I was gifted a real treasure yesterday! One of my most favourite things in the world...books! And not just books but very old books.
These books in particular once belonged to my great-grandmother, Iva Teresa Apple. They are school books actually; Arithmetic, Grammar and Readers of various levels. And they are wonderful!
The oldest book of the bunch was published in 1883. That is eighteen eighty three. Not a typo. 1883!!!!!! Holy Cats! Of course it didn't come into her possession until 1891. And I know this because she signed it.
Isn't her handwriting beautiful? Mine is barely legible even to me. And hers looks like artwork. I believe it is called "copperplate" penmanship. They used to teach penmanship in school. Even when I was in primary school it was one of the things right on my report card. And it was never a good grade either. But Iva T. Apple on the other hand, her penmanship was gorgeous.
It says here that in 1891 she was going to school in Swayzee Indiana (which is in Grant County apparently). She was born in 1881 so she was ten years old when she signed her name in that Fourth Reader.
I looked up Swayzee Indiana - and as far as I can tell it is in no way related to Patrick Swayzee. At the last census, 2010, it had a population of 961. Which is not that far off the populationat it's peak in 1900 when it was 1,162. The town of Swayzee claims that it is the only town by that name in the entire world. I will not argue the point. It's claim to fame is 9 basketball overtimes in a single game!
It appears that the town was officially established in 1880 when the Clover Lear railroad tracks were laid through the town , just one year before Iva T was born. I don't know much else about the town other than it had it's booms and busts, like almost every other town in existence, but has remained, for the most part, a rural farming community.
I should probably go back and read through my dad's notes to see if I can find out why and when Iva T moved from Indiana to Michigan. I know she married a man named Harrison Samuel Hurley and that among her children was my grandfather, Ira Irvin Hurley.
I remember my great grandmother vividly. She was adorable. Her little house was across a cornfield from my grandparents in Hemlock Michigan on a dirt road. I loved walking over to visit her. She had an enormous flower garden that she lovingly maintained and made quilts and dried apple dolls. One year she made a popcorn cake for my birthday. I remember her as a soft spoken, gentle, sweet natured lady who always wore an apron, sensible black lace-up shoes and her hair up in a bun.
My children never met her, which is a shame. And it's entirely my own fault. Somehow, I just never made it happen. She was in Michigan, we were in Connecticut and life was busy and complicated. It's not a very good reason and I greatly regret it. She was still living when my children were all born because she lived to be 105 years old. She is one of the reasons that I claim have descended from a long line of very long lines.
It's hard to imagine that lovely silver haired lady that I knew as a 10 year old, carefully writing her name in her new school book more than a hundred years ago. Way back then, her entire life still lay before her and she had no idea how it would all play out.
I am looking very much forward to reading her old school books where she wrote notes in the margins and underlined certain passages and occasionally wrote adorable little mysterious secret things such as: Harry Apple + Hazel Whitecraft. That's 'Plus' not 'And'. An important distinction.
As soon as I saw those two names written like that, very small and down on the corner of a page, in my head I heard, "Harry and Hazel, sittin' in a tree, k.i.s.s.i.n.g". Probably because it's the sort of thing I might have written, very small and down on the bottom corner of a page when I was only 10. I can only guess that Harry Apple was someone related her Iva T (same last name and all) but I have no clue who Hazel Whitecraft was. I suppose it doesn't really matter.
It's another connection to real history and to my own personal history. Like I said, treasures.
PS wishes too all of you for a safe, yummy, Happy Thanksgiving however you spend it. I will be taking off the rest of the week to enjoy the holiday AND to begin my annual Cookie Baking Marathon! We can all catch up next Monday!
Hugs all 'round!
Well here we are, at it again. Hiking around, taking photos, having fun, getting into trouble. Because that's who we are, it's what we do!
I think I mentioned once, that without any intention on our part at all, each of our hikes seems to have a theme. It might be birds or flowers or bugs. Once it was tiny things of all sorts, another time it was all the washed out trails. Last time it seemed to be surprisingly about bicyclers. This time, I have dubbed our hike the "Holy Crap" hike. But I'll get to that part later.
It started out as a perfectly lovely day. Especially for hiking. There was even a bit of a chill in the air. (hence the sweatshirts). We began at Curry Creek. It's a smallish hike but a perfectly lovely one. The light was amazing and, perhaps because we were the only people there, we saw an usual number of critters. Including a burro but in all honesty, he lives next door to the preserve and I didn't think to get a photo. He was darned cute though.
It was early enough in the day that there was still dew on the flowers and spider webs but there was sun enough for dramatic back-lighting. Ever since I've been taking photos I have this preference for cool weather light. It is just so pretty. The dragonflies patiently waiting for the pictures to be taken, I didn't have the usually fight with wind bobbing the pictures out of focus and we weren't being eaten by mosquitoes. All indicators of a great photo safari day.
It was, in fact, such a terrific hike, that when we found ourselves back at the beginning (it's kind of a giant circle) we weren't ready to call it a day. We wanted more! So we drove to Deer Prairie Preserve. It's technically a park of equestrian trails but it isn't as if they will bar your entry if you don't have a horse with you.
I should have known it was going to be weird, by the way. All of the indicators were right there. We were seeing unusual things. For example, just outside the actual preserve, we saw, all in one area around a pond, an alligator, a cow, 3 turtles and quite a few birds. All of these creatures were within yards of each other. A seriously weird combo. So I think we kind of knew it was going to be an interesting hike! Joy snapped these shots: (and I borrowed them shamelessly from her - thanks Jo!)
We were the only people at Deer Prairie. And that is just the way we like it!
We set out, as we always do, chatting softly, admiring what is around us and taking photos of whatever catches our eye. And there is plenty there to see.
Anyway, so there we were, slowly walking along, probably a little more than a mile down the trail. Having a perfectly lovely time. Tralalala. And that's when it happened.
Joy was just slightly behind me. We were talking about the technique involved with tracking a moving object with a camera (like a flying bird for example). Well I was asking for tips, she was explaining, I was listening.
We rounded a curve and something ran across the trail, from left to right ahead of me. I came to a dead stop and said, "Jo". There must have been something in the tone of my voice because she stopped too. We were absolutely silent for the longest nanosecond on record. It took that fraction of a second for the message to travel from my eyes to my brain and then properly process because I honestly wasn't expecting it. (and sometimes I'm not the sharpest crayon in the box).
It was an animal. That part I knew for sure. Initially I thought dog. Then deer. Then I knew. It was a hog. A feral pig. Undomesticated oinker. Savage bacon on the hoof. Whatever you want to call it, it was bad news.
I turned around immediately and said out loud but in a perfectly conversational tone, "Ok I'm done". Joy turned with me and we started walking back to the entrance.
Wild hogs are not to be trifled with. They are, after all, wild animals. And they have notoriously bad attitudes. It's not as if we were planning to hurt them of course, but they have no way of knowing that. It was obvious to us both that leaving was our wisest course of action.
We walked at a comfortable pace, we weren't running or acting crazy. There was no screaming or shrieking. I'm sure that to anyone observing us, we looked perfectly normal. Which is kind of hilarious. Neither of us has ever been accused of being normal.
As we walked, Joy periodically looked over her shoulder, just making sure that there were no little piggies sneaking up behind us. I kept looking ahead of us, scanning side to side.
As I said, we weren't running, but we weren't dawdling either. Wild hogs are considered the most dangerous of all Florida exotics. And they aren't native to Florida either! I'm not sure who brought them here but they are a problem.
They will eat anything. Literally. They carry diseases. Ick. They damage the soil causing erosion. They damage trees and other foliage. They are kind of like the marauding pillagers in days of old laying waste to all that is before them in their quest for food. There have been human deaths attributed to wild hogs, usually due to blood loss but sometimes from the diseases they pass along. No Thank You!
Back to the story. So there we were, walking steadily toward the trail head, hearts pounding, eyes searching, ears listening, all nerve endings on high alert. We rounded another curve and holy cats, another wild hog runs across our path. This one followed by his entire dang family!
Once again we came to a complete halt. I remember thinking, "Damnit, we are surrounded!"
We stood silently and waited a few minutes. We wanted to be certain that everybody was safely on the other side and that there were no stragglers.
Especially concerning was that there were young hogs in the family. I think anyone with an ounce of sense knows to be extra careful when there is a mama and her babies around. Mamas are especially fierce if they think their little ones are in danger.
Finally we moved forward again, a little more slowly, being even more careful. Joy still checking behind us, me checking before us. Then one more porker crosses the trail. This one wasn't being delicate at all. His crashing through the underbrush at least gave us a very tiny headzup. We stopped one more time. Joy took this photo.
When we could both breathe semi-normally again, we headed on down the trail and, finally, to the safety of the car. It was the longest trail walk we ever took and the scariest for sure.
We both decided that as much as we love that preserve, we will not be going there again for awhile.
It's funny how most people, when they think of dangers in Florida immediately think of Alligators. I've never worried about any alligators I've seen while hiking around. I mean, I'm not stupid about my interaction. I keep a healthy distance. I observe and admire from afar. But I've never felt that I was in danger from an alligator. These little - well not so little really - pigs on the other hand, had me shaking in my sneakers.
So that is the story of the Holy Crap Photo Safari! Exciting for sure, but I don't ever need to do it again.
Yup that's me. All gussied up and ready for my evening at the theatre.
It's fun to occasionally have an opportunity to dress up a little bit. It doesn't happen very often these days. Florida is a very casual place, even more so than Colorado. And Colorado was far more laid back than Connecticut where we lived before that.
Florida is so casual, that I suspect you could show up to a play in a bathing suit and flipflops and nobody would bat an eye. Seriously, at the theatre here, I saw people in shorts, people in glitz and everything in between. But because I enjoy the rare excuse to be fancyschmancy, I did dress up a bit and I wasn't out of place either. Mostly, I am good with casual. But every once in awhile, I enjoy going full gussy. Technically, I suppose this is only about 3/4 gussy since I wasn't wearing heels (this time).
