I'm running behind myself already this morning so this one will be quickquick. How about a little bovine study for today!
I like cows. Well, I like most critters (most) but in general cows are genial, gentle, friendly creatures. Ice cream on the hoof, as I see it. For all their enormous size, they are remarkably easy going. I can walk through a pasture-full of cows that have never met me before and usually their only response is to look up, acknowledge my existence and go back to what they were doing before. If it's a cow that knows me, usually they will walk toward me knowing that seeing me means either food, water or both.
I have spent some time on various farms. My paternal grandparents lived on a big farm up in Michigan. My sister and I would wander through pastures unconcerned and unafraid and also unbothered by the big old cows that spent their days there. Then I lived on a small working farm for quite some time in Connecticut. I especially remember winter time, as those huge cows would patiently wait in the freezing cold, steam blowing out their nostrils, as I chopped a hole in the ice covering their water. They would take turns slurping up that icey water and then wander back out into the pale winter sun. Steam would rise from their toasty warm bodies in the cold.
I remember exploring an Amish farm in Pennsylvania when Tim and I vacationed there once long ago. Again, we were strangers to those huge animals, but they just regarded us quietly with those big beautiful brown eyes, and went back to eating. One younger cow came up to sniff at Tim who patted him gently. Satisfied that we were not hiding any cow-treats, he wandered back off again. Definitely not guard-cows.
In Texas, where I lived through part of my teen years, cattle were a big part of their history and the culture. There was even a big event called the Ft Worth Fat Stock Show. It was such a big deal that kids were allowed a day off from school to attend. Seriously!
I was surprised (though I shouldn't have been) when we first moved to Colorado to find cattle grazing side by side with big shopping plaza's. The line up would be Kohl's, Micheal's, other stores, cows. But then Colorado was a different sort of place altogether (in a very good way). It had the only Panera's I've ever seen that had a hitching rail for those who arrived on horse-back. Not joking.
I was truly surprised to learn what a big deal cows are down here in Florida. But then I didn't know all that much about Florida before we moved here so most everything about it has been a surprise to me. Turns out, cattle ranching was huge here. Who knew?
And baby cows? Oh come on, baby every things are adorable, but baby cows are especially cute. Far more playful and frolicksome than the adult versions, they are just big bovine puppy dogs.
Sounds like I miss the framing life doesn't it? Well if you think that you would be wrong. While I respect the absolutely heck out of anyone who works and lives on a farm, I am way too lazy for that life. It is not only hard work, it is constant work. I miss the baby animals but I can go visit someone else's cows. I don't need any of my own.
Anyway, that's it for today. Just a few random thoughts about a few random cows. Wishing you all a wonderful day!
Hugs all 'round
"Sooooo, what's new?" It's a perfectly ordinary normal reasonable question. It usually follows, "Hi how are you" and it shows that the other party is actually truly interested in you and your life. Which is so thoughtful, so downright sweet. And it is a question I have come to dread.
Why? Probably mostly because it is the question that, when asked of me, is most likely to cause me to have an attack of stupid. My brain just goes blank. All of the doors in all of the closets in my memory blank immediately slam shut and all I hear is a chorus of deadbolt's being slammed home.
I'm not sure why it happens, but it does. Every. Single. Time. We could have just bought a new house - nothin'. One of the kids might have just been elected President - nothin'. Aliens could have landed in my back yard recently and had a cuppa tea with me and if you ask me what's new I would say, "Well nothing I guess" Or "Same old, Same old." Why? Because immediately I have gone brain dead and would be hard pressed to know my own middle name. My usual course of action is to say, "Oh nothing really. What's new with you?" Thus transferring the onus of either actually having something new to talk to about or remembering what the heck it is. It's both very strange and very sad.
But in this moment, when I'm sitting here by myself and nobody is asking me what's new, I am perfectly happy to report to you that Yes there are 3 new things! 3! Wow!
First of all, the flower at the top of the page. A friend gave me a few plants to take care of for her. Of course I took the responsibility as seriously as I would if it had been a puppy! But I find plants to be a lot trickier to care for than a puppy. Less work but a lot trickier. So I've been especially protective and fussed far more than I usually do with a plant. And I was rewarded this weekend with these great big beautiful colourful blooms! YAY! I did not kill the plant! Hurrah!
Second new thing:
New Windshield Wipers! Woohoo! So exciting! My old ones were, well, old to begin with. They were also very squeaky (an absolutely hideous sound) and rather ineffective. So as we are approaching the rainy season here, it was prudent to get them replaced before the deluge commences.
I'm not joking about the deluge either. Oh yeah, sometimes it's just a little sprinkledinkle, or a light gentle rainfall. But as the season progresses the rain is more torrential than meagre. There are times when it feels as if someone unzipped a cloud and it all dumped, all at once, on you. And no matter if you are on foot, on bike, in car or safely tucked into your house, let's just say, you notice. On foot or on bike, you can just stop and pull over under the nearest overhang (Not a tree! lightening could strike the tree!) But in a car? Yeah, you just want the best wipers money can buy and then you slow down and hope for the best. It's wild.
So I am super happy about new thing #2!
The last New Thing:
Taadaa! Do you know what this is? It's a toilet paper holder! A brand spankin' new one! Well actually it's one of two. We have two bathrooms therefore, two toilet paper holders. And believe you me, this is an exciting new thing to have!
For whatever reason, when this house was built back in 1962, neither bathroom was outfitted with the toilet paper holder that attaches to the wall. Back then it would most likely have been made of porcelain and would match all of the rest of the tile in the room. They didn't do that here. Not a single clue why, but there it is. Facts is facts. I don't have to understand them to accept them as true.
When we bought the house nearly 5 years ago now (wow!) it came full of furniture and dishes and art (?) work and sheets. The only thing it did not have fortunately, was food in the pantry. (that would have been kind of gross right?) But of course it wasn't our furniture, our dishes, our artwork or sheets. And so we contacted someone who, as a job, purchased housefuls of that sort of thing and they made quick work of stripping the house of nearly everything.
I say nearly because the only things they did not take from the house was a really awesome roasting pan that I still use, and some toilet paper holders similar to the one above but not as nice. Still they worked. They did the job. And since we had to buy an entire house worth of other furniture, we made do wherever possible.
(the guy also did not purchase anything in our utility room which resulted in at least a half zillion trips to GoodWill with random and often strange things to donate)
One of the things we temporarily made do with was the standing toilet paper holders that came with the house. Of course I cleaned them thoroughly. Of course! I scrubbed every inch of this house as soon as it was empty. And that included the roasting pan and the old TP holders. But they worked. They did their intended job. And it was on my list to, one day, replace them.
That day was yesterday! Walmart here we come! Honestly, Walmart was intended to be just a first stop. If we could find what we wanted for less money, why not. But if they didn't have one that was an improvement over what we already had, we would have moved on to Target, then perhaps Beall's Home Store or - if absolutely necessary - Bed, Bath and Beyond. Luckily, we hit paydirt at Walmart.
They had two. And only two. Apparently everyone who uses as standing toilet paper holder needed to buy them this weekend. These work. They do the job. They hold one roll on the spindle and 3 in reserve. Perfect. AND these two have a little tray on top. For......are you ready? Your cell phone! HAHAHAHAHAHA!
When I first looked at it I was thinking, "what the heck is this for? a bar of soap?" That made no sense. Tim was the one who figured it out. That is hilarious. And a sign of the times I guess. But it works and they are brand new. And I suppose since the old ones lasted nearly five years that we know about (who knows when they were originally purchased) I suppose they ought to last awhile.
Oh my goodness, that cracked me up! So there you are. We have our fancy new standing toilet paper holders WITH cell phone trays. LOLOL!
There you have it. At long last, I had an answer for the question, "what's new?" However, the next time you see me in person and ask that question, I will still most likely say, "Nothing really. What new with you?" And I mean it with all sincerity. I really am interesting in what is new with you!
Recently, I briefly watched part of an interview with some famous people while I was ironing, and the interviewer asked the famous people what was their guilty pleasure. And the famous people all listed some TV shows: "The Bachelor", "The Voice", "Mystery Dancer", things of that nature. They all looked suitably embarrassed but everyone laughed and applauded and nodded in agreement.
It got me thinking, do I have a guilty pleasure? There are things I enjoy, but I don't feel the least bit guilty about any of them. Cookies do not embarrass me. Neither do M&M's or ice cream. Hiking? Taking photographs? Reading? Cooking? Baking? That's pretty much what I do and I enjoy all of it but I don't associate any of those things with a feeling of guilt.
And then it occurred to me. In the evenings sometimes, when Tim is watching television and I'm sitting with him but not especially interested in the show he has chosen, I watch videos on my phone. Ridiculous video's and I've never told anyone about these before so perhaps there is, if not guilt, then at least no pride attached.
It's primarily two sorts of video's; Journaling and Make-up Tutorials. Weird eh?
I'm not exactly sure how it started. I was just idling roaming through my Instagram search and checking out any/every thing in my feed. All sort of random things pop up: Funny kitty video's, DadBlog posts, cake decorating tips, beautiful photographs from far away places, crafting ideas and more. But the ones that catch my eye, the ones that I seem to just lose myself in and watch an endless stream of, are just the two: Journaling and Make-up Tutorials. Bizarre.
The Journaling one surprised me. If you say the word 'journaling' to me, I think - writing down personal thoughts. Whether it's the actual act of hand writing in a notebook or typing it on a computer, it's still an accounting of the writers feelings and experiences, hopes and dreams, fears and questions, usually for private consumption only. At least that's what I thought it was.
Turns out I could not have been more wrong. Somehow it now involves stickers and random pieces of paper, an endless supply of different patterned tape (tape comes in colours and patterns??) and a lot of stamps with coloured inks. Dried flowers, glue-sticks, transfers and all sorts of different kinds of cutty-outty tools, sealing wax and teensy tiny things are involved. I watch, mesmerized, as the journaler (is that the correct term?) applies layer upon layer upon layer of these things onto pages. And then they write a few words - generally in beautiful calligraphy. And they are done. So I move on to the next video. And the next. And the...well you get the idea.
I'm not gonna lie. I am fascinated. If I start watching Journaling video's during when Seal Team starts, when I look up again, Tim is now watching FBI. Holy Cats! I've been starring at that tiny cell phone screen watching someone else make journaling look more like an art project for more than an hour. That is just insane.
The Make-Up Tutorials on the other hand, I think it get. It's the whole Henry Higgins, My Fair Lady, Pygmalion thing. It's transformative. Turning the Ugly Duckling into the Beautiful Swan just like in fairy tales.
Totally get the appeal. I was an awkward kid. Nose always stuck in a book, with glasses and braces and always the new kid in school. Everywhere we moved, there were different things that were popular, the cliques were pretty tight and me, the clumsy, social awkward, geeky person that I am, did not fit in anywhere. Which was fine. I was accustomed to it. Until we moved to Texas where three very dear people welcomed me into their lives with open arms. For the first time ever, I had actual real friends! One of those friends was very into theatre. She loved hair and costumes and make-up. Things I knew nothing about. At one of our many sleep-overs, she decided to do a make-over on me. For the first time ever, I had make-up on my face. She did an amazing job and when I looked into a mirror, I didn't see geeky old weirdo me, I saw someone else. Someone far more attractive and I was astonished. It truly was transformative.
