Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Flowers

Oh my, how she would have loved the flowers. The roses, gladiolas, irises, spider mums, lilies, and did I mention the roses? Red, coral, pink, peach; all just beautiful, sent by loving friends and family. That said, knowing my mother in law, she probably would have liked the dish gardens the most because they last!

In October, she sent us a dish garden as thanks for the plane ticket Bruce gave her to see Michelle, Mallory, and Annabelle. She knew how hard it is to accumulate frequent flier miles and wanted to thank her son for his sacrifice. When she flew out of Orlando to Minneapolis, Bruce got special permission to take her to her gate, making sure she was safe and sound. Seeing her only great grandchild was such a special treat and we are now so grateful she made the trip. While there, she did what she could to help around the house, just like she always did.

Unlike many elderly people, her funeral was very well attended by so many wonderful people, including some notable politicians or their wives. It was with joy that we received the many kind words from her wide circle of loved ones. For the visitation, Bruce made a picture board of her through the years, and Cris and the clan made a fantastic slide show with wonderful music. Looking at the memories through the years, what struck me was how she would try just about anything. I especially liked one of her on Judy and Cris's jet ski!

Because of the distance between the burial plot and service, we decided to do things a little differently. Her Zellwood friends, and there were many, many, of them, would have a hard time driving into town so we had the burial first, followed by a celebration and luncheon at her church. Darden was kind enough to provide the meal, and Angela was kind enough to pick it up in Altamonte Springs and drive it out there! Like a good neighbor, Angela was there.

The pastor held up pretty well throughout the service, we sang some favorite hymns, "A Mighty Fortress is our God," "It Is Well With My Soul," and "How Great Thou Art." Testimonials were given by loving friends, and Pastor Nadine read a message from Matthew, which she told me privately she had to read several times aloud in preparation to ensure she could make it through. But, what really got to her was the lovely church ladies, sitting in the back pews, who rose near the end of the service to prepare the fellowship hall for the luncheon. All she could think of was that only two weeks ago Judy would have been one of those selfless helpers, paving the way for the rest of us.

So, Bruce and Jonathan have gone to the movies, seeing the new Mel Gibson film that neither Alissa, nor I, would want to see--you know the kind--a guy movie. However, Bruce is spent. I suspect tomorrow, after Jonathan leaves, will be tough. We're planning on skipping the market again, letting him catch his breath before leaving Monday morning for four days.

Until a person experiences it, you can never imagine what it is like to lose a parent, let alone your last one. All of sudden, the people who brought you into this world are no longer a part of it, and that is very, very hard to take.

And yet, we soldier on. As I'm typing this I'm looking down at my right arm and hand. On my right ring finger I'm wearing her mother's ring, and on my wrist is the wide gold bracelet she wore most of the time. It doesn't feel right just yet, but with time, I'm imagining it will be an enduring connection to the past and her love for us all.

Special dispensation for grammatical errors today please.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be Quick

Tuesday, while driving into Zellwood Station, following a teary conversation with the security guards, one of whom was the first responder when she called 911, I saw a pair of sandhill cranes in flight over the roadway. I nearly gasped at the sight. You see, sandhill cranes mate for life. Naturally, my clever readers already know why it affected me so....yes, I could just envision Judy and Bob finally reunited and flying as a pair once again. "Life Partners" is what I call the above photo, which in the future, when someone buys it, I will always recall this scene.

Pray tell, Miss Gail, what does the title of today's post mean??? Well, hold your horses, I'm getting there.

I don't know about you, but for me, sometimes I think of folks in the recent past. Now, that sentence doesn't make much sense does it? How can I put this into words that convey what I'm thinking???

The above nursery rhyme came to me as I was thinking about all this. Are you happy now? At one point, all of our bodies were nimble, and our thoughts were quick. Yet, as time moves forward, that nimble and quick becomes clumsy and slow. Our eyes no longer see what we want them see without some kind of aid. Our ears, don't pick up all of the sounds we would like, or as in Judy's case, we need an aid to hear, lest we miss the beauty of music, the laughter of a child, or just the plain old dinner table conversation. In other words we become less than we were. It becomes harder, and harder, to recall our once young selves.

Rummaging through drawers and closets, I found one letter in particular that Bob wrote to Judy that really touched me. He wrote about routine things, along with loving words, signing it with about twenty x's, and o's. In fact, it was so sweet that I could hardly believe it came from the same man I was remembering. In more recent years, as his body became less nimble, he turned into a grumpy old man, oftentimes lashing out at Judy. Never in a million years would he have done her any physical harm, but mental, at times, I'm not so sure about that. Yet, I'm certain he didn't mean to. He clearly adored her. Aging, however, was taking its' toll. Cheerful as always, she remembered her wedding vows, and soldiered on. She, it seems, was not focusing on the here and now, instead chosing to remember how he was. At the time I would sometimes become so frustrated; looking back, I now admire her strength, carrying on when others would have quit. Clearly, she was a woman in love.