Regardless of the non-existent dress code, I was eagerly anticipating my first theatre night in awhile.
This was the first of 4 theatre nights that a group of ladies I know are attending. We did this last year too and it was pretty dang awesome. The member of the group who organizes this event, get this tickets WAY ahead of time. I tuck the tickets in a drawer without even looking at the names of the various performances we are going to see because, let's face it, I'm going to forget the names anyway.
Instead I write on my calendar, "S-Play 7:30" on the dates in question. That's all I really need to know. When the month comes along finally, I see that I have a performance coming up and I start to get excited and I plan my month, my week and finally The Day around it. I am absolutely going to be sure to not miss whatever play I have tickets for!
I never actually read the ticket until I take it out of the envelope in the drawer and put it in my little clutch purse. Y'see, it doesn't matter to me what play I'm going to see. I already know I'm going to have a good time. The actual performance is just icing on the cake. It's kind of like a terrific surprise! I love surprises.
So okay, the day rolled around this month, I made certain that I was available, my evening was clear. Around 5:30 I showered and, after a few false starts, figured out what I was going to wear. I did my hair and my make-up. I located my evening bag, decided which shoes I was going to wear and then pulled out my ticket.
Here it was, the big reveal, What Play am I going to See??
To my surprise, I had never ever heard of this play. The ticket said, "Fall Musical". Interesting. I've never heard of this one. A musical about autumn? I contemplated this as I walked down the street toward the theatre, collecting a few fellow theatre goers along the way.
We chatted about this'n'that. Nothing of any consequence. And the entire time, the back of my brain is still ruminating on what sort of songs there are about fall? I'm thinking, Frank Sinatra, "September Song". Or maybe, Eric Clapton's "November". Or maybe Kenny Chesney's, "The Boys of Fall". But then there is, "November Rain" by Guns 'n' Roses and Neil Young's, "Harvest Moon". No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't twist those songs into one collective, unified story line. It was a mystery.
So in short order, we arrived at the Venice Theatre and blend in with the throngs, We milled about for a little bit then eventually we found our seats and got comfy. About sixty seconds before the play began, the person sitting on my left said, "I'm so excited to see this". I said, "Me too" . She said, "I think I've seen it 3 times now". Completely surprised, I said, "You've seen 'Fall Musical' 3 times? She looked at me as if I was an idiot (because I am) and said, "No, I've seen Mama Mia 3 times" I stared at her blankly, mouth open and then suddenly all of the marbles in my head fell into the proper holes.
We got the tickets so early that the theatre must not have decided on which Musical they were going to perform on the date in question, so they merely referred to it the Fall Musical. And the tickets, at that time, were printed that way. At some point they chose 'Mama Mia' as the Fall Musical but of course, our group already had the tickets in their hot little hands. There is no musical called, "Fall Musical". I am an idiot.
But it was time for the play to start. So I closed my mouth and looked at the stage. It was wonderful! It was amazing. I loved every minute of it. The set design, the costumes, the singing, the music, the dancing....it was all superb! Really and truly one of the best musicals I've ever seen there. And I've seen a lot of really good ones.
I think I was the only person in the theatre who had never seen any version of Mama Mia before. And, from the talk around me at intermission, it sounded as if most people had seen both the film version and the play version. There was a lot of hot debate about which was better. Universally, everyone disliked Mama Mia part two. I did not know there was a part two. And since this was the one and only version I had ever seen, I could not weight in on whether the film or the play was better.
The film would have to be completely amazing because the play was really really really really good. But of course, now that I have seen the play, I also need to see the movie. It's officially on my list of movies I need to see.
At the very end of the play, all the performers were on the stage singing and dancing and the audience was singing along, a few people dancing a little bit. It was obvious that everyone there had a great time. Including ME!
Despite the fact that I'm foolish enough to believe that there actually is a musical called, 'Fall Musical', it was a great night! And honestly, it was a wonderful surprise. I already knew I was going to have a good time, seeing a play I'd never heard of before (the "fall musicsal") But when it turned out to be a play I had long wanted to see, well that was even better. So the fact that I didn't know kind of made it a surprise surprise!
Double the Fun!
Oooooo! You know what this is? New drapes. In fact they are very specifically Light Blocking Drapes. Or at least that is what the label says.
It 's something we've been meaning to do for a long time now. About 3 1/2 years in fact! About time we got 'round to it. It seems there was always something else that was more important. But finally, taadaa! Here it is. Well that's what we thought anyway.
I should back up and set the stage for this.
When we bought our adorable little cottage of a house, we knew that we had 3 bedrooms. We choose the largest bedroom for our room. Makes sense right? So as we moved furniture in and set things up somehow we ended up designating the smallest bedroom - the one with it's own itty bitty bathroom - as the guest room. Great plan. A lovely thing to be able to offer guests. Not only their own room, but their own attached bathroom. Done.
Then on the complete other side of the house was the largest bedroom, a bathroom and the third bedroom. As I said, we selected the largest bedroom as ours so the 3rd bedroom became Tim's office. Also done.
Tim's office got set up very quickly because he needed to get back to work. He has so much equipment in there! 3 monitors, the computer, a laptop, routers, dockings stations, an enormous desk and chair, lots of shelving with all sorts of things on it, a printer, a shredder, his safe, other stuff I don't even know what is and miles and miles and miles of wires. Once that was set up, it was not likely that any of it was ever coming back down.
So after one very long day's work, we felt accomplished and really tired. Couldn't wait to collapse into our own bed in our new house.
It took us actually sleeping in the bedroom that first night to learn that having a bedroom on the front of the house might not have been our best idea. We have never had a bedroom on the front side of a house before so it just didn't dawn on us that it might possibly be an issue.
As a pertinent aside, the previous owner left, not only all of their furniture but linens, bedding, dishes, pots and pans and curtains. We got rid of everything EXCEPT the curtains and draperies. We just felt that the existing window treatments would do until we came to a point where we were ready to replace them all. There were other things more important to take care of. Like completely re-doing the kitchen. And replacing the HVAC system. And moving the washer and dryer to the utility room. And. And. And. So for 3 1/2 years we have been taking care of the "ands".
Our bedroom had been given some really cheapo narrow slatted venetian blinds which remain slightly open at all times because they do not work and serviceable, inexpensive, thin, ordinary polyester white drapes. Which means that for this entire time, 3 1/2 years, which is roughly 1,277 nights in a row, we have had street lights, moonlight, star light and car lights coming in our window all night long. ARGH! No wonder we don't sleep well.
They say you can get used to anything if you give it long enough. Well apparently 3 1/2 years wasn't quite long enough because we were OVER it. Therefore last weekend we went to the store and bought the above draperies that were clearly marked, "Light Blocking Draperies". Good Enough.
So we came home and put them up and....well...
The first photo is with the old window treatments, the second one is with the new ones. Do you see any difference? Coz we surely do not.
I am going to go out on a limb here and say that these are not actually "Light Blocking Draperies" regardless of what the label claims. And I would also call it a total fail. Dang.
So we took them back down, carefully refolded, repackaged and they will be going back to the store. Grrrrrrr.
Meanwhile, Tim went online and tried again. They arrived a couple of days ago in a big fat juicy box. We were dubious, but hopeful.
Tim put one up right away. First the side window. This is at night as you can see. Or actually not see.
Oh my! Where did the window go??
Then the window behind the bed was addressed the next afternoon.
I cannot even show you a photograph of how darkity dark it is in our bedroom at night now because it is SO dark it is like the deepest, most mysterious cave in there now. Aafter the lights are turned off, our bedroom now looks like a photo of a black cat eating licorice in the dark. It's Awesome!
It doesn't take much to please us. But apparently, Black Out draperies, that actually block out light rank pretty high on the list.
We are going to see if this improves our sleep this weekend!
Wishing you a great weekend and some really wonderful night's of sleep
I am such a creature of habit. So many of us are, really.
Every morning one of the early in the day things that I do is walk out to the end of the driveway to bring in the newspaper. Sometimes it's inside a plastic bag to protect it from bad weather. Once in awhile, it's inside two plastic bags when the weather really is superbad. But usually it's just there, kind of naked, somewhere in the general vicinity of the end of the driveway.
Our driveway is a half circle which is neat-o because we never have to back out onto our road. But that also means that sometimes the newspaper is at one end of the half circle, sometimes at the other end. That's ok. I know to look in both places.
It has occasionally happened that both ends of the circle are missed and the newspaper lands somewhere in between. Also no big deal. Again, easy to find. Even if it lands somewhere in the shrubs, I can always find it with minimal effort.
Because we have no garage, our cars are parked in the half circle of our driveway. Having no garage is not such a big deal here in Florida. It's not like we ever have to scrape ice of the windows or shovel snow out from around the tires after all. I tend to park in the same place all of the time which is on the outer edge (so another car can pass me if it needs to) of the right side of the half circle. One time the newspaper turned out to be under my car. I just got in the car and moved it up a tiny bit, picked up the newspaper and life went on as usual.
On very rare occasions, for reasons unknown, no newspaper shows up in our driveway. While this is not an life altering event, it's annoying. So I whine to Tim and he notifies the newspaper via their website and at some point, usually the same day, the newspaper magically arrives.
But recently I went out to get the newspaper in the am as per usual and ...no paper. Hmmm. I walked around to the other side of the driveway. Still no paper. I checked the area in between, I checked the shrubs and I checked under my car. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
I stood at the end of the driveway looking toward the house and scanned for other possibilities. I even looked in my neighbors driveway - They do not get a paper so if one shows up there it would most likely be ours. Still no newspaper. Dang. I was out of ideas.
