Friday, July 30, 2010

Quagmire

Anyone who knows David will attest that he can talk up a storm. Come to think of it, sometimes he creates storms with his words! Wait a minute here--maybe that's where that saying came from. Anyway, the thing about David is he's so passionate about his field,  he assumes we all are. While just talking with him on the phone, he started in.  Like this word he used--quagmire--it's the perfect word to describe what a mess our economy is in. I've been lamenting everyone's misfortunes in this blog, as you well know, but I have no answers. I'm thinking no one does.

Now that I've got that off my chest, there's a few things I'd like to share with you that may be a bit more cheery, depending on how you look at them.

Growing up with a swimming pool, I couldn't wait to have one of our own. I LOVE to jump into the cooling waters on a hot summer day. To me, there's no better way to beat the heat. As such, I'm in the sun most every day, and horror upon horrors, I don't wear sun screen! The way I see it is that for centuries people lived in the sun, hot of course, but mostly never thinking twice about it. Well, they probably thought twice about it, but you get my drift. Do I go out in the middle of the day and stay there? No, I'm not that bad, however, if I feel like swimming I mostly go early or later in the day. My view is the sun is our friend, otherwise God would have used some other way to light up our lives. This article
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/27/health/27brod.html
makes some interesting points about our health now that everyone is afraid of the sun. Accordingly, because we've had so little rain this summer I may have stored up enough Vitamin D to last two years!

This morning while cleaning, my little Shuffle attached to my dress, I heard this catchy song from Jack Penates called, Let's All Die. How can that be catchy you ask? Well, I like the beat and you can dance to it...  Seriously, the more I hear it, the more I like everything about it. I was wondering about the song and came across this blog entry:http://www.theburningear.com/2009/07/jack-penates-advises-lets-all-die-but-read-this-first/
The world wide web is a pretty good friend as well.

If you can believe it, yesterday morning I woke up around 4:15. Hmmm......should I, or shouldn't I? I did. Yes, I got up, dressed, made tea, and gathered cameras and my bathing suit. Fortunately Baxter roused himself enough to go outside before I left. One less worry there. The Honda was gliding down our street by 5AM, headed to Cocoa Beach. The older I get, the less I like driving in the dark, however,  drive I did. The amount of both traffic and fog surprised me. Shooting beach pictures is harder than you'd think as I've probably indicated before. You need something beside the sky, sea, and sand. You need rocks, birds, clouds, great light, and if there is a structure in the picture that'll work as well. Arriving around six,  I decided to use the pier as my focal point. The thing about digital is that you hardly need patience anymore, something in short supply for me, because you can shoot all you like. I imagine if I were using a film camera I'd have waited exactly for the sunrise.A it turned out, the light before the sun rose was actually pretty great. Here's a little album with a caveat--apologies for the redundancy of some of the shots.


The other day I read a piece on NPR's website about a famous photojournalist who'd recently died. If memory serves me right (don't count on it!), he was the photo editor in Topeka, Kansas. Under his tutelage, his stable of photographers have gone on to win every major news journalism prize out there. So....what does this have to do with me? Gathering for a weekend memorial one of the photographers called him a "ruthless editor." That's what I need! Help wanted. It's just that the sunrise was so lovely.....

Ooops, I almost forgot to share something else. Forgive me if you're bored. On Monday I got out a Gourmet cookbook that has nothing but recipes with only five ingredients. I came across this salad and thought it might be worth a try. Worth repeating and repeating friends. If you are looking for something incredibly cool and refreshing, not to mention cheap and delicious, this is the ticket. I won't copy the exact recipe but tell you how I made it. Shred a few carrots on the largest hole of a box grater. Cut radishes into matchstick size pieces. Toss with lime juice and zest, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle a little olive oil over it all. Stir it all up and prepare yourself for a taste sensation!


Heading out to capture a little Vitamin D now....have a happy weekend.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mrs. Peck Goes to the Mall

Naturally it was after a stop at Marshalls and Nordstrom Rack but I couldn't figure out how to make all of that into a clever title. So, what was Mrs. Peck doing at the mall you ask? Good question.

Before climbing into my comfy bed last night to finish Private Life, which by the way, was excellent through and through, I sent this image to Mr. Peck with a little note asking for a wake up call. What pray tell do I need a wake up call for? Confession time--I have no idea how to work the alarm clock!

While on the road Bruce often goes to bed pretty early. We're both all about the early to bed, early to rise creed, however he's the earliest of the earlier. In the back of my mind I was thinking of a beach trip today, however, my message was not seen until around 6 AM, making it too late for me to catch the sunrise. The latest time for departing would be around 5:30, with 5 being ideal. Thus, I stayed home this morning working on this:
The idea is this, because all of these were shot in the gardens of the museum, this will be the image on a poster for sale in the gift shop come September when it re-opens. Meeting with Mr. Roger last night, we discussed the possibilities, the cost, as well as how to lay it out. Mostly I listened because I've no idea how sizing works. Originally I'd thought to do a green background with either white, or gold text, though, after studying posters online ad nauseam, I discovered that most of them have a white surround. Now, whether or not any will sell is another question, but we won't know unless we try. We'll try a few, see what happens, and if there is any demand, they will be sent to a printer who can make lots for little. Speaking of printers, I took this photo of what Roger affectionately calls "The Beast." Folks repeatedly wonder why I don't do my own printing. Can you imagine me running something like this? Wireless no less.

Additionally this morning a friend asked me how she could become a follower of this blog. Well, since I'm the leader, I have no idea how one becomes a follower. Searching around for clues on my blogger dashboard, I came across a button labeled Stats. Hmmm...what does this do? Soon enough I found out that there are a few people who come by this humble spot on the web. Not a lot, but some. Furthermore, it showed me that there have been visitors from as near as Canada, and as far away as Singapore and South Africa. Imagine that. There's lots of "stats",  most of which I don't understand, however, I was still unable to locate anything about becoming a follower. I feel like the Pied Piper.