So I get it. I know the power of make-up. I've seen it up close and personal. But alas, I'm lazy and I'm cheap and I'm fidgety and honestly, I just cannot do that every day. I mean even if I had the skill set. Nope. BUT I can and do watch other people use many different products and colours and brushes (so many brushes!) and marvel as they go from being regular looking people to amazingly beautiful people with the simple application of hundreds of dollars worth of products, a lot of talent, and way way way more time than I will ever spend on how I look on an average day. (Which is why they look the way they do, and I look the way I do. I'm not stupid, I get it).
I will never be able to fully explain, even to myself, why I watch these videos. But there you have it. My guilty pleasure. Though honestly I do not feel guilty about it. But it's probably the closest thing. It's certainly nothing to be proud of. Yes I just wasted an hour of my life watching someone else skillfully apply about a half ton of make up. No pride there. But also no guilt. It just captures my interest.
Who knows, perhaps in an alternate universe somewhere is a Sam who is looking damned fine with her zillion dollar level make-up closet while she journals with all the coolio stuff necessary. And her guilty pleasure is watching video's of someone baking cookies and eating M&M's. It could happen.
Yesterday Joy and I headed out for a hike with our cameras so you know what that means, right? Time for the Photo Safari Report! YAY!
I'm calling this hike the Deja Vu hike. And to properly explain why, I have to back up a little bit. Probably more than once. It's a little complicated to bear with me please.
You may recall that a few weeks ago Tim took a week of staycation and he and I managed a hike nearly every day. And most of the hikes were places that were new to us. Trails and Parks I had never heard of (or so I thought) One of them was to a place called Walton Ranch Preserve. It was a beautiful place, still a working ranch which was unique. We arbitrarily chose a trail and headed down a leafy, shady path which, after a short while, opened up into a large sunny area and before us was a simple post and wire fence. And I stopped short, starred at that fence and said to Tim, " Wierd deja vu. That fence looks so familiar!"
As you may recall, Tim and I only did about a mile's worth of this preserve because it was toward the end of the afternoon and we had already hiked a different preserve that day. FYI, the only thing that felt familiar was that fence.
Ok back to yesterday. Joy saw the blog about Walton's and was favourably impressed with what she read so we decided to hit that for our hike yesterday. We parked in the same general area. She chose (with no input from me) the same place to start our hike. And we headed down the same trail. Which, of course, opened into the same sunny spot and fence. And Joy stopped and said, "This looks so familiar!"
Well that's interesting! I told how that I had experienced the exact same feeling in the same spot. But that nothing else seemed familiar. She agreed and we kept going. It all seemed new and fun and completely unfamiliar to us.
Well, I mean, we still saw some great birds which we've seen before in other places:
And interesting bugs:
While it was delightful, it was mostly things we normally see on the majority of our hikes really. Birds, bugs, flowers, trees. Pretty things, but kind of the usual stuff.
Well there were two unusual things. As this was a working ranch, we did find cows. Lots and lots of cows. They were friendly enough, well cared for and the baby cow was such a cutie pie.
The other unusual things were hunting related, we think. I'm not sure what either of these things is actually called but, we saw 'em so here they are:
So in short, other than the cows and the (we are guessing here) hunting related stuff, while everything else we were seeing was stuff we've seen before on other hikes, the only thing that actually seemed familiar was that one dang fence. And if that isn't the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard, I'm not sure what would be.
UNTIL, we came around a curve in the trail, Joy looked ahead, gasped, grabbed my arm and said, "Oh My God, Sam, there IT is!"
"IT" being a large log frame in the middle of nothing, just off a curve in the trail about 2 1/2 miles into the preserve. It looked like this:
The significance of this log frame thingie is that roughly six months ago (maybe longer), while Joy and I were hiking, she asked me if I remembered that once upon a time, she and I had happened across this big log frame and we got silly and did a little photo shoot in it. I wrestled through my memory banks a little bit and then found the proper marble. "Yes" I did remember it I told her. Then she asked if I remembered where it was. And no I did not. Neither did she but we both thought it was odd that we had not run across it again.
We just assumed that it was on a different trail than we regularly hiked in the preserves we generally hiked in. So we tried to check out different trails in our usual haunts, to no avail. No log frame to be found. We began to think, maybe the frame fell down? Was torn down? We imagined it? It was a mystery that apparently was going to go unsolved. Or so we assumed.
Because Oh My Gosh....here it was! Exactly as we remembered! Except neither of us had ANY recollection of having hiked the Walton Ranch Preserve. No wonder that fence felt familiar! What a couple of weirdo's! Our only other visit had to have been 3 or 4 (or more) years ago Somehow the name of the place fell off our radars leaving behind only a fence and the silly photos as memories.
To celebrate we tried to recreate our original photo shoot. Here is some of it:
What an awesome surprise! It was definitely the cherry on top of the Sundae for us. It would have been a terrific photo hike without it, but finally solving that mystery and having such a silly fun good time while doing so, made this absolutely one of the best hikes this year.
Sooooo that's about it I guess. Two remaining photos for you just because we had such a great time.
Hope you enjoyed it too!
It's a teensy photo but maybe you can sort of tell what it is. This is, or was at least, the little beachside market here in Venice called, "Beachside Foodmart". It nestled right next to the parking lot of Venice Beach, across from the cutest little fountain park, Graser Park, at the bottom of Barcelona Ave.
It was roughly the size of a 7-11 store and had a little bit of everything within that relatively small space. Did you arrive at the beach and realize suddenly that you had forgotten to bring sunscreen? Beachside Food Mart had it. Or perhaps you lived a short walk away and halfway through a recipe realized that you needed eggs? Beachside Food Mart had it. Of course they also had beach chairs, lottery tickets, fruit, beverages of all sorts, ice cream and well, almost anything that you might expect any Beachside Food Mart to have.
I have no idea how long the business was in existence but long before we actually lived here and only visited now and again, it was around. It was especially handy for beach-goers but also for anyone who lived nearby. And this, being a small island means, almost anybody. Tim and I used to walk by it everyday as it is on our usual noonwalk route. What I'm trying, poorly, to establish here is that the Beachside Food Mart was firmly in place. Another part of the scenery almost.
And it's gone now. Of course I was not privy to the particulars of what happened behind the scenes but suddenly one day, it was empty. Closed. Done. Perhaps the owners wanted to retire and nobody cared to take it over. Or maybe the developer made an offer too good to pass up. Yeah, a developer. Of course a developer! This was beachfront property. That stuff is gold! And what, you ask, exactly is the developer going to put in it's place? A condo. Of course a condo. Because we don't have nearly enough waterfront condo's here in Venice. (she said with the words dripping with sarcasm)
I am told that there was a time, not really all that long ago, when most of the beachfront was undeveloped. That anyone could walk (or drive) down the Espalanade (the road that parallels the water) and then turn onto Tarpon Center Rd (which goes past the marina and all the way to the jetty) and admire the beach and the beautiful Gulf of Mexico the entire way.
It is not longer possible. Since the condo boom of roughly the 1960's through 1980's (and frankly some dang poor decision making as far as esthetics go) heading down those same roads now offers only a peek-a-boo view of the water between giant buildings at best. If I understand correctly, most of those condo units are either rentals or sold to snowbirds. Which means that off season, most of the buildings are practically ghost-towns.
And there are a lot of them, one after the other after the other. Tim and I have gone to Open Houses (out of curiosity) in many of them and they are very similar. Two bed, two bath, small kitchen, living/dinning combo and a balcony. The hallways are on the exterior of the building and there is one "laundry room" on each floor. Many units have been updated but some are just exactly as they were when originally built.
I do not begrudge folks the desire to have a beautiful place to live - even part time - or a place to vacation that had a view of the ocean. I totally completely and entirely understand that. But wow. That is a lot of condominiums. And I regret, I so regret, that I never saw for myself what it looked like or felt like to live here before they were built. I can only imagine it. Is there a word for having nostalgia for something you never experienced? Hmmm. I just looked it up! Of course there is a word for it! There is a word for Everything! The word is, "Anemoia". And I have a bad case of it.
The last time I walked by, the Beachside Food Mart was being torn down. I watched the big machinery at work.
Did you notice that beyond the protective temporary chainlink barrier that the beach is right there on the other side? How nice would it have been to be able to drive or walk past even that tiny little bit of space and see the water. I mean if the Beachside Food Mart had to go anyway, wouldn't it have been nice to have nothing at all built there and just a beautiful view? But I suppose there is no money to be made in leaving a beautiful view, right? Sigh.
Just imagine that view without the rubble, without the fence as you pass by. Just a glimpse of paradise. Wouldn't that make you want to be a part of it?
But alas, that isn't what's going to happen. Nope. That gorgeous view will, again, be blocked. Did I ever tell you how often Tim and I are stopped by visitors in cars asking us where the beach is? Seriously. It happens with ridiculous regularity. The entire freakin' Gulf of Mexico is right there but the guests to our island cannot find it because the view is completely blocked by buildings. It's a damned shame.
But it is what it is. So I guess, out with the old......
And in with the new.......
Happy Day After Easter ! Hope yours was a very nice one however you spent it. Rather obviously I made a cake :) I've been craving cake for weeks now and then I realized that it was nearly Easter and said to my self, "Thank goodness there is a Holiday coming up! Sounds like a good excuse to make a cake " . Hah! Like I need an excuse .....
We started our Easter by getting up early and heading over to the Airport Fairgrounds once again. Yes, that's right, it was time for my 2nd vaccine dose. Can you believe that many people gave up spending their holiday with friends and family just make us all safe? Wow! I was seriously impressed. When I was first issued the appointment I thought it was a mistake. Really? On Easter Sunday? But yuppers. That's when it was.
And exactly as the previous time, it was very well organized and with the help of the National Guard, went smooooooooothly. But man oh man, there were a Lot of people there. All for the same reason.
At times it kind of looked like a magicians trick because the line seemed to go on forever and ever, amen, amen. But we were in and out, including both the actual shot and the 15 minute post-shot wait time, in less than a hour. Not bad.
Once we returned home we commenced some serious relaxing. There was absolutely nothing imperative on my schedule until it was time to fix dinner. And naturally I wanted to fix something a little special. Not fancy. I don't do fancy. But a nice roast chicken with mashed potatoes, green beans and home made biscuits don't hurt anybody's feelings. Well maybe the chicken but I'm not goin there. And the, of course, the après dinner aforementioned cake. Which, by the way, was pretty good. I know that was very braggy but honestly, it was good.
I even broke down this year and bought one of those Paaz egg decorating kits. Haven't done that since the boys were young but I've been eying them in the store for quite some time. This year I said, "what the hell" and scooped one up. I was surprised at how little they have changed. Well, I didn't need boiling water this time, but it still required vinegar, they still have the little wire egg dipper and the box had the punch outs to put the eggs to dry. That was a really fun flash from the past. Why not? I'm not afraid of looking childish, although I prefer it to be called, child like.
So today, as I write this, I'm just shy of 24 hours post vaccine and yes I'm a little achy, a little tired and a little, not quite myself today. BUT as I told another friend recently, I'd rather have some achy/tired for a couple of days than dead forever. Really wasn't much of a choice. And the side effects? Not stopping me today. I'm moving slower, but I've not stopped. And this too shall pass. Just a minor blip on my personal radar.
So that was our Easter. How was yours?
Oh my gosh, it's Friday already! Where did the week go? I still have two photo safari reports with Joy to write up. Well I think I will at least attempt to squish both of those hikes into one post today so I don't fall any further behind, ok?
