Tuesday, November 30, 2010

He Drove

and drove, and drove, with your blogger spending nary a moment behind the wheel, for which she was ever so grateful.

So, are you ready for some photographic evidence of all that driving? Believe it or not, I didn't take that many photographs because we were always on the move. Here's the best editing I could manage.

Let's get started then:
Turns out I discovered there was a hole in the sole of the black shoes, so they stayed home. Instead, I wore sandals on the way up. You should have seen the looks in the Detroit and Chicago airports!

The evening before we left, a new lens I'd purchased from Amazon arrived. Here's one of the first pictures taken with this amazing lens of Bruce working feverishly preparing for our departure:
We'll talk lenses another day.

While Bruce was working, I had a little chat with Jonathan making sure things were ready for our arrival. Well....he mentioned in passing his kidney was hurting. Not good.

Early the next morning, 5AM to be exact, the phone rings. It's Jonathan. He sounds bad. Real bad. He's spent the night in excruciating pain from a kidney stone. Like father, like son. Years ago, during his last attack, he managed to pass it after spending some time in a warm bath. Didn't work this time. Hour after hour he refilled the tub, hoping and praying that the pain would subside. Naturally, we were heart sick thinking of him in such pain, but what could we do? Nothing.

Boarding the plane we were both very anxious. There are some perks involved with being married to a three million miler with Delta, such as flying first class. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, boarding the plane first is really, really great. Having food and drinks served on china is nice as well.
Astute observers will note Bruce is not working! He's fiddling with iTunes. Yeah! So, we had a layover in Detroit, which turns out to have one of the nicest airports I've visited. Wonderful to look at and the design seems really, really functional.
The light tunnel is pretty fantastic too! Another perk of being a frequent flyer is club memberships. What, pray tell, is that Gail? Well, lovely rooms with snacks galore, comfy chairs, and quiet surroundings. Because we were hoping Jonathan got some sleep, we waited until we were settled in the lounge in Detroit. Yes, he had finally fallen asleep soon after we spoke. Can you imagine his anxiety thinking of the move the next day? We were heartened that his voice was not one filled with pain during this conversation. Soon, we'd be in Chicago.

And we were. Changing into my Uggs, donning a coat and gloves, we headed to the train station. The day was gloomy and cold. Typical Chicago weather. The kind of weather Jonathan and Alissa are sick of. In fact, as we were walking to their apartment, there were some snow flurries. Did I mention it was windy? It was.

Their apartment building is famous now for two things: the architect, and the flood of 2010. You'll remember that they were displaced for three weeks this summer due to said flood. Here's the atrium, I guess you'd call it, taken from their 10th floor landing:

Most of downtown Chicago was closed for the holidays as evidenced by this photo taken at 3 in the afternoon just as we exited the train at LaSalle and VanBuren:
There were a few hearty souls out and about, but not many. I managed only a few quick shots before Bruce was imploring me to get moving! That lens is amazing is what I have to say. Anyway, after our arrival, we assessed the situation. What was left to do? Where, pray tell could we eat? Even our hotel restaurant was closed! Turns out, when Bruce and Jonathan went to his office, the restaurant on the ground floor was open serving Thanksgiving dinner. And what a dinner it was! Wonderful food and service.

Those green beans were SO good. As was everything. In the above photo, you see that both Jonathan and Alissa are doing their best to have a good time, although right about then, neither one was all too happy. Jonathan in pain, and Alissa worried about the truck. Dropping us off at our hotel, Bruce and I snuggled in to watch a little football before the big day. This didn't work out as planned. Soon after snuggling, the phone rang. Once again it was Jonathan with bad news. Upon their return to the apartment for their last night in Chicago, they discovered Tia, their cat, was dead. Yes, you read that right. Although Tia was 12 years old, she'd not been sick, so it was completely unexpected. What else could go wrong?

As you've already guessed, there is no easy way to bury a cat in downtown Chicago on a holiday night. In fact, I suspect, it's never easy. In any case, after receiving the call from Jonathan, Bruce called information, something he frequently does with great success. After consoling Alissa the best he could, he and Jonathan put Tia in a box and found a place to have her cremated.  How they got any sleep that night, I'll never know.

So, what else could or did go wrong? Nothing, absolutely nothing went wrong! The truck was ready to be picked up on time, albeit in the worst part of town, the movers showed up, and baby it was SHOW TIME! While waiting in all my winter gear outside by the truck while the movers were upstairs I took this of the building:
Cool, but I hope they won't miss it at all. Once the truck was loaded, we were off! At least Bruce and I were. Finishing up the last few details Jonathan and Alissa motored on out of Chicago to start their new life.
Here's how I got most of my shots! You might note my hands in camera in the bottom mirror.

Once we left the city it was smooth sailing. Well, sort of. Bruce battled winds once we were in the Illinois countryside, but he gripped the wheel and kept the pedal to the metal.  For the most part, we left the gloomy skies in Chicago, and the serious cold stayed there as well, although just before sunset we began to see some light snow along the roadway. While stopped for a little break, I found this behind the rest stop:
I was in awe of the sky as the sun was setting. I was also pretty much in awe of this cross beside the highway! That little dark thing just below the cross is where you'd typically have a rear view mirror. Anyway, I took this through the windshield as we whizzed past.
We made it to Marion, Illinois, had dinner, and within minutes after checking into our hotel, our driver extraordinaire was fast asleep.

Saturday morning we were up at the crack of dawn. Make that way before the crack of dawn. Climbing into the truck with our hotel hot beverages, off we went, arriving in Missouri just as the sun was beginning to make it's presence known. A not too scary bridge over the Mississippi River:

Before this trip I had no idea Phillips 66 was still in business. Silly me. Here's one from Portageville, MO, population 3,200.
By this point we were about a third of the way there. The miles kept adding up, with Bruce calling out each 100 mile milestone. Every now and again we'd talk to J &A, however the cab was too loud for me to hear them very well. Sometimes I felt like I was having to shout just to make Bruce hear me! We didn't even have the radio on! You may have noticed in my first picture the atlas in my suitcase. That was so very handy, letting us know well in advance where each rest stop was located. Not to mention tons of other interesting facts.

Arkansas was very pretty, with plenty of color still left on the trees, although the roads were the worst. Our good weather and traffic continued!
Somewhere in Arkanasas, during one of our many, many gas fill ups, I saw this amazing sight:
Yes folks, that's a motel for $19.99 a night, with cars in the parking lot no less! I suggest you make it big.

Another one taken while on the move. Those green, green fields were really something. We don't know what they were, but it was almost startlingly green.

And then we were finally in Texas, stopping once again for gas:
Mr. Bruce is walking just behind the truck, probably looking for me! On this trip I took photos for reasons. This one is because there is still an S&H green stamp sign just below the trucks top sign. Long story short, Judy, my sister-in-law, is always reminding me of the year we were all so poor we used green stamps to buy Christmas gifts. Too bad that option isn't still available for cash strapped folks these days.

The sun was making it's descent just as we were heading into Dallas, making it almost impossible to see:
The cab grew silent with Bruce doing his best to remain calm and concentrate. Shortly after taking this photo, we approached the beltway around Dallas. Bruce suggested I not look. I didn't. I would have gone into a panic if I'd watched us approach a flyover, about four highways up in the air! There was one more to come. Once I again I ducked.

Finding a hotel that night was harder than we'd have