If it isn't bad enough hearing one way phone conversations surrounding you at every turn, today I had to listen to a two way call. While in the dressing room at Marshalls, a woman speaks into her phone two or so cubicles away--"hold on while I put you on speaker phone." Can you imagine? Make them stop!!!

We all know how I'm so frugal, almost never eating out, but today, in a surprise move, I stopped by Moe's for lunch. First off, the food was very tasty, much better than Tijuana Flats, but that's another story. Secondly, the place was a mess. Crumbs all over, and I do mean all over! The floor, the tables, the seats. Have you ever known me to exaggerate? Seriously,  I struggled to find a place to put my little body down! Before leaving I discovered that the restroom was just as messy, but there was this to make me chuckle:
They definitely have a sense of humor even if their sense of cleanliness is less than stellar.

In conclusion, (how formal does that sound?), never one to pass the Clearance sections without at least a once over, I was delighted to find a copy of the trade paperback version of--ta da!--Let the Great World Spin for $5.99.  That was too good to pass up.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Good Times

Yes, that's right, it was a perfect weekend in every way. No, the market wasn't so great, however, I wasn't shut out. In fact I sold nine things, which truth be told, with so many, many people out of work in Orlando, I count myself fortunate. Fortunate indeed.

Before we go much further I wanted to share this lovely post from our dear son Matthew:http://www.fiftyfivehundred.org/post/856967812 
Make sure you click on it to see what he's all about these days. I can hardly believe it's been seven years since  last we visited London, but it has. A 50th birthday celebration for my darling husband was the occasion. It was an amazing trip, including flying first class on Virgin, which can't be beat. Arriving in London, one of the first sites we saw was a spectacular building under construction. We roamed the city until we got close enough to see what it was all about. Bruce was so enthralled that he had one of his photographs enlarged, and framed, keeping it in his office until the recent downsizing to a cubicle. Next time you're here you'll see it in the hallway.  Here's what I'm referring to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/30_St_Mary_Axe These days it's apparently affectionately, or not, nicknamed The Gherkin building. So, the other night the phone rang ,which in itself is pretty rare these days, and who should be on the line, but Matthew. Well, he was more than delighted that Bruce was home so he could personally tell him he'd just had dinner at the top of the Gherkin! I can tell you this much---seven years ago when we saw it, we NEVER in our wildest dreams would have foreseen that OUR son would be hobnobbing around London, and dining there like nobodies business. Simply amazing.

Continuing the son update, here's what's going on with Jonathan:http://cbs2chicago.com/local/river.city.flooding.2.1825286.html 
Saturday afternoon while driving home from a kayaking trip (Bruce paddled, I drove) Jonathan called sounding mighty desperate. If you've clicked on the link you can understand his consternation. Fortunately a friend's father has a furnished townhouse in a suburb of Chicago to which Jonathan and Alissa have fled, along with Tia, their cat. Rumors are flying about as to when the building will be habitable again. Miss Alissa will turn 30 this week, and the recent turn of events in her life were highly unexpected. Jobless and now homeless, not to mention someone ruining her camera recently, is taking it's toll on her psyche as you can well imagine. I'm so sad about all of this.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating, that I cannot believe how many capable and hardworking people I know are jobless. What, oh what, is the answer?

Well, let's talk about something fun, shall we? Here is Mr. Bruce preparing for his eight mile trip on the Wekiva River. Arriving just after 8 on Saturday, he put in here before the crowds came, fishing his way down the river. Driving into the place, we saw a mother deer and her baby crossing the road. Merely saying I was excited at the sight doesn't really do it justice. Camera fogged by ac, alas, no picture!
First stop for me was Wekiva State Park. The weather was a bit cloudy and things were still damp from Friday night's rain. I suppose with the number of stairs to get down to the springs, you'd imagine it is almost a sinkhole. My sons will remember some good times at the springs.
I roamed around a bit, however, I'm too much of a wuss to go into the springs these days. Mostly I read in the car until the humidity got to me. I do like those orange life preservers though.
Wekiva Island is the new name for a place once was called Wekiva Landing. Just down the road from the state park, I headed there hoping for some shade, only to find there was none to be had. Changing into my bathing suit, gathering my book and camera, I headed to the river. Look what I found:
Arriving several hours before Bruce's ETA, I settled in. After a bit, the heat was so extreme, I got up my nerve and jumped into the river, finding it oh so refreshing. Between the wonderful book I told you about, swimming, and all the activity surrounding me, the time passed quickly. Eventually Bruce paddled within sight and I went to meet him with the car. Excitedly he told me he caught (and released) more fish than he could count. To say that he was happy is putting it mildly. Did I mention he was also hot and tired? Well, he was. Once we were home, and things were mostly put away, we both took naps. Bruce loves a nap, me not so much. As you well know, I'm a world class sleeper and once I'm out, I do not wake very easily. Because we'd had a late lunch, dinner was popcorn.

Arriving home from the market I found this on my desk:

Actually I took the photograph this morning as I prepared to eat it for my breakfast. The mug is one Matt gave me some years ago from the Columbia Road Flower Market in London, which as of tomorrow, will be in his neighborhood! After reading my blog post about cookies--can you imagine he didn't know this already?--when he saw this at Eisteins, he knew I'd be a happy girlfriend. He was right.

After finishing unpacking the car Bruce asked if I want to hang out back. There's really nothing that cools off a market girl faster than a dive in the pool, so I agreed. During my absence he'd put up a both a bird feeder and some new torches which delighted me to no end. Needless to say we ended up eating out there, but this time we were much more careful about our wine consumption!

Normally this time of year the afternoon rains keep us from eating out back, and swimming late in the day. Well, this year is far from normal. Freezing cold in the winter, and now almost NO rain. We are going days and days without it. Oh yeah, before I forget, we had our lawn people out last week; fortunately Bruce was home to talk to them, and what we think went wrong is, the first guy to put fertilizer and weed killer on the grass this year. It seems as if he got carried away, thus large portions are dead. When I say dead, I mean no grass at all. Large, ugly spots of bare dirt. It only took us about ten years of care to get us where we were which really makes it all the more discouraging. HOWEVER, they are taking responsibility, and if come September things are not vastly improved, sod will be placed at no cost to your friends, the Pecks.

