Monday, August 30, 2010

Picture Fest

Well, well, well. Things are looking up. As you can imagine, I was more than delighted to hear from Apple on Friday afternoon. All better now.

Plus, Bruce finally came home on Friday night. I'm bracing myself for more weeks like last one. This morning before he left I wrote down his slate of jobs which is extensive. 10, yes I did say 10 projects going on at once. One of those jobs is in Watertown, NY, the place of his birth. It just so happens to be one of the snow capitals of the United States. You get my drift? Alas, an unexpected pun!

The weekend was good. A movie and dinner date on Saturday night. I am, to put it mildly, a huge Robert Duvall fan so it was a given we'd need to see his latest in the theater. We were not disappointed in the slightest with Get Low. It's hard to imagine that RD is 79 years old. My, oh my. He just gets better with age, however, he was mighty fine in Lonesome Dove.

NEWS FLASH! I sold some things on Sunday. Except for a few drizzles, the weather was tolerable, with fairly decent traffic. Earlier in the day when Maria and Dominque came by we discussed that there are a lot of regulars and maybe they already have my stuff? Well, good thing for those regulars is what I have to say. A really nice woman brought a friend along and wonder of wonders, she bought a 20x30 canvas. Can you say delighted? Indeed.

As far as the title is concerned let's get to those pictures of happenings in the last few days. Here's one last attempt to show the glass before the new glass is installed. Maybe tomorrow?
Here's the way it's looked since last Wednesday:
I'm sorta missing my early morning sunshine.

In the last week it seems as if mushrooms have been popping up all over. Last week while walking Baxter along Pershing I came across this incredible display:
Yes, it really is that yellowy and there were many more. So big and strange.

Continuing the natural world theme. This morning while unloading a few groceries from the car I saw a hawk fly into Herb and Corrine's gigantic oak tree across the street. Naturally I ran inside to grab the trusty super zoom Panasonic FZ8 to see what I could do. If you look closely at the bird's mouth you will see blood---no wonder it stayed put for so long. I wonder what poor little creature became lunch.
Speaking of trees, the tree trimmers are cleaning up our place today. Both large oaks, a giant palm tree, and removing some dead limbs from another smaller oak that has grown up from an acorn in the last few years. It's totally astonishing to see it go from nothing to the present height of about 20-30' tall. As well, they are removing some ferns from the backyard to ready it for the new landscaping. Mind you, I've no real plan yet but not for lack of trying. That part of things is definitely a work in progress.
Moving indoors, remember last week how I was trashing all my school work? Well, here is the pile:
About the only things I kept were some papers. Don't ask me why I kept those because I've no idea. This morning after calling the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists my heart sank just a bit. I need 24 credit hours before 11/30. Six. That's what I've got now. Can you say discouraged? Indeed.

If you like female vocalists click on this link for a treat--
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127089755
Matthew introduced me to Tift Merrit some years ago. Apparently her style has changed somewhat but she's still terrific.

Big news--Bill started his new job this morning!! I know you join me in being thrilled.

Finally, here's a wonderful shade of Gerbera Daisy I found today at Publix:
You about tired of looking at pictures? I warned you now didn't I?

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Quickie

Much to my surprise, I had to leave my BRAND NEW computer at the Apple store and needless to say, this did not make me happy. My impression prior to getting there was that they would take off the face, retrieve the card, and I'd be on my way. Didn't work out that way.

The "genius" took it in the back and most likely turned it on it's side to shake it out, much like what I'd tried, returning shortly to report that they'd have to work on it later. Boo hoo!
I'm very happy I'd not given my old computer away just yet because in a very cavalier tone, at least to my ears, he said they'd need to keep it for three days! Now, if I'm away from the house, say on vacation, I'm good with no computer around. Not so much at home. Anyway, having plugged the old one back in, I'm even more aware of the speed, or really, the lack thereof. Oddly enough though, it's once again reading my external hard drives. Go figure.

The door is still in limbo with the glass man coming this morning to give me an estimate.

In the meantime I've been reading an excellent novel, The Lotus Eaters. I won't go too much into the plot because this review http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/04/books/review/Trussoni-t.html from the NYT does that for me, but I will tell you it's got me thinking. My brother Pat served in the Vietnam war as a Green Beret. Reading this book made me realize that I know very little about the time he spent there and what he did. Seems to me he worked as a medic (?) in a village and if my memory is accurate, I now realize it must have been HELL. When I think that he was so young it makes me all the sadder. Which makes me think about all those young men in the Middle East as I type. Which further makes me think that whining about not having an excellent computer for a few days is mighty lame. Mighty lame indeed.

Lastly I leave you with an image I had printed on canvas; although I thought it might sell, to date it is still hanging around.




Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Inspiration

Can you believe I've never used that title before? Amazing really considering what I've been up to these three years. Well, I'm using it now!

