As you may have noticed, I haven't written up a Photo Safari Report in a few weeks. That's because my partner in crime, my sister Joy, has been away. Obviously I have missed her, and our hikes and our sister time hanging out together. Tim couldn't do anything about sister-time but he decided to do something about the hiking. Sunday, he and I went up to Sarasota to hike a park that we've driven by many times but never stopped to check out.
We drove up to the St Armands Circle and Lido Key area to Ted Sperling Park which actually has has two parts. The first is the Nature Park and Mangrove Tunnels, the second is the Nature Trail. We decided to at least start in the Mangrove Tunnels for this hike.
There is a really nice Kayak Rental and Tours place near the beginning of the Mangrove Tunnels which we thoroughly checked out. Nice and clean bathrooms, LOADS of kayaks, really nice people and a lovely kayak launch area:
From there we sought out the start of the trail and dove in whole heartedly.
We did not see many birds. We heard them, but I only captured one and it was near the parking lot, sitting on a speed limit sign. So much for birds in the wild. That would be birds within the confines of law abiding citizenry. Still before he flew off he managed to poo on the sign. Rebel perhaps?
There were a lot of boardwalks through the mangroves but also paths that were at times a bit boggy but those boggy bits are where the Fiddler Crabs live! Those little critters move so fast that it was really hard to get a picture, though I tried my best. We would come around a curve in the path, moving quietly, speaking very softly if at all, and spy the dozens of the little guys up ahead. Before we could get a single step closer they would scramble and scurry zoom back into their little hidey holes. I don't know if they had a scout keeping eye or if they felt the vibrations of our footsteps, but we did learn that there is no sneaking up on a Fiddler Crab!
There were a lot of wild flowers, always a pleasure to see:
Other very welcome and pretty creatures:
And of course the mangroves themselves. If you ever wanted to know what was under the water in a mangrove, here is a good example. It's a lot more "stuff" than you probably expected. There is this peaceful water on top and underneath.....it's kind of a madhouse. Here is the river and on the sides are the mangroves. It's a web of vines and roots and muck and shells and , well it's a lot.
When we finally emerged from the boggy mangroves we found ourselves directly across the street from a beach access point. Of course, we walked down. After the dank, dark, gloom of the mangroves we were drawn to the light.
It was very light indeed and quite nice. But we were already kind of toasty from our hike so we turned back and wound up the hike back in the Kayak Rental Parking lot. We did drive over to the other part of Ted Sperling and found the entrance to the Nature Trail. We decided to save that part for another day. So perhaps next week I will have photo or two from that hike. Maybe?
Meanwhile here are the last of the pictures from yesterday. My favourite, the Rando File:
How was your weekend?
ARGH! My Arch Nemesis! The Bathroom Scale! Actually I recently lost 8 pounds. Yeah, I know, big whoop. Eight measly lbs. Doesn't sound like much an of "achievement" does it? And yet, it kind of is.
My struggle with the number of the scale has been life long. As a kid, I'm sure it didn't help that my idea of a good time was either reading, writing or playing the piano. All rather sedentary activities. Oh like all other kids of my era, we went sent outside to play. But my play usually included me sitting under a tree somewhere with my nose in book. I dabbled in the odd game of tag or hide and seek of course. And I always enjoyed a good "explore", heading out with sneakers tied and an eye to the horizon. But I was never the kid on skates or climbing trees or playing baseball.
So rather than being short and slim I was short and, well not slim. Looking back at old photographs I was never actually fat, but there are no photos of me looking wispy either. I guess I was just regular with a stocky, sturdy little short person's body that had long slim legs. I've said it before, my body shape can best be described as a box on sticks. When I am thinner it's a smaller box, but a box nonetheless.
And I've heard my entire life that it wasn't good enough. Pudgy, chubby, chunky, plump, hefty, tubby, round.....the list goes on and on and I've heard them all and more. I heard it from "friends" and relatives and adult neighbors who were "helping me". Teachers, random strangers, movies, television, fashion magazines all pointed out to me, over and over, that I needed to lose weight. And the group of people who talked about it the most were doctors and people who work in doctors offices.
It's the same thing every time, "you need to lose ten pounds". Always 10. No matter what the actual number on the scale was, I was told I had ten extra pounds that Had To Go! There was one doctor office in particular whose office was populated by exceedingly beautiful and thin women (a male doctor which comes as no surprise I know) where I dreaded my appointments. Every single time, one of the beauties would ask me to step on the scale, then compare that number of the number in my chart, sigh loudly and look at me sadly, shake her head and say to me, "You still haven't lost those ten pounds". Every. Single. Visit. I failed my appointment once again.
It got to the point where I so dreaded upcoming annual doctor visits that I would be consumed with anxiety. Not because I was afraid that there might be something terribly medically wrong with me but because I had to get on the scale. How warped is that thinking? Not concerned that I might learn that I had a dread disease, but that I'd be told, one more time, that I was too fat. Crazy.
My current doctor hasn't ever said a single word about my weight to me. He is awesome. He is also an excellent physician but I no longer dread my annual well patient visits and, my goodness, that is such a relief.
So about the 8 ell bees that I am down currently? A small miracle I assure you. I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong in all honesty. I just wanted to lose a few pounds for myself. Making my clothes fit a little better really, loose and comfy fabric in hot weather is much better than snug fabric. That was my goal. Not a specific number just a feeling. So I looked at what I ate.
I bake a lot, but I don't eat much of what I bake. I give a lot of it away. I stuff the rest it in the freezer. So while I talk about eating cookies and ice cream and cake (cake!) it's the exception rather than the rule with me. Let's call it the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time eat healthfully, 20% of the time throw the rules out the window. Even my Pilates teacher agrees with that idea. And that's kind of what I do. I eat lots of salads, very little meat, less and less bread as time goes by, I love veggies and fruit. So what's wrong with that? Nothing. I walk miles every day and do Pilates at home soo I am getting exercise too. It was a mystery.
And then I realized something. It wasn't about what I was eating. It was When I was eating and Why I was eating. It turns out that the biggest and best change I made was so easy. I had to stop eating just because it was time to eat and only eat when I was actually hungry.
We have been trained since we were babies to eat 3 meals a day. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Well as it turns out, I don't actually need to eat 3 meals a day. And in fact, I don't pay any attention to meal "times" for myself anymore at all. I wait until I'm hungry and then I eat until I am comfortably full and then I stop and I don't eat again until and unless I am actually hungry. Wow! I cannot believe it. What a simple logical idea.
Oh I still cook actual meals for Tim and anyone else who happens to be in the house, but unless I am hungry I politely decline. I will sit with whoever else is eating. I will talk and laugh and have my ever present glass of water, but otherwise nope. And if it makes them uncomfortable, I'm sorry, but this is working for me so I'm not eating just to make someone else feel less awkward.
I'm old now so I can make my own, possibly unpopular, choices, my own decisions. This is what I am doing. It is working for me. I cannot say that it would or should work for anyone else, but it absolutely did the job for me.
My goal was not met. I was shooting for those damned 10 pounds that everyone seems to think I need to shed and I fell short by 2 lbs. Oh well. Apparently this is where my body wants to be. And so here I shall stay.
So yes, I lost 8 pounds. Please do not bother looking for them. I do not want them back.
Speaking of baking (who was speaking of baking?), check out this cutiecute new baking pan that Tim surprised me with! Squeee! I love it so much :) A long time ago, middle son and his wife bought me a similar pan and I loved that one too. And somehow it got lost in a move (along with an assortment of other things) and, at the time, even though I missed it terribly, I opted to not replace it. Not because it wasn't useful or wasn't loved, but because sometimes I try to edit my life. Which primarily means my belongings. But now I have one again and it's very exciting!
So exciting in fact that the day after this came in the mail (surprise!) I used it. Of course I did. Do you know me at all? Have we met?
The entire reason that Tim ordered this pan for me was that a few weeks back, I was craving cake. It's all I could think about. You ever have those sorts of food cravings? Nothing else is going to satisfy you except that thing you crave? Where it totally dominates your thoughts? It kind of goes like this:
him: "What do you want for dinner?"
him: "so & so just bought a new house so what should we get as a house warming gift?"
him: "think it's going to rain?"
Yeah, like that.
I try to not give in to those sorts of yearnings because it's always bad for me foods that I desire. Always. I never crave broccoli. I like broccoli, I like it a lot. But I never hard core crave it. Same with salad. I eat salad nearly every day. It is a staple of my daily diet. But I never dream about it. I do, however, occasionally dream about cake. Or pie. Or ice cream. Or home made bread. Or....well you get what I'm saying here.
So days went by. Days became weeks. And still the most important thing in my head every moment of the day, from my first waking thought to my last, was cake. And specifically I wanted chocolate cake with white icing. Rich, dense, moist chocolatey cake with thick creamy real vanilla frosting. Yeah, that's the stuff. Nothing else tasted good to me. Nothing else mattered. I just wanted a piece of cake damnit. So last Friday evening we finally went out in search of cake. And honestly around here it is hard to find. There are ice cream places aplenty, but cake is harder to come by.
There are bakeries of course, but they close early. There are restaurants that offer cake, but never with white icing. Have you ever noticed that? It's always chocolate cake with chocolate icing. Which isn't a bad thing, but not what I wanted. My craves are very specific. Google and I searched far and wide and were very disappointed in the results;(
Ultimately, we stopped at Publix and checked out the bakery department. They did have chocolate cake with white icing, which was a surprise but hurrah! So we snapped that baby up and took it home. I was so eager to eat it! Finally, satisfaction!
Except, it wasn't satisfying at all. It was blah. Too light, too airy, too practically non existent! The chocolate taste was very meek and the rather thin icing had no vanilla flavour. It just tasted sweet, very very sweet. I had a few bites and threw it away. Not wasting calories on something I'm not enjoying. Tim asked what I was thinking and I responded that, I suspect that what I was actually craving was my own chocolate cake. Because I make a damned good chocolate cake. BUT I'm not going to make an entire cake just because I'm craving one slice!
I know how it works. If I make a cake, we eat a cake. And we don't need to eat an entire cake. Nobody does. And I sighed and figured that was the end of that.
And then this pan showed up! What a great idea! I can make a lot of small cakes and freeze them. When I want to use them, I'll thaw them and frost them and give them away, share or just grab a fork and go to town! Brilliant Idea Tim!