The bedroom closets and drawers are mostly empty now, save for sentimental things waiting for the others to weep over. There goes the dress she wore to Matt's college graduation and the sparkly velveteen jacket she danced in at Dave and Michelle's wedding. The sensible shoes that she wore most of the time, now that her feet wouldn't cooperate with fancier foot wear. Countless handbags, which I needed to check, for the inevitable Kleenexes and Lifesaver mints. Did I mention what a sweet tooth she had? I found candy everywhere!!! Snickers on the dresser, taffy in the nightstand, chocolate truffles in the bedroom, red licorice, hard candies of all types, and I'm leaving some stuff out for sure. So far, I've not found it in the bathroom, however, I haven't done much in there yet; only time will tell.

The thing about Judy is, that, although she'd accumulated many material possessions during her 82 years, friends and family meant so much more to her. She'd already stickered her new calendar with everyone's birthdays and anniversaries through December. Of course, my sticker was on the last day, on the last page, of said calendar. Somehow, seeing that calendar with all that hope for the year 2010, really got to me. I will so miss whatever goofy gift she'd have thought up for my 57th birthday.
Listening to: Amy Grant - I'm Gonna Fly
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Life Lived

A lot can happen in 82 years.

I've spent the last two days at Mom's house, sorting through her things, with a picture emerging of a complex woman, both old-fashioned, as I said the other day, and modern at the same time.

Imagine being born the year before the Great Depression, raised in a very small town in the most ridiculously cold place in New York state. Mostly it's the photographs that bring some of those images to life. There is one with their house nearly buried in snow. Another one of her sledding, another as a young woman by a lake with gentle mountains in the background, along with some of her family when she was young, and they were whole.

You see, she lost an infant sibling, a brother in WWII, and in 1980, her remaining sister was killed in a horrible car accident. The driver was 17. I found the newspaper clipping buried in a bottom drawer. Once again the photos the newspaper ran told the story almost better than the text. I can only imagine. Not really, I can't imagine those tragedies, having lived through none of them.

Remember I told you she was of the "waste not, want not" mentality? Let me just tell you, she would have been hard pressed to use all the hotel shower caps she'd saved. Just in case you got a hangnail in one of the rooms of the house, you would have no problem finding a nail clipper--I found probably ten yesterday. Gift bags, used or new, she had them. No need to run to the store for packing material; go the the spare room closet to find everything you would need she had stored from a package received. So therein lies the modern part--she was recycling way before it was hip to do so.

We would sometimes get impatient with her regarding her computer, but hey, she had one, and she used it! I found evidence of several classes she'd taken to improve her skills, which more than I can say for myself! And she had a cell phone she'd used for several years which I managed to ruin in an hour, a story to silly to put in print.

Her only employment, as far as I can tell, was after high school helping her dad at his service station, or at least that's what the wedding notice from the newspaper printed. But man was she active, joining clubs left and right, and serving others whenever she had the opportunity. Another very impressive accomplishment, as far as I'm concerned, was learning to play mah jongh just a few years ago, which I cannot even spell!

Mostly what's run through my mind is that so much of what she accumulated through the years, future generations will have no experience with. A typewriter, what's that? You actually needed white out? Why, yes, there was nothing so simple as a delete key. A film camera? Adding machine with a tape? Even the multitude of pens and paper may one day be nearly obsolete. Piles and piles of developed pictures, not to mention, years and years worth of photo albums. Checkbook--that may go by the wayside. Books, books, and more books. Will they face obsolescence now that Kindle has arrived?

Back to that wedding announcement...the bridesmaid wore "dotted swiss" which I'm nearly certain anyone under 30 has probably never heard of. Surprisingly, both mothers wore black! The flowers were a mish-mash, with the wedding party split between white roses, red roses, and yellow gladiolas. That would never happen today I can tell you that much! Just imagine, the wedding itself didn't mean all that much after all--they were married 56 years, truly until death did them apart. Not to mention that this occurred in 1947, just two years after the end of WWII. Check this out to imagine what life was like:1947

I'm heading out there shortly to keep at it. I hate doing it, but she'd have done anything for me, so it's the least I can do.