So I did my usual routine. I complained to Tim who went online and found that, according to the newspaper at least, we were overdue on paying for said newspaper. What? We are scrupulous about bill paying so that is very hard to believe, but I suppose anything is possible. However.....they claim that not only did we not pay...but, again according to them, they sent us two letters saying so. They did?
Tim and I looked at each other, mystified. They absolutely did not send them through the US postal service because no letters ever arrived. Hmmm Maybe they meant that they sent it via email. The newspaper is in Tim's name so it would be in his email. He checked everything including trash, spam and archive......nothing from the newspaper. Soooo how on earth did they send these alleged letters? Carrier Pigeon? If so that pigeon is a slacker because we have never gotten these so-called letters. It is impossible to prove that we didn't get the letters. Impossible. And since it is impossible, we will just take a deep breath, ignore that issue and move forward.
Tim went to the link for paying the bill and, and, and...it didn't work. Sometimes I just hate computers. Of course here I am typing on one right now and it's working great so let me amend that. I hate them when they do not do what they are supposed to do! Just so aggravating!
One of my doc offices heavily encourages it's patients to sign up for and use the "patient portal" rather than always calling them. So reluctantly, I signed up. I have been attempting, unsuccessfully for months now, to read my test results through this portal. Since I never heard anything from the doc I shall assume the results are fine.
I have two other doctors that prefer that patients contact them through their websites using the "make an appointment" link to...make an appointment. Seems obvious. And it's fairly easy to navigate. No big deal. Except that never once, and I mean that seriously. Not One Single Time Ever has that worked. I always end up having to call the office to make the appointment, leave a message and wait for them to call me back only to hear them say, "You know you can do this online" to which I respond, "If only that were true"
A year ago, a different doc wanted me to set up a Patient Portal and I respectfully declined. Recently I got an email from them saying that there was an important message from my doctor on my patient portal (which I do not have). The message went on to say that if I haven't yet set up my patient portal, I need to call the office and get my "code'. I'm thinking, if I have to call the office to get a code to set up my patient portal, they can damned well tell me whatever it is that the doctor wants me to know when I call!!! Or I suppose they could have passed along the message through the original email right?
At any rate, I'm sure eventually we will get this newspaper thing straightened out. But in the meantime, I'm still annoyed.
I will be the first person to admit it. I have a profoundly strange relationship with food. I think a lot of us do, which is a shame. Food should is glorious. Good food is a celebration. Yet we treat it like the enemy. And what's worse, this is nothing new. I have always been weird about my daily bread.
Actually I have no issues with bread other than I probably shouldn't eat it at all. I love bread. In any form. Bread is yummy. But I get fat when I eat bread so I make a monumental effort to eat very little of it. And I mean the effort of abstaining from eating bread truly is Monumental. Bread is so hard to resist. The fragrance alone is heavenly. I used to make all my own bread. It is a rare thing nowadays because if I make it, we will eat it. So instead, I am pretty darned successful, at least most of the time, denying myself the loveliness of bread. So sad.
And I find that I spend FAR too much of my time every day thinking about food in some way.
This is kind of how it works for me.
Everything regarding nourishment is, well, largely dependent on the day and my food-mood at that particular moment.
Some days I am not hungry. I'm just not. I consider eating when meal time rolls around, but nothing appeals to me. So I open the refrigerator a thousand times, reject every possibility and move on to the pantry. Nothing looks good in there either so I shrug and do something else instead of eat. Eventually I will break down and eat something just to fuel the machine but I am less than enthusiastic about it.
Then there are the days when I am anti-hungry. Which is bizarrely weird. On those days I am not just "not hungry". When I am anti-hungry the mere idea of food makes me a little queasy. Oh I'll still cook for Tim and anyone else in the house on not hungry and anti-hungry days. But I just cannot make myself eat any of it. Even if we go out to a restaurant, I will just keep everyone else company without placing an order for myself because on those days, food just seems kind of gross to me.
And then there are the other days. My hungry days On those days I make up for the other two. When I am having a hungry day, I simply cannot fill myself up. No matter how much I eat, I'm still hungry. I can start on the left side of the kitchen, eat myself around to the right side, burp and then go out to dinner. Yes I know, disgusting right? But it happens. At least it happens to me.
On any day, I would prefer to eat mid-day rather than end of day. I just don't feel good afterwards if I eat dinner. I will eat dinner-type food, just earlier in the day. Tim however, really enjoys dinner. So I cook dinner for him but I don't usually eat it because I know that if I do, I will suffer the consequences. Poor Tim. But he is used to my wierdness by now.
Part of the reason I usually do not eat dinner is because of the end of day meal thing but it's at least a little bit because Tim's meals are centered around meat. I am not a fan of meat the vast majority of the time. Most of the time just the idea of meat is in the "ick" column to my way of thinking. And yet, every once in awhile I'll get a craving for beef. Once or twice a year I will say, "You know what? I could really dive into a good steak" And Tim will grab his keys and say, "Get in the car" and then we are off too a really nice steakhouse. Even more rarely I hear the siren call of a perfect hamburger. The upshot of all this carnivorous activity is that I end up feeling sick later. My body just doesn't do" meat.
And then there is the Sam-fact that I prefer to eat small things. That sounds silly. But it's true. If I make a sandwich (there is that doggone bread again!) generally I will eat half of it. Sometimes only a quarter. Wrap up the rest and in a few hours eat another little bit. Then later still, another little bit.
Which is why things like M&Ms or oyster crackers or a dish of mixed nuts are perfect for me. I can eat a couple and then go off to vacuum the house. Eat a few more and change the sheets. A couple more bites and I'm ready to run errands. All without the M's, crackers or nuts going bad. They can sit in their little dish on the counter top and I can graze as I walk by. Cold food gets warm. Warm food gets cold. Some things melt, other things congeal or wilt. (eww gross) M's, nuts and Oyster crackers just sit their quietly waiting for me. Nice.
Then there is the rather indelicate fact that I happen to have a very delicate tummy so I must avoid spicy foods, acidic foods, high potassium foods (etc.etc) or I will be miserable for hours. Lactose intolerance insists that I avoid most dairy or at the very least it requires some very serious planning.
Usually at the beginning of the week I make myself a large green salad. Just several kinds of lettuces and some cucumbers. Very simple. Every day this salad serves as my main meal. I might add some boiled egg or some sort of beans (kidney, garbanza, etc) or, if i'm felling very brave, I'll cube up some lovely mozzarella cheese. Drizzle with basalamic reduction and voila...dinner! or lunch! Or more likely a combination of the two. Dunch/Linner! Boring boring boring. But it works for me.
I suspect that some of this weirdness originates with the fact that, like far too many women, I've spent my entire life trying to be thinner. Sometimes more successful than other times. And it wasn't just because I wanted to look like the models in the magazines, on TV and in movies. Nope. I grew up in an era where there was one specific standard, just one, and everyone, I mean EVERYONE nudged every single girl toward it. Teachers, doctors, neighbors, scout leaders, total strangers, and even our peers felt it necessary to offer unsolicited advice to who anyone who didn't fit the mold. There were a lot of very non-helpful suggestions and constant reminders that we didn't measure up. It was about all pushpushpushing us to look a certain way. As it so happens, that is not the way my body has ever looked. So the message really said, "you aren't good enough the way you are".
Well, I can't blame everything on societal subliminal (and sometimes not so subliminal) messaging. I have to take some responsibility myself. Y'see, I have an overactive sweet tooth which trips me up now and again. Oh it's a powerful thing that sweet craving. Frankly, most of the time I would rather have dessert than dinner. I cannot eat both. Apparently I have a very tiny tummy because even if I only eat a small part of a meal, I'm far too full later to have dessert. And yet that is the only part I really want. Still I know that the actual meal is much better, healthier for me. A smarter choice. BUT the smarter choice isn't what is going to satisfy me. It's not what I'm craving. it's not what I want Such a dilemma. Oh I've given in. It's true. There have been times when Tim and I go out to eat and he orders some lovely steak and steamed veggies with Cesar salad and baked potato. And I'm eating pie. Just pie. Nothing else. Yup. I confess. And what's worse is that I only regret it if I have trouble buttoning my pants the next day. If it wasn't for the pants buttoning issue, I'd have dessert for dinner every day :)
I'm a pretty fair cook. I enjoy every part of it. Planning the meal, preparing it and even presenting it. But most of the time I don't want to eat it. Unless of course, it's food that is very bad for me. That stuff I love.
So there it is. My food confession. What's yours?
We have known for quite awhile that this past weekend was one loaded with way cool, super-fun things to do. There was the Renaissance Fair in Sarasota! The Sandcastle Festival on Siesta Key! The Chalk Art Fest right here in Venice! Wow! And that's just the things that were most interesting to us within a very reasonable 30 minute drive. We had no idea which thing or things to choose!
We talked about it but decided to wait until the weekend and decide then. I kept shifting my choices, changing my mind. Back and forth, 'round and 'round. Tooo Many Great Options!
And then I got sick. What a party pooper I am. Friday is just a blur to me. Sad but true. By the time Saturday rolled around, I was feeling a bit better and slowly starting to introduce food to my system but I wasn't really up to anything that required more energy than showering. I even took a break between putting on the right shoe and the left. What a wimp! So ultimately the decisions was, we would skip those events this year. Booooo.
The weather was a surprisingly cool 57 degrees when we woke up on Saturday. Brisk! And since it was windy, damp and grey all day as well, it felt very New England to us. We felt kind of nostalgic. We lazed around for awhile but eventually just had to get out of the house, even just for a short time.
Naturally we found our way to the jetty, by car. I was absolutely not up to the walk. We were surprised to find it absolutely packed with vehicles. Gloomy, chilly days usually are totally empty jetty days. Turns out there were some awesome waves! Waves like this can only mean one thing. SURFERS!