All righty then. Last week, during Tim's staycation/vacation Joy and I still hiked on Wednesday just as we always do. Tim appreciated having a morning all to himself ;) Joy and I headed to
Oscar Scherer State Park. Of course we've been there before, many times, but it has lots of different trails and naturally we see different things at each visit.
It was definitely a good hike. We tried to hit some trails we didn't normally do which really panned out right away because of that first photo.
The bright blue bird at the top of the page is called a scrub Jay. I suspect that it's in the same neighborhood, if not family as Blue Jays but of course I don't know all that much about birds so I'm just guessing here. Do not take that as fact. It was a very bold bird, completely unbothered by our presence and hopping right along the sandy trail beside us. I actually had a hard time getting an unblurry shot for a few frames because the bird was so close, and I didn't want to move and possibly scare him away. Wildlife, up close and personal :)
Lots of other birds too:
A few other things that fly:
And some other pretty things:
All righty then. We were feeling pretty darned good about that hike. Got lots of good photos. It would be hard to top that, or so we thought. And then this week, once again, Joy and I headed out on Wednesday for our weekly photo safari. We drove south to Port Charlotte to visit Ollie's Pond, a place we haven't been in quite some time. Mostly because the past few visits were kind of Meh. We did have a back up plan in case things were still in the blah-zone.
We will just say that we did not have to use the back up plan. Let's call this the Wings Hike. (Not the Paul McCartney band, though that would have been cool too)
I think I took more photos on this past hike to Ollie's than I have, maybe ever! But I will try to just hit the highlights for you, otherwise it would just be too much wonderfulness (which is kind of how we felt about it)
Get ready for birdies, lots and lots of birds. I will identify the few that I know for sure.
And so many dragonflies! We really hit the jackpot that day:
And then the "other things" miscellaneous file, my favourite picture this time being some random kittycat walking by, just checking things out. He even stopped and posed so I could take a photo.
Whew! We made it! All caught up. That's all the highlights of the past two weeks. Monday we can start fresh once again. Ya'll have a great weekend. Oh! And Happy Easter!
Happy April's Fools Day and I am back to reporting on the Staycation activities.
Tim and I got out there and took a hike nearly every day of his vacation! Yay us! And what's more, Tim did some research and found some new places to explore (and one familiar one). That is Always Exciting! It really is. At least to me :)
Since I am way behind on blogging I think I will try to get all of the hikes into this one post (whew!) I say try. If it looks like it's going on too long, I will break it up into Parts 1 & 2. And I will start with a very long walk that we did right here on island. We meandered with absolutely no specific destination and when we arrived home we had travelled more than six miles. Yay us! Oddly, I have fewer photos from that hike than any of the others. I think we were talking and walking more than snapping photos. And that is not a bad thing at all.
Another day we drove up to Sarasota and hiked around Rothenbach Park. We have driven by this one many times, but never hiked it before so it was all brand new to us both. This park has a lot of different areas, including one for remote controlled planes! (very cool) But we were only interested in the hiking trail which was a 3.7 mile loop. No way to get lost hurrah!
What is now this very pretty park, with open fields of wild flowers, thickly wooden forest areas, streams, marshes, ponds and hills. At one time it was a landfill. (so much prettier now) Which means actual inclines! Very unusual here. None of the hills were difficult to traverse but it was a novelty nonetheless. It was a paved trail, which is kind of not my favourite, BUT it also means that this trail is ADA compliant and that is a good thing. It was all wonderful, but my favourite part was when a deer family crossed the trail in front of us. I'm not sure who was more surprised. I guess me because they managed to finish crossing the trial before I thought to take a photo. Though I did get one picture through the trees of a deer butt! Oh you will know it when you see it!
The next time Tim and I hiked we did two parks on the same day. Another one in Sarasota called, Culverhouse Nature Park, which also has a very large community garden in it. Culverhouse Nature Park is right up against the Legacy Trail which is a biking/hiking paved trail that runs from somewhere south of Venice (not absolutely certain where it begins at this point - they keep extending it) to Sarasota. It is hugely popular with bicyclers and the parking lot was LOADED with their cars. Which is fine because that means that the hiking part was all ours ;) It wasn't a very long hike but it was so very pretty.
Then we moved south to the city of North Port to check out Walton Ranch Preserve. Walton Ranch was especially interesting because it's still a working ranch. Or at least I assume so since a lot of the open areas were cow poop minefields! (heh) But we go where the trail leads us, just sometimes we step carefully.
Walton Ranch reportedly has almost 20 miles of trails. Wow! Never having been there before when we got to the first cross roads, we had no idea which was the best way to go. Abritraily we decided to head to the right. It was more heavily treed and we were thinking..shade is a good thing! Seriously that is the only reason we turned that way. Almost immediately, as we turned around a hairpin bend in the trail, we heard a very loud PLOP in water that he had no idea existed. It was as if someone, or something cannonballed into a pool. Tim and I stopped immediately, looked at each other in amazement, then looked around us and saw no source of the sounds. Cautiously we stepped forward, eventually saw the water on both sides of the trail but still, no creature that could have made that sound. It was a heart stopper for a second there. Whew! So we continued on, tralalalala. And then we heard a very loud noise. Like a car backfiring maybe, or fireworks or a gun shot? I grabbed Tim's arm, "Was that a gunshot?" He nodded. Hmmmm. We walked on and then heard another shot. We stopped again. I held up two fingers. Tim pointed out that if I was uncomfortable, we could turn around and go the other way on the trail. I shook my head and determined to be brave (there should be no shooting on a preserve, sound can travel pretty far in the great outdoors after all). We walked on and there it was. A third shot. "Maybe we should go the other way" I said to Tim as I turned and went back the way we came. He grinned at me and followed, "Whatever you want to do" he sez. FYI We were two more shots after we turned back.
Anyway, We headed through a cattle gate, coz again, that's where the trail led us. At one point there was a giant hawk perched just above my head. I couldn't get a picture through the branches but how cool was that! Just seeing it was enough :)
So there you have it. Most of what Tim and I did during a week's vacation. We walked! We feel very well exercised and had a wonderful time! But you know how it is with vacation. It's always wonderful and it's never long enough.
And that is no April Fool's Day Joke!
That's me. Or at least that's the back of my head. I needed a photo for this post and had no ideas so I thought I'd just use the most recent picture of me. Voila! The most recent photo of me. And why would a photo of me be pertinent to this particular post? Well because, let's face it, like everything else on this blog, it's about me. Wow! Egocentric much?
Todays' post is, ostensibly, about a recent experience. Just for health maintenance purposes, a few weeks ago I had an Endoscopy. I have long standing (nearly life-long) issues with indigestion and heartburn due to something called, "Barrett's Esophagus". With the aid of medications and dietary adjustments, it's mostly under control but it does require occasional checks. This was one of them.
Ok to begin with, the surgical center where I had the procedure done now requires a COVID test be done within a week of the scheduled event. How Exciting! I had never had a COVID test so, while I have heard of other people's experiences, it would be new to me. If you have already had the test then you already know about this. If you haven't had the test, here you go. The surgical center actually did the test so that was handy. We arrived at the appointed time and didn't even have to get out of the car. They were outside waiting for me! When the very nice lady all garbed up in protective everything approached the car, I handed over the necessary ID . Once I was "checked in", the nurse who was even more garbed up, came over and explained exactly what they were going to do, then she unwrapped with swab, reached through the car window, gentle positioned my head better, even more gently stuck the swab up my rose and wiggled it around.
All of that I sort of anticipated. The part I did not expect was how much it tickled. Oh me oh my! It didn't hurt at all. It was an odd sensation but the temptation to try to stop the tickling was BIG. I had to tuck my hands under my legs to stop myself. Honestly! I am SUPER ticklish so the instinct to stop the source of tickling is really hard wired in me. But whew! I made it through without embarrassing myself, thanked her and off we went back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Of course the test proved negative (yay!) and on the anticipated day of the procedure I showed up on time back at the center. Now in the olden days (pre-COVID) Tim would go in with me. For every other procedure like this, I can remember him keeping me company right up until they took me back into the actual room for the endoscopy and then of course he would be there when I woke back up. But not anymore. Nowadays I must fly solo.
This time he dropped me off in front and I told him that I would text him when I was ready to be picked back up. (It's only about a ten minute drive from home) I took a deep breath before moving forward. I even remember wondering how different this pandemic era process was going to prove to be.
Now I have to interrupt myself here to explain that they way this building is set up, there is a wide set of automatic doors that allow you to step into an anteroom and then a second set of doors that go into the actual waiting room. It sounds redundant but in the summer when it's really hot and humid it's wonderful to not constantly have the hot air wafting in and the AC trying to do battle with it. OK stage is set.
After a moment, I approached the center and the automatic doors opened (as automatic doors do). I began to step in only to be asked to wait outside because that nurse was with a patient. I blinked and realized that yes, right there in the area between two sets of automatic doors, that nurse really and truly was meeting with a patient. Holy cats. So ok, I walked back outside. That's when I noticed that there was one chair. One lonely little plastic chair outside. Obviously waiting for me to sit my butt down. So I did. I remained sitting for perhaps three minutes when another car pulled up and a lady got out, the car drove off and, just like me, this lady went right in the automatic doors. She was also told to wait outside. She appeared to be older than me (although there comes a point when it's kind of moot and I'm teetering on that brink) so I offered her my chair. She took is happily. We continued to wait. Silently. Outside. Masked. Two strangers, one standing and one sitting. Silently. Awkwardly sharing the same rather small space. Hum dilly hum.
Luckily, eventually, my name was called and I got to talk with the nurse in the anteroom. It was just a pre-check in thing. Name, Address, Birthdate, ID that sort of thing. It only took a few very short minutes. I'm not sure why the fellow ahead of me took so long. Perhaps he was having a moment and couldn't remember his address? I've had days like that. At any rate, I was then allowed to go into the actual waiting room.
And even that is so strange nowadays. Half the number of chairs, all spaced well part, and a new maze of walls that were part wood and part frosted glass in a very cold (it's always so dang cold in there) and empty space. I was the only person in there was I had my choice of any chair in the room. My fanny had barely touched my chair of choice, when I heard my name called. It was kind of a disembodied voice from above since I could see anyone. So I called back, "where are you?" (seriously I did) I heard an amused voice in return say, "I'm back here behind the glass". I looked for, and after one false start, found the way around the maze wall and of course there she was behind the plexi glass. I sat down, as instructed, and handed over (again) my ID but this time also my insurance card and in return received my little paper ID bracelet. I signed a whole lot of paperwork and assured them that I had eaten nothing that day.
Once through that step of the gauntlet I was ushered behind the heavy door, the big door, the important door, the door to the back of the factory. That's what it felt like. Don't get me wrong. I was treated with tremendous kindness and professionalism. It was clean and as comfortable as those sorts of places ever could be but I felt very much like a tomato ready to be canned in a factory.
An absolute swarm of people in medical scrubs introduced themselves, gave their titles and pretty much all at the same time, very nicely instructed me, guided me, directed me and more! I was shown to a little curtained cubical that held a gurney and some machinery and absolutely no room for anything else. I was given a large plastic bag and told to take off my shirt and my shoes, given a hospital gown to put on. I don't even remember getting onto the gurney before yet another person passing by tucked a toasty warm blanket over me.