A few weeks ago I stopped at a little cemetery near the Methodist church in Conway during a gentle rain. I found a pot of beautiful yellow tulips toppled over from the wind. I thought it was striking that the tender bulbs were lying on the worn concrete. At the time, it never occurred to me that I'd be at a cemetery in a few weeks for anything other than photography....

And yes, I just checked the weather for Saturday and rain is predicted. Let's just hope it's a gentle one, like my gentle mother in law.

Monday, January 25, 2010


After it was all over the surgeon described the situation as an abdominal catastrophe. She explained that most people never make it past the "event", let alone through hours of pain and surgery. She said, "she must have been a very strong woman." That she was.

It is well nigh impossible to paint a picture with words of my sister in law Judy; for me to do her justice, I'd need a movie camera. Alas, at this point, all I have is words. When the doctors used that term, event, she went crazy. "This is no EVENT--a party is an event, a wedding reception is an event, people are invited to an event!!!! No one wants to attend this kind of event. No, no we didn't, but we had no choice.

Driving home from the Magic game Friday night, Bruce's cell rang. It was Cris saying that their mom had gone to the hospital in an ambulance after calling 911. All we knew was she had abdominal pains, there was no thought that the call would be life altering. Even though I had little to go on, I began to imagine what could be wrong--maybe a bowel obstruction? After dropping me off at the house, Bruce drove to the hospital with three magazines to pass the time. Little did he know that those hours spent with her would be the last time she was coherent enough to know her children.

Cris, Jessica and Bruce spent the overnight hours trying to comfort her the best they could, given the extreme pain she was in, with Judy joining them around 3 in the morning. The blood work, x-ray and CAT scan showed that something was terribly amiss. Indeed, it was catastrophic. Valiantly, the surgeon worked feverishly, only to discover once she began, that her entire large intestine had died, with infection swarming her entire abdominal cavity. It was too much to bear.

And so it was that we found ourselves Sunday morning in a meeting with her doctors, discussing discontinuing the artificial devices that were keeping her alive. Aside from Matthew and Jonathan, the whole family was gathered, including her great granddaughter, Annabelle, who by the way, is just adorable.

True to her character, she spared us the painful proposition of removing life support, passing away into glory on her own, only minutes after the papers were signed.

You see, that's how she was, thinking of others instead of herself. She'd spent a lifetime doing so.

Anyone who knows me knows how I would sometimes go crazy about my mother in law, but never because she was mean. In fact, maybe she was too sweet for me, who knows? More than anything, I think I didn't understand her very well.

She was my mother in law for 36 years, however I knew her much longer, meeting her when I was 13. One of my earliest memories of her was thinking she was pregnant because she had a very "poochy" tummy! What's more, she was never very stylish, even as a young woman, which sounds so superficial, but I come from a family who always valued style. Nor was she an intellectual. No, my mother in law Judy (not to be confused with sil, Judy) was sweet above everything else.

Most important to me was that she birthed and raised the man of my dreams. A wonderful man doesn't just happen. It takes a good mom, and that she was, never forgetting a birthday, or anniversary all these years, fretting about doing the right thing, never giving unwanted advice, and last but not least, giving us goofy gifts! Oh, the gifts, how they have provided us with laughs over the years, many becoming part of our family lore. I am so sorry I just gave away the bellows, (yes you read that right) she gave me for my birthday a few years ago. I remember one year I received four pairs of pantyhose. In fact, the last day I saw her in person was this year's birthday. My birthday was on a Thursday, however she insisted on driving all the way from Zellwood to bring me the flowers from Sunday's church service, along with some hand cream. I tried to dissuade her, saying I appreciated the thought, but she was not to be deterred. Now, I'm so glad I was able to photograph one of the daisies from that arrangement.Actually the new header is of the same, so I suspect I'll keep it around for a while...

Mostly she was what might be called "old-fashioned", which with the way things are speeding up, our children will be thinking the same of us, probably before we are 60! True to her generation, she lived by the motto, "waste not, want not." Recent events have taught everyone that living like that is not such a bad idea.

So, life goes on, differently, but it keeps moving. We will bury her remains on Saturday, but she'll live in our hearts forever. As the saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder....

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Music Monday

Some days I get up in the morning with a set agenda; today was not one of those days. I haven't mentioned this yet, but I've been trying to use our treadmill most days when I'm home. I wasn't trying to keep a big secret or anything like that, it's just that I was waiting to see if I could keep it up for more than two days! So far, so good.

