Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Keep on Movin

Picture this:
The rain is falling madly, the air conditioning is too cold, and there are no visitors. You can guess where I was today. Although I've brought a book of short stories by Lauren Groff, Delicate Edible Birds, to read, the stories are so intense that reading them one right after another diminishes their potency...I need time to absorb them for a bit before moving on to the next. Because of the rain, I can't go out to take pictures, so I do something that has never occurred to me before: I begin dancing in the back gallery space to Soul II Soul's greatest hits, chiefly, Keep on Movin. I can't imagine what I would have done if someone arrived. It felt good to be moving I can say that much for sure.

That cd is an oldie but a goodie. If I remember correctly Matt used it as background music for the prom video he did all those years ago, make that 17, if you can imagine. He's turning 33 on Sunday....I can hardly believe I've been a Mom for so many years!

I'm posting a photograph of our Baxie, taken yesterday afternoon while I was watching the NikonD60 dvd, hoping to learn how to operate the camera more effectively. By now I can't even remember what settings I used for this; I'm sure you could care less, it would bore you anyway (frankly it does me too). What matters is this sure shows his cuteness, not to mention that he's looking out the window longingly, waiting for Bruce's return. You've got several days yet to go Mr. Baxter.

In more Baxter related news, remember his last blog appearance photographed in the life jacket? While reading the paper I noticed that they accept pet photos for publication with a little blurb below. Not one to let this kind of opportunity go to waste I submitted that photo, hearing just last night that on July 9, a Thursday, Baxter will be making his "print" debut. Angela was not surprised, her response: "I always knew he would be famous." And so he shall be.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the museum will be closed for the next two months, or have I already told you that? Anyway, I'm glad. Next season I may have to look for a volunteer opportunity which involves more interaction with people. We shall see.

Matt is busy being a concert-goer this week; he'll be seeing Blur, Madonna, and Take That. He's seen Madonna maybe four times now? Blur, however, is his favorite. I've no idea how he manages, his work weeks of late have been 75 hours. A birthday week perhaps?

I'd arranged to have Michelle and Dave Baxter-sit for me while I took a little trip back over to Sarasota this afternoon. I didn't factor in the weather. It rains for a bit almost every day in the summer, but 80% chance is just a little too much to gamble with. As we've discussed in the past, driving in that kind of rainstorm is extremely scary; I got my hair trimmed instead. I'm thinking of heading to the other coast in the morning.....
Listening to: The National - Fashion Coat
via FoxyTunes

Listening to: The National - Brainy
via FoxyTunes

Listening to: The National - Patterns Of Fairytales
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Spend More Time Living

Thursday morning Baxter's barking woke me at 5AM which I took for a sign that I should go somewhere early. Packing my things quickly, I got on I-4 intending to head for New Smyrna Beach. I didn't make it that far. Not because of any problems, but while driving I had an idea about catching the sunrise under the St. Johns River bridge near Sanford. I got impatient. I got back in the car and drove along Lake Monroe, pulling the Honda over to catch the sunrise between palm trees. Running across the road into the grassy area alongside the lake, I was swarmed by bugs. When I returned to the car this is what it looked like:

My body looked like the side of the car! For a nice change, at least they didn't bite.

So here's the sunrise in full glory:

Alert readers may notice I said above that I wanted to get the sunrise between palm trees; the one with the old dock posts turned out better. Maybe a little less cliche?

I walked around the marina, got gas and headed home. By now it was getting warm--not so horrible as the previous week, but warm by most people's standards. While driving I saw a billboard with today's blog tile. It was for a local hospital which most days I'd start ranting about, today, however, I will spare you that sermon. In any case, I thought how ambiguous it is. What the heck does spend more time living mean? Isn't that most people's goal anyway? I mean really.

Still fussing about that in my mind, later on that afternoon I learned of Farah Fawcett's death. Yes, she tried to spend more time living, but unfortunately she was denied. The same with Michael Jackson. By now we've learned that MJ's death is under suspicion which is a shame. Aren't you glad you're not a celebrity? Aren't you glad no one follows your every move? What a weird life that must be. I wonder what drives people to strive for that kind of fame?

Speaking of fame, I read a small piece in the Times yesterday afternoon about Susan Boyle regarding her meteoric rise to fame. We all know how she's been affected; I expect never in her wildest dreams did she imagine what's happened to her. I love her voice, and her story, of course, I've always been a sucker for the underdog.

Saturday afternoon, Bruce's mom came over to spend the night before an early morning flight to New York. Her brother in law passed away, the second time this year she's gone up North for a funeral. It must be horrible to lose all the people you've known all your life. Bruce took her at 6 in the morning, worrying until he'd heard she'd arrived safely. Her knee was bothering her terribly, you know how big terminals are. Frazzled, but safe, she called to let him know she'd made it.