I answered the same questions over and Over and OVER by different people while I was hooked up to various machines by yet other people and someone else put a needle into the back of my hand. It went like clockwork. I mean zoom! The doctor stopped by, reviewed everything, invited me to ask questions (I had none) and then the next thing I knew I was being wheeled into the procedure room. Immediately other people, who also introduced themselves, began their to do whatever it is that they do. I was positioned and prepped and the last thing I remember was someone telling me to have a nice nap. Boom. Gone. Out like a light.
Now it must be said here that I am a real lightweight when it comes to anesthesia. It doesn't make me sick or anything like that, I just have a real hard time shaking it off. So I guess it took me awhile longer than anticipated to wake up. I was urged awake back in the old cubicle. My foggy brain barely registered that my doctor was talking to me. I have no idea what he said. I mean that literally. And then I fell back asleep. I was urged awake once more and handed my bag-o-personal belongings and told to get dressed. so I did. But in a dream, not part of the real world. I did everytihng very very slowly and with some difficulty. I wisely chose to wear clothes that were easy to put on, no buttons, no zippers, nothing tricky like velcro. This is where having Tim with me comes in super handy. He would have remembered what the doctor said. He would have helped me find the arm holes in my shirt and which shoes go on which feet. Really it's that bad!
But somehow I muzzled my way through and then the nurse came by and helped me stand up and put my shoes on (she saw that I was struggling) and told me that Tim had been called already (thank goodness because I wasn't sure I could operate my phone at that point). They wheel-chaired me to the car and helped me in and we headed home. I fell asleep again in the car.
Tim guided me into the house and onto the sofa in the family room when I spent the rest of the day, alternately watching TV and napping. It honestly took me hours to completely wake up. And then once I was fully awake I still felt so amazingly relaxed. It was wonderful to feel that complete surrender to being a sofa blob.
It was at that time, early evening, Tim was out picking up dinner for us and I had turned off the television so the house was absolutely silent. I was very comfortable. In fact, I was so comfortable on the sofa with the pillows behind me just right and snuggied unmoving, under the sofa blanket, that I had nearly become part of the furniture itself. If angry tigers had come into the room at that moment, I still don't think I would have moved. I was just so. very. relaxed. And it occurred to me how rare a moment that was for me. It was kind of a revelation. I think I don't know how to fully relax. I sometimes think that I'm relaxed but I guess I'm not. Because the feeling was not familiar at all. And it was glorious. So I reveled in it's uniqueness and enjoyed it fully. Because I knew, that it would be a long time before I got to experience it again.
So I guess that's it. The message here is never fear the endoscopy. It's nothin'. Instead, look forward to the wonderful sensation of total relaxation that follows.
So it's been a week since I've seen you guys! Feels like longer doesn't it? How have you been? We had a really nice "staycation"! We had mostly nice weather (just a few days of grey). We had no specific agenda most of the time. Accomplished very few things on the gotta-do list. And all we had a lot of fun. As we go through this week, I will tell you some of the highlights of last week. Hope that's ok with you.
First of all, one of the best parts of a staycation is that you don't have to worry about dealing with schedules or deadlines, or packing. No concerns about hurrying up to wait in lines at airports, no TSA nonsense, no worries about suitcases being over weight or people who insist on reclining into your lap or screaming babies in a very enclosed space or bathrooms the size of broom closets.
One of the weird parts of a staycation, especially one that begins on a Saturday is that it just feels like an ordinary weekend, not a vacation. Not that there is anything wrong with a weekend, no siree! I do love me a good weekend :) And then staycation Monday rolls around and it still feels like the weekend, ditto for Tuesday, Wednesday etc until it actually is the weekend again. And then, by Saturday, I'm left wondering if I'm actually on vacation or is it just the weekend. Yeah, I know, I'm kind of strange. This is not news.
I suppose it doesn't really matter at all. The important part is that we had a great time every single day. Even though it started out chilly and damp and grey and Very windy.
It was so windy in fact that when we went to the beach, birds were literally stalled in midair while trying to fly. They just hung there as if they were waiting for me to pluck them out of the sky. It did make taking their pictures much easier than usual though :)
This particular day of the weekend, we headed to the beach specifically because it was a grey windy damp chilly day. We knew (from experience) that even though this is High Season, there would be few tourists around. The only people I know who truly enjoy the beach on non-traditional beach days are Tim and I. Yes, partly we love the fact that there are far fewer people around but also just because it can get a little more exciting on a bad weather day.
We saw dolphins frolicking
Lots of sailboats,
Loads of pelicans of course and a little splash
A beach crow ??!! (there is a first time for everything I suppose)
And then we headed down to Sharkey's Pier to see what was happening down there. There are always more people there because there are two beach front restaurants, a food truck, a board walk and a pier. But even so, not nearly as people-y as usual. Mostly it was just beautiful. But then, it always is.
Eventually we headed back up the pier to leave and on the way noticed this:
Tim remarked that someone must have had a beach wedding recently. And as we were admiring it all, just standing there, leaning on the railing, being buffeted by the wind, bundled in sweat jackets, we suddenly see people, looking far more dressed up than usual beach goers, heading toward the arbour! The wedding started right then! Wow! Well of course we stopped and watched. I love a good wedding.
It was a very small group but everyone looked so very happy. The bride looked beautiful but I bet she was freezing in her pretty dress. That's the thing about planning and outside wedding, you just never know for sure what's going to happen weather-wise. But they were brave and carried on.
I think getting to be unofficial guests at a beach wedding was probably the highlight of that day. I do love weddings and this one, as small and simple and non-weather friendly as it was, made me smile for the rest of the day.
But surprises are like that :)
Woodpecker. Yes it is. That is exactly what it is. And the hole he is working on there, is new. Very new. As in he started working on it over the weekend. And there is the dilemma.
You see, the tree in which the hole exists (and the bird is perched beside) is in our courtyard. It is in fact a dead tree. A tree which Tim had every intention of cutting down. Specifically he was going to cut it down this week.
Why this week in particular? Well, Tim has taken this week off work. And as part of the "staycation" he has a list of projects he would like to tackle. Cutting down this tree was one of the things on the list.
Oh I suppose he could just do it on a different random weekend, but during a normal week, when he is chained to his desk for umptyump hours every day, he lives for the weekend and getting out of, not only his office (which is at home) but out of the house as well! So most of our weekends are spent pretty much anywhere else besides home. The man needs a change of scenery on the weekend and I do not blame him one single bit. It's probably one of the few downsides of working from home.
Now you might be wondering why I don't just cut the tree down myself. I suppose I could. I've cut down trees before. But this is, first of all, a larger tree than I normally tackle and also it's in the courtyard which means close to other things. Important things like, the courtyard wall, hedges, flowers, plants and, oh yeah, the house. The dead tree is specifically just outside of our bedroom windows. Nobody, including me, trusts my math skills well enough to ensure that were I to cut down the tree it would end up precisely where I wanted it land. So no to Sam cutting down the tree. This is definitely a Tim sort of job.
And, as I said before, it was high on his list of projects for the week. But now that it appears to be a woodpecker habitat, perhaps not. We are giving it a re-think.
Since the tree expired, I've actually seen lots of other birds perched on the top of the tree, the most interesting of which was a hawk. Big old hawk just hanging out on the tippity top of this dead tree. That was cool. But I've also seen crows, blue jays, countless other birds whose names I do not know and once a cardinal who just paused for a brief moment at the top of this dead tree in the courtyard. And those are just the birds I have witnessed. Who knows what I did not see eh? It's not as if I spend my days just sitting there starring at this one dead tree after all.
Lizard race up and down it as if it were a racetrack of sorts. As do squirrels. It's kind of a short cut from the inside of the courtyard to the bougainvillea on the outside. I don't even want to think about the sorts of various bugs that depend upon this dead tree.
It's not pretty. When you look at the house from the outside, you see a cute little cottage with a walled courtyard in front, the blooming bougainvillea lots of other live trees of all sorts and this one dead tree. Kind of a blight. Not something that anyone would say, "Gee I wish I had a dead tree in front of my house". Which is why the plan was for Tim to take it down.
But now that we are absolutely positive that the woodpecker is making a home in it, I think it may need to stay for a bit. Just until the woodpecker family moves on.
Instead of thinking of it as a dead tree, for now, I will consider it a giant birdhouse. Because that is kind of what has become.
Oh at some point it will have to come down so that it doesn't fall down on it's own during a storm. Storms are notorious for aiming trees at houses and that would not be good. But for now, it's fine. I am ok with the dead tree/giant bird house in the courtyard. The woodpecker family will be our closest neighbors for a bit. So it won't look perfect, but it will be perfectly fine.
And all of this to tell you that because Tim is on "staycation" this week, we may be out and about on other adventures sooooo my blog posts this week will, no doubt, be sporadic to non-existent. So if you do not see me around for a few days, that's why. And since I may not see you guys all week, I wish you well! Hugs all 'round. I will check in here again next Monday for sure!
"The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep." Robert Frost
Yes! You Guessed it! It's time for another Photo Safari Report! YAYAYAYAY!
On this past Wednesday Joy and I headed out to a new to us preserve. A long time ago we actually looked for it, couldn't find it, gave up and went elsewhere. This time, we found it! Hurrah! So I guess this was the New Preserve Hike.
It was a beautiful place, lush and lovely with trails that were thickly carpeted with pine needles and leaves so that our steps were hushed. The fragrance of pine trees and the sound of bird song filled the air around us. It was dark and cool because the sun barely penetrated the thick forest for quite some time. Which is probably why the words to that Robert Frost poem kept running through my head.
Eventually the light was high enough in the sky that we could see more of our surroundings and in full light, it was even more beautiful. There is something very special about the first time trekking through an area. We had no idea what was around any curve in the trail, not a clue if we were going to find anything photo worthy or not.
Spoiler alert. We did. The birds were everywhere around us, we could hear them, but the forest was so thick that they hid from us easily. In fact, the forest was so thick that we did not see the deer that leaped across the trail in front of us, until he was nearly gone! And once he crossed into the foliage, he was again completely invisible once again. Wow!
It was a beautiful place to hike, but one entire section was cordoned off leaving only the shorter trail open. Ratz. We loved it, but we weren't done. So we got back in the car and headed to another set of trails, also a short set. But our thought was that two shorter hikes might equal one longer hike and that works too. We always have a plan B.
Our luck with finding birds improved at the second preserve:
And a few butterflies. One may be a moth. I'm really not certain. (I really ought to look that up one of these days.) Oh and another dragonfly. And another bug that I'm not sure what it is either. Maybe a leaf walker?
More flowers of course:
Last but never least, my favourite category, the miscellaneous file:
All in all, another awesome photo safari! Hope you enjoyed it too.
Wishes for a wonderful weekend. Hope you have the chance to get outside for a bit. It does a body good.
Hate to say it but I am in a mad rush this morning (more about that another day!) so I only have time to to leave you with a wish for a terrific day and some pretty sunset photos that I took on an evening walk late last week.
See you tomorrow with a real and proper blogpost! I promise!
Hugs all 'round
What on earth is this? It appears to be orange peels tangled up with kitchen towels, doesn't it? Well that would only be because that's exactly what it is. The question is, why are there orange peels in the kitchen towels. The simple answer is that apparently I put them through both the washer and the dryer. And why would anyone do such a thing? Obviously, by accident. I promise you it was as much a surprise to me as it was to anyone.