During the time I'm treading along, I watch television. Today it was HGTV, during which time I was inspired to finally paint the foyer. Remember our de-taupeing project from last year? Almost done my friends. The foyer is now painted the same lovely "Windy Blue" as the living/dining area which I'll show you tomorrow. I took some pictures this afternoon that I've not loaded just yet, but trust me, it's exciting!

I'm so sure you've been wondering so heres the good news: I've talked to Karen and she is improving every day! Hallelujah! Much to my delight, another friend lopped off a bunch of that hair once she was moved out of ICU. I'll be sure to keep you updated.

Backtracking a few days...we had dinner Friday night at the Brick & Fire Pizza place on Orange Ave., formally a Pizza Hut/Moes. The last, and probably only time I went to Moe's at that location, the place smelled terribly musty. Just want you to know that not only does it smells just fine, the food was scrumptious as well! The lemon caper salad dressing was one of the best I've ever had. Yeah for neighborhood restaurants!

Saturday was mostly gloomy which kept me indoors and on task. I'd picked up a LARGE order from Roger last week. It is somewhat daunting to find yourself in front of that many prints. Let me just mention that the year is not getting the best start as far as sales are concerned, in fact, at the moment I'm upside down on revenue. Still I have hope, thus the order. If you look closely you will detect all the parts that go into the signing/prepping of the prints.
Moreover, I spent much time sorting through my baskets, cleaning out the tub we take to the markets, and sorting through the canvases. Seriously, it took me hours and hours. But, now we are organized, cleaned, and have a good inventory to last for a while. Well, really, what would be best is if it didn't last for too long...

Normally I don't post the pictures I take at the market, but decided this one should be blogged. This segues nicely with the previous posts' child bike seat and my observations concerning paranoid parents. This darling child has not only beautiful skin, but a helmet to protect his darling head just in case he should tumble the few inches out of the wagon!
By now, if you've been paying attention you are wondering what in the world was she thinking when she titled this post. Astute readers would be correct at this point because nothing I've written has any relation to the title. But, the time has come to discuss it.

While Matt was home he added some new tunes to my computer. These days I have some trouble concentrating on two things at once, thus, I'd not heard much of what he so kindly downloaded. Now that's from CDs that he'd purchased, in case you were wondering. At any rate, today's painting project made for the ideal environment for listening, and what a pleasure it was. Turns out I'm very excited about Lily Allen, Friendly Fire, Bat for Lashes, Jack Penate, small doses of Florence & the Machine (which will disappoint Matt as he's mad for her), the new Killers cd, and the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs. I was so jazzed that upon completion of the painting and cleanup I loaded both the shuffle for the house, and the Nano for the car. Yeah for young people in our lives to help keep us current. I do wonder, however, when you get too old to listen to songs about heartache and such...any thoughts on that?

There was a time that I could concentrate on so many things at once it would make your head spin. No longer, but that's ok, I really don't need to very often. Cleaning out the foyer closet last week I discovered some posters and a Georgia O'Keeffe calendar from 1989. Flipping through the pages I was amazed at just how busy we were back then. This gave me a little chuckle and I hope it does you as well:Is it any wonder Bill is lonely these days after having shared a room with someone his whole life? Being an identical twin is unlike anything most of us can imagine. When you think about one egg splitting into two parts and becoming two separate people, it is really mind boggling. Back in the day (as David would say), I rarely thought about it, instead focusing on the day to day grind. Now, I think about it with wonder.

In closing, let me just say...That sounds pretty formal doesn't it? Well, here's the deal--the market was just fine yesterday; enough sales to keep me returning, and weather that was neither too hot, nor too cold. What more can a girl ask for? Now there's another conundrum; what to call myself......
Listening to: Arctic Monkeys - Fake Tales of San Francisco
via FoxyTunes

Friday, January 15, 2010

Better and Better

That goes for both Miss Karen, and myself. Shopping came first today, so I didn't get to the hospital until around 3. Turns out, she's talking a bit and even had some applesauce today! Furthermore, they were preparing to move her out of ICU (into a regular room on the neuro floor) just as I arrived. Upon hearing all of the good news I decided to come on home to finish some chores; visiting tomorrow seems like a plan.

Taking a little side street, I saw this site, tailor made for a photo:There are a fair number of people for whom decay+windows+texture=perfect! Trifecta! What was so cool about this though is that after I knocked on the door to ask permission, I learned a bunch.Excuse me, I'm getting a head of myself! After ringing the bell,waiting, and then knocking gently, slowly the door opened to reveal the back of a pretty white head, seated in a chair, and a gentleman standing there with door in hand. Permission was granted after a low chuckle from the seated lady. She said, "Now honey, you can take a photo if you wish--my granddaddy built that in 1912!" When most people think of Orlando, they immediately think new, and compared to say London, it is all new, but this is pretty old by our standards. The street the house located on is named for her family, as well as Hansel Avenue, which all my Orlando friends know as the split on Orange Avenue. Now I can't remember if it was her grandson, or son in law, but anyway he came out there to see what I was up to and told me the family history. Did I mention the sweet lady is 90 and lives alone? Good stuff my gentle readers.

