Thursday, July 31, 2008

Another Day in Paradise


When I left Bruce at the job site on Tuesday he asked if I knew where I was going. I told him I would head towards the beach and see what happened. I took the causeway over to Jensen Beach because I wanted to re-visit the site where I found the "Life's a Beach" carved into the boardwalk hand rail. Guess what? Possibly (what am I thinking using the word possibly when I should have said probably?) reflecting the current mood of the country, someone wrote over it with "life's a bitch"; so much for improving that shot!

While there I met a retired lifeguard who told me about Bathtub Beach on the southernmost tip of the island. This is exactly what I love--being out & about and finding new and interesting places to explore. On the drive there you come across a very interesting place called Gilbert's Bar House of Refuge. One of ten houses of refuge for shipwreck victims built along the Florida coast in the 1870's, it is the only one remaining. Because the population was so sparse in those days sailors might survive the wreck but once on land they would die of starvation. As a result of a public outcry the U. S. Life-Saving Service began which in later years merged with the Revenue Cutter Service to become the U.S. Coast Guard. A little history lesson for all of us.

The keeper of the station and his family would comb the shoreline after a storm looking for victims to aide. Daily logs provide a small glimpse into life back then. What I like about going into these old houses is seeing the products used at the time--you know, the various medical remedies, and cooking products. As well, along our shores there are warnings about sea turtle nesting season with fines posted for interfering with the nests. The man responsible for that began his work alongside the House of Refuge. Don't you just love that name?

As far as Bathtub Beach goes it is an interesting place as well.Popular with families with small children because of the reef that forms a lagoon safe from tides. After several hurricanes and some stormy weather it is not very nice today because about 10 feet of sand has washed away revealing limestone and very old tree roots and stumps, a weird sight for sure.

Following the advice received from the docents at the HoR, I went to downtown Stuart nearby where I took this photograph. A charming little downtown, although I didn't have a long time to roam as Mr. Bruce was ready to be picked up soon.

He left yesterday morning for Pennsylvania and hasn't quit working since. Remodeling jobs happen alot at night; apparently after a seven hour drive from Allentown to Erie, PA, he arrived at midnight only to stay up most of the night with the crew. I just got off the phone with him as he was driving to the airport in Pittsburgh with me providing the directions thanks to Google Maps. I only hope he sleeps on the plane coming home. Ironically I was reading an article in the Times when he called about how salaried employees are working harder than anyone these days. Bruce could be the poster child for that piece.

I may have missed the deadline on the rivers photo contest; I sent in a package, whether it gets there on time is anybodies guess. Oh well....

It looks as if I will probably have a gallery show along with another artist in January....more details to follow. The link above is for the gallery as seen on the Travel Channel's website--Creative Spirits Gallery. This much I can tell you, the thought makes me nervous. Travel Channel

Monday, July 28, 2008

Humbled


When I first got a MINI, nearly five years ago, people constantly asked me questions about it, mostly regarding how small it is. I used to tell folks don't get a MINI Cooper unless you're willing to chat with strangers. Through the years that attention faded a bit as more Coopers were seen on the road. Lately it has begun again--I don't have to explain what question people ask nowadays, especially at the gas station.

On Saturday I visited two homes near me, both with wonderful gardens tended by their master gardener owners. This one is taken at my first stop, the home of a retired Humanities professor from Valencia. I saw this bloom last year, falling in love with the wonderful shade of red. Turns out it is a type of gladiola tinged with white. I suppose it reminds me a bit of my sewing days when we would add contrasting piping to add interest to a collar. Lovely dahlias, and other captivating blooms filled her back yard. Naturally I neglected to apply bug spray resulting in you know what. At the next home they asked me right off if I wanted to apply some and I hastily consented. That said, I got a bite on the side of my neck which multiplied in size by tenfold by later in the evening.

Aside from mosquito bites the one thing about this new life of mine that isn't great is hardly ever getting to chat with my boys. Boys Gail? Yes, they will always be my boys no matter how many years go by. Anyway, Jonathan called on the way home from the market and I couldn't talk long, first because I'm opposed to chatting while driving, secondly, we were having company straight from the market. After apologizing to Jonathan for being "out and about" he responded that "he'd come to expect it." When we arrived home I saw that Matt called via the iChat, a little later he called via the old fashioned telephone. Because of the company I didn't get to chat with him either. Conflicting schedules and time differences make it hard to keep up with one another. Sometimes it makes me nostalgic for the days when we all sat around the dinner table, chatting, discussing, and being a big family. Then again, sometimes it doesn't. The laundry, the cooking, the shopping!

Bill and LeAnne visited the market yesterday. I am pleased to say that they were pretty excited about my booth. They gave me a little feedback on how things looked from a distance, how people might perceive it, and the visibility of my pricing. As we've discussed in the past, I listen to young people, most of the time acting accordingly.