Here is how it all went down. It was a Monday (I always do laundry on Mondays) I was racing around doing multiple housey sort of things when the dryer dinged. So as to keep it all moving smoothly, I hustled my bustle out to the utility room to do the big laundry transfer (dryer to the kitchen to be folded and wet washer stuff to the dryer to be dried and remaining dirty stuff to washer). Once I stepped back into the kitchen to fold and put away the towels I was met with..................this.
My brain is a strange place. When I am confronted by something I do not expect to see, it just doesn't process. I cannot seem to figure out what I'm looking at. I know that what I see before me is not what I expected but I cannot immediately tell what it is either. So I just stand there and stare, baffled and confused. It's probably micro-seconds of hesitation but it feels like an eternity of me standing, statue-like, starring deeply, almost contemplatively, at a pile of clean towels.
Then all of the marbles fall into the proper holes in my grey matter and I realize that it's orange peels and I started laughing. Who expects orange peels in their laundry? Certainly not I. Well at least not since the kids grew up and headed out on their own. When they were very young I found all sorts of interesting things in the laundry on a regular basis. Matchbox cars were a perfectly ordinary thing to emerge, relatively unscathed by the way, also small action figures, marbles, rocks (now all shined up), coins and other very washable odds and ends. No harm done.
Every once in awhile though, the unexpected thing was the remains of a cookie or a chapstick (no bueno in the dryer!!!) general dirt (as in a pocketful of sand), worms or small insects, sticks and leaves and once, a frog. The frog was the grossest thing I ever found in the washer. I hope to never again encounter such a sight.
Once they were older it was more things like coins, ticket stubs, receipts and occasionally a set of keys. Not such a big deal. I know, I know, I should have been better about going through pockets right? But in the way of working mothers everywhere, I was always in a rush. Trying to bang out chores as quickly as possible while doing a half dozen other things all at the same time. Let's just say that sometimes, short cuts were taken and leave it at that.
And then poof, just like that, they were out and on their own and the laundry was just Tim's and mine. It is very rare for me to leave anything in my pockets. Mostly because girl-pockets are pathetically small. Too small to be very useful and definitely too small to Not Notice if something is in the pocket (at least usually - more on that later). Tim's pockets, however, do occasionally yield a few coins and the odd receipt. I throw away the now useless and unreadable receipts and keep the coins. Yeah, I know I'm a horrible person.
Suffice it to say that it has been a very long time since I've been surprised by our laundry. Until the orange peel incident. This one definitely caught me off guard. I suppose the question is: How did the orange peels end up in the laundry? Well as best as I can figure out, Tim was eating some of those little Halo oranges and there was no paper towels or paper napkin or even plate handy to discard the peels neatly, but there was a nearby dishtowel. So the peels went into the dishtowel very carefully folded in so that they wouldn't spill back out. Very tidy, very clean. I like that :) All of the unbeknownst to me, by the way.
And then in the morning when I zoomed through the house collecting towels for the laundry, I grabbed that orange peel filled towel and - not realizing that the peels were inside waiting to be tossed in the garbage - I stuffed the entire thing in the washer with the rest of the towels and started her up. And now we are the proud owners of the cleanest orange peels in town!
Which is still better than the recent wash day when I took my favourite white jeans out of the washer and found that I had stuffed grocery list into the back pocket and never removed it. Dang. The list was written on yellow paper. So now I have one white back pocket and one yellow back pocket. Dang. Yeah, that one is on me.
I can even envision myself doing it! Standing in the check out line reading over the list one last time to be sure I got everything and then stuffing it into my back pocket quickly because it's my turn to load everything onto the conveyor belt and everyone is waiting on me! Pressure! It's always such a busybusy thing, grocery shopping. Especially at the end. By the time I've finished loading everything on the belt and moved down to the part when I insert my card and push all the necessary buttons, I barely have time to put my debit card back in my wallet before the clerk is handing me my receipt. The groceries are packed up, the cart is full and everyone wants me OUT OF THE WAY because they are already checking the next person through. So by the time I had unloaded the groceries into the car, returned the cart, driven home, brought in and put away the groceries, I had completely forgotten about the paper in my back pocket. I'm sure I MEANT to throw the list away on my way out. But you know what Nana said about good intentions, right?
Oh you don't know? Ah. Well Nana said, "If you take all of the good intentions in the world, line them up, end to end, it still doesn't get the job done". She wasn't wrong.
So another lesson learned. Frisk the towels AND pockets before putting them in the washer! Because even without children in the house, mistakes are made. Or perhaps Tim and I are going through that second childhood we've read about and this is just one of the indicators. Or, and this one is the most likely, stuff happens.
So there you have it, another in a long line of household accidents. We do seem to be prone to them. Ah well. Orange Peels and yellow pockets happen.
It's 8:55, which used to be 7:55 but, I have to ask, which one is the real time? That's what I want to know. I assume that everyone did the whole clock thing before bedtime on Saturday night which would mean that today is the second day of walking up at a fake time. Or possibly the previous time was the fake time and this is the real time. It's only an hour but it's an hour I've come to loathe.
(I am truly curious to know which time is the real time. The spring forward one? Or the fall back one? I honestly do not know. It's probably not all that important in the grander scheme of things but I'm curious. And if we stay here at this time forever, I suppose it no longer matters. It's like if enough people get together and agree on something, it becomes fact even if it really isn't. When my sister and I were kids and my dad was returning from another of his long business trips our mother would gather us all together and say, "Ok now we are all going to lie the same lie" and we nodded and agreed and fiction became fact, just like that. It was always silly inconsequential things like why there was a mysterious dent in the garage door or why we suddenly had 2 dogs instead of 1.)
In years past during the leap ahead or fall back exercise, I've written about how much I despise this ridiculous and pointless exercise so I will not repeat myself and belabor it. BUT suffice it to say that I hate it and also that I am not the only person who feels this way.
Several years ago now, shortly after we moved to Florida in fact, I read in our newspaper that Florida passed a bill cancelling the entire mess. "Hurrah!" I naively thought to myself. Laugh about "Florida man" all you want. Clearly we are smart enough to know stupid when we see it. And this twice yearly changing of all clocks, including our internal timepieces, is nonsensical. My foolish assumption was that it would soon be distant memory. HOWEVER, it turned out that Florida could not enact this bill without permission from the Department of Transportation which is a Federal thing.
Dang. So it got kicked upstairs where it has been languishing for about four years. But I was very excited to read, over the weekend, that this year both Florida senators are back in Washington nudging it forward. And in fact they are nudging so loud that other senators are catching on and saying, "Darn good idea guys" and they are strongly backing this play. So it is possible.......just possible mind you......that the end may be in sight. This Sunshine Law - which would end the time merry-go-round, could become a Federal Law and nobody will ever have to change their clocks again. This past weekend might have been the very last time.
Holy Cats! Wouldn't that be awesome? I know that most people do not have analogue clocks anymore so that don't' really have to manually get in there and physically, literally turn back (or ahead) the clock hands. Although there is a degree of satisfaction in that very simple exercise. But most stoves and microwaves - even though they display digital time - there is much pushing of buttons involved to go back one hour.
Some older cars have an even more annoying way of changing the time which involved things like an unfolded paperclip or a pen tip pushing at the worlds tiniest button. My guess is that in newer cars, which are so much more computerized, probably the time changes automatically like on my phone. I'm just guessing. I do not know that for fact. My knowledge stops at my own car which is an older one and it's SUCH a pain in the arse to change the time that I just add or subtract mentally as needs be and never bother to change the display. Yeah, I'm lazy.
Or maybe I'm just tired from having lost an hour of precious sleep!
Here's hoping that this year will be the year that this whole time changing nonsense is finally really and truly done forever and ever, amen. Keep a good thought!
Soooo would you like to end the week with an at least marginally amusing story? Ok then, here we go. The Story of Stinky Sam.
On Wednesday, as you already know, Joy and I headed out on photo safari. Because I know that I'm going to get dirty and sweaty, I don't bother to shower before we hike. Oh, I "catbath" first of course. In your family, it might be known as a "camp bath" or a "basin bath". I'm sure there are a ton of other ways to say it. Regardless of the terminology you prefer, that happens, then I get dressed and grab my camera and I'm out.
The reason I don't bother to shower before hand is because I know I'm going to immediately get dirty. Not just dirty. I'm going to get filthy dirty. Think about it, we go out into the forest. Forests are beautiful but they are not clean. Well, wait a minute, it's not like a garbage dump! Fortunately most people are courteous enough to not leave cans and bottles and that sort of thing laying around. But it's not paved, we are walking on the ground, which is dirty and grass and leaves and sticks and sometimes mucky, boggy, wet stuff.
And this being Florida, usually we are contending with a lot of this. There is just no escaping it
Which means that even on a beautiful mild day, when the sun is shining (and it very often is), if you walk multiple miles, you are going to sweat. And yes, I know, "Pigs sweat, Men perspire, Women glisten". I'm telling ya, after hiking 4 or 5 miles, I'm glistening big time.
Also, animals live in the forest. They live there full time. And they have no dedicated bathrooms. So no matter where you go, critters have been there before you. So as we hike, we are walking through feathers and bits of fur and insect carcasses and, let's face it, poop. All sorts of animal poop. It's everywhere out there.
Of course it doesn't help that Joy and I don't always stay on trails and we really get into our photography. Sometimes getting the photo we want involves getting deeply into the dirty.
You get the idea, I'm sure.
So, anyway, we hiked for about 4 hours. After we were done and Joy dropped me off and I'm headed up the driveway to the house, I have only two thoughts in my mind. I'm thirsty so I need a lot of water to drink, and I'm filthy and smelly and I need a shower. That's it. Those are the only things in my brain when I walk in the door.
I walked in and put my camera on my desk, grabbed a bottle of water and before I could do anything else, someone knocked on the door. I hadn't even taken my hat off yet. So the person at the door is from Xfinity - you know the cable people? He politely informed me that he was going to be running a new line into the house. I was promised that it wouldn't take more than a half hour. Ok then. Tim shuts down his computer and I shut down mine and since he know has an unexpected break, we head out to do the noonwalk. Doesn't hurt my feelings a bit to get a few more calories walked off and what the heck, I'm already filthy and sweaty. I will just be a little dirtier and sweatier by the time we return.
Forty minutes later we return and the Xfinity guy is just finishing up. He tells us that the cable line is just laying on the ground in the backyard and someone else will be along later that day to bury it.
Well that's all fine and good except Wednesdays, which that day was, is also the day that our lawn guys come by. I can't risk having the lawn guys accidentally run over the new cable line right? Tim has to get back to work so I volunteer to wait for the lawn guys.
I washed my hands and face and changed my shoes (so that I would be tracking yuck all over the house) but as the hours ticked by with no lawn guys in sight, I still waited. Murphy's Law y'see. I was positive that if I tried to take even a quick shower - and honestly I was far too smelly to get clean with a quick shower - I absolutely positively knew for sure that if I tried, the instant I stepped into the shower the lawn guys would show up. Because that's how it works. So I waited. And while I waited I tried to do a few things around the house. Nothing that involved me sitting on the sofa or an upholstered chair of course. I was way too yucky for that. But things like, sweeping and emptying the dishwasher. (hey my hands were clean!)
