Friday, December 18, 2009

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

The clock was ticking, ticking, ticking away the minutes until Matthew was to arrive, with me glancing up every few of them, waiting for his call. Turns out he was doing the same thing at the airport curb, watching and waiting for us to come pick him up. After what must have seemed like forever following a trans-continental flight, he called home, wondering where we were! Bruce, meanwhile was finishing attaching the super-duper new awning that together we spent the day making. Just as Bruce was putting the last screw in, the phone rang, announcing his arrival!

Baxter is good about letting us know when someone arrives. I say that, but actually it is pretty amazing to think that this little dog, who stands no higher than mid calf, can sense when someone is near our home. It's not like he can see them. Well, that's not entirely true, he does perch on the back of the sofa some days, watching the outside world, but other times he can be just laying around when all of a sudden, up he pops, running to the door, barking like nobodies business. If he's happy, his little tail wags a mile a minute, especially when Bruce's car pulls in. I have to look out the door, making sure Bruce has parked, before opening the door allowing him to race out there and greet him. Which, when Matt and Bruce arrived, he most certainly did. I, on the other hand, did not wag my tail, however, I did race out there to hug Matt. Tears of happiness began flowing down my face at the sight of him. After all, it has been more than a year, the longest I have ever gone without hugging him! Later on I was trying to imagine how military families manage....

Maureen, Nancy, Carol, Pat and Ruth all came for a spaghetti dinner, with Ruth bringing a delicious grapefruit cake, straight out of the oven. Only in Florida, right? It was a very, very, happy night indeed.

During our conversation the subject of this blog came up with several well meaning family members pointing out the regular grammatical and punctuation errors to be found. Man, are they right about that; good thing I have spell check or there would be that too! It is no secret I struggle with both, dating back to my high school days. It must be brought to the attention of my gentle readers that I received a D in 10th grade English. I doubt I will ever forget that because fortunately it was a rare occurrence, otherwise I would have spent even more time on restrictions! Mr. Mild was the teacher's name--what a character he was. He wore incredibly thick black glasses, something you rarely see these days. The aforementioned glasses seemed to always be covered with a layer of grime as well. There are some amongst my readership who revel in grammar, I'm not one of them. Furthermore, there are some who would not write a regular blog because of grammatical deficiencies, but again, I'm not one of them either. Here's how I see it. In the past, no written word we encountered had not been previously pored over by an editor whose job consisted of correcting errors. I don't have one of those talented folks on my staff, so I just plunge ahead. Thank you, thank you, for doing your part to ignore my foibles.

Okey dokey now--that's out of the way....

Here is our darling son Matthew preparing his visa application for FedEx pickup:

He looks good doesn't he?

Both he and Carol have absented the property for a few days--Carol until Saturday afternoon, and Matt until Monday evening. Holiday visiting is the order of the day--Matt in Chicago, Carol in Melbourne. Yesterday afternoon I drove her over there amidst blustery skies. During my return journey rain came pouring down like cats and dogs! And it has stayed...raining as I type at 7:45AM. Around these parts we do not cotton to rainy days. Afternoons, we are okay with, however, waking up to it does not improve our spirits one iota.

Continuing our red theme, I present one of my favorite little flowers, a part of the wonderful hibiscus family:

I took this on Tuesday while at the Polasek. Something new they are doing this year for their website is called "Now in Bloom" with photos by yours truly, gratis, of course.

Did I mention that Christmas is one week from today? Did I mention that I am not prepared? If I didn't, I should have. Bruce went to work today and I am going to be hitting the stores, come rain or come shine!

New music, courtesy of our man in London:
Listening to: Florence + The Machine - You've Got The Love
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's So Nice To Have a Man Around the House

In keeping with my idea of posting photos with red, I present a dog, really still a puppy, that Baxter and I saw while walking. What a sweet face, don't you think?