Here's something I found inside the garage, which would make modern parents go CRAZY!Gave me a little chuckle thinking about someone today strapping their little one into that seat!

Regarding myself, I can't remember when I've felt as good as I do now. Certainly, it was a long while ago. Not only am I not getting nearly as tired, my side pain rears its' ugly head only occasionally; if you can imagine, I got up at 4 today. I'm so sure you can hardly believe I'm still with it! Bill needed a ride to the airport for a 5:30 flight, necessitating the early wake up call. One caveat though--I was asleep by 9:30 last night. Originally Bill said his flight was at 6, so Bruce set the alarm accordingly. Awakened by the ringing telephone, I reach for it in the dark, hitting the speaker button by mistake. Bill corrects the flight time, and my response is, "do I have to get up now?" He laughed, "no mom, it's only 11:30. The alarm is reset by you know who. I was fully prepared to take him, but you know who I'm married to--Mr. Wonderful. He figured I'd definitely go back to sleep, however, I just didn't feel the need to. Orange juice, tea, and I was get to go.

After receiving my daily email from Digital Photography School yesterday, which included 124 blogger/photographers with their 10 best shots of 2009, I decided to look mine over. Pointless really--too many to look at, and I like different ones depending on my mood that day. I got through about May and gave up. Say, if you remember any you especially liked (I know, that's asking a lot!), remind me, will you?

For Christmas Jonathan gave me subscriptions to two photography magazines. Two issues arrived in today's post which means right about now I think I'll just go get educated. Of course, there is the matter of around 80 prints on the dining room table to be signed....

Listening to: Ride - Taste
via FoxyTunes

Monday, January 11, 2010

Turn of Events

Earlier today I put this slideshow together and wrote the title. A little later I was considering changing it, however it turns out it is more apropos than I realized. Originally it was intended to reference the market cancellation yesterday and subsequent trip to Blue Springs(captions below photos in full size version):

Around 10 this morning, my old friend Jeanette called with the horrible news that one of our oldest friends,Karen, well, she's not really old, we've just known her for at least 25 years, suffered a brain aneurysm on Saturday and is in critical condition.It is a very sad tale that has me very shook up. Apparently, the brain surgery to stop the bleeding was successful, however, Karen is still not ready for visitors. Thus, I'll have to rely on reports from her mom. This is not the first time Karen has nearly died; years ago she had open heart surgery just as she was fading away. That time I was there for her, this time I can't be, at least for now.

Once the sun was high in the sky, I decided to take Baxter for a walk in his new little preppy sweater. I put the baby camera in my front jeans pocket. Planning to put it away once we came inside, I realized it was not there. Two trips along the same route, once on foot, and another on my bike, failed to spot it. I'm super sad because not only was this the camera that launched my business, it still had some of the FIRST digital photos on the built in memory of David and Michelle taken on Christmas, only two hours after I opened the gift from Bruce that started my new life. :(

I'm feeling a little blue right now so that will do it for today's installment.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Nothing Clever Today

The dictionary defines clever as mentally quick and original; bright. I'm not feeling any of that today.

I've been to see Karen twice now, and it's not good. Yesterday she raised her eyebrows a bit when I spoke to her, but today she is once again under heavy sedation and unresponsive. Adding to her problems, she's now developed pneumonia. Oh my dear friend....

When I left yesterday I was beside myself not knowing what I could do. Some of you may have visited a loved one in critical care, but this is the first time I've had to. She has a breathing tube and respirator which allegedly they were removing yesterda,y but it apparently was not meant to be. One thing that really bugs me is that they shaved only 2/3 of her head, rather than the whole thing. It just looks silly. She would be mortified to know that her gray roots are showing big time! Also I'm terribly upset about the amount of tape used to keep all these tubes in place; I can only imagine how much removing all that will hurt!

