Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Speed Limit Birthday

Yes, that's what I'm having today, although not a speed limit I actually like to travel--55. Maybe I've told you before that my friend Dean uses that little phrase to describe birthdays and I like it.

I've finally quit blowing my nose (now that I have three boxes of tissue in the house) with coughing mostly limited to when I'm lying down. Thankfully this is the case! Bruce has agreed to take Wednesday and Thursday off; we're heading up to St. Augustine shortly, but not before he returns with my birthday breakfast of choice--a poppy seed bagel from Einsteins. I love to toast them and either use butter, or cream cheese. I'm one of those people who like my toast dark contrary to what they usually serve in restaurants. I hate it when they only barely warm the bread.

Most of you know that we honeymooned there for two days thirty five years ago. We've only been back maybe two times since and never overnight. Turns out the city strings two million lights over everything for about ten weeks this time of year with lots of fun activities including ice sculptures and the like. You, my dear readers, will experience it via photographs in only a few short days.

Speaking of photographs, we went to see Florida State play in the Champs Bowl on Saturday night. Earlier in the day I'd done the market, taking my weekly photos for posterity--actually they are for Whole Foods, but you get the idea. Anyway, when I returned home I thought maybe I should change batteries even though the current one had 2/3 charge left. Grabbing the spare from my camera bag, off we went. This was a STUPID move on my part. Ordinarily the battery in my bag is fresh, this time, not so. I must have changed it somewhere, forgot to charge it when I got home, and was stupid enough not to check it while still home this time. I got maybe four shots and the camera died. Not good. I was so hoping to share some great shots with Jonathan since he couldn't see it in person. I'm checking all my batteries before I leave the house in the future!

By the way, Bruce's inspection went off without a hitch. At one point the job was two weeks behind but with super project manager Bruce on the job they finished in time with a minimal punch list. Now why doesn't that surprise you?

Yesterday I finally saw the prints of what is going to be in the show. One of them did not print as well as I'd like, so before we leave I'm picking up something else to drop off at the framer. I like her very much; her mission is to enhance what I do and for that I'm grateful! I am trying not to get to nervous about the whole thing. Mainly I hope people come and I can feel proud of what I'm showing, mostly things no one has seen before. Time will tell. Of course time tells about everything, doesn't it?

Listening to: Adele - Daydreamer
via FoxyTunes

Listening to: Adele - Daydreamer
via FoxyTunes

Listening to: Adele - Daydreamer
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Predictable Affair

Having a cold is pretty much a predictable affair, albeit unpleasant. It usually begins with a slight pressure in the roof of the mouth or a sudden sore throat. From there, the nose begins to run, and run, and run, and if you are particularly unlucky a cough develops. Contrary to popular opinion there is absolutely nothing to do to get rid of a cold aside from the "tincture of time" as my old buddy Dr. March used to say. As such the last week has not been nearly as pleasant as I would have liked. I managed to go about my business pretty well until Sunday night after the market. The crash occurred resulting in my being asleep by 8 o'clock with Vicks Vapor Rub rubbed under my nose and on my throat. I slept very fitfully last night because the cough has caught up with me. Cold--please go back to where you came from--you are an unwelcome guest.

Bruce has been home every night for weeks now, but with the inspection yesterday, the day was long and we decided he should stay in The Villages overnight. This meant that instead of him picking up more tissues for my runny nose on the way home, I had to go out. I'm a baby sometimes; what can I say? I'd completely emptied parts of four boxes! Anyway, of course I brought my camera and on my street I found a tree with only blue lights in the bare branches. I'd read about a technique of photographing lights while moving the camera. Here are two different versions of the same lights minus the blue.

Pretty cool huh?

Hair washing, now that is a controversial subject. You don't think so? Through all my years I've had so many differing opinions on this seemingly straightforward subject. Remember when the bottle of shampoo said to lather, rinse, and repeat? Maybe you are too young. In my humble opinion this was a great marketing ploy to get people to use more shampoo although my current hairdresser insists the first wash is to remove the oil from the scalp with the second removing the oil from the hair. I must say I don't believe him. Can you imagine washing dishes twice? As well, most folks think you should wash your hair every day, which I suppose is true for people with severely oily hair, but I don't think it's necessary for most. In fact, I think the opposite is true; hair can become too dry when washed too frequently, especially when you get older. Take note young ones. I remember an old (I'm referencing ours from when we were teens) World Book Encyclopedia article stating for good hygiene wash hair once a week. I'm not advocating that, but caution should be used when washing too often. Plus how weird is it that our hair is washed, then coated with all manner of product? And then there is the water temperature issue--hot wash, cold rinse? I could go on.....