I ventured out of the warmth (I just love heated seats) and comfort of Tim's car to take some photos because I just couldn't resist. Surfers and surfing just fascinates me. This was not a warm day, it was not warm water, and yet, as you can see, there they are, bare of foot and bare of various limbs. They clambered down the sharp, rough, rocky sides with large heavy boards tucked under their arms and then into that chilly water risking having their bodies bashed back up against the jetty in the tumultuous ocean.
The surfers spend a goodly amount of time floating on their boards, paddling just enough to stay away from the rocks, waiting for the wave that feels right to them. Then they suddenly stand up (while remaining on the board which to me is amazing enough). The wave rises under them, as if their feet were glued down (and this is the most astonishing part) they almost always stay on the board!
I know that they are shifting their weight imperceptibly, making tiny adjustments this way and that to accommodate the undulations of that ocean beneath but to those of us standing, watching, agog at their athleticism it looks like magic. It's like a very quiet war, the surfers balance and talent versus the briny deep.
Then comes the most surprising part, assuming that they win the battle, as the wave begins to peter out, they just kind of relax and intentionally, INTENTIONALLY, allow themselves to kind of collapse back into the water. Then they climb back aboard and it all starts over again.
It's almost mesmerizing. We watched for a long time.
Considering that I can barely navigate through a doorway without crashing into the frame, I know better than to give surfing a go myself. But perhaps in an alternate universe, I am Gidget hanging ten on my board on the beaches of Cali and the Beach Boys are performing outside and I have that gorgeous sun streaked beach hair and the bikini body? No?
This is how we began our photo safari last Thursday, rescuing a bicycler! I have to say that Joy was the hero of this story for sure.
We had just arrived at Oscar Scherer's State Park and began walking to a trail head when we passed this guy. His bike was upside down, his hands were filthy with tire/bike chain yuck as he was attempting to work on it with nothing more than his bare hands. As we passed him, he sighed and said, "I don't suppose either of you ladies happens to have a pair of pliers?" Joy said, "what kind?" And off she went back to the car to get some tools.
I remained behind examining the problem with the bike guy. Looks like he took a fall somewhere along the line. Chain popped off and the chain guard got bent. Once Joy arrived with the pliers, it was relatively simple to bend things back into place and he thanked us a zillion times. We smiled, waved and went on our way. But really...Yay Joy!
It was a beautiful hiking day, cooler and dryer than it's been recently. We hit one of our favourite trails and well, wow. Just wow! It was gorgeous.
First of all, we saw a lot of wildlife and that is always a treat
While we saw no other hikiers, we did see evidence of kayakers and yet at least one other e bicycler. First time we ever saw that in this particular park. Which just goes to prove that we aren't the only ones who love this place.
Off on a side trail where not too many people go, is a very cool wooden very rustic - oh let's call it a bridge. We saw so many lovely flowers and leaves and interesting trees along that path
This particular path eventually leads to an old train trestle that is no end of fascinating. Those massive rough hewn timbers, the scent of creosote, and nature that is trying to reclaim it, very, very slowly.
If you follow this trail long enough, eventually you arrive at a pond. There is just something about water, almost any water, than as soon as you see it, your entire body and mind just begins to relax.
There were a few other surprises along the way, like the massive cage we found on an off shoot trail that clearly wasn't well traveled. Which is always especially alluring to us. We saw this massive cage at a distance and wondered what it was all about. Once we got close enough to read the sign on it, we beat feet back to the more familiar trail. After taking photos of course. It was a feral hog trap! If the trap is there, that means that the oinkers are an problem in that area. Yikes! Not friendly wildlife!
Let's see, what else? It was a great hike, there were a few more surprises than usual. We had a terrific day. Oh, and I almost lost my glasses again. Dang. I really have to be more careful!
You know how often nowadays, especially online, you are required (or at least encouraged) to write a little blurb about yourself? Sometimes they call it a "profile" other times they might refer to it as a "bio". I only recently realized that when I write on of those things, I never mention that I enjoy gardening or that I consider myself a gardener.
As I fill in that space I talk of photography and writing, reading and baking, travelling, hiking and family and friends, but never gardens. And that is kind of odd because I have always had some sort of garden, no matter where I lived.
Even when I lived in a college dorm I had a few plants. In one apartment - which was ground floor - I managed to plant a colourful garden of annuals between the scraggedly shrubs in the front. It was cheery and happy and commented upon, favourably, by everyone who saw it.
I have had herb gardens, windowsill gardens, vegetable gardens and of course flower gardens. The biggest flower garden I had was probably in Connecticut. It started small but continued to grow until it had a path to walk through it, a flower covered arbor and both a bird bath and a sundial in addition to all of the flowers. From spring through fall it was home to many a bird and butterfly and I absolutely adored it.
I never really got the hang of gardening in Colorado. There were a few things that did well, but most of what I planted flourished for only a season or two before failing. While I kept trying, (I am stubborn if nothing else) the best looking garden we had there was the rock garden and I'm not joking even a little bit about that.
I didn't intend to have a garden here. I honestly did not. One of the previous owners, or perhaps collectively all of the previous owners, had already planted many trees and shrubs, some of them of the flowering variety and it already looked good. Short of tearing out perfectly fine existing mature gardens only to start over, there didn't seem to be a place for a garden.
Until my first spring here. There is something about spring that just begs for new flowers. So I bought and planted just a few perennials. Trying to get my feet wet, so to speak, with Florida horticulture. Every damned one of them died. I was mystified. The things that are already here look amazing. They are healthy and lush and huge so why wouldn't the new things grow?
I still do not know the answer to that but I decided to just stop throwing money away on flowers to plant in the ground. And then it occurred to me. Ahhhh in the ground. That is key! We have a perfectly lovely courtyard! I decided that instead I would have a potted garden in the courtyard.
It started out with just a few teensy flowers from the clearance table at Lowes. Which, once planted and fertilized and watered and treated with love and care, grew so much that they sort of took over the courtyard. There are two tables in the courtyard. Both of them were completely covered!
Then the most amazing thing happened. People started gifting me cuttings from their own plants and flowers. And I put them in the courtyard and again, they thrived!
My friend Marsha recently gave me cuttings from her Coleus. I mean just a few weeks ago I was given three plastic cups of tiny baby coleus plants. I only had one empty plantpot so I used that one. It was kind of large. They looked very sweet and silly in that great big pot but I figured, it gives them plenty of room to grow. Well here it is just a couple of weeks later and already they have nearly outgrown the pot (as you can see in the photo at the top of the page). I absolutely adore them.
So what I have now is a collection of flowers that were gifted to me by friends. Without intending to, I have a friendship garden. The lizards love it, the butterflies love it and I love it. My little friendship garden is now my favourite of all the gardens I've ever had.
However you spend your weekend, I hope you have the absolute BEST time!
Over the weekend Tim and I went to a small boat show in Sarasota. Part of it was inside the arena, part of it was outside and all of it was fun. Let me make it very clear that, at least for right now, we have no intention of buying a boat. It's just fun to look.
Perhaps because at least half of my genetic make up comes from a long line of sea farers, boat lingo comes much more easily to me than say, RV speak. I know most of the really important words like: galley, head, fore, aft, bilge and mast. I know my starboard from my port, my bow from my stern and my boat from my ship. Like I said, the important stuff.
We prowled around admiring things and discussing the benefits of a center console as opposed to a side console with the sales people. Tim debated outboard versus inboard with them and they all were quick to point out the storage capabilities and comfortable seating with me. My first question is always...is there a bathroom (or head), because that is at the top of my list. Tim wants to know about power and fuel efficiency. Neither of us care about anything fishing related.
99% of the sales people were very nice, friendly, informative, eager to engage us in conversation but not pushy at all. They know that the vast majority of people there are just looking, just like we were. That's how it works. The same thing happens at car shows and the infamous Parade of Homes. People are just mostly just looking. It's free or relatively inexpensive entertainment. And most sales people start out knowing that and are fine with it.
But there is always that one.
This time it was the guy manning a particular brand of a Pontoon boat. There is nothing wrong with a pontoon boat, Nothing at all. But even if we were in the market for a boat, that would not be one that we would be interested in. We only looked at it because it was there and we looked at them all. Seriously that is the only reason.
The sales guy was, hmmm, I will be kind and say assertive. He really wanted to sell and he especially wanted to sell to us. He started out pleasant enough but still with that little undercurrent of aggression that puts me off instantly.
His jokes were not only not funny, they were borderline offensive, all sotto voce but still. We were looking at the boat from the ground. He kept encouraging us to go aboard. Which is fine I suppose, but instead of a roll up ladder to get up into the thing, they had taped a straight ladder. I declined with a smile. Tim shimmed up the ladder with no problem. The sales guy kept insisting that I get on the boat. I declined again, with a tighter smile. He pushed harder. I indicated the ladder and said that I wasn't sure I was up to the task, I even did that little self deprecating laugh at the end. He wasn't having it. "You look spry enough to me" he said. Spry. I look spry. My Gawd. Spry. I still cannot get over being considered spry. It makes me sound like I am a thousand years old.
I hate to admit it, but the "spry" word actually worked and I was up the ladder in no time. Once I got up there I turned and said, "it has nothing to do with spry and everything to do with grace." He kind of sneered and went on to extol the many virtues of his boat. We listened and then we left both of us really put off by his attitude. We moved on to other boats, far better suited to our taste and without snarky salespeople.
We tend to gravitate to Catamarans. They just feel so very solid in the water. Saw some mighty nice ones too. The little tunnel underneath when you are looking at the hull always cracks me up. Our favourite had a nice little (little being the operative word) galley, a cute little sleeping cabin and of course the most important thing, a bathroom. There were lovely details like the trim work and the beautiful flooring and a surprising amount of light in the sleeping cabin. The vessel was navy blue and white with a thin line of red just for fun. We really liked it a lot.