We spent the evening looking at one of the old photo albums my dad made. We were both amazed at the condition of some of the photos dating back as far as 1901. Still very sharp compared to some in the next album we looked at. Amazingly, photos from our early days together in the late 60's and early 70's are faded. I'd not looked at those for quite a while--a little trip down memory lane--our high school graduation, prom, the bike Bruce bought for me with lawn mowing money, our first Christmas tree....you get the picture. I think our story has been mighty good.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

You've Got a Friend

While talking with Maureen yesterday afternoon she related a story about a friend of hers. During a trip to the beach with some other ladies, the said friend told the others, "excuse me for a few hours, I'm going to Africa." I'm sure you've guessed what she meant--you are much too clever to need an explanation.

That's what I've felt like while reading, The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. My physical body was at Gem Mary Court, my mind was teeming with the images created with words on the page. I could almost envision the enchantment of the Exposition juxtaposed with the grimy reality that was Chicago in those days. I remembered that I'd tried to take photographs inside The Rookery building where the early planning of the fair took place on the top floors. Immediately upon completing the book I went to my folder of Chicago photographs.

Because I was only in Chicago for such a short time, and still very weak, my foot travels were somewhat limited, not only because of energy, but a constant drizzle on most of my second day kept me under cover for part of it. Thus, I went into the Chicago Visitor's Center and came across an amazing photography exhibit showcasing the architectural marvels found in Chicago. I was captivated by a black and white of the staircase inside the Rookery prompting me to consult my maps and find this marvel. Unfortunately it didn't work according to plan because they don't allow just ANYONE in there taking photographs. I needed a permit, which of course I didn't have. Nonetheless, I took this in the beautiful lobby which was updated by none other than Mr. Frank Lloyd Wright in 1907:

According to the book this is one of the few buildings left in Chicago designed by Burnham and Root, the most influential architects of their day. Mr. Root died of pneumonia before the monumental task of building the Columbian Exposition got underway with Mr. Burnham shouldering the responsibilities. By now you are probably either bored or lost, but suffice it to say, the book chronicled the remarkable achievement that was the "White City."

Good books have a way of making you want to know more, whether it is about the author, the time period, or the place. Forgive me for going on and on--I did learn that Mr. Burnham was responsible for not only the "Miracle Mile", but the parks abutting Lake Michigan. Roaming Grant Park in the rain, I was amazed how the clouds off the lake obscured the skyscrapers (Mr. Root's design coup).

I am having some issues right now with not only my iPhoto library, but it appears that my mouse is misbehaving. Hmmm....what to do, what to do?

A week ago I was floating in the Pacific Ocean with Pi, I've been immersed in Chicago, and now my friends, I think I'm heading for New York--I'll be sure to let you know how it was.

P.S. Did I mention that Mr. Burnham designed one of my top favorite buildings in New York--the Flatiron--I knew I liked him.
Listening to: Tift Merritt - Write My Ticket
via FoxyTunes

Monday, June 22, 2009

Blame it on the Heat

Since last we met, the date on the calendar shows that summer has arrived. In Florida what this really means is that we have moved from lesser summer (April, May, early June), to greater summer which can sometimes stretch into November. As I type this, it is 97 outside, a degree or two cooler than yesterday's temp at the market. Not only am I wilting, but my sales are too. Of course I'm sure "this too shall pass."

You were probably thinking that I haven't written because I've been too busy, not really. With sales down, the behind the scenes activity has slowed to a crawl; I've been filling my days with reading and swimming, and of course taking photos when the opportunity presents itself.

Last Wednesday the phone woke me up at 6--groggily I picked up hearing my dear husband's cheerful voice,

Bruce:"it's your wake up call honey." (He'd been up since 4:30 working on email!)

Gail: "why did I want to get up?"

Bruce: "I've no idea."

It was then that I remembered the yard.

Gail: "I'm going out in the semi-darkness to clean up from the storm."

Bruce: "Have fun!"

Gail: "Will do--have a good day!"