Yesterday while driving to the Polasek I heard a piece on Morning Edition about a Latino children's alphabet book. Hmmmm..........

Previously, the museum never allowed outside events inside the gallery spaces, however, that is all about to change. Or, at least that's what they are hoping. As I've mentioned, the new folks are loaded with all kinds of energy and ideas.Whereas before there was tension in the air, these days people seem genuinely excited. There are a lot of new volunteers for both the gardens and the galleries which will add even more energy. Arriving before 9, I figured it would take maybe two hours. I was wrong!  Here's how things looked with the first set up:

As you can see, I was shooting towards the window which is a bit of a challenge, however, yesterday's overcast skies, and a little later torrential rains, helped somewhat. Cindy is hoping to use some of these for a brochure advertising the space.

Here's the last of  the four set ups:
This one was a bit garish for me but I'm just the photographer so what do I know?

After the photo shoot another volunteer, Susan, arrived to help with the gift shop set up--pricing and whatnot. I finally left around 3:30 only to get stuck in traffic on I-4. I immediately exited onto Orange Avenue, an excellent choice as there was smooth sailing.

I'm not much for talking on my mobile while driving but I hadn't heard from Bill for a few days and wanted to check up on things. He asked if I wanted to stop by after voting, which I was happy to do. While we were chatting the call came through with the offer for a new job, which, although it isn't his dream job, in this economy, a job is a job! I left all kinds of happy.

So, here's my latest screw up--I put my camera card into the CD slot on the side of the iMac. Yes, the brand new iMac! I was left speechless, which was probably just as well because only Baxter would have been listening. How, pray tell did this happen? I'll tell you how. The card slot is about 1/3 inch below the disc slot. I placed my hand on the side and it pretty much just slipped into the wrong place. Apple Care to the rescue!! Placing my call I was prepared to wait forever, however, this time that was thankfully not the case. Although the young man on the other end of the telephone line hadn't heard of such a thing before, he assured me they could remove it at the store. Thus, I'll be heading over to the mall, once again carrying my computer. My appointment is for 2:15 at the Florida mall store. As I type I'm puzzling about what is the shortest route.

Inspiration Gail, isn't that what today's title is? Why, indeed it is. So glad you reminded me.

Returning from a morning walk with Baxter, which by the way was fairly pleasant. He trotted along pretty nicely and if you can imagine the weather was a touch cool. Anyway, it was then that I recalled yesterday's radio story. Why, I said to myself, there's an excellent collage just waiting to be made. Picasa allows you to write text on the photo so I gave it a try. Still needs work, but here's where we are so far:

Q and X were quite a challenge! I still don't know why the fonts are different sizes as I set them all the same....

While typing the above I heard a big popping noise. Jumping up from my chair, I was shocked to discover the front door's middle glass panel was completely cracked and still cracking. Turns out while using the weed eater, Gerry, our yard guy, hit a rock which flew into the window. Seriously, it's astonishing. He was oblivious. I called out to him until he saw what had occurred. As I stood there the sound of it cracking was really something. Very difficult to photograph but this gives you a little idea:

Bruce just happened to call while I was standing there with my mouth agape. He instructed me to put tape on it in a basket weave fashion, however, I was a little reluctant to touch it;  instead I covered both sides with freezer paper in case it started falling out. Wouldn't you just know this would happen when I've got my Apple appointment! Gerry will stop by the glass place and have them contact me for replacement. I'm still in awe. It was really something both watching and hearing the cracks continue one after the other.

Still cracking......

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ashamed

Seriously, I'm ashamed of my whining yesterday. You would think it was all about
when in fact, it's not. Enough already Gail!
However, there is one last thing about me I want to share:
My non-existent eyes? No, really what I wanted to show you is a new setting I discovered on my camera last evening. Bruce and I visited the Bahama Breeze in Altamonte last night, which is always a little bittersweet for several reasons. One is because he spent an outrageous amount of time on that job, the other is because we often met Bruce's mom there for celebratory meals. I digress--the setting is a soft focus on the face! What could be better for an aging woman I ask? Nothing in the camera realm anyway! Now if only I could open those eyes more! Obviously I had Bruce try it out at home before we left the house, although he wouldn't allow me to do likewise.

After writing that post yesterday morning, a Sunday School song kept popping in my head which goes like this:
Count your blessings,
Count them one by one,
Count your many blessings,
See what God has done.
And so I did, and there are many, many blessings in my life, not the least of which are a terrific family and friends. Lisa pointed out the ebbs and flows of life, while Matt reminded me that reduced sales (how's that for a euphemism?) were a big improvement over fatigue and pain. Forgive me, will you?