On my way to Nordstrom last week I pulled off Orange Avenue to take this:

For weeks now our weather has been either rainy, super humid, or overcast. Now, thankfully that's not every day but way more than I'd like. When the temperature soared to 85 on Sunday, I was cursing the fact that I didn't wear something sleeveless to the market. That said, today visitors begin to arrive and except for Carol, the weather will be a vast improvement on what Matthew, Jonathan, and Alissa have been experiencing!

I wish I could adequately describe this lame skating set up at Lake Eola, but I can't--there are no words. It has to be seen to be believed.

I have so much to report today that I hardly know where to start!

Friday I barely remember what I did; I do remember that I wasn't feeling my best (probably because I overdid on Thursday), so no date night. Oh yeah, I worked on deleting photos, and moving market photos over to my external hard drive. I can't wait for the computer whizzes to sort out my computer while they are here. I discovered I only had 10% of memory left.

Saturday was Jen's bridal shower, and what a shower it was. Jen will soon be Maureen's daughter in law, a wonderful addition to the family she will be. The food, company, and festivities were so good.

After returning from the shower, I made some pesto dip and toasted french bread to take to Bruce's department party later in the evening. Another food-filled event! Around 10 I asked Bruce to take me home for two reasons. One, having the market the next day, and two, because my feet were KILLING me! These days I wear high heels infrequently, and boy could I feel it after six hours of standing in them.

Drama at the market on Sunday. A young couple, she is 16, he is 18, were in my booth chatting for a bit. She reminded me so much of my niece Amanda; very tall and willowy, with almost identical coloring. Anyway, it was a good thing we chatted so much, with me learning their names etc. because when it came time to complete the small transaction something completely unexpected happened. I'll try to describe it succinctly.

She hands me money.
I lay the print on the table, reaching for the money.
Her phone drops to the ground.
I bend down to retrieve it.
While down there, her jacket drops to the ground.
I pick it up too, joking that she's dropping everything.
I stand up and see that she is starting to jerk a bit.
This is not a good thing.
Fortunately, I have two chairs in my booth.
The boyfriend takes a hold of her, and I drag the chair over.
He begins to panic as her eyes dilate, and her heads falls back.
Shortly thereafter she goes out cold.
By now, people are beginning to notice something is amiss, although if you can imagine, there are still some people looking at things on my walls in the other corner of the booth.
I get ice from Larry and Dena, making a little ice pack for her neck.
I keep calling her name, tapping her face, and after what seems like forever, she comes to.
By now, 911 has been called, along with her mother.
They arrive, take her vitals, and talk to her mother. The ambulance arrives, but her mother doesn't want her taken anywhere, preferring to see her for herself first.
She arrives shortly thereafter, and her boyfriend walks her to the car, and that is that.

Yikes, the adventures that await me each week! A little later, one of my brother Pat's old friends from high school visits my booth. She said there were two Karen Nichols in their class, she was "little" KN. It's a small world out there my friends.

Finally, I'm getting to the title reference. We all know by now what a terrible year it has been for Maureen. Just when we got the computer crisis solved, something much dirtier occurred on Sunday morning involving her septic tank. I won't relate the gory details, however, I will tell you that my darling Bruce saved the day.

He is finally low on jobs at the moment, allowing him to take some much needed time off. He remade the bench that collapsed under my weight on Halloween, put up new lights out back, and in general is taking care of business around here. What a relief! Most of the year I muddle through, but there is no one quite like Bruce to take charge.
He is bathing Baxter as I type.

One final note: it's official. Bill began his new job with Chase last Thursday. After the market on Sunday we took him to the airport; he has nearly a week of training in New Jersey before they let him loose. Very exciting news.
Listening to: Ryan Adams - So Alive
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Oh Happy Day!

So much to be grateful for today, where shall I start?

