Happy 247th Birthday America! Dang, you look good for your age :) heh
Hope everybody had a fun and safe Independence Day!
Because the 4th landed on a Tuesday this year, Tim was lucky enough to mostly have a 4-day weekend. He had to get some work done for the job, but there was also non-work related time and Yahoo to that. No matter how much a person may love their job, downtime is important too. That whole work/life balance thing. It's real!
Most of the weekend was dedicated to getting stuff done. We did a LOT. I mean a LOTTA LOT ! Including Tim having to replace the battery in his car because it unexpectedly and without warning gave up the ghost on Saturday. Dang. He was smart and set up this large canopy thing we have literally over the car so he was working in the shade. It was super hot out all weekend. One of those Heat Index of 110F sort of weekends so that canopy was a brilliant idea.
Tim also spent a lot of time getting the baseboards in the family room very nearly finished. The only thing left is around the backdoor and that has to wait for the door trim to be done. I really love the way it looks. Harkens me back to our New England roots a bit and that suits me right down to my toes. A little caulk and a little paint and it will be perfect.
I had my own project going that day. At our most recent Minock visit we were the lucky recipients of this beautiful wooden planter that the Mister made for us! Wow! To keep the wood safe (as it lives outside where the elements are) I decided to paint it. I am very pleased with how it turned out. Now I just need to figure out what to put in it! Isn't it fabulous?
Another exciting part of our 4-day holiday weekend was our new table & chairs! Here's the story behind that! When we first moved here, we brought very little with us. Our Colorado house was more than twice the size of our current house so first of all we didn't need nearly as much furniture but also the proportions of the rooms wasn't the same plus furniture with a Colorado feel just doesn't suit Florida. So we decided (way back then, 7 years ago now) to just get rid of (most of) it and start over.
Once we got here, after the kitchen was finished being reno'd and the ishkabibble of being under construction was done (for the moment) we began slowly buying new furniture that suited our new home. When it came time to look for a dining table we ended up buying one of those higher tables. I think they call it a bar top or bar height. It made sense at the time.. Because we have not just the table in the dining area of the kitchen but also a peninsula with a seating area it seemed (again, at the time) to be a good idea to have it all the same height. That way, the chairs could be used in either place. Eventually we got a second table, a round one for the family room, also bar height so that, once again, the chairs could be used at any of 3 places! Smart eh?
Well, smart perhaps, but when the only place to sit leaves your little feet dangling all the time and you have to kind of climb up to sit down well, honestly, it kind of made me feel like I was sitting in a high chair. Like a giant baby! Which I sometimes am, but that's beside the point. Additionally, and oddly, the higher chairs are also harder to push in, especially if you are already sitting in it. Think about it. If your feet don't touch the floor, how do you scootch in? Answer? You don't. It's not possible. And it turned out that Tim felt the same way. So we started looking for a replacement kitchen/dining table.
We found several that we liked everything about except the price tag. And so we waited. And waited. And waited. Tim happened to notice a set that we liked during a huge sale! We talked about it and decided YES! The set was ordered and was supposed to take 6-8 weeks to arrive. We anticipated it's arrival some time in August perhaps. Nope. It got here Monday! Awesome!
So Tim spent a lot of Monday putting together the new dining table and chairs. And I spent a lot of Monday breaking down GIANT boxes and gathering up endless yards of Styrofoam and other packing material and then vacuuming like a fiend to get every last little bit. Ultimately though, it was worth the time and the money because it looks great and we no longer have to sit in high chairs at our own table. Now we just need to find a home for the old table! Here's a few pictures of the new table and chairs. There are actually six chairs but I only put 4 at the table for now. The other two are scattered through the house. There is a butterfly leaf by the way, to make the table bigger when we need to :)
We did manage to find our way to the beach one evening. After all of the work we did all weekend, it was a lovely to hit that refresh button. We just stood there and breathed, watched the water, the birds, the dolphins and the manatees. There were lots of boats and lots of people but none of that mattered one single bit. Here's a few photos:
Ahhhh. I feel more relaxed just looking at the pictures :)
By last night, which was the actual holiday, we were too pooped to make the effort to walk over to the beach to watch the fireworks. We heard them though, and I'm sure they were beautiful because they always are.
So that was our long Holiday weekend. How was yours?
This little flamingo wind-up toy is just one of many 'toys' you might notice if you prowled around our house for a bit. The toys aren't overt. It isn't as if there was a giant toy box in the middle of the living room. But they are tucked in here and there all over the place. And furthermore, I am absolutely unapologetic about them.
I have been accused many times of being childish and they always say it as if it was a bad thing. For example, I have been straight up accused of having the palate of a child - which is sort of true. I'm not very adventurous about food and I am resistant to the concept of eating healthy food simply because it is healthy. If I'm eating something, it's because I like it and it tastes good. If it also happens to be healthy, all the better. But no way am I eating yucky food simply based on it's determined health status. Nope.
Additionally, I cannot begin to enumerate the number of times I was told that I wasn't dressing my age or acting my age. My response was, and still is, "since this is the way I am acting (or dressing) and this is the age that I am, obviously I am acting (or dressing) my age". I guess this idiosyncratic behaviour has carried over to the way we have chosen to decorate our house.
I did not wake up one day and decide to eat a certain way or dress or act or think as certain way because someone has decided that it is a childish way to be. It's not rebellion. Not at all. I am just being true to myself. And the older I get, the determined I am to be who I am. Which is funny because I told my own children their entire lives to "be who you are" and "don't let anyone else decide who you are". And yet, it's taken me a very long time to do that for myself. To be comfortable just being who I am, making no excuses and no apologies.
Personally I prefer to think of myself as being quirky or perhaps a little whimsical. Other folks have called it weird. And my feeling about that is, "Luckily for me, you have no vote in my personal choices".
I have no idea why these silly little things appeal to me, but they delight me beyond measure. All of them were gifts and I treasure them. In fact, because they were given to me, sometimes even were made for Tim or me, they mean even more.
Like I said before, these things aren't heaped in a pile somewhere, they are randomly placed here, there and everywhere. Most of them are fairly subtle and you might not notice at first. Here are a few of the things you might spy:
There is a toy cat's paw by the landline in the living room. If you pull the trigger you get either a purring sound or a kitty growl.
There are a few stuffed bears around. One of them, the original "little bear" of the Little Bear children's book series, sits guard on the book shelf dedicated to children's books. Which makes sense to me. Two other bears are hanging around on the self with the photo albums. Who knows what sort of mischief they get into when we aren't looking?
There is a tiny ceramic fish in the guest bathroom instead of a bar of soap because, well, why not?
I seem to have a number of things that spin. Not sure why that is so, but it is. They seem to live in unusual spots:
There is a kaleidoscope in the cookbook section of the bookshelf. Why? I don't know, for inspiration purposes? So I can take a moment to see things differently? I t's just where a kaleidoscope seemed to belong.
And there is a sailboat on the table beneath the mirror in the entry
Not all of the whimsy is actually toys, some of it is just stuff I love and cannot bear to part with. Things like, oh, I don't know, jars of things. Why do I have these ? I honestly could not tell you. But they make me smile and that matters.
There are a couple of unintentional collections of things: seashells, which at least makes sense since we live by the beach and pinecones because, I don't know, why not pine cones. I especially like the jaunty blue jay feather:
There are two 3-D cards that I love so much I have permanently integrated them into the decor. Decor? I'm not sure we have decor. We have stuff we like but I'm not positive it could be called something as lofty as "decor". Anyway, the cards:
There is a small lobster trap sitting atop the books about Maine, what appears to be a red swirled hershey kiss in the kitchen windows sill (it's actually a ring holder), a dragonfly shaped item that I believe is supposed to be for keeping earrings but instead it's in the bookcase on the "reference" shelf and a small sequined "christmas tree" in the pencil jar on my desk.
So I suppose you could say that we are childish or maybe child-like, which is far more charming. Maybe odd or eccentric truly is the correct term. Whatever it is, it's part of who we are. And we have surrounded ourselves with the things we love, which in turn, makes us happy.
In the end, isn't that really the most important part?
A Ceiling Fan! Down here in the Sunshine State, fans are absolute essentials. We have ours going year 'round. In the summer the fans are in addition to Air Conditioning, in winter of course, window open and without AC. We have ceiling fans in every room of the house, except bathrooms. And this weekend, they got a real workout.
The weekend started out great! Saturday was a Minock Day! We drove up to our friends house, a couple of hours away, and spent a wonderful day with them. We had lunch at a charming little place beside a river and we ate outside under the trees while watching turtles swimming by (and one alligator). We talked, we laughed, we caught up and had the best time ever, as we always do. We left much later than we intended (Time really does fly by when you are having a good time!) and got home a little after 9.
Once we got home, in very short order, we realized that it seemed to be warmer than usual inside. Tim did a little checking and oh yeah, it was a whole lot warmer than usual. Somehow, the Air Conditioning stopped working shortly after we left in the morning. Oh dear. Tim did what he could to try to nudge it back into functionality but nope, it wasn't happening. This was a problem.
It was hot outside with almost no breeze and it was equally hot inside but at least inside we had the fans. The fans were only circulating hot air, but a breeze is a breeze. After a little testing, it appeared that the coolest room in the house was the new room, the family room, so clearly that was where we were spending the night.
It was 85 degrees in the family room (once again, the coolest room in the house) so getting comfortable wasn't easy. I settled into my usual spot on the sofa, layed back against the cushions, closed my eyes and tried to think cool thoughts. Poor Tim was miserable. He tried and tried to get comfortable but it just wasn't happening.
Neighter of us really slept, we merely dozed and sweated, alternately. Tim ended up laying on the floor which was probably the coolest spot (cold air sinks y'see) but any improvement was marginal. It was a Long Hot Summer Night and not in a good way.
By dawn's early light, with gritty sleep deprived eyes, we gave up trying to pretend to sleep and got set up for our day. Tim resumed trying to get the AC to behave and I tried to think of something to do that didn't involve heating up the house even more. So no doing laundry and No cooking. Hmmmmmm.
Eventually, after all other attempts had failed, a phone call was made to an emergency AC guy. There comes a point when you gotta call in the experts and this was one of them. The technician promised to be there by early afternoon. So what do you do while you wait? Not much. We both attempted to do useful things, stuff on the gotta-do list but realized very quickly that once we started getting heated up working, there would be no way to cool down. This was going to be a day of laying low.
I wore the coolest clothes I could think of and pinned my hair up. While we waited, mostly we sat on the sofa reading, watching old re-runs on TV and sweating. As the sun came up and got brighter and higher in the sky, we also watched the temperature gauge rise. It was maddening.
At long last, our hero arrive in a white vehicle (not a white horse of course, but still thematically correct). It took him about an hour to check and test, check and test so many different parts of the system and then finally seize on where the problem originated. Once discovered, it was simply a matter of fixing it. Which he did! We gratefully paid the outrageous cost and sent him on his way with many thanks.
Afterwards, it was just a matter of waiting for the temperature to start to go back down.
Just so you know, it took all day and well into the night.
As I said, it was a long hot summer night and honestly the only difference between this event and the 11 days without AC after Hurricane Irma in 2017, was that this time we still had power so we were saved by the fans.
I have seen so very many decorating shows where the first thing the experts say in any room is to get rid of the ceiling fans. I vote no on that. Not just no but hell no. I don't care how they look esthetically, our ceiling fans stay.
Hope your weekend was much cooler :)
Welcome to another Photo Safari Report! Despite the rising temperature, strong breeze and overcast skies, Joy and I headed out on another hike. This time, at Joy's brilliant suggestion, we specifically went to Myakka State Park. There is a driving road that goes all the way through this beautiful place with lots of little trails leading from it. The reasoning was that we could hike for a bit and then cool off in the car as we drove to the next spot over and over. Genius! A great way to avoid heat stroke. Therefore, I am calling this the Air Conditioned Hike!
Even though we arrived plenty early, initially we were a little disappointed. There didn't seem to be many photo opportunities. Well that's not fair. There are always pretty things just begging to be captured on camera. And of course I did get those. Ferns and reflections and interesting trees and the endless fields of yellow wildflowers...... Gorgeous!