Digressing, digressing, digressing. The pool temperature is perfect right now--- here's your favorite blogger's dear husband with the newly shorn Mr. Baxter on Sunday evening:

He may look pretty calm here, but he likes swimming about as much as he likes walking!

Today's post title is from a popular photograph I sell, but it definitely fits for this weekend. We also went to a downtown Irish pub on Friday night, returning home early enough to watch State of Play, a film we both thoroughly enjoyed. Often people ask me about my photo editing, and mostly I tell them I use the Picasa feature, "I'm Feeling Lucky," which pretty much sums up my life. I only wish it applied to all my loved ones.....

Friday, July 23, 2010

Birds of Prey, Oh My!

I must admit that the going was a little slow this morning, not because I'm ill or anything, just a case of too much fun last night. Eating dinner on the patio is one of the things we love to do when the weather cooperates, and strangely enough, it was pleasant last evening with mild temperatures and low humidity.

Yesterday afternoon a pool builder came by the house to discuss updating our swimming pool.  An excellent general contractor is adding a sun room to the back of Angela's home so I got a name from him. When he showed up, right on time I might add, we were surprised that he was over 60 and had been in the pool business for 40+years, still doing most of the work himself. Bruce has been working from home the last few days which was ideal because he knows all the right questions to ask. Getting out the paperwork from the last overhaul, we discovered it was 12 years ago! The coating they used that time is no longer in use, primarily because it proved to be not so great. So here's our problems--the pool leaks, there are splotches of discoloration in far too many places, the skimmer housing is cracked, as is the deck in many places. Oh yeah--lots of cracked tiles too! Mr. Bowles recommends pretty much starting over aside from the shell. Sounds pretty pricey, but we'll see.

Anyway, after he left we ate dinner, drank more red wine than is prudent (I'm struggling on than/then here), swam in the moonlight, listened to music, and stayed up way too late! Thus, I was moving slow. Rolling over this morning as I awoke, I saw the clock read 8:00. Wow--I jumped up the best I could only to discover in the kitchen while making my tea that it was only 7. No wonder Bruce was still showering to go to the office!

In an effort to get moving, I took Baxter for a walk down our street, which in case you don't already know this, he's not all that crazy about. What kind of dog doesn't like to take a walk?! You pretty much have to tug him along, gently, but tug nonetheless. A few nights earlier a neighbor pointed out a bald eagle way high in the pine tree two doors down. Bruce came along Wednesday night and on our first pass we saw nothing. Heading back to the house we discovered two bald eagles! I did the best I could considering it was dusk, not to mention they are perched in trees that by Bruce's estimation are 80 FEET tall!

Here's a look at the trees in the back yard to give you an idea of their height:
Obviously I took this one today in broad daylight! This morning I discovered no bald eagles, but I was treated to the sight of two other birds of prey, the red tail hawk was out front in the same tree as the eagle the previous evening. This is one HUGE bird! The claws are pretty scary looking.
Those tall trees from the previous image were host to this osprey:
Naturally I knocked on the neighbor's door to gain permission to their back yard and while we were chatting he said the eagles came around quite a bit leaving all sorts of body parts in their wake. It didn't take me long to come across this as I was heading home:
YIKES!

I did manage to wash and hang our laundry on the clothesline, vacuum and there is bananna bread baking as I type, but I'd be less than truthful if I told you the day was very productive. One reason is I've come under the spell of Jane Smiley. Her new novel has me enthralled. Here's her very own website: http://web.mac.com/therealjanesmiley/iWeb/Site/Welcome.html If you've not read her before, you must rectify that situation at your earliest opportunity. Or at least that's what I think you should do.

Bruce has been extolling the virtues of Tom Petty's new album, "MOJO";  I finally got around to listening to this afternoon. Pretty good, but every time I hear Tom Petty I can't get this story out of my mind that one of my patients shared with me years and years ago. Her husband drove the tour bus for the Heartbreakers for more than twenty years. No more build up, here it is. He's weird, mostly taking his meals at a table by himself, AND he puts his face practically down in the plate with his hair in a free fall around said plate. Sorry if this sticks with you as well... 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tedium

Oh my gentle readers, I am suffering from tedium. Strictly speaking that's not entirely accurate because one of the meanings is boredom which has never been a problem for me, however, cleaning out my photo library these last two days has been a tedious task.

Matthew explained to me that the photo libraries I'm using aren't designed to handle the volume of photos I currently have. Yes, I have an external hard drive, but still I have too much. You've always heard photographers say that you're only seeing their best work, that they take loads of terrible pictures,  which in my case is SO true. Hundreds and hundreds of bad pictures. Probably more like thousands if the I'm being completely honest. For an example, I saw this blue dragonfly perched on a stick in our front beds when I was getting the mail. 
It took about fifteen tries before getting one decent shot. In fact, upon loading them I was getting discouraged because picture after picture was bad.  Apparently, these type of dragonflies are territorial, perching in one place, so it wasn't a question of him moving--more like getting the camera to focus on the dragonfly. Typically I don't trash the bad ones right away, thus the overload. I MUST adopt this procedure in the future! Normally I can tell by the tiny thumbnail if something is going to be good and that's when I need to delete the bad ones. Everyone is always saying how great it is that you can delete in camera, however, when you wear reading glasses, as I do, this doesn't work so well. I want you to know that all fourteen bad ones are already in the trash!

I spent a good part of yesterday moving a years' worth of market photos onto discs. That was not quite as easy as it sounds, mostly because I'm not so great using a computer, doing things the hard way because that's all I know.  Finally, finally, I had 2009 done. The count? Over 2,000 less photos to clog up the system. I'd already done the same with the Sand Lake market a few days ago. I'm making progress my friends. Today I deleted almost 1,000 bad, or redundant, photos. It's kinda like cleaning out a closet, not so much fun while you're doing it, but once the task is completed, you feel like a new person. Still much work to be done, but I'm getting there.