My old jr. high school classmate came as well. It was very fun meeting her and her husband. If you can imagine, he works for SunTrust in the same department as David, just another territory. He's had some dealings with David recently, proving that the world is indeed a small place.

While my visitors were there it was a bit slow, fortunately picking up later on. While nothing was selling I was just fine; in the last couple of days I realized how humbled I should feel that people actually want to purchase my vision of the world and place it in their homes, often prominently. That really is an amazing thing when I take the time to think about it.

Have I been a lucky lady or what?


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Listening to: Cantrell, Laura - Queen Of The Coast
via FoxyTunes

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Gift of Words


I promised you a picture of the British Scrabble board and here it is---actually, it's the back of the box which shows you not only the board, but other cool stuff as well. How fun is this?

On Facebook a high school classmate did the friend thing. I responded, sure. We talked yesterday on the phone with me sheepishly admitting I had no recollection of her. I know she was disappointed, but she doesn't know my memory! Before our mom died she told me she was very concerned about my memory. My response to that--a good memory is overrated! Today we chit-chatted for about two hours on the phone; she plans to come see me this weekend at the market.

After our chat I got out the jr. high yearbook. I think I read somewhere lately that yearbooks may become passe which would be a shame. Through the years they have proved invaluable when trying to remember different folks. I checked her picture out and still I'm clueless! Nevertheless, I look forward to meeting her because she is very nice.

The yearbook was fun in other ways, mainly reading all the little things people wrote. Almost all of them say something like--hope you and Bruce stay together forever. Were those teenagers clairvoyant, or what? I believe I'm feeling a bit nostalgic seeing as we are coming up to a speed limit anniversary and all.

Mr. Bruce is getting his hair cut as I type, he will be looking his best for our date tonight. I spoke with him briefly on the phone and learned he received a little award at work today, always a happy surprise.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fun in the Sun


New Ideas
Caeli Quinn
Two links today--one about mosquitoes (a favorite topic on this blog), and one describing a bike ride to raise awareness, and funds for climate change research.

The mosquito story needs no explanation, the bike one does.

Last evening my friend, Tom Quinn, called from his summer home in Whitefish, Montana. He has since retired, but I worked with him for ten years at the hospital--come to think of it, I have too, at least for the time being. At any rate, we caught up on news from here and there. He told me about his daughter organizing this ride and I thought I'd pass it along. Although Caeli was raised as a rich girl she's lived anything but since leaving college. As her profile states, she has been everywhere leading bike trips. Her wedding last year should have been profiled in the NYTimes "Vows" column for its' unconventionality. The guests were in boats in the middle of a river in Glacier National Park, dressed a costume of their choice. I can't remember the details regarding the reception, but I do remember they had a blast. Rather than spend the budget given to her by her parents on the wedding she chose to take the rest in cash to build a small "green" house. When I mentioned Jonathan was now certified in LEED he knew all about it from Caeli. The site is impressive, allowing for donations if you're interested.

The air conditioner is fixed, it was only a clogged drain pipe. I'm sure, given the time, Mr. Bruce could have fixed it. Aside from car repairs, there isn't a whole lot he can't make better.

When Bruce is traveling I often send him a picture of the day although I'd been slowing down because he has been in e-mail jail for quite a while now (usually a backlog of 200+). He asked me to bring it back so while mowing the lawn I thought, how about if I set the tripod up along with the self-timer and see what I could do. This was my first attempt because as you can see my hair is dry. It sure was fun!

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Listening to: Basement Jaxx - Jus 1 Kiss [The Isley Bootleg]
via FoxyTunes

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Listening to: Basement Jaxx - Romeo [Acoustic]
via FoxyTunes

Mall Rat


Here is yours truly trying to get a shot of an awesome spider mum using the afternoon sunlight in my office. Sadly, the idea came to nothing thus far.

It is storming once again as I type, a good thing as our air conditioner has decided to act up. On Monday, arriving home from his general contractor continuing education class, Bruce asked why is it so warm in here. Gosh honey, I hadn't noticed. Turns out there is a problem with the condensation pump which we were hoping Bruce repaired on Tuesday morning. This afternoon it quit working again. I have a window tomorrow between 11-3 when the repair man should arrive. I hope it isn't too expensive because I was a mall rat today.

You know how I've no interest in shopping for the most part, but there does come a time when a girl needs a few things. In my case it was blush, facial cleanser and shampoo from Kiehls, mascara, and a replacement for my flat black sandals which are wearing out. Because Nordstrom is having their anniversary sale that was my first stop. I was delighted to discover that they are now carrying the full line of Kiehls. The bottle of shampoo is huge and should last for a year at least.