Speaking of flowers, while most of them were those bright golden ones, there were a few others here and there:
But what we were looking for, hoping for, really was wildlife. And initially, nothin, not even birds! What the what? Where did everybody go? Eventually, Joy's eagle eye spied this adorable sweet baby trying to stay cool in a shady spot:
It was as if, once we finally found one, suddenly, there was no end to the wonderful creatures we saw. They were everywhere and in every direction:
And then there were the birds. Oh my gracious, so very many wonderful birds! Including, my very first Meadowlark ever! Their reputation for having a Beautiful song is well deserved. And in fact, at first I was so stunned by hearing the song that I couldn't remember to take a doggone photo. Joy had to prompt me (thank you Jo). I just stood there like a dolt, listening and marveling. Anyway, birds: (I will identify the ones I know for sure - the rest- I'm not positive)
Not only did we not get too miserably hot and sweaty (and worn out) on this Air Conditioned Hike, we also got some great shots and got to spend the morning together which is always a good thing.
I will leave you with a few rando photos and wishes for a terrific weekend!
Hurrah for Father's Day! Hope all the Dad's in your life were well celebrated. Neither Tim nor I have a father to celebrate on that day any longer, sadly. But! Tim is a Step-Father and that counts! So I, for sure, wanted to make it a special day for him.
In our family, we kind of let the person being celebrated own the day. It's all about them. Whatever they want to do, wherever they want to go, they are in charge completely. They dictate the foods, the activities, the tone of the day.
Tim is a really easy going guy and he didn't care what he had for dinner or dessert. He didn't have anything in particular in mind so I made grilled chicken burrito's and loaded them up with so much stuff! Refried beans, spanish rice, sauteed onions and peppers, cheeses, avocado, shredded lettuce and, of course, the chicken. Top that off with hot sauce and you have a very filling meal! Chocolate cupcakes with white icing for dessert. He was happy with that!
As far as Father's Day Activities go, well, since it was up to him, he decided that there were a couple of things he wanted to get done that were weighing on him. Just little housey things off the gotta-do list. That's what he wanted to do and it was his choice entirely. So Ok! And then, he just wanted a nice, relaxing, easy peasy, restful remainder of his day. Since it was a super rainy day, that worked out perfectly. Watching TV, reading, playing a few games, maybe sneaking in a little nap too. Rainy days are kind of automatically restful. We were well planted in the house for the day. In fact, the only time we left the house was in the morning. We dashed out through the pouring rain to get donuts. They were dang good too!
And there was the gift. We don't usually do anything big for each other anymore. Not for any traditional gift giving day. At Christmas, we only exchange stockings, for birthdays it's usually something very small, flowers, candy, maybe a book. So for Mother's Day or Father's Day, or any other remotely gift giving sort of day, we normally go even smaller. Cards for sure and then maybe one other tiny thing.
This year however, on Mother's Day, Tim didn't just get me flowers, he gave me FLOWERS! An enormous gorgeous lush bouquet packed with two of my favourites: Roses and Hydrangea. It was in a lovely, huge vase and the fragrance filled the entire house for more than a week. Wow! He outdid himself. This was not little fistful of carnations and freesia (which I also love, don't get me wrong) So I felt compelled to respond in kind and do something BIG for him as well. And that's where I got stuck.
Here is a confession. I'm not a very good gift giver. I'm just not. I don't know why. It's not as if I'm terrible at it. I've heard stories of people receiving old used out of date pantry items as gifts! Gosh I'm not that bad. But I'm not great either. Somehow I was just not blessed with the sort of creativity and genius that so many other people in my family have of choosing the exact perfect, thoughtful, inspired gift that stays in my memory and heart forever. Dang it.
I've been the delighted recipient of many of those sorts of gifts and I so wish I could respond in kind. For example, all of my kids are brilliant at gift giving. Every gift I've ever gotten from my children is that thing I never knew I always wanted! I do so wish I could do the same for them.
It's not as if I don't care, I care!!! It's not as if I don't try! I try, I try like crazy! And I search and I shop and I wrack my brain 'til it about explodes and still, either whatever I select is just okay. When I try to think of an idea on my own it ends up being a kindly 'thank you very much' sort of gift because my children are very polite. But I can tell. I can tell when I've missed the mark ...............again.
When they were little, I would have them make up a wish list and then I would select three items off the list, one from Santa, one from their dad and one from me. That way, they definitely received something they really wanted. BUT it wasn't a surprise y'know? Now that they are grown, at my request, they still send me wish lists, which I REALLY appreciate. I select from that wish list, order it online and have it shipped directly. They receive something they really need or want and there is nothing wrong with that, but again, it's not a surprise. It's not that thing that they do for me, the thing they never knew they always wanted. It's it makes me so sad that I cannot seem to do it back.
I am the same way with ever gift I give and it gives me such gift-giving anxiety! ARGH!
So here I am trying to think of something extra special to do for Tim for Father's Day. Not just the usual small thing where he already probably knows what it is. I wanted to surprise him for once! And I thought and I considered and puzzled for weeks and came up with nothin'. I was resigned to picking up a usual boring thing until one night, as I watched him have a little snack of cheese and crackers and this word popped into my head: Charcuterie. Yes! That is Tim. That is a perfect idea! It's certainly different than any other idea for him I've ever had.
I did a little online research and found that 1) Wow! Expensive! 2) not everything in a pre-made charcuterie package is something he would want and 3) $$$$$ holy crap! At first I was a little discouraged, and then it occurred to me that I could custom create a Tim-centric charcuterie. I spent some time searching and selecting thing locally, chortling with glee the entire time. Finally I had enough stuff to call it good.
The trick now was hiding it until Father's Day. The non-refridgerated stuff was easy. The refridgerator stuff was a little trickier. I ended up depending on the honour system. That stuff went into a bag within a bag within a bag, at the back of the fridge with two giant notes on it saying, "DO NOT TOUCH" with multiple exclamation points.
He was good and did not touch. But he did wonder :)
In the end, he was indeed surprised and pleased with his charcuterie bowl (I presented it in a pasta serving bowl). Let's call it a charcuTIMerie. heh It pleased me so much to finally, finally, FINALLY come up with an idea on my own that was a good one. A gift that he did not expect, totally deserved and was a happy surprise!
(Late yesterday and early this morning I thought of multiple other things I could have added, but of course afterward the fact. Not when it would have been useful. (sigh) My brain is so strange.)
Anyway, here is what I put together:
This was, the one and only time, in my entire gift giving life, that I pulled this off so don't get your hopes up people. This was a fluke. It's like putting an infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of keyboards and assuming that eventually one of them will present Shakespeare.
I will always give gifts and I, hopefully, give decent ones. But not creative, wonderful, inspired gifts. The gifts that my loved ones deserve and I wish I was capable of providing. Still, this one time, I did do it.
Hope your Father's Day was wonderful for you and the Father's and father figures in your life! (and that you are a better gift giver than I am!)
Ok here's one for you from the "Duh" files. Or at least the, "You don't know what you don't know" department.
This is where I iron. I know that most people do not iron anymore, but I do. It's a house chore that I not only don't mind, I rather like it. I bring order out of chaos, tidy out of not so tidy, smooth to the wrinkled and well, it's a pleasant chore for me. Yeah, I know, I'm very odd.
ANYWAY, Way back when we first moved here, I always dragged the ironing board, hangars, the pile of stuff all out to the family room from the utility room (where that stuff otherwise lives) each time I was going to iron which is generally, twice a week. I did that so I could have some old movie or the TLC channel or something I had recorded and saved on the TV to watch or at least listen to and semi-watch while I ironed. And then when the construction on the family room began, I had to move my ironing station to the kitchen where I am completely in the way of anyone (that would be Tim) who wants another cup of coffee or a drink or water or to go out to the utility room or...any number of other things.
Now the family room is back and I find myself reluctant to return to ironing in the family room. Not because I enjoy being in people's way (although in a passive-aggressive way I suppose it's a bonus) but because I don't' have to haul all the equipment alllllllll the way through the utility room, the kitchen, the eating part of the kitchen (ok we will call it a dining area) and the living room to get there. It's a shorter trip. I'm lazy, so sue me.
So what happens is, I bring in the pile of stuff to iron and hangars, set up the ironing board, plug the iron in to the outlet on the end of the peninsula and I'm ready to rock'n'roll or at least, I'm ready to iron. I've been doing this for quite some time now. That same outlet is where I charge my camera, plug in my giant mixer and you know how often I use that (all the time!!), and occasionally, plug in my hair dryer if the bathroom is otherwise occupied. In short I use that outlet a lot. Every day probably.
Well, today I set up the ironing board, plugged in the iron, selected my first item to press and, and, and, nothing. Iron was just as cold as a frosty morning. What? Did I kill another iron? I am not certain why, but I do seem to use up irons far more frequently than seems strictly necessary. ARGH! I hate wearing wrinkled clothes and I hate even more offering Tim wrinkled clothes to wear. Dang.
"Well", I thought to myself. "There's nothing to be done about it right now. Perhaps over the weekend we can go out and buy a new iron". I resigned myself to being wrinkley for a few days and started to put things away. And then it occurred to me. What if it's not the iron? What if it's the outlet?
So I experimentally plugged the iron into the outlet in the bathroom. Worked like a charm. The problem was not the iron. But if the issue is the outlet, that's electrical which means calling an electrician which is expensive and, oh dear, oh dear. Then something else occurred to me. Once upon a time, we lived in a place where for some reason, the light in any room had to be on for any outlet in that room to work. Could that be the case here? I mean, this is an older house which also means a quirky house.
Now, a side note. Lately our electric bill has been insane. Just absolutely crazyinsane. So in a desperate effort to offset that expense wherever we can, I find myself walking through the house turning out lights and remembering my dad doing the same thing. He would walk through the house, turning out lights in empty rooms, muttering under his breath something about "every dang light in the house is on". heeheehee. What a way to remember my dad. The thing is, I love light. As much light as possible. I love lots of windows, all of them thrown open, curtains pulled back, shades up and if that doesn't give me enough lights, yup, generally lights are on. But I am trying, really trying to live with darker rooms. Gloom. Sigh.
At any rate, because of my 'great efforts' the living room area had no overhead lights turned on. Because I was only working in the kitchen area (even though it's essentially all the same room) I had only the kitchen lights on. Hmmmmmm
So I walked over to the switch, turned on the living room area lights, then plugged the iron back in and sonuvagun, it works. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! How is it possible that we have lived here more than 7 years now and I just today learned that the living room area lights and that end of peninsula outlet are connected????? I guess I always used to have the living room area lights on?
My dad always used to tell us that we needed to learn at least one new thing every day. I guess this was my one new thing today :) Thanks Dad! Works out nicely in honour of the upcoming Father's Day, doesn't it :)
Have a great weekend y'all! Learn one new thing and celebrate all father's and father stand-ins. Me? I'm going to finish up the ironing.
I am rather tickled with myself right now. It's a lovely feeling and I want to savour it. And it's funny that I have such big feelings about such a relatively small thing. Still, it's the truth. It's not pride (which goeth before a fall) it's just pleasure.
And what is it that has me so very pleased with myself? Well, on Saturday, I dug a swale. That is not a typo.
If you are unfamiliar with the term, a swale is: "A swale is a shady spot, or a sunken or marshy place. In US usage in particular, it is a shallow channel with gently sloping sides. Such a swale may be either natural or human-made. Artificial swales are often infiltration basins, designed to manage water runoff, filter pollutants, and increase rainwater infiltration".
In short, it's a path for water to take through our yard and back out into the bay (which is behind our house) where it belongs. It's a good thing.
When we bought the house, there was already a swale in place. And it works great! Even though we live in a place that, during the rainy season is prone to rain storms that are locally referred to as "gullywashers", the rain stays out of the house and also does not create itself a pond in the yard somewhere. Nope, it just goes right on past the house under the fence. Bye bye !
But somewhere along the line, during the construction/deconstruction necessary for the project room, a considerable amount of dirt got moved by the builder guys with their big old diggery machines and they, inexplicably, moved the dirt to the side of the house, effectively filling in the swale. Hmmmm. Our assumption at the time was that when the project was done they would take the same big old diggery machines and move the dirt.................elsewhere. And of course we all know what happens when we assume.
Since they never finished the project, we will never know if they intended to do anything about the filled in swale. But clearly, we needed to. And not just because it's one of the many things that gets inspected before the project is officially complete, but also because we don't want water in the house! That's a firm rule.
So digging out the swale was on the list of things that still needed to be done. Saturday was a pretty day, not too horrible yet to be doing an outside project. Even though it's very definitely getting warmer, the humidity hasn't climbed to the top of the pile yet. And that is something to take advantage of while we still can. Tim elected to finish up work on the fascia of the exterior. And since that involves being way up high on a scaffold which requires climbing a ladder to even get to, and my general feeling about heights, I volunteered to dig.