I threw on a t-shirt and shorts and headed out into the sauna. Torrential rains with 60mph winds tore through on Tuesday evening, lasting well into the night, leaving our yard a disaster. Knowing that the lawn guys were coming the next day I filled a garbage can with debris and left the rest for them. Because I was up and moving so early I decided to head to the beach for both photos, and swimming. The ocean temperature is just perfect right now, one can plunge right in immediately feeling invigorated. I first stopped at Sea Gull park, which sounded perfect, but was anything but. Not only were there no seagulls, there were huge rocks just beyond the shoreline--not a good place to swim if you don't want to get hurt. Heading back north on A1A, I stopped at one of the uncrowded beaches on Patrick AFB, the first photo in the album. I swam, took photos, and collected shells, leaving before the sun was too high in the sky so I wouldn't burn. Although I've been to Cocoa innumerable times, I'd never seen Cocoa Village which this trip rectified. It is a charming little area with lots of cute shops and restaurants. The surrounding neighborhood has loads of old house with lots of character. Count me surprised.

More huge storming going on Thursday about two hours after the yard men left. Friday morning I repeated Wednesday's operation minus the beach trip. It's all this intense heats fault. I will say that these storms have not been our typical--cool things off-- afternoon storms because of the high winds.

Friday I did chores and went by the gallery. Oh yeah, it seems as if the show is on for October; more details as we get closer. Bruce called around 3 saying he was leaving work early so we could go to the 5:00 movie at our spiffy new downtown theater. We saw Taking Pelham 123 which was better than I expected. From what I've heard this version isn't as good as the older version--I may be wrong, but I'm thinking the inclusion of lots of techie stuff subtracted from the psychological drama that the former one was.

Just before leaving I tried to open my iPhoto library with sad results. The error message states that it is locked and I don't have access. Trying not to panic, I did the whole reboot thing, unplugging, and any thing else I could think of with the same message. Annoyingly the screen kept coming up--ok?--no, it is NOT ok! My date arrived to pick me up. After Saturday's market I sent Matt an email; he called immediately. I felt terrible because he'd been cleaning his flat all day and was just going out. Hoping it wasn't anything too drastic, he took control of my computer (always so miraculous to me) for more than an hour with no resolution. All is not lost dear readers, just misplaced for now, not to mention that I have a copy of most things on Picasa. It will all work out somehow.

Mr. Roger's son Ed is having his third surgery to eradicate the cancer behind his sinus this week in Philadelphia. Not only has he undergone surgery, but radiation and chemotherapy as well, with cancer cells still detected. Three surgeons will work together, one for his brain, one for his face, and I can't remember what the other one will do. Hopefully this will be the last of it; Ed is only 27 and has been through enough already.

Dave and Bill came over last evening around 6:30 to celebrate Father's Day with Bruce. My, oh my, those boys (men) can talk. I was disappointed that Michelle wasn't feeling well--I was looking forward to seeing her. We sat around the kitchen table for a few hours engaging in conversation about all the taboo subjects--politics, religion, and the economy. Not only do they talk loudly, but over one another--you would think we were an Italian family or something! Our big city sons called as well each getting to have a chat with their SUPER dad.

After a week of tinkering I finally got the pool cleaner to work--it travels around like mad now! Fantastic!

In an effort to spur on the economy I think I'll head up to our local nail salon to get a pedicure.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Beauty Amongst Thorns


By now you know that our neighbor Regina is a wonderful neighbor, very hip at age 73, and always ready for an adventure. Sunday's market was hot--enough said. Pretty much once you are home you don't want to do a thing, but a phone call from Regina changed my mind. "Would you like to join me in seeing some amazing night blooming cacti--I'll pick you up around 11?" she asked. My first instinct was to say no thanks, not to mention that the Magic were playing and I was certain they were going to win, but instead I said, "sure." Not far from us on Orange Avenue, in front of an office building, there are these huge cacti covered with these beautiful blooms. Turns out it is the building Martini Graphics first moved to when they left their home office next door to us, the business our neighbors founded where both Jonathan and Bill worked for some time. Anyway, it was an amazing site to see such ugly plants producing the most gorgeous flowers which open at night, closing just after sunrise. Awe inspiring comes to mind.'

Lest I give you the impression I had no sales, let me correct that notion, just not too many. While I was sweating under my tent with two fans going, Bruce was scorching on the roof, cleaning both the gutters and the roof itself. Apparently it was so unbearably hot he had to stop working, jump in the pool to cool off, and rest several times. On top of that he rode his bike to the market which isn't too far, but far enough at 4 in the afternoon with temperatures hovering around 94!