Anyway, Karen and I have been reading buddies for 25 years; what occurred to me that I could read to her. I don't own A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, her favorite book, but I do own another one she loves. Years ago my friend Judy gave me a book,Looking for Mary, that I passed along to Karen. Both of these ladies are seriously Catholic. This being a seriously Catholic story, they both loved it. Returning home, I found it on the bookshelf, and set it on the counter to take with me today. After getting clearance from the nurse, I began reading. I have no idea whether or not she understood it, however, I plan to keep it up. One thing is that before I began reading I thumbed through the book, only to discover a bookmark left there by Karen--blessings for Catholics that recite the rosary, or something like that. The nurse was kind enough to tape it to the window beside her bed. Tomorrow I plan to take a print of a statue of the Virgin Mary that I took in St. Augustine; although many people looked at it, they never bought it. I'm thinking it was still here for just this purpose.

I'll leave you with this little image that hopefully is more cheerful than I have been.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Daisy Extravaganza

Always experimenting with color! I picked up this beautiful shade of gerbera daisy during a short trip to Costco today. Wouldn't you know it, I found some gorgeous red tulips at Publix yesterday which I've been doing my best to showcase; not sure if I'm there just yet. Furthermore, I'm not sure I've gotten this daisy right, but it wasn't because I wasn't trying! The one thing I'm sure about is when I see a special flower I don't pass it up no matter how many I've got at home! Which one is your favorite?




The cold and ick continues; snow has been mentioned, although you know what a skeptic I am--I'll believe it when I see it!
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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's Almost Over

College football season seems to go on forever these days, what with bowl games stretching over weeks instead of days, but tonight the game we've all been waiting for is finally here. May the best team win, or something like that. I suppose I should root for Texas rather than the hated SEC team, Alabama, but the truth is I was so darn impressed with Mark Ingram that I'd love to see him put up big numbers. Whether we can actually stay up late enough to see the game's conclusion, is yet to be determined....

Every job has it's challenges including the one I'm currently engaged in. It seems like it would be super easy and in many ways it is, however, I'm still learning so much about having a business that at times I'm very unsure of myself. Currently I'm feeling as if I've run out of ideas, maybe to never take an engaging photo again, thus I have my windowsill of inspiration.Try not to focus on the dirty window will you? Instead, notice the darling carved rooster Matt gave me for Christmas, the sole survivor of my birthday flowers from my mother in law, the corks, and finally the stack of wooden boxes on the left. In descending order they contain a compass, a map marker, and some chisels, all antiques from either our families. It seems as if I've been so busy either selling or holiday activities that I've not done anything special with them just yet. But, I might. In fact, I guess I should say I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

Phillipe Petit operated that way. Last night, thanks to Jonathan and Alissa's gift of six months of Netflix, we were mesmerized by his story in this Man on Wire. Simply amazing! He never said never that's for sure!

As all of my family knows, I'm a nut for citrus juice. Growing up, my boys knew never to finish the orange juice if I hadn't had mine first. That sounds kinda mean when I write it, but believe you me, I shared plenty--just not my juice. It's the first thing I do in the morning so it pleases me to no end to have fresh tangerines to juice. Voila! A darling juice bottle as well as an inspiring juice glass from Ruth and Pat!

So, yesterday morning, after having my juice of course, I paid my sales tax for the last quarter, put an order together for Mr. Roger, and decided to try and get my spring show schedule together. I'd heard that there was a good show in Lake Wales, a smallish community (known for this:(Bok Tower), about 50 miles south of here. Upon further inspection I discovered that the due date for entering was YESTERDAY! Hmmm....what to do? what to do?

You've guessed what I did, haven't you? Need I say more?

Saw this on my way:

Amazingly the terrazo floors are still there. Not to mention the sad little office with the cable tv sign still in the window. You get to LW on US27, what used to be a major highway down the middle of the state, dotted with little motels and fruit stands for all the Northern tourists coming to escape the winter. Not so much anymore, in fact, in many ways it is like turning the clock back seeing how things used to be before Mr. Disney decided to come to town. I love how this sign proclaims they have air conditioning, pool, and carpet. How are expectations have changed!

Now on to some Peck son related news:

Although I was planning on telling you about Baxter's misdeed, Matthew beat me to it. Here's his account with a decidedly happier ending then what we'd heard before his departure, Baxter Decides Glasses are Meant to be a Snack.

And then there's this:
Exit the Ride
So proud and pleased that the band is enjoying some local success these days.

It sure has been cold around these parts this week, with the overnight freezing temperatures expected to continue on through the weekend. Am I a glutton for punishment, or what?

There's a lot to digest in this post isn't there? Just a brief thank you to all (I know there are some out there!) who take a part of their busy day to keep up with me, you are much appreciated. :>)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Yes indeedy (is that a word?) it's cold! While Matt and Jonathan were here, it was chilly, making it not such a shock to return to their cold climes, although I'm sure this kind of weather,Britian is Frozen is not what Matt was hoping for!