I can dig. We own a shovel. I've planted flowers and vegetables before. I've planted trees and shrubs! And I have shoveled snow from more walkways and driveways than I care to recall in my lifetime. So I was not remotely concerned about whether or not this was a task I was really able to do or not. The fact that I am an out of shape, nearly 70 year old never once crossed my mind. Not sure if I am in denial or delirious but over breakfast that morning I just casually said, "While you are working on the trim, I think I will dig out the swale". To his credit, Tim did not scoff. He looked at me for a long minute and then (very wisely) said, "If that's what you want to do".
In preparation, I put on my junkiest clothes, loads of sunscreen, a set of sunsleeves and a pair of gloves. See? Even though it's been awhile, I remember some important parts to the art of shoveling! I grabbed the shovel and headed outside, ready to get it done. I was ready to knock this out.
The first order of business was a size up the task. I approached the filled in area from every direction possible until I had an idea of the width and depth that needed to be moved. Then I pulled over my little garden cart. It's easier to move than a wheelbarrow as it has 4 wheels instead of three and is, therefore, far more stable. My idea was that I would shovel the dirt into the cart and then pull the cart to a different, non-swale, part of the yard to dump it. Good plan.
Everything was set up and in place, I was ready to go.
I began with great energy and good attitude, shoveling dirt into the cart and then pulling the cart to the opposite side of the backyard and dumping it over and over, spreading the dirt all along the side, under shrubs and trees. I didn't want the pile of dirt to be all in one spot. Sometimes this meant getting whacked by tree branches and stabbed by thorns. No matter, the job was getting done.
Occasionally, Tim would climb down from his perch atop the scaffolding and offer a gentle suggestion but otherwise, he allowed me to be me and do the job my way. He is a smart man and we have been married a long time. He gets me.
I began to run out of steam in shockingly short order. About an hour in, I had to take a break. I needed water and I needed to just not be shoveling for a minute or two. I stepped back into the house. I carefully stayed just in the kitchen because at that point, I was beyond filthy. Digging is dirty work. I was also so sweaty that it was making my sunscreen run into my eyes and if you've never experienced that little bit of delight, let me just say that it stings a bit.
After I cooled off a bit, I took a deep breath, re-did my ponytail which was trying it's best to go AWOL, went back outside, grabbed my shovel and got back to it. I said I was gonna do it, so I was by gawd, going to do it. I can be very stubborn.
With far less energy and enthusiasm I continued. If it was just shoveling perhaps it wouldn't have been quite as difficult. But it was the shoveling, plus the removing of rocks. I'd dig into the nice soft sandy soil for a few shovelfuls and then "clunk" I would hit a rock. And the thing about rocks is, you have no idea how big they are, or what shape or how deep or, well, anything. There is nothing to be done but to take the time to dig the rock out and remove it. Then what do you do with the rock? Well, in my case, I tossed it to the side along the fence where, to this day, they still remain. There are now enough rocks along that fence to build a small rock wall if I was so inclined. (by the way, I am not) Then of course there was the pulling of the cart to the side and dumping it. Over and over, again and again.
Eventually on one of Tim's check in's, he proclaimed that I had dug deeply enough and that all that remained now was to smooth it out. Apparently I do not dig neatly. So I got a rake and smoothed things as best I could. I filled in a few spots that were too deep and lopped off the top of a couple of places that we a bit too high.
I stood back and checked it out from, again, several different directions. Utilizing just eyeball measurements, it looks ok. In fact, I'd say it looks pretty good. Tim was happy with it, I was happy with it. We called it a day, congratulated ourselves and each other on jobs well done. We put away our toys and went inside to clean up.
I was so incredibly dirty it looked more as if I had burrowed than shoveled. Geez! Not sure how it is that no matter what task I take on, when it's finished, not only am I unbelievably dirty but so is my work area. That applies to painting, cooking, and clearly also shoveling. The difference is that if I make a mess outside, who cares? The birds?
Maybe a part of my delight in this task is that it's over. Perhaps it's the feeling of satisfaction that comes with a job that is both started and completed all on the same day. Maybe it's that I did a pretty good job for a old lady. I've never been the prissy sort. I never objected to getting dirty or doing a physically demanding job. But as I get older, more and more of those sorts of chores are not such a good idea. I have to admit that there are things that are now really beyond my ability to tackle. I hate admitting it, but it's the truth.
Turns out, I can still dig. And for the record, my hat is off to anyone who digs for a living. Dang that is hard work! And therefore, Yay me!
Two boxes of books, mercy. These are almost ready to be dropped off at Good Will. I think I can squeeze a couple more small books in each box and I have one more empty box waiting to be filled. Shockingly, last week, I dropped off two other boxes-o-books.
Me? Getting rid of books? That doesn't sound right at all, does it?
Well, the thing of it is, there was no other option. The bookshelves were already filled past capacity. Everywhere a book could be tucked in, there was already a book. Every nook, every cranny, every bit of vertical and horizontal space was filled. It had gotten to the point where I was stacking books on floors and side tables and well, if you know me, you know that just will not do at all.
It's not tidy, it's not clean, it's not organized. It is, however, messy, cluttered and impossible to find whatever book you are searching for. I think that was the worst of it. I couldn't find the books I was looking seeking. I'd need GPS coordinates, a sherpa and a treasure map for an hope of success. Time after time I would stand in front of the books cases, hands on hips, eyes casting around the shelves muttering to my self," I know I own that dang book", and then walk away empty handed. Frustrating.
There's nothing to be done for it except to make more space. Some books had to go. Very Sad Words. To get rid of books I have to harden my heart, narrow my eyes, roll up my sleeves and make tough decisions. I have to ask myself if I will ever read this book again AND then be honest with myself.
Some books are easy. The decision is made before I even walk into the living room. There are books that I read once every year. Books that I adore and cherish that inspire me, teach me, humble me, entertain me, educate me and I simply cannot let them go. Those books stay. There are times when I do not compromise.
In fact, when I decided to begin working on this, when I made that tough decision - "some books gotta go" - I stood there in front of one of the book cases and just kind of perused the shelves. Then I heard myself say (out loud by the way), "well everything on that shelf stays". And I knew this was going to be harder than usual. When I start out saving an entire shelf....not just one particular book but an entire shelf...you know it's not going to so smoothly. So I walked away.
That was not going to be a good get rid of books day. I waited an entire week longer to start. And on that day, the day I truly began, I was tough, I was mean, I was the Dirty Harry of book getter ridders. I filled up those first two boxes and took them directly to GoodWill, dropped them off and didn't give them a second thought. They were books I had picked up at the $5 a bag sale at the library and some of them were so bad I never actually read them. Easy to part with those.
Now we are getting rid of a different classification of books. Books that I actually choose. Books that I read on purpose AND enjoyed. If I didn't enjoy them, A) I wouldn't have read them and B) I wouldn't have kept them. Makes it ever so much more difficult a task.
My methodology for making the keep or toss decision is sort of like that Marie Kondo thing. Although hers is, "does this bring me joy?". I cannot ask myself that coz if I do the answer with books is always yes. Instead I ask myself, "Am I going to read this again?" The hard part is answering honestly.
My plan for the day is first to empty the shelves. Every single thing on every single shelf is going to taken off. I will clean the books, clean the shelves and clean the little tchotchkes that have somehow found their way also onto the book shelves. THEN I will group the books by subject. The next time I am looking for a particular book, I will by golly find it!! While sorting by subject, I can do one last big ask - am I REALLY going to re-read this book. That ought to get rid of the final few stragglers.
When I put things back on the shelves, some of the knickknacks will also find new homes. But I will be honest, I like to see some of it up there. It looks cozy and homey and less like a library. I can use the baubles as markers between book categories. At least that's my thought at the moment. I will know more once I start grouping things.
In my dream home, there is a real library. A big room lined floor to ceiling with shelves, there are even shelves above the door ways and windows. There are a few super comfy chairs with footstools, good reading lighting, good windows for natural light and a table for setting my teacup. And there are books on all of those shelves. What a lovely dream. However, since we are dealing with reality here, I will work with what I got.
Have you seen how interior decorator's put books on shelves? Sometimes they line them up with the spines to the back. ???? I am baffled! How do you find the book you are looking for that way? Or they put papercovers on the books so they are all the exact same. Unless you also write the book name on that papercover, once again, how do you find your books? Occasionally I see them in magazines with no papercovers and spines out but grouped by size and colour. No no no, I don't have books on my shelves as a design statement. I have books because I read them and then I re-read them. And some of them I re-re-read in perpetuity! Which means I also need to find them. Which means a different sort of organization.
I suppose I could do it alphabetically, but often I cannot recall the exact title. Same goes for grouping by author. That's absolutely not going to happen. But topic? Yes, I know what topic I'm looking for and therefore, that is how the books will be set up on my shelves.
So that's going to be my day today. I'm ready. I have my dust cloths and my furniture polish, a soft brush (for old books) and a plan. No longer will my shelves looks like this:
Hopefully they look a whole lot better. Wish me luck!
And, have a great weekend y'all!
See you next week. Hugs all 'round
In spite of the temperatures climbing a bit, Joy and I went out on Photo Safari yesterday. We left extra early and kept the hike to a far more reasonable 2 hours in an effort to avoid heat stroke. We are smart that way.
The only problem with hiking early is that often we are the only ones in the vicinity that are awake. The very things we are hoping to photograph are still snuggied up in their little beds, all comfy and cozy and snoozing away. Despite knowing that, we still went out early in that gorgeous early morning light to see what else there was to see.
Turned out, all of the birds got up extra early too. And even better, it seemed to be Family Day~! So many of the birds we saw were not just one representative of the species but of pairs! Sometimes entire families! Love it! Group Photos! So this is the Family Day Hike! Very appropriate since Joy & I are family too :)
Let's see how many "family portraits" I managed to capture:
Three? Is that all? I know we saw a lot more. Oh wait a minute. Sometimes I couldn't get capture them both in the same frame so I had to take individual shots. Let's try this again:
Well, there were more. There truly were, but I guess I missed a few. Oh well. I have some single bird shots too. Wanna see those? I would like to point out that most of these supposedly "single" birds were actually in pairs or groups, I just only managed to captured them one at a time. Drat!
It was sort of a happy accident that as we continued up and down the trails, noticing all of these bird groups and taking pictures of them, at the same time Joy and I were also catching each other up on what was happening in our families! What's the news? How are the kids? It's so nice to hear about her girls (and boys) and I love talking about my boys (and girls). Guess it put the entire day and me in a family state of mind :)
Enough with the birds! What else did we see? Well, I did get a few nice botanicals:
And one truly awesome spider web complete with spider!
The Family Day Hike with at least some birdie families represented :) Hope you enjoyed!
I was feeling a little twinge of nostalgia recently and when I tried to figure out what exactly it was I was feeling nostalic about, it turned out to be fabric. Yeah, weird. Especially for a non-sewer.
At first I thought it was a bit of fashion nostalgia, but since fashion is cyclical, that is just silly. In point of fact, I recently saw a pair of bell bottom jeans in a boutique downtown. Whoa! There's a fashion that did NOT need to come back. So no, it wasn't style nostalgia. Took me a bit to pin it down. No one was more surprised than I to discover the truth. It was about Fabric. Interesting.
Some fabric does cycle like fashion does. For instance gingham. There are years, literally years, when, unless you are shopping at a recycle clothing store, there is not one little cotton check to be seen anywhere in any store. And then other years where it's everywhere! There was a fashion season when they brought checks back not not the tiny little cute ones associated with gingham but great giant checks, usually in red/black/cream, and they called it Buffalo Check. It looked good on maybe 30 people in the entire country. The rest of us suddenly had fannies that looked the size of the back of a bus. Buffalo checks were not a good idea. I understand that tiny little gingham checks are in the mode once again. Hurrah for that.
Lace is another fabric that seems to swing in and out of favour. I am a huge lace fan. Which makes it odd that own very little of it right now, sadly. But that is probably because it is not in style right now and therefore it's hard to find. Lace used to be one of those things that could be terribly expensive because it was hand made (and beautifully done). Now it's all manufactured, machine made, and not costly at all. It's a pretty feminine little detail that I adore. And it doesn't have to be an entire dress or blouse. Maybe just a bit of trim, a collar or cuff. Hard to find right now. Not to worry, if I wait long enough I'm sure it will come back.
I haven't seen dotted swiss in a long time either. That is another old favourite of mine. When we were very young, our Nana made Joy and I dresses every spring - just in time for Easter - out of dotted swiss of some pastel colour. We wore petticoats under it so we had very full, slightly itchy, skirts that rustled a bit when we moved. We felt very fancy. As we got a little older dotted swiss was no longer in pastels and it was usually either reserved for dress sleeves or blouses - which had to to either be lined or worn with a slip underneath due to it's sheerness. Later still it was only used for curtains! Curtains! Now it is beyond rare to see that oh so very feminine fabric used.