Today after my museum stint I drove straight to Sports Authority to get the bathing cap which I plan to use shortly. Realizing I was not only hungry, but close by, I stopped at our friends, Rico and Evelyn's little restaurant. Here's a link to a review from Orlando Weekly: El Coqui Mexicano For four years they toiled at the market. spreading both good cheer and food. If you check out the comments you will see that not only do people rave about the food, but they rave about their friendliness. Much to my surprise when I arrived they were not on the premises, instead at home getting some much needed rest. Generally I don't ever go out for lunch, but with the restaurant doing so well, Evelyn and Rico are taking the summer off from the market; the truth is, I miss them. I was hoping to let them know that we all do, but we understand that working on your feet till late at night seven days a week begins to take a toll. Adding to my surprise was the cook, Chris, who is the husband of Jennifer, the cupcake lady. I used to know all the vendors names but not so much anymore what with so many of them. Usually people are referred to by what they sell--the bean dip lady, produce people, the orchid couple, cheese lady and popcorn people are some examples. That's what happens when you take a small market of twenty or so vendors, expanding to around seventy or more.

So back to Chris, on Saturdays he's a wedding photographer, during the week he now cooks. Before I left we discussed that although the market can be tough you never know what other opportunities might come up, something I've mentioned in the past. I don't know if it will go anywhere, but Brad came by Sunday afternoon, asking if I might be interested in doing another gallery show, this time at the Comma gallery (on Virginia Avenue) in October. We shall see--they've had some pretty big time folks there; I may not be ready for the big leagues just yet.

By now you know the Magic lost a bit of their post season magic, winning only one game against Los Angeles, although it could have been a much closer series if not for losing two overtime games--at least we can get some sleep now!

I finished Life of Pi a very satisfying book which I highly recommend. Another book Matt gave Bruce years ago is Devil in the White City which I'd never read despite an excellent review from Bruce. So often people bemoan the state of things, sometimes with good reason, other times due to a lack of historical context. The book is non-fiction with this description of Chicago in 1892 in the opening pages:

"Anonymous death came early and often. Each of the thousand trains that entered and left the city did so at grade level. You could step from a curb and be killed by the Chicago Limited. Every day on average two people were destroyed at the city's rail crossings. Their injuries were grotesque. Pedestrians retrieved severed heads. There were other hazards. Streetcars fell from drawbridges. Fires took a dozen lives a day. There was diphtheria, typhus, cholera, influenza. And there was murder. In the time of the fair the rate at which men and women killed one another rose sharply throughout the nation but especially in Chicago, where police found themselves without the manpower or expertise to manage the volume. In the first six months of 1892 the city experienced nearly eight hundred violent deaths."

What do you think? Wouldn't you rather be living now? And what about people's fear for the future? I expect things will continue to improve in unimagined ways, of course, I've always been an optimist.

Listening to: Lisa Stansfield - The Real Thing (K-Klassic Mix)
via FoxyTunes

Listening to: Republica - Ready To Go
via FoxyTunes

Listening to: Basement Jaxx - Red Alert
via FoxyTunes

Friday, June 12, 2009

Media Day

There's gonna be a whole lotta sharing going on today!

You know how I mentioned the wonderful wildflowers on one of my previous posts? Well the heat has, surprisingly, not killed them all off just yet. This morning I drove Bruce to The Villages for a brief meeting leaving me little time to explore.I wanted to spend time with him but he was mostly making business calls. When I dropped him off back at his office around lunchtime his boss came out and we went to Nordstrom for lunch--good stuff. Ok, back to the story-- as you know, there are thousands upon thousands of homes, along with two "town centres" (I'm using that on purpose), and 36 golf courses located there. Not much rural life left, but there is one road I like to travel when I'm there. I saw these on my drive:

Behind this fence are a group of about twelve Shetland Ponies and their babies. I've tried my best to find out what baby ponies are called, to no avail. I did however, find this out about the breed: Shetland Pony. Stopping his grazing for a moment, this little one came up to the fence to investigate the strange lady with the camera, coming up about waist high to me. One little one was nursing with his mother paying no mind, just going about her business of eating.

Here we have the parent and child:

Today is one of those days when the phrase, "hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk" comes to mind. Hopefully it will be enough to dry the laundry hung up at 3 in the afternoon. I'm doing things backwards today--usually it would be up by 8 and down long before now. Truth be told, with the rainy weather we've had, this is the first time I've been able to hang the clothes on the line in weeks. We love the smell and stiffness of clothes hung on the line which seems crazy, but we've been called worse!

Because of our little journey I cleaned myself up a bit, washing and drying my hair this morning which is keeping me out of my swimsuit. I'm being lazy here. Matt doesn't write much on his blog these days, HOWEVER, he makes up for it with posting great stuff. This came from today's post and it is very, very fun, not to mention it reminded me that I could buy a bathing cap! Having thick hair is a real blessing, I'm not complaining but it does take forever to air or blow dry. Plus, when I let it air dry it looks wretched. Mattie to the rescue again! Two more things struck me in this video (aside from the catchy song!), one that small breasted women used to wear fetching bathing suits with ruffles to give them some shape. Secondly, the choreography totally brought back the June Taylor dancers from the Jackie Gleason show. Those of you, of a certain age, will surely recall the grace and beauty of the dancers. It was, to put it bluntly, mesmerizing. Click right below folks--you are in for a treat.
Taller Children
I heard this story on the way home from Costco, it seemed totally like something you would appreciate.