When I was putting away the dishes I noticed that, much like me, the dishwasher smelled funky. How does one clean a dishwasher? No idea. Never came across this problem before. So I read up on it. The site I was on suggested putting a bowl of white vinegar on the top rack, put the settings on very hot and run the dishwasher. So I gave that a try (it worked by the way). And that reminded me to check the kitchen sink for smelliness - it's the disposer that causes it I think. So I cut up a lemon and ran a lemon through the disposer and it smelled lovely. Then with that in mind, I cleaned toilets and put baking soda down all of the sinks and shower drains to freshen them too. By the time I finished, everything in the house, except me, was clean.
Still no lawn guys. By 5 c'lock I came to the realization that, for whatever reason, (and how very unusual!) there would be no lawn guys that day. Of course nobody came to bury the cable line either! Dang! So basically I waited all afternoon, stewing in my own dirt, for absolutely no reason at all. Of course by then it was time to fix dinner. So I fixed Tim's dinner and then jumped in the shower and scrubbbbbbbbbed!
I felt brand new by the time I emerged and all was forgiven. In my heart and soul I mean because I was kind of ticked off before hand.
Of course today is Friday, I am still squeaky clean but the lawn guys are still a no-show and so are the people who are supposed to bury the cable line. It's just laying there on the ground strung diagonally across the back yard. Swell.
Tim has called the cable company to bring it to their attention and whoever answered the phone swears that there is no "ticket" for the job. There is one now. Supposedly the cable burying people will be here sometime today (or tomorrow) to take care of it. Way to pin that down guys!
I assume the lawn guys will be here next Wednesday as per usual. I guess we will find out next Week.
But everything is a learning experience and the thing I learned in this situation is that while I don't mind getting dirty and sweaty, I like being clean so much more. And this is probably reason number 452 why Sam Don't Camp. I'm ok getting dirty as long as, immediately afterwards, I can also get very clean. I will hike out in the forest all day as long as when I get back I can take a full complete total hot shower. So I guess I'm good with camping as long as I also have plumbing. And electricity. And soap. And shampoo. and...... Well like I said, Sam Don't Camp.
Have a Great weekend ya'll!
Joy is back! YAYAY! So yesterday she and I were back out there on Photo Safari! It was both a Birthday Hike (Happy Birthday Joy!) and a Peek-a-Boo hike. I say peek-a-boo because for a goodly percentage of the time, I couldn't seem to get a nice clear direct photo of anything! ARGH! Still the pictures are sometimes a almost sort of, kind of recognizable. Here is a sampling:
I began to wonder if the entire hike was going to this frustrating and could feel myself becoming a little aggravated. But then I took a deep breath and reminded myself how lucky I was to be out there on a gorgeous day tramping through a forest with my sister. And I quickly got over myself. Sometimes I just need to give myself a good talking to! Once I relaxed, things started getting better. They always do.
It was so amazingly beautiful out there. The weather was gorgeous, sunny but not hot, with a nice gentle breeze. And because it's spring there were lots of flowers of course:
Eventually I even was able to get a few actual clear unobstructed bird photos:
And a few dragonflies:
Some very pretty scenery in general:
A little bit of random other stuff:
AND of course, the birthday girl:
All in all, once I stopped being an ass, it was a fabulous day, a great hike, a really good time and of course, most important of all, a celebration of Joy's birthday!
VACCINE VACCINE VACCINE VACCINE VACCINE VACCINE
If finally happened. After all of those early mornings of keeping my eye on the little blue dot trying to book an appointment, at long last, I got my appointment. And it had nothing to do with the little blue dot.
I don't know how it works where you live, but here I was able to register on two different COVID vaccine appointment sites. One run by the county health department and the other set up by Publix, which is a huge grocery store/pharmacy chain. The Publix site was online and very easy other than the fact that anyone trying to get an appointment is chained to their computer, starring at that little blue dot (which I described in a post a few weeks ago) willing it to move from "waiting" to "book an appointment". The county health department site on the other hand, I registered online and then there was nothing more to do but wait until I got the call. Both methods required a lot of patience (which I'm not especially good at) and a lot of waiting (ditto). But what you gonna do?
I'm sure you already know this but Florida is a large state sooooo lots of people. And I'm pretty sure you also know that we have a disproportionately large percentage of seniors (although that is changing repaidly!). And since all of the medical experts declared that anyone over the age of 65 was at higher risk, our governor decided that the first group (after medical personnel and first responders) would be the 65+ group. That is a lot of people! So I knew it would be quite awhile before my number came up.
So I've been patient. Surprisingly. And honestly I thought that it would be more likely to get an appointment through Publix first. I was so wrong. Which, by the way, is not unprecendented. After spending my usual 45 minutes to an hour starring at the little blue dot on Friday morning with no appointment once again, I went about my day, fully prepared to begin dot-starring once more on Monday. But Friday afternoon I got the call from the health department. Woohoo!
It's an automated call and those mechanical voices are sometimes hard to understand. At least for me (I don't know about you) So I kept hitting the play again button on the phone and frantically made notes. But at the end, eureka! I HAD MY APPOINTMENT! Woohoo!
Which was on this past Sunday at 4:30 at the Venice Fairgrounds which is actually here on the island. (at our regional airport). It turns out that it was just me and 4,999 other people. And I'm not exaggerating for a change. They literally gave five thousand vaccines that day. Holy Cats!
It was a drive-through situation, so that was awesome. Didn't even have to get out of the car. It was so organized and efficient! I was very impressed! The National Guard was there to keep things rolling smoothly and so many nurses! Oh my Gracious! That many people gave up their Sunday to do one thing all day long, give vaccine injections. Bless their hearts.
They had people stationed a various points through the line to request different bits of information, after which they made mysterious notations on the car windshield with chalk paint pens. Each masked stop asked another question, which led to another notation, as we crept forward. Eventually we reached the actually vaccine stop and then nurse came around to my side of the car, I popped my arm up on the open window ledge and boom, shot. She was so good that I honestly did not even feel the needle go in. That is impressive!
I have had injections that felt like someone drove a nail in with a hammer, honest to god. I've returned from getting various shots with bruises, with red, raised, hot spots and I've required bandaids afterwards. This time, nothing. not a mark, not a single indication that I had just received a potentially life saving vaccine. Seriously impressed. (I will say though that the second day I could feel a tiny discomfort there, but it was no big deal and today, perfectly fine)
Then they gave me a card with the appointment for my second shot and made another notation on the windshield. We were starting to crack the code. By the time we left we had figured most of them out and working on it kept us entertained :) As directed, we drove up to another spot where we were made to wait for 15 minutes. At the end of that quarter hour, one of the National Guardsmen, approached and asked if I was feeling ok. I smile and said that I was fine, he wished me a good day and off we went.
The entire thing including the drive from home was a little over an hour. Not Bad. I've waited longer than that in doctor's waiting rooms for an appointment. 5,000 people! Wow! I am so impressed.
Hope however your state is working it all out, it is equally successful for all of you! And for those of you still waiting your turn, take heart. Eventually, apparently, your number really does come up!
First shot - Check!
This is me, having some sort of opinion about something. Why? Because everybody has them. Opinions I mean. All of the time. And about most everything. It is a perfectly normal and natural thing to have. But suddenly, it's not a popular thing to have. Especially if it's different than the folks you are talking to. And it's kind of making me crazy.
I am a person who is not afraid of a difference of opinion. I love a good intellectual exchange of ideas. Which, of course, is not the same thing at all as another person screaming, "You are wrong" at you. There should no be screaming in intellectual discourse. It's a conversation not a form of intimidation. Person A says that they believe such and such. Person B says that on the contrary they believe so and so to be true. Hmm. Interesting, Tell me more! You may not convince me to change my opinion, but it will be fascinated to hear yours, and the "why" of it. I love having a new idea to consider, a new perspective. And then, in the end, we can agree to disagree and then move on. Politely. We can still be friends. We can even be close friends.
I do not require the people around me to think exactly the same way that I do about everything. Oh my gracious, how boring would that be? Everyone would dress the same, look the same, do the same, live in the same house, drive the same cars.....we wouldn't be humans, we would be cyborgs.
One of the other things that I notice are folks who will say, "I have no opinion about that", about most everything. First of all, I don't believe it. Everyone has an opinion about most everything. I'm sure there are a few things that really do not matter to each of us one way or the other. That's how I feel about most contemporary music. I'm not familiar enough with it to really have an opinion. I don't hate it. I don't love it. I merely acknowledge that it exists. I do not really have an opinion about it. But for the most part everyone has an opinion and if you say you don't, you are lying to me. I don't trust liars.
Saying you have no opinion about everything just to stay out of the fray says to me that either you are completely disengaged, perhaps a little depressed or you are preferring to not share your opinion. And that's fine. But say so. I respect the desire to not engage now and again. But always? That feels cowardly. Which is my opinion.
Here's the thing about opinions. They are not facts. In fact that's right in the definition:
See, there you go, The Official Word. Not A Fact. It's more about the way you feel. And that's ok as long as the person with the opinion also recognizes that it's not a fact. If my opinion is different than yours, I am not insisting that you change your opinion. I'm not saying that my feelings on the matter are the cold, hard truth. I am just saying this is how I feel. And perhaps that's where it all started going wrong.
As of late, not having the same opinion as someone else is tantamount to a battle cry. What a shame. There is so much to be learned by entertaining new ideas and new opinions. If there was only one official opinion and we all had to share it, first of all, once again, So Boring. Secondly, where would come the new ideas, new inventions, new discoveries? And having an unpopular opinion? Well lots of famous folks have very unpopular opinions. Like say, Galileo. He was of the opinion that the earth revolved around the sun instead of the other way 'round. This was a wildly unpopular opinion and landed Galileo in some very hot water with the powers that be. He was correct, but hey, that didn't matter. It was not only unpopular to be of that opinion, but criminal! Yikes!
What I see happening lately, unfortunately, is that either people are afraid to express their opinions or they don't bother to think for themselves at all, and just share the collective popular opinion regardless of how they may feel. And then the one really loud popular opinion is being treated as fact when it ain't necessarily so. What a shame.
For the record, I have some rather unpopular opinions and I have no problem throwing them out into the world. Here's a few controversial ones.
1. I do not care for the idea of pets living part of their lives in crates. Puppy Jail. I know all of the "experts' now say that the animals love it. I know that owners feel that it is very convenient for them. To me, a pet is a family member. I wouldn't put a family member in a cage so I wouldn't put a pet in a cage (except for transportation to the vet and back). Just my opinion.
2. The way the toilet paper hangs on the spindle does not matter. Having toilet paper when you need it, matters. They rest is just unimportant. (and during the pandemic driven toilet paper shortages this was never more true!) Just my opinion
3. Men being yelled at for not putting the toilet seat down is sexist. Attention all women: you marched for equality so that you could fight with the miliary, run a company or a country, but you are incapable of putting down a toilet seat? That' pretty lame. It's not hard. Oh the dark of night complaint? Why would it be harder for women to put it down in the night than for a man to put it up in the night? The ultimate equality. And by the way, if you have toddlers or dogs, not only put it down, but put the lid down too. Make it equally inconvenient for everybody. Again, just my opinion.
4. Bad food is sometimes good for you. If I am usually very good about eating healthy and making good food choices, then I refuse to feel guilty for occasionally eating something bad. I think food for the body is important. But I also think that food for the soul is important too. So if someone tells me that I should never eat bread again, EVER, or ice cream, EVER or sugar Ever, I am going to laugh a lot. I will never look like a model and I'm actually very healthy. So once in awhile, yeah, I'm going hog wild. Not every day. Not even every week. But sometimes bad food is the best. Just my opinion.
5 . Sushi is gross. Just my opinion.