I purchased the blush from the old standby Estee Lauder because they were offering a GWP. For those unfamiliar with cosmetic department lingo that means a gift with purchase, one of the many things I learned from our mom. Makeup packaging is so seductive, however I am able to resist the temptation because I know I won't wear it. A lipstick, mascara, concealer, eye shadow "quad" and some little bags were in this gift. I decided to look at the little brochure included. Accordingly, I will now "banish uneven skintone, dullness and fine dry lines--those visible signs of aging." As well, I will "enjoy more even, vibrant look overall with discolorations appearing dramatically reduced." My skin will look "healthy, glowing, and more even toned every day." Sadly, women believe this silliness making cosmetic counters the most lucrative area of department stores.

Next stop, the handbag department. Five years ago Bruce bid on a limited edition Coach bag during an office charity fund raiser which I've been carrying since. I'd never had a Coach bag before but I can attest to their sturdiness! The thing is, I dislike logos all over bags (mine did not have them!) making it difficult to find a nice bag that doesn't cost as much as a washing machine. I managed to find a reasonably priced black bag with a discrete logo from B Makowsky. Before the deal was sealed I got my camera from the car making sure it would fit!

One mall down, another to go. I headed to Millenia, visiting the Apple store, JJill, and Cartier where I had them clean my ring. Although the papers are full of dire economic news I encountered lots of shoppers with bags; I guess the real question is whether they could afford those purchases or were piling on more debt.

You are getting used to hearing how hard Bruce's job is aren't you? After his classes yesterday he went to the airport for his flight to Bangor, Maine--best case scenario, arriving at midnight. I only talked to him briefly an hour ago and his flight from there was canceled leaving him with a LONG drive to Connecticut. Frankly, I don't know how he does it.

Time to fix some supper.

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Listening to: Beirut - Cherbourg
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hearts on Fire


Today's photo is for a project I'm working on for Dana. As you already know her son's girlfriend died on Memorial Day in an automobile accident. In Orlando we have what they call a "Love Ambassador here who gives out these red glass hearts to random folks as well as some friends who could use a little cheer.

The above mentioned person is one of Dana's best friends as well as a renowned artist in our area. I've got an image where I used marbles, red beads and the sun to create a fun image that she hoped I could imitate with the hearts for a birthday gift. The marbles refused to cooperate on the table outside, they kept rolling off no matter what I tried. Unfortunately there are six hearts; I'd much prefer an odd number, but I worked with what she gave me. This is one of many attempts to make something interesting.

After being asked if I was in the over 55 club at Ross I thought "note to self--DO NOT go out with pool hair and no makeup!" As fate would have it, I saw a good friend at Publix--great. Actually I was delighted to see Mr. Coconut and plan to have lunch with him next week. He is one of those friends that I so enjoy visiting with. He was kind enough not to comment on my above described looks.

Today is a good day in Lisa and Danny's household--the last of the radiation treatments. If only that were the end of it, but it's not. Thursday is new blood work to assess the effectiveness. You know what comes after that....the waiting game for results. Please, please, have worked.

My dear sister Maureen is struggling along as well. The Parkinson's disease is not going away; if only we could wish and make it so. She continues to work, but the medication makes her tired with the added side effect of lost concentration. We've told her she is welcome to come live with us whenever she needs to.

Hey, on a happier note, Lisa found a picture of Pat alongside the '64 Chevrolet, a great flashback, and although the picture was black and white, I'm sure it was red like the one I saw last week.

This morning I sent in two applications for fall shows in an effort to plan the next few months. I'm sure I mentioned the convention that I'll be doing in October; the young woman organizing that has been in touch often. I can't really imagine it being much, but I've thought that in the past and I'm ready to be surprised.

Mr. Bruce is off on his travels until Friday afternoon.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Heat


This is Nicole from yesterday's market. Dana thought she was so cute and could make a poster child for some market promotional material. Her mom was flattered when I was shooting this; I hope she likes it.

Today at the little market a young woman told me she was on her honeymoon, having gotten married in Detroit on Saturday. Her obvious excitement was infectious. After congratulating her I mentioned that our 35th wedding anniversary is in less than a month. Somehow saying that reminded me that on our wedding night, after a small church wedding with a cake and punch reception, we drove the two hours to St. Augustine for our two day honeymoon. I'd just begun my job as a real x-ray tech and could only get that much time off. Anyway, arriving around 9pm and finding all of the restaurants were closed we ended up eating at McDonalds. I remember gazing at my new wedding ring under the bright fluorescent lights, asking Bruce, "Do you think anyone can tell we got married today?" I was so excited (innocent some might say) and didn't let a little thing like that ruin our wedding day! Can you imagine anyone being happy with that scenario today? I guess it was a precursor to our life together--making do with whatever situation we find ourselves in.