Nearly two months have passed since I got the Element which is hard to believe. I still miss my MINI Cooper terribly, however the new vehicle does a great job with our show stuff. I've had a three month trial to XM radio which has been more enjoyable than I'd expected. Maureen had been raving about it; she was right. I've been listening to French and British pop, bluegrass, electronica, and indie music mostly. Sur la Route is the name of the French station--I love it! Whether or not I'll keep it, I haven't decided just yet.

Tying up loose ends from last week:
Matt went to Glasgow the day after Christmas for a short holiday. We had a lovely chat on Christmas day. I'm pleased to report he was delighted with his gifts.

Jonathan and Alissa struggled to get to Iowa, what with their train being towed back to Chicago during a storm, and struggled to get home but all is well now. Bad weather prevented them from doing as much as they'd like while there. FINALLY, the packages arrived on the 29th, fully two weeks since I shipped them! They enjoyed a second Christmas last evening.

Dinner with the family at Lisa and Danny's house was great. Her table was even more beautiful than when I saw it earlier in the month, and Danny outdid himself with the roast beef. Neither Bruce, nor I were up to speed but it was great to be with some of our family.

I received many thoughtful gifts from my dear ones and I thank you. I'm listening to one of them now...

Listening to: Adele - Chasing Pavements
via FoxyTunes

Listening to: Adele - Daydreamer
via FoxyTunes

Listening to: Adele - Daydreamer
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

As I mentioned earlier in the week I've not had time to take many pictures of late. Consequently every now and then I have to go visit Regina's backyard and see what is in bloom there. I found these gorgeous Christmas cacti last week--what glorious color!

Of all things I find myself with a cold (?) which it has been my good fortune to avoid for years. I'm feeling pretty puny if the truth be told. I'm still getting around, but not with much vigor. Bruce is not feeling well either which is really shocking as he almost never has anything bothering him. We're quite the couple here on Christmas eve I'm sad to say.

We did manage to get all the packages wrapped for the family. Sadly Jonathan and Alissa's packages did not arrive even though I mailed them ten days ago to be exact. I heard from Matthew, his package arrived maybe Tuesday, so what the problem is with Jonathans--I've no idea. He is not taking it all that well either. His gift from Alissa will also arrive late leaving him with not much opening to do for Christmas. They are taking Amtrack to Alissa's Aunt and Uncles' home in Iowa. They are scheduled to leave around now, however if you've read the papers you know that travel is much delayed in those parts due to the severe weather. I can safely say that I don't envy them the "White Christmas."

Last evening we were treated to a visit from our niece Katie and her boyfriend Billy. I was beginning to feel miserable when she called, but couldn't pass up the chance because I'd heard so much about him. Let me tell you--he did not disappoint. What a good soul he seems to be; I couldn't be happier for Katie. You can tell that he thinks the world of her.

My apologies for the lame post--it is probably time to lay down and rest a bit. with that--

A Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Listening to: Sufjan Stevens - O Holy Night
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Time Flies

How nearly a week has passed since my last post amazes me. In fact, although I write down the date in my sales book each time I'm out the fact that Christmas was only days away didn't hit me until yesterday. It seems as if baking cookies may be out the window this year, which with no sweet young things around the house to enjoy them, is probably just fine. I do love my gingerbread men though.

The Christmas cards are trickling in, several a day. It ended up taking me two afternoons to finish mine.

One card that arrived last week made me very curious about what was going on with a family we'd known when we were in our late twenties. They moved from Orlando many years ago, but always kept in touch at least once a year. This years' card was only from the wife prompting me to wonder if the man had died (although he was still fairly young) without us knowing. Last evening while at Target, in the toy department, we ran into a couple we hadn't seen in years. I mentioned the couple and sadly discovered that the man had an affair and they were divorced. Now, obviously this is pretty common these days, but still I was surprised, and saddened. The man in question was a pastor at our church who had quite an influence on us as young parents. The story is that he's now selling cars. I guess once a salesman, always a salesman. Before he sold Jesus, now he's selling another kind of dream. It's a good thing Bill or Dave don't read this blog, or we'd never hear the end of the "Christians are hypocrites" debate.