Yesterday, before the photo marathon session began, my mobile phone rang. The conversation went sorta like this:
me: "Hi Bill."
Bill: "Hi Mom, what are you doing?"
me: "Christmas shopping."
Bill: " What? This is only July."
me: "Yes, that's true, but Nordstrom has only one anniversary sale, so I take advantage of the       discounts when I can. What is your waist size?"
Bill: "It might be different by Christmas!" (still looking for work, boo hoo)

Although the sale started some days ago, there were still nice things to be found. Last year I got Jonathan the cutest hat during the sale, which I was lucky enough to see a photo of him sporting at last weekend's music festival. I'm delighted with my purchases thus far. I only wish I knew what to get those sons of mine this year.....

That said, I do have a house warming gift for Matthew, which I'm hoping he'll like. Can you imagine he's got a British mortgage?  By this time next week, he'll be the proud owner of his first home! That's saying a lot when you're buying in central London. Why does this not surprise me? http://www.thestyleking.com/compass/bethnal-green-victoria-park/ Matt has about a month to turn his little slice of London into a show piece, and I've no doubt, no, nary a doubt, that he will.

Can you believe I've still got more to say? Well, hold your mouses still, I'm not done yet!

My intention when thinking about this post was to bash the movie, Inception. Here's what IMDB had to say: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1375666/ I was not so thrilled. In fact, I hated every minute of it. Leaving the theater,  I told Bruce that I'd do terribly with torture. We all know I'm a wuss when it comes to most things physical, however, up until seeing this movie I'd not experienced much in the way of mental torture. Now I have. I've often heard folks complain about the length of movies and frankly, I never got it. Now I do. Early on, I leaned over, whispering to Bruce, "No wonder they are called actors, WHO ELSE could deliver such inane dialogue and not break into laughter?" Apparently I didn't get it. What I seriously dislike in a film are car chases/crashes, stupid violence, and over-use of computer manipulation. This film had all three in spades. Not to mention that the admission was $10.75! Maybe I'm crazy, or just maybe, everyone else is.

And, with that rant behind me, I'll go out with a bang!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Musical Chairs

Lately, around these parts it's like musical chairs, except instead of removing chairs I keep adding them. Well, that's not entirely true because I did put the club chair out to the curb with a free sign on it.  In what I thought was an interesting example of how connected we all are, the aforementioned chair may be finding it's way up to a new student's room at FSU.

Ever since I had that chair upholstered two years ago, I've been unhappy. The fabric, the feel, the look all disappointed me greatly. Once we moved it into my office, my dislike turned to hate. Is hate too strong an emotion to feel for a chair? I think not. Because the chair, along with reupholstering, cost about the same, or less, then some women pay for a trendy handbag, I felt no guilt as I set it by the curb around 4pm on Saturday. Bruce arrived home around 5:30 from his contractor's classes and not too much later he announced someone had stopped. He went outside to see if they needed assistance, as did I. Naturally, or at least for me, a conversation ensued. Come to find out, they were just returning from a trip to Tallahassee to find a place for the daughter to live as she begins her life as a Seminole. If she'd said they wanted to take it to Gainesville I might have reconsidered. Just kidding! Anyway, I ended up giving them a tour of the house per their request. Naturally I had no problem showing off our handiwork! Before you get all nervous, let me tell you that they live down the street on the newer end of Appleton. Criminal probability? Nil.

So what did I put in it's place? Don't laugh or cry, but here it is:
Baxter was kind enough to hop on to deflect some of the criticism! Saturday morning I'd gone back to where I got the thrones looking for one Danish modern chair. Although they had one, it was part of a whole living room set ,which they didn't want to break up. Seeing this I thought the green might work in my office; the only trouble was they only wanted to sell them as a pair. $195 for both. Hmmmm....what's a girl to do?

Here's what this girl did, and I use that term loosely you realize. After my haircut, I returned and figured that I'd make it work somehow. I've since learned from Mr. Richard, our fabulous upholsterer, that the chairs are most likely from the 30's, thus very well made from solid wood. Getting them into the house by myself was quite the chore. By the time I'd got them both in, and moved the unwieldy club chair out to the curb, I was seriously hot and bothered.  Plus, I knew Bruce was going to think I was crazy, which he did. My response? "Trust me on this!" Although the fabric is dated, it is in excellent shape and the lines of the chair are great. Recycle baby!

I'd placed the second chair in the sunroom, however, because that room is mostly Bruce's, he wanted no part of it. Trading places, we moved the "Zebra" chair out to the sunroom, which I quite like. In fact, it's terrific because I can see it so often, not to mention that the orange pop is so cheery.
As well, I had already requested that Roger make a canvas for our home, which replaced my severely faded poster art, a gift from Bill, maybe ten years ago. See above photo. As far as Bruce is concerned, the "Zebra" chair is there to stay!

Seeing  the chairs yesterday morning, Angela had the nerve to call them an eyesore. Can you imagine? She did, however, help me move the Groovy chair to the Zebra chair's former location, and now I think we've got it just right. After looking at four fabric stores, three of which had NOT ONE THING I liked, I've gotten approval to go with one of the four samples I brought home. That's for the living room chair. Stay tuned to this space for the upcoming transformation. Oh yeah, I'm calling these, the Granny chairs.

Enough about interior decorating already! Look at this adorable bag a girl was toting at the market Sunday:
Because Bruce had class on Sunday as well, we did a scaled back version of our normal set up. Arriving at his usual time, Bruce set up the tent and weights. Now, as I've probably explained in the past, our tent has steel legs and supports, making it very heavy, which is why your friend Gail is unable to put it up by herself. Please forgive me if I'm being redundant. No walls=no big pieces. Using two table top easels ,I was able to show two canvases, which although they sell slowly, we consider them window dressing. A customer draw if you will. I'm happy to report that my sales were about the same as the previous week. In other words, about average for this time of year.

Have I talked about the weather lately? No rain, no rain, no rain. Great for when you're doing an outdoor event, not so great for our yards. In fact, ours looks just terrible these days. All the improvement of the last few years seems to have vanished. Very depressing.