Another blessing is that I'm no longer in school. Where, pray tell did that come from Gail? After completing another of the continuing education tests yesterday,  I went looking for evidence of points I've already accumulated during this renewal period. Pulling all my notebooks and papers off the shelves in my office, going through them, and most definitely getting rid of everything related to those subjects I most disliked felt good. You know the ones, Biology, Historical Geology, and all Math classes--so many notebooks filled with math problems. If I had to take those Math classes again today, I'm sure it would be the same struggle. So, that made me extremely happy to have all that behind me.

Photoelectric effect, Compton theory, electrons, atomic numbers and the like were part of the learning yesterday. It is hard to imagine picking a science career all those years ago. It's no wonder my high school Chemistry teacher laughed when I said I was applying to x-ray school. On the other hand, love is a powerful motivator. Returning to Orlando to be with Bruce was the fire that kept me struggling through Physics and worse during my training. Is there anything worse than Physics? If there is, I don't want any part of it! I must sign up for a seminar where all I have to do is sit there, looking somewhat interested for 8 hours, and walk out with the certificate! And, by the way, I never found the evidence I was looking for, however, my shelves look much better.

The estate is settled. Driving home last night with the evidence in my purse, Bruce and I were sad. It all seems so final now. Dreadfully hard to put the loss of a beloved one behind you. I hate that he's had to leave for four days feeling blue. He, at least, has good cause, unlike someone you know!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Downhearted

If you wanted to start your week with a happy little diversion reading my blog, you've come to the wrong place. I'm not going to lie to you--I'm very discouraged at the moment, even going so far as to break into tears last evening.

What, you ask, brought me to tears? Another slow, slow day at the market. I know, I know, it's August, it's hot, and the recession just won't go away. But still...I hope, week after week, for things to get better. Sadly, they are just getting worse! Last year during the month of August, which was also sweltering, rainy, and the recession was in full force, I sold $2,243. Are you ready for this? To date, which means  missing only one week, my total sales---are you ready? $254. Yes, you read that right;  I'm sure you're doing the math, a little more than 10% of last year.

Practically speaking, this means that I'm wondering what I'm doing wrong. As well, it means I'm spending money for shows and such with no money coming in. This means I'm sad.

So, just what was the straw that broke the camel's back, resulting in a torrent of tears? I neglected to write down the expiration date from the ONE credit card I needed to process after the market!!!! I don't know if you've seen this kind, actually, you probably never really see anyone else's credit cards, but anyway, this one was completely FLAT. Seriously, I thought it was fake. It looked like a toy credit card. Thus, I couldn't swipe it with my little swipey thing. Somewhat flustered, I wrote down the number, but as you now know, not the expiration date. Without that, you're sunk. Another woman happened to be in the booth at the same time explaining that she worked in a hotel and was beginning to see that kind of card. SO, it should have been just fine if only I'd done my job properly.

Because the draught seems to have finally broken, with the threat of rain every day, we used a scaled back version of our booth, which we'll be doing for the next month. Here's yesterday's version:

The new funky collage is hanging on the top right. As you can see, my new tablecloth, which I had high hopes for, wrinkles more than I would have liked. On the other hand, it does fit beautifully, so there's that. Around 3, the storms closed in and we shut things down. Everything was packed away safely in the car just as the rain began. So, there's that too.

The grass is no greener on the other side of the fence.

Right about now you're probably thinking to yourself, that Gail sure sounds like a spoiled brat! Frankly, I can't blame you. In the grand scheme of things, this is all pretty small potatoes. I could recount all the really sad things people the world over are going through. In your own life, there may be much worse things, for which I'm sorry. HOWEVER, at this moment in time, your itinerant blogger feels just a little blue about how her business is going. Or not, shall we say?

Now that I've got that off my chest, I will start the day with renewed hope for brighter days ahead. Even if that does mean doing my dreaded continuing education points!

Thanks for listening.......

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Week in Review

Let's start with a little travelogue shall we? Taken by two hipsters with the Hipstamatic application on the iPhone: http://www.flickr.com/photos/5500/sets/72157624698008398/with/4880556422/

Now that was amazing, right? I hope you clicked on the upper right corner of the screen and watched it as a slideshow. Makes you totally want to see Barcelona for yourself. For the longest time, well really a few months, I didn't make the connection between the word, application, and software--pretty much one and the same. So, if you're like me, and didn't get it before, now you do. This modern life is full of such traps isn't it?