Now that I'm doing two markets a week the time just flies. Between the house, volunteering, selling, ordering, signing prints, banking, and making web albums for customers, I can hardly find time for any fun. Worse yet, taking photographs as much as I'd like has been a challenge. Last week I sold 36 prints of various sizes. That may not sound like a lot but if someone had told me last year at this time that I would be selling that much I'd have never believed them. The truth is that I'm delighted, just busy.

On Friday I finally decided to just go to the movies; am I glad I did. I saw Slumdog Millionaire and I can't praise it enough. Quite simply it has all the elements that make for a great movie going experience. Here's the trailer: Sumdog Millionaire
I hope you have time to view it and experience a little of the wonder. I can remember when "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" first arrived on the scene. You well know my television watching habits, so you know I made a special effort to see what all the fuss was about. I remember calling Matt, commenting on all the special effects, and how fun it was. They've used all that flash and dash brilliantly!

On Saturday night we went out to "enjoy" the annual golf cart Christmas parade at Bruce's moms neighborhood. Some of the carts were very festive, although I believe last years was a bit better. We had some snacks after the parade, and spent the evening with some very old, and interesting women. One of them is 89 and SO robust. She still does most of her yard work, which she credits with keeping her going. Now we think we have some pretty big family gatherings, but they don't hold a candle to hers. She is one of SEVENTEEN children. Several of her older siblings have died, but there are still plenty more! Apparently they have two family reunions a year; the one in Michigan draws 150 people, obviously spanning several generations.

Another woman was a youngster at 86. She brought Christmas stocking hats to share, and had I known how much it would have cheered her, I might have even put one on myself. Actually Bruce goes crazy when he sees perfectly sane adults sporting them as if they were normal headgear. She also had quite a history to share. I asked them about what they thought about the economy. It seemed to be the consensus that it is pretty bad, and that young people don't seem to know how to work. It's something I always ask older people because they naturally have more of a sense of history.

I still have wrapping to do, an order to pickup and deliver, and of course today is museum day, so I must get myself ready for that.

I know you are dying to know how our little Baxter is--back to his normal self--he's even lost about 1/2 pound!

Finally, I'm sad because it is so cold in Chicago for Jonathan and Alissa, and Matt has been fighting a cold/flu for days. Once a mother, always so.

Listening to: Mary Chapin Carpenter - Children, Go Where I Send Thee
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Driving Queen

Yesterday morning I had a brilliant idea that I would deliver some gifts before getting to the museum. It didn't work quite the way I intended but all's well that ends well. Karen was very understanding when I arrived 45 minutes late!!!

I left the house with what seemed like adequate time, but I was seriously wrong. The interstate was backed up at my entrance, so I decided to take Orange Blossom Trail which pretty much runs parallel to the interstate. The drive was pretty speedy although at some point it takes a turn west causing me to be miles from where I needed to be. Basically what I did was a huge loop around the area, finally arriving at Judys' house in Altamonte Springs, and then on to Lisas' house in Longwood for a birthday delivery. I think all told I must have driven over 100 miles yesterday around town!

Thinking she wasn't home, I left it on the door step. Walking back to my car I heard the door opening which led to a longer than was prudent visit. She showed off her Christmas tree and table which she'd fashioned after the wedding decor. It is lovely.

Finally I arrive only to hear from David while there. "Mom, any chance you could drive me to Sweetwater Club to pick up my new car?" Naturally, I said yes. I don't get too excited about cars for the most part, except for MINIs, but this car David bought is spectacular. One of his clients asked if he'd be interested. It had been sitting in the garage with no one driving it due to health problems. It was a deal Dave couldn't pass up--a 2001 Porsche Turbo with 7,000 miles. To say it is gorgeous doesn't do it justice.

You would think that I don't live up to my blog title what with the few pictures I share. Nothing could be further from the truth. I upgraded my Picasa web storage allowing me to make lots more albums which I think will really give you an idea how crazy I am. Here's a sample of what I took yesterday.

As you can see I was all over the place starting with our darling, albeit heavy, Baxter, lounging in the office. The owners of the Porsche live about 1/2 mile from Wekiwa Springs State Park so true to my name I scooted in there after Dave drove off in glory. The time of day was bad for photos but I did see the amazing site which I've tried to picture for you of a HUGE man changing his bathing suit OUT IN PUBLIC!!!! Others are from the museum grounds and a neighbors yard. I hope you enjoy them.