Friday, July 16, 2010

I Lied

Yep. I lied. I worked on my photo library. Maybe not as much as I should have but it's a small start. Seriously, I have so many duplicates, similar photographs, and just plain bad stuff. Actually, I purged more than one thousand pictures I think. My trash can got so full on the desktop I had to empty it multiple times. One of the things that is super cool about a Mac is the sound the trash can makes when it's emptying. I know that sounds crazy, but I kid you not!

Today's post will be a little hodge podge. Here we go:

This apartment in the Hamptons is to die for. Our rope chair featured on slide one is not in nearly as good shape. http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2010/07/14/garden/20100715-location-sideshow.html
There's just something about orange that feels so right to me.

Backtracking to Monday, I couldn't bring myself to go out back once I discovered this:

For weeks I'd seen the parents carrying food to the nest in the Spanish bayonet high over our house.
I'm not sure if the baby mockingbird was heading out of the nest for the first time, landing in the pool rather than taking off.  Thank goodness it was a Monday! Bruce was good enough to give it a little burial. 

I alternate days of staying in and going out.  I managed to find things to do around the house, however on Thursday because Baxter's food was nearly empty, my hand was forced. On my way back from Whole Foods I went by a house on Bumby that has a lovely garden. The vibrant zinnias forced me to stop:
Pretty lucky the butterflies were swarming huh?

If you can imagine I've taken a little hankering to watching golf. As you know my television watching is minimal, however once college football season arrives, you'll find me making time for games. A few weeks ago I watched the Augusta National, enjoying both the beautiful scenery and the quiet commentary. One of the reasons I don't like lots of shows is because they are SO loud. I suspect because I spend so much time alone, I'm a little more sensitive to noise. Anyway, golf seems like the rules are easy to follow. While watching college football, my understanding of the positions and strategy is almost laughable. Nonetheless this doesn't keep me from enjoying every minute. So far what I don't understand about golf is the clubs they use under different circumstances. The outfits are really something. John Daly wore the most amazing gigantic print, purple paisley pants in the British Open. His defense of the outfit? "If you get dressed in the dark, every shirt will match."

I'm ashamed to admit how long it's been since I last cleaned the floor in the sun room. One year? This morning after attaching my Shuffle I forced myself into cleaning mode. Many, many years ago Matt convinced me to buy a floor steam cleaner by Eureka, the "EnviroSteamer." You attach a pad to the bottom, fill a reservoir with water, and plug it in. Soon thereafter, steam begins rising, and off you go. I suspect you don't much care to do floor care either. Am I right? There's really no plausible excuse for my delay because the ES makes it so simple. So there it is. Pure laziness.

This week I've sent in my last two applications for fall shows. Let's keep our fingers crossed that I'll receive an acceptance letter from Winter Park, Ocala, and DeLand.  

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Women Possessed

Just when Matthew and I had a long discussion about me having too many photos on my computer to make it run quickly, I take more. What is up with that?

It truly seems as if I'm possessed. If nothing comes to mind out in the great wide world, I make something up at home. Remember how I mentioned all the great folks who regularly come to see me, often bringing friends along? Well, Sunday, a very nice young man who works at Rollins brought along some new friends. Actually, he and his boyfriend used to visit, sadly they are no longer. Anyway, I have a print of what I call the transit system which in reality is really something I made with food coloring. I once had a 12 x 16 canvas of it, which my friend Sylvie bought. I told him I'd rotated the foam core every which way to make the drops flow. Blowing on it works very well, or so he said. Last night I decided to give it a try, however, my blowing didn't do much until I used a straw. It definitely turned out pretty funky. I layered red, blue and green paint, blotting it with a paper towel so I could use the other side of the foam core for yet another experiment! This reminds me of the circulatory system.



Whimpering by our little Baxter woke me this morning around 6:30 and I still felt the urge to be creative. Here's what the outdoor table looked like around 7:30:

You will note all my children's paints;  since I don't know what I'm doing they have to suffice. The blue bag holds all my various paint collections, as well as a box of metal numbers and letters I purchased at Marshalls. I started fooling around with them and this is what came out:
So, that's what I did with the numbers and here's what I did with some letters. I began by layering red and then blue paint, smearing it and putting the letters down. Our new red outdoor umbrella reflects on  everything I'm doing on the table these days. I wasn't too crazy about the paints so when I put them in Picasa I fooled around a little with tinting, highlighting, etc. and made this collage:


Each one was taken individually which explains the one that doesn't quite fit. Have I gone crazy or what?

It occurred to me recently that although Bruce and I really don't know all that much about our parents, if my sons care to know much about me as a person, they need to look no further than this blog.

I seriously need to do some purging from my photo libraries. What was it that Scarlett O'Hara said? I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sunday in the Park with Friends

It's not that often that I tell many stories about how I spend my time at the market, except occasionally hyping, or bemoaning my sales figures. I'm not sure why that is, but today I'm rectifying that situation.

The title of today's post comes from a really sweet young woman, who, if you watch this, you'll see for yourself:
She so surprised me with this today. I met her maybe a year ago when the two Stephanies happened upon my booth. As you can see, she's been really great at not only telling all her friends about me, but buying pieces for her place. Because she's just completed her Masters degree at UCF, she's moving to California, hoping to get a job with Toms Shoes http://www.toms.com/. That's basically how I spend my days--with great people, surrounded by all sorts of goodies. 

Yes, it's hot and humid this time of year, but Mr. Wonderful has not one, but TWO fans set up for not only me, but my customers as well. Sometimes people just wander in letting the fans do their thing. Conversations begin, complaints about the heat are always a good start, and sometimes they start searching my baskets which on occasion leads to a sale. As well, I have many, many folks that come by just to say hi each week--each one is very special to me. And then there are people looking for vendors for other markets which I decline. Yesterday a man stopped by with a call to artists for a local wine bar. Really, I've made some wonderful friends at the market; I wouldn't trade the experience for the world.