So yesterday I hauled out my old recipes and for the first time in over a year whipped up my oh so very good Chocolate Cake (Thank you Sandy!) It's a lot of batter so I ended up making the six mini bundts and had a lot of batter left over. What to do, what to do? I didn't want the batter to dry out and I absolutely did not want to throw it away (what a waste that would be!) so I had the smarty pants idea to make cupcakes with the rest. (don't know why I didn't think of cupcakes before?)
Aren't those the cutest little mini-bundts you ever saw? They will be even cuter, frosted and decorated ;)
I did taste test a cupcake. Of course I did. Quality Control is essential. Surely you figured that out already. And so did Tim. YES! Finally my cake cravings was satisfied. The rest are in the freezer, just waiting patiently.
And now I am thinking about all sorts of other wonderful things I can make in this pan. Mini gingerbread cakes, pumpkin bread, banana nut bread, Blueberry cake, fancy cornbread! Why not? Oh I have ideas aplenty!
I predict that this pan is going to be used A LOT!
This is a view from our front hall of our kitchen and my "office" space which is also part of the living room. In current parlance it is the Great Room. I spend the vast majority of my days in this space. There are the obvious things like cooking and baking (and then cleaning up from my cooking and baking) and writing my blog. You can just see the monitor of my computer on the back side of the wall between the kitchen and living room and my chair laden with various things which constitutes my "office". But I also use this space for ironing, reading the newspaper, writing pretty much anything, folding clothes, doing puzzles, wrapping gifts and more. There is my stack of library books ready to read, my camera - always at the ready for a photo, my absolutely essential calendar so that I not only know what day it is but also what I'm doing that day, and a few notebooks. One notebook is for random notes, another notebook is for blogpost ideas and the third is for lists. I always have multiple lists running.
The important point here is that this is my space, my comfort zone, my happy place. When I'm working here I'm humming or singing or maybe even dancing a little bit. Tralalala.
As I said, the way our house is set up, which is not at all unusual here, the kitchen, dining and living rooms are all one big space. The Great Room it is sometimes called. And in ordinary times, it is indeed, a pretty great room. But currently, with this big project going on it's a not so great space. And I have to admit, any negative feelings are all in my head. I hate admitting that.
Because our wonderful construction guys are so very hard at work rebuilding our family room (which is off the Great Room) there are some very temporary issues. The first of course being that all of the actual living room furniture is stuffed into the guest room. The second is that the family room furniture is crammed into the living room. All of our furniture was very specifically selected for the space it was intended to be in. So while it's functional and not horrible, it's also not right. But it's temporary. And I know that. It means that we are living in a much smaller space than usual but it's ok. It's short term and we know it so we suck it up. It's the third issue that is my biggest problem. And again, yes, I know, it's just me.
The third and final (but biggest) issue is that our fabulous, wonderful amazing construction guys are right there on the other side of the big glass sliders. Right there. Right. There. All of the time.
I am going to show you what I mean.
Here I am hum dilly hum, doing my stuff in the Great Room:
And here are our industrious construction guys doing building magic:
Let's look at that again. Here it is, side by side, inside looking out and outside looking in:
I am on the inside of the glass, they are on the outside of the glass. Right There All Of The Time. Even though I know that they are not paying one bit of attention to me and are totally focused on their job, I feel as if I am on display. The Human Exhibit at the Zoo. "See the human in her natural habitat". I know I just need to get over myself, but it just ain't that easy friends.
I try to keep my head down and my spirits up and stay busybusy. But I absolutely cannot just relax. It was to the point last week where I kept looking for a spot where I could just sit, unseen, and read for awhile. I ended up on the floor in the guest room in a teensy space where my back was against the side of the display cabinet and my water glass under a side table. Tim came looking for me and once I was found asked, very nicely by the way, what I was doing. "Hiding" I said. And then I came out and started dinner.
While I was fixing dinner, and unbeknownst to me, he re-arranged things in the guest room a little bit. After dinner he showed me proudly what he had done. He made a comfortable refuge for me!! There amongst the rugs and chairs and tables and this'n'that, he carved out a sanctuary, a spot just big enough for me to sit and read or talk on the phone or whatever I choose to do, and feel less exposed while I do it. Awwwwww. What a nice man!
There is just enough space for me to slide in between the table and the piano with a rolled up rug acting as a canopy above me. There is a sofa and coffee table piled on a bed to one side of my comfy chair and a wide table with an ottoman atop it to the other . It's a cozy comfy nook, a perfect spot to hide and just my size. As Virginia Woolfe wisely observed, every woman needs a Room of her Own. While all of this very important work is going on, this will be mine.
Oh I will still spend the majority of my time cooking and baking and cleaning and writing and all of the other stuff I do in the Great Room, but when I need to step away from the chaos for a little bit, now I have my little retreat, my hiding space to get away.
And thank you to Tim for making it happen. And for understanding why I needed it. And sometimes, not understanding but accepting it as true.
Poor Tim. I killed another one of his coffee cups. Dang. This is the second one in less than two months. The first one was a total smashola. I was emptying the dishwasher and somehow that cup just slipped right through my fingers and crashed against the tile floor becoming roughly 5 zillion teensy tiny pieces. Butterfingers!
This break was a tiny bit different. I mean it's still beyond useless now but I didn't drop this one. I misjudged the distance between the counter top and well, not the counter top. Which I suppose would be just air. Somehow I clipped the cup against the edge of the counter. The countertop is granite of course and one measly coffee cup doesn't stand much of a chance against stone. sigh.
I felt terrible when I broke the first one. Because he is a very nice man Tim said, "don't worry about it, there are other cups". But because I at least try to be a responsible person, and the broken cup was, after all, my fault, I attempted to replace the cup. I looked at cups where ever I already happened to be: the grocery store, the drugstore and once at a Hobby Lobby. The grocery store and drug store actually did have cups but none of them really appealed to me and the one I actually really liked at Hobby Lobby was pricey! And my feeling, at that time, was well heck if I'm eventually going to break it anyway, why would I spend that kind of money on it?
And then I broke the second cup. If I felt terrible last time, this time around I felt far worse. In an attempt to right this wrong, instead of just sort of hoping to happen across a suitable cup I intentionally sought one out. And the whole money thing? Right out the window. This time I was determined to try to make it right. Not just a half arsed effort. Nope, this one would be fully arsed.
If you peeked into our cabinet you would notice right away cups and mugs are very random. There are over sized cups that say "Queen of Everything" and "King of Everything Else" and a Jolly Christmas themed Snoopy & Woodstock mug. There is a plain black one and one that bears a photo of Tim and I from a trip to New Orleans. I believe there is one from South Dakota with a wild west sort of theme and set of smaller cups (my size) that, while an actual set, are each a different colour. The cups shelf looks like a box of crayons. So you would think that any old coffee mug will do. You would be wrong. Every single mug/cup on that shelf was selected specifically and individually. Even though they do not match, although I'm sure right now you find this impossible to believe, somehow they all go together.
So I set out on my mission to find replacement cups on Friday. I headed downtown Venice which is just a few blocks away because that area is a veritable cornucopia of cute little unique shop. I was in and out of every single store that might possibly have cups & mugs. Many of them did too. But at first, while I liked them, none of them were quite right. There were lots of cups with flowers on them and while Tim likes flowers just fine, I just couldn't picture him waking up with his morning coffee in a dainty floral cup. Nope.
Then there were mugs with animals on them. Ducks, Fish, Horses, Dogs and the like. They were fine but none of them spoke to me, y'know. We were not quite there yet. As I went in and out of each of these shops I saw cups with hearts, cups with a lot of words (too many words for first thing in the day) and mugs with pictures of boats on them. There were tiny little espresso cups, giant over sized - seriously way too big - mugs that were practically been steins and precious demitasse cups. All of them were very nice, none of them were right.
Until, finally, I found this one:
It's colourful without being of any particular subject and honestly it looks so much better in person. The handle is sturdy and big enough for his hands and it's just the right size. It's real china, made in Germany, far more expensive than I would normally buy and dishwasher safe. Supposedly the handle will stay cool, through some sort of magic, even if you reheat your drink in the microwave. Awesome. Sold!
Ok that's one mug. Now I needed to replace the second one. And here was my thought process. This first mug is beautiful and expensive and no matter how hard I try not too, odds are good that somewhere along the line I will drop and break this one too. So, perhaps I could balance that out by finding a much less expensive one that won't break my heart when I am sweeping up the pieces of it.
So naturally I went to one of the souvenir shops on the avenue. And they did not disappoint. There was an entire wall of cheesy, kitschy, cheap mugs all of which said Venice Fl on it somewhere. Some of them had fish or mermaids. Some of them said things like:" I'd rather be fishin' ". There were pictures of sunsets and pelicans and cartoony things and of course flowers. Lots and lots of flowers. And in the end I bought the least objectionable one:
It's not great, but it'll do. This new one was not made out of china, but it was made in China. I looked the brand up online. It's sold primarily in souvenir shops and Walmart. So you kind of have an idea of the quality. Since the only requirement really is that it hold coffee, it will absolutely do the job.
Over the weekend Tim tried them both out. Both of them work just fine and, as my beloved reminded me, it's a vehicle for his morning coffee, that's all. The fate of the world doesn't hinge on the design of his coffee cup. But he appreciated the gesture and for now, we are fully loaded with cups and mugs once again.
Wanna take bets on which one I break first? At least I know where to go to buy a replacement now.
We are still Under Construction, my friends. This is the view from our sliders currently. It seems that this is a big job and a messy one and now and again, an inconvenient one.
You will notice that I haven't posted much this week. That's not because I have nothing to say. I never have nothing to say. It's because sometimes our power pops in and out. Sometimes our internet comes and goes. And then we have to make choices.
Right now, for example, Tim had to re-route the router (funny) with extension cords from one of the few rooms that has power so that he can continue do his work here in his home office. Luckily for me, at least this time, that means I have internet right now once again too. Yay! But next time? Who knows.
It's the sort of things that happens during construction projects, both large and small. Tim is good at finding ways to work around problems and I am good with making do, so between us both, it's no big deal. Stuff Happens and It Is What It Is.
Just kind of wanted you to know that I'm here. I haven't quit the Blog. At least not yet. I promise to warn you in advance if I do. But for the duration of this house project, my presence may be, shall we say, sporadic. When I can be here to post, I will and when I can't, I won't. That sounds pretty straight forward eh?