Here's a view of the living room in the fading afternoon light with the tree ablaze with white lights. This year, instead of Bruce and I doing it together, we opted to go out with Dana after the market, leaving the decorating to me. How I remember those days when there were many hands to decorate! Several memories always flood back while doing the tree. One, a real standout, is the year Bill and Dave were getting close to two years old. They were so darn inquisitive (pc for they got into EVERYTHING!), that Bruce built a large wooden box and bolted the tree down for safekeeping. Secondly, the year Matt was nine, meaning the twins were six, and Jonathan was two, we moved on December 16. Can you imagine that? We were young ourselves! Anyway Matt insisted we needed a tree; once we purchased one, he proceeded to decorate it himself. Crazy huh?

Some of you know this, some don't. When the boys were quite small, I read somewhere about a family whose Christmas morning tradition sounded like something I'd like to adopt. Basically it works like this: last one up gets to open the first present, followed in succession by those who got up earlier. As a child I remember dragging our parents out of bed as early as 6, something I was hoping not to repeat as a parent myself. What a blessing it was, becoming quite a contest between the boys to see who could stay in bed the longest! Isn't it something how you read something somewhere and incorporate it into your own life? Off topic, but once I read that Madonna used to love to clean the lint screen on her dryer. Don't ask me where I read this please because that I can't tell you. What I can tell you is that almost every time I clean the lint screen that silly thought comes into my head. If only I could remember important things!!!

Ok, so what does this have to do with my title? Well, if you will please, notice the lovely bouquet of roses on the coffee table, a gift from Angela for shooting their pictures.

That is small potatoes compared to what I'm fixing to write. David called and guess what???? In arbitration the lawsuit was thrown out!!!!! Additionally his record is expunged! Isn't that fantastic!!! I knew in my heart David has only his client's best interests at heart, and would not willingly do anything wrong. Although he claims not to have any spirituality anymore, almost fifteen years of Sunday school classes are still buried in there somewhere. Not to mention, he wouldn't want to disappoint his dad for anything. Oh happy day! (For those opposed to the overuse of exclamation marks, please forgive me, however they are the only thing I have to convey my excitement)

And here's this news. Remember last week I mentioned Bill had some job news. I decided to back off a bit then because everything was not finalized. Well, now it is. He began working as a Business Banker for JPMorgan/Chase this very day. In his former position with Wachovia he was happy enough, but once Wells Fargo bought Wachovia, the proposed changes in his compensation package were not to his advantage. Thus, when a recruiter called asking him to interview with Chase, he jumped at the chance. Fortunately, they liked him, offering him a position along with a salary increase. Hopefully, he'll blossom, and if you know Bill, you'd assume he would because he is a hard worker when money is involved.

Here's Maddie and Clara from our photo shoot the other day. Polly wants to use this one for their Christmas card. After taking these we got serious again. The girls proceeded to place their antlers on my head while we took the remaining photos. I suspect that when I was younger I would have felt self conscious walking around with two sets of antlers on my head, but no longer, I've got no pride left!

One thing I love, love, love about Christmas is the songs. This is one of my favorites:
Listening to: Amy Grant - Emmanuel, God With Us
via FoxyTunes
Not only is her voice spectacular, both the lyrics and arrangement are wonderful. And of course there is my beloved "Christmas Magic" by Fred Waring. Love it!

Tomorrow is Bruce's department Christmas party which should be fun for him. A potluck luncheon, gift exchange, as well as a White Elephant exchange. We found a funny gift for that part. I'm headed to the kitchen now to prepare macaroni and cheese as his contribution. Imagine that until I began making "The Flying Biscuit" mac and cheese Bruce hated the stuff; now it is his favorite. I believe he'd be happy if I made it several times a week.

Speaking of Bruce, it takes him a little while to get in the Christmas spirit. He worked from home today a bit, but once he was caught up I suggested he watch "Love Actually", his favorite. It was a joy to hear him laughing out loud at parts and of course if you've seen it, you know there are some real tear jerker moments. His step is just a little lighter now.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What's Not to Love About Being Dutch?