And then there are the faithful vendors, who, week after week, load up, unload, sell, sweat, tear down and load their vehicles seven hours later. The market hinges though on our produce vendors,  Amy and Jonathan, the hardest working young couple I know. When I think that they have seven, yes, you read that right, seven children to feed, and that they are younger than any of my children, it blows my mind. Here's a couple of photos from their mouth watering displays: 

Looks delicious doesn't it?

I know Lisa can't live without chocolate, and I suspect she's not the only one, however, I'm a sucker for cookies. Mostly I like white cookies, from sugar to shortbread, snickerdoodles, and what we used to call Russian tea cakes. Yesterday a new cookie vendor showed up with cookies so cute it's hard to imagine eating them:
Who knew selling pound cake could be so profitable? Joe does--he usually outsells us all. Michelle once had the coconut pound cake and hasn't forgotten it yet. Yesterday he added corn bread to his wildly successful booth:
Joe has what it takes to do well--a winning personality and an excellent product!

One of the joys of taking photographs of the market are the beautiful children each week. This little one is only two months old and already her lashes are longer than mine!
 
Her mom was delighted that I wanted to photograph her sweet daughter. Really, who could resist?

It's seriously like a great big family. Disputes are not unheard of between vendors, regarding booth location and overlap of products. Just yesterday Kathy, my dear, dear next door neighbor was complaining about another plant vendor. And don't think on occasion I don't complain if Dana lets too many photographers in. Mostly I limit my complaining to Kathy or Bruce. Bathroom breaks are inevitably needed and it's Kathy who watches my booth while I make the trek. Returning yesterday afternoon to my booth, Kathy excitedly explained that a man seemed quite serious about one of the canvases. My reaction--yeah, we'll see. So, was my cynicism deserved? No, as a matter of fact, it wasn't. Not much later he returned with friends, cash in hand. I'm not sure exactly how he's doing it but the canvas is heading to his gourmet kitchen in Brazil. Nice.

Mike, the shell guy returned yesterday after an extended leave which included a trip to Ireland. He was greeted by all like a long lost brother. Blaire and Ben sell gourmet cheeses, a darling couple. She's been in school getting an interior design degree and recently we celebrated her new job with Mark Michaels, a great ID firm. Actually, if my memory serves me correctly, Matt's friend Emily worked for them while she lived here and helped us with the purchase of our cherry bedroom furniture. Where did that come from? I'm supposed to be talking vendors here.

I know I sound like a broken record but without Dana Brown heading our ship, we'd be nowhere. She is truly gifted at managing projects. Aside from the markets, she has all sorts of projects, including the VIP lounge at UCF arena, Church Street property, and events for Daytona International Speedway. In other words, she's a master juggler! Both Bruce and I think the world of Dana, knowing she'd do anything for us if we needed help of any kind. When we told her about Bill she freaked, wanting to call one of her big time lawyer pals. We declined.

It began as a little gag because Dana hates birds. Every week when I send the weekly photo album to be distributed to City Hall etc., I include a bird which is not hard at all. If you've never visited Orlando, and aren't familiar with Lake Eola, you might not know that there are a large number of swans, not to mention other kinds of birds. Here's what I'm supposing is an albinoish (is that a word?) pigeon. I knew this would make her crazy

How about those red feet?

Back to those sales figures--not too bad yesterday considering the World Cup final was on around 2. The heat surprisingly stayed away most of the day, however, when the cloud cover came in, yikes!

I've been lucky to have my spot at the market now for almost three years. I've been asked how did I get my 50 yard line location. Here's how. When we began the market three plus years ago, out of the twenty five (on a good day) vendors, a bunch dropped out when temperatures began to soar. A nice woman, (who has since moved to Colorado), told us if we wanted to survive the summer, head to the circle. And so we did. Dana gave us our space after taking over the market, really it was mostly a shift in location. Since that time we've never relinquished our little 10x10 plot. On the rare occasion when we're gone the occupant learns pretty quickly that the space is only on loan.

Great manager+great location+great folks=Happy campers. Who wouldn't keep doing it? Stephanie nailed it when she called her little video--Sunday in the Park with Friends. Yes she did.

Friday, July 9, 2010

701!

Good grief, how did I miss that? This is my 701st post which somehow doesn't sound nearly as dramatic as my 700th! At any rate, here we are nearly four years into this thing I call Camera Crazy. Seriously hard to imagine isn't it?

Actually I intended to title this post, "Tremendous", the word Matt used to describe Let the Great World Spin. Yesterday afternoon I completed this amazing novel which I can't recommend enough. There are parts that are so heart wrenching causing me to lay the book aside for a day or so. Normally you think of a great book as one you can't put down; according to Matthew that's how he felt while reading this. I, on the other hand, just couldn't take it, which in this case is a good thing. The writing is such that you are completely transported to New York City and the lives he's intertwined. In a first for this little blog I'm going to quote the last lines of the novel, which by the way, give away nothing.

"Jaslyn thinks again of an apricot--she does not know why, but that's what she thinks, the skin of it, the savor, the sweetness.


The world spins. We stumble on. It is enough.


She lies on the bed beside Claire, above the sheets. The faint tang of the old woman's breath on the air. The clock. The fan. The breeze.


The world spinning."

Perhaps that will wet your appetite for this sensual novel with superb writing?

Lastly, and I'm almost done rhapsodizing about Colum McCann, I promise, his acknowledgement page was worth noting. The line I most liked was this: "The fact of the matter is that there are many hands tapping the writer's keyboard." Humble guy.

Normally I don't get all into artsy speak, however, on occasion I recognize inspiration when it hits me. Or maybe not.

After dropping off my entry for the annual calendar contest Wednesday morning, I stopped by our local Goodwill store looking for props. One never knows what one may come across for $1. Wow, that sentence is really crazy isn't it with all those ones? I digress....

I've been looking for a small cobalt blue vase for some time, still no luck on this trip. I did find this blue bowl, slighty the worse for wear but fine for my purposes. Now that I look at the image again, I'm making the connection with life is just a bowl of cherries, which according to Answers.com, the term  was first used in popular culture as the title of a song by Lew Brown and Ray Henderson in 1931. Apparently they were thinking cheery thoughts when they wrote it, although now that I think about it, how could that have been when the country was in the midst of the Great Depression?