I'm off to deliver the photo shoot pictures this morning but not before I finish the Christmas cards. I do so hope that people will still send them; it is so much nicer to have something tangible that says I'm thinking about you.

Lastly I'll leave you with some interesting insight into baking with one of my favorite ingredients--butter.
Cookie Tip
Listening to: Mary Chapin Carpenter - Come Darkness, Come Light
via FoxyTunes

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Packages are Shipped

Although there are four stockings hung on the mantle, there will only be two sons home for Christmas. As you can imagine Jonathan and Matt are going to enjoy a cold Christmas as opposed to one where air conditioning might be put to use. Yesterday while I was at the market Bruce put this together because he has the patience to do this sort of thing. I get frustrated--he does not.

It is amazing what one can accomplish when one gets up at 5AM. For some reason I was super tired last evening after two days of marketing. I realize I'm not using that in the traditional sense, but let's start using it for what I do on Sat/Sun. I was thinking the other day what days to call my weekend. I'd always heard having your own business took a lot of time, I'm finding out firsthand that whoever said that knew what they were talking about.

Back to the narrative Gail....I convinced Bruce to go to bed at 8PM!!!!! last night. I fell asleep in no time; when the alarm went off at 5, I was up and at 'em.
First on the agenda was wrapping the gifts for the Christmas absentees. The weekly laundering occurred simultaneously. I wrapped everything, and got the shipping boxes ready to go. I got sorta creative with Matt's package; while at the post office I learned the postal service in London might open the package which I sincerely hope is not the case. At any rate, the line was not too long, and the price to ship stuff.... well, let's not talk about that. Actually, I was delighted to do it, and hope they like what I've chosen. The older I get, the more I probably over-think gift giving.

Here's what goes through my mind:
What if they don't like it?
What if it doesn't fit?
Where will they store it?
Do they really want/need it?
Will it match what they already have?
How many .....(insert gift) does a person need?
Will they re-gift it?
Will they think it is stupid?

You understand I'm sure.

I realized as I was typing this that I forgot one thing I wanted to send to Matt. Hmmm...

Luckily for me I saw someone I knew (imagine that) in the parking lot who helped me carry my packages inside.

Afterward I went over to Darden to sell. Here's what happened--I'd had a call during the wedding festivities from a woman who wanted to buy some prints for Christmas presents. We got it all sorted out after everyone left and I put in an order to Mr. Roger. Upon returning from the Whole Foods market I had a call from another Darden employee who wanted to do likewise. I told her I would bring my baskets when I delivered the ordered prints. Wouldn't you know it--these ladies came to the original sale together; neither woman knew the other had called me. Crazy huh? They helped pushed me past my sales goal as did the sales from the weekend.

In fact I was super busy with customers and visitors/friends alike. Karen and Jeanette came on Sunday. I was so delighted to see them although I was terribly saddened to learn that the macular degeneration that developed three years ago in Jeanette's right eye, is now attacking her left. This is horrible news. She is a sonographer and has had to quit working because she can no longer see the monitor clearly enough. Karen has her own set of problems, what with her bad heart, and seizures. They make quite a pair, and I mean that in a good way. I've known both of them for more than twenty five years; I met them at a hospital that no longer exists, although our friendship has survived. Writing that makes me realize all the more how impermanent "things" are. Relationships, on the other hand, are lasting, unless of course one of the parties is a jerk.

So here is our little tree with Baxter snooping around (note the open back door because it is quite warm):

There are birthdays galore this week--LeAnne on the 17th, Lisa on the 18th, and Michelle on the 19th. Speaking of which I'm turning 55 on the 31st, qualifying me for the Tuesday senior discount at Ross. I think it is plain crazy that those who can normally afford to pay more pay less.

One outcome of Baxter's visit to the vet is that he is now on a diet. This is harder to implement than one would imagine. According to the veterinarian assistant he needs to lose one pound. I'm doing my best to ignore his imploring looks; you've seen those big brown eyes, so you know how difficult this is.

I've saved the best news for last--while getting ready to go out with Jeff and Connie on Saturday night, Bruce..drum role please...SHAVED HIS BEARD, taking ten years off his appearance in ten minutes. He looks adorable, as you shall soon see, without the white patch on his chin. I'm sorry to say that at the outset it was my idea but I changed my tune months ago. Oh happy day!
Listening to: Amy Grant - Emmanuel, God With Us
via FoxyTunes

Listening to: Amy Grant - The Night Before Christmas
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Market

Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful...what a line. You can tell how those Christmas songs stay with a girl. Actually today the weather is sorta frightful, serious winds and rain. Still, there is Christmas shopping to be done.