Corduroy is another favourite of mine. I think I always had something corduroy in my wardrobe until maybe 10 years ago? Suddenly, it disappeared. I favoured pinwale corduroy but I would take whatever I could get, y'know? I vaguely recall wearing a pair of dark green corduroy overalls as a very little girl. But as I grew I had trousers, skirts, even a dress made of corduroy and as an adult I had a wonderful gold corduroy jacket that I loved. Now? No corduroy anywhere. Dang. Maybe it'll circle around, maybe not.
Seersucker was the perfect summer fabric. It was lightweight, easy to care for, airy and versatile. It was seen in everything from ladies dresses, to children's rompers to men's summer suits. And at one time, it seemed to be in nearly every colour of the rainbow. Then it disappeared. I recently found a shop with one style of blouse in seersucker but in only two colours, navy/white or grey/white. So Boring!
But sometimes, it's not that the fabric isn't popular anymore, it's that the materials used in making the fabric has changed. I thought at first it was me. For example, Velvet is another old fashioned fabric that I love. So there I am in a high end ladies clothes store, not trying on anything, just looking around and to my surprise, I see velvet! Of course I have to feel it! Of course! Don't you? Doesn't everybody? Anyway, I sidle up to it, peer around to see if anyone is looking, slowly reach out to touch and wow, disappointing. It just doesn't feel the way I remember velvet.
Naturally I assumed the fault lay with me. It must be that my memory is flawed. I did a little research and nope, this time it's not me. They way most velvet is made now has changed. I remember silk velvet. It felt almost like fur. Yummy. Now sometimes it's made with cotton but in an effort to keep costs down, most velvet is made from synthetic fibers. ARGH! Synthetic fibers have ruined fabrics. At least the feel of them.
I understand why spandex and things like spandex have been added to almost everything and there are days, trust me, when I am so very grateful for that little bit of extra give. Still the trade-off is that nothing feels like itself anymore. Cotton, once a perfect breathable summer fabric that was crisp and cool now has spandex in it for "give" and something else that makes it 'wrinkle free' and it's just as hot as polyester. Bah. It doesn't look the same, feel the same or function the same either.
Satin is another luscious fabric of the past. I mean real satin. I know it's out there, but only for those in the rarefied levels of existence because it's so dang expensive now. Costly, but worth every penny. Real satin has a luster that is unmistakable. And when you are wearing it, it feels almost like you are wearing butter. That sounds odd but it's true. Real satin is always cool to the touch and oh my gosh, it drapes so beautifully.
So yeah, I'm odd. I miss certain fabrics. Sigh. And dressing up. I miss having the occasion, once in awhile, to dress up. I mean REALLY dress up, era 1940 dress up. Heels, stockings, dresses, gloves and hats. And that's even before My time. I came in just on the tail end of a little bit of it. When I was very little I remember wearing little white gloves and a hat when I'd be in my Sunday Best. (and black patent leather shoes all shined up with Vaseline). But it didn't last long. Things changed as they always do. I recall a time when a lady didn't so much as go to the grocery store if she wasn't looking sharp. Now I see people shopping in pajamas and bathing suits.
It's a casual world now, so perhaps casual fabrics that require no ironing, no fussing and no dry cleaning are better suited to it. But gosh, sometimes I miss them.
Whatever your fabric choices, have a lovely weekend, ya'll
Thought you guys might appreciate a project room update since it's been awhile. The above photo is a reminder of some of what we've been seeing for quite some time now. I wish I had thought to take more photos of the process from the beginning but alas, I did not.
As a refresher, the room originally was smaller, with a lot of single pane windows - no two of which were the same size and the room was one step down. It had massive sliders, a lower ceiling and the oddest tile floor. It looked as if someone had broken terracotta tiles and created a mosaic with the shards. It was interesting but hard to clean.
From the first time we viewed the house, before we bought it, we knew that some day, that room would need a little attention. What we didn't know at that point, and apparently the inspector didn't discover either, is that the entire room was a DIY project, (probably not permitted) AND the foundation of it was not stable. We discovered that instability almost two years ago now when suddenly we were getting leaks around the windows whenever it rained. Then the ceiling began to leak too. There was no way around it, whether we wanted to spend the money or not, the room had to be fixed. Ceiling and walls had to come down and the foundation had to be fixed. Dang. Big job!
As one does, we reached out to a number of contractors. We met with them, got their estimates and then we did some research on them. We are no fools. The contractor we ultimately chose had actually won a Builder of the Year award the year before. Sounds pretty good eh? We thought so too. We reviewed and signed the contract, handed over a terrifying amount of money as the first payment and the work began.
What was supposed to have been a two month project somehow stretched out into six months. And they began showing up less and less. And then the day came when, after 3 of the 4 payments had been made, they no longer responded to texts, phone calls or letters. In desperation, we drove by their office and were shocked and dismayed to find a For Rent sign in the window. We had been abandoned. Dang. Now what do you do?
Once the next steps were sorted out, it seemed that we had two choices, try to find another contractor to pick up where these guys left off or do it ourselves. There is so much building going on in Florida since flood of new residents that finding another contractor was going to be tricky. And Expensive. Think about it, we've already paid for the work to be done. Now we will pay for it twice? And at the higher, post-pandemic rates too! That doesn't sit right. Okay, decision made, we will do this ourselves.
And in all actuality that meant that Tim would be doing 99.999999% of it. As you may or may not recall, all last year, I was out of commission. Absolutely useless. And then I started out this year with a stupid broken arm so I wasn't much more useful this year. Timing may not be everything, but it's a lot.
First things first, we got an inspector in to check things out and found out all the things the contractor did wrong. So the first order of business was correcting those things. Once those things were completed and the inspectors checked them off, one step at a time, we (Well, Tim) started getting things done. Nights, weekends and holidays were mostly devoted to either doing projects or learning how to do projects. Neither of us had every done any of the things necessary for this so there was a bit of a learning curve. Thank goodness for the internet. A person can learn almost anything online.
Well after all that, I am delighted to report that we have finally moved back in to the project room which is, once again, our family room! YAYAYAYAYAYAY! It 's not completely complete yet, but we couldn't wait any longer. After living in a construction zone for far too long, the house is beginning to look more like a real home and less like ishkabibble land! Wanna see?
For the past two years, the living room has been the repository for everything too big to put anywhere else. Finally it's a living room once again:
The guest room still needs a little work - most of the artwork is currently living in there while waiting to go back on various walls. But at least there is a bed once again:
The exterior is painted! Well it needs one more coat, but it's mostly painted. And let me tell you, finding a colour that matches the existing colour was a process! No paint chip in existence was close enough. Then one day Tim spied the plate cover of an outside outlet that the previous owners painted over when the house was painted. He removed that cover, took it to Sherwin Williams and they matched it exactly! Wow, that was genius!
And then, the room we've been missing desperately for nearly two years, the family room! Taadaa!
I'm sure you noticed the are still a few unfinished things, like the baseboards and other trim pieces. It's underway, just incomplete at the moment. And it obvious that there is still a wee bit of work to be done because if you turn to the right instead of the left when you walk in you will see:
Soon enough, that will be gone too.
Can we talk about those floors for a minute? We had never laid tile before so we had no idea what a pain in the arse that job is. Tim read up on it, got what he needed, borrowed a tile saw (thank you Paul) and finished putting the tile down. The contractors had done about 3/4 of it before they disappeared. But of course all of it had to be grouted. Have you ever grouted? We had not. In the video's it looked fairly simple. Work the grout in and then wipe the excess off. We decided that Tim would grout, I would wipe. I had my bucket and my sponges and I was ready to go. But hmmmm. In the video's the wiping seemed much simpler, easier, almost graceful. I was not so much wiping and scrubbing. And scrubbing. AND SCRUBBING! And in the end, after we were sure that the job was done, after everything dried, there was still some grout left on those dang tiles. RATZ.
But, we quickly figured out that by using a steamer and a plastic scraper, I could still remove it. That involves sitting on the floor, steaming and scraping, steaming and scraping and then vaccuming up what I scraped off and repeating over and over. Fine. I can do that :) It took about a week to go over the entire floor but I got it. Well I got most of it. EverytimeI think I got it all, the light hits the floor just the right way and I find another spot I need to work on. So it continues.
Also learned that grout stains. The way I found this out:
This pair of shorts is now a yard work and messy projects pair of shorts.
We are overjoyed to have our house back and in the very near future, when the trim is done, the pictures are back on the wall and perhaps we have blinds at the windows, we will be even happier.
It's been a long and rocky road that involved a lot of work, a lot of time (and money!) falling off a couple of ladders (Tim), throwing out a back (also Tim) so much Advil and ice packs (both of us). And I'm happy to report that, although everything I've ever read says that situations like ours are the cause of many destroyed marriages, in our case, there were no fights, no arguments, no angry words or cold silences. We just keep on keeping on.
Once the project room is finally really completely done, we will take a little break from projects before moving on to the next one. Yeah, we have a list.
Hope you had a great weekend! We are still celebrating having our house back! woohoo!
It's been a couple of weeks since I did a Photo Safari report so I think it's about time! Yesterday, Joy and I headed out to Curry Creek (as you can clearly see by the sign). Because this is the time of year when the temperature starts to rise and the rain begins to fall, we decided to head out extra early hoping to miss the worst of the heat and humidity.
To our surprise and delight, the weather was gorgeous. It was very mild with a lovely breeze. The downside was the the grey and gloomy sky which isn't ideal for most photographs and the concern about possible rain. But what's life without risk. Off we went anyway. I will call this the Very Grey Day Hike because it was.
We had a good strong rain the night before so, right off the bat, there were beautiful raindrop photo ops. Love those! For some reason, I find raindrops very difficult to properly capture. Not sure what I'm doing wrong but whatever it is, on this particular day, I got it right. Woohoo!
When we started out, we were completely alone. It's not a very well travelled preserve so it's not unusual for us to be the only humans there, but on this particular day, in a short time, other folks began to arrive. One pair brought not just their cameras, but even camp chairs and drinks so that their bird watching and photographing could be done in style. Tip 'o the hat to them! Smarties. They set up near the Swallowtail Kite's nest which was one of the things we wanted to check on. Joy and I feel I little protective of those particular birds because, we were the ones who discovered that they were there at all, saw them building the nest and reported it to the city who got all excited about it :) Our report: The babies are growing!
One of the funniest and most unexpected moments of the hike came when Joy looked up and said, "Oh My Gosh! Ducks!" Then she pointed, not down toward possible water, or even the trail but up, very very up. I following her pointer finger and sonuvagun! There were the ducks in the the trees. Tree Ducks? Yup. I can honestly say that I have never before seen a duck in a tree. There were three of ducks and they were not just in a tree, they were in a very very tall tree, like maybe 4 stories high? It's hard for me to judge the height of a tree. What on earth is a Duck doing hanging around in a tree? I don't know why I'm surprised, they are birds after all.
There were other birds, of course. We could hear them all around us but we heard far more of them than we saw. Still, managed to capture a few:
I think we saw cardinals more than anything. Perhaps because that gorgeous red colouring stands out even on a foggy, grey, gloomy day? Regardless of the reason, I do not mind one single bit:
I found the trees especially compelling on this hike. I think it was something about the quality of the light.
Saw two beautiful butterflies and a cute little moth:
As always, I happysnapped a lot of botannicals! I will try to sort out just a few of my favourites:
I guess that about sizes things up. For you, the Very Grey Day Hike! Well, to be honest and Fair about it, this was for Joy and I too.
Wishing you a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend! Have fun and be safe. Hugs all 'round.
What a pretty little rainbow~! Any idea what these things are? They are called SunSleeves and I love 'em!
I have to back up a little bit in this story for it all to make sense, so please bear with me as we jump into the WayBack machine.....
When I was a kid having a tan was considered a sign of good health. There were no tanning beds or tanning salons so obviously a tan meant that a person was spending time outside in the nice healthy sunshine! For a child, most likely, it also suggested that we were getting lots of good exercise runnning around like the big old goober that all little kids are. For teens and adults it was probably more about either having a job working outside or leisure time spent laying in the sun, relaxing, lubed up good with Sun Tan Oil (not sunscreen mind you) and making sure that you used a reflector to get that tan good adn even in the places harder for the sun to reach.
I was never one to just lay in the sun but in high school, I knew girls who would apply baby oil liberally before lounging outside to attract yet more sun. The theory was that you had to get that first all over burn that would fade into a nice tan. Seriously, that is what everyone "knew" to be true back then. Boy were we dumb.