Meanwhile, Y'all have a great weekend and hopefully, I will be back on Monday!
Hugs all 'round
The amazing human skeleton. All two hundred and six bones of it. It is the infrastructure to the human body. We all have one and most of us at least attempt to take good care of it. We probably take it a little bit for granted but our skeletons do not seem to mind. Our bones hold us up and hold us together and heal when they get bumped or broken with little quibbling. And then we get older. Dang it all.
Ever since I started being ordered by doctors to report for duty at the bone density station I have come to know that I was Osteopenic. That means that my old bones do not create new bone as quickly as they reabsorb old bone, which frankly, sounds a little cannabalistic to me. Ewww Creepy.
I was told to get more exercise of the weight bearing type and to eat more high calcium foods. At the time I was already running at least 3 days a week which sounds to me pretty high on the weight bearing scale, but I upped it to 5 days a week. As far as the high calcium foods go, I had to do some research. I'm fairly lactose intolerant so it wasn't just a matter of eating more ice cream! But I found other foods, that I actually liked, and put more of that in my diet.
I was sure that these changes would improve my bone density numbers. I was wrong. The next bone density test showed, not only no improvement, but further decline. Ratz! I added a calcium supplement. But it still didn't change those numbers. And at some point my knees were having serious discussions with me about all this running nonsense so I had to switch over to walking which is, at least, still a weight bearing exercise. So I was seriously trying.
But honestly, I wasn't at all surprised to eventually hear the dreaded but inevitable diagnosis of Osteoporosis. Talk about feeling old. Osteoporosis is when the body has reached the point when the bones are very weak and brittle. When you hear about someone falling and breaking a hip, that's someone with osteoporosis.
So my current doctor suggested a once a month medication that supposedly would help my body to build new bone. Once a month doesn't sound so bad, does it? Of course I said, "sign me up". As clumsy as I am, it was the smart decision to make.
What I didn't take into account were the side effects of the medication. Ooof! I already do battle with constant heart burn (for which I take other medication) and this new medication ramps up the dragonfire to about 1000. Yikes! That increase in heart burn only lasts a few days, but it's a few miserable days every month unless I make it a point to eat very very VERY carefully those days. So that's what I do.
The bone medication also makes my body ache. It seems that the construction going on inside my body which is the medication helping to build new bone, hurts! In the beginning, it was my entire body that hurt. For about a week every month I felt as if I had fallen down a hill, or perhaps been hit by a small car. I read the insert that came with the medication and yuppers, that's perfectly "normal". Ack! I wasn't looking forward to doing that on repeat every month, but, I rationalized with myself, if I was going to give this a fair trial to see if it worked, then I had to just grit my teeth and do it.
And so I did. I look a lot of Advil, used copious amounts of Icey Hot and Bio Freeze and just sucked it up.
At long last, it was time for another bone density test! I held my breath. Was all that time of feeling miserable truly worthwhile? The results were clear and significant. There was an enormous improvement! Hurrah Hurrah! It wasn't turned around 100% but it was good, really good. So my doctor and I decided to do another round of it to see if we can make things even better!
It was put to the test earlier this week.
On Mondays and Thursdays in the early morning, I walk with my friend Sally. She lives fairly close to me so we meet about half way between our homes and then walk, at least, to the airport and back, sometimes farther, a nearly 4 mile loop! We walk and talk and laugh and solve all of the problems of the world. Ok we don't solve them, but nobody else is solving them either so I do not feel remotely guilty about that. The point is, we walk.
On the way back, probably within a mile of home, I stepped off a curb into what appeared to be a puddle of water but turned out to be a puddle of mud with a skim of water on the top. Uhoh. My right foot slid hard left and my left foot, in an effort to correct stepped wide to the right. And it almost worked too. According to Sally, I did a lovely deep curtsy just before I hit the ground hard on my right hip. Ouchie.
Actually I was more embarrassed than anything. I quickly pushed myself to a stand, dusted the pebbles off my palms and the mud off my shorts, oddly (though not at all odd for me) apologized to the couple walking their dog across the street that looked so very concerned, and reassured Sally at least a dozen times that I was fine. And we continued home.
To my surprise and delight, I really was fine! Absolutely positively totally fine. Not even a bruised area. It's like a miracle! If my bones weren't healthier and stronger that would have been one ugly scene and I would, most likely, be having hip replacement surgery right now instead of writing this post.
So if I ever had any doubts about the medication, it is now officially dispelled. I will not complain ever again about indigestion/dragonfire or achey bones. I will take the damned pill and keep my trap shut and be grateful that such a thing exists!
Thus ends the tale of my old lady bones :)
I thought I'd start out this week by writing about last week's Photo Safari. I'm calling it the High Water Hike because, well, the water was pretty darned high. Which makes it a good/bad thing. Bad because the trails were mostly underwater. We manage to get out of the car a few times but mostly we were faced with trails that looked like this:
The good part was that everything in the park was so flooded that we could just open the car windows to take pictures of nearly everything. Also being in the car means that it was an air conditioned hike. And honestly I returned home cleaner than I ever have before from a hike.
Photographable things were so close that the photo at the top of the page is a reflection of a dragonfly in the water. Dragonflies are pretty small so to get a picture of it's reflection from the car? Crazy! There were times when the water was just about lapping at the tires. The water was so so high that alligators were swimming right alongside the car. You think I'm joking?
We went to Myakka State Park. It is such a beautiful place and as a bonus, there is a road running right through it. Usually we just park the car and hike all over the place. This time, mostly, as I said, we just stayed in the car. Lazy hiking. But we saw Awesome Stuff.
It is an exceptionally beautiful drive through the park with a gorgeous canopy nearly the entire way:
Because of the high water there were deer everywhere! Poor little things were wading through the water at times and having to risk crossing the road to find slightly dryer ground. So Joy drove slowly and carefully.
We saw birds as we almost always do. Maybe not the usual wide variety, but still birds iz birds. And we love taking photos of them :) You will notice a great many photographs of white birds of various sorts this time.
There were a stunning number of dragonflies. I know they all look like the exact same dragonfly but I promise you they are not. There is also one wasp, one lady bug, one lizard and a few squirrel photos.
And of course the beautiful Mayakka River and Park itself. On a high water day like this, it's hard to tell the difference between the river and the park. They kind of run together:
It was a different sort of hike. I suppose technically it was a non-hike. I guess it was more of a drive. BUT a drive with gorgeous scenery and beautiful things to take pictures of. Maybe the next hike will be an actual hike? Who knows?
So this is in the front yard now. And no, it's not a new lawn ornament. This means that the reno project has begun! Woo and Hoo! Very Exciting!
It'll be awhile before it's done so I won't bother you daily, or weekly (or even monthly) with updates but I thought, since I mentioned it in an earlier post, you might like to at least see the beginning. And at some day in the future, the end product.
Ok, bear in mind here that our house is just a little one story beach bungalow built way back in the early 60's . And apparently in that era, nobody gave two craps or a hoot about how the back of a house looked. They focused any design style on the front. And I completely agree that the front of our house with it's cute little courtyard is adorable. Perhaps they assumed (thought one should never) that there was no point in fiddling with the back since most people are going to put in a patio and a pool anyway at some point.
But the thing is, with our house, for some reason, nobody did. I'm not positive exactly how many people owned this house before us. I know there were at least three. And for whatever reason, none of those three cared enough to bother doing anything in the back of the house. To be fair, we've lived here for 5 years now and we haven't either. It's on the list, but there are other, more important, things we had to get out of the way first. Like replacing all of the plumbing. Updating the HVAC. Reno-ing the kitchen and bathrooms. Stuff like that. It's a process guys.
At any rate, this is what the back of our house looked like before reno began:
The part that's being reno-ed is from the left side of the turquoise thing to the right. That turquoise thing, by the way, is a hurricane shade. It's a VERY heavy weight canvas that ties down to prevent window destruction via hurricane. The reason we have it down, however, was to prevent leaks around the windows every time it rains. Which was just Delightful. (insert sarcasm here) Here's a better look at just the reno project portion of the house.
This is the part that is being worked on. You might notice a strange thing to the right of the door. This is how we knew the house was sinking. It clearly indicated that there were no footings (no footings!!??)
Stucco doesn't normally buckle like that. Tim filled the hole with spray foam for the interim just to keep the outside, outside. So you see it wasn't just a leaky roof that might require a few tiles or shingles replaced. Nope. The entire room has to be torn down so that they can put in a foundation and start over. sigh.
But hey, it is what it is. And right now what it is is a construction zone. And the back of our home currently resembles a haunted house. You doubt me? Here's a few pictures to illustrate.
What A Mess! But it's like cleaning out the garage. Before you can make it better, first you have to make it worse.
With the current state of things in the contracting world, shortages of product, shortage of tradespeople, delays for every conceivable reason and a few inconceivable ones, we are honestly not positive when it will be done. But at some point, it will be. Like I said, it's a process. And at some point it will be finished and then it will all have been worthwhile.
Have A Great Weekend! Hugs all 'round.
Empty. Vacant. Desolate. Deserted. Abandoned. That was the museum yesterday.
There was not a single phone call. Not a single visitor. The place practically echoed. It was very unusual and strange. Especially when compared to last week which was overloaded with guests! I would barely get through my opening spiel when other folks would come in the door and then others and then more and more and...give me a break people! HAH! After awhile the lobby felt a little like a clown car and I had to actually put a limit on how many people could, safely and masked, be in the lobby at one time. The new rule only held folks up for a few minutes outside but current circumstances require at least a few protective parameters.
Last week, we had guests from all over this country, most of them visiting the museum for the first time. They are almost always smiling and relaxed and excited to learn about the history of Venice. I am always tickled to bits to welcome folks and answer their questions. Not everyone wants a guided tour - and that is perfectly fine - but for the ones who do wish for it, I am delighted to show them around.
I like hearing about where they are from and telling them about not just the town we live in but the entire state of Florida. It's a pleasure to make suggestions of places to eat and fun things to do in the area. At times it's a little hectic. When I'm the only person there and we have mega visitors plus the phones plus the constant Covid related cleaning plus the gift shop plus whatever else is going on! Yeah it gets a little crazy sometimes.
But I vastly prefer Crazy Days to the Big Empty.