Then there is the Magic...or not so magic last night.

How's that for media day?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Nothing But Blue Skies

For two days now there has been no rain, it's as if we never had weeks of torrential downpours with high winds, thunder and lightening. After a big storm on Tuesday afternoon the skies cleared causing me to say it was a good omen for the Magic game. That sounds perfectly silly, but sports fans are a superstitious lot. It worked you know.

The pool cleaner, after initial hiccups, has done a remarkable job. Oh my, it is a sight to behold how lovely the pool looks. As you may have guessed the above photo is of the pool immediately after the filter came on. Remember how I mentioned that air in the line may have been causing our difficulties? Well, I'm sorting all that out. Not one to let any opportunity go to waste, I grabbed my camera and here we are--lovely bubbles captured. I spent a good part of the afternoon either in the pool, or in the shade reading Life of Pi. Matt gave the book to his dad in 2001 (as evidenced by the U2 concert ticket stub in the book) but I'd never read it. Before I deleted the blogs on my side bar I read on the Book Lady's blog how it was a life changing book. I realized how silly it was having a book like that on the shelf and never opening it. Let me tell you, it is wonderful. Have you got any books on your shelf like that? Maybe the timing isn't right, but just when it will have the most impact on you, I feel confident you will reach for it. There is a wonderful passage about how doubt is an insurmountable enemy to our souls if we allow it to enter our thinking.

Because I've had a few weeks with poor sales, I've begun to doubt myself. I've tried not to, but it is easy enough to do if you are by yourself for much of the time. Those passages in particular spoke to me with the result--a confident middle-aged woman sallying forth! This weekend will be what it is supposed to be, not a reflection of what I'm doing. How's that for confidence?

Bruce arrived in Orlando this morning, but is still at the office working away. I've got the asparagus ready, the potatoes peeled, and the tomatoes sliced, waiting patiently for his homecoming. It's a good thing I don't have much appetite.

Speaking of which, Bruce and I were talking the other night about how incredible it was that I had dry heaves and misery for so, so long. It seems almost like a bad dream these days. I'm supremely grateful for its disappearance. After sitting for any length of time (as short as a meal), I could barely walk needing assistance much of the time. I'm embracing how normal I feel--the only nagging thought I have is that it will return out of nowhere whence it came. Let's hope not.

This morning I bought credit card slips and dropped off the disc with the potential calendar photos at Roger's house. I'm having him print five, I'll pick three once I have them in my hand. I'm finding that is an easier way to choose things rather than on the computer. Let's hope I have a winner in the lot!

Yesterday afternoon I went to Costco to get toilet paper. Anymore Costco befuddles me what with the dizzying array of merchandise, most of which I can't use. It is a great place to get tires, gas, the aforementioned tp, and varying types of soap products. Glasses too. I buy their laundry detergent which lasts nearly six months enabling me to not have to go to the grocery store which pleases me greatly.

I almost forgot to tell you about something that happened yesterday which was very cool. I took the mirrored medicine cabinet doors to a glass shop downtown to get new ones as the current ones have seen better days; I didn't want them marring my bathroom renovation. They've been in business since 1969 and were very casual, actually only taking my first name and phone number for my order. The front desk woman's name is Gail. I mentioned that I'd never been in a glass shop before and would it be possible for me to take a look at the space. Sure. Turns out the owner has a thing for old stuff, taking full advantage of the offerings on ebay. I spotted an old wooden phone booth along with several very interesting old public scales. He ended up pulling out a phone book from 1974 asking if we lived in Orlando then. You'll recall that we were newlyweds in 1974 having just moved into our first home. And here we are...

Joel C. Peck is Bruce's brother for those of you who don't know his real first name, and just below us is Robert S. Peck, his dad. The house listed there is the old rental house on Francis Avenue where his grandmother lived. I was hoping to see how many Pecks were in between Bruce and Cris these days, but they aren't in the phone book. I did estimate the number of Pecks now living in Orlando at around 50. Of course, I'm pretty terrible at that sort of thing but you get the idea--there are a lot more people in Orlando in 2009 than lived here in 1974. You'll also note the lack of area codes. Simpler times.