Tuesday Maureen and I had an outing. We went to see the film, The Kids are All Right, http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/focus_features/thekidsareallright/  which has garnered some of the best reviews of the year. First off,  I'm not at all uncomfortable with lesbians. For obvious reasons, I am delighted that one aspect of modern life is greater acceptance of homosexuals.  Secondly, the interview of the director, Lisa Cholodenko I heard on Fresh Air was captivating. The movie, on the other hand, was not. At least for me. Even days later I'm trying to imagine what she was trying to say. That same sex couples raise the same sorts of kids as heterosexuals? That when the going gets a little rough, homosexuals decide to have sex with heterosexuals? There's this one scene in the movie where the son and his friend rifle through the parents bedroom drawers. Finding a dvd, they insert it, only to discover that it is gay porn. In typical movie fashion, one of the mothers walks in finding them speechless in front of the tv. A little later her son asks her why do lesbians watch gay porn. She responds that they usually cast straight women in lesbian porn and it just seems too fakey. Duh! Aren't there any lesbians in Hollywood who could have played the parts by Julianne Moore and Annette Benning? Not that the cast wasn't good, in fact, I thought they were excellent. Just something about the story line bugged me. For instance, what are we to make of the fact that this seemingly hip couple never thought their children would want to know who fathered them? Oh well. Enough already---make me stop!!!

A little later  we made our inaugural visit to the new Five Guys on Orange Avenue. Now, that was a treat!

The Polasek is taking up more of my time closed than it does when it is open! Wednesday I went for another training session, staying afterward to work some more on the gift shop. Cindy, bless her heart, won't believe that I'm terrible at inventory and such. We were just figuring out how to track things in the cash register when Bill called with an emergency. Everything is just fine now, and the good news is that Thursday morning he had an interview with an old employer, Prime Pay. They do payroll and insurance for small businesses. We'll see where that goes.

You already know that on Thursday I spent an inordinate amount of time figuring my order, dreaded task that it is. Wait until I get it--then I'll really fuss! 

Bruce had a one day trip to Baltimore on Friday, leaving around 7 in the morning. Just as I was finishing hanging the clothes on the line, as well as my usual, albeit skimpy, cleaning routine, he called saying he had a problem. That always sends a little shiver down my spine! Anyway, turns out his day timer was missing. After retracing his steps, and calling Southwest to report it missing, he asked me to check his car trunk at the airport, which I was happy to do. Taking a little different route, I came across this:

Beautiful! The light was too bright, but it sure highlights how muscular they are! No day timer in the trunk. 

You may have noticed earlier no mention of food shopping during the week, and you would be labeled observant. Finally ready to rectify that situation, I pointed the car towards Clemons, our favorite produce store. It was then that I realized Maureen probably needed food as well. Mid June was the last time she drove her car. Here's hoping her doctor visit this week includes permission to once again drive!! After calling to confirm, I headed her way, but not before I drove through the peacock neighborhood. Some market friends mentioned their neighborhood peacocks had babies, so I figured maybe I would see some as well. And I DID! Adorable little ones were scattered over several yards, most of the time staying close to their mothers. Again, the light was way too bright, nevertheless, I thought you'd like to see them for yourself:
Happily, upon returning to the Baltimore airport later in the afternoon, the day timer was once again back in Bruce's possession. Apparently it was found in the overhead compartment---thank goodness. All's well that ends well, as they say.

Every year, first Bruce's parents, and later, Bruce's mom, would take us out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary. I like to think they were proud and happy with our longevity. Sadly, this year there is no Mom to acknowledge another year of happiness. On the other hand, Bruce does have a nice picture of the three of us at Seasons 52 from several years ago on his desk to remind him of her devotion.

Which brings me to my concluding thought: be very grateful if you have a mom to drive you crazy because one day you won't, and it's a mighty big hole to fill.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Collage Crazy

Am I ever having a blast making collages. All that I've been observing, of both my surroundings, and the culture these last three years, is now making it's way into collages. After Dana saw the Polasek poster she said that what she'd like to see is one with funky stuff--no birds or flowers thank you very much. I took that idea and ran with it. Mr. Roger completed one of them in a 30x40 canvas which I picked up on Tuesday evening. Let's put it this way--it's an attention grabber for sure. The reason I'm not showing you is because I rarely, if ever, show what I sell in my blog. I know that sounds a little paranoid, and the truth is that probably no one would want to steal my images, but in this day and age, you never know. Prudence--an excellent word to live by.

I will, on the other hand show you this funny sight from Sunday's market:
Make it larger by clicking on it! It's a little guy with a lawn mower! Can you believe it? What will they think of next?

Remember that ugly green chair I showed you a few weeks ago. Of course you don't, you've got better things to think about!!! In reality, I'm sorta fond of the green because it's so weird, however, Mr. Bruce would have none of that in the living room. And who could blame him? Mr. Richard, our wizard upholsterer returned the chair last week:
If this sort of thing interests you, please click on image to see the details. While choosing fabric for this chair, I toned it down a bit while still retaining a bit of style. Isn't it funny how Baxter matches everything? I have a feeling that my sister Carol would read something into my choices. Something on the order of.....well, my imagination isn't that advanced, but maybe yours is. Feel free to send along theories! In the meantime, the matching chair with the funky green is still in my office.