On a different note I usually write about myself at the market, which makes sense as this is my blog and all, however, today I wanted to describe one of the aspects I like the most.

When we began the market it was very slow and small. These days there are around seventy, yes, I said seventy vendors! It's unbelievable to me, but that is another story.

Loading in and out is a complicated affair. Bruce arrives early, say around 7:30 to assure he can get the vehicle in to unload, not to mention a parking place, (we officially open at 10), but Christine is already there, partially set up, as is Larry. Christine is the longest running vendor there, sticking with the market through thick and thin, selling coffee and tea. I'm sure as the years have gone by she has expanded her offerings of various coffee drinks, lattes, and such. I can't tell her age, thus I don't know how old her assistant son is, but every Sunday, come rain or shine, they are there cheerfully serving hot drinks for a reasonable price. Their equipment is large,as is their trailer, so they arrive first.

Larry sells kettle korn and fresh lemonade. His trailer holds the giant copper kettle and everything else they need. They too, have been there for years. By 9:00 he has fired up the kettle and the smell of freshly popped corn fills the air. Dina, his wife comes a bit later with her warm smile and friendly manner.

Kathy sells carnival type stuff, funnel cakes, corn dogs, hamburgers and hot dogs. You wouldn't know it to meet her, but she lives in a pretty swank part of town. Her family has been in the business for at least two generations.

And of course there is Jonathan and Amy, our resident farmers. They arrive so early I can't imagine, setting up nine tents of produce. Some they grow, other stuff they buy. You met them in the past because they are the folks who we took our dining furniture for their large family.

There is Blair & Ben, the cheese folks, Alice sells hummus and bean dips, Lisa, the rum cake lady, Jim and Kathy sell house plants and orchids next to us, Jennie sells homemade soaps, Evelyn & Ricco have a Mexican/PuertoRican food stand, and Jennifer sells delicious cupcakes. I never can remember the honey ladies name, but she always does well. There are the folks who sell scrumptious gelato, a super sweet lady paints henna on exposed body parts, Tim gives chair massages, and Michelles' personal favorite, the guy selling all types of pound cake. There is artisan bread, although sadly their sign spells it artesian, a huge variety of pastas by the pound, and a lady who sells dog paraphernalia. Donna and Dwayne just returned from spending the summer at a ranch in Utah to winter here and sell her beautiful jewelry. Matt's friend Liza's parents came last week selling their homemade vanilla which is wonderfully potent I might add, stained glass by Karen, and the list goes on.

Now that we have a beer and wine garden, people tend to hang around longer, enjoying the wonderful singing of Joseph Martens in the afternoon. In other words, it has become a place to hang out and do some serious people watching. Now, if they would just buy. Which brings me to my next point..

During the morning set up, which as I mentioned is getting more complicated by the day, due to the volume of vehicles and traffic, there is a feeling of hopefulness that is contagious. When I worked my regular job, each day was pretty much the same. I very much enjoyed it, but I pretty much knew what to expect. I knew when I would begin the day, when I would eat lunch, when I would make calls for recall patients, when I would hang films, when I would have my most complicated get my drift.

The market, on the other hand, is always a surprise. I can sit for several hours with no sales, then bang. As you've probably guessed, I don't really sit that much, mainly because I'm taking pictures of the market or chatting with vendors and friends that come by weekly. Lots of times I've been disappointed, but probably just as many times I've been delighted. I've met some wonderful people at the market who really look out for one another. If someone is not there for a week concern is shown. Jim and Kathy, our market neighbors, have both lost a parent in the last month and when we are not busy we have commiserated on the problems and pain associated with it.

I took the picture above before the market officially opens. A blank slate of a day awaits the hopeful vendors.

Listening to: James Taylor - Some Children See Him
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A New Partner?

I know this picture is a bit late, nevertheless it is one more reason why I love Nordstrom.

You may remember when I met my printing partner; well of course you do, silly me. Today I may have found another important partner, although I'll have to see the finished product before the verdict is final.