Good thing I brought a book. I always bring a book. Yesterday it was an entire museum shift of just sitting and reading. Which meant the time flew by of course but still...very strange. My footsteps sounded so loud. Heck turning pages sounded loud! I kept thinking...are we open? Has the town been evacuated? Am I in the middle of a Twilight Zone episode?
I've noticed a few different things this year at the museum. First of all, suddenly, most of our guests are newly arrived residents to the area as opposed to tourists. What? Yeah, it's true. So far this year easily 75% of the people who walk through our door have moved to the general vicinity during the pandemic from somewhere else! The second thing is more age range. A lot of the newbies are younger people. Up until now Venice Island was primarily populated with jus old folks. But now, we have young families, newly wed couples, some middle agers with older kiddos and of course some retirees too. But that is a new balance and I like it!
This 75/25 split will probably change as the snowbird season/high tourist season arrives in the winter but for now, it is just new and different and a very good thing. New blood, new energy, new ideas! Things need to get shaken up now and again or else the area will get stagnant and stodgy with no spark! Gotta liven it up and make it exciting and new again.
Maybe that's one of the reason I enjoy working at the museum. Because everything I am telling and showing people is new to them, it becomes new again to me too. I get to see it all over again through their eyes, through the lens of their life experiences. It helps me to appreciate our town and fall in love with it all over again every single day.
Hopefully yesterday's empty museum was an aberration and not a new trend. That would break my heart. I suppose time will tell. And in the meantime, at least I got to read my book. The entire book. Cover to Cover. Sigh. I guess I had better get my butt to the library for more books. I have no idea if next week's Museum Day will be feast or famine. Hence the book. Once everything in the museum is clean, all of the pamphlet racks are filled, emails are answered, new bulletins read and old bulletins reviewed and the displays activated and operational, if nobody comes in what on earth would you do?
Book. Always bring a Book.
So, how was your Labor Day Weekend? Hope whatever you did you had a great time :)
In looking back, it seems that our long holiday weekend was about two things: Food and Water. Seriously, we are so wierd.
First of all I made this:
Brioche Bread! My first time making it, too! Tim found the recipe and showed me. I read it over several times and then realized that I had, on hand, every thing necessary! It was surprisingly easy (I really assumed - though one should never) that it was one of those tricky sneaky recipes but it honestly was not. What it did require though was time. Lots of time. It's a two rise bread. Totally worth it. It was so good. Was. Past Tense. It's long gone. Which is always the problem when making bread. If I make it, we eat it.
And then we seemed to have eaten out a lot more than usual. Oh on the weekends we usually manage at least one meal out, occasionally two. But I guess we took the idea of celebrating labor day by not laboring and ate out more than usual.
We had breakfast at Burgundy Square, a local place that is so close we can walk to it. The food is simple, but good, the service is friendly and we have no issues with any of it. Which is why it's so odd that we haven't been there in a few years. And there is absolutely no reason to not go. It was really good!
Saturday we had lunch at a new to us place down in Cape Coral, called Keg & Cow. It's a short and relatively simple menu but with some great innovative thinking. For instance, if you order fries or chips, since both are made fresh and in-house, they ask you what sort of seasoning you want on them? The options, I believe were, parmesan/garlic, sea salt or cajun. What??? That's pretty awesome.
The rest of our eating out was more typical for us, our usual stuff, local pizza and local chinese food. Nothing wrong with any of it. It was all good :) We gobbled up the pizza too fast for me to remember to take a photo. Oink.
Between moments of happy gluttony, we spent a lot of time at the beach. We were there early, mid day, evening, and every hour in between. The sunsets were beautiful, the birds were plentiful, the waves were impressive, and that awful Red Tide stink is gone. Hurrah!
Some days the seas were a big moody but that's ok, we love to watch the crashing and smashing of the water against the rocks at the Jetty.
The Sunsets were magnificent! Some evenings it looked as if the sky was on fire! Other times, it was more a gentle colour show, and occasionally so soft it was almost pastel.
There were kayakers and motor boaters, surfers and fisherfolk, people like me with cameras in hand and sometimes no sign of any humans at all.
All in all, I'd say it was a pretty good weekend! It's a wonderful thing to occasionally have a break in our routine.
But for now it's back to our regularly scheduled program.
Just a quick little story today to round out the week and to illustrate what a truly nice man Tim is. I mean, I already knew it but now you can know it too.
Yesterday morning started off kind of gloomy. It looked like it might rain but around here you can never really tell. Sometimes it's just grey and threatening to rain all day long but sheds nary a drop. Other times it's beautiful bright sunshine that turns to rain without loosing a single bit of the sparkling sun rays. So it's tricky.
I was ostensibly writing my blog but between paragraphs and thoughts I often move to the kitchen to do a small chore while thinking. I will ruminate while emptying the dishwasher. I contemplate at the same time that I am refilling the coffee machine with water. I might be cogitating while folding towels. I don't recall what the chore was yesterday, but I know I had just gotten up from the computer and was in the kitchen when the sky opened up and began to pour.
It was a torrential rain like only Florida in Rainy Season can produce. They are referred to locally as "gullywashers". If you are caught out in it, within seconds you are soaked through to your skin. Your fingers get as pruney as they would if you had been soaking in the tub for hours. Your eyelashes become so heavy with rain that it takes effort to blink. I've been caught out in rain like that here and the question of what to do becomes a real conundrum. The instinct is to duck under a nearby tree (there are always plenty nearby). However, standing under a tree when there is a possibility of lightening is never a good idea. On the other hand, standing away from the tree, feeling as if you are going to drown on land while standing up, doesn't seem sensible either. What to do, what to do.
As I glanced out the window at that sort of rain a woman came into view pacing across the end of our driveway. She stood next to our mailbox, looked at the numbers while fruitlessly attempting to wipe the rain from her eyes, as she spoke to someone on her cellphone. It was at this point that Tim walked into the kitchen seeking a coffee refill. He looked out the window because I was. Naturally he was curious about what held my attention. I indicated the unfortunate and drenched woman who had finished her call and resumed pacing, first under the tree then out from under the tree, back and forth. "Poor thing", I said. "We should do something".
Tim immediately walked over to the umbrella stand (yes we have an umbrella stand, doesn't everyone?) selected the red umbrella and without a moments hesitation walked out the door. She explained to Tim when he approached that she had just called her husband to come pick her up. Tim offered her 3 sheltering choices. She could join us inside and watch for her husband out the big bay window in the kitchen. She could stand under the sailshade in the courtyard. Or he would loan her the big red umbrella. She thanked him politely and chose the umbrella.
Which meant Tim then slogged back through the driving rain and was utterly and completely saturated when he came back inside. He dried off and went back to work, I waited a minute longer and watched her standing, far more comfortably at the end of the driveway under the big red umbrella, no longer pacing and then went back to my computer.
The next time I peeked out the window, the mystery woman was gone. But she made sure to leave the umbrella in the courtyard. How very nice!
The point here is that I said we ought to do something. Tim actually did it. And it's the doer's of the world that make things happen. We should always try to be more like him.
So that's the red umbrella story.
Now go forth and enjoy this lovely Labor Day Holiday Weekend!
Roughly a million years ago when I was a very young child in downtown Chicago, I actually do remember being in a large department store. Instead of the escalators we see now in shopping malls, there were elevators. Each elevator had an official elevator operator who announced at each floor, the sorts of things one might shop for on that floor. "3rd floor, Ladies' Lingerie" When I typed those words above, that was the first thing that popped into my head.
Called it lingerie or underwear or the fancy french 'dishabille' or unmentionables, it's all the same thing and I'm going to mention it. Why? Because I have questions. So many questions. And perhaps you do too.
My first question is, why is it so dang expensive? Ok, yes, I am famously tightfisted with money. We all know that. But even so, the dollar amount they are charging for very little fabric (though often considerable engineering) seems excessive. And I am curious why this is so.
I gathered up every pair of underpants that I own and weighed them. Collectively it was still less than a pound in weight and while I admittedly do not know much about fabric, I do know that there is very little fabric involved in their creation. Because I am such a cheap arsed soul, I generally buy mine at the outlet store. The ones I prefer I can usually get as a batch of 2 or 3 for eight to ten dollars. I just looked them up on line. Turns out that if I bought them one at a time in a regular store they are twelve bucks each! EACH! So if you only do laundry once a week that means 7 pair which comes to $84 dollars! For Panties! That nobody sees! Don't you find that insane? So if my house caught fire and everything I owned was gone and I had to start over, the first thing I would need would be $84 bucks worth of fabric that together weighs mere ounces and I wear under my other clothes. What?
Bras are even worse. And by that I mean even more expensive and often not very comfortable. History tells us that the first brassieres existed way back in the 14th century. I'm sure they were even less comfortable than they are now. Especially when you consider the evolution to corsets. Torture devices. Glad those are long gone. (though I understand that some women are voluntarily wearing them again. To each her own I suppose). Still I will be among the first to admit that my clothes look better on me when I wear a properly fitting bra. But dang, it is just not very comfortable.
Starting with the permanent grooves on my shoulders from the straps and the underwires often breaking loose and stabbing me you would think that for the cost, they would be a heck of a lot more comfortable to wear. So I guess my second question is, why can't they be made to be more comfortable? Nobody yet has been able to answer that one for me. the Comfort to cost ratio is not good. And speaking of the cost (once again) holy cats!
I recently had to finally throw a few old bras away which means I now have to replace them. First I waited until there was a sale. Love a good sale. It was a BOGO, which is every better. The price still makes me crazy but buy one, get one makes it marginally more palatable. I think I got them for about $25 dollars each. But that means ordinarily it would have been Fifty dollars for one? One? What the actual hell?
Yeah, there are cheaper ones, but they either don't have decent support or they just don't last very long. I expect an article of clothing that I paid fifty bucks for to last more than two washings. As it is, I don't just throw an old bra away, willy nilly. Nope. As they start to stretch out, I move the hooks over and the straps up. I've been known to sew over a poking escaped underwire to lock that baby down. All in an effort to postpone the lingerie expenditure as long as possible.
Still, as it turns out, fifty dollars for a decent bra isn't a bad price. They kind of go up from there. There is a brand called La Perla that routinely charges hundreds (plural!) of dollars for one. ONE! And of course there are high end brand fancy schmancy bras that cost upwards of a grand. Each. I will not be owning any of those. Ever.