One thing that has proven to be enjoyable about making the collages is that I'm forced to dig deep into my photo library. Over the years I've photographed the sky on numerous occasions and what I love about doing so is that it is everchanging. Duh! Of course it is Gail! It's still a thrill to me dear ones.
And then there's this one:
I have so many, many photos that have never been seen, many, many, of which are terrible. Some, on the other hand, are nice, but there's only so many I can fit in my baskets. These two are just such an example.

Because my sales volume has been so low this summer I've not ordered much aside from a few here and there, trying to sell what I have.  That is all fixing to change. By now you've probably gleaned that I'm not much of an administrator in the sense that record keeping and such don't interest me. Fortunately there are those around me who thrive on that sort of thing, graciously doing that work so that I may take more useless photos! Now, if only someone would do the ordering I'd be in heaven my friends.

It's not the ordering so much as it is the deciding what to show. I LABOR over what canvases to have made.  At the moment I've got a few that I've had for nearly a year, which if they haven't sold by now, I'm pretty certain they probably won't. Thus, in these kind of situations, I end up stripping the canvas and starting over. With my frugal nature this pains me, but I feel I've no other choice. Furthermore, although I'm thrilled to be in the Winter Park show, it's making me even more anxious about what I'll be showing. What is the right mix of styles? In other words, what ratio of pretty/funky do I want to exhibit? Decisions, decisions, decisions.
There's one decision I've never regretted and that is marrying my dear Mr. Bruce. Celebrating our 37th wedding anniversary yesterday was a little unconventional as he was out of town, but not out of my heart. When I think about our small church wedding, cake and punch reception in the church fellowship hall, and two day honeymoon to St. Augustine, it is with joy.  A modern couple would be mortified with that wouldn't they? Make of it what you will.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Up & Running

Whew! Am I ever glad to be fully functional once more.

Picture this:

Your favorite blogger searched high and low for a parking place not too far from the mall entrance. Did I mention that it was 3 in the afternoon and sweltering? Well, it was. Wrestling the 21" iMac out of the car,  I struggled to carry both the computer and the bag containing the two hard drives. The parking lot was like molten asphalt. Not that I've ever seen or felt that but it sounds good doesn't it? The reminds me of how I think it's so crazy that they attempt to say the weather/temp feels like such and such. To whom I ask? Sorry, getting off track there....

Have you been in an Apple store lately? It's loud. It's crazy busy. Making my way through the crowd with said equipment in my arms, I moved to the back of the store to the Genius bar. A nice young man noted my appointment. At first glance I wondered if I would have to stand there for 10 minutes or so holding the computer, however, a spot opened where I could perch both myself, and my gear.

Just like some bars you've been to, there was standing room only once my name was called. At first, the "Genius" plugged in the hard drives and saw no problem. We discussed other issues, with him suggesting some fixes. Once again he plugged in the hard drives, and proving I was not crazy, there was no recognition no matter what he tried. The bottom line is, the fix was at least half the cost of a new one, so I took the plunge.  Because I've already used the "bottom line", the addendum is that I should have just listened to Bruce in the first place and bought the computer at 10 in the morning. Live and learn my friends.
Here is the tiny new wireless keyboard and Magic mouse. The keyboard is going to take some getting used to as is the mouse which uses the swiping motion like an iPhone. I am totally going to toot my horn here. I am proud to say I set it all up by myself for the very first time. No panic calls to either Jonathan or Matthew. PLUS I transferred everything from the old computer to the new one. Seriously, Apple could not make this any easier, but still....

My photo libraries are once again accesible with the added bonus that my scanner now works. The speed is kinda like the difference between pouring fake maple syrup and the real thing. If you've ever poured those you'll know what I mean. Here's a real collage with pictures made this morning:
As my late mother would say, "Now you're cooking with gas!"

And speaking of slow/fast, the market yesterday was somewhere in the middle. No rain, medium crowds, and some sales. Seriously, what more can I expect in August?

Last week while shopping for produce at Clemons, I came across rhubarb, a favorite of Bruce's since childhood. His Mom used to make pies with the plentiful supplies up in the uppermost part of New York state. I bought the rhubarb, but with Bruce's travel schedule, I had to find just the right time to make it so he'd get to eat it all. Although a granite counter top works well for rolling pie crust, this time I wet the counter a bit and put that most wonderful of kitchen products, stretch-tite, on the counter, sprinkling it with a little flour before rolling the dough. The rhubarb was a mix of pink and green on each stalk, thus the color combination. As well I had one ripe peach which I threw in for good measure. Bruce was surprised and delighted with the outcome, calling it an "homage" to his Mom.

This morning he enjoyed the last of it before leaving for work. As you can see, Baxter was waiting patiently for either dropped crumbs, or if he got really lucky, a little bite!

You might note all the condensation on the door from the excessive humidity, something I'm always fighting in the summer on my camera lenses.

Finally Jonathan and Alissa have returned to their apartment after a three week evacuation! Hurray!