We have always admired Catamarans and everytime we go to a boat show we are just more in love with them. When (and if) the day ever comes that we actually do buy a boat, odds are really good that it will be a Cat of some sort.
So anyway. That was our day at the boat show and other than that one annoying sales guy, it was a Terrific Day! And at least it is now well documented at even at my apparently very advanced age, I am Spry. (geez - that still bugs me)
Photo Safari at Jelk's Preserve! Woohoo!
We hadn't been there in a long time, I think we missed it altogether last year and I suspect that a lot of people forget about it. It's kind of out of the way. Barely noticed as you drive down the road. We were specifically looking for it and nearly missed the turn. But that works for us because we were there completely totally and entirely alone. Well except for the wildlife of course.
It almost has a sense of abandonment about it. very nearly a spooky feel. The trails are less well marked and it's far more overgrown. It was easy to get turned around for sure. There were a lot of indicators of wild, or feral, hogs which, if we had an ounce of sense would have suggested that we hike elsewhere. Luckily for us, we have more courage than brains because it was a great place to hike.
I mean of course you have to keep your wits about you, pay attention and make it a point to not do anything monumentally stupid. But we are not only canny and dauntless, we also were smart enough this time 'round to bring bug spray. Well to be fair, Joy was the one with the bug spray. I was pleased that I remembered to bring my hat this time.
Some of the trails were wide and obvious, others were just barely distinguishable. We trekked both sorts. Evidence of two difference sorts of trails:
This was, somehow, the hike of tiny things. Joy and I were both engaged by finding very small things to photograph. Which necessitated, bending, crouching, squatting, kneeling and sometimes sitting to capture. Although it was absolutely worth the calisthenics and the associated effort, we were dirtier than usual when we were done. Totally worth it. Sometimes little things are just the most adorable.
As we walked along, we were looking, always looking around. You have to have a keen eye to spy your photo prey. When Joy stops to take a photo, I am looking all around us. What else is there to see in this area? There is always something. She does the same. So it's walk walk walk, stop and shoot and look around, look around, look around, repeat.
It takes us forever to walk through any of these parks and preserves. Tortoises pass us. Snails pass us. We are not in a rush. We don't want to miss anything important like the perfect photograph, or my glasses. Yeah, like a ninny somewhere along the line I dropped my glasses. Y'see, when they are not on my face, I wear them on my hat (as you can see in the top photo). So with all the bending and squatting and so forth, it's easy to see how they could fall off my hat. And with the nice soft grass and leaves and moss underfoot, most things fall very quietly. So I didn't notice they were gone until I reached up for them to take yet another photograph and...gasp...they were not there! My glasses had vanished!
"Dammit" I said to Joy, "I've lost my glasses". I immediately began searching my general area. "No problem" Joy said calmly, "we will retrace our steps". Fortunately, they weren't far away. Joy found them and took a picture of them ( of course). I will be more mindful of them in the future.
We ended the hike by meeting Bob for lunch. Food always seems to be our post-hike go-to. And I have no problem with that :)
I have no idea where our next hike will be, or what it's "theme" will be. It will reveal itself to us the next time we set out. I only know that another photo safari is indeed on the agenda and it will, again, be awesome :)
So I was reading in the newspaper this morning that an enormous portion of the country is currently experiencing an "Arctic Blast". Their weather has turned from seasonal autumn to frigid. An exceedingly early winter. And in fact, they anticipate that more than 200 weather records will be broken, and not in a good way. Brrrrrrr! Wowza!
I remember those days. I was born in Illinois - a place with some serious winter weather. But I also lived in Missouri, Connecticut and Colorado - also places with notorious amounts of snow/sleet/ice/freezing rain/cold and in general wintery concerns.
I remember it all. And all too well. Snow suits that took eternity to get stuffed into and then once in, we could barely move. Breathing through a wet knit scarf. I can still remember the smell and feel of the air through the snow-wet muffler. The stinging sensation of warming up half frozen fingers that while warmer in knitted mittens were not protected from either cold and wet. Trying to keep a knit hat on my head. Usually knit hats are either too big for me or too slippery. Somehow I always had difficulty keeping the damned things in place. But as kids, really it's not an issue. Nope, we were too busy having fun to be miserable.
A good snowstorm meant a day off from school. YAY! And then we would go outside to play, building snow forts and snow people and in general frolicking like little Scandinavian Alvor (elves). Then, when our cheeks couldn't get any more rosy and our lips were growing numb (from eating snow - of course we did) and ice crystals were forming on our lashes, finally we would go inside. We took off our many layers and dried them either near a wood stove or the radiator (depending on where we lived at the time) and puddles would form where the clumps of snow melted off and the fragrance of wet wool filled the house as we drank our cocoa or our cups of soup to warm up.
As an adult it was more about the slip'n'slide drive to and from work and is the wood box full and mopping up the endless puddles of wet and worrying about the cost of heating oil for the furnace as the days got colder and colder and shoveling the danged driveway and sidewalk without slipping and falling on our butts. The joy of winter is pretty much out the window. Unless of course you are a skier which I most certainly am not.
I do remember that the pain-in-the-arsedness of winter weather but I also remember how pretty it was. Like a Christmas Card. The sun sparkling off the snow and ice like a fairy land, making casseroles and stews and roasts and chilis. Baking breads and gingerbread cakes and filling the house with those wonderful wintery fragrances. Even the snow smells good, at least at first. It's clean and cold and crips and wonderful. At least until it turns grey and nasty.
I remember the delight of seeing the footprints of birds and deer and wild animals of all sorts. We only rarely saw the animals the rest of the year, but here was proof that in the wee hours, when we weren't looking, they were still around.
Here on the other hand, while our friends and family who live in other places are shivering and bundled to their noses trying to stay warm, we have finally gone from the sweaty, oppressive and miserably humid hot of the longest summer since we've lived here to the overdue and ever so welcome, much cooler dryer season. We kind of only have two weather seasons here; Summer and not summer. I can't even put an actual name to the second one. It's not really like autumn, it's certainly not like summer and spring means nothing here since stuff grows year 'round.
But the weather absolutely has changed. My attire alone proves it. Normally in the summer I dress much like in the first photo above. Shorts, sandals and either a tee-shirt or a tank. And the windows are closed tightly against the heat with the AC turned up, the ceiling fans whirling 24/7 and the dehumidifier working overtime.
Then suddenly, it changes. This year it changed far too late. It's November for heaven's sakes. Everyone else I know is in the the throes of an early winter and we have only just now crossed over into "not summer". Saturday it was not only, "not summer", it was also very windy. And the wind carried a bit of chill in it. Loverly. We opened windows in the house but as you can plainly see (in the other photo) I wore long pants, closed toed shoes and, although I was wearing a cap sleeved summery blouse, I needed (at least early in the day) to wear a light weight jacket. What a nice change.
I"m sorry that everyone else is frosty and snowy and I hope they stay safe and dry and warm. But for us, I am so happy to have finally finally finally reached "not summer" season here. Today I'm back to wearing shorts and a tee-shirt, but the difference is, the windows are still open and I'm not sweaty. What a lovely change. We may even, at some point, have a couple of days chilly enough to wear long pants and sweaters or sweatshirts! We might even have a light frost at some point. But that will be the worst of it.
All of you who are shivering in the arctic cold, please stay warm and stay safe! The rest of us will quietly enjoy the amazingly gorgeous days of "not summer". It's okay with me if you are jealous now ;)
Today is Veterans Day. Yesterday was the Marine Corps Birthday. We honoured my Dad, Tim's Dad, Tim's older brother, Tim and all veterans yesterday by taking some flowers to where my Dad is interred at the National Cemetery in Sarasota.
It was a stunningly beautiful day and it is, oddly, a very beautiful and peaceful place so we spent a little contemplative time just walking around reading. It's pretty powerful. And it always brings a few tears to my heart.
As I'm sure you already know, (but it never hurts to be reminded) Veterans Day originally was Armistice Day when World War I was officially brought to a close on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. That was back in 1918.
World War I was supposed to have been the war to end all wars. That was the only way that we could wrap our brains around the horror of it all. By saying that that was it, this was the final one. The feeling was that by declaring a finis to the entire concept of war with this one horrific war, somehow made it worth the sacrifices, the losses and the nightmares.
Of course it wasn't the last war. Because in 1939 there was World War II which was even worse. When it ended in 1945, the name Armistace Day was changed to Veterans Day so that we would be reminded to honour all of our veterans.
Did you ever think about the fact that a large percentage of those young men who served were drafted into service? They didn't even volunteer, they were called upon to do so. It wasn't necessarily their life plan. But they did it anyway. The draft, of course, ended in 1973. And yet, to this day, we still have young men and women willing to go forth into the fray to protect us. Wow.
These people are willing to stand between whatever horror is out there and the rest of us, to fight and even die for us. Total strangers. People they never knew. They are willing to lay down their lives for us if necessary. As Owen Wilson's character in the movie, Armaggedon says, "That's deep blue hero stuff". And no matter how strong they are, nobody can go through it without being changed, somehow. Even if you emerge physically whole, there is no possible way that a person joins the military service and emerges the exact same person they were when they entered.
So we honour them, we thank them, we remember them, because they earned it and they deserve it. They actually deserve so much more, but it's hard to know how to equate what they do and what they are willing to do with a mere gratitude.
The words"Thank you" are not anywhere near big enough.
Please remember to honour the veterans in your life today.
It was bound to happen eventually. My luck had been too good for too long. This photo is kind of me right now. Only the left ear, not the right.