Never in our wildest imaginings would we have thought we'd be the parents of four boys, let alone twins, yet, here we are, all these years later, still innocent, happy, and all the Peck sons grown and on their own. We have been blessed.

Speaking of blessings, I should not have been crowing about sales as they have plummeted (slight exaggeration) as the temperature rises. Yesterday we were grateful there was no rain, in its' place was searing heat to the tune of 95 degrees. Today was 96 which was no picnic, but in reality, I'd prefer the heat with blue skies to the leaden skies of last week. We are so used to the sun that when it is gray for several days in a row it leaves me feeling a bit gray myself.

Both Matt and Jonathan attended music festivals in their respective cities, Lovebox in London, and Pitchfork in Chicago. Jonathan called as they were leaving last night however with a bad connection I didn't get the full scoop, just enough to know they had lots of fun.



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Listening to: Paul Simon - Graceland
via FoxyTunes

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Listening to: Paul Simon - Diamonds On the Soles of Her Shoes (iTunes Originals Version)
via FoxyTunes

Friday, July 18, 2008

Cleaning



When I showed Angela the photos I was considering for the calendar contest this is one of the ones she chose. Mangroves from the Wildlife Preserve are behind the wildflowers. Because I've not had Bruce's input yet, I'm still not sure, but at this point, the other two are a sunrise with a dock, and a pelican. I don't think any of them are going to win the $300 prize.

I'm glad I took that picture of the back yard in the sunshine because we haven't seen the sun since. The rain began days ago, and has hardly quit except for brief respites; you would think we lived in Seattle as gray as it's been. As such, the grass was long and desperately needed to be cut. Although rain was threatening this morning, I went out as early as possible to begin finishing before the next round.

Afterwards I did some cleaning which is never a favorite of mine. I've got lots of glass containers holding various decorative things that I finally got around to cleaning. My word, they look so much better, almost as good as the windows looked months ago.

I spent the afternoon finishing a novel, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I hardly know how to describe it as I don't think I've ever read anything quite like it. It's a cross between a mystery and a love story with a subplot about how great books can influence us long after we've read them. Let's just say it was very intriguing. I know someone in my past suggested it and my last day at the museum a gentleman mentioned he'd just finished it and was in his top ten books of his life. The novel is a translation and was a bestseller in Spain for over a year. I can highly recommend it.

Mr. Bruce arrived home late last night and left early this morning--he has yet to arrive home tonight but we do plan on some kind of date as it's been too long.

Danny update--almost done with the radiation with only five more treatments to go after which he'll have several blood tests to see what to do next. He's been a good soldier throughout but it's been far from easy. Lisa swears she'll start wearing scrubs around the house as there has been much nursing going on in that house. Emily had her wisdom teeth out earlier in the week with misery ensuing. That reminds me of when Bill and Dave had that surgery at the same time. I remember the assistant telling me I was brave to let them both have it at the same time and you know what? She was right!


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Listening to: Television - Friction
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Luncheon


Today I went to lunch at Mary's house. She is an old friend that I'd not had contact with for years who found me on Facebook. I've also got a request to get together with a high school classmate, that for the life of me I can't remember, but I may go through with it--why not? At any rate, it turns out the youngest of Mary's four daughters is doing fashion photography. I think she is quite talented, and as you can see, she has a Nikon as well. We were talking so much about photography that poor Mary must have been feeling left out. That's probably not true because if ever there were a more selfless person than Mary, I've yet to meet them. In an odd twist, Rachel is working with her second cousin's husband who was Bill, and Dave's first modeling agent. Small world, huh?

Mary made a wonderful lunch including homemade bread (she sent me home with two mini loaves). Actually, it was a dinner because she wanted to make sure I had a big meal and wouldn't have to cook for myself tonight. I told you she's amazing. As well, she is a big garage sale person, the treasures she has accumulated are amazing. Their home is quite modest in an area of severe gentrification, no, make that mansionification. All around them the original homes are being torn down to make way for houses entirely too big for their lots. One day, they will make a fortune selling their property, but for now they are quite content.

I ended up getting nothing done today because I was there for so long.

Have you thought much about the notion of mind control? Last night I awoke at 1 and couldn't get back to sleep for ages. My one rule about that is to never look at the clock, thus I've no idea how long I was awake, but I know it was far too long. My mind was jumping all over the place with thoughts about various family members, the state of the union, things to do, and I don't remember what else. If only I could have controlled my mind I wouldn't have been sleepless in Orlando! What I really needed was my darling teddy bear, Bruce, who thank God, is flying home as I type!