P.S. I know the header is a ridiculous size but to date I've been unable to find a fix.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Computer Crazy

At the moment I'm about to go crazy as my computer is giving me fits. A trip to the Apple store this morning convinced me to return for a check up. Bruce suggested I go buy a new one a few days ago, and that was my intention, however, before I give up on it, I'll give them a chance to tell me what's gone wrong.

Making the collage for the Polasek gave me the idea for a new avenue to travel. As such, I've made a few urban ones, which I think turned out kinda neat. Several days ago, out of the clear blue, my computer no longer recognized my external hard drive which contains my iPhoto library. Three years worth of practice! Trying not to panic, I reset the computer several times and all appeared to be forgiven.

Not so fast Miss Gail. While trying to make a collage of green leaves this morning, once again, it all disappeared without warning. Instead of blocks of colors you should be seeing fronds, leaves, and so forth, but alas you are not! You are seeing blocks of color. Amazing right? The pictures went AWOL.

The thing is, I don't know how to move my Picasa photos over to the new computer. This has me worried. This has me nervous. This has me panicky. What's a girl to do?

What this girl is going to do is, unplug my iMac, along with two external hard drives with their cables, and head back over to Apple at 3:15. Hopefully some magic will ensue.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Loss

Once upon a time there was a family, Max, Regina, Arthur and Abby, living happily everafter on Appleton Ave. Admittedly, two members of the family were of the canine variety, Welsh Corgi to be exact, however, they were important members nonetheless. 

Max was the first to leave the happy home, succumbing to cancer four years ago, leaving the three remaining to carry on without him. A big hole was created where Max had once been. Slowly, but surely, Regina, Arthur and Abby did carry on. Then, old age caught up with Arthur, and he too left home.

And then there were two. Dutifully, and not without great affection and love, Regina cared for Abby, walking her two times daily, preparing her favorite dishes, and making her comfortable in every way. For a time Abby was lost without Arthur, not unlike Regina felt when Max was gone. Soldier on they did, day after day, the routines rarely varying.

Age began to take it's toll on Abby this year. Where once she would trot up the street past our home, she now could only slowly waddle just a few doors down from her home. Most days, she spent hiding under the bed, not feeling like doing much of anything. Regina prepared herself for the inevitable.

 On July 28, this email came through:

" My son-in-law accompanied me to the vet this morning to have Abby euthanized.  Her body started to shut down the night before last.  Right now I am inconsolable and, therefore, will not be answering my phone today.  I've been by her side for one day and two nights.  Therefore, I'm taking an ambien and going to bed.

What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now forever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower,
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind

From William Wordsorth's Ode on Intimations of Immortality

Love,
Regina"

And now there is one.

 I've spent nearly an hour searching my photo library for a picture I took of Regina and Abby on their daily walk to no avail. Seems like a silly waste of time searching like that, however, she is my friend and she's worth it. One of these days I'll once again come across it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Monsoon Market

Despite the fact that our summer drought decided to officially come to an end an hour after we set up at the market, it was a good weekend. One moment it was threatening, the next, the rain was coming down fast and furious. Naturally, our favorite project manager had the sides all ready for the weather.  Arriving just moments before the downpour, Roger and Trish were able to help me secure things. We huddled in the middle of the tent until lightening forced us to run for serious cover under the adjacent building's overhang. Coming to my rescue, Bruce arrived just as we were making our run. By 11:30 we were back home, arranging prints and canvases around the house to dry out. Just before leaving I took this photo of Dana in front of where our tent resides.

She plans on sending it to her boss with the message that they are not paying her enough! I looked just like Dana--soaked to the skin!

Friday night was super fun. One of Bruce's oldest friends, Bill, along with his wife and daughter, met at our home for snacks before heading out to dinner. As far as we can remember, the last time we saw them was at our 25th wedding anniversary party, some 12 years ago. Currently they live in Naples where Lisa teaches blind children, and Bill is a superintendent. Bill and Bruce were laughing and reminiscing like nobodies business. Don't you just love the sound of hearty laughter?


Bill and his former wife were a great help to us during our house full of children days. How about that white hair of Bill's? I keep telling you we're getting old.....

I came across this funny story about a museum for bad art--you've got to see it to believe it!
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128724062&sc=fb&cc=fp

For several years now I've subscribed to Digital Photography School  http://digital-photography-school.com/online. Each day a message appears in my inbox with tips and challenges. This week photographing food is the theme. If you like to see beautiful and mouthwatering images of food, as well as recipes, check this out:http://www.tastespotting.com/popular/favorites/all-time/1

I've already forgotten most of what I did Saturday, but I won't forget the evening, or at the very least, I'll have photographic evidence of it to remind me! Bill's band, Exit the Ride, played a local night at the House of Blues. Most of their downtown gigs don't start until way past my bedtime so I'd not seen them perform of late. At 8:00 sharp, the curtains opened, the lights came on, and the crowd starting screaming.  All the band members love to perform, putting their heart and soul into the set.