The week before last I started to notice that the hearing in my left ear seemed to be fading in and out randomly. That's odd, I sez to myself. I changed the batteries first because, well, Tim taught me a long time ago that when you have a mechanical problem, you always start with the simplest thing first. A change of batteries is pretty basic.
It wasn't the batteries. Dang. Well I tried. The next and most obvious choice is the receiver wire. It's the wire that goes from the ear piece into the actual hearing aid device. When I worked in Audiology, it was one of the most frequent sorts of repairs that we did in-house. It's quick, it's easy and, when the receiver wire is the problem, it's awesome.
So I called my local Audiologist, the lovely Dr. Lundstrom, and she had me come in the very next day. We talked about the issue and she checked things out and agreed with me. "Could very well be the receiver". She replaced it and I went on my merry way.
Over the next couple of days I just tried to not think about it, which is impossible. As soon as someone says, don't think about purple cows all I can envision is violet bovines! But, I didn't want to over-react or be hyper-sensitive to the issue. Since I already know I have a significant hearing loss and especially on that left side, it was certainly a possibility that by focusing on it I would "hear" a problem that wasn't actually there. One of those Jedi Mind tricks that we play on ourselves. So I just went about my life for the rest of the week.
By the time the weekend was over I was positive that it wasn't just me being a big whiney hiney. Nope, there really was a problem that a new receiver wasn't going to cure. Dang. I knew what the next step was.....sending it in.
That means going back to my Audiologist and having them send the hearing aide (not both of them, just the bad one) back to the manufacturer for repair. One does what one must and so I did it.
Naturally, it is now out of warranty. Of course it was. There is never a problem while things are in warranty, whether it's a refrigerator, a car, a television or a hearing aid. Nope, the issues arise the instant they are out of warranty. I kind of already knew that if I had a problem, that's when it would be. And I was right. Double Dang.
Oh well, it is what it is and a repair cost is still cheaper than a new pair of hearing aides. And having only one that's working right now is reminding me of things I'd long forgotten.
For instance, currently since I am only aided in my right ear, my right ear is now doing double duty. Which is ok. I am functional. But it is not ideal. First of all, my balance is completely off.
We don't realize how impactful 360 hearing is for our balance until we are only really getting information at 180 degrees. Anytime I make a quick turn, I notice that I have to also concentrate to not over compensate and topple over. For a person as naturally clumsy as I am, this is bad news. So I'm being extra careful.
I also realized on the walk home from the Audiologist another reason why I need to hear on that left side. Any time a car, or bike or golf cart passed me on the road I was surprised because until it was in my peripheral vision I wasn't aware that it was there. I didn't hear it at all. Not a bit. So, not hearing on that left side is potentially dangerous. Wowzers. That was a scary walk home.
I was reminded, while working at the museum this afternoon of yet another reason of how much it matters in conversation to hear out of both ears. People were standing on all sides of me. Some people have lower voices and speak very clearly and distinctly. I did fine in conversations with them as long as I was looking them in the face. Other people have softer, higher voices. I did NOT do well with them. And then there are the people who are looking all around the room, or standing back to me, or even talking to me from a different room. I had no clue what they were saying. And the telephone? I did not even attempt to answer the phone. Everything went to voice mail. Triple dang.
I noticed that I couldn't hear my own footsteps, I didn't hear my cellphone ping at me and the things I do hear, sound completely different than they usually do. While working at the museum in conversation with my boss, she said something about Susan. I said, "Who is Susan?' She said, "Susan? No, I said season!" Stuff like that happens. It is kind of embarrassing.
Not hearing properly makes me tired. Yeah I know how that sounds, but it's true. I'm working extra hard, concentrating more intensely and honestly it's just wearying.
I will be so dang glad when I have my left hearing aid back.
For the rest of you, if ever you learn that someone you love is going to just buy ONE hearing aid to save money tell them no. Just no. This is a three dimensional world. There is sound all around you and you need to be in touch with it all.
Once I have my aid repaired and returned I will rejoice that I can, once again, hear 360 degrees! Now whether I'm actually listening or not is another story.
This past weekend we celebrated Minock Day! Woohoo!
It was their turn to choose what we did and boy oh boy, it was a doozy of a choice! Instead of doing one thing, we did not two, but THREE things! Wow! AND all three of them were my favourite price....free! Do these people know how to make smile or what?
We started out at a place that Tim and I have been talking about going for a long time. The Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach. Actually Tim and I did go there once, but they weren't open yet. We didn't know that it was only open from November 1st to sometime in April. Which when we thought about it made sense.
It is in the water alongside the Tampa Electric power plant which generates a lot of heat that attracts the manatees. When the weather and the water get cooler, the manatees, who prefer to be warm, congregate in the much warmer waters by the electric plant. Smart Manatees! The nice people at Tampa Electric decided to build a Viewing Center with a boardwalk and gardens and information and a viewing tower so that anyone who wished could enjoy it! What a nice thing to do!
Manatees are gentle giants. Roughly 10 feet long and about 1200 pounds as adults, they graze and swim and frolic in warmer relatively shallow waters. Much like a cat, they can sleep up to 12 hours a day. Known also as sea cows, manatees are mostly slow moving creatures although if they want to, they can swim about 20 mph!
Unfortunately, because the temperatures have been unseasonably warm the only manatee that we saw was the statue. We did however get to see some sea rays and that was coolio. We will return in cooler weather for sure. While it was disappointing to miss out on the actual viewing of manatees, it was a surprisingly pretty place.
Our next stop was something I had never even heard of, The Braden Castle Ruins. I knew of the town Bradenton, but Braden Castle Ruins? Interesting. It seems that way back in 1850, Dr. Joseph Braden and his brother Hector, bought 1100 acres at the confluence of the Manatee and Braden Rivers and created a sugar plantation and mill there. He also built a house. Oh wait? did I say house? For it's time, it was a mansion and locally it was referred to as Braden's Castle.
It was an exceptional structure built of "tabby", that is a mixture of lime, sand, crushed shells and water. It had 4 chimneys, 8 fireplaces and was strong enough to withstand an attack by Seminole Indians in 1856. Sadly, Dr. Barden lost the property through foreclosure the following year and died not long after. The property became a social center for the community until it was destroyed by fire in 1903. Now it's just sad remains.
It's history was fascinating, as is most history to me, and I couldn't wait to lay eyes on it. Nowadays the remaining rubble is slowly being reclaimed by nature and lays behind a chain link fence to protect it. But it's where the remains of the "castle" sit that is the most intriguing. A community of the most adorable little cottages have grown up around it and they have created a park around the ruins which are water front. I was as enchanted by the neighborhood as I was by the ruins themselves. And I am so sorry that I didn't take any photos of the cottages. So I had to borrow an image online to use by way of example, my apologies. I also found a picture of the "castle' as it once stood. Therefore, most of the photos are mine, two are not. Just by way of full disclosure
Onward to the seaside town of Cortez! Here the intended stop was the SeaHagg. As it turns out the Sea Hagg is a hoarders paradise. Especially if the hoarder has a passion for anything nautical or maritime. If ever you wanted a mermaid, this would be the place to find it. Port hole windows, they got 'em. Glass fishing floats, you betcha, and in many different sizes. Ships compass? Yeppers. Things octopus? Yerp. Jelly fish objects? Indeed. It was wild!
No matter what little section you were looking at, there was an abundance, no wait, an over abundance of things to catch your eye. If I stood completely still and starred directly ahead, my eye still didn't know where to land. So. Much. Cool. Stuff!
They even had loads of exceedingly fascinating stuff outside. So before we ever walked in the door we were already wowed! My favourite things was an old tugboat pilot house. Yes. The entire pilot house. Awesome!
Once done, we were famished and found food in a cute little place right there in Cortez called The Bridge Tender Inn by the waterfront. It was decent food, very relaxed atmostphere and, as always, it was delightful just spending time sitting, talking, eating, laughing with our friends.
After food, we wandered around town a little bit. I'm always interested in seaside towns down here. We had not been to Cortez before. It was a very cute little town. But kind of tourist heavy. Okay here is my take on the difference in a place like Cortez and my town of Venice.
Cortez seems to be a tourist town where some people live full time. Venice is a town of full-time residents that some tourists like to visit. Do you see the difference?
We ended our super fun day on the beach. It was a beautiful beach.
As always, the time flew by way too fast, we had a great time and we look forward to our next get-together.
I wonder what we will do next?
These are my sneakers. Or tennis shoes. Or athletic shoes. Or tennies. Or cross-trainers. Or whatever other synonym you like. It's a shoe and it's mine. They look pretty good don't they? I especially dig those hot pink laces. I didn't do that by the way. That is the way they came when I bought them. It may have been one of the reasons I bought them come to think of it.
They were a very sweet deal at the outlet store (of course). $19.99. Not too bad. They are pretty darned comfortable and machine washable. Sweet! They aren't bulky or heavy either. I like 'em just fine. They have endured through about two years of abuse.
But here's the thing. I walk. A lot. Rarely does a day go by when I'm not walking somewhere. And I don't mean just out to the mailbox and back. I mean walking all over town, to the beach, to the post office, to the dentist, to the library, museum or Audiology Office. I walk to Pilates class twice a week and when Joy and I do our weekly photo safari, we walk for hours.
You wouldn't know it by looking at the tops of my shoes. The tops look absolutely pristine. Nope you would have to turn them over and look at the bottoms.
I have literally walked the tread off my shoes! That is hilarious!
However, it's not very comfortable. I was beginning to notice that after I did a long walk, the bottoms of my feet were sore. Which is why I checked my shoes. Aha! Don't have to be Columbo or Sherlock to figure this one out.