Bruce bought The National's new cd which is great; their lyrics are always quite smart. In one song he sings, "what to my wondering eyes should appear?...nothing." What band can you think of that could get away with using a line from "The Night Before Christmas?"

You may have been wondering how things are going at the museum, have you? They are not going because the museum closes for the month of July and August. I miss having something scheduled on Tuesdays, but soon enough it will be here.

No call from the reporter, my brush with fame appears to be a no go....maybe next time.

I've got nothing done today because I was there for hours. I promised my neighbor I'd help her hang a cornice so I'm going to run over there now.

Lastly, it's a good thing I took that picture of the backyard bathed in sunshine because I think that is the last time I've seen the sun. The days have been terribly dreary, however, I heard on the radio that the weekend weather will be delightful.


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Listening to: The National - Fake Empire
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Rainy Day Musings




This is a picture of Kathy, the vendor next to me, from Sunday's market album. Every week I photograph the market doings for Dana as I've probably already told you. I'd put my camera away during the worst of it, but realized this picture of Kathy would tell the story of Sunday perfectly. This puddle is in front of my booth, so now you can see for yourself what I meant. Torrential storms again this afternoon.

The MINI now has a new front tire to the tune of $315. I won't belabor the tire saga, hopefully this will be the end of it.

Here's something I learned from Matt during our chat--the project he's working on in London is monumentally costly (lots of millions) for the firm. As well, he was to give a 3.5 hour presentation to 50 people from around the globe today, which as I type, is I'm sure a past success. I quizzed him on specifics (imagine that!); he brushed aside my awe over the fact that he won't need notes.

Jonathan continues to do stellar work at his job for which I'm so grateful. Those who know our Jon boy know that he's super smart, but he prefers digital gadgets to most everything else. To know that he's exceeding their wildest expectations makes a momma down right proud. His growing area of expertise is a bit hard to understand, but his efforts are culminating in a glowing press release for his firm. Imagine that?

I don't worry too much about the bookends (Matt & Jonathan), but it's the ones in the middle that are living challenging lives presently. Both Bill, and Dave, work for banks. As Bill reminded me yesterday afternoon, the banking business is in shambles. Severe stress + Bill + Dave = potential disaster. Other than that, I hardly know what to say. Plunging stock prices must make every day miserable for David. Actually, most of the time he's trying to stay positive, but Lord knows, it can't be easy.

Bruce is off to the Northeast this week with stops in Connecticut, New York, and Erie, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, lots of driving is involved between plane trips making for another killer week.

As for the photography business this weeks developments so far are a donation opportunity for a major fund raising event, and of all things, a possible newspaper interview. Today I received an e-mail from a marketing person for Photoshelter, the stock photography site I'm on. She wondered if I'd be willing to be interviewed for the newspaper (yes, that dreadful rag) regarding an event to be held Sunday. They are calling it Shoot! the day and photographers around the world will be shooting specifically for that project. Apparently, after I agreed, she gave him my contact information; I suppose we'll see if he calls.

The donation thing always has the potential to be a good thing. Maria, who did the real estate staging with my photography, was the winning bid on my last donation. All opportunities are welcome around here!





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Listening to: The National - Lucky You
via FoxyTunes

Monday, July 14, 2008

VC Baby!



Matt called yesterday evening when we were just sitting down to dinner with the Whiteds after the market. We didn't talk then, but he reminded me that we could use iChat (that's video chat for those of you without a Mac) to talk, which we did at length this afternoon. It was so totally awesome to be able to see his face for the first time in over six months! I could even hear the sounds of a siren on the street outside his apartment which blows me away. Technology can be frustrating, but my word, can it be fantastic, or what?

Lots to catch up on:

I used my gift certificate from the photo contest to buy an instructional DVD for the camera--hmmm...I didn't learn much more than what Matt has taught me already. Unfortunately I changed the how the camera meters light, and I paid the price. Still thinking about the two photo contests, I left the house before 6:30 in the morning to get some river shots. I drove out Highway 50 towards the St. Johns River. Before I got there I crossed the Econolocohatchee and turned around into a RV park that sits adjacent to the river. It was barely daybreak and the air was thick.

As an aside I'd read on my friend's blog the hint that if you keep a dryer sheet in your pocket it will keep mosquitoes at bay. I'm hear to tell you from experience that it doesn't work one tiny bit. Within seconds I was covered with mosquitoes who made quick work of feasting on my tiny body. I took maybe six shots, hightailing it back to the car, scratching all the way.

Motoring along another twenty five miles to the coast and the Indian River Lagoon. The day was dreary with very dim light. What with the camera set on center metering instead of matrix, my disappointment at the pictures was great.