It is what it is I suppose. Nobody is forcing me to spend money on underwear. If I chose to go commando, who would know? If I refused to wear a bra ever again in my life, I don't think anyone would give a ratz patootie. I don't know if it's habit at this point in my life or what. I'm officially old now which means I'm fairly invisible. I can pretty much do as I please.
But you don't have to be old to fling your undies to the wind and say, Hell no! I remember back in the hippy dippy days when women were burning their bras in protest. They wanted freedom and a say so over their own lives and their own bodies! Yeah! Good for them! And since things in life are so cyclical, I'm reading again of famous women who are eschewing the wearing of a brassier in favour of comfort. Good on 'em I say!
It's a personal decision and I respect yours. But I will never understand why the heck underwear costs so much!
I can hear you thinking. I can. It's something along the lines of, "Sam, why on earth is there a sailboat in your shower?" Excellent Question. Easy answer. We couldn't find another place that it would fit. That's the guest room shower by the way. It's not currently in use by any guest so the space was available. See, simple solution.
The word solution suggests that there was a problem. And of course yes there is. The problem is that the ceiling in the family room leaks. Oh, you don't see the connection between a sailboat in the guest room shower and a leaky ceiling in the family room? Allow me to explain.
We are about to embark on our next house project and it's a biggie. The layout of our house is a derivation of a very common Florida house plan. The center of the house from front to back is the common room. That means kitchen, dining, living are one big area. In today's designer parlance it is called an "open plan" and it is the latest/greatest most popular thing. Which makes me giggle a little bit because our house was built in 1964. So I guess it was ahead of it's time. Then too, it's also referred to as a "split plan" because there is a bedroom/bathroom on one side of the house and the other bedrooms/bathrooms on the other side of the house. LOTS and LOTS of Florida houses are made this way.
The difference between our house and some other houses is that our house also has a big room that runs across most of the back of the house. A bonus room I suppose. We call it the family room. That's where the TV and the comfy sectional sofa are. The big round table for meals, or puzzles or games or writing letters or wrapping presents is also out there. It's a spacious wonderful roomy place with windows on three sides. We love that room and use it every single day. It also developed a leak in the ceiling. Dang. And then a second leak. And then a third. Double Dang.
So Tim took a bit of the ceiling down to look up inside to see if it was a problem he could quickly and easily resolve and that's when we learned that part of what is now our family room, was, at one time, a porch. In fact it was a porch with a metal awning over it. And the reason that we know there was an awning was that it was still there. In the ceiling. What on earth?
Our guess is that at some point the owners gathered a bunch of friends or their kids friends and had a pizza and beer party while they closed in the porch to make it part of the family room. Awesome. (insert much sarcasm here). The job was not well done. So rather than compound the problem with a quickie solution, we decided that we would call in the experts and have it done correctly. Ultimately the decision came down to it being smarter and actually easier to just tear down the entire room and rebuild it, rather than patch and bandaid and bubble gum it together. So like I said, a big job.
So Tim reached out to a bunch of builders, we got quotes, we asked questions, they made suggestions and ultimately we made our choice. We were ready to get the whole process started and then.........lockdown. Dang. The entire project got postponed for a year. But now, finally, we are ready to go! Which meant clearing out that room, completely! And we did that this weekend.
This involved moving the contents of the living room into the guest room and then the contents of the family room into the living room. So, for example, our pretty display cabinet which normally looks like this:
Instead, now looks like this:
The family room used to look like this:
And currently looks like this:
Nothing is where it normally would be. I hope nobody needs a coaster because they are in a side table drawer which is somewhere in the guest room
The house feels so much smaller now. I suppose because in the short term, it is! But it's manageable for now. It's a little strange but it's okay because in the end we will have a much better looking, more functional, more energy efficient, family room that does not leak and has no awning in the ceiling.
So there. Now do you understand why there is a sailboat in the shower?
Yesterday Joy and I hit the trails which means that today is the Photo Safari Report! Yesterdays Hike shall forever be known as, "The Swimming Squirrel Hike" for reasons that you will learn later. We decided to risk hitting one of our favourite local preserves because, despite the fact that this is the Rainy Season, there hasn't been much rain all week long. We thought that perhaps, the trails might have dried out some. And perhaps they did. But we still found plenty of water. And swampy bits. And swollen creeks. And near flood level rivers. And that's ok. It was pretty awesome because we found other very cool stuff too.
Sleeping Turtle Preserve, which was our selected hiking destination, runs alongside a portion of the Myakka River so we were pretty sure that if there was going to be flooding, it would closer to the river. So we started out on the hiking trail that moved away from the river. Shockingly, the temperature when we hit the trails was only 70 degrees! It was overcast, there was a nice breeze and I have never seen such a nice cool comfortable day in August since we moved to Florida. It was a wonderful surprise. And the trails were beautiful, as they always are.
There were oodles of wildflowers! The flowers always wow me, but you probably figured that out already. And because there were flowers, there were also butterflies and dragonflies and bees. I wasn't able to capture any of the bees, they were moving too fast. Or maybe I move too slow.
While you could tell that the ground was a little damp, most of it wasn't mucky and we could see flooding off to the sides here and there, but things weren't too messy until we somehow found ourselves having wandered off toward the river. The Myakka was impressively swollen, dark and mysterious looking. The path, which runs right alongside the river, was a little precarious here and there as it the land was collapsing back into the water. There were fallen trees, heavily leaning trees and very swampy bits areas, but we persevered, as we do.
There were two huge surprises on this hike. Surprise numero Uno: One of the absolutely coolest things that we have ever seen showed up. A cicada. We can hear them, but we had no idea what they looked like. And then there it was. For some reason, on the ground (?) right on the edge of the trail. Joy offered it a stick and it grabbed hold with no hesitation, and we lifted it to an area further off the trail for it's safety. But of course, took photos. They are HUGE! What I've read is that they only show up every 17 years. Eggs are laid in the ground near the base of trees and remain there undisturbed all that time. Then the 17th year rolls around and the eggs hatch and the little cicadas climb the trees and just hang around in the tree tops making a LOT of noise. Apparently this was year number 17.
The second very cool surprise was that we saw a swimming squirrel! Squirrels swim? This was news to us and yet, very definitely, that was what we saw. Here are a few of the photos that Joy took. (Mine didn't turn out as good). We spotted him in the water swimming toward the shore where upon he immediately scampered up a tree and I'm sure felt as bedraggled as he looked. There was a second, dry squirrel running up and down the branches of the next, looking frantic. Our guess is that the first squirrel fell into the river by accident. Glad he was ok.
I did look it up afterwards. Squirrels can swim, though they prefer to not. Apparently they do a sort of doggy-paddle and use their tails as rudders! Brilliant!
I did capture a few birds. Not many. We could hear them, but the tree cover was so thick, and the lighting was rather poor (as you can tell from the rest of the photos). I'm surprised I got the few that I did!
The final category is always my favourite, the Rando Files. Ready?
We returned wet, dirty, bug bitten and scratched up with socks that will require bleach to ever hope to be anything near clean again. But we had a great time, made some terrific memories and got some good photos. Hope you enjoyed coming along for the ride.
Have a wonderful weekend. Hugs all 'round!
Mailbox Down! Or I suppose I should say, another mailbox down. I think this is the 3rd or perhaps 4th time since we lived here. sigh.
This time I actually saw it happen. I was in the kitchen and something out the window caught my eye so I looked up. And out the big bay window by the kitchen table where I was standing, just as clear as day , I watched as a school bus very slowly backed into our mailbox. I had to blink a couple of times to be absolutely certain of what I was seeing.
When something unexpected happens, I do not leap into action. Nope, I am stunned into immobility. I do not scream or shout or faint. I just stand there. So yeah, I am not the person you want close at hand during an emergency. It's as if, when something outside the norm happens, my brain goes "tilt" and just shuts off for a second or two.
Once all of the marbles in my brain fell back into the proper holes, I went outside. By the time I got to the mailbox the big old yellow bus was trundling on down the road. BUT I did make note of the identification number on the bus. And the nice lady who was driving behind the bus made it a point to stop and give me that bus ID number as well. "Can you believe that?" she yelled to me out her car window. Clearly we were both surprised.
In my usual slow witted fashion, at first I just stood there assessing the situation. Both pieces seemed to be intact, just separate and a little scuffed up. The scuffing doesn't affect function so my first move was to shove the post into a more upright position. It was a little wobbly but still perpendicular to the ground which is always preferable. Then I tried putting the receptacle back on the post. No matter what I did or how hard I tried, I could not make it happen. That's when I saw the split and slight crook in the part that the receptacle slides onto. Dang.
It seems that that booboo was just enough to keep the two parts as two separate parts. Ratz. There was no way I was going to be able to make this happen on my own. I picked up a few of the mailbox numbers which had, once again, fallen to the ground and brought them into the house with me. Tim had one heck of a time getting those numbers to stick in the first place, now they were off again.
I debated with myself for a couple of minutes. Should I call and report this? Or should I just let it go? I hate to be a complainer. On the other hand, this is the first time of all the broken mailboxes we have endured since we lived here, that I actually witnessed the perpetrator in action. With the exception of the first mailbox destruction which was clearly done by a car (we found car parts like side view mirrors mixed amongst the broken mailbox pieces that time) perhaps all of the broken mailbox damage was done by various school buses? It's possible.
So, feeling rather curmudgeonly, I looked up the number for the county school transportation office and politely reported the incident, assuming that would be the beginning and the end of it.
Instead, the person on the other end of the phone was so very kind, "Oh dear!" she said when I reported the incident. "I am so sorry that happened" she commiserated. She asked all of the necessary question for the incident report and then collected my contact information and assured me that there would be an "investigation" and someone would be in contact. I thanked her and went on my merry way.
Within a a half hour someone else had called to confirm all of the information and to apologize for the incident. And within another half hour, and just as I was starting to prep dinner, a man in a truck showed up. I walked out to meet him as he was heeling the post back into the ground properly. He smiled and introduced himself and apologized one more time as he magically, somehow, managed to get the receptacle back, securely, on top of the post. "I think that'll do" he beamed, so proud of himself. He attempted to wiggle the mailbox indicating how securely it was back in place. "Good Enough" I smiled back.