Bill has taken some serious ribbing for his longish hair and leather pants, but NO ONE dares say a word about his guitar skills. They are simply amazing, if I do say so myself. I brought the new Olympus. A few came out fairly well, although I've no real idea how to do it in the challenging light of a rock show. It helped that I took hundreds!! There was a super tall guy who let me stand in front of him so that I could get close to the stage. Did I mention the place was full. It was. Needless to say, Bill was thrilled. Afterward, I took this picture of Bill and David, with the gorgeous Michelle.
Yesterday I spent a good bit of the morning packing everything back up, then off on errands.

OH MY GOSH, I nearly forgot to write about one VERY exciting happening. I got accepted to the Autumn Winter Park Art Festival!!!!!!! Two years ago I applied with no luck. Preparing myself for the same outcome, I applied nevertheless, hoping this time might be different. AND IT WAS! No telling what will happen once we do it, but one thing I know for sure, there are excellent crowds. Nothing like the spring show, but bigger than most any show I've done. This means I'll be doing Ocala, which according to Maureen's friend Sherri, is very well attended, and Winter Park. I've yet to hear from DeLand. If I'm accepted there I'll have three great shows this fall. To date I'm so far off last year's sales figures that I don't even like Bruce to tell me once he enters them into the spread sheet. It's pretty much a given we won't have to pay any extra income tax because of the business this year! Not to worry, we're fortunate to still be in the black.

Lastly, Matt and his boyfriend Tom were vacationing in Barcelona for a few days. I got an email from Matt with this message: Btw Tom wanted me to tell you he agrees with your cereal for dinner sentiment 100%.  Plus, he'll eat pound cake for breakfast, but only with fruit! Although I've yet to meet him, I'm sure we'll get along famously.

Friday, August 6, 2010

On the Kitchen

Some folks can't imagine that I cook dinner for myself every night regardless if Bruce is home. I can't imagine not. Often times there are leftovers from Monday night, but most nights I start from scratch. Occasionally I even bake, however, these days I try and keep that to a minimum. One of those occasions arose on Wednesday. I just had to have that most delicious pound cake that I think I've already told you about. This time I borrowed the pan Corrine uses when she makes it. The loaf pan is about a foot long, a size that I've never encountered before. 

Because I've been cooking/baking for years and years, most times things come out just as planned. This time not so much. Although I used a toothpick to check for doneness, the toothpick was wrong. I should have used a piece of spaghetti as I've often done. Anyway, once the cake cooled, I discovered the apex was not entirely cooked. Disappointing to say the least. Nonetheless, here is my breakfast of champions:

Those peaches were mighty good as well. There are some in my readership that may cringe at the following recipe, you know who you are. To them I say, hit page down right about now!

Whipping Cream Pound Cake
2 sticks butter (preferably room temp)
5 eggs (ditto room temp)
3 c cake flour
3 c sugar 
1/2 pint whipping cream
1 1/2 t vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour tube cake pan. (alternatively, two loaf pans or the jumbo one I got from Corrine) Cream butter & sugar thoroughly; add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add whipping cream and cake four alternately to mixture, beating continuously. Add vanilla and beat four minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 1 hour & 15-20 minutes, or until done. Cool and enjoy!

I love my kitchen. It is bright and roomy.  Seeing all my colorful dishes makes me happy:
I've just changed out my kitchen valance, and although this picture isn't great because of the lighting, you get the idea--more color!
A week or two ago I was thinking how infrequently I write about the kitchen. Unlike some rooms of the house, this one is used every day. As such, I considered what I couldn't do without in my kitchen, say if I had to move to a tiny place with little storage. With that in mind, here are some of my favorite things:
I have loads of tools, but these are probably the most important. Unlike cooking shows where they always leave lots of stuff in either the bowl or the pan, I get every last drop with my collection of rubber scrapers. Love them! Waste not, want not you know.
For Christmas Bill always gives me a gift card to places he thinks I'll like. I got these wonderful bowls from William Sonoma, and although I still have my glass ones, these are my go-to bowls.

Many years ago we bought this wooden cutting board at the Winter Park Art Festival. Used multiple times ever day, I'll be very sad if anything every happens to it. The knife I splurged on from Bloomingdale's, and am I glad I did.

Speaking of knives, I only have two remaining. I'm talking about steak knives we received as a wedding gift. Even though we're nearing our 37th wedding anniversary, our love has never dulled, but these knives sure have! Mostly I use them when I want to cut something in my hand as demonstrated below:
Perfect for cutting hard boiled eggs for salad.

Another cutting tool I use all the time:
Here I'm showing parsely, but I cut up all manner of ingredients, including, but not limited to chicken for stir fry, sausage, bacon for soup bits, peaches, you name it. They are keepers!