Continuing on I entered the Merritt Island National Preserve taking the wildlife drive. Few folks were out, but there was another photographer with an enormous lens and tripod. Shoot me if I ever get that crazy will you?

Remember the rat situation? Bruce found a trap that electrocutes the rats. He made a chamber, and attached it to the fence, baiting it with peanut butter when he is home. To date seven rats have taken the bait! Where are they coming from? Being the nice guy he is, he buries each one, but draws the line at a graveside prayer. Speaking of which, on Friday night we had the Discovery Channel on and saw a commercial for a show called "The Verminator." One must need a strong stomach to watch that show...can you imagine doing that job?

The market was fine until around 2 when torrential rains forced our closing. Dana, our manager, works diligently for the market, and it shows. The crowds, although thinner due to the heat, are still pretty good. I am so grateful for her efforts. She seems to know gazillions of people, never failing to bring them by (when they visit the market) and rave about my stuff. Yeah for good managers! It seems that most of my working life was spent working for managers I did not respect; this is such a refreshing change.

I've probably gone on way too long today--I'll fill you in on Matt and Jonathan's doings tomorrow. Lastly, however, the web album is the result of me taking the long lens out to practice.
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Listening to: Kings Of Leon - Molly's Chambers
via FoxyTunes

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Listening to: Jakob Dylan - On Up The Mountain
via FoxyTunes

Friday, July 11, 2008

Family Car


While driving down Orange Avenue on Wednesday this car was in front of me. Immediately I had a flashback to what I remembered as the family car that moved our brood from New York to Florida over fifty years ago. Fortunately, I had the baby camera on the seat next to me in my purse. As well, the traffic moves pretty slowly allowing me to get this, and a few other shots (surprise!), while driving. I believe I've mentioned that is not the best policy, however a photographer does what a photographer needs to do.

I sent it to our family historian, Maureen, to confirm. She has a remarkable memory of all things related to our childhood, which I think you know, I do not. It's her impression that it was very similar, although the one I saw is two door, neither of us can imagine seven people fitting into this car. Of course, back then, personal space notions hardly existed. Children did what children had to do, to say the least. The tailgate is puzzling as well, it looks like it opens downward leaving me to wonder what happened to the glass. At any rate it sure is styling with all that chrome, making todays cars with so little ornamentation look mighty bland.

I'm happy I've gotten back my lawn mowing job because I have always been able to really think while mowing. When the children were young it was the only time that no one wanted my attention. What struck me yesterday was how our big yard holds evidence of all that ever grew there. By that I mean, the caladium bulbs, which the previous owners planted, come up reliably every spring. We've lived here nearly thirteen years and I've no idea how long those bulbs have been in the ground. As well, the golden rain tree we took out ten years ago still somehow sprouts in the beds, as do camphor trees. Of course weeds find their way back every year, and in a particularly weird re-emergence, a sago palm dug out years ago continues to sprout up through the grass. All this leads me to make the connection with our own lives and memories. Think about that for a bit will you? Unexpected things stick with us no matter how hard we try to eradicate them, conversely, good stuff (like morality for instance) springs up when the time is right like those caladium bulbs. Just thinking out loud......

A particularly nice June did not prepare us for what may turn out to be a brutal July. The sun, while shining, is SO hot, no shock there, but it takes a while to acclimate to it's powers each summer. Thank goodness for the pool.

After my slow start to the day Wednesday I made up for it yesterday what with the lawn, other yard work, pool cleaning duties, and a nice loaf of banana nut bread in the oven by 7AM.

I really like Jakob Dylan's new album. Blasphemy, or not, I've never been much of a Bob Dylan fan; his son on the other hand, definitely pleases me. Bruce brings new music home on a regular basis from his trips to Starbucks. As you can imagine I freak out over the cost but it makes him happy and as he reminds me, he doesn't play golf.
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Listening to: The Bees - (This Is For The) Better Days
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Lots of Media Today


Dancing in the Streets

I visited the Maitland Art Center today to see what I could see. Turns out, there were a lot of Dorothy Gillespie's whimsical metal art scattered around the gardens. I love her colorful work, in fact, I'm a big fan of lots of metal art. I'm amazed at what artists can do with it. It was pretty hot, but not unbearable.

From there I took a side trip over to the Audubon Birds of Prey center (it is on the way home) to get an owl picture. As we've discovered together, people have strong likes for things like owls. I still have no idea how to take pictures of them in the aviaries, fortunately there is a fenced courtyard where about ten birds hang out. This little guy won't be for sale, but I thought you might like him. The injured birds have leg tethers to keep them from flying away, consequently, you can photograph them fairly easily if you are willing to put your camera between the wrought iron bars. Trouble, one of the eagles, has his own beach umbrella for shade. The staff trims his deformed beak periodically with a Dremel tool so that he can eat. As you can imagine, he would die in the wild.