Of all things I'm posting two videos today, one from our fave humorist David Sedaris:

And one from the amazing Susan Boyle, whose debut CD I hope to receive for Christmas.

Since I washed my hair and put on makeup I'm running out to do a little shopping. See you after bit.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

She's Back!

Where is the time going? It's not that I don't mean to blog, it's just that the days seem to be speeding up and chock full of stuff to do.

Before we go one step further, here is something I've been meaning to post for weeks now. Ever since I read this piece in Vanity Fair, Cuteness, I couldn't get over how much truth there was to what he had to say. Read it if you've got time! Specifically I've found that no matter how interesting a photograph I show of an exotic flower it will sit in my baskets for who knows how long. On the other hand, daisies, a cute flower if ever there was one, sell like crazy. Thus, as the smart businesswoman I'm becoming (haha!), I have daisies of all colors and compositions. How else to explain the popularity of "Street Art" than to say that it is cute. Most of the folks who buy it have never heard of The Smiths; that said, those who do love that band go crazy for it! In any case, cuteness prevails! Twitter anyone?
Publix's version of Christmas daisies:

The green was definitely a miss.

Since our last meeting I've had lots going on. Let's see if I can remember where the week went.

Bruce and I saw Brothers Friday night. Wow, was it intense. According to what I've read it is a remake of a much better Danish film; I thought this version was good, so can't imagine the original. Why, though, must people be recycling others ideas? The film is made by Jim Sheridan who directed one of my favorites: Coming to America. In both films he uses children so naturally; they provide much needed sweetness in a sea of despair.

Alabama rolled all over Florida in the SEC Championship game--nice.

Party at Chuck and Zoilas' house across the street. Chuck was single until just a few years ago, maybe 35 years old?, anyway, he's had an annual birthday party for years and years, which when we can, we try and show up for, if just for a little while. The party has definitely changed now that he's got two young boys under 3!

The treadmill is folded up and in the closet, making room for a fold up bed in my office. For the first time in a long time our company will have a door to close. Carol is arriving on the 15th for Lisa's 50th birthday party on Saturday. Unfortunately for those of us who have been dying to see Matthew dance again, he's arriving on the 16th, but heading to Chicago on the 17th for a visit with his Northwestern friends, so he'll miss her party on the 19th.

Shopping, that's another thing I've been doing. Not nearly as much as I need to, but I've got a start. So hard when your sons are all financially solvent and then some. Not that I'm complaining mind you, I am delighted to have that problem! I realized that when the children were growing up my shopping time and money were limited, now however, I've got both time and money, just no ideas.

This Sunday a woman came to the booth, started looking at some things and then asked me the price of a canvas. I told her and she sorta gasped. I asked, "Is that too much?" She replied, "I thought it would be much higher." A real first! She said, "I'll take it," to which you know how I responded! Furthermore she told me where she lived, a condo which my brother in law, Cris, built many years ago on the other side of Lake Eola. I'm mentioning this because my very FIRST paying customer was staying with her son at the Reeves House, the aforementioned condo building. I had a flashback to that moment. I was so, so excited, going so far as to have Lisa take my picture with her. Lisa was then kind enough to carry the piece for the woman to her place. Nice. In fact, I think I'm going to hunt for that picture......No luck finding me, but here's Lisa on March 27, 2007:

What you don't see is the empty bridge where I was once stationed. My how times have changed; the bridge is pretty much full on both sides now. This weekend, however, those vendors will have to move because they are putting in an ice skating space if you can imagine. You'll hear what I have to say about that once I've seen it with my own two eyes!

I've found some new fabric for the awning which Bruce and I will try to make when he returns from the cold country, this time, New York.

Continuing my red theme, here is the picture I took of the Strombergs last night for their Christmas card:

The Strombergs are Angela, Matt, and her son Michael. You've heard a lot about Angela, now you've seen her. One funny thing is that although I had Rogers' external flash, I was hoping to use the ambient light, thus I brought my tripod over which proved to be too short for the likes of them. Both Angela and Matt are over 6 feet tall!