Before he left, he asked why one side of the mailbox said we lived at 34 and the other side said we lived at 44. I laughed and said the house number is actually 344 and that the bus knocked the other numbers right off". He assured me that today he would replace those as well.
So my Goodness! What a lovely experience. I mean if you have to have a bus back into your mailbox, this is the bus company that you want to have to deal with. Every single person I had contact with apologized and thanked me for being so nice about the situation. I was reassured multiple times that the bus driver in question would undergo some "retraining". Our mailbox is back in place and so very quickly too. I am impressed as all get out at the Sarasota County School Transportation folks. Cannot say enough positive things about them! Woohoo!
Yesterday, apparently, was Inconsiderate Driver's Day. It wasn't notated on my calendar which clearly was an oversight on somebody's part. It would have been nice to have the headzup.
The worst of it was in the grocery store parking lot. Oh the short drive over was fraught with people turning left from the right lane and right from the left lane, cruising through stop signs as if they weren't there and bicyclers weaving through it all. There is always some level of bad driving going on, I mean this is a tourist destination town after all. But yesterday was worse than usual.
Especially in the grocery store parking lot. Parking lots should be a easier. Everything is well marked, well lit and it's straight lines! It should be so simple. I say "should" while laughing because parking lots are probably the most dangerous places to drive on the planet. At least it was yesterday.
First of all, there was the pedestrian obstacle course. The people who walk right down the middle of the driving aisles without a care in the world about the veritable parade of vehicles trailing behind them sooooooo very slowly. The adults accompanied by untethered very young children who, unaware of the inherent dangers of a parking lot are running and playing and frolicking amongst the moving freakin' vehicles while mum or dad are pushing a cart, eyes intent on the phones (!!!) They terrify me. The ones who do walk on the side of the driving aisles but keep switching side to side while never once looking behind them to see if anyone is coming. sigh.
But the cars were worse. Heaven's to Murgatroyd, the cars. There were the usual assortment of inconsiderate parkers of course: Very large cars pulled only half way into a parking space so that their butt is hanging in the aisle, the cars taking multiple spaces. I've seen as many as 4 spaces taken up by, what I can only assume is a Super Special car. The cars parked so far to the right or left in a space that you have to hope that whoever needs to get into the car beside it is super skinny and very flexible.
But actual moving vehicles were the worst I've ever seen. Multiple drivers going the wrong way up or down the CLEARLY marked driving aisles, driving cross lots without considering that another car might be driving properly up or down those same aisles, and the worst of the worst, the ones speeding, I mean really , flying up or down the driving aisles of the parking lot as if it were the last lap of the INDY 500! Crazy People.
There were carriages willy nilly everywhere all over the parking lot. For some reason it was also, don't bother to return your carriages properly day. Just another obstacle for the course I suppose.
And, as logically follows, people drive their carts in the grocery store aisles exactly the same way that they drive their cars. Flying up and down aisles, practically knocking over displays and old ladies as they go. Parking their cart on one side of the aisles while standing in the middle/left apparently memorizing the contents of the other side of the aisle. Unmoving. Unconcerned that nobody can get through. There were people cutting other people off left and right, bumping other people's carriages, reaching over people's carriages to get things off the shelf instead of waiting two seconds for them to finish what they were doing (??), a near fight broke out in the 10 items or less aisles between two shoppers arguing over who did or did not have the requisite number of items in their cart. geez.
I was never in my life so happy to be done shopping and go home. Of course once I finished shopping and had my groceries safely stowed in my car (cart properly returned!), I still had to run the gauntlet of scary drivers all the way home. It was not pretty. But I was extra vigilant, anticipating when someone was going to pull out in front of me without stopping at their stop sign or checking to see if someone (me) was coming, or contrary wise come to a complete stop for no reason that I can comprehend in the middle of the road. Driving crazy fast or stupid slow. Alternately. Turning without signaling, weaving back and forth between lanes (choose one!) oh the list goes on and on.
Thank goodness Monday is over! Perhaps now we can get back to a normal level of driving which is to say, mostly ok, some great and some awful.
Mark it on your own calendars folks, August 23rd, Inconsiderate Drivers Day.
Nomination for cutest giftbag ever! And even better than it's adorableness, it's one of those intentionally reuseable bags so it's not only Cutiecute, it's practical and thereby a winner for me on all levels. YAYAYAY!!! And to make it even more appealing, this bag held my belated birthday presents from the Minocks! Yes this was a Minock Weekend! Woooohoooo!
We headed up to Minockland Sunday. It was a beautiful day, not a raincloud in sight and the traffic wasn't bad at all so the drive up was pretty smooth and easy. Tim and I talked about everything under the sun and then a few things under the moon to entertain ourselves on the way and help the time pass quickly. We were excited to see our old friends. AND excited to see what they've done with your new home!
If I remember correctly, their home was finished shortly before Christmas last year. It was a super long wait for them. Made even longer by the Pandemic and all of it's inherent issues. Then too, as I'm sure you know, if you've ever purchased a brand newly built home, there are always a thousand things that need to be done once you've moved in to make it feel like yours. They have accomplished so much in the past...however many months! The gardens were lovely. Not finished but beautifully begun. Well thought out, beautifully composed and a little whimsical which is always a delight. With lots of fabulous plans for the future. They've done a lot on the inside too decorating with charm and class and a personality that is wonderfully and uniquely, perfectly them.
We talked, we laughed, we talked some more. We had a wonderful meal and toured their new neighborhood. We learned about their new favourite resturants (One of which is a food truck!) and fired cross bows and caught up on everything under the sun. And then we talked and laughed some more. In fact, we were talking right up until the moment that we pulled out of the driveway! It was a wonderful day! As all Minock days are.
Oh and the contents (plural!!) of my awesome gift bag? Well, some of that will most likely be revealed in some future blogposts. One thing in particular involves an awesome art project for me that will definitely have need of some thought and planning. Tim described it as requiring adult supervision. HAH! BUT I am excited and looking forward to it!!!! Don't worry, you will know when it happens.
Meanwhile today is Monday and so the superfun day is over and it's back to real life. Poo. Real life is highly over rated.
There were only two big rules in our house when I grew up and they pretty much covered everything. The first was to always observe the Golden Rule. You know that one, right? "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you". In other words, treat ALL other people the way you would like be to treated. That covers a lot of territory.
The other immutable rule was to use the "Magic Words". And I don't mean Abracadabra or Alakazam (although those are awesome words). Nope. When I grew up every kid knew what that meant. The Magic words are actually phrases. There are four of them. "Please", "Thank You", "You Are Welcome" and "I Am Sorry".
Those two rules turned me into a very polite, nice, courteous and considerate person so I know they work. As further evidence I offer to you the knowledge that those same two rules nudged my own kids in that direction as well because they are absolutely lovely human beings.
It's just two rules so it's not hard to remember which makes me curious. What the heck happened? When did this stop being a thing? And why?
This all popped into my mind recently when I was having a conversation with several other people, none of whom I know very well. The topic of the discussion was adapting to working from home. Interestingly (to me) all of them were in favour of it for themselves, but not their spouses (??). I suggested that it merely takes a little communication regarding schedules and offered up that I ask Tim what his telephone schedules looks like on a particular day before I begin doing something particularly noisy like vacuuming. He shares his schedule with me and I work around that. Their response was, and this is a direct quote, "I will be damned the day I let someone else dictate to me when I can clean my own house!" Wow!
Tim has never asked me to do this it was entirely my idea. He appreciates it, but I was being Considerate. The same way I would appreciate someone else be considerate of me.
I've run into such things before, seeing women yelling at a man for opening a door for her. Geez people, Chill! It's called being nice! I hold doors for people all of the time. When I'm doing a big grocery shop, if I notice that the person behind me has only a few items, I almost always offer to let them go ahead of me. Again, just being nice. Sometimes I get a big smile and a very sincere thank you. Other times it's a sniff and a glare. Not sure what that is about, but I still don't regret doing the nice thing.
I'm not even going to call it the "right thing" because I'm sure that people have a wide variety of responses on what exactly is the right thing to do in any given situation, but it absolutely is the Nice Thing.
It's the same way, I always say please and thank you. Always! I said it to my own children from the time they were toddlers. "Could you please hand Mama that book? Thank you!" It not only encouraged them to do as I requested, but it fostered the same response from them.
I think of all the "Magic Words", one of the least used and most important is, "I'm Sorry". The last time the words, "I'm sorry" were directed at me outside of my own friends/family group was again at the grocery store when some 6 or 7 year old kiddo rammed me with his mom's shopping cart. Because I wasn't prepared for it I did make some sort of "ouchie" kind of noise (it hurt!) Just I was pushing the cart gently away from my leg the mom whipped around to see what was going on. There is her kid gearing up to ram me again with a big smile on his face (not joking) and I'm rubbing my leg at the impact spot with one hand and my other hand up in from of me to protect myself. She demands to know "what's going on!" and she is glaring at me. Me! The offended party. Very kindly I explained that it seemed that we had a little collision. She starred me down for a few minutes, then turned to her child and asked if he had "bumped" into this lady, gesturing at me. He, of course denied it. I just shook my head and said, "No major harm done" and I was ready to leave. To my surprise she demanded that he "tell the lady he was sorry". He resisted mightily but in the end he squeezed out one of the most insincerely mumbled "sorry's" I have ever heard. And they walked away.
I'm torn on that one. I think I would prefer to not hear an insincere apology at all. On the other hand, she was doing the right thing, trying to teach him something important.
I have often heard the singsong, "Sorry" thrown out with a giggle or the ridiculous "Sorry, not sorry" and the meangirl, "I'm sooooooo sorrrry" which just drips with sarcasm. Please stop. I'm begging you. "I am sorry" is one of the best and most important phrases you will ever use, but only if it is sincere. A very sincere "I am sorry" says that you are aware that you have made a regrettable error in judgement, that there were no ill intentions behind the offending words or actions and that you will make every effort to never do or say it again. The genuine "I am sorry" is forgiveable. Don't cheapen it.
The other three, Please, Thank you and You are welcome, I hear more often, but sadly, most of the time the are automatic phrases, like saying, "Bless you" when someone sneezes. You aren't actually Blessing them, it's just something you say. Which takes the true meaning out of the words. On the other hand, Please, Thank you and You're welcome said while looking people in the eye, with a sincere smile, those have meaning. They are authentic and it's obvious and it matters.