So no big deal right? Back I went to the outlet to store to snag another pair of those awesome $19.99 sneaks. Only, there must be some sort of sneaker shortage going on somewhere in the world because they had only two pair in my size. The first one was hideously uncomfortable so that one was an obvious "No" and the second one was even worse. Another no. I tried a pair one size smaller and one size larger but, ultimately, also no. The too small ones pinch awfully and the too big ones flap around like clown shoes. Ratz.
I decided to just wait it out. Eventually another pair of shoes in my size that are more comfortable were bound to come along.
But I think Tim delights in this sort of circumstance. It drives him crazy that I buy cheap shoes. So now he can prove that (once again) he is right. And he usually is. This is how Tim sees the situation: 1) better shoes last longer 2) better shoes are healthier for your feet 3) you only have one pair of feet, you should treat them well. All valid points. But this is how I see it: 1) I can buy one pair of good shoes for the same price as 3 pair of cheap shoes. 2) I like variety and options 3) there is no 3. Really it's just all about the first two points for me.
But I agreed to go look at "real" sneakers in a "real" store. I refused to even try on the expensive ones. I'm just too hard on shoes to pay those kinds or prices. But I did try some more moderately priced ones.
I selected one $30 dollar pair to try and Tim offered to bring me a few more. "What sort of shoe should I be looking for?" he foolishly asked. "Cute ones", I answered. With much shaking of his head he walked away to seek the nebulous "cute" shoe while I tried on the one at hand.
It was by Fila. I am unfamiliar with the brand but it was nice looking, a little fun. And when I put it on, it was perfectly fine. The heel didn't slip, there was enough room in the toe (but not too much) and I was able to tie it tightly enough to feel secure. I thought, "Hey this was easy. Done!" It was black and grey with pink and white trim.
Then Tim came back with three boxes. The first shoe was lavender with dark purple laces. An adorable shoe by the nice people at Asics. How could I not love a lavender sneaker! I was smart enough to not just be beguiled by the cuteness of the shoe, however. After all, the most important part is how they feel.
Ahhhhh, they felt just fine. They felt wonderful in fact. Compared to the first shoe, this was like walking in clouds. The gel sole is a genius idea. Once again the heel didn't slip, the toe had just enough room and the laces tighten up just right. And with the addition of the gel sole, I was almost sold, but there were two other boxes of shoes to check out.
The next one was by New Balance. While it was a nice looking shoe, it was very uncomfortable for me. I have Very low arches, almost nonexistent arches and any shoe that has a built up arch is uncomfortable for me to walk in. Within blocks I go from comfortably striding to painfully hobbling. No to built up arches.
Slight disgression. Years ago, when there were actual "professionals" who would fit you at a shoe store instead of the self-serve shoe warehouses of today, I was repeatedly told that because of my very poor arches I needed to make it a point to buy shoes with built up arches to compensate. When I pointed out how miserably uncomfortable they are to walk in, I was assured that I would "get used to it". I was warned of all sorts of dire things happening if I did not do as recommended. I opted out, and therefore didn't get used to it and the world continued to turn. Back to the original story.
So I revisited the Asics brand. After the Lavender shoe was a blue one. Kind of a pretty blue/grey colour, with bright magenta laces. Ooooooo. Yes I can be swayed by snazzy laces. It was equally as comfortable as the first Asics shoe. Which one do I choose? Decisions, decisions.
I was having such a hard time deciding between them. At some point I realized that one pair was $10 bucks cheaper than the other one. Ok then. The blue-grey shoe it is! Certainly helps my decisions making process :)
So here we are. My beautiful new sneakers.
Please note the deep tread on these shoes. It may be the last time you ever see it.
I've already taken them out on their maiden voyage. Monday afternoon Tim and I did the noonwalk and they were amazingly perfectly wonderfully up to the task. I wore them all day with nary a problem. Yay!
But I will absolutely NOT be wearing them out hiking. The old ones will officially be the hiking shoes. These are my "good' sneakers. At least until I have worn them out. That's how it works in this house, promotions and demotions of inanimate objects.
Once again just for the contrast, old treadless shoes on the left, new shoes WITH tread on the right.
A pair of new sneakers and my life is good :)
So there we were once again, adventurers, heading out, cameras in hand to traipse through undergrowth and greenery of mysterious origins, braving wildlife of many sorts, blatantly disregarding weather forecasts and common sense.....
Yes my friends, once again, it was a day of Photo Safari! Woohoo!
Last Thursday Joy and I stayed in Venice and headed out to the wilds of Sleeping Turtle Preserve. Sleeping Turtle is 173 acres of barely disturbed nature. It has trails, few of which are well traveled but most of them well marked. While a lot of the preserve is inland, an equal amount of it wends along the lovely primeval looking Myakka River. It does not, however, have bathroom facilities. Therefore it's a go before you go situation.
To start with the fragrance is interesting and complex. Layer upon layer of green and wet and rich loamy earth created from nature composted upon itself. There are tinges of mold and mildew that rather than being being an insult to the nose are instead another wonderful ingredient to the eau du forest. Pine and palm and grasses and honestly even the creatures that live there add another stripe to the olfactory picture.
Because it had rained heavily the night before, we knew that the trails would be a bit mucky. We were not wrong. And since the weather has perversely turned from lovely drier, cooler days back to hotter far more humid days (just to provoke me I'm quite certain) we failed to take into account that muggier also means buggier. Yuck.
For whatever mysterious unknown reason, mosquitoes do not care for me overmuch. It is a rare occasion indeed where I am batting at the little fiends. However, this was one of those rare times. The damned things seemed to think that Joy and I were delightful snacks and they absolutely took hunks out of us. We discovered quickly that, probably due to the dampness, the mosquitoes weren't moving very fast, so as long as we kept moving, we were only tortured when we stopped to take photos.
We could hear birds of every kind imaginable but the jungle/forest is so dense that we didn't see a single one. We did pass a kindly couple who, noting our camera, mentioned where they actually saw a pilated woodpecker via yet another twist in the maze but we neither heard nor saw it. Clearly he had moved on or was well hidden.
Our socks and shoes, and therefore feet, were soaking wet before we had gone 50 feet down the trails. But you know what, once you are wet, you don't really think about it very much. The wild grasses were higher than usual on the trails so we were wet nearly to our knees most of the time. Again, once we got over the tickle of damp foliage at the backs of the knees, it was no big deal.
It was a banner day for toadstools and mushrooms and we both got some interesting fungus photos. (oh that's fun to say) and we were kind of mesmerized by reflections in the river. The water was so still it was like a mirror. Very awesome. Because of the gloom and the wet and the incredible overgrowth around us, most of our shots were darker than usual. It was a very fun and different kind of shoot for us. Clearly we do love a challenge.
For absolutely no credible reason, we are both so foolishly trusting of our our instincts that we really never paying enough attention to trail markers. At one point, we saw marker 7. The next marker we noticed was marker 13. What the heck happened to 8 through 12? Did we miss a turn? It's entirely possible. The rain heavy leaves, grasses and branches could have been obscuring a passageway. No matter, whimsically chose our turns at each intersection.
Sometimes the ground underfoot was just layers upon layers of wet leaves and grasses, otherwise it was mud and muck and sand and yuck. Yes, in this instance the word "yuck" is a noun. We walk right through it as if we were wandering through Nordstrom's. As long as we don't have to worry about gators or snakes we don't concern ourselves with icky stuff. When we are out on our camera hikes, we aren't trying to be beauty queens. We are washable. If we get dirty, we get dirty. No big deal.
Joy was smart and wore a hat. I was dumb and did not. Which meant, she didn't need to wear sunglasses in the more open and therefore more sunny parts and could see without squinting. I found myself either switching back and forth, sunglasses to readers to sunglasses constantly OR just squinting which ultimately gives me a headache. And wrinkles. But honestly at this point, any new wrinkle goes unnoticed. Just join the crowd, I say, what the heck, come on in.
When we noticed the sky growing darker, one or the other of us mentioned that the forecast did predict a possibility of more rain which was excuse enough to say, done! We headed in the direction that we thought was the entrance and slowly made our way, taking photos as we went and lo and behold, our directional instincts must be pretty good because we ended up exactly where we wanted to be.
Tired from hours of walking and fighting bugs, soaked from sweat and the wet ground and greenery, weary of slogging through mud and muck, we felt a little battle worn. As we left, Joy said, DQ? I said "Yeppers". We knew it was going to be a throw the sneakers in the washer kind of afternoon so we did an emergency Dairy Queen drive through. We earned it!
And got some nice photos as well. It was, as it always is, a very fun outing. And honestly doing battle with muck and damp and bugs, just makes us feel more intrepid. Stay tuned for our next photo safari!
Well here it is again folks, the Monday after the time change and that means it's time for my annual anti Daylight Saving Time rant.
Daylight Saving Time is an absolutely ridiculous concept because time is just an artificial construct anyway. The sun comes up, the sun goes down exactly the same way it always has. We are the ones who have segmented it and then arbitrarily assigned numbers and words and significance to those segments. There. I said it.
For a change I did some actual research pre-rant this year. And I learned something that truly surprised me. I have been operating under a false premise my entire life regarding the origin of Daylight Saving Time. I was wrong. Completely Totally and Entirely Wrong! (by the way, this is not unprecedented)
Growing up I was given to believe that the reason for Daylight Saving Time (and yes, that is correct, saving - singular not savings - plural) had something to do with allowing farmers more daylight hours for planting in the spring. To my mind, that kind of sort of made sense. We used to be a far more agrarian society and yes, it's nice to be able to see what you are doing when what you are doing is as important as growing the food that feeds the entire country.
That information could not have been more wrong. In fact, Farmers were opposed to the idea.
As it turns out, way back in 1895, a fellow by name of George Hudson in New Zealand, who had a hobby of entymology (the study of insects) proposed a plan for a two-hour time shift to allow him more daylight hours for his avocation. Yes. This is where it all began. With a bug guy. There were some rumblings as his proposal was considered but it didn't move forward.