I did spend time outside, often parked under a shady tree, reading so I managed to escape the dreaded sunburn other than perhaps some pink on my nose and cheeks for a very long time despite living in some sunny places like southern California and Texas. But finally the day came for my first bad sunburn and it was a doozy. It was during my college days.
At that point I lived in Connecticut and one very cloudy weekend, I spent the day with friends on a boat on the ocean, all of us, sensibly wearing bathing suits. Mine was a bikini with a halter top. We had a great time. So great that I did not realize that I was getting burnt. Wait, not just burnt, I was getting crispy. Deep Fried. I did not, until that day, realize that a person can get sun burned on a cloudy day. Turns out, they can.
It was later that evening that I realized that I looked more like a cooked lobster than a girl. Oh My Gosh. That burn was so bad I had blisters. Every single bit of exposed skin including my ears and the part in my hair, was burned. Showering was painful, toweling off after the shower was painful, laying down in my nice soft bed was painful but the worst of the worst was wearing clothes. Everything rubbed against my poor tortured ruby red sunburn.
Eventually I healed and from that point forward I was much more careful about sun exposure. And that caution was an especially good idea when we moved to Colorado. It's very sunny there. Not everyone knows this but there are more than 300 sunny days every year in Colorado AND because the topography has people living a mile or more high, everyone is closer to the sun and that is a bad thing.
It was in Colorado when I first went to see a dermatologist who told me that while I was fine - at the moment - one day that terrible sunburn was going to come back to bite me in the fanny. Wearing sunscreen, limiting sun exposure, wearing long sleeves and a hat were strongly recommended. I did none of those things except occasionally wear sunscreen.
Back to present days. Now we are in Florida and I'm out in the sun a lot. I like being outside. I'm good about applying sunscreen and fairly good about wearing a hat but limiting sun exposure is confusing to me. So I should be hiking at night? Or in the rain? Not sure how to work that one out. The long sleeves thing was troubling. Summers here are not just hot they are HOT and worse, they are humid. Wearing long sleeves sounds like an invitation to heat stroke!
We began doing our annual Dermotology check ups here and while again, everything initially looked ok, there was clearly some skin damage already apparent and again, that old sunburn was going to bite me at some point, and this time the suggestion was sunscreen, hat, limited exposure AND sunshirts.
Have you heard of these? The are long sleeved (of course) and made of some sort of fabric that wicks away moisture and protects the wearer from the sun. Hmmmm. Interesting. We went to the store straight away to check these things out. And that's where I learned several things: 1) Those shirts are dang expensive! 2) There were very few that fit me properly. My porportions are not the ones any clothing designer ever has in mind 3) they are EXPENSIVE! 4) they were not especially comfortable. I like softysoft fabric. These were not and of course 5) $$$$$. So I declined.
And didn't think about it one bit again until recently when I realized that the annual dermotology appointment was coming up again soon and I had done nothing regarding the sunshirt suggestion. I hate it when my doctor calls me on my BS. Dang it. I expressed my concern to Tim and I said, perhaps I needed to revisit the sunshirt idea even though I hated it.
That's when Tim got me these SunSleeves! All of them together cost less than one sunshirt and my arms are protected and I can wear them with any other shirt that I already have and they are softysoftsoft and they are super easy to take on and off and even to wash. Love 'em! I've been wearing them for all of my walks, even to the museum where, upon my arrival, I peel them off and before I leave I pull them back on.
They are sort of like wearing opera gloves. I feel very Audrey Hepburn! Nobody wore Opera Gloves as well as Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's". I'm not Audrey but here is me in one of my pair of SunSleeves:
And now I have something positive to report at my next dermatology appointment. Yay me! And oh yeah, also I'm more protected from the sun.
And by the way, this whole Vitamin D thing is very confusing. I am constantly told that as we get older we need more Vitamin D which, by the way is provided for free from the sun, but don't you dare spend time in the sun due to the resultant skin damage and possible flirtation with melanoma!! Make up your mind for heaven's sakes! It wasn't easy being young but dang, getting older is the hardest thing I think I've ever done.
At any rate, SunSleeves Ahoy! I vote Yes!
A few weeks back, for absolutely no reason at all, we woke up on a Saturday morning and decided to walk the couple of blocks to visit our local Farm Market. Every single Saturday, these hardy souls get up much earlier than we do and set up camp on Venice Avenue.
Our city blocks off that part of the street in both directions for the occasion and people come from miles around to shop. Locals, visitors, tourists and for all I know, aliens, descend upon our cutie-cute city to see what there is to see.
It's a year 'round event, every Saturday morning like clockwork, the vendors, (over 100 of them!) construct their canopies, back in their craft trailers, set out samples of their wares, paste on smiles and good sales attitudes and hope for the best.
It is literally no more than 3 or 4 blocks from our house and yet, and yet, and yet, we had not visited in probably 5 years. Geez! I guess it's sort of like the folks who live in NYC but never visited the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty. But on that particular day, we decided to check it out and see what has changed in the past half a decade.
Perhaps we didn't remember accurately what it was like at our first visit all those years ago, but it seemed as if it was more of a craft fair before. I mean yes, there were typical farm market things like produce and breads and pastries, but before, we both remembered it as mostly jewelry and shark tee-shirts and tie-dyed everything. Things that, while they are certainly absolutely fine and I'm sure people loved it, did not interest us and that is probably the reason we did not go back.
This time, yes, there was a little bit of jewelry and sunglasses and clothes, but there were far more food kiosks. It's not that I'm just a big of an oink - all thinking about food. It's a farm market. I don't think it' s unreasonable to assume that there would be farm products sold there. Right? I was not disappointed. On this visit things had changed. The things we expected were there and a whole lot of other stuff. There were gorgeous fresh from the farm fruits and veggies, one tent of just honey and bee related products and another of dried fruits, meats and veggies. It all looked delightful!
There were multiple restaurants represented and several different sorts of bakeries as well (yummy) There was a local coffee roaster and you could smell that throughout. Someone who makes their own hand lotions, soaps and shampoos was entertaining a lot of folks and a hand rolled cigar distributor was a huge surprise! An alpaca everything tent was on hand as well as the plants people with their jungle filled canopy.
Mushrooms, seafood and hand made pastas! Jellies and jams and preserves of all sorts! Cheeses and pretzels and bagels and...wait a minute, hold the phone. Bagels? Well yes, we did buy two bagels, one for each of us. We keep trying to find really good bagels down here and of course, still have not found it. BUT gotta keep trying right?
There were ice cream vendors and racks of gorgeous cookies and even products for your pets! We saw jars of pickles and fascinating salads and pies, oh lordy, the pies. Me oh my! Bins of teas, boxes of cheesecakes and the Venice Ale House was there too. There was even a musician serenading all of us, underscoring the event. It was delightful all the way around.
All we bought were the bagels, but what a lot of lovely things to choose from.
I think it's fair to say that we won't wait as long to visit again. I remind myself that these are all local folks trying to make their way in as relatively unfriendly world and our support helps to keep them going. Personally I would much rather spend my money on locally made products than factory made things from heaven knows where.
Is there a weekly farm market where you live? Do you visit it? Or like us, did it kind of drop off your radar as even existing? If you haven't been in awhile maybe it's time to go back and give it another chance.
Meanwhile, Have a perfectly lovely weekend!
Hugs all 'round.
Roses and Hydrandeas! A perfect combination. (Much like Tim and I) Awwwww.
Whether you were on the giving or receiving end of it, how was your Mother's Day? Mine was absolutely lovely. It started with these gorgeous flowers and two cards (it's always two cards in this house, one funny one and one sweet one) and then donuts for Breakfast! Yay donuts!
I got some wonderful texts and emails and phone calls and taken out for the dinner of my choice. Which ended up being take out from Crisp and Green - a local place that I adore. Sometimes I like eating in a restaurant but other times, I just want to relax in front of the TV dressed all comfy and sloppy and enjoy our meal that way. Yesterday was that day.
Even thought it really was kind of hot out, we even went for a short hike in a local preserve - again my choice entirely - and I took some photos while Tim and the various birds had conversations. He is amazingly good at duplicating their various songs so the exchanges go on for a long time. I have no idea what is being said, but it sounds so pretty.
The flowers Tim gave me are just gorgeous, I'm guessing hot house grown since they are so very perfect. Maybe that kind of kick started me having flowers on the brain yesterday because on our hike, almost every photo I took was of wildflowers so I had even more flowers to love. Of course the preserve posies are less than perfect, but sometimes that is part of what makes them special.
Sort of like mom's. We are not perfect either. But maybe it's that lack of perfection that makes us special. We are human and therefore flawed. Some days I am a little more flawed than other days. Does that make me more human? When I think back on those wonderful days when the kids were little, most of my memories are just the best things ever. I really really really loved raising my boys.
But of course, I do have regrets. Things I wish I had not said, or perhaps a tone I wish I had not used. Sometimes the regret is what I didn't do and probably should have. Or a situation I probably could have, and should have, handled better. But there is no time machine where I can go back and change any of it. So I try to focus mostly on the good stuff. The laughter, the hugs, the silliness and those moments of unbearable sweetness that still make me emotional just thinking about.
I'm sure my mother felt much the same way. Perhaps all Mother's do. Being a mom is the longest, hardest and BEST job I've ever had. Thank you to everyone who helped to celebrate me!
Here are some of the pretty wildflowers I captured on our Mother's Day hike:
And a couple of other shots:
Hope your Mother's Day, again regardless of whether you were the recipient the giver or both, was absolutely perfect!
The above rendering is of a human colon. It's complicated looking organ is it not? Yikes! What a mess! But I needed some sort of image for the top of the page and this suited since I thought I'd write about the colonoscopy I had this past Monday. And what an absolute delight that was. Insert a great deal of sarcasm here.
Well I suppose the actual procedure is no biggie. As far as I was concerned, it was simply a nice little nap. As anyone who has ever actually had a colonoscopy knows, it's the preparation for the procedure that is the issue.
This was the third one I've ever endured. One in Connecticut, one in Colorado and now one in Florida. There were lots of similarities but I don't think the differences were so much state to state as it is that things change in the medical world over ten years time. And thank goodness for that.
The first time for sure was the absolute worst. Possibly in part just because it was a new experience. But also because I was instructed to drink a literal gallon of the worst smelling and nastiest tasting stuff it has ever been my displeasure to be made aware of. And even worse than just having to drink it was the span of time in which it was supposed to be ingested. It was twenty (?) years ago so I do not recall the exact time frame but it was too short. I am positive of that part. Trying to force my body to not just drink, but keep, something that smelled and tasted that bad by essentially chugging it was just too much to suffer. It was revolting.
The second time, ten years down the road, was an improvement at least in that I was given a wider span of time to get it all down and it didn't seem to taste quite as bad (or was I getting used to it?) Also I had gotten smarter and ate less and less as the week prior went by. My thought process was that the less I ate, the less I had to eliminate. Turns out I was correct.
This time, another ten years later, I was given a choice of A) the drink and that would be a big no thank you or B) pills. Without knowing anything else about the process I quickly opted for the pills. As it turns out "the pills" means 24 tablets. Holy Cats!~ 24?? That doesn't sound right. And yet it was. 12 pills taken: 1 every 5 minutes for an hour at 7 pm the night before and another 12 pills again taken 1 every 5 minutes at 7 am the day of the procedure. It was a long night. But it worked exactly as it was supposed to and I was several pounds lighter by the end.
The first two colonoscopies were scheduled for very early in the mornig so while I wasn't allowed to eat the day before and then also drink nothing at all including water after midnight, I didn't really mind. As any woman of my era who has dieted throughout her entire life can attest, being hungry is nothing new to me. I can go without food. But I definitely got thirsty. This time the procedure was scheduled for 3:30 in the afternoon but actually didn't happen until 'til after 4 sometime. My lips were dry, my throat was getting sore and the inside of my mouth felt like I had been eating sand. I was Very Thirsty.
Still, I tried to just keep images of what I would eat and drink afterwards in my mind. And I had some great ideas too! It wasn't visions of sugar plums going through my head but more like pizza and burgers and ice cream and mostly water. Hot water, cold water, tepid water, iced water. Just anything liquid. My voice was gravelly from lack of moisture by the time we arrived at the surgical center and I was processed in very quickly, popped into my little cubicle, changed into a hospital gown, blood pressure taken, O2 tested and a needle was quickly and relatively painlessly stuck into the big vein in my hand. They gave me a lovely toasty warm blanket right out of the dryer to keep me warm and then I waited. And waited. And waited.
It was soooo boring. I did all sorts of games in my head: trying to list all of the states in alphabetical order, trying to remember every address and phone number I've ever had, trying to come up with 5 boys and 5 girls names for every letter of the alphabet, making mental pictures out of the acoustic tiles on the ceiling.......... I was really bored.