Tuesday morning, 8:00, means time to get ready for the museum. Till we meet again..
Listening to: James Taylor - In the Bleak Midwinter
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Shades of Red

I'm wondering if every picture I post this month, at least until Christmas, should have either red or green as the primary color? When you've been blogging as long as I have, you've got to keep it fresh....

As if Maureen hasn't had enough trouble lately, it appears that the computer we gave her when I got my Mac is now seriously dysfunctional. How does one look for jobs, check on unemployment claims, and in general, keep up with the world without a computer? We're sorting through the options on how best to get her back up and running. Speaking of Maureen, I was remiss in not mentioning the shrimp she brought to Thanksgiving. It deserved a place of honor on the previously posted menu, but I imagine that since it went too fast for me to get a taste, it slipped my mind.

I'm wondering if I have either a virus, or an auto-immune disease, that is triggered by fatigue. Just when I think that I'll never have those pesky symptoms again, they rear their ugly head, forcing me into rest mode. Yesterday was one of those days; today isn't far behind. The painters returned this morning to finish up the punch list which included painting the insides of all three doors. They are wide open as I type, with the wind whistling through the house, not to mention flying leaves as well, keeping me home for now. In other words, I won't get out, and do too much, forcing another rest day! I did manage to get all my prints done for Sunday though, which is fantastic.

Bruce left this morning for the cold country. :(

Which reminds me of something Jonathan wants for Christmas, "dot gloves." Apparently, they have touch pads so one does not have to go without using one's iPhone during the bitter cold of a Chicago winter. They must be a hit because according to their site, they are sold out of one type, one type is too dorky, and the third won't ship until mid December, by which time Jonathan would be either frozen, or crazed from not fooling with his phone, a phenomenon I find troubling, but then again, I'm old.

The other Peck brothers should have already made an appearance in this blog; somehow I've written about other things instead of my dear sons. Here's a brief update:

succumbed to the offer of working directly for Allen & Overy. Originally he thought that working for a British firm would require him to stay in London for a specific time period, but he learned differently. Now we know he'll be there for awhile so I'm bound to have that passport ready while he's still there and we can finally visit!

Bill's band, Exit the Ride, has been playing around town with frequency which is obviously a good thing.

David is facing attorneys today. About a year ago, when the stock market meltdown was in full free-fall, some former clients sued Sun Trust, (not David,) over some investments he placed them in. To set the record straight, I want you to know that if those same folks had left their money where it was their losses would be marginal today. Moreover, they moved to another financial institution which steered them toward the same investments, but in our sue-happy society, all that is a moot point. The case has been looming all these months, but David, being David, has remained optimistic because he knew he'd done nothing wrong. Mediation didn't work about a month ago, so yesterday was the first step towards a real trial. He called last evening, worn out from more than four hours grilling by the client's attorney. His attorney coached him on Monday to answer the questions succinctly. Now if you know David even slightly, you know he tends to run on about a subject he's passionate about. Apparently, he did good. Today he faces questioning again, this time from the Sun Trust attorney. Keep him in your prayers that he'll be exonerated quickly!

So there you have a quick summary about our Peck men, although they'll always be my boys. :)

Completely changing the subject, here's a view of the gallery space at the Polasek:

If you've ever been there, you know this is pretty wild for them. They are going more modern these days, here's a link to the facebook page: Maidens & Monsters. Actually, it was more interesting than I'd previously imagined. It will be running until April so I'll get to know it pretty well.

Lastly, although I wasn't feeling so great yesterday, something happened that made me very happy. While eating lunch the phone rang, a rare occurrence these days. It was a youngish man calling from Louisiana about a canvas. It seems as if his girlfriend had seen it while visiting Orlando and has been talking about it for weeks, claiming it's the only thing she wants for Christmas. Now how nice is that?
Listening to: Low - Just Like Christmas
via FoxyTunes

You Just Never Know