The market yesterday was miserable once again--this week not the damp and cold combo, but the cold and cloudy combo, with nary a ray of sunshine to warm things up just a bit. Without the goodness of our indomitable project manager, I would have died, as would those other folks who huddled around the new spiffy heater he bought at Home Depot after setting up my display. It is SO nice to have a capable man around the house, not to mention sweet, handsome, kind--well, you get the picture! To some of my faithful readers 45 degrees does not seem all that cold but I'm here to tell them that being outside for eight hours in it is cold to this Floridian! (Remind me of this when I'm whining about the heat, will you?) Sales were slightly better than my last outing, however, this kind of start to the year was not what I was hoping for. Then again, it will make the next successful day all the more sweeter after tasting defeat....or so they say. :)

Which led to an extremely long winters nap for Mr. Bruce and your blogger. The cold just gets to my little body, and nothing short of a long slumber will revive it.
Which segued into a very early rising this morning. Just as the sun began to rise, I took this shot of the side of the house because, one, I don't think you've seen the new awning, and two, I know you haven't seen the revived bench under the staghorn fern. In case I neglected to mention it, I actually went through the seat on that one. Halloween night, we went outside to watch the kids; Mrs. Camera Crazy sat on the bench with the candy bowl. Well, I lied, that's not at all what happened. Mrs. CC attempted to sit on the bench, but instead, crashed through the slots onto the ground! We both agreed it was a darn good thing it happened to me rather than a guest. At any rate, PM extraordinaire made new slats, and painted the whole thing a springy green! Love it!

Forgive me for skipping all over the place today because next we go back in time to New Year's Day. Mostly we spent the day watching football and having this little snack around lunch time:Of course, the Bass Ale belonged to Mr. Bruce, as did the summer sausage. It's a holiday thing with him. The highlight of the day was seeing Bobby Bowden hold up the spear and then plunge it into the turf! I'm such a softie it made me cry. Speaking of tearing up, my mother in law shocked me by giving me the new Susan Boyle cd for Christmas, a gift I was sure one of my boys would have thought of. I finally listened to it whilst cleaning up the house on my birthday. Talk about a tearjerker! Her rendition of How Great Thou Art and Amazing Graceis stupendous!

Now where was I? Oh yes, the FSU game. What a treat to finally see them play at the level we were used to!

As for today, I will be the first to admit that I'm not so great at taking photographs with others around. For some reason I need my solitude. Although it was only 36 degrees, I made the short trek over to Leu Gardens this morning, arriving just after opening time. I was one of two people in the garden crazy enough to be out in the cold. You do remember that judge who told me to practice don't you? Well, practice I did with decidedly mixed results. I did see this little cutie upon arrival: The camellias are in bloom everywhere, with burst of white, pink, and deeper pink everywhere. They are especially beautiful because the leaves are such a deep shade of green, contrasting with their delicate petals. Tonight a freeze is in the forecast making me wonder how much damage I'll see on my next visit.

Today was Bruce's first day back at work; he's been home for nearly two weeks, a first for him. For all the years he's been with Darden, he's had so many jobs around the holidays, but not so much this year. It's back to the grind now...
Listening to: Yeasayer - I Remember
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Generation Gap

One thing about hanging around with our sons that really stands out is there is definitely a generation gap. It's not just a 70's idea.

We are of the early to bed, early to rise mentality--they are just the opposite.

I use a phone book for numbers--they think I'm crazy.

We make the bed--they think, why bother?

Eating is not loaded with guilt and anxiety--we eat what we want.

Neither Bruce nor I text--how old fashioned!

I could care less about carrying my cell phone around--WHAT am I thinking????

The computer is not full of mystery for them--it's a world of possibility.

Work is just a way to make money, not a way of life.

Gift cards are the way to go--what's with shopping especially for someone? (Not true for all of our sons!)

Wrapping paper?? Are you kidding??

Multi-tasking is completely normal for them. I mostly concentrate on one thing at a time.

Some of this I'm being silly about, some not so much. Matt purchased a domain name and made a website (Out & About Photography) for me in all of about three hours. I watched in awe. The thing is, I love how young people are fearless, sallying forth with such confidence. Some days I wonder if I used to be like that...

Probably I was. Imagine having four children to care for at the age of 29--unthinkable these days. Back then I woke each morning with so much responsibility that I rarely thought about it. I just did what I needed to do.

Truth be told, I'm pretty proud of how our sons turned out. That may sound silly, but if I can write about photography successes, I suppose it's ok every now and then to voice how I feel about our boys. Boys, not that is outdated!!!