But eventually they came for me and wheeled my bed down to the procedure room, got me hooked up to everything and positioned properly quickquickquick then before I could say nighty night, it was lights out.
It took them three tries to wake me afterwards. Like I said, it was a really good nap. The first time, the doctor was in the room and reviewed the results. I remembered that he was in the room but that's it because I fell back to sleep. Probably before he left the room. How rude of me! The second time, a nurse reviewed the same information with me and I retained that a little better but I couldn't focus my eyes probably so I kept one closed the whole time aaannnddd fell back to sleep once again. The third time I suggested raising the head of the bed. My thought being that if I was more vertical, perhaps I would stay awake better. And I was correct.
I sleepily dressed myself and she walked me out the door to Tim waiting patiently with the car. I half dozed as we drove through Culver's to get some food. I half snoozed through the drive home. I nodded off a little bit while eating and fully just gave in and crashed afterwards.
All in all, it wasn't that horrible. A colonoscopy is an important test. And a great nap. If your doctor has recommended it and you have been procrastinating, stop putting it off and just do it. If I, the biggest whiny baby in the world, can go through the prep, then anyone can do it. It's kind of annoying but only for a little while and it could save your life. Literally.
To keep my spirits up the day of the procedure, a friend of mine sent me the following piece by humourist Dave Barry about having a colonoscopy that made me laugh out loud so I'm attaching it for your amusement. Hope it makes you laugh too:
Other than what appears to be a rather violent shade of yellow, do you see anything else wrong with this shirt? Yup, that's it. It's missing a button. I noticed it as soon as I pulled it out of the dryer and immediately went into panic mode. Missing button? Oh NO!
I searched the dryer thoroughly and found nothing. Logically, I next checked the washer and found no button there either. Dang. My first thought was to just throw the shirt away. But luckily I came to my senses and remembered that A) I actually like this shirt a lot despite it's colour and B) I don't own so many clothes that I can afford to just toss a perfectly good shirt just because it's missing a button. Ratz. Sometimes being practical is a pain.
As you may, or may not, recall, I am a non-sewer. I hate sewing. I hate it so much that just thinking about sewing (or attempting to sew) make me itch. Joy, on the other hand, is a great seamstress. She used to make her kids clothes, altering and mending things was a quick afternoon's work and her quilts are works of art. Just like our Nana, sewing is not so much a chore for her as a pleasurable way to pass time.
Unlike me. Clearly, I did not get the sewing gene. I'm the one who got kicked out of Home Ec class during the sewing part because I accidentally ran my thumb through with the sewing machine needle (while using the machine, mind you) and it kind of, sort of, broke the machine. They sent me to art class instead. I wasn't any better at art, but I didn't break anything. Childhood traumas!
It did not improve as I got older. In fact, it only got worse. I've worn things with missing buttons, I do iron-on appliques to patch holes, I fold back cuffs rather than alter the length, I wear skirts and dresses at all sorts of bad lengths to avoid taking it up and I have been known to tape a torn hem rather than sew it, I will confess.
First I decided to fully search the entire house for the missing button. Clearly it fell off the shirt somewhere! I looked under everything - found two hair ties and several dust bunnies, I took all of the cushions off the sofa and even went through a vacuum cleaner bag (yucky job). I even checked the car. No button. double dang. Next, I allowed myself a full blown, adult sized, internal tantrum which culminated in eating an entire pint of Talenti Ice Cream. And then I felt a little better.
At this point, I had to just face facts. I wasn't just going to have to sew on one button, but all of the buttons now because the odds of finding the exact same button anywhere were somewhere between slim and none. Crap.
I whined about it to Tim who suggested that before I worked myself up into a rage, perhaps we should go to a sewing store and actually see if they have similar buttons. Even though I was dubious about the probability of finding a matching button, off we went to Joanne's Fabrics. We searched through all of the button cards and ultimately learned that I was correct. No matching or even close to matching buttons. Of all the times to be right about something. Tim suggested just finding another button that would work and having one odd button, that way I only have to suffer through replacing one. But I am way too OCD to have one mismatched button. (on the other hand if all of the buttons were different, that would look intentional and I'd be ok with that. But it doesn't change the reality - I would still be replacing them all)
Once we got back home, I had to sulk for a few days first, then finally, I kicked myself in the butt, mentally, and firmly told myself to Cowboy Up! It's not digging ditches after all, it's just sewing. Just sewing - HAH!
At any rate, it was time to get out the button box. This is my actual button box:
Now why I, a non-sewer, even have a button box is a bit of a mystery even to me. Habit perhaps? Nana had giant coffee cans filled to the brim with buttons. That's cans, plural. Any time a garment of any sort was no longer repairable, the first thing Nana would do was cannibalize it. She cut out the zipper (if was still good) and saved that with other zippers, cut off the buttons and put them in one of the cans, and then cut the good parts of the garment at the seams, washed and ironed those pieces and save them for future use. No Waste! Obviously there would be no reason for me to save fabric or zippers but buttons, yes. If I think of it before I throw something away, yes I still do cut off the buttons and add them to the button box. And there they usually just sit there quietly forever.
This time, however, I sorted through looking for buttons of the correct size. It took some time and a lot of patience. Not something I have in tremendous amounts. But eventually I found enough of the same - or similar enough - buttons to replace them all. I put them in a little pile and then closed the button box and put it away. Then did nothing at all with the shirt for several more days. I knew I was going to have to start this project with calm. I was not feeling calm.
Eventually came the day I couldn't put it off any longer. I dragged out my sewing box. This is what passes for my sewing box. And by the way, I have never once had to replace a single spool of thread in this box. That's how little I sew. Everything in this box is original from the time that I first put together a sewing box, which is so long ago now that I no longer recall it's original.
I sat at the kitchen table in front of the big bay window on a bright sunny day, gathered up all of my implements of destruction (thank you Arlo Guthrie) AND a box of bandaids, took a deep breath and began.
The first hurdle of course, is threading the damned needle. I cannot even begin to describe how annoying this part is. The back of my neck tenses up so much that before I've even begun the project, my neck aches and the ache begins to creep up and up until I also have a headache. Great start eh? I tried threading with my reading glasses on and then, when that doesn't work, with them off. I tried threading from the right (with my right hand) and then from the left (left hand). After about 15 minutes of it not working, I set everything down quietly and walked away to calm down.
Eventually, of course, through some sort of magical intervention, I actually got the needle threaded. Woo hoo! And in under a half hour too. I think that's a new record. Encouraged, I began to cut off the old buttons. I sawed away at the old thread with my little mini-scissors in vain. I snipped and clipped and hacked and pulled and, once again, occasionally had to just walk away to calm down, but at long last, all the buttons were off and I could start putting the new buttons on.
Actually I decided that that would be a great time to take a break. I would start fresh once more after a nice little walk and a snack. Deep Breaths, deep breaths.
I returned from my break and started anew. It took multiple more occasions of stepping away and returning, several finger stabbings and bandaid applications but ultimately I was successful. I spent most of the day working on it but dang it, I emerged from the fray triumphant! I did not let that button defeat me!
As long as you don't look at the back of the buttons, which is a gnarly mess of tangled thread and snarls and knots, I would say that overall I did not do a bad job. What's important here is that it's done. I've since worn and washed the shirt and it came out of the wash with all buttons still attached so I must not have done a terrible job of it.
I'm rather proud of myself. Despite the tantrums and procrastination and whining, eventually I did it. I kind of feel like I want to say Taadaa! And so I shall.
How about a bonus post this week? Yes? Things change don't they. For a long time (multiple years in fact) I wrote up a new blogpost every weekday. Monday through Friday, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. And that's a lot of posts! 260 a year! Wow! And then I started to, occasionally, drop one each week so it was only 4 posts a week, randomly dropping one day here and there, so about 208 posts annually. Last year there were big gaps, weeks with no posts at all - reasonable and understandable during my medical leave of absences. And when I got better and started posting regularly again, somehow, it got chopped down to only two posts a week. (?) Not sure how that happened.
And then I woke up this morning with an idea for a different topic and said to myself, "Be sure to write down this idea before you forget so you can write it up next week". (I absolutely have to write everything down anymore - geez) Then I asked myself why I was saving it for a future post. Why not just write it up today? It's not like there are laws or rules on the blogsite after all. And even if there were, it's My blogsite! If there ARE rules, they are My rules which means I can change them.
Suddenly I feel so very strong and powerful :)
The topic for this post (which I was originally planning to save) has to do with penmanship. Mine specifically. My handwriting is horrible. I suppose my arthritis is partly to blame, my fingers no longer do as I command them! But I have to be honest, my crippled up digits are only part of the problem. My handwriting has always been bad.
One of the elementary schools that I attended actually graded students on their handwriting. Because it wasn't an academic subject, it wasn't given the usual A,B,C or D but instead the dreaded S or U. Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. Those were the options. Win or lose. You were either in or out, up or down, good or bad, there was no grey area when it came to penmanship. Every marking period I brought home a nice list of A's and B's on my academics and S's for everything else EXCEPT penmanship. Oh dear.
It's not like I didn't try. I did! I tried very hard! I really did not want that Unsatisfactory marring my lovely report card. And yet, there it was, marking period after marking period. U for penmanship. Sigh.
I suppose it's a genetic thing. My mother's handwriting was appalling. Practically illegible. Any letter or note she every wrote to me, I'd have to puzzle out. Sometimes it would involve consulting with other people - "What do you think this word is?" And we would, as a group, try to sort it out. It was, very nearly, a parlour game.
I was given writing exercises to do - endless loops across the page - and shown example after example of perfect penmanship to attempt to emulate. "Slow down!" they told me over and over, "If you would just slow down" which didn't help at all. I remember tearfully re-writing and re-rewriting my homework night after night in an effort to produce a better product. Which was an exercise in futility because the ugly Unsatisfactory still showed up without fail.
Eventually came the time when I managed to create some sort of handwriting that was deemed "good enough". My papers were no longer returned to me marked "unable to read" and I gave a huge sigh of relief. I no longer had to fight with my pens. My writing, while not satisfactory, was good enough. I can live with that.
Of course at some point, perhaps junior high school?, I was given a typewriter and from that point forward Everyone was happier because my handwriting was no longer an issue. Except of course for my signature and I heard multiple lectures about how awful that was. Oh well.
My great grandmother (on the other side of the family ) had exquisite handwriting. I believe it was called copperplate. I have a few cherished letters from her and although the ink is a little faded, her beautiful handwriting is still a marvel to behold. Nearly art. It's less like writing and more like drawing I think. It's very nearly calligraphy. Makes mine look even worse by comparison.
Nowadays, I actually write, I mean with pen and ink- actually writing on paper, very little. A signature in a birthday card, a quick note left for Tim when I go out during the day, or maybe a grocery list is about the extent of it. Everything is done on a computer with a keyboard which is just upgraded typing. So the only person truly inconvenienced by my awful penmanship is me. I admit that there are times in the grocery store where I have to stop and stare at the list in my hand - my own list which I wrote - to figure out what a particular item listed is.
Yes, yes, I know, I could write my list on my phone which is actually typing not writing but I absolutely hate typing on my phone. Those tiny little buttons ! ARGH! So I still take a pen and write on paper, tuck the paper in my pocket, go to the grocery store and then stand random aisles trying to determine if the word I'm looking at is plums or tums.
Here are a few random word samples that I wrote for this post. This is my real handwriting and I 'slowed down' and 'made an effort' just so you know:
I actually do still hear those teacher voices in my head when I'm writing, especially when I'm making a sincere effort to write legibly. So sad. I think you can probably make out most of the phrases. From top to bottom it's : dancing divas, feline frolics, bedazzled beauty and timid tortoise. Not too horrible, right? Right?
Okay. Well all of that was to say the following.
I had to pick up a prescription at the grocery store recently and the pharmacist said, as they always do, to sign the screen on the left . All righty. But the stylus to sign with was missing so he suggested that I just use my finger on the screen. It not only looked nothing like my actual signature, it didn't even look like writing. It was just scribble. And that passes, every single day, as an acceptable signature. What the heck?
Worse is when I have to "sign" medical papers on line and they say to just draw your signature with your mouse. I cannot draw with my mouse. I can barely click with my mouse. That "signature" is even worse. UPS and FedEx deliveries that have to be signed for is again, using a finger on a screen. It's just ishkabibble, it's not writing!
All of those years of being browbeaten over my horrible handwriting and nearly illegible signature was for naught. It's irrelevant anymore. My so-called signature is basically and S with a line followed by an H with a line and a curlicue on the end for the "s".
