Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Heading to the Polasek soon, so I'll make this brief, at least for now.

Lest you think I was joking about the math thing regarding photography, see if you can make sense of this post from a male photographer: http://strobist.blogspot.com/2010/06/using-nd-filters-to-kill-depth-of-field.html
This is how I started the day at Eola:

I am more than delighted to report that by day's end, the page was full except for the last line or two. I was very fortunate that two physician's were looking for photographs to decorate their offices in Boca Raton. When they asked if I'd give them a deal for buying so many, for once I stood my ground and kept the price just as it is advertised.

Later that evening this is how my desk looked:
Now that is just way too many cameras isn't it?

I'll be back later this afternoon....

Friday, June 25, 2010

On Photography

Five years ago if someone suggested that I'd be taking photographs for money I'd have thought they were crazy. I'm mean seriously off their rocker, if I may use that old-fashioned term. Of course I may, this is my blog!

When you had to pay to take pictures, I never took as many as I would have liked. There was food and clothes to buy for six people, Little League money, swim team money, school related costs, and the list goes on. When I see those figures released each year on what it cost to raise a child, I think they are outrageous, but I will agree it does cost a lot of money to raise children. Just not as much as they say. I've never regretted a penny of it; I only hope our boys think we did good.

So..........the digital camera revolutionized my life. Now I can take as many as I darn well please. But that doesn't mean I know what I'm doing. I just take a lot, hoping for the best.

There's a reason most photographers are males. Don't get all up in arms that I'm stereotyping please because that's not my intention. There are some women who are great at depth perception, math and science, however, traditionally males are better at those subjects. I can't explain it, but that's been my experience.

Remember when I was taking math and science at Valencia? I somehow managed to get through those classes, just like I did physics while in x-ray school, but it doesn't mean that I really understood those subjects. I faked it. Just like I'm doing with photography. Having a curious mind is what keeps me in contention.
Here's my work station where I spend time figuring out what photographs are interesting. Most are not. Most are ordinary. For Christmas Jonathan gave me two photography magazines which for the most part are filled with gear reviews, photoshop techniques, the sort of things that don't do much for me. It doesn't stop me from devouring them. Yesterday American Photo, the artier of the two, arrived in the post. I've got a new mantra going forward that I read in an article about shooting burlesque. No, I won't be shooting burlesque any time soon, just using a quote from one of the photographers to inspire me. Henry Horenstein related that early on in his career, actually his first professional assignment, he was paid $5.00 to shoot a picture of a new country singer named Dolly Parton. And I quote, "She offered one of the best pieces of creative advice. She said, 'Honey, people don't come out to see me look like them.'" I've tried to do that up to now, however, her words will ring in my ears as I sit at this desk.

I do shoot all kinds of photos, they just don't sell. People in a photo are a no-no to date. If I was famous, that might not be the case, but every time I put out something with a person in it, even if they are anonymous, the print stays in my basket until I remove it. That's one reason I like shooting at the market, because having people in the photographs is the point. I'm only sorry I cut off this darling boy's foot in my haste as he walked by. Can you tell what the front of his shirt says? The Godfather.
I'm working with my new camera every day to get comfortable. Here's an attempt with the "soft focus" setting. Speaking of Valencia, my professor, Burt Stout, taught me my other great mantra--photography is light management. Simple. The morning sun is streaming through the blinds on this shot which if I'd waited much longer would have been too bright. Instead of getting too caught up in the technical details which stymie me as I've mentioned already, I work hard at using the available light to create moods.
There are so many uses for photography that I suppose there is room for all kinds of shooters, including me. For the most part I shoot, or at least I put out to sell, decorator type photography. Pretty things. Sometimes interesting, sometimes just about color. At this time of the year I'm working on my entry for the Orlando calendar, which because I've been featured in the past, they sent me an email last month with a map of this year's neighborhood. How do I put this? It's not the best part of town, for sure. Parramore and W. Church Street are the main commercial streets for the African American community. Yesterday morning, armed with my new camera, I parked in front of J. Henry's Barbershop. One of the barbers was eating sunflower seeds and relaxing in front of the shop. Generally I've found if you are upfront with folks they have no problem cooperating. I told him what I was up to, he replied, "Stick your head in, that's J. Henry up front." Stepping inside, I introduced myself to these gentlemen; this much I can tell you--they seemed proud their neighborhood was being featured. He readily agreed to this shot:
See me in the mirror? I've never been in a black barbershop before. Now that I have, I'm very intrigued with the aprons all the barbers wore. The sign on the door reads--"Cover your underwear before entering the shop", and I love the slogan painted in white on the window--"A place to get your head together." Very clever. Although I like this shot (click on to see bigger--lots going on), it won't be entered as the assignment is for architectural elements, which in this case is proving most difficult. There are many empty shops, as well as run down ones. As well, I not interested in exploiting the people or the neighborhood. I think I've got three that will suffice for my entry.
Whenever I get a new camera or lens, it takes awhile to adjust. This time of year the weather makes shooting somewhat difficult because there is generally a haze in the air due to the humidity,  but practice I must.  After leaving downtown I drove to Cypress Grove Park near our home to wander. Because I've been there multiple times, it's challenging to come up with new ways to shoot the same landscape. Not only that, the camera requires constant thinking and the light was entirely wrong. That did not stop me from trying. Below is a shot upwards of the ubiquitous moss hanging from the cypress trees. As I typed that I recognized that these two photos from the park demonstrate exactly my point. The one above is pretty, but ordinary. The one below hopefully requires more thought.
Do I know what aperture I used? Of course not. How about shutter speed Gail? Why no. I did, on the other hand, do my best to position the sun behind the branches and moss, thinking all the while about light management. 

There may come a day when the technical details become clearer to me, however, I'm not counting on it. In the meantime, maybe, if I keep practicing, as if my camera were a musical instrument, I'll improve.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On Reading

For as long as I can remember, I've been a reader. You sure about that Gail, after all, your memory, or lack thereof, is famous? Yes, I'm sure about that. Aside from my family, almost nothing in life has given me greater pleasure than written stories.

When I was younger, I always felt that once I'd begun a novel, I had to finish it, regardless of whether I liked it. Happily, in later years, I've discarded that notion, if something doesn't suit me, I close the novel, moving on to the next one.

Some people seem to feel that fiction is a waste of time, however, I beg to differ. In my humble opinion, which, because you are reading my blog you'll have to endure, storytelling rings truer than most non-fiction. Who can't still identify with the  characters of Dickens, Tolstoy, Hardy, Austen, and the list goes on? That said, can you imagine reading a non-fiction book published from the same eras?

Lots of times I get on a subject kick. For instance, I've read countless tales of coal mining, Jews, of course WWII and the Holocaust, and Southern literature. I'm not much of a mystery reader, mostly because I'm not clever enough to see where things are going. While our mother lay dying, one of the tasks I took on was going to the library, choosing fifteen books for her to pass the time. Believe me, when I carried those stacks, I got lots of looks!  A lot of the great books I've read have just been plucked from the library shelves--I can almost feel that I'll like something. This proved much more difficult to do for Mom because she was a lover of great mysteries, thus my intuition failed me a great deal of the time.

I may have mentioned previously that through the years I've attempted and failed to keep a journal going for any length of time, which makes this blog so remarkable for me. I can hardly believe I've been at this for years now. That said, I've really nothing to show for my efforts except a flat screen with photographs and words.

Which brings me to my next point. I don't want to sound like a curmudgeon, well, then again, maybe I do. I'm getting very anxious at the prospect of books going the way of so much of what was familiar to the previous generation. I'm talking about the e-readers. I'm partial to well worn pages, dog eared and covered with age spots. This suggests a book is well-loved, although all books that are well loved aren't to my taste. I rarely read best sellers. I guess that makes me weird.

Oscar Loveland's 1882 diary
Digressing for just a moment here--what I wrote in the previous paragraph used to be how we viewed getting older. These days, lots of folks, particularly women, are in such a rush to erase their years, something I find very unappealing.

By now you're probably wondering how we got from posts about Gail and the gang, to this. I can't say as I blame you. An explanation is forthcoming.

Completing the novel, Zoli, this afternoon, written by this amazing author, http://www.colummccann.com/aboutExtended.htm, forced me to think about my reading, and in turn, made me want to write about it.  Set in Czechoslovakia, the story is loosely based on the life of a Gypsy poet during the difficult years of not only WWII, but the Russian takeover, and fascism. Not really even realizing that I'd read one of his books some years ago,  I gave Matt his latest novel,  Let the Great World Spin for Christmas. Reading it on one of his trans-continental flights, he raved and raved about the writing.  Because all copies of that book were checked out of our library for the last month, I read a book of his short stories, and now Zoli. Today, our wonderful library delivered the novel to my front door. Fantastic, right? Here come's my humble opinion again--Mr. Colum McCann may just be one of the finest writers working today. His prose is elegant, his stories imaginative, the dialogue pitch perfect, as well, he requires/demands something from his readers--their full attention. Have I convinced you yet?

While at Valencia, I disliked writing papers about books, mainly because I figured most of the time there is no really deep meaning, mostly the authors have a story to tell. Possibly this is because I'm not deep, rather shallow actually, thus I'm missing something.

Years ago, when having a computer was somewhat of a novelty, I kept a book list with the name of the novel and a two sentence description. I've just located the printed copy of the books I read in 1996 and 1997. Sadly, on the first page I see that three of the authors have since died.

If you're up for it, I'll share the first page just as written--surely you'll recognize a few:

Carolina Moon--another fine book by Jill McCorkle. Ferris Beach revisited with a cast of quirky characters.

To Dance with the White Dog--Fantastic book about an elderly gentleman and his "white dog" after  his wife passes away. Loved it--cried.

Cured by Fire--Interesting book about two homeless men and their dependence on one another. North Carolina writer.

Models--Lengthy book about the business of modeling by a NY Times writer. learned more than I wanted to know about it!

I Love You Anyway--good story about two sisters and their love life. Current reference to music were amusing.

Suspects--murder mystery, well written, two sets of cops, surprise killer. Liked it.

Fathers and Son--Larry Brown's new book. Set in Mississippi, always painful to read because the characters are so tough. About an angry young man returning from prison and the havoc he wreaks on the folks back home. Great writer, should be a movie. Good over evil. (He is one of the deceased authors--died of a heart attack way too young)

The Christmas Letters--a novella by Lee Smith. Just what it says. Lots of truth about life and how we live it. I love Lee Smith. 1/4/97

Hoopie Shoopie Donna--Great book by the author of Selling the Light of Heaven. Polish girl and her relationship with her family and her forming of an all girl polka band.

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (deceased)--Wonderful writing. Biography of Daisy Goodwill daughter of Mercy Stone. Mrs. Greenthumb. Birth to death. Marvelous.

Good Evening Mr. & Mrs. America--A fine story of a young man's dream to become President like his hero Kennedy. His experiences in radio school and affairs with girls discourage him.

What's It All About? --a 79 year old trailer park resident philosophizes about life.

The Patient--Ben of "Everything But the Girl" relates his harrowing experiences recovering from a rare small bowel disease. Poignant.

Independent People--took me forever, Icelandic saga, re-released, won Nobel Prize in 1954. Sheep farmer and his travails both physical and phycological. Well worth the time!

Angela's Ashes--Frank McCourt's harrowing autobiography of growing up in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Pulitzer Prize winner! Fantastic!

Dear readers, you may be bored by now, however re-typing that list was a complete joy for me; many of the voices from those novels came back to me loud and clear.

I suspect you have your own thoughts on reading--care to share them? And, if you've actually read to the bottom of this post, you can imagine what I'll be doing tonight.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Surprise, Surprise

Little did I know when last we met,  that my closing words would become a reality. To refresh your memory from last Friday's post, I concluded with something like, who knows what surprises are in store for today. Really, it was totally unplanned. Of course, I'm known for being somewhat impulsive!

I finally bought the new type of camera I've been thinking about for nearly a year. Several years ago Olympus and Panasonic developed a new type of digital camera that incorporates the large sensor from a single lens reflex (like my Nikon D60), in the body of a nearly pocket sized camera. They call them Micro Four Thirds. Really, it's quite an achievement! They keep making cameras with more mega pixels which are really only needed if you intend to print huge, or you crop like crazy. Early on, Mr. Roger explained it was mostly a marketing tool to get people to continually upgrade their equipment. He says that you need only six mp to print a poster-sized image. So anyway, I'd been thinking, thinking, thinking about getting the Panasonic version, but you well know how frugal I can be. I've been saving most all of the money I've made, however, the floodgates are open now! Once I purchased the kayak for Bruce's birthday, it just seems easier to let the money go. Right about now you're probably wondering why I got the Olympus version when I said I wanted the Panasonic and you would be well within your rights to wonder. Here's why: Colonial Photo only sells the Olympus version! I like having people I can go to when I've got questions, thus I'm still a fan of buying from a store.

As you can see, it has a very cool retro look. Additionally, with metal on the body, it has a very satisfying sound when you close the battery cover. Arriving home around two, I immediately began the battery charging. It took forever!! Nearly three hours to be exact which seemed like twenty! The weather was sketchy; nevertheless, I phoned Regina asking if I might try it out in her backyard. That's her in her kitchen while I'm on her back porch. I'm already in love with this camera.  Naturally, Baxter was one of my first subjects! I told you he much he loves to perch on the couch, watching the world go by! 
Several things about my Nikon have always bugged me. All of these photos were taken in the automatic setting because I'm still getting the hang of things. While using auto on the Nikon, the flash was constantly going off, giving those photos an unnatural look. As well, there were only three focal points which never seemed like enough. Although I've only got this one little lens so far, I'm in the market for a longer zoom, once I've got that going, I may try to sell the Nikon on ebay, that is, if I can figure out how to do it!

Saturday afternoon we set the booth up in the yard, just like Brandy and Marcie did. Two years ago I applied to the Winter Park Autumn Art Festival and didn't get in, however, I'm trying again for this fall. The deadline for entering is Friday, thus, although the weather wasn't perfect, we soldiered on. Evidently, sparse is good, which worked well for us as I'm seriously short on canvases. Not for every week showings because we don't use the left wall. Once that's up, you need lots to fill it.  We did what we could with the stock on hand and I feel much better about this shot. Reviewing what I sent in earlier I was somewhat mortified! The other shot was taken at a show with sun streaming in the back, Bruce in the picture, and sun spots in the foreground! Cluttered looking? That too! I sent in the images yesterday and hopefully this year will be the charm. Mostly I want to do it because of the crowds. After doing Mayfaire we realized first hand how much this helps with sales. Time will tell my friends.

Sunday, although the market closed an hour early due to an impeding storm, we did pretty well, I'm delighted to report. I'm also happy to share that Maureen is slowly recovering in the comfort of her own home. She's operating a bit in slow motion, but the good news is, her doctors say she'll have a full recovery.

Because the market usually wears us out, we postponed any Father's Day celebration until Monday night at our home. Serving Bruce's favorites made me happy. Bill, Dave and Michelle came over, bringing Ginger with them to harass Baxter. Seriously, she loves to chase Baxter through the house. He, on the other hand, is not so crazy about it but will play along for a little while. She finally tuckered out, resting on the couch. I just love this one of her taken with the new camera! What a face!
Before dinner Matt phoned, letting me know that his birthday gift arrived which shocked me as I'd only mailed it last Tuesday. It's always hard buying gifts so this year I decided to make a photo book using my Mac. Eagerly opening the package FedEx delivered Tuesday afternoon, I wasn't disappointed with the quality--terrific. Immediately I repackaged it, heading up to the post office before closing time. Before I left I mentioned to Bruce that it would probably cost $20 to ship, making the $17 cost a nice surprise. He seemed to like it.

Only two more weeks left at the Polasek. They close for the months of July and August and to that I say, hear, hear! Have a great day dear ones.

Friday, June 18, 2010


How about this cloud? Amazing huh? It wasn't but a few minutes later it dispersed.

As I type this, the drone of the vuvuzellas is the background noise. Earlier in the week, Matt posted this clever piece (http://www.fiftyfivehundred.org/post/690912278) regarding those miserable instruments, if I may use that term. Saturday, I turned the England vs. USA match,  hearing for myself how irritating the sound is. What came to my mind was, how after all the expense and preparations, the games popularity could be derailed by a plastic horn. I've no understanding of football, nor do I understand it's world-wide appeal, however, I figure I'll watch a bit, seeing if I can discern what is so appealing. I felt bad for England's goalie--he won't live that down anytime soon.