Every weekend for six weeks we worked on painting the outside of the Hargill house. Judy and Cris lived just behind us in the Peck family home until they moved out of town to Altamonte Springs which seemed far away in those days--still does to me. Judy loves to tell the story of floating in their pool while pregnant with Katie listening to Matt crying at our house. It made her mighty nervous wondering if she would suffer the same fate as me. Remember that the windows were wide open because of no air conditioning. That alone was enough to make anyone cry.

Please let the Magic win tonight. The LA papers were mocking us and I don't especially like that.

Listening to: Alberta Hunter - My Handy Man
via FoxyTunes

Listening to: Adele - Hometown Glory
via FoxyTunes

Listening to: Alicia Keys - No One
via FoxyTunes

Listening to: The National - It Never Happened
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

It's What I Do

I take pictures.

I've only just realized that when something interests me I tend to get a bit compulsive. If I think back over my life there have been different phases of compulsiveness, beginning with sewing, which kept me occupied for many, many years. It is kinda fun looking back at old pictures seeing all the old clothes I made that everyone wore except for Bruce; he was exempt from homemade clothes. In fact, in our foyer there is a picture of me with my mom in a gown I made for her when I was around 17. She would have been 46 at the time. I remember it was for a big charity ball and I was put on serious restrictions because I didn't work hard enough on it, instead spent time with Bruce when he visited. And then there was cross stitch, quilting, cooking, of course reading goes without saying. You will notice an absence of anything physical.

So now I'm obsessed with photography. Today there will be pictures, and more pictures. I was absolutely delighted to see this on the home page of the Times:

Nothing escapes Matt, even though he is far, far away. He posted a version of this on his blog (link to that on side bar--fiftyfivehundred), his is infinitely better than mine because I've no idea how to do a screen capture even though Jonathan has tried to teach me how to do it. Matt called me "intrepid" which sounded kinda good and the feature "crowd sourced". What it amounts to is that they've asked for readers photos, which of course as it turns out, I have plenty....

Somehow I've deleted my sidebar!! A project for the morning.

I neglected to mention swimming on the above list just because it is part of who I am--I've never gotten over my love of water. When we bought this house nearly 14 years ago I was so thrilled to finally be able to have a pool. It was a shame that the children were mostly grown--Jonathan used it before he became addicted to a computer game that will go unnamed, and, truth be told, Bill and Dave did plenty of tanning in the pool during their modeling days. Anyway, those few faithful readers, and you know who you are, know that the chore of keeping the pool up has come up lots, probably too many times, in this blog. After getting rained out at the market on Sunday, I arrived home to find this pool cleaner (study photograph). Mr. Bruce surprised me--Christmas in June!!! The only trouble is that it's not working just right; we seem to have an air leak which is causing it to crawl, not buzz along the bottom, as it should. Tomorrow I'll probably have to call a repair person to get things working properly, and then I'll be in hog heaven! The pool looks mighty good though....

Because it seems as if Mr. Bruce has the obesity gene in his family I'm trying my best to help him not gain any more weight. Traveling for a living doesn't help much, eating out all the time. At home I've been making soup (the splatter incident, you may recall) and other meals with lots of veggies. Last night we had this:

Pretty huh? I love deviled eggs, somehow I don't make them often enough although I made my share while Mom was dying. I'd make a big batch and she'd have them for lunch because they were so easy. I've finally learned how to make them just right so peeling is a breeze.

Tonight the Magic take on the Lakers at home. This is a do or die situation because we are down two games. This afternoon Michelle and I were chatting about Sunday's heart breaking loss in LA, with her saying she almost cried when they lost in overtime. When I parked the Element to take photos of the Church Street Station for the calendar contest I saw this:

When I was looking for photos to put on the blog today I thought that this is how most fans feel right about now--deflated, and hanging on by a thread (string. The city is emblazoned with Magic paraphernalia right now with massive poster type things on the high rises downtown. While watching the games from LA I wondered how Orlando would hold up to such pressure--turns out not so good. Tonight, however, the fans are still hanging in there (balloon metaphor), let's hope the team and Orlando put on a good show for the worldwide audience expected to tune in!

You know how I started by saying I was compulsive about certain things, maybe it would have been clearer if I'd said I was obsessed. Yes, that's the correct word for it. The Magic--I was obsessed with them for years, only letting my interest wane in the last few. The boys will remember that Bruce and I went to the very first exhibition game twenty years ago while Maureen watched them. I spent years listening to the radio broadcasts of games while sewing nightly....obsessed, that I was. Tip off in about an hour. Let's go Magic, let's go!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Baxter Earns His Keep

Well, sort of.

