gone but yesterday's "fragrance" was a surprise. I was wishing for a gas mask by the end of the day and in fact, we ate out last night because of it. Dinner out is never a hardship but again, not what we planned.
Tim suggested the perhaps in the short term, once we are allowed back into our bathroom, we should paint the walls white (the walls are the EXACT shame Yuck shade as the old tub was - as hard as that is to believe) which I think is a good idea. Everytime I look in the bathroom mirror I think, jaundice. It's that bad. Nothing we can do about the off-peach colour of the existing tiles for now, but white walls will surely help.
And in the meantime, any step forward still counts of progress. Bathroom Reno Progress...yay!!!
Everyone have a terrific weekend whatever you do and we will all meet here again on Monday! Hugs
November 02nd, 2017
I just wanted to take advantage of an opportunity here to thank all of you! This morning my blog passed a new milestone. So far this week, my blog has had more than 1100 views! Holy Cats! And that is all thanks to you guys.
The fact that so many people take the time and make the effort to read the silly stuff that runs through my head every day, is both rewarding and humbling and a little mind-boggling. I never imagined that my self indulgent ramblings would hit a 4 digit number!
You know when I started this whole thing about a year ago, I had no idea what I was doing. Well to be fair I still have no idea what I'm doing. But I'm having fun doing it. I try to come up with new ideas. I actually do read everything people write to me and keep all suggestions in mind. I try very hard to come up with new ideas and not repeat myself (too much anyway). I look forward to each day, in part because I know that I will start out writing this Blog and in turn I will hear from my readers. So it is a form of communication not just self-expression and I do love a good conversation.
I know everyone is crazybusy and there are so many other things that you could be doing. The fact that you choose to occasionally squeeze in the time to give my blog a read is astounding to me. But I love it. And I appreciate it!
So Thank you, Everyone! I look forward to seeing what other crazy number we can mark. If it's true that the sky really is the "limit" then I say, let's shoot for another solar system!
Hugs all 'round!!
And once again, Thank you and keep those comments and wonderful ideas coming.
November 01st, 2017
Kind of looks like a post card photo doesn't it? There is even an expression about it, "Pretty as a post card".
Do you remember getting postcards in the mail? Or perhaps sending one? It's probably been awhile. It's not a very popular thing to do anymore although it was at one time. Most of the postcards I get nowadays are reminder cards from my dentist or ads.
And I'm sure it will come as no surprise at all to know that the first postcard sent in the USA was, indeed, an advertisement. That was way back in December of 1848. Originally known as Picture Postal Cards or just Postal Cards, the first commercially produced in the US wasn't until almost 30 years later. The picture was of the interstate Industrial Exposition that took place in Chicago. Shortly thereafter, pre-stamped or Penny Postcards were created. Post cards by any name quickly came into popularity as a quick and relatively inexpensive way to send a quick note. Way back in those days a penny was actually worth a penny and had value.
The Post Office soon became the only company allowed to print postcards and it held that monopoly until 1898 when private printers and publishers were then allowed to produce them. Our government did not allow these other companies to call them post cards at that time, instead referring to them as Souvenir Cards or Private Mailing Cards. Finally in 1901, all that changed and the name Post Cards became the vernacular.
Sending a post card with a pretty or humorous or even mildly naughty picture on the front and a dashed note on the back has waxed and waned in popularity in the US from the beginning of the last century through today with it's absolute peak probably being in the 1950's or 60's. Original artwork postcards from long ago are serious collectors items and can bring in big bucks.
In my own personal history, when my sister and I were very young, our Dad travelled for business quite a bit. In fact, he was probably away more than he was home. But he sent us postcards to let us know that he was thinking of us. They were usually very involved pictures of cats dressed as humans, acting as humans beings and, at least to us kids, quite amusing. We looked so forward to getting one of those postcards in the mail, once every few weeks. They were treasures to us. A connection to a man we loved who was very far away. I have no recollection at all of what was written on any of those cards but the pictures I remember vividly.
My oldest boy used to travel all over the country for work. He, like my dad, was on the road more often than he was home back then. But I could track where he was by the postcards he sent. I adored getting those cards. It was a like getting a surprise package when I was expecting the usual bills, ads and promo materials. I always appreciated that he took the time and made the effort. There was just a quick note on the back, usually a funny or ironic observation but he made certain that the postcard personified the state he was in: the desert of Arizona, the beaches of California, peaches in Georgia or the Cherry Trees in Bloom in DC. I always intended to get a big wall map of the US and put in pushpins whenever I got a postcard to mark where he had been. Somehow I never did it and now that he no longer travels far for work, I regret never having gotten around to it.
But it inspired me to want to send postcards to loved ones when we travelled so I began. I think the last time we sent postcards might have been from Hawaii. I know for sure that I sent them from New Mexico. And then that fell by the way side too. All these good intentions unfulfilled. In the words of the late great Nana, "If you take all the good intentions in the world and lay them side by side, it still doesn't get the job done." Yes ma'am. You were, of course, correct.
Part of the problem nowadays is actually finding postcards. Maybe five years ago, the young daughter of a doctor I worked with began a project for school. She was trying to get a postcard from every state in the US and hopefully a few foreign countries. To help her, I sent out a facebook blast to all and sundry, She and I were both surprised and pleased at the huge response! But nearly everyone told me privately later, how difficult it was to find a postcard to buy! Probably because we live in a tourist town, it's not at all hard to find postcards here in Venice. They are nearly everywhere. Even the grocery store has them.
And now, every once in awhile, I take a photograph that looks to me as if it should be a postcard and I get nostalgic about it all. And I vow, once again, to send postcards when I travel. I don't know if it will actually happen but at least I've gotten to the first step. Intending to do so.
If it ever occurs to you, I love getting postcards. Just a hint.
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.