I've been to both places last year, however, I'm still trying to practice with my Nikon. I am not accustomed to changing lenses (which I regard as a pain) but I'm trying!

Bruce left for Conneticut today, he'll be back on Thursday evening. As you know, his workload is staggering, and yesterday was one of the first times in his career when he went to the final inspection on the same morning it happened. When time permits, he does his own inspection before the Operations Managers come in and have their say. Hurray, his contractors did not let him down, was, as you've already surmised, a success.

The thunderstorms have begun again in earnest--our little Baxter gets so scared!

Lastly on the media front--this just in from our wonderful paper--Parents of twins suffer more stress!!! Duh, they should have asked me.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Circle of Life

Try This at Home


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He would have been 58 on Sunday, but he died on early Saturday morning. I'm writing about my former brother in law, Paul. I say former because he, and Bruce's sister Michele, divorced at least ten years ago. I could probably count on one hand, maybe two, the times I saw Paul because they never lived near us, first in California, then in Minnesota. He was from a very large family, and the move to Minnesota allowed their daughter the chance to grow up with loads, and I mean loads, of cousins. Paul had advanced bladder, and prostate cancer, yet he died a lucky man surrounded by a love.

I say that because today's post is really about their daughter Mallory. Paul was lucky enough to have his 20 year old daughter move in with him to care for him along with hospice. I just had to mention hospice care because, as you know, I'm a big proponent of the movement. At any rate, here's what I know about Mallory's story.

As is often the case, young people can be influenced to make poor decisions by peers. Mallory is one of thousands of young people who make the mistake of trying crystal meth. To summarize, she went downhill pretty quickly, stealing, running away from home with no contact with her family for what must have seemed like ages. Naturally, Michele and Paul were beside themselves. It got very messy, and that's all you need to know.

Praise be to God, she came home, cleaned up her life, finished high school, and went to cosmetology school finishing in the top of her class. When we saw her last, she was so bubbly, and pretty. We are so proud of her accomplishments and her care of her dad is just the latest. Six months time for a young person can feel like a lifetime and I applaud her for what she's done.

Originally I wrote an account, but I think I'll share the e-mail from Michele:

"I won't go into the details of all the things she did for her dad in his last week. I also know she is not the only daughter that has gone the extra mile for a dying parent, but she is surely the latest one most of us know that has done so ~~ and I have a greater appreciation for those others daughters that have done it. (Gail, this especially means you.)

Mallory and Paul went to California and had a wonderful week the first week of June. In the next two weeks he went to the horse races and taught Mallory how to bet, went to Twins baseball games, went to dinner for Fathers Day.

Then, Paul took a very fast downhill one week spiral. Just Wednesday he was taken to a beautiful hospice center on Twin Lake. He barely opened his eyes while there, I hope he realized the beautiful view he had. I cannot emphasize what a God send the center was. On the 4th his entire family was there, along with my Mom, and me. That evening there were fireworks over the lake, I hope he saw them through his minds eye. I am confident he knew that Mallory had stayed at the hospice center with him and that she had kissed his cheek within the hour of him slipping over to the other side at sunrise on Saturday the 5th. When I die, I should be so lucky."

So, for every parent who thinks a young person has gone too far astray to come back, there is hope. The circle of life continues. I thank God every day that our four sons never went too far off the track we hoped they would run.


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Listening to: Tracey Thorn - A-Z
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, July 5, 2008

I'm Still Here!


This is a big anniversary in more ways than one. Thirty two years ago we became parents for the first time, almost no bigger event in a person's life. Most of you know the story about how Bruce and I were down at Lake Eola (where I currently sell photography) waiting for the fireworks to begin, when I realized I was just too uncomfortable to stay. Being five days late is no picnic, and I can assure you that, although I was frightened of the next step, I was only too ready to put my pregnancy behind me. Arriving at the hospital around 10 pm, I was already pretty far gone, in fact I began hyperventilating, and passed out. When I came to, they convinced me to be put to sleep to deliver our son. This was still somewhat common in those days, and I was really in no shape to argue with them. I had Matt at 1:20 on the morning of the fifth. I remember thinking, why was I still hurting if I'd already had the baby, when I realized it was from the episiotomy. I'm so glad I was young when I became a mother. The shift towards waiting until you are 40, or so, doesn't make much sense to me, but new mothers always find a way to make things work.

Matthews' influence is still being felt. He suggested I make haste to read an article in The New Yorker about itching, a subject I know very little about. Sure, I itch, but the physiology of itching is not very well understood and it turns out doctors know very little about it as well. Amazingly there is a case study in the article about a woman whose itching was so incessant that she literally scratched into her brain!!! I know it sounds remarkable, but if you've ever itched really bad, you can imagine it.