Baxter had a traumatic week. First on Wednesday I took him for his annual check up which is never a lot of fun for either of us. I made a 10AM appointment which did me little good as I had to wait until 10:50 to be called back. Squirming all the while during the blood drawing, another tech had to hold him still to get his shots. Eventually the vet arrived giving him two vaccines. He pronounced him stubborn, nothing we didn't already know. One good thing, Mr. Baxter now weighs in at under 12 pounds and not because of exercise. I've tried my best to get him to like taking a walk but it is a no-go. Occasionally he'll do it but lots of the time he plants himself and only with strong tugging can you get him to get moving. The vet said just let him run around the yard. Good thing. You may recall that during his neutering things went terribly wrong and ever since visiting the vet is not among his favorite things to do.

Secondly he's getting weird about getting his grooming. When Alissa did it two weeks ago she had a trainee with her. I'm never in favor of having someone else cut his hair but I understand the need for hands on training. Anyway for whatever reason she did not cut his hair short enough on the face. This afternoon she came to rectify that. When she came in the door he shot down the hallway, hiding under our bed. She got on one side, me on the other and when he was trying to get away from her, he scooted just close enough for me to grab his harness. Once in her arms he was fine and now will be able to see great for at least a month.

I'd been in the pool until the storms arrived and was just finishing showering when Allisa arrived. While she was doing her thing, I got dressed in one of my favorite green shirts and shorts. I began to make some corn chowder and while the vegetables were cooking in the bacon drippings I somehow let the large spoon topple out of the pot with both veggies and oil onto the floor. And here is where having a dog comes in handy--swooping in immediately, he realized it was way too hot, however, the minute it cooled down a bit, he was lapping up the mess. It's just a shame he can't do a thing for my clothes which got a good dose of the spatters. I'm not sure it was worth the $200 vet bill but it was good nonetheless.
Here is the sole survivor from my gardening attempts. Note basil in foreground.

Speaking of spatters, Bruce had a dreadful occurrence last Sunday. Yikes, what a mess it must have been. I was doing my market thing, albeit it slow as molasses, when Bruce decided that he would touch up some paint in the sunroom. He got down the can, stirred and stirred, and went from the garage, through the dining area and into the sunroom before he noticed that the bottom of the can was leaking like a sieve. He estimates that at least a half gallon of paint left a trail on the carpet and Mexican pavers. Fortunately it was white. Can you imagine how discouraging that was? He spent hours trying to get it cleaned up. The carpet is a bit stiff but so far so good.

Often when I'm driving I see things beside the road which amuse me--here's an example of one such sighting outside a second hand store:

All I have to say is that the Magic game was painful to behold; I know they are a much better team than that.

Currently I'm reading a novel, Hold Love Strong, set in the projects. Although Queens is the geographical location,I imagine it probably could be any large city with basketball playing a major role in the young hero's life. The writing is very strong with the opening chapter about a 13 year old giving birth in her family's apartment. How's that for a beginning? Things don't improve much as time marches on.

According to the paper today the storm I mentioned yesterday dropped 3 1/2 of rain in about two hours, not to mention winds of 38mph. This morning I filled a garbage can full of tree debris. Our beautiful trees provide wonderful shade from the searing Florida sun, but as you now know, plenty of work for me what with the pool and the corner lot. That's life for you--you've got to take the good with the bad.

Bruce just called and I'm hoping he'll be arriving home much earlier than usual so we can take a nice little bike ride. Following the afternoon thunderstorms, the sun is once again shining.

I think I'll pack my car for tomorrow now all the while knowing I could get rained out both days. Oh well, hope springs eternal in this breast.
Listening to: The Beatles - I Want To Hold Your Hand
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Calendar Girl

By now you know I'm obsessed with getting the cover photo of the calendar. As such I'll try most anything including throwing clothes on at 6:15AM, hoping to get something good. Unfortunately the sunrise was fairly weak and didn't do much for my photograph. Although I'm fairly confident everyone will be taking this shot, Bruce still suggests I add my version.

This one won't be it, but I'm posting it so you can see the dramatic results lighting makes. While thinking about the contest, I realized how challenging it will be because everyone will be shooting the same thing. The words of Professor Burt Stout came back to me--photography is mostly about "light management." Thus I'm trying it in all different lighting conditions, hoping I'll be able to use it to make the pictures more dynamic. Here's the one I took about 12 hours later:
As well you can see that I stepped over more tracks to give it more foreground which I'm hoping not so many people will do. It is such an obvious shot I'm really taking a chance because I can only enter three photos. In games and such I'm not too competitive--it's a wonder I care about this. That said, it does introduce me into lots of homes and businesses which can't be a bad thing.