I am not sure when things changed. I'm not sure why they changed. But it's not for the good. I keep hearing, I don't have time. You don't have time to be considerate? You are too busy for courtesy? Your life is so jam packed every minute of every day that you cannot say please and thank you? Somehow people seem to be able to spend hours a day on their phones texting, playing games, or checking out Pinterest, but they don't have 2 minutes to write a thank you note?
When being courteous is considered either an insult or a sign of weakness, something is seriously wrong. We have become a society of very selfish, self involved people and it's not an improvement. Instead of magic words, I hear a lot of angry words. There does not seem to be much seeking of middle ground or agreeing to disagree. People are very quick to take offense and equally quick to point an accusing finger but sadly very slow to give consideration to others. I'm not seeing much evidence of people thinking before they speak or (thanks to social media) type. And it's not a pretty sight. As a society, we can and should do better. We are not being our best selves.
I'm not absolutely certain how to fix it but I think returning to The Golden Rule and the Magic Words might be a good start.
I think it's time for another Photo Safari Report! This hike was the Almost Didn't Happen Hike. Coz it's almost didn't. And not through any fault of ours! After two weeks of doing other fun stuff on sisters day, Joy and I were especially eager to get back out to the preserves.
Because it's the crazyhot part of the year, we left at 7:30 to take as much advantage of the relatively cooler part of the day. Smart eh? Our thought was to perhaps do shorter hikes so that we would be done before the "heat index" part of the day really kicks in, so we headed over to Curry Creek. It's very close by and a smaller preserve. Perfect! As we drew near we saw, to our dismay, to giant worker trucks side by side completely blocking the entrance. Dang. Ok we will not be hiking Curry Creek.
We moved on toward one of our favourites, Carlton Reserve. We had not been there since the big fire. Because it's such a huge reserve, we always get carried away and hike into the hinterlands and spending far more time than we probably should which means that we needed to be mindful of the time so we wouldn't keel over from heatstroke! Ok the plan was set. We were excited. Right up until the moment we arrived and saw a closed gate. Dang! The Reserve, for whatever reason, was closed!
Limited options ahead of us now. We knew better than to even try any of the low lying hiking spots that go along the Myakka. With all of our daily rain, we knew those trails would be flooded. So instead we drove to the outskirts of Venice to Deer Prairie South Preserve. It wasn't that long ago that we visited, but it's a beautiful place. Ok we were all set. We loaded geared up and headed past the big pond and down the trail. But not very far because in less than a mile we were faced with:
More flooded trails. Well so far this hike has been a bust. Then we had a brainstorm! We knew there was another entrance to this preserve. Perhaps the other end would be more accessible? Nope.
We assumed that they were pretty serious about the locked gate since there were not one, not two but four locks on it!!!!! Seems excessive.
Well, hmmm. There was only one place left to check. The Caspersen Beach Trail. We knew that wasn't flooded but it did run parrellel to the beach and right now we are having a bit of an issue with Red Tide.
In case you are unfamiliar with the term, Red Tide is a naturally occurring ocean algae that, occasionally goes out of control. And when that happens it becomes very toxic. It kills fish, and ocean plants and in the air it smells terrible and can make you cough. Then too, the dead fish wash up on shore and the added whiff of dead fish with the existing toxic bloom smell is, well, just ghastly. We got out of the car, dubiously and took a cautious sniff. To our relief, it was good. We did not COUGH or pick up any stinky smell. Good! Not a Red Tide day and we set out on our way, FINALLY! Our decision was to hike out a few miles and turn around. This was no day to push our limits. And yes, of course, we brought water.
There were remarkably few birds. Didn't even hear them in the trees. Though I did capture some pigeons on the roof of the bathrooms as we started out and a flock of pelicans in the sky:
We did see a lot of beautiful flowers though. Far more than I expected this late into the summer actually so that was a delightful surprise. In fact, there was one flowering shrub that had teensy tiny yellow flowers that looked almost like little bells. Much like lily of the valley. And the scent was so beautiful. Such a tiny flower but it absolutely perfumed the air. (a nice counter balance to any remaining stink!) We saw it throughout the entire hike and I did not manage to successfully capture one single picture of it. Ratz. But I did get others:
There were tortoises galore! I think we counted 9 though there might have been more. I know this looks like photos of the same tortoise over and over, but I promise you it is not. You will just have to trust me:
There were so many butterflies! All different colours and shapes and sizes. But I only was able to get a good shot of the one at the top of the page. A couple of dragonflies, however, were far more courteous and paused for a long moment so I could take their portraits:
A little peek at the beach now and again. Yup, it's still beautiful
Last, but never least, the odds and ends, my favourite category, the rando files:
It was definitely the hike that almost didn't happen. But we are so glad that it did! Here is Joy and I happyhappy to be out hiking once again. Actually, although we do love Photo Safari Day, the important part is that we spend a day together regardless of what we are doing. We always have a good time.
How was your weekend? We spent our with Tropical Storm Fred. (see above) Which really was much ado about not much. For us anyway. Other folks might have gotten a bigger impact, in which case, I feel badly for them. But for us, it was just a rainy gloomy weekend.
Believe me when I tell you that I am NOT disappointed. Having been through an actual hurricane or two, and hoping to never have a repeat performance, little old TS Freddie was a nice change of pace.
There was a lot of media build up for Fred's arrival. Warnings of possible flooding and high wind damage, notification of sand bag stations open and ready, lots of different projected possibly tracks and constant updates on the situation. But here's the things about these storms, they don't care about what the professional weather forecasters have to say, they do as they please. And Fred choose to swing wide so we only were affected by the outer bands.
Still it was a dreary, gloomy, rain filled weekend. Every minute of the day was either: about to rain, just rained, threatening to rain, or currently raining. Which only meant that as we were out and about, I brought an umbrella, just in case. No matter what plans we had, our solution is simple, go ahead and do whatever you were going to do anyway, just with some sort of rain gear OR find something else to do.
We kind of did both. On Saturday we did what we would normally do. We went out to breakfast! We ran some errands, spent some time with people whose company we always enjoy and had pizza for dinner. The only change was that before we left, I moved my potted garden under the eaves. No plant needs that much water. Oh yeah, and we went to the beach. Not our beach. For a change we drove up to Sarasota for a very brief visit to Lido Beach.
There were a surprisingly large number of people at the beach, but at that point, we were only at the threatening to rain part of the program. So we walked on the beach for a little bit, used their bathroom - which is a trailer! - and took some photos. There was very little splash, a few birds and poor lighting. There was also some sort of food truck, I do not recall what. Ice cream maybe?
As soon as we headed back toward home (which was very shortly after I took these photos) the skies opened up and poured. Which means everyone on the beach got very wet. Not a big deal really, I mean, if you are dressed for the beach you are already wearing a bathing suit which suggests that you intended to get wet anyway, right? Just watch out for lightening. It is no joke.
Sunday was a little different, our only outing was pick up a few things at the grocery store, put gas in the car and to check out a new local restaurant called Brew Za Bagel. Strange name, Yeah, I know. It's beer pizza and bagels. Their menu, which is all in chalk on a series of Enormous boards consists of a wide variety of bagels and cream cheeses, a lot of different kinds of breakfast bagels sandwiches, an even bigger variety of lunch bagels sandwiches and a lot of different kinds of pizzas. Because it was still fairly early in the day, we opted for a half dozen bagels of different sorts. I had the sesame bagel this morning. I didn't even toast it and I put nothing on it that might disguise it's bagel-ness. Tim had the cinnamon raisin, toasted with cream cheese.
Here is the low-down. They aren't bad. They are better than grocery store bagels by miles. BUT, the big but, they are not New York bagels. Nothing else is. Would we get them again? Maybe. We will definitely try out some of those bagel sandwiches in the future.
And of course, once again, we went to the beach. It's kind of a requirement when, like us, you live by the beach. Gotta check out all of her moods. Sunday was definitely more rainy than Saturday. We woke to rain and a big more wind. So we were hoping for some great splash! There was only little splash, but that's ok. There is no such thing as a bad trip to the beach. The ocean is always beautiful.
There were also some low flying birds:
And, once again, a surprising number of people. My guess is that they were vacationers and their thought process is something like, "I planned a beach vacation and so I am, by gawd, going to the beach!" I say that because there they were setting up their canopies (struggling a little against the wind) and beach chairs, with their coolers and hats and beach bags. Good on 'em, I say!
On the way back from the beach we saw this guy on the side of the road:
We watched him for quite some time as he bathed in a puddle, drank the water and frolicked and splashed like a little kid. Perhaps he was a kid. I don't know much about birds, maybe he was a juvenile hawk, and not an adult. Or maybe just a kid at heart.
Once we got back home we knew that we would stay put. So it was an afternoon of puzzles, old movies, TV reruns and bbq chicken nachos. Oh and a few tiny naps. Nap-ettes perhaps?
The next Tropical Storm heading our way is right on the heels of old Fred. Her name is Grace and who knows what she has in mind for us. But that's ok. The puzzle isn't finished yet, I can make other really bad for you but yummy food, we can watch other old movies and of course head back over to the beach.
As long as the hurricanes stay away, it's all good.
Just in case you've never been to Florida in August (and you probably shouldn't) let me try to explain what it's like.
Nearly every afternoon, around 3 or 4, the same thing happens. I'll be doing .......something....usually in the kitchen and suddenly I begin to hear it. The far off, softly distant, thunder rumblies. Each time I check the clock and think to myself, "Yup, right on time". As I said, it starts softly and creeps up slowly and it comes from the east. Our house faces directly west so it's in the back of the house.
As it gets louder, and therefore closer, I usually run out to the mailbox. It could be my last chance of the day to fetch the mail without an umbrella! Shortly after I bring in the mail I notice how much louder the thunder is!
If I go to the back of the house, the east side, I know that I will see stormy skies. And that's so bizarre because out the front window the skies are still sunny and blue. You doubt me? Take another look at the photos at the top of today's post. There was only as much time between those photos as was necessary to walk from the back of the house to the front. So....1 minute? 2 minutes? Surely no more than that. At the back of the house we have Dark blue stormy skies and at the front? Light blue and sunny skies. Oh yeah, it's strange all right.