I feel, oddly , vindicated. Years of Unsatisfactories have now been, not just throw away, but mentally torn into tiny pieces, burned and then thrown into a black hole. As it turns out, Good Enough really and truly was good enough. So there!
Now this time when I wish you a happy weekend, I really mean have a Great Weekend. See ya sometime next week!
Hugs all 'round.
I know, I know, last week I said that there would be no Photo Safari Report this week. Looks like I was mistaken. Oops. Sorry about that. Can you stand another one? Because honestly, it's up to you. I'll just post it here and if you want to read it you can and if not, it's here anyway :)
At any rate, this one was not like the usual hikes Joy and I take as it is not in a preserve but rather just a trail that wanders around for about four miles 'round trip. The beach was always on our right, somewhere behind the trees and undergrowth with little hidden pathways and the intercoastal was forever on our left, also mostly hidden.
I guess I will call this the Caspersen Beach Hike even though it's really all the same beach. The entire west side of the island is beach, all the same beach, but with differently named access points. This one is Caspersen. So, it works.
We stayed mostly on the trail. Not for fear of getting lost but because it's the ONLY path on this particular hike. Impossible to get lost :)
But we did walk down a number of little paths both to the left and to the right to see what there was to see by the water. It's incredible how much the view changes from one vantage point to the next:
What else was there to see? A few birds, mostly sea birds but not all!
There were a few other critters:
Even a few flowers and other pretty botanicals:
And maybe a couple of other photos?
Wishing all ya'll a terrific weekend !
This is, quite obviously, a can opener. Handy little gadget. Tim bought this one for me at least 10 years ago, back in Colorado. And it was, at the time, an especially thoughtful gift because the handle was made specifically for people like me who have arthritis in their hands. That over sized crank was very helpful and much appreciated. I used the absolute heck out of it in the subsequent years.
But because it was been well used, the blade has (as blades do) dulled and it had gotten to the point where I would have to go 'round any can 3 or 4 times at minimum to open it. Ridiculous and of course painful for my hands. It was aggravating. It was time to seek out a new can opener.
So I went online looking to see what sort of new innovations there are in the realm of can openers. New things are being invented all the time. Why not in can opener world? Don't laugh because I was not disappointed. I found a product called, "Kitchen Mama", a name that made me smile all on it's own.
Have you heard of this product? In case you have not, here you go. It's the silliest looking thing and the least can openery looking can opener I've ever seen. More than anything it looks like an oversized capsule. And guess what, there is no crank. No crank? Then how does it work? Perhaps by magic? Perhaps not.
I read about it, watched a You Tube video, and read about it more. Then I told Tim about it and he was sufficiently impressed that he ordered it for me. It arrived over the weekend. I tore into that package like a badger!
I didn't even bother reading the instructions (well to be fair, I almost never bother with the instructions - shame on me). I just loaded the batteries in, found a jar of olives in the pantry that, sure, could be opened, why not. I set the giant capsule on top of the can, pushed the button and voila!
A perfectly opened can of olives with No Sharp Edges!
Holy Cats! I was so excited! I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning. I was overcome with an urge to open every can in the pantry. I did not, of course, but I REALLLLLY wanted to. I have since opened a can of baked beans (to go with the hamburgers I made for dinner that night) and that can opened up just as beautifully and effortlessly. WOW!
I cannot recommend this can opener enough. If you are looking for a new can opener, check out the Kitchen Mama one. In fact, even if you aren't, look it up on You Tube and watch the video. Coolest Gadget Ever!
BUT that wasn't the only thing in the package. No. When Tim ordered the new can opener for me, he also ordered something else. And it took me a few minutes to figure out what it was. I'll show you a picture:
Looks a little Star Trekian or maybe something from the Jetsons. Actually come to think of it, the new can opener made me feel a little like Jane Jetson too. (remember that old cartoon?) Give up?
It's a jar opener! I did not request one. Never felt I needed one actually because Tim is my official jar opener. Any jar that needs to be opened that I cannot open on my own, I hand to him without a word, and he opens it and hands it back without a word. No conversation necessary. We both know our roles in that particular little dance. But he is either tired of being my jar opener OR he is thinking...what if he isn't around when I need a jar opened? Or what if he is busy on a work phone call and I am having a jam jar emergency? It could happen!
Of course I had to try it out. Of course I did! And this one I did read the instructions for. I will be honest, this one took me a couple of tries to get the "feel" for doing it. But once I got it, I got it. And from that moment forward, it's been easy peasy. And what was the first thing I opened? Ice cream of course!
Worked perfectly too :) Tried it again last night on a jar of spaghetti sauce. Awesome!
Two gadgetty products that I highly recommend. I have never been a gadget sort of person so I'm surprised at how much I love both of these. My dad was really into gadgets. My sister and I gigglingly referred to him as "Gadget Man" when we were kids. heh. Gadget Man. I guess was his super hero name.
But me? Not even a little bit. I have said no thank you very much please to lots of gadgets from bread makers to pasta machines to snap on strainers, no thanks. I have nothing against them, just never felt the need for them. I don't like a lot of extraneous stuff cluttering up my kitchen. But dang, these two gadgets have won me over. Especially the Kitchen Mama Can opener. That thing is a game changer.
There you have it folks, the tale of two gadgets. And I highly recommend them both.
And since the whole thing feels so space aged to me I will close today with the phrase that everyone recognizes but is still of the future:
"Live well and Prosper"
Why oh why oh why would Sam be on the phone out there on the trails in a forest instead of just hiking and taking photos and enjoying a beautiful day? Hmmmm? Any thoughts? It is definitely unusual behaviour.
While you mull that question over I will also apologize for two Photo Safari Reports in a row. Also not my usual sort of thing. Generally I only inflict upon you, my loyal and faithful readers, one a week. But this one was a rather different hike and I wanted to be sure I got it all written up before I had forgotten any of the salient details. In fact, I think I will call it A Different Sort of Hike.
The hike started out much the same as every hike with Joy and I choosing a destination, driving there, loading pockets (me) and backbacks (Joy) with all the necessary stuff, then slinging our cameras over our shoulders and our cares far away and hitting the trails with enthusiasm and energy. That part was exactly the same as always.
The first thing that was different this time was that we decided to commit to one and only one trail. Normally we start out that way but then get distracted with interesting things and wander off here, there and everywhere. Nope, this time, we were determined. One trail and one trail only. With that thought in mind we opted for the yellow trail which is a 5 mile commitment. No worries. We can do 5 miles with no problem. Off we went on the yellow trail which is a giant loop. This is what the markers look like. They aren't huge but usually, they are easy enough to spot.
I say usually because one of the things that changed was the landscape itself. Very Different! Right away we found devastation of some sort:
Yikes! What happened here? This isn't leftover hurricane stuff. Normally this area would be so green and lush! More like:
I think that threw us off a little bit. At times it was even hard to determine where the actual trail was as opposed to where it wasn't. However, we saw greener areas ahead and forged on. Eventually, with great relief, we got to the prettier part of the trails and continued on, always staying on the yellow trail. Follow the Yellow Brick Road!
We got lots of insect pictures. And that was different too. A delightful difference:
We saw lots of birds! We saw Birds in the air (for once I was able to track birds in flight! woohoo!):
Birds in the water:
Birds in Trees and bushes (and two on the ground):
Some pretty botanicals too (of the bugless variety):
And two gopher tortoises, one big and one little:
And I'm sure you will agree that after seeing and photographing all of those wonderful things and walking all of those miles which involved many hours, it makes complete sense that we would be getting tired. We were really glad that we were near the end of our hike. Except that, the end of the hike didn't look like the beginning. In general, when you hike a loop, the end looks very much like the start just backwards, which is what we anticipated. But, but, but, it was not. And that was Very Different.
Instead, somehow, mysteriously, we had moved from the yellow trail to the orange trail. Odd. But no big deal, we've been on the very tiny orange trail many times on our way to somewhere else. So down the ravine on one side and up the ravine on the other and we should come out at...where the heck were we? How did we get on the green trail? No matter, we've been on the green trail plenty of times too. We know the green trail. And onward we trudged, for another hour only to find ourselves back at the beginning of the green trail. What? How did this happen?
At this point, I would like to mention that the hurricane last autumn did some real damage to the park and not everything looks exactly the same as it used to. And some of the markers were obscured (or perhaps destroyed?) by fallen trees and brush. Also there are always changes going on, controlled burns, new trails being created, old trails closed for one reason or another. Consequently, many of our usual points or reference simply weren't there. More differences and this time in a bad way. Oh dear.
We were both very dirty, very tired, foot sore and thirsty. We had been hiking for more than 5 hours and 7 miles and we were done. The thing we needed at this point was clear directions to get back. No more circling.
So I did what any normal reasonable person would do. I called for help.
I don't know about any other state parks but in Florida here and there throughout the park are benches. And on each of those benches is a plaque that has the Ranger Assistance Call number on it. And, equally important, a bench number. We were at Bench #13. Which, as it is a low number, seems as if it ought to be close to the beginning, right?
It was wildly embarrassing. We aren't newbie hikers after all. And it wasn't our first time hiking that park or even that trail. I have no idea how we got all ishkabibbled. But the fact of that matter is, that is the fact of the matter. We had no idea how to get back. If we were not so tired, it wouldn't have been such a big deal. We could have just done the trial and error method. You know, keep trying various paths until you finally get the right one. But we were done. In fact, we were over done.
The ranger who answered the phone had every right to call us idiots but refrained. Instead he was very kind, very helpful and gave us clear and relatively easy directions back. I repeated his directions and he confirmed that I understood him correctly. He asked for my name and phone number (don't want anybody lost in the park after dark! That's when the big critters come out to play!) which, of course I happily gave.
Okay. With the directions clear in my head, we set off for what we desperately hoped was the last leg of the trip and this time, with far more confidence, even though our butts were dragging big time. Huzzah Huzzah, it worked. Once we were in the car and on the road, I called the ranger station back to let them know we made it out safely (so they didn't come looking for us) and thanked them in a bigly huge sort of way.
It was quite the adventure! So much for the plan of staying on one trail eh?
Anyway, it's all over and done and we got back safely and I suspect that we won't be hitting those particular trails again for some time. I promise you no more Photo Safari Reports this week and possibly not next week either. We'll take a little break from that.
Hugs all 'round and Peace!
Are you ready for another Photo Safari Report? I hope so because I have one for you. And I'm calling this one, the Last Perfect Weather of the Season Hike. A long title to be sure, but accurate. I do not honestly know if that was the actual literal last perfect weather of the season, but this time of year it starts to get iffy. Mixed in with the very nice days are a few not so nice days. We have occasional rainy days, gloomy days and the worst of the worst, the humidity begins to make a reappearance.
It's not August horrible yet by any stretch of the imagination and the temperatures are not spiking into the high 80's or 90's yet. But as the weeks of April begin to lean toward May and May stretches her little arms out to June the nice days are fewer and the hotter, more humid days increase until suddenly it's July and every single day is hothothot and humidhumidhumid and there is the strong possibility of some sort of precipitation.
This was NONE of those days. It was, as I said, not merely a nice day. It was absolutely perfection. It wasn't too hot or too cold. There was a lovely gentle breeze the entire time. And the fragrance in the air was almost too good to be true. Heaven on a hiking trail. We were gone for many miles and many hours and if it wasn't that we both had other things that needed to be done that day, we would probably have stayed a lot longer.
Also saw some very cool stuff. I nearly called this the Woodpecker hike because we saw so many of them. Mostly we saw Red-Bellied Woodpeckers which is the sort that used to live in our courtyard so I'm sure you are familiar with those.
But to our delight and surprise we also saw a red-headed woodpecker, our first this year. (To be fair I think Joy may have seen one or two when she hikes in other places on her own but it was our first seen in any of our usual hiking spots). Such a pretty little birdie
There were other birds to be sure, lots of crows and vultures and cute little warblers of one sort or another
But the biggest surprise was near the end of our hike. We were very near the entrance when we found our first Bluebird of the season (once again, probably not Joy's first of the season, but definitely mine) Bluebirds make me smile. Probably because of the old fashioned associations that go along with it. You know the one, the Bluebird of Happiness! What a cutie
Enough with the birds already, I can hear you thinking. So okeydokey, we will move on to maybe some pretty botanicals? Sure why not?
We are starting to see more and more butterflies and dragonflies but I haven't quite gotten the hang of capturing them. (They move so fast!) I managed to get one, which was a surprised because it was a very Green Dragonfly who was in a very Green area. So the result was a surprise - a happy one to be sure!