The last one I'm posting is one that I took at the last minute. I'd already walked to the car then turned around for one last look. I decided to try and shoot through the window and here's what I got:

I neglected to mention they only want black and white.

There are several more contests which I'll enter, thanks to Ruth. Last year she turned me onto two different ones, neither of which chose me, however I'll try again. Usually the photos for those are very tight shots of birds, or animals--always very striking. That kind of photography takes lots of patience which I'm often lacking, sometimes just because I'm getting bit up by pesky mosquitoes whom will be taking a starring role in the next weeks during any outdoor activity, what with the massive amounts of rain we've had. This afternoon there was a terrific storm, it began when the yard guys were here, stopping enough for them to finish, then began again in earnest. Very strong winds immediately ruined their lovely handiwork, causing leaves and tree limbs to come crashing down. As I type, it is still thundering and the skies are leaden. Makes me nervous for the weekend. With my poor sales last week in super weather I'm not looking forward to what bad weather might bring!

Speaking of sales, this week during my museum stint, one of the exhibit pieces sold. I'd like to think I had a hand in it but that's probably not really true. I only had four visitors, the last two a couple from outside Boston. We chatted about the exhibit, walking around together a bit. I sat down and a few minutes later the man asked if they wanted to buy a piece could it be shipped to Boston. Immediately I said let me call the curator and we'll see what can be arranged. Turns out with bubble wrap and a bag she had in the car it packed up nicely for their afternoon flight. I bet the artist was delighted with the $500 sale, although she's probably used to it because she has exhibited in the Smithsonian on numerous occasions. I've only got four more weeks of duty until the annual summer closing. I'm puzzling if I want to sign on again for next year, mostly because it is so slow and not that close to the house. I'm imagining there are numerous places within a few miles that could use my help...

Tonight begins the playoffs which we are all jazzed for even though our President does not think we have a chance! Only time will tell.
Listening to: Bloc Party - Blue Light
via FoxyTunes

Monday, June 1, 2009

Excitement in the Air

The Orlando Magic WON! I'm sure I'm not telling you anything you don't know by now, but it still feels good to type it! Yesterday the market was abuzz with people happily reliving Saturday night's game. Thankfully the Magic took an early lead, never letting it go, allowing the fans to watch a great game without having a heart attack. Dave sat court side for game 4, as I may have mentioned, he said it was pretty stressful! Although the Lakers are favored to win, I have a feeling the Magic may surprise some folks with their grit and determination. Let's hope so.

Speaking of favored to win, I only learned this morning that Susan Boyle came in second for Britain's Got Talent. Later on I read she entered a clinic for what may well be a nervous breakdown. What that woman has gone through in the last seven weeks, can you imagine? I'm sure her mother never imagined how this would all turn out. As they say, truth is always stranger than fiction, or the imagination for that matter.

This morning, while we were still in the yard before Baxter's walk, or maybe I should say tug, as you well know what a pain he is to walk, I saw this beautiful light shining through the caladiums.

Hard to imagine that these were planted by the previous owner, more than 14 years ago, yet they faithfully pop up every May. Speaking of gardening, I've failed as a farmer. Yes, I'm not proud to admit it, but admit it I must. My vegetable count to date is three patio tomatoes, one of which fell off with a soft spot; the two peppers are not only deformed, but way small. Sad but true, my friends. I'm not sure what my next move will be. My herbs are doing marginally.

Time once again for taking pictures to hopefully get in the Orlando calendar for the third straight year. What I'd really love is to get the cover photo! The subject this year is the two old train stations in town, one of which is on Church Street, the other Sligh Blvd. This morning after I took a few pictures at the arena with the new Eastern Conference Champion banners, I headed over to Church Street. I scored a parking spot with more than an hour left on the meter which gave me plenty of time to roam. I spotted our Downtown Ambassadors and waved. They waved back.

They work at the market on Sundays helping with traffic flow. It is quite an operation getting 70 booths set up, what with all the cars, vans, and trailers. All of them are quite nice, but the girl in the front passenger seat stands out as the best--she's not only nice, but takes her job seriously. We always get a kick out of her repeating, "Vehicle moving, vehicle moving..."--maybe you have to be there to appreciate it.

Weekly Market Report: Negligible sales. :(

Mr. Bruce will be home all week which means Miss Camera Crazy must head to the kitchen to prepare the evening meal. I take that back, I don't have to, I want to. He is always asking if I want to go out with my typical response, "No thanks."
Listening to: Tracey Thorn - A-Z
via FoxyTunes----------------
Listening to: The Kooks - Ooh La
via FoxyTunes
Listening to: Television - Friction
via FoxyTunes

You Just Never Know