Take from it what you will. Bruce and I thoroughly enjoyed those expensive Ranier cherries I'll tell you that much.

The first thing I picked up was a spool of colorful ribbons. I liked the colors and for a buck how could you go wrong? So, I went about trying to make something with them; tangling, playing with the light and backgrounds--you know the drill.

Here's where the arty speak comes in--I can hear the groans now. Seriously, when I was choosing something to go with this post it hit me right smack in the head and heart.
This is what the book was all about!! Although  these are all ribbons, their colors makes them unique, just like us-- just like the characters in the book. Furthermore, our lives are more interconnected than we often realize, especially with the World Wide Web. When they were shaped into a ball, I couldn't help but think of the internet. Each ribbon has a story to tell when used on a package, evoking a different mood or response depending on the color. Who doesn't feel calm when encountering shades of blue? Or vibrant when presented with orange? Pretty in pink? You get the idea. I guess that's why I bought the ribbons, trying to express the complex emotions I felt while reading this story.

Oy vey! Enough already of what I think. Anything come to your mind? Possibly that Gail has gone crazy? She's lost her marbles? How does she think a pile of ribbons can be art? I suppose because she can.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Holiday Weekend

I guess by now you've figured out that my computer and I were separated for a few days. About the middle of last week Bruce came home with some good news--we were invited to the boat races in Lido Key. Our plans were to meet up with both Steve and Barb, as well as Jeff and Connie, however the former couple didn't make it, the latter did. Turns out the night race in Daytona ran until well after midnight Saturday night making the long drive too arduous for Steve. We missed them, however we still had lots of fun.

If you've never been to a speed boat race it's sure something you might want to do if you get the opportunity. It's a bit hard to follow, but exciting nonetheless. After having Jane and Michael over for dinner on Saturday night, we got up a little after 5 on Sunday morning. Leaving the house around 6, we headed down I-4 towards Sarasota. The traffic was light,  the drive pleasant until around Bradenton when the rain started coming down in sheets making visibility sketchy.Soldiering on we arrived very early leaving plenty of time for him to nap!

Jeff's friend Nick's family owns a little beach cabana on Lido Key. I wish I could describe it, but it's well nigh impossible, however, I'll give it a try. There's a courtyard flanked by two sets of low buildings with flat roofs. It's sort of a zig zag pattern with around 30 double doors leading into small spaces with a patio in the front. Each family uses their 200 square feet a little differently, but most have kitchens and bathrooms, as did Nick's. Apparently there is a 10 year waiting list to buy one, most of them are passed down through families. Lest I forget the most important part, there's a nice boardwalk within feet heading onto the lovely white sands and beautiful blue green Gulf of Mexico water.  Because we arrived so early we had a primo parking spot. Around 10 the rain finally stopped in time for the 11:30 race start.

When we first walked onto the beach there were very few people, however by race time the place was packed:
It was all quite exciting. I only took the Panasonic onto the beach, not wanting to mess up yet another new camera, but it served me just fine because of the long zoom. I took this one out in the water. Speaking of the zoom, when you're using it you must hold the camera very still which proved somewhat difficult in the choppy water caused by the huge wakes these boats made. We found out later the top speed was 117mph! As you can see, there was a flotilla of boats on the back side of the course watching the action.

After the afternoon's second race we headed to the same hotel we stayed in a month ago on Longboat Key. While Bruce napped I roamed the shore. Storms threatened once again. While at the cabana, Nick's brother Rick invited us to watch the fireworks at his 14th floor condo overlooking Sarasota Bay. Naturally we jumped at the opportunity!  Here's the view as the sun begins to set. We were fortunate enough to stay at the Ritz during our vacation pictured on the left.


Here's how it looked about 30 minutes later. The bridge on the left is the one that takes you to Longboat Key--note the cars coming in for the fireworks show. Lovely isn't it?


What was so neat about this is that not only could we watch Sarasota's fireworks display, but Siesta Key and Longboat Key's display as well, making it an extra special a treat.  Fourth of July is always a nostalgic time for me as I reminisce each year about being in labor at Lake Eola waiting for the fireworks to begin. I don't need to remind you that our dear Matthew was born only hours later on July 5th.

Although we were invited to Dave and Therese's home on the bay for boating and a cookout, the weather thought otherwise as rain greeted us upon waking Monday morning. After a nice little breakfast at the hotel, we began our trip home. As is most times the case, we meandered even though it was pouring. Turns out, one of the streets we took led us straight into the heart of the Amish/Mennonite community in Sarasota. We just had to stop at their farm stand and restaurant, bringing home several pieces of their famous pies. Bruce was especially delighted to find rhubarb on the menu, a pleasant reminder of his childhood growing up in upstate New York where rhubarb was plentiful.

The traffic on I-75 was fast and furious,  rain making it all the more treacherous, thus we took lovely country roads. Have I told you how much I love maps? Well, consider yourself told. I figured out a new route, and off we went. The scenery was lovely, with winding roads and bucolic pastures filled with wet cows. The rain continued most of our drive home, stopping only intermittently. We came across the Little Manatee River State Park which proved to be lovely and peaceful. Here is Mr. Bruce at the canoe launch trying his luck in the river:
For those among you unfamiliar with this type of water it gets the rusty color from all the downed organic material along the banks. If you click on the photo you'll see a larger version, enough to notice the light rain falling, as well as the bubbles from the fast moving water to the left of Bruce. This is definitely a place we'd love to return to in the cooler months.

We finally got home after 4, by which time it was 9 in London. Poor Matthew thought his mommy and daddy forgot his birthday. Never my love.

Right now the sun is shining brightly, something it's not been doing for the last six days or so, which means I'm outta here!

Friday, July 2, 2010

One Thing Leads to Another

I suppose the more people you know, the older you get, the more joy and pain you hear about. Lately, there has been a real shortage of joy. 