In 1905, William Willet, an avid golfer, began making the same noises since the "early" dusk cut short his golf game. His proposal was only a one hour time change. Again it was considered but did not pass. But it was only a few years later, in 1908, that Ontario Canada was the very first to enact Daylight Saving Time. But they were quickly followed by Germany, Great Britain and Russia. The USA came on board in 1918 as did most of the rest the rest of the UK and Europe.
There have been a lot of adjustments, fiddles and changes through the years but the concept remained. The most unsettling part to me about the entire debacle is the reason we were given. We've been told that it was primarily for energy conservation and public safety. Interesting.
In my research I read the results of many studies and any actual energy savings is negligible. And of course dependent on where the study was done, geographically. When it's hotter out in the summer time, people are running air conditioning and/or fans. That certainly isn't saving any energy. Of course to be fair, back in 1918 AC wasn't an option.
Public safety? Well according to what I'm reading there is a 1975 study indicating a .7% decrease in traffic accidents during Daylight Saving Time. But there is a 1976 study showing absolutely zero change in number of traffic accidents during DST. Interesting.
Overall, I'm reading that the folks most in favour of keeping Daylight Saving Time are retailers and businesses related to tourism. Farmers don't operate according to a clock. The begin to work when the sun comes up (or a wee bit before) and the work ends when the sun goes down regardless of what the clock says.
Most opposed? Nearly everyone else.
Medical professionals write about how bad the time change is for our health. Mucking around with people's circadian rhythm is a bad thing. It is, by now, common knowledge, how important a good nights sleep is for everyone's over all health, physically and mentally. And for those of us who perpetually fight insomnia, DST is a nightmare - pun intended. I already have trouble sleeping, why are you complicating things???
For babies, small children and animals it is utter confusion. They cannot read a clock. And if they could they would not care. They all operate on tummy-time. If they normally eat a 5 o'clock but it's spring time and the time has changed and now come tummy-time 5 o'clock, they are ready to eat and they say so. And their parent/owner says, nope sorry you have to wait an hour. And they say, "What the actual hell? I'm hungry now! I always eat now! " And the parent/owner says, "Sorry kiddo, the time has changed". Their response is, "But my tummy says it's time to eat now! I've never known my tummy to be wrong before!" Upsetting animals, babies and small children! That just doesn't seem right does it?
A smaller level of annoyance is changing the clocks. Some are easier than others. Obviously the computer driven ones change themselves. But there is always some clock somewhere that has to be changed manually. The one in the car, which is really aggravating to change. And then there is the one on my stove. And the pain-in-the-arsesidness level of changing the time on that one means I have to be in Just the right frame of mind to tackle it. The one in the car I never change. As the year goes by and the seasons change, I just know when to mentally subject an hour from the clock on the dashboard. It's alarming to my passengers, but I know what's up.
To date, Florida, Washington (state), Oregon and California have all passed bills to enact permanent Daylight Saving Time and are awaiting Congressional Approval to do so. Most of the states in New England have proposals to do the same. Hawaii and Arizona have already opted out of the time change nonsense completely. All in all, 26 states are trying to transition out of this bizarre rigmarole. Which is more than half. And I think that proves that we are all completely over it.
It's time for the Feds to just say, 'enough of this crap' and the entire country not have to go through this preposterous nonsense twice a year.
I know that considering everything going on the world, adjusting to an hours time change here and there is no big deal. But why make life harder than it needs to be? Let's start making positive changes with the littlest things first. Without losing that hours sleep arbitrarily every year, maybe our brain functions will improve enough to help solve other, bigger problems!
Sometimes it really is about the little things in life.
Up until very recently, we had four bicycles. Which is kind of crazy.
I used to love to bike. I got my first bike, I believe, in California. It was a big old honker of a bike. Heavy, clunky, thick-tired, and crayon green. I adored it. Who knows where my dad found it but when he brought it home, I found my wings. Suddenly, I went from lumbering slowly along on foot to speeding up and down the hills of Las Mesa like a maniac. Crazy Girl.
There was nothing fancy about that bike, no streamers or gears or bells. It only just barely had brakes. The sort that you have to press the peddles backwards so you kind of skid slowly to a stop. Sometimes it was easier to just drag the toe of your foot. Thus wearing out my shoes faster and of course endearing me to my long-suffering mother.
I took to bike riding surprisingly quickly for someone with no demonstrative athletic ability. A "natural" ability I suppose. (the same kind of thing would happen a few years later, again shocking everyone, when I learned to swim very quickly and easily). By contrast, I never learned to roller skate or skateboard for that matter, ice skating was completely out of the question and honestly I couldn't even manage to climb properly on the monkey bars. When it came to childhood activities, I was strictly a book reader. But somehow, I could ride a bike and so I did.
When we lived in St. Louis, a friend allowed me to take a ride on their la-de-dah new bike which had both gears and handbrakes. Fancy Schmancy! So with absolutely no idea what I was doing, and at my friends urging, I took it for a little spin. As I cruised down Diamond Drive, a car blew through a stop sign right in front of me. Instinctively, I slammed my feet backwards on the pedals. To my shock, the pedals just spun in a backwards circle. Oh yeah, hand brakes! So I closed my eyes and squeezed with all my might. To my shock, the bike came to a quick, shuddering stop, front wheel first. Physics being what it is, I flew over the handlebars and landed in the road in front of the car that swerved and slammed on their own brakes. It was ugly and scary and more than a little embarrassing. Clearly I am not coordinated enough to work hand brakes. But it did not deter me from riding my beloved bicycle.
I bought my next bike myself. We lived in Texas then. I wasn't old enough to drive but my desire to explore farther than a reasonable walking distance was strong. The old Greenie bike just wasn't up to the task anymore. So I saved my pennies and bought a Hawthorne. Lightweight, a pretty turquoise blue colour with a white seat and very narrow tires. Still no gears and no handbrakes. I went everywhere on that bike, to school, to my friends houses, and just tooling around town.
I loved the feeling of the wind in my hair and the wheels humming against the pavement. To a kid, a bike meant freedom. And then I turned 16 and everyone I knew was getting their drivers license. I had zero interest in driving a car. I'm not certain why but the idea of navigating through traffic, especially fast traffic, wrapped in 3 to 4 thousand pounds of metal was just terrifying. So I kept riding my bike. It didn't bother me that other people thought I was weird. I was accustomed to people thinking that. Peer pressure never works on me.
But parental pressure was another thing. Eventually, the next year, when I turned 17, my parents forced me to learning how to drive. Driver's education was ridiculous. Most of the kids seemed to already know how to drive. It was just pro forma for them. And then there was me. Sitting behind the wheel of an unfamiliar vehicle thinking, "what on earth am I doing?" The idea that with just a few measly hours of classroom instruction I was now expected to get, not just in a car, but in a car on a street with other cars and furthermore to know what I was doing, well, it just seemed ludicrous.
If you've ever driven in the Ft. Worth/Dallas metropolitan area, then you will understand when I say that it is an absolutely insane proving area for a new (and nervous) driver. A whisper of the words "Clover Leaf" send ripples of terror down my spine to this day. But eventually, I did in fact, learn enough to get from point A to point B if it was absolutely necessary. And I did very well on my driving test. Other than parallel parking. I failed that. But since I aced every other part of the test, miraculously, I passed.
I had the use of my mother's car. In fact, I had almost exclusive use of it. It turned out that my mother hated driving even more than I did so I would take her here and there, run her errands, drop off or pick up my sister and I very rarely rode my bike anymore.
The next bikes I bought were for my kids. I loved teaching them to bike, running besides them up and down our long dirt driveway holding on to the back of the seat and shouting encouragement. The younger two took to bicycling with ease. The oldest one had no interest in bicycling at all.
The next bike I bought for myself was in Colorado. There were a whole lot of years between when I first started driving and when I went back to bicycling. But the feeling was still there right away. And it was still a bike with no gears and no handbrakes. I would occasionally meet up with other bicyclers to ride the Cherry Creek Trail and they would tease me a little bit about my babybike. But I kept up pretty well considering that I had only two speeds, full out and stop. Tim bought himself a bike so that once in awhile we could bike together.
We brought both bikes here. Florida is flat, was our thought! Perfect for bicycling! Tim bought a new bike, the old one being a little dinged up, and we actually did bike together a bit. I learned that it took exactly 6 minutes to bike from our driveway to the closest beach access point. Awesome. The have bicycle lanes on some of the roads here on the island, and the Venetian Water Way trail which is for walking or biking. I even tackled the Legacy Trail which goes from, at least somewhere near Sarasota down to North Port at this point.
My sister donated her old bike that she no longer used to the collection so that when we had guests, everyone could hop aboard and we would all tool around the island on our wheels together! It was a fine idea. But it never happened. And then I had another near miss with a car that had me questioning the wisdom of bicycling. And in the summer it's just too dang hot and humid to be outside at all. And honestly I don't know why for sure but we just stopped riding. And the bikes just sat patiently, idly at the side of the house.
Recently there was a perfect intersection of someone else's need for bikes and us having bikes with no purpose. Joy very kindly offered her old bike up as well. And now all of our bikes have a new good home and we are bike-less.
Just a little factoid:
Did you know that bicycles or, the Draisine, goes at least back to 1817 in Germany? The idea moved around Europe and the UK for quite some time. Each move bringing innovation and sometimes a new name, such as the Velocipede. There was the High Wheeled version, also known as the "bone-shaker", the "hobby horse" and adult sized, Tricycles and Quadracycles as well.
I have no idea if we will remain a bike-free home forever now or not. I've learned to never say never. But for now, the only wheels are the ones on the cars. And I still do not like driving, but instead I walk whenever possible. But my memories of bicycling and that first feeling of freedom will stay with me forever.
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.