The weather today was spectacular, cold and dry, with a brilliant blue sky. We took advantage of it by cleaning up our yard which has been sorely neglected since I let the yard guys go. Bruce did all the hard work, while I mowed, picking up bags of leaves as I went. It looks super for now anyway.

He then got the canoe ready for a fishing excursion at the lake down the street. Here's Mr. Baxter ready to go:Not even a hit..

It's supposed to be pretty cold at the market tomorrow; I guess we'll see...
Listening to: The Maccabees - Young Lions
via FoxyTunes

Friday, January 1, 2010

Resuming My Digital Life

By now you may be wondering where has Gail been (or at least I hope you have), well my gentle readers, she's been here, there and everywhere! Let's take a little pictorial tour of some of our holiday wanderings:
Backing up all the way to the 19th, here's the Price kids all grown up at our baby sister's 50th birthday party:
From left to right--Lisa, Nancy, Carol, Gail, Maureen and Pat--you guess which direction we are in age.

A few days before Christmas I convinced everyone that a trip to Gatorland could be fun, and indeed it was! One of the highlights was feeding the budgies in the aviary. I think there must have been at least sixty pretty little parakeets who swarmed down from their perches to peck at the sticks covered with seed. At any given moment, they could be on your head, back, arms or hands. Bruce was worried they'd poop on us, however that wasn't the case, except for one tiny bit on Jonathan. Seriously, it was delightful fun!
Christmas day was the first time all four of our sons have been home for several years.Opening gifts in two shifts, we watched the super sweet movie, Up. We always gather at Lisa's house for dinner, and extended family time. Lisa's table is always beautiful:
Danny makes incredible ham, and mouth watering prime rib for dinner, much to the delight of the carnivores in the group. The Spaks outdid themselves this year, with two big gatherings in a week!

The market was dismal on Sunday, the less time spent time on that, the better. Although I'd been bragging to Matt how big the market had become but his experience on Sunday did not validate my claims. Lots of vendors skipped out for one reason or another, and in hindsight, I wish I had. Damp chilly weather and nearly no sales. Last year it was just the opposite, but if there's anything we've learned in over two years, it is that "you never know!"

Giving Matt a chance to run, Jonathan, Alissa, and I went over to Cypress Grove Park nearby. He ran, we strolled. Naturally, Mr. Baxter had to come along:
Bowling at Colonial Lanes was on the next day's agenda. What a pleasant surprise it was to discover it was both clean, and cheap. Jonathan won the first game with Alissa taking game two. I am a terrible bowler, but I liked it nonetheless. Check out this form!
Jonathan and Alissa returned to Chicago on Tuesday. I'm so proud of Jonathan for cleaning out the closet! Every visit during the last few years, I've implored him to decide what to do with his vast collection of empty DVD, and Video game cases, not to mention several years worth of magazines, which were filling up a closet I wanted to claim as my own. It was bittersweet for him, reliving his past; he managed to pare it down to just one big tub. Yeah for him, and yeah for me! Now if only I could get Bill and Dave to do the same.....

Matt's oldest friends came by for a chat, undoubtedly longer than they planned, but once I get talking it's hard to stop me! I've known these girls since they were around 10, so there was lots of catching up to do. Liza, on the left is due to deliver her first baby in about two weeks, whereas Ann has three children. She described their experience leaving Toronto December 26 to fly home. Not pretty. With three children under 5, they sat on the plane for hours and hours while all 300 passenger's luggage was searched! Can you imagine?
Matt was originally meant to leave before J & A, but for reasons only known to God, it was not what happened. A water main break in the server room at the British Consulate held his passport hostage for much longer than he would have liked. Fortunately, he was able to reschedule his flight for Thursday without penalty. Thus, we went to the bowl parade on Wednesday. Lots of high school bands from mostly Northern States, although our favorite was from Mexico, of all places. And, of course, there were the floats covered in Citrus:

After a nice lunch at Tijuana Flats, we made our way to Mecca to spend my gift card from Bill at Best Buy. Bruce arrived home from his trip to New York (freezing); we made a second pilgrimage, eating a yummmy dinner at PF Changs.

One of the places I've been to a lot in December is the airport. Yesterday morning was our last trip there in 2009; Matt has left us empty nesters once again.
Thankfully, there are no pictures of me dancing solo onstage at the drag queen cabaret show we went to with Dana last night. was a birthday thing.

Listening to: Jack PeƱate - Everything Is New
via FoxyTunes

You Just Never Know