When I sold my first sizable pieces I was still having things printed at Costco, finding frames/mats where I could. We had great success early on at Sam Flax; it was there that I met Miss Nancy. While chatting, she was kind enough to give me information about art shows, and the like. Fast forward some months, and Miss Nancy was no longer at Sam Flax. Where did she go? She started her own custom framing and art studio and is celebrating her first anniversary this month! Maybe two months ago she came by my booth at the market and we chatted. As does most every artist, she asked who did my giclee prints. Giving her Rogers' contact info was my pleasure. She does mixed media, primarily folk art pieces.

Time passed, she contacted Roger, and then one time picking up things from his house, I saw her pieces waiting to be scanned. Yeah, another artist to pay for the $15,000 printer!

When Matt was here he emphasized how important the framing of this swimming toad photograph would be to its' success in the gallery show. I thought of Nancy right away. I knew that she had quite an extensive background and today all of that was evident during our consultation. She basically picked what would work for a gallery show, deciding on pretty much how things should be hung, what frames and mats to use, sizing, and the like. She used to work for the Orlando Museum of Art hanging shows, so count me impressed. It was wonderful to have someone impartial working with me. I just know it is going to turn out great. You can be skeptical up until I see the final product if you must.

Bruce was lobbying for a tree-free Christmas all last week but yesterday morning he woke me up saying let's get the tree when I get home from work. Indeed we did, and it is a wee bit of a thing--a compromise of sorts. It really is cute. Returning from Nancy's studio I ate lunch, and on to the decorating while listening to Christmas albums. For me one of the most pleasurable things about decorating the tree is what memories it conjures. My sister in law, Michelle, has given us so many beautiful ornaments through the years. Because the tree is so small I had to leave many in the boxes, but I did decide to hang some of our very first ornaments. I can remember clearly Bruce and I painstakingly painting and coating these wooden ornaments for our first Christmas thirty five years ago. It was indeed a much simpler time. They hang on the tree so nicely, not dragging the branch down like so many of the ornate ornaments made today. I hope you enjoy seeing a tiny bit of our past as much as I'm enjoying sharing it. So funny how Bruce wanted to make sure I knew he painted this one!

Yesterday no sooner then I returned from the museum, I turned around to go back. Randy, the gardener, asked me last week if I would do some photographs of he and his wife for their grown children. She was busy in the morning so we chose 4:00 hoping for good light. I think they are happy with what we got and now want to use one for a Christmas card. My word, the digital revolution has changed everything hasn't it?

Time to make dinner for my late working husband...
Listening to: Low - Little Drummer Boy
via FoxyTunes

Monday, December 8, 2008

Baxter is Under the Weather

Friday morning found me going through photographs trying to pick images for the upcoming gallery show which is fast approaching. It opens on January 3rd, although the opening reception is not until January 11, a Friday night. Eleven colorful images is the goal, a harder task than one might imagine. While Matt was here I got his opinion, as I did Carols'. I put together a web album and sent it to Karen, our museum curator, to solicit her advice which was quite a bit different than the others. What, oh what, is a girl to do?

This had me wondering why in the world I agreed to do the show in the first place.

After lunch, to rest my mind, I began a novel that I'd picked up at the library on Thursday. It turned out to be quite good with me reading the afternoon away. I noticed our little Baxter seemed lethargic; when I cleaned the pool and he did not do his barking routine I knew my instinct was right--something was wrong. Oh yeah, the name of the novel is This Must Be the Place by Anna Winger. I finished it that night so you know it is a winner.

Saturday I packed my things and off to the Whole Foods Market I went. For the record, I'm not sure how that market is going to pan out. There was spotty rain early on which had me worried, but the sun began to shine bringing with it a beautiful day. My sales were abysmal.

Arriving home around 3, I found our Baxter in sad shape. I raced over to the vet before they closed at 4, waiting about an hour or so to see the vet. I'd not met him before; he looked like no other medical professional I've ever seen with bushy, and I do mean bushy, gray hair that looked like a brillo pad. His face was covered with a giant beard to match his untamed mane, and his pants were too short with a large hole in one knee. This, btw, was not a trendy hole. Apparently, he must be an eccentric of sorts, but I digress. He examined Baxter, who was shaking like a leaf the entire time, declaring that his shaking, and constant licking of his nose, were symptoms of pain. His diagnosis--a back problem for which he ordered an x-ray. Off he went with the tech and returned none the worse for wear shortly thereafter. The vet brought the x-ray in, a lateral view of his thoracic and lumbar spine, and I was stunned to see how tiny his skeletal system is. His little femur is no bigger than my finger under all that fur. No serious problem was evident thank goodness. Baxter was given a steroid shot and pills to take for five days. Dr. Hill pronounced that with rest and medication he would be as good as new in a few days. So far, so good.