I suppose the rest of the photos are just rando's though as we all know, those are always my favourites. And now that I'm sorting through the rando's, well, it's mostly trees and photos of the trails. So here are mostly photos of trees and trails!
And there you have it. The Last Perfect Weather of the Season Hike. You know, since Joy and are are currently limited in where we can hike, you would think that every time we went out, we would see the exact same things. I admit there is some repetition, after all it's hard to tell one crow from another or one palm tree from another, but I am continually surprised and pleased at how much difference we find from one Photo Safari to another.
I sincerely hope you aren't weary of seeing my Photo Safari Reports because I am absolutely not tired of doing them. :)
What was the name of the night time talk show guy who had the bit on "stupid human tricks"? Maybe David Letterman? I think that was it. It was a clever (and sometimes mind boggling) regular segment. Everyone on this planet has at least one sort of stupid human trick that we can do. Usually the trick - or ability - is a fairly useless but at least mildly interesting and unusual ability like wiggling your ears or quirking one eyebrow independently of the other or being able to touch this tip of your nose with your tongue.
One of my more useless "stupid human tricks" is that I can write and read forwards and backwards. Writing backwards is called Dysgraphia and even though the ability is effortless and natural for me, it has never once in my entire life come in handy except as a parlour trick. Dang.
One of my more useful stupid human tricks used to be Very Handy indeed and it involves maps. (I will reveal the actual "trick" later in the post). For those of you younger than my own children, before the advent of computer micro chips and cell phones and GPS or NAV systems, finding your way somewhere unfamiliar involved a map printed on paper. Shocking, I know! They were available for purchase almost everywhere. Gas stations in particular always had a rack of them. Or a person could buy a huge spiral bound book of maps called an Atlas. Ours were printed by Rand McNally. Funny the things a person remembers :)
Because we travelled a LOT when I was a kid, we had a lot of maps. And they were used and reused and re-re-used until the paper they were printed upon became very soft and apt to tear. We had many a map that had been scotch taped repeatedly but tape when I was a kid wasn't forever. After a relatively short time it would yellow and lose it's stickiness and fall off the paper requiring a re-taping and then a re-re-taping and the times in between the taping meant that we had to be extremely gentle when handling.
They started out small and crisp and tidy in a cleverly folded rectangle:
But when unfolded, opened to the size of the entire table top! Which is rather cumbersome while driving a car. Fully opened it was about the same size as a cars front window! Yikes! So normally, whoever was manning the map - the navigator - would refold the map into a much more manageable size revealing only the immediate section needed.
And then as the journey progress, the map would need to, once again, be refolded showing the new 100 or so miles of the journey. Over and over this would repeat until the original folds of the map were indistinguishable from the newly created folds. My terrific stupid human trick? I am able (still to this day) to refold the map into it's originally intended shape. Holy Cats! Yeah, I know, that doesn't sound like much does it. But I promise you, way back when, that was a skill baby!
It didn't matter how fragile an old many times used map was or how many tears now existed on the edges and within the folds or how many new foldy lines existed, somehow I was always able to recreate it to it's pristine original little package. Taadaa!
You Scoff? Hah! Obviously you never did a cross country trip in the car with my Dad behind the wheel, trying to beat his old time while my mother was singing at the top of her voice and my sister was needing to pee but trying to hold it and the dogs were dashing back and forth from side to side of the car getting nose prints all over the windows and a cat or two was roaming loose and a there was a gold fish in a cool whip container on the floor. I did it and I did it right every single time.
I was almost always the appointed navigator in the car. It was probably mostly due to my stellar map folding abilities but also because of my awesome map reading abilities. I adore reading maps. Calculating the approximate distance from where we were to where we were going by using my finger and the "legend" at the bottom of the page.
There is so much unexpected information on a papermap. The GPS can probably tell you the name of any businesses in the surrounding area but the papermap tell you About those businesses or attractions, restaurants, etc. There is always a list of all of the towns in whatever state your map represents and you can find it easily using the letters across the top and the numbers down the side of the map. Waitsfeld Vermont is at E-8 , so I find the E and the top and the 8 on the side and where they meet, yup she is...Waitsfeld Vermont. Coolio. Works every time.
On the GPS on my phone or the one in the car I see our immediate area, on my big old papermap I see the entire state and all of the rivers and mountains (labeled of course), the big cities and small towns, the highways and byways and dusty dirty roads.
I know which roads are Toll Roads and where the nearest airports are and I even know the general population of every city in the state. I can find rest areas and I know the elevations and which roads are closed in wintertime. Right there are the Ferries to get you across bridgeles areas and state parks and alternate routes and Scenic Attractions Galore!
If I wanted to camp (which is silly because I never want to camp) I can find all of the campground options. If I wanted to contact the Department of Historic Sites, the phone number and website are listed right there on the map. Hunting and Fishing licensing and regulations.....yup that's on the map too.
I especially liked reading the names of towns and streets as we zoomed down the road. Often I would read them out loud just to hear how they sounded. I always looked for the names of people or places that were familiar to me. And in fact, I still do that. We have driven down many a road that was not where we needed to be just because of it's name. Humphreys Drive? You better believe we are going to check that out!
And eventually we would reach our destination and everybody and their dog would pile out of the car and finally I would have the space I needed to spread out that map to it's full size once again and refold it back to the way it started.
Clearly this is not an ability that gets much use these days. But nostalgically, it is somehow still and always connected to my childhood and is therefore of great importance. The ability to refold a papermap. HAH! What a stupid human trick. Or wait. I wonder if that is connected to ability to properly fold a fitted sheet? Hmmmmmm
Normally, at this time on a Monday, Joy and I would be deep into our Photo Safari, happy snapping everything in sight. We would already be dirty and our shoes and socks would be soaked from walking through dew-heavy grasses. (It's a wonder we don't have trench foot!) However, in the rather early not quite light today, we both, in our respective homes, woke up to full orchestration thunder and lightening and pouring rain. Joy texted me first to cancel just ahead of me doing the same. So there goes our Monday morning plans. Time to fall back and regroup.
So today I think I will write up our last Photo Safari instead which was finishing up the Lemon Bay hike we began the week before. If you follow that. I'm not 100 percent certain that I do. At any rate, I am calling this the Lemon Bay Hike Part II because we literally finished what we began the previous week.
As I stated in the last photo safari report last week, the Lemon Bay Hike was one of discovery. Neither of us had even been there before so we had no idea what to expect. Since this was our second visit, it was mostly about finding out what else was there waiting to be discovered. As you can clearly see in the photos below, we 'discovered' a small wooden bridge fairly early in the hike.
And then there was my personal goal. I was determined to find water. Where the heck was the Lemon Bay part of the name? I could see it on the birds eye view map that I looked at on the computer at home. It was right there, about an inch and a half away. But which path should we take to get there? How could we, as hikers in the preserve, manage to find the actual Lemon Bay? A bay is a relatively large body of water which would make it hard to hide, right? We kept thinking we were close, perhaps around the next turn or over the next little rise? But no. This was the ONLY water we saw and it was just a little peek-a-view:
Pretty enough for sure, but dang, what a disappointment to have traversed trail after trail, path after path, over bridges, up (admittedly small) inclines and down into gulleys and then leave having never seen the actual Lemon Bay. Drat.
We did however stumble across a large concrete structure in the middle of nothing out there. It looked like a very strange garage. A discovery to be sure and a rather mysterious one at that.
I managed to capture more insects than usual so that was a nice treat. There was one doggone dragonfly that I absolutely could not get a clear shot of. The wind was blowing just enough that the blade of grass he was desperately hanging onto kept swaying, first one way, then the other. I'll include the best blurry shot of that for absolutely no good reason at all:
I don't know if you recall or not, but at the previous trip to Lemon Bay, we found a tree with not one, but two eagles in it! And they were up close and personal which was very cool. This time we saw only one of the eagles. No idea where the other one was.
Naturally I captured some pretty botanicals. I love everything out there and try very hard to get pictures of the best stuff, but let's face it, things that don't move are my photography jam:
What else did we discover: Let's see, there were a lot of gorgeous paths and some very interesting trees:
A few other things that don't fit any other category really, so here you go, have some rando's:
So that's about it. I think I've pretty well catalogued all of our discoveries now from the Lemon Bay Preserve (Parts I and II) hike. We had a great time, as we always do, but I think we about covered it and probably do not need to return there for awhile.
Since we weren't able to hike today, I'm not positive when we will be getting back out there, but for sure, we will at some point. And then, of course, I will write about it, so stay tuned!
Hugs all 'round
There an old Gene Autry song, "Back in the Saddle Again" which most of you probably never heard. (Who the heck is Gene Autry?) Never mind, I remember the song, and that was the song that came to mind when I got the email from my boss at the museum asking if I thought I was ready to return.
My answer was a rather tentative yes. In my heart I was ready to get back to it but I wasn't sure if my brain was up to the task. After all, it had been .................. awhile. This would actually be my second return. January 10th was the original date of the Great Museum Redux. After being gone nearly an entire year on a series of medical leaves of absence, on that sunny Tuesday early in 2023, with both excitement and anxiety, I stepped back into the museum to see what had changed, what hadn't and how much I remembered.
As it turned out, I did fine. I remembered most everything I needed to, learned quickly anything I had forgotten and the things that were new and I was delighted to be back at it. My boss got me integrated back into the schedule and things were looking good. The very next day, January 11th, is when I tripped and fell and broke my arm in two places and was back out for another three months. Dang.
So this was my triumphant re-return. I surprised myself by remembering my password to get into the computer (upon my previous return, I did not - that was a whole thing). I remembered all of the names, dates and history of this'n'that and most of the processes and protocols. I definitely lost my "touch" with the various quirky video players and needed help getting those turned on. (dang!) but I'm sure it will all come back to me eventually. On the other hand, I was pleased to see that I hadn't lost my touch with our guests. Without giving it a seconds thought, I stepped right back into that role, greeting, touring, guiding, answering questions and doing all the things a good docent does. Kind of an organic thing I suppose.
The thing I had forgotten, however, was how exhausting it is to be "on" like that for hours at a time. My goodness! Once I got home, I wanted nothing more than silence and a nap. Not water, not food, just quiet and a little snooze. I guess it takes more energy and effort that I realized to be a good host. And that's sort of what a docent is. Or at least it's part of the role.
Hostess, teacher, bouncer, security, fundraiser, housekeeper, secretary, librarian, information desk and retail clerk are only a fraction of what the job entails but I like it. It suits me. And I am very happy to be back in that particular saddle, once again.
On the other hand, the same week, I got very brave and for the first time in a long time, got back into another, different, saddle; the wheel of my car. Yikes. Turns out that I do not like driving any more than I did before. And perhaps a little less. It was such a strange sensation to be in the drivers seat again after so long (nearly a year!).
First of all I had to really gear myself up for it. " You can do this!" I told my reflection in the mirror very firmly. Second of all, I had to remember how to readjust the seat and mirrors. Honestly took me a few minutes and I never did get the drivers seat in the exact right spot which means that I had to sit up Very Straight and Tall to see properly (I had forgotten that there is a button to raise the seat vertically rather than just forward and back - oops) And I never did figure out how to turn on the water sprayer to clean the front window. Oh well.
Then, horror or all horrors, I had to back out of the driveway! Holy Cats. My heart was pounding the entire time. Please don't let there be anyone behind me that I don't see! (there wasn't) And then of course, I had completely lost my touch (that word once again) for the correctly applying the right amount of pressure to the brake pedal and found myself ever so grateful for the invention of seatbelts! I felt like an inexperienced, brand new, first time driver once again. Terrifying.
But somehow, I - very slowly - crept down the street (luckily the speed limit is very low on the island so it didn't bother anyone but the folks who drive too fast anyway) and made it all the way to the grocery store which is all of a mile away. Geez Sam! I had barely begun to achieve some level of comfort behind the wheel when I arrived at my destination with weak knees and my heart pounding. It took two tries to lock the doors when I got out of the car (Pushed the wrong button on the key fob the first time) But the fact of the matter is that I did it. Yay me. I took a deep breath, did my shopping, loaded up the car and after taking a few more deep breaths, made the return trip home safe and sound.
And I haven't driven since. But then I don't need to. Most of the time, other than grocery shopping, I can do everything the way I prefer to do it, on foot. But at least now I know that if absolutely necessary, if it is sadly essential, yes, I do remember how to drive a car. That particular saddle, I have returned to reluctantly.
The museum saddle is buckled onto a beautiful, well trained horse that is a pleasure to ride. The car saddle is strapped onto a recalcitrant old mule that bites.
But I guess the point here is that I am now officially returned to as "normal" as I ever get and that is a nice place to be.
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.