6. Licorice is disgusting. That one is fact.
So there you have it. Some of my opinions. Just opinions. Does that mean we can no longer be friends?
I started a new project this week. It's one of the things I've been intending to get to for quite some time but luckily, always thought of something else more important that needed doing, just in the nick of time. Yes, it's long past time to Polish the silver. Oh dear.
You know, back in the day, and by that I mean Edwardian and Victorian days, polishing the silver was one of the zillions of chores that servants did. Only the very wealthy actually had anything silver and heaven knows, they certainly weren't going to polish it themselves! Mercy!
Moving up to a more current time, my grandmother and my mother both owned some very nice silver pieces most of which were carefully displayed (but never used). Several times a year, they lovingly laboured over keeping these pieces bright and shiny or they conned us kids into doing it for them. I know people who own (or used to own) actual Silver Ware, y'know forks, spoons and knives. That's why we call it silverware even though normally nowadays it's actually not silver.
My own personal "silverware" or flatware is absolutely NOT silver, it's stainless steel. And we've had it for 27 years now (it was a wedding gift). It's quite nice, it's holding up well, can be washed in the dishwasher (bonus) and is fully functional. It does the job. But nothing has the same luster as actual silver. Sort of like no matter how high quality a faux marble is, it's just not the same. On the other hand, generally speaking, I have better things to do with my time than polish silver!
Consequently, the only silver we actually own, aside from some jewelry, is my dad's jewelry box (although I doubt that is what he called it). Hmmm now that I think about it, I believe he referred to it as that box on my bureau. As in, "Can you hand me the black cufflinks from that box on my bureau, please?"
And the silver babycup that someone gave Tim's mom when he was born. His initials are engraved into it, all fancy. So funny. I would never in a million years while shopping for a new baby gift think, "Silver cup!". No, I gravitate toward either the very practical, such as diapers, or my favourite gift to give anyone always which is books. But regardless, someone was kind enough to gift this silver babycup and it's one of the very few things Tim still has from his childhood.
As you can see, both of these items are in desperate need of a shine. And for that you need the correct equipment and I did not. When Tim was in the Marine Corps still, he had a terrific polish for the belt buckle of his dress blues. I loved that stuff and once he no longer had to concern himself with military grade spit and polish, I appropriated it and used it liberally. Which means, after all these years, I finally used it all up. Dang.
So I started looking for silver polish. Took a week or so of searching in various places that reported having it but, by the way, did not. Finally, however, I found it. And I couldn't decide which of the lauded products to purchase and ultimately just bought both.
On a recent rainy day, so what the heck, I may as well right? I gathered all of my soft rags (which were pillow cases in a former life), carefully read the instructions and began. I spent the better part of the morning working on the first object - Tim's baby cup. When I finished for the day it was not because the job was done, but because my hands just could not work the process any longer. While it looks better, it is far from perfect. I even got the inside shiny :)
Yes, what you see is the results of several hours of constant quiet methodical careful work with the silver polish. I'm pleased to see some progress but sorry that it isn't exactly as perfect as I'd hoped. I've set it aside for now and started to work on my Dad's jewelry box. It's slow progress but it's still progress. You can see the one tiny area of improvement in this photo. It's the tiny bit of shiny untarnished silver on the front edge.
I will keep at it until it's as good as it's going to get. It may be done in fits and starts over the next few days or perhaps I'll get a boost of determination and finish it at some point today. There isn't much else on my schedule, anyway. (insert eye roll here)
It's a lot of work and it's worth the effort but man oh man, I do not look forward to how my achy hands are going to feel at the end of the day. But I will be pleased with the work I've done! There is a certain satisfaction in looking at something you worked hard on and seeing it complete. Especially when it's a job you don't really want to do anyway. Like shoveling the driveway for the umpti-umpth time, or scrubbing grout, or, clearly, polishing silver. It's so pretty and it's worth the effort to keep it looking nice but I am so glad that we don't have a much of it to deal with.
".......and this is why we can't have nice things"
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!
Joy is away this week so I hiked solo. Which means that I stayed on island. But it doesn't mean that I forgot to take pictures! No Siree! I walked for hours, with the camera which means it's time for: The Photo Safari Report!
I don't know how much of a safari it is when you are within shouting distance of assistance at all times. Ok not a photo safari this time. But it was still a nice long walk with a camera in my hand so ......................pictures :)
The weather was beautiful but the wind was fierce which sometimes made capturing a shot tricky. I would have the shot all lined up and perfect and then the wind would blow the subject out of focus once again. At first it was frustrating and then it was just funny. That's ok. I got some pictures anyway!
As you all well know, I never know what I'm going to end up with any time I set out with my camera whether I'm with Joy in a nature preserve or state forest or by myself wandering around loose in my own town. The same held true yesterday. And in the end, what I mostly got pictures of was flowers. Flowers of all sorts. Potted flowers, wild flowers, flowers in gardens and flowering blossoms on trees. It was glorious!
I took photos of flowers everywhere: at the arboretum, in parks, along the trails and sidewalks and even in people's yards! Well I didn't go into their yards, I have a telephoto lens! Nobody seemed to mind. Or at least nobody called the cops on me! Yikes!
And this is just the start of the flowering season! We aren't even to the most colourful part! Can you imagine? The City of Venice does a wonderful job of keeping stunning hanging pots and elaborate planters full of colourful and fragrant blossoms in the parks and around town throughout the year. But most of the rest of the posies have a definite blossoming season and it's only just begun.
I did capture a few folks hard at work. One is of a muralist who is working on the wall around our post office! Instead of a boring old brick and stucco wall, it's a delightful garden! Or it will be when she is done. The other photo is of some of the construction workers labouring over our new Fire Station! Woohoo!
There were a few architectural things that caught my eye along the way, but I held back a bit more than I normally would this time around. (Not sure why) Anyway, there are only a few things. Perhaps another walk will be mostly architectural and design elements and only a few flower? Hey anything is possible.
Even managed to capture some "wildlife" photos! I speak of course of birds. I didn't set out with the express intention of taking photos of birds, but the little critters are everywhere! A few times it was almost as if they stopped to pose for me. Very thoughtful of them! I"ll just include a few here for you:
Just in general, there is some pretty scenery here abouts. So many lovely places to walk just right here on island! And not all of it on the beach. Although to be fair, that is probably my favourite
And because it's my favourite place, naturally, that's where I finished my trek. At the beach. The wind being so fierce yesterday meant really good waves. But it also meant, wild and crazy hair and salt spray in my face and on my camera lens. So I did have to stop frequently to clean both the camera and my reader glasses. Totally worth it!
I needed a thorough wash up and a comb when I returned home, to say nothing of the amount of sand I poured out of my shoes! And that's just fine too. The price one pays for living in paradise I suppose. Just to give you an idea of the wind yesterday here are two photos of me, first tired but cleaned up and combed after the walk and the other taken while standing on the beach. Check out the hair! LOLOL!
At any rate, Joy will be back next week so the photo safari report ought to be more safari and less suburb. For now? Hugs all 'round.
Any idea what this is? It's a basket of kitchen towels. I use a lot of kitchen towels (rather than a lot of paper towels y'see). I would estimate that I use roughly a zillion kitchen towels every week. A slight exaggeration, yes, but I do use a lot of them. I keep them neatly folded in this cute little basket on a shelf in the pantry. Lately, this basket has been on the empty side. It was very sad. But now it's full to the tippy top! Hurrah!
And do you know what that means? Yes! It means that my dryer is fixed. Happy Dance! That means, no more hanging clothes all over the house to dry. No more flipping the clothes multiple times while drying so that the air reaches all sides. No more running out of places to hang wet clothes and using shower rods and interior doors just to get the job done. No more extra ironing because air dried clothes always dry more wrinkley than clothes dryers do. No more exfoliating towles! (although I will say that using the uber scratchy towels has done wonders for my skin!)
As soon as the repair guy left, I started playing catch up laundry with sheets and towels. Today I may do some blankets and quilts! Huzzah Huzzah!
The repair man was very nice and he got the job done so I am happy and have zero complaints about that. But I will say that there is a marked difference in the repair dude experience of days gone by and now. Not just a noticeable difference, it's more of a chasm, a crevasse, the Mariana Trench of differences.
First of all, in the olden days, if I called a repair person in it was me directly calling the repair person. I did not have to go through a third party. Even when we had warranties and extended warranties (because we always do), I was able to call the repair company of my choosing and the warranty was still honoured.
Next, the appointment was within days, not weeks. I was happy to have the appointment I got, which was, this time, only a week and a half from the day I called. Last time it was about ten days before they called back and then it was another 10 days until the appointment. Obviously I survived, it's not a life or death situation, but it was dang inconvenient.
I remember a long time ago the repair person showing up in a repair van. The name of the company emblazoned across the side of it and the wonders of the repair universe neatly compartmented inside. This guy drove his own personal vehicle which, while serviceable - I mean it got him here right? - means he had very limited space for repair related stuff inside.
Ye Olden Days repair guys usually wore a uniform shirt with his name stitched on it somewhere and, again, the company name, with either heavy duty kahki trousers or jeans and work boots. My repair guy wore regular people clothes with a pin with his name on it attached to his shirt pocket. I know that how he dresses does not have an iota of reference to how well it does his job, it's just another of the many differences that I noticed.
Both the repair people from my memory and the one yesterday were very pleasant and got right to work. But the new guy stepped out to tell me that the problem was the heating element had failed (I knew that and told them on the phone when I made the appointment so it was not a surprise) and then we went out to his car. He returned triumphantly with the replacement part and told me - and here was the most surprising part - that I was very lucky! The replacement part was for someone else who had the same issue but rescheduled their appointment. Repair Fellow said that if that hadn't happened, he would have had to order the part and it would have been another two weeks until it could be fixed. And then he cheerfully went back to work.
Excuse me what? It used to be that the olden days repair guy would have A) listened to what I told them on the phone and made the appointment B) figured out the possible reasons for the problem and had the parts On Hand in his massive repair van when he showed up to the call. There would not have been a second two weeks out appointment necessary because nobody would need to order anything! It would already be there! Geez! That's why they always ask for the Make and Model number. Which is why I always have that information In My Hand when I make the call.
AND I hate to say this because I sound like a dusty, crusty, antique of a crone when I do, but I honestly do remember that the repair guy from days of old, would also check to see if anything else needed to be done while he was there anyway. Sort of like how, a million years ago, the guys who pumped your gas (and they did) also cleaned your windshield, checked your tire pressure and made sure your brake lights were working at the same visit. It's just so very different than the way it used to be.
Again, I really have nothing to complain about. My dryer is fixed, the repair man was very nice and did a great job. But! I just cannot help but notice the difference in how it used to be. Not everything from the olden days was good. In fact there was a lot that was bad. But there were some damned nice things too.
Way back in 1970, Graham Nash wrote a sweet song for Joni Mitchell. It was called, "Our House". It's how I feel out, well our house. It may not be everyone's cuppa tea, but I really do love our home. Recently, while I've been just doing my usual daily things, I have been noticing specific things that reminds me just how much I love it and why.
We have all spent so much time in our homes over the past year, more than usual. And since we have recently passed the one year mark of this whole pandemic thing, I suppose hearth and home has been on my mind lately. I suppose usually I just take my home surrounding for granted. But lately, it's been very much on my mind.