Remember the email I wrote about last week? It turns out that I had tagged the post Tom Ritter Orchids; when you google his name my post comes up. The gentleman explained that is how he found me. Interesting.

The weather was chilly most of yesterday; sunny and bright. That said, it did not help my sales, which were once again almost non-existent. I realized a few months ago that I might reach a sales goal by the end of the year, however, these last two weeks are not helping so much. I am close though.

Today I've been doing some throwing out. First my cosmetic drawer, followed by the refrigerator. While Carol was here she had to use my makeup as she'd forgotten hers. When you share something you all of a sudden see it in a new light. This shining light reminded me that it was messier than it should be. I keep what I have in a plastic rectangular basket which suits it just fun. The trouble is, I'd not seen the bottom of the basket for some time. I removed everything, throwing away old q-tips which were buried underneath everything else. I rarely buy makeup, but when I do, I make sure to get the GWP (you may recall this stands for gift with purchase), which sometimes leaves me with things I don't use. Today it was time to clean up my act. I also use a plastic deviled egg holder for my earrings. I'd not been into for a while because I was selecting from the pile I keep in an old Irish ashtray on the vanity; I'd forgotten I had some of them. Very fun, it feels like I have new jewelry!

Mr. Bruce will not be traveling too far this week necessitating me to grocery shop--a much dreaded task. Upon my return, after shelving my purchases, I made squeezed some tangerine juice with fresh tangerines from my neighbor at the market. They have all types of citrus trees, so every week they bring some to share.

It is chilling as I type. Time to get started on dinner--the menu--mustard crusted pork chops, buttermilk mashed potatoes and spinach salad with cherries.
Listening to: Chris Isaak - Pretty Paper
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bits & Pieces

The other day the post on Digital Photography School reminded me that there are close up lenses at the camera store just waiting to be purchased. As such, I zoomed (notice I no longer motored as that is a term reserved for MINI drivers) over to Colonial Photo and Hobby and purchased some. They come in a set of three for around thirty dollars which you screw on in front of your lens like a filter. As you know, I'm not a huge fan of changing lenses; instead of buying an expensive dedicated macro lens I figured I'd give them a try. The camera struggles to autofocus, giving me an opportunity to once again practice my manual focus. Here is a tiny, tiny little butterfly, somewhat out of focus, but cute nonetheless.

Yesterday I went to the mall for some pre-Christmas shopping. I always take the baby camera with me in case something presents itself which is the case more often than not. I got a big kick out of seeing these dis-interested men sitting. Need I say more?

One of my favorite aspects of Christmas is listening to music. While visiting Matt was kind enough to purchase a new Mary Chapin Carpenter album for me which has already given me a great deal of pleasure. Of course there is always my perennial favorite, Fred Waring & the Pennsylvanians. As well, last year Jonathan gave me a terrific James Taylor Christmas cd.

I received the strangest e-mail last night from a stranger. He said while buying orchids from Tom Ritter (THE orchid man in town) he came across my photos. Now how this could be possible, I've no idea, but somehow he got my email address and had all sorts of complimentary things to say. Who knew?

As is always the case, there are things going on behind the scenes with Out & About Photography that would bore you if I documented everything. I will tell you that Mr. Bruce asked me to make some desk calendars for his workmates with separate ones for ladies and men. He chose from a batch and Vista Print made it happen, with a little help from me. Arriving in yesterday's post, we couldn't be happier with the product.

When Jonathan vacuumed on Thanksgiving day we all agreed that the vacuum smelled dreadful while running. Talk about recycling, have I got one for you! Finally I was getting around to vacuuming this morning; immediately removing the bag, I rushed it to the outdoor trash can. Unfortunately it turned out to be my ONLY bag. Orek bags are to be found only at their store about 14 miles away leaving me with two options: retrieve the used bag or not vacuum. You know me well enough by now to know what I did next. Talk about an unpleasant task! I grabbed hold of the ICK and started pulling. Before you get too grossed out, stick with me a minute, this is a tale of being green--not throwing away a perfectly good vacuum bag. With the bulk of it emptied, I replaced it on the machine, but not before liberally dousing the inside with the strongest perfume I have, a John-Paul Gaultier. I'm assuming this perfume has not been previously used in this manner, however, there's always a first time for everything. I sprayed the cavity and the outside of the bag as well. It worked pretty well for a makeshift idea. This way I can go get the bags at a more leisurely pace, or not.