Bringing me to the title of todays post. Two years ago on his 30th birthday I was chatting with him from a hospital bed. We 'd only just heard the news from the doctor that it seemed as if I had pancreatic cancer that had spread, a dire diagnosis if ever there was one. How, you ask, could they be so wrong? The longer I've gone through this spell in my life, the less I think doctors understand the body. Sure, they know some things, but the title of John Mayer's song, Your Body is a Wonderland seems apropos, not in the way JM means it, but the reality seems to be that there are new discoveries about how our bodies work all the time, yet frequently the medical establishment is slow to adapt.

Tying all this together, upon discharge I was sent home with pain medication and no real instruction on what to do next. One thing we did know was that the pain meds caused me itching. I'd noticed it in the hospital, mentioned it, but was ignored. My whole body itched, but it was my hands that nearly drove me crazy. I could be dozing and scratching at the same time. Inflammation ensued but I couldn't stop myself. Lisa was staying with us at the time to care for me while Bruce was traveling, you know how sweet she is, it nearly made her cry to see me like that. Taking matters into our own hands (no pun intended) we found some of those thin cotton gloves, lathered my hands in lotion, and got not only new medication, but a new doctor as well. The change in medication helped, the new doctor, not so much.

Enough already!!

Yesterday Bill and LeAnne invited us over for a cookout and to see all the improvements at their place. It was VERY impressive all the way around. Jonathan will be pleased to learn I sang "Don't Look Back in Anger" by Oasis with their new Wii game, Rock Band; my score was in the mid-90's, one caveat, it was set on easy...but still.

Ziggy is the photo subject today. Because Baxter came to live with us more than two years ago LeAnne has been wanting another dog--well this is her sweet new dog posing for the camera. Cute, huh?
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Listening to: LCD Soundsystem - North American Scum
via FoxyTunes

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Listening to: LCD Soundsystem - North American Scum
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Cranes and Cows


An E-Mail from today.
I was overdue for a road trip, not that I need more pictures, it's just that I want them. When Bruce is home the alarm goes off really early. It's the time of the day when no one bothers him, and he relishes that hour or so to himself. When he's not home, there is no alarm except for the sun. That said, I awoke at 4:55 this morning and decided it was for a reason; I got right up and threw on some clothes. After making tea, grabbing bug spray and my camera gear, I headed out into the dark. All Floridians understand my need for bug spray while in the country! Ruth hooked me up with two more photo contests, one which involves very specific rivers in Florida. The closest to me is the Kissimmee River--sort of. It seems as if it is very challenging to actually find what looks like a river. I really kept trying, but to no avail, even after asking directions twice.

In some places roads are winding because of mountains, in Florida it is because of lakes, lakes, and more lakes. According to my geology professor this is because Florida was underwater until 30 million years ago, but that's a story for another day. In the 40's the Army Corp of Engineers straightened the river, if you will, with a series of locks making it look nothing like the Florida rivers I'm accustomed to. Furthermore, there are a series of lakes that somehow form the basin. Mind you this all came from Google, I was ignorant of these facts prior to research.

Enough history--the upshot is that I did find a wonderful park on E. Lake Toho which according to what I read is one of the starting places for the river. I was super excited because not only were there loads of sandhill cranes (which I find fascinating), but a ranch adjacent to the park with beautiful cows. There were cows and bulls of every color, as well as some calves. I love the way they stare at you with such intensity. I decided to show you that very thing, cranes in the foreground, and cows in the background. The area was very peaceful at 7AM on a Wednesday morning. Now I'm tired, but you knew that already!

Just when I thought our newspaper could not get any worse, it has. And I quote a waste of newsprint from yesterday:

"A DeLand man faces domestic battery charges, accused of throwing a 3-pund package of Polish sausage at his mother. ....She told officers she wanted her son (age 46) to leave, and they got into a verbal argument. She said she was on the couch in the living room when he threw the sausage from the kitchen, according to an arrest report. The package grazed the back of her head. Praeger was in the kitchen cooking when officers arrived." (All of you should know that it is spelled Deland because I've written about it before) Duh, are their NO fact checkers. This always worries me because if reporters can't get the easiest part of an article right, how wrong are the hard parts?

It strongly reminds me of an Alfred Hitchcock program I saw as a young person. The wife killed her husband with a leg of lamb, when officers arrive she's in the kitchen cooking and invites them to eat the murder weapon with her.
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Listening to: Jakob Dylan - This End Of The Telescope
via FoxyTunes

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Listening to: Jakob Dylan - This End Of The Telescope
via FoxyTunes

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Listening to: LCD Soundsystem - North American Scum
via FoxyTunes

You Just Never Know