It has happened before that while driving down the highway we find ourselves driving into a rain storm that we saw from a mile back where we were as dry as the dessert. And then a mile or so down further the road, we drive back out of the fierce storm into blue skies and sunshine. In fact, more than once, as we were driving over the bridge to go off the island we have seen the rain begin at the halfway point of the bridge. It's like there is an invisible line on the bridge, this side: no rain/that side: total rain. It's like changing the channel on the television. So funny!
Meanwhile, back at home today (and most every afternoon lately) eventually the thunder boomers are directly over head and the darkness in the back of the house begins to leak forward. The sunny skies are gone, the wind has picked up and every time the thunder crashes, I get the crazy feeling that the house is rocking. It isn't. I know it isn't, but there is something about that thundery kabooms that throw off my balance a little bit I think.
Then the rain begins. Gently at first. Just a little pitty pat. Then it's gets heavier and stronger and louder until, if you were watching TV in the family room, you would have to turn up the volume to hear the show!
The rain falls so hard that it bounces when it hits the ground or the tops of the courtyard posts. It gushes from the gutters, it funnels off the roof and it begins to puddle on the ground.
The trees and the shrubs and the plants stand a little taller even though the rain drops are crashing into them. They bounce and bob and sway and wave as they eagerly receive the rain falling from the sky. And I always wish it were a little cooler so that I could open the windows. I love the smell of the rain.
Eventually the thunder begins to fall away, grumbling a little as it goes, the wind dies down and the rain gradually slows back to a gentle sprinkle. Then, all at once, it's gone and the air feels refreshed, the temperature has dropped considerably and all of the green growing things are happy.
It might only last 15 minutes, or it could be as much as an hour but it's more often the former than the latter.
If I am at the museum or the grocery store when the storm starts, rather than try to make a mad dash to the car, I just wait. I know it won't last long. If the storm should pass through earlier in the day while Tim and I are walking, well there isn't much that can be done about it. Just laugh and get wet I suppose. If the storm ends before we get back, once the sun comes back out we will begin to dry off before we get home.
This being August, tomorrow we will probably do it again. And that's just fine too.
I understand that rather than our daily August Rain Shower, this weekend we are anticipating Tropical Storm Fred's visit. So if there is no post on Monday, do not worry, it just means the power is out. As soon as the power resumes, so will I.
Have a great weekend, rain or shine!
Today is Thursday, which of course means yesterday was Wednesday and normally that means Joy and I were out hiking. Instead we ran errands. So I suppose we did hike, just not outside. Because when Joy and I shop together, we definitely cover some ground. Ok I've made an executive decision. It still counts.
One of the errands was to a fabric store. And contrary to what all of you might be thinking, I love fabric stores. You are correct, I do not sew. I've tried to learn. People have tried, and failed, to teach me. But there is something about a fabric store that I just adore. It is a feast for the eyes! A banquet! A smorgasbord!
And it's not just the colour and patterns, it's also the textures and sheens and details in every direction. Cottons and silks and satins and fleece! Laces and Buttons. Yarns and Threads in every colour of the rainbow! There are zippers and needles and stuff I don't even know what is, but I love it all! So when Joy told me that was one of her stops yesterday I was happyhappy.
As we wandered (and in my case, frolicked) amongst the various aisles and I "helped" Joy choose fabrics for her next quilting projects (oh yeah, Joy sews...big time!) I remembered that there was something I needed that a fabric store might logically carry! An Iron-On patch.
You would think that walking around a gorgeous fabric store filled to the brim with sewing stuff and populated by sewing people, I would be embarrassed to be purchasing an iron-on patch. You would be wrong. It's nearly impossible to embarrass me at this point in my life. I am who I am and it is what it is. My goal was to find the perfect iron-on patch.
Oddly we found it not in the section with iron-on patches but a different area called, "appliques". Of course it was in the kids section. And that didn't embarrass me either. The only thing that mattered, as far as I was concerned, was to find a patch the right size that was of something I liked.
Here is a picture of the hole in question:
It's in the elbow of my blue denim jacket. My mother always told me that I had "picket" elbows and she must be right because the evidence is clear. Sigh. To be fair, the jacket is old and I suppose holes in the elbows might indicate to some folks that it's time to throw it away. But nope, I'm not giving up my beloved denim jacket that easily.
I was trying to think of how old it was and honestly I don't remember a time when I didn't have this jacket. Tim and I have been married for 28 years and I've had it that entire time soooooo it's at least that old. It's a classic! And a hard to find classic by the way. Any short girl in the world will tell you that finding a denim (or any other jacket actually) that suits your proportions properly is tricky! This one is exactly right. Heavens knows how long it would take me to find another that fits me as well. So I'm not giving this one up without a fight.
So anyway, it's a good thing Joy was there with me because, as a sewer, she was able to advise me on the correct size of patch that I needed. I was wearing the jacket, holes and all, so that was helpful. Why was I wearing a jacket? Yes, you are correct, this is still August in Florida and it's hotter than the 3rd level of hell outside right now, but inside everyone has their air conditioning cranked to Arctic to "make up" for it which means I'm always way too cold inside. So I always bring something along, usually my denim jacket. Yeah, I know, I'm strange. I've been told.
Anyway, I stood before the enormous rack of hundreds of appliques that I could choose from kind of dumbfounded. Joy thoughtfully pointed out a half-dozen or so right off the bat that were the correct size. Which one do I choose? They were all so pretty! Mercy! There were birds and butterflies and hearts and stars and, and, and.... me oh my...it was a lot! It took me a few minutes but eventually I selected a tiny cellophane bag of multiple patches. Oh yeah, I'm ready now for the next several holes I put in things! You know it's going to happen.
So we finished playing in the fabric store eventually and moved on to other errands (and lunch!) But as soon as I got back home, I immediately got out the ironing board and got to work. I am very happy with the results!
It looks SOOOOO much better than a hole in the elbow.
A couple of years ago I had the same issue with the other elbow on the same jacket (apparently the left elbow is pointier and sharper than the right elbow). I solved it in similar fashion. But that time I just used a patch I already had. It was of a dragonfly. And while it was very cute, it was actually too small to cover the hole. Oh no! So I got very clever and put the dragonfly patch on a plain solid colour patch that I was able to cut to a better size. It ended up looking like this:
So now we have a dragonfly and a flower!
It kind of makes sense :) I am sensing a theme here. If I keep putting holes in my jacket, eventually it will look like an entire garden!
I'm okay with that.
Over the weekend, Tim and I got our Shingles Shots. We were seeking protection from the shingles in the photo on the right. As far as I know there is no vaccine for the one on the left. Still isn't it strange that it's the same word?
A few years ago poor Tim actually had Shingles and it was horrible. Those unbelievably painful blisters were all over the side of his face, his neck, his shoulder and even in his ear! I felt so bad for him, poor baby. By the time it was over we both decided that once it was safe to do so, we would both get the Shingles Vaccine. So we marked it on the calendar and when that date popped up, off we went to the local pharmacy to get the shot. Only to learn that there was a (at that time) a shortage and no vaccine was available.
Dang. We tried periodically over the next few months, only to hear the same story over and over and eventually it just kind of fell off our radar. Then along came the Pandemic and when we got our Covid shots it reminded us that we never got the Shingles shot. Then I got notification that I needed my second Pnuemonia shot. So I showed up for that and I asked about the Shingles shot. Yes they had it on hand, but it was suggested that I wait a few weeks. Ok.
The few weeks were up this past weekend so we both showed up and signed up. We filled out the paperwork and the pharmacist asked me if I also wanted the over 65 Flu shot. Sure, why not. As long as it's ok to have at the same time okay! I have two arms, why not get two shots and get it all over and done with at the same time.
And that's how I noticed that while it's never a barrel of laughs to get a shot of any kind, there was a noticeable difference between the Shingles Vaccine and the Flu Vaccine. i.e. the Shingles vaccine was more hurty. I actually could feel it being ouchie as the vaccine was entering my body. Not screaming and yelling with pain for heaven's sakes, just........noticeable. I even said so out loud to the pharmacist as he was giving me the shot. He agreed with me. "Yes, the Shingles Vaccine causes a little bit more discomfort"
Not any where near as much discomfort as having Shingles mind you, just a little more than the flu shot. And I wondered why that would be so. So I looked it up. Of course I did. Turns out that the experts aren't absolutely certain why although they all agree that it's true. They have their suspicions of course.
"Some vaccines tend to hurt a little more than others, like ones targeting hepatitis A and B and DTaP (for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis). It’s not totally clear why, but it’s possible that additives designed to strengthen the immune system, like aluminum salts or monophosphoryl lipid A, are the culprit. “These are safe ingredients added to the vaccine specifically to create a stronger immune response,” Messonnier told the paper, adding that some people might be more sensitive to them than others."
Other studies have shown that things like the PH level of the solution, the volume or perhaps that temperature of the vaccine in relation to the temperature of the body are the part of the issue. They just aren't sure.
And of course it's is the body's protective response that causes any pain at all. Think about it, the injection is introducing something unfamiliar into your body. So your body's defenses are Johnny on the Spot, ready to protect you, trying to do battle with this newcomer. And the ensuing war is what actually causes the inflammation and discomfort at the injection site. Effectively, we are doing it to ourselves! LOL
No matter. The discomfort only lasted a short time and I'm smart enough to know to relax while being given the vaccine and to keep moving, - keep the blood circulating - because yes that always helps too. And I feel so much better knowing that we are now protected against as many things as we can be.
There is always the possibility of some new weird thing coming along to try to trip us up but as soon as there is a vaccine available for the new thing, we will get that too. In the same way that I do not get in the car with the drunk driver, I try to always make good decisions with regard to my own safety, health and well being.
Just my thoughts on the matter. I will always respect the choices that other people make for themselves. And I hope that likewise, other folks will respect the choices that Tim and I have made. It's pretty simple. Golden Rule and all that.
Very quick post today, with apologies. I lost two people that I loved over the weekend and honestly, I am very sad and feeling reflective.
Life is so much shorter than we think. And I know you have heard that before. I have too. But days like today remind me that the message is still true:
Appreciate every moment. Embrace this gift of life and wring out every bit of joy that it offers. Don't hold back. Be brave, be kind, be the best version of yourself every day. Look at the beauty around you, really see it. Experience all the good that life has to offer and then be one of the good things in life for others.
Grief is painful, but it is the last act of love that can be given.
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.