These pot holders look pretty grungy, however, they are just the right size. Anymore, with the super sizing of all products, it's hard to find ones that don't overwhelm both your hand and the hot pot.

Sadly, they are placed on a William Sonoma dish towel I'd purchased for Mom Peck for Christmas. Never used. :(

Rounding out the line up, here's a collection of must haves:

Oxo makes the greatest kitchen tools in my book. Somehow I'd misplaced my peeler. I searched high and low to find the exact one. Nothing works better. I haven't had an electric can opener in years after discovering this gem. The measuring spoons are ideal as is the little spatula.

Not pictured is my large cast iron skillet. More years ago than I can remember, my mom gave it to me, probably because of our big family. I used it when the kids were home and I use it still. No kitchen should be without one!

If you read this blog with any regularity, you've figured out that I'm a creature of habit. I can do spontaneity on occasion, however for the most part, I love a routine. Because I've always been a breakfast, lunch, dinner kind of girl, I still am. I could no more have a bowl of cereal for dinner,  than I could have a German Shepherd. Both are extremely unappealing to me.  So that's why I still cook. I like to.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Votes are Tallied

Actually, there was only one vote. Good enough for me.

Seriously, I'd no intention of discontinuing my blog because as I've said before, it's great for me to go back in time, reading and seeing what was happening. See--I told you a good memory was overrated! I've got a blog for that. :-)

Here's something I'd rather forget--the decimation of our lovely yard. Apparently more weed killer was applied than typical, thus, not only do we have no weeds, we have no grass. This is but just one of the horrible patches. The applier of this overkill has been terminated, which does us no good. We've got to see the results of his mis-application for ages. Yesterday, while our gardener was here, I asked him about laying fresh sod before September, as the lawn spray people have promised if there is no improvement. Won't work Gail. New sod will die as well. What we need is rain, rain, and more rain. And you thought I was exaggerating didn't you?
At least I can console myself once I enter the house because I'm still madly in love with the changes inside. There are more exciting changes to come in the next month or two. Because the general contractor is doing such a marvelous job at Angela's home, Bruce scheduled a meeting with him on Monday evening for 6pm. As such, I decided to make a meal of vegetables, fruit, cheese, cracked pepper salami, and crackers. I prepared these trays in the afternoon.

The green bowl in the forefront is one Matthew gave his Grandma Peck many years ago. I've reclaimed it so that I can not only remember those times, but the little house on the hill amuses me each time I see it. What a lovely array of colors isn't it?

Bruce sketched a rough drawing of a trellis which will go two in two directions. One will be perpendicular to the pool, hopefully to disarm the sun just a bit on the sun room, with the other  extending parallel to the pool. At one end of this one there will be a roof with an outdoor ceiling fan! As well, he is keen on replacing the windows in the sun room with ones that are not only more energy efficient, but stronger as well. Lots and lots of discussion with Mark over construction details. Mostly I sat silently, if you can imagine. Guess what time he left? 9:00!!! Bedtime was less than an hour away, however we did manage to eat all of the fruit!

I forgot to tell you I had a paying job on Saturday. Friday morning Dana phoned asking if I would photograph the Church Street complex for a brochure. Of course I will! I was downtown by 7:30  to take advantage of the morning light, however, some of it was not so great. A second quick run later in the afternoon was enough to complete the task. Although they asked for five, by the time I received the email from the woman in South Florida putting it together, the request was for 11. Yesterday afternoon it took a while to attach 11 full sized versions of photographs to an email,  I'll tell you that much. I'd hardly ever noticed before how lovely this weather vane is. This was not one of their choices.
At the museum yesterday I met a very interesting British woman who also volunteers. Between the two of us we put together a bunch of glass cubes, all connected, for the gift shop. We crashed a lovely potluck lunch put together by the garden volunteers. No, actually they invited us to share and I'm delighted we did. Cindy is doing her best to get me take responsibility for the gift shop. I feel a bit like this crow--should I or shouldn't I.
I've just completed a sweet novella entitled, The Blind Contessa's Writing Machine. The author wove a tale of an impossible romance between a young married Contessa, who goes blind in her first year of marriage, with "Pellegrino Turri, has built the first typewriter proven to have worked in 1808, he also invented carbon paper (1806)."  Apparently he built the typewriter for her to write him letters without the aid of servants. Fanciful in places. Fresh, nonetheless.

Finally, a piece of great news! Cleaning my desk Tuesday morning, I came across the paperwork for my new baby camera. You may recall me mentioning that on vacation, a spot appeared on all my photos taken with the Panasonic. Now, that made me sad because typically with a fixed lens nothing can be done. But wait, something is going to be done! A new camera is the result of my conversation with an extremely helpful person at Panasonic. No, they can't be fixed, but they CAN be replaced. Excellent.

Past, Present, and Future