With all the talk of David, Matthew, and Jonathan, you might think I'd forgotten that I have another son to write about. Shame on me for neglecting to mention that on Thanksgiving Day we all watched a DVD featuring Bill (among others) giving a guitar lesson on finger tapping. It is part of a project produced by Mark Tremonti, the guitarist for Creed. He and Bill have been friends for years which is mutually beneficial. Bill has taught him a lot about guitar playing while Mark has introduced him to influential people. It doesn't hurt that they just plain like each other either! That said, Bill does a remarkable job--we are all so proud and a bit awed at how poised he is. He went to Chicago to do the filming and there is the cutest segment of him at the door watching the snow fall--that's a Florida boy for you. Lest I forget to discuss the lesson--he is simply amazing. We realized he'd been playing now for over half his life. I still remember the first guitar I bought from the newspaper which seems a bit quaint now. I'm thinking it was a Christmas gift. From there it was the pawn shop to today when Dean Guitars builds him his own model. How about that?

Listening to: Vince Gill - Do You Hear What I Hear
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Let the Blogging Resume

Judy called last night to check on me because she'd not been able to electronically. Well, to answer her question, I'm fine, although I'm publicly admitting that it has been a quite a tiring time for me. When she called I was already in bed, snuggled in for the night. Now, however, I think I'm caught up around here--at least for the moment and raring to go.

If I do say so myself, I think everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Here's a photo recap of the holiday. In this one everyone (except for the cook) is watching the DVD of Dave and Michelle, who, btw, had a wonderful honeymoon.

Because of the size of the crowd we had to eat at three separate tables which worked just fine. You can't really tell from the picture, but I know that Matt, Jonathan, and Alissa are especially enjoying the fine weather before their respective returns to cold/snowy/rainy city life.

Here are Carol, Hank, and Maureen eating at the kitchen table which sure looks pretty barren in this picture. I'm going to have to get a more colorful tablecloth for there!

We used the kitchen counters for a buffet line which makes all of the tables look empty. I will say there was more than enough food to go around. Ruth and Pat brought wonderful homemade rolls, a lovely lavender plant, and a pecan pie. Carol and Hank brought spinach casserole, Mom Peck and Michelle brought wine and cheesecake leaving Lisa to bring a pumpkin pie.

There are three in our family who are either vegans, or vegetarians, allowing me to be especially creative preparing an inclusive feast.

Here is what I made (at least all I can remember at this point):
Fresh turkey with sausage stuffing
Baked Ham with cherry glaze (I use that term loosely)
Mashed Potatoes with gravy (homemade stock makes it so good)
Brown Rice stuffing with pecans and cranberries
Spinach salad including almonds and cranberries with poppy seed dressing
Jello molds for fun in little foil muffin holders
Fruit salad with fresh grapefruit/oranges/pineapple and coconut
Haricot Verts with crispy shallots
Baby peas for Jonathan
Chick pea salad with edaname (very pretty)

Alissa helped by de-stemming the spinach and with the little jello project. I almost forgot the pigs in a blanket and hummus and pita LeAnne brought! They were a big hit.

As is always the case Mr. Bruce gets in the kitchen afterward taking over from where I left off. Several dishwasher runnings later, a full dish drainer (not emptied until Saturday night) and we were back in business.

On Friday Jonathan and Alissa went to Animal Kingdom, Carol and Hank left, and Bruce, Matthew, Maureen, and I went to the movies, meeting Liza afterward for lunch. I can't recommend the movie. Although Anne Hatthaway was spectacular in "Rachel Getting Married", the movie (in my opinion) suffered from a lack of editing. That's not what the critics said but it is what I say!

Then it was time to take Matthew to the airport for the long flight home. It was such a busy ten days that I don't think I ever got to visit with him properly and now he is gone leaving me a little sad.

Jonathan and Alissa departed Saturday afternoon, leaving us once again, empty nesters.

Listening to: Low - Blue Christmas
via FoxyTunes

Listening to: The Polyphonic Spree - Happy Christmas (War Is Over)
via FoxyTunes

You Just Never Know