To start with, our house is hard to see from the road. We have a semi-circle driveway which is awesome for driving in and out, and the middle part of the semi-circle is filled with trees and shrubs (some of which bloom and smell amazing) and the house was, at some point, painted a light green. All of these things make the house nearly invisible. We kind of like that.
One of the things you might notice as you approach the house is the courtyard which I really love. Not sure why, but I've always been a fan of front porches and really a courtyard is a just a big front porch. It really does feel like another room. An outside room to be sure, but it is definitely another living space for the house.
There are actually two courtyard entrances, one is the open entrance that everyone uses. The other is an adorable little wooden gate that nobody ever uses but me. There is a comfy place to sit and read and have a cold drink or conversation. My potted garden has taken up most of the table. Sorry about that.
We recently bought the flowers in the pot by the front door. The cashier remarked that it was the most unique flower selection she had ever seen. I think that was a polite way of telling me that the colours didn't "go" well together. I don't care a bit. I like 'em.
Once you step inside the front door, you are unexpectedly in a front hall of sorts and I really love that. Most older homes here do not have any sort of foyer. I suppose since the weather is almost always pleasant, there is no need to protect the rest of the house from cold. But I prefer that little transitional space between the outside and the inside as opposed to walking smack into the living room. Just a personal preference. And bonus points, in late afternoon the sun comes in the front of the house and makes rainbows in the front hall. Love that.
The "wall" between the door and the kitchen, which is the only thing that makes it an actual entry way, has this decorative metal work. I wasn't sure how I felt about it when we first moved in, but once we painted it white, I decided that I loved it and obviously therefore, it has stayed. I also love that, as small as our little house is, we were able to have a little "landing zone". A table with drawer for things like sunglasses and a shelf for hats. There was room for an umbrella stand (which turns out to be very useful in the rainy season) and the mirror that the Minocks gave us which was the first thing we hung in the house. And I really love the artwork that Tim hung in the front hall which makes it sort of a gallery wall.
I know that you already know how much I love our kitchen. From the big windows by the table to the massive counter tops, the glass front cabinets and of course my pantry. I know you have heard me rhapsodize about my pantry ad nauseum so I won't beleaguer it. Just suffice to say that I still adore it. Not everyone appreciates a galley kitchen but, while it may not be the only good way to set up a kitchen, it works just fine for me.
I love the window over the sink with the view of the courtyard, the big deep farmhouse sink and the door at the end that allowed yet more light into the room. The kitchen is my happy place for sure.
Just on the other side of the kitchen counter is the living room with a comfy red leather sofa, the even more comfortable barrel chairs and the massive coffee table with plenty of room to put your feet up if you so wish. The big black display cabinet was one of the few pieces of furniture that we brought with us from Colorado. It's probably technically too big for the room, but we don't care.
I especially adore the bookcases that flank the opening to the family room. The go from floor to ceiling and I have used every inch of space in them. Books are one of the coziest things you can have in a room as long as there is also a perfect chair to sit and read those books.
Anyway, those are just a few of the things that I am madly in love with about our house. Just being in my house is a pleasure. When we are away, even for a short time, and we come home as soon as we step into the courtyard, it's like a hug. Home is such a small word for such a big feeling.
What on earth do these photos have in common? It is a weird collection, I admit. Especially since you've already seen them in the photo safari reports. So why do I have them here, again? And why these particular photos?
Well, it's to illustrate one of the other weird things about my demented brain. Once long ago I wrote about how I see heart shapes around me all of the time. Well "see" them. Of course I see them, they do exist, they are there. What I meant was that I notice them where other people might not. Heart shaped leaves, or blossoms, or rocks or raindrops or broken bits of sidewalk that happen to resemble the valentine associated heart shape. I am not seeking that shape out, I just notice it. A lot. Like everytime I'm out and about. They are everywhere!
It so happens that another thing I notice a lot is letters. You know, alphabet letters. Usually upper case. Why? I have no idea. But there it is. A lot. I kind of sort of can't not see them. I'm not sure what that says about it, but whatever it is I'm not it's nothing horrible. It's not like I'm trying to see letters, the are just there. You know, there is a chair, there is a lizard, there is a letter K. It just is.
The above photos are just some quick examples. I see EVXOLTW in those photos. Of course I also see the birds and the pretty grasses and the trees and so forth. But when I'm choosing to take a photo, there are a zillion or so thoughts going on in my head all at the same time. Some of those thoughts are about lighting and composition and focus. I'm also thinking about the best angle for the shot. And the subject matter itself. The actual subject - perhaps the bird - but also the V shape of the tree he was perched upon. I most likely also have a song playing in my mind, a grocery list being worked out, a memo to pick up a birthday card for someone, a debate about what I'm fixing for dinner that night and a passing thought about how hot, cold or perfect the weather is at that moment. But that's for a different post. This one is about the letters.
I've always done this. Noticed letters, I mean. When I was very young, I thought that if I put together all of the letters I had noticed that day, it might spell out something important. Like a message from the universe. But of course, it never was. What a silly notion. But I went right on noticing letters in the most unexpected places.
Then, somewhere along the line, I ran across a book by Arlene Alda. An alphabet book. It was a wonderous thing. She took photographs of all sorts of things that made letters until she had compiled one photograph for every one of the 26 letters of the English alphabet! Wow! It was so cool! Of course I bought it. That was not even a question.
At the time, I collected alphabet books. A strange thing to collect perhaps. But perhaps not! I am after all a reader, a writer and a person who already notices letters everywhere around her. So maybe collecting alphabet books is not such a stretch. Perhaps it's not a common thing to collect but then, perhaps I'm not a common person?
When we we getting ready to move here, we had to get rid of a lot of our belongings before we left Colorado. One of the things I had to sacrifice was books. So Many Books!! And part of that was my alphabet book collection. (In truth, the collection had kind of gotten out of hand). I donated nearly the entire collection to a children's literacy program. So while I kind of miss my books, I feel really good about where they went.
I did say that I donated nearly the entire collection, didn't I? Yeah. There were a couple that I just couldn't let go of. One is a Christmas Alphabet book that my sister gave me a long time ago that I just could not part with. (I also used to collect Christmas books) and the other is called, "The Peter Pan Alphabet" by Oliver Herford. It's a very old book (1907) and in delicate shape. I knew that it would not survive much handling so I held on to that one. Well, I also adore the story of Peter Pan so even if it were in excellent condition I might have had trouble letting go of that particular book.
ANYWAY, so big fat hairy deal, right? I don't see "dead people" like that poor tortured kid in the movie "Sixth Sense", but I do see letters that are meaningless and spell nothing in particular. What was the show that had the regular segment on Stupid Human Tricks? Was that David Letterman? I think so. Anyway, I suppose that's one of mine. It's useless but it's something that I do. And thanks to Arlene Alda's book, I also know that I am not the only one who does. Nice to know that I'm not alone.
They say everyone has some inherent and ultimately useless ability...what's yours?
What an exciting day I've had so far (not). Just as I do every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings now, today I got up and immediately headed for my computer so that I could stare at a little blue dot for roughly 45 minutes. Thrilling eh?
I know that every state and even sometimes individual counties within states are handling things differently so I can only tell you how it's working here. To get the COVID vaccine, (and why wouldn't I want to do that ?), first you have to be eligible which means a Florida resident and proof of such (I have that) and age 65 or older with proof of that (I am and I have). Then you have to register on the various sites available.
Some of the sites contact you when there is an opening. To date, nobody has contacted me. Or I can use the above site which is online. Cool. It involves logging on at a specific time of day and then starring at a little blue dot entitled, "waiting" until the blue dot moves over to "book the appointment". Then, as instructed, I would click on the the book appointment and, actually book the appointment. Simple enough.
And it is simple. It is way way way simple. I'm just sitting in a queue, waiting for my turn. Hum dilly hum. The only hard part about it is paying continual attention to that blue dot, to be prepared, the instant it turns blue, to click my mouse button as if I knew the correct answer for the final question on Jeopardy! And to do that I need to keep my eyeball on that dot. Which I am finding increasingly difficult to do. This is what happens.
First of all, it's early in the morning. I haven't even showered and changed yet. So I'm sitting there in my jammies, barefoot, wrapped in a blanket because while the weather is beautiful most of the day now, in the early hours it is chilly. While I did mange to brush my teeth, I have not had anything to eat or drink, my eyes are not completely focused and my brain is definitely fuzzy.
Once I have settled onto the chair in front of my computer and logged into the site, I stare at the screen for about 10 seconds and immediately realize that my feet are cold. Trying to keep one eye on the screen, I fuss with my comfy, warm blanket to try to cover my feet. Once my feet are covered I resume starring with both eyes.
Which lasts another ten or fifteen seconds and then my cellphone blips to let me know that I have received in email. Now the beautiful thing about emails is that they can wait. They will sit there very patiently until the owner of said emails is darned good and ready to read them. I have good about ignoring emails and other cell phone blips while driving, bathing, reading, doing most housey chores, having a walk or a hike or enjoying a meal. But since I'm not supposed to take my eyes of the screen, suddenly more than anything in this world I want to know what that email is.
I try desperately to ignore it. But the more I try the more I am positive that this is The Most Important Email Ever Received By Anyone Ever. Of course I give up and check it, taking eyes off the screen for the two seconds necessary, all while trying to keep watching the blue dot peripherally. Hmmm Wayfair is having a sale. Not important. I put my cell phone back down a resume starring at the blue dot.
I sing to myself a little to entertain me and eventually break into a little chair dance. The song is Super Cali Fraglistic from Mary Poppins. I don't know why. I nearly fall out of the chair in my exuberance and in catching myself, my eyes have left the screen for mere seconds once again. So I go back to sitting still and watching the blue dot.
I don't sit still particularly well. I glance occasionally at my desk calendar even though I already know what is and is not on it. I re-arrange my pencil jar. I probably pick up and put down every single item on my desk. All while trying to keep on eye on the screen. hmmmmm.
The blue dot has not moved. I realize that I am both hungry and thirsty. I think about what I want for breakfast. As I consider various ideas, I keep my eyes on the dot. But I'm not really thinking about the dot. I'm thinking about food. A few more minutes and I am more thirsty than hungry and I cannot think of anything except how thirsty I am. This continues until I realize that I also need to pee. Dang it. I must distract myself.
I concentrate hard on the screen and begin playing word games with the text. How many words can I make out of "Vaccination"? For example (Not that many is the answer) I start counting the number of letters in every word of each sentence, first separately then cumulatively. All while at least peripherally watching the blue dot.
I fall into a fugue state and a minute or so goes by without having moved, or even blinked. However, I realize that although starring intently at the screen, I really wasn't paying a single bit of attention. I move the chair and stand for awhile. I march in place and do side bends, while watching the screen. I make note that when I do side bends instead of the blue dot being on the left it is now either on the top or the bottom. Neat.
At some point, it occurs to me that I ought to check and see if my county actually has any appointments left. So I scroll down to Sarasota County and yes there are some left. At that moment only 44% of the appointments are filled.
But in scrolling down, my eyes were off the dot!!! Oh NO! What if the blue dot moved while I was scrolled down? Crap! Ok. Back to starring at the dot.
I know that I'm not alone. I am not the only person doing this and yes I want the dang vaccine. But for a wiggly fidgety person such as myself this is torture! I suppose I am building some sort of positive personal growth by doing this three times a week, every week, until I finally get an appointment. Yeah, let's choose to believe that.
I kept it up until there were no more appointments available and I will try again on Monday.
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.