Earlier in the week I was captivated by something else Matthew sent our way. He'd found a book online with an account of the Peck genealogy. Here's a link to the Google version :http://books.google.com/books?id=NCwAAAAAQAAJ. Obviously, you will have little interest in the subject, however, you may enjoy perusing the names for a few pages. Names come and go, and this sure proves that! One reason I got hooked on it was trying to figure out the ancestry puzzle. This account was made in 1860 by Ira Peck, Esq. The writing is quite good, and his tireless work is just astounding. He spent 10 years compiling all of the branches of the Peck family, starting with the brother of whom it is believed Bruce's family came from. I've yet to figure it out.

Most of you already know, but for those of you who don't, my sister Maureen has suffered a mild stroke. Spending three days in the hospital, most of the tests were inconclusive. To date, there is no evidence of any paralysis, just slight memory loss, along with some weakness. We are indebted to her friend Lynn for alerting the family that something just wasn't right. For the time being she's spending time with the newlyweds.

Recently I needed a new iron, opting for a Shark model, which if you're in the market for one, I highly recommend.

Wednesday night we had a fantastic meal at our friend, Steven and Kirsten's house.  Can they ever cook!

Baxter no longer has to be a stand in for our doorbell.  The one thing Bruce hates to work with is electricity, thus our doorbell was out of commission for months.  Barking at passerbys occupies much of Baxter's waking hours; when someone was at the door however, he would go crazy! We had an electrician come in and it took him quite a while to discover what the problem was. Every problem has a silver lining and this little one is no exception. Prior to the previous doorbells' demise the sound from each door was the same, now however, both the front and side have slightly different tones, saving us from wondering which door our visitor stands before. Score!

Bruce spent most of this week working from home. Did I mention how much he's loving his new kayak? Yesterday morning I went with him to the perfect spot in our area, Dinky Dock on Lake Virginia in Winter Park.
While he was fishing I took the opportunity to roam around Rollins College, taking pictures in the gorgeous morning light. Once he'd caught and released two nice sized bass, he returned to that lovely beach, letting me take a turn. I'm not into fishing, but paddling is quite fun. I believe it was the first time in my life I've ever been on open water by myself, sort of funny feeling. As I was leaving the shore a group of seriously experienced kayakers were paddling in. Before they could disdain my efforts, I mentioned I was a novice! 

Last Friday I spent hours cleaning our home, as I may have mentioned. If only I could force myself to repeat it today! Steve and Kirsten own 13 rental properties in and around Thorton Park. They have two criteria when looking for properties: it needs to be cute enough for them to live in themselves, and if it takes more than an hour to clean, it's too big. Sounds like a plan to me.

Actually what I need to do is head over to Colonial Photo and Hobby, seeing if they can clean my sensor on the Nikon. On our trip debris planted itself on the sensor leaving black marks on the photos. As well, I've got something on my new baby cameras lens. Not good.

I wonder what surprises are in store for today? 

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Birds

Don't you just hate computer issues? Me, too. On Saturday I skipped the market for reasons you've probably deduced. 94 degrees + 0 Tent=No Market. Instead, I thought I'd be writing my last post, but my photo uploader didn't see it that way.

It was never my intention to have my blog posts of the vacation last longer than the vacation itself, however, that seems to be how things have turned out.

Lastly we'll be looking at the birds we saw. Now, as you well know, I'm not a very good nature photographer, mostly because I've not got the patience, or the technical skill to wow you with the pictures.  That, my friends, doesn't prevent me from trying!

We stayed at the same hotel in Siesta Key for the party, and as was the case last year, there were adorable finches flitting around the trees. Here's my version of a little cutie. 

In dawn's early light I did my best to photograph this lovely snowy egret taking off. It's only now that I'm seeing it on the blog that I notice his form, and the tree behind him, are so similar. I had my manual focus lens on the Nikon. It's really beyond my skills to focus on a moving target, but you guessed it! Doesn't stop me from trying.
 As the sun rose, I somehow managed to get this pelican fixing to land!
My best attempt at a bird in action--I wish I could make it larger because it's pretty neat, or at least I think so. You, on the other hand, may be tired of birds by now. Never fear, we are almost done!
Remember how I told you about those gorgeous trees, particularly in Ft. Myers and Naples? Well, here's another little finch perched high. These little guys were landing on the outdoor tables and chairs while we dined on those delicious bagels and tea. Well, that's coffee for Bruce, but you understand what I meant. Have I ever told you how much I loathe coffee? Maybe the opportunity for that confession  has never presented itself  before. I know, you think I'm missing out, but I'll just have to take your word for it. In fact, about the only time I've even tasted it was by mistake. One time, years ago, a server mixed up the drinks and I unknowingly took a sip which I just about spit out right in the restaurant! They were using those old fashioned heavy brown mugs. Otherwise, I've no doubt I'd have noticed the difference from the color.  Wait just a minute Gail....this post has a bird theme and coffee rants have no place in this space!

I've seen loads of ibis in my day but never ones with this startlingly red beaks and legs!
As well, I've seen a lot of shore birds but this was my first time seeing this kind. I've no idea what kind it is. Is there anyone out there with extensive shore bird knowledge? Anyway, I stalked him for a while on Longboat Key. I'm particularly fascinated by the color of bird's eyes, aren't you? I wonder why they are such different colors. Well, why should I even wonder when I've got the internet to solve all my wonderings? Here we go: http://www.hiltonpond.org/ThisWeek030422.html. They seemed to think it was of interest as well.

To conclude our bird post, last week I discovered a new bird's nest in the highest fronds of a particularly ugly Spanish Bayonet plant in the back yard. At first I thought it was a blue jay's nest, however, turns out it belongs to a pair of mockingbirds. We shall see if anything comes of it, although my chance of photographing it is slim as I'd have to get up on the roof!

It was good to be away, but it's nice to come back to our pretty little house in Orlando. According to our Florida guidebook, Orlando isn't much. They even went so far as to say that if time is of the essence, skip Orlando all together (except, of course, the theme parks.) To an outsider, that may be their impression, but to us "there's no place like home."

Wait, I've forgotten to address something Nancy called to my attention. The shopkeeper in question was off 3rd Street in the swanky part of Naples. It's hard to describe accurately in writing but the gist is that he screamed, "Why do customers commiserate among themselves and never ask the guy who buys the shit for sixteen years?" Naturally we were taken aback, only to have him rant further! I said, "ok, we've had enough" to which he replied, well, he shouted really, "SO HAVE I." We needed no further instructions, leaving the shop pronto! While in the next shop the nice young man explained to us that the screamer acts like that all the time, and wonders why his sales are low!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The People

Today I've spent a good part of the day finishing a book that has left me somewhat spent. My friend Carol Kufeldt recommended the author and I wasn't disappointed. Although the list of characters took a long time to sort out--like maybe half the novel--I finally figured them out. It's called Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell. Here's a link if you're interested:http://www.bookreporter.com/reviews2/0449004139.asp By the way, with this new blogger editor I can't for the life of me figure out how to make the links more attractive!

Let's just say that after reading that book, I feel all the more fortunate to have been able to have such a splendid holiday. Most of the time I show you pictures of landscapes, flowers, Baxter, Bruce, you know, that sort of thing. Well, today I thought I'd show you a few pictures of some of the folks we saw.

Here is Barb looking back at the condo the evening before the party. That sky is pretty awesome huh?

While walking on Ft. Myers Beach, Bruce wanted me to get this shot of a woman casting a net. I wonder why? Note the spot on the picture to the right of the egret. Somehow I've managed to get spots on my sensor on the Nikon! Having it cleaned once to the tune of $50,  I don't look forward to doing it again.
Here's one I wanted to take, also seen on Ft. Myers Beach. I'm still puzzling why they were wearing those hats. Whatever-- they sure made it look fun!
This woman was the singer for a band at the hotel bar. She had an excellent voice, kinda bluesy.
I took this in the chapel with the sun streaming through the windows just before the wedding ceremony. The man on the far right is Bruce's boss, Tracy. The family in front of him are a super group. He is a roofing contractor, but more importantly he is generous to a fault. He foot the bill for much of the party. Although his daughters live in a home with 14, yes you read that right, 14 televisions, on the bay in Sarasota, they are as sweet as sugar. The one in red nearly stole the show on the dance floor at the reception!
I'm a sucker for photographing children for sure.; I just loved their bright pink hats, as you can imagine. When my children are older, and possibly have some skin cancer, they'll blame me for never making them wear hats or sunscreen! I meant no harm!
This last one was taken on Longboat Key early in the morning while Bruce was out kayaking in the bay. I am a bit of a chicken and doubt I would have the nerve to throw bread up for greedy sea gulls! I like this one so much, I think it would make a good painting.
I'm having to get used to being alone again. I've not had the opportunity to spend so much time with Bruce in so many years that now I feel a little lost without him. Fortunately he's only got one job going, I know,  hard to believe, however there are like a gazillion waiting in the wings. He left yesterday morning for Virginia and was so busy I never heard from him until nearly 10 when he was checking into his hotel. Did I mention his flight left at 6:30AM? He's an iron man when he has to be!

In other news, after years and years of renting, Matthew is buying a flat in London. Very exciting news. By American standards it is way small. That said, it is all about location, location, location. Matt is adept at managing small places, after all he's not so big himself, not to mention that when you live in one of the world's largest cities there are compromises that one must make. You already know how imaginative he can be. Think--the stroke of genius he displayed in dreaming up our living room arrangement!  I can hardly wait to see the outcome.

It seems as if we brought the cooler dry weather up from SW Florida with us. Apparently it rained a bunch while we were gone, which was great for my plants, but so far this week, nada. I'm not complaining!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Lists

I'm simplifying things by doing a guy thing. Well, I'm sure there are girls who do lists, heck magazines live and die by them, but it's not something I would ordinarily think to do. Furthermore, each experience was great in it's own way, some, however, stand out more than others. So, without further ado:

Best overall was in  Naples at the Edgewater Beach Hotel. The link: http://www.waldorfastoria.com/search/property-details.cfm?intPropertyId=33

Bruce booked this room, or at least a room, with Hilton points, hoping it would be nice. Originally our intention was to stay one night, but as you can imagine, once I saw this, I begged for another night. Fortunately, the Marriot in Marco Island agreed to cancel our reservation there. 

 The lovely bedroom with sliding glass doors open to the balcony.
The lovely living space. Surprise, surprise, Bruce using his computer. Seriously, he did very little of that on the trip-- I think here he's trying to redeem an iTunes gift card with imperceptible numbers.
 Here's the kitchen which we used sparingly.
 This was the view after a brief rainstorm emptied the pool of guests. I took this from our third floor balcony.
Can you even believe how gorgeous and clear the water is? Spectacular!

If we ever take this kind of trip again, I'd love to stay here for as long as the money holds out. In fact, Bruce wanted to move in!

I promised lists, lists I will deliver!

The GOOD, in no particular order. You didn't really expect me to do a top 10 list, now did you?

  • Steve somehow outdid himself this year. The party has become so popular that more than 200 people came, spending at least part of the day. I even had my caricature done! The cost to throw a party like that was more than some people make in a year. He's rethinking the party model...
  • The Edison-Ford Estate (http://www.efwefla.org/home.asp) was a thrill for me. As a child I read every biography in our elementary school library. I can still see the covers if you can imagine. Anyway, inventors, and in particular Thomas Edison have always fascinated me, I guess that's why I married one. Bruce can create things out of nothing, however, in the patent department, Thomas Edison rules! Over 1,000 if you can imagine. Our tour guide, Ryan, was terrific.
  • Gorgeous blossoming reddish orange trees, found particularly in Ft. Myers and Naples.
  • Photographing the beach has it's challenges, looking somewhat similar wherever you are. You can either use lighting, or structures to add interest. Yesterday's photos mostly came from the wide beaches of  Ft. Myers. 
  • The checklist! I barely forgot a thing.
  • Great food in Naples, from lunch at Handsome Harry's to a delicious and stylish dinner at the hotel.
  • Great wings in Ft. Myers at the Fish House. Sacrilege, right?
  • Bagels, orange juice, and tea at Fifth Avenue Coffee on 5th in Naples. You may recall the time I did a convention a few years ago. You don't? Well I can't say as I blame you, it was largely forgettable aside from a cup of the BEST hot tea I ever was lucky enough to consume. I'd seen it once at Williams Sonoma--the cost--20 bags for $8.00. Too much for this little lady. Well, there it was for consumption and boxes for sale--$4.25. I caved. What kind you ask? Hot Cinnamon! http://www.harney.com/coffeandteafestival.asp
  • Bruce's joy at receiving the kayak for his birthday was priceless. He is still a strong man, but lifting a canoe over his head is not done with quite the same ease as it once was. We've discovered why kayaks are so popular! He took it out into the calm waters of the Gulf in both Fort Myers and Naples. 
  • Huge shade shelter at the Blue Dolphin cottages in Sanibel island. Invaluable!
  • Great fun at the wedding.
  • Fantastic weather.
I could go on and on, however, by now you are either catatonic, or jealous....

Moving on to the NOT AS GOOD:
  • Sanibel was a disappointment. I'm not sure what we were expecting, but I think that after Naples, most anything would have been a let down. Although there were tons of crushed shells, there were only common whole shells. I collected by color, which in itself is kinda neat because although they all were similar, each shell is marked differently. No sand dollars, no starfish, almost nothing. Plus, there were no-see-ums, which is probably spelled incorrectly but it most certainly is descriptive. I nearly scratched myself raw!
  • Ft. Myers beach, or more correctly, Estero Island was a bit tacky. That said, the photos I took there were I think some of the best.
  • Humidity, air conditioning and camera lenses are not good friends. My biggest disappointment was missing the VERY FIRST rainbow I've seen in years. Leaving the cottage with the Nikon just after dawn,  I discovered it was lightly sprinkling. You can guess where I left the camera.  I walked the few yards to the shoreline and right in front of my eyes was a great, BIG, BEAUTIFUL rainbow arcing across the sky into the sea. Running back to the room, I grabbed the camera, only to watch the rainbow dissipate while I was busily wiping and wiping the lens to remove the moisture. Boo hoo!
  • Arriving at the Ritz Carlton in Sarasota before our check in time, we went outside, finding our friends having lunch on the sizable pool patio. After joining them, we all decided a dip in the pool would be just the thing before it was time to get ready for the wedding. In his enthusiasm, Bruce hopped right in without removing his iPhone from his swim suit pocket. Not a good way to end a vacation, although he did his best not to let it get him down. A stop at the Apple store to get a new one before we returned home was in order. All's well that ends well.
  • Those famous Gulf Coast sunsets you've heard of? MIA last week. 

So, there you have it--a most wonderful time.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fun in the Sun

The last load of laundry is drying, Rick Flair has clean water, Baxter is lounging in his usual perch by the window, and Bruce is back at his desk. Our fun in the sun is over for now, however, we intend to remember it as long as we can!

When you are a blogger, like myself, and are gone for ten days, hopefully there is much of interest to recount. As a matter of fact, there is too much for one post! As such, I've put together a little album along with a few other photos to paint a little picture of our time away.

As you may know, we first went to Steve's condo in Siesta Key for his annual Memorial Day party. Here's our vacation mobile!
Bruce's friends had a hey day with this--teasing him mercilessly. They called us either the Beverly Hillbillies, or the Griswalds, the latter you may be familiar with, although I can't say as I am. More on the party later in the week. Suffice it to say that it was like no other I've ever been to!

Here is the little slideshow with some scenic photos, or at least that's my intention.

Here is your intrepid blogger (with the requisite red nose!) and her adorable husband at a sidewalk cafe in Naples waiting for the delicious food to come.

 May I introduce you to Steve and Barb:

Bruce and Steve have been best buddies for years and years at Darden. In all that time he's rarely had a lady friend, and did I mention he's NEVER been married. Well.....about six weeks ago Steve revealed that he and Barb had begun dating and things were going very well. She also works at Darden in a related department. We are absolutely delighted Steve is so happy. I convinced him to let me take their photo after we shared the breakfast buffet at the Sarasota Ritz Carlton on Sunday morning just before leaving. I hope, I hope she's the one!

While away I looked at Bruce's computer maybe twice, used my cell phone twice, and read almost nothing. It was actually very good to be away from most technology for that long. I highly recommend it if you're able. Arriving home yesterday afternoon I came across this timely article:
Something to think about...

Tomorrow we'll get into specifics, like getting yelled at by a shop keeper. You know, that sort of thing!

You Just Never Know