Bummer #1

I left you on Tuesday morning with very good intentions of getting back with you later, but the truth of the matter is, that my museum time left me feeling not so happy. A volunteer appreciation breakfast was on the agenda, although I'm in the gallery so usually don't really get involved. Plus, they were having coffee, which you know how much I like that, as well as bagels. Now, I do love a good bagel, but only if it's toasted to within an inch of it's life. Double toasting please--butter or cream cheese is fine. With no toaster, no bagels for me. Anyway, I arrived at the usual time, only to find the gallery locked. No biggie I think, I'll find Karen. Moving into the breezeway, the site of the aforementioned breakfast, I don't see her. What I do hear is my friend Pam, casually introducing a young woman who'd just arrived, to another volunteer I don't know. She said, and I quote, "Meet Michelle, our new curator." I blurted out, "WHAT?", only to have her respond, "Karen is no longer with us." OH MY GOODNESS, is all I could think at the moment, followed by, what happened? The consensus response I got was, 'they are moving in a new direction.' She resigned rather than be fired, thus no unemployment. Karen's finances were precarious while working; I can't imagine what will happen now. This last year I've struggled with going there, mostly because it's boring, however, I kept it up to help Karen. Now, I'm left with a decision which I won't have to deal with for some time as the museum is closed for the next two months. 

Bummer #2

My sweet, elderly neighbor, Corine's sister-in-law passed away. She was old, but still. I worry so when Corine (84) and Herb (83) drive to Alabama. I'm keeping an eye on their place.


Wednesday morning I had a 9:15 appointment for my almost yearly GYN check up near my former employer. Seems like forever ago, but I did photograph Clara, Liza's baby, never getting the prints  Grandma Nancy requested. Because I was heading to Costco after my appointment, I spent some time  making a disc. My plan was to have the photographs made, getting my eyes checked during the processing. This was not to be. Before I move right along, let me just say I waited one hour to see Dr. Peppy, who spent less than five minutes with me. Hmmmm.....Photographs--check. Eye exam--no check. Dr. is out on Wednesday. This all took longer than anticipated. Time just kept slipping away. 

Bummer #3

Later that afternoon while heading to Publix, I stopped a moment to chat with Regina by her mailbox. Holding two phones, she related she was waiting on an important call. Only last week her daughter, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Age: 47. Naturally, Regina is shaken to her core. She, like most folks, can't imagine how a marathon runner, non-smoker, thin, and by all accounts, doing everything the healthy way, could find herself in this situation. There's no good explanation.

Bummer#4

By now, most of you know Bill is no longer a JPMorgan Chase employee. Giving a vulgar answer to a co-workers enquiry can get you fired these days. Fortunately he's managed his money well, saving quite a bit these last few years. But still, no one likes to be fired, or in his case resigned to avoid the firing blot on his resume. 

Right about now, you're probably thinking, where's the joy Gail? As I mentioned earlier, joy has left the building.

Ever since our holiday, I've been thinking about the amazing black bamboo we saw at the hotel in Naples. Lisa discovered a place in Groveland, a very small town about 35 miles away, which carries many, many varieties of bamboo. My appointment was for 9:00, however, I thought a drive in the country might be just the thing to soothe my soul. Leaving the house at day break, I took all back roads, stopping a few times along the way. Matthew might recognize this lake, the site in Clermont for the swim during his triathlon days. Amazing clouds, right?

Following Route 19 North, I came across this gigantic tree farm. Absolutely marvelous. As you can tell there's a slight rise in the road. Who says all roads in Florida are flat? Here's a link to the farm, http://www.cherrylake.com/index.htm, which if you're interested has a very interesting animation about the special pots they use. From the looks of things, they must work.
Sherry, the owner gave me specific driving instructions, as well as clothing instructions. Their farm was off this clay road, which you don't see very often around our parts.
Instead of my usual dress and sandals, I made sure to wear closed toe shoes and shorts. Stopping along this clay road to photograph some trees, I was out of the car only minutes when I felt an intense burning on my feet. ANTS!!! Stomping up and down to get them off of me, I jumped into the Element, removing my shoes, and brushing like someone posessed. As you well know, insect bites do not agree with me. Although I always carry a Benadryl stick in my camera bag, the soothing effects are minimal. Within minutes my feet were swelling. People never realize what I go through to get photographs! Rubbing and driving, rubbing and driving, I made my way to the bamboo farm. Because I was still early, I got out of my car, only to be attacked by mosquitoes. Why, you ask, didn't I apply bug spray prior to exiting the vehicle? BECAUSE it was not in my vehicle! Apparently during our holiday, for some reason, we removed it. Might I just call this bummer # 4? Well, no I won't because in the grand scheme of things, it's pretty trivial. Not, of course when I'm scratching my bites like a maniac, but after a few hours, they usually settle down. In fact, Sherry, the owner gave me vinegar to spray on the bites, hoping I would concentrate on the information she was doling out regarding all types of bamboo. Vinegar--a miraculous worker. The bottom line, I didn't buy any bamboo, and by the time I got home, the bites were merely welts.

On my way home, I drove through Oakland, heading down to the shore of the infamous Lake Apopka.
If you make this image large, you will note several interesting things, or they are to my way of thinking. Approaching the dock, I saw the posted signage, thinking, yeah right! Look to the left of center just beyond the dock and tell me what you see. You clever readers, of course it's an alligator! They say that Lake Apopka is dead, however, there sure were a lot of fish jumping, a second gator and birds and insects all doing their thing.

After ten days of drought, the rain finally fell. Lots, and lots, and lots of it. The skies are still gray.

Bummer#5

Alissa lost her job in Chicago just yesterday due to cutbacks.

It's an epidemic of bad news. These are not the best of times for  many people, they are the worst of times. I can hardly believe that I personally know five very competent people without work.  Thinking  back on our life, I do know that things were tough, sometimes real tough. I'm still constantly fighting my frugal nature. Losing one's job, having a life threatening disease, pinching pennies, these are game changers. It's really hard to imagine what the future holds isn't it? Life is mighty fragile.

My Gail, that was a cheery read. Maybe I should close with a cheery photo? Well, sort of cheery anyway.

Thanks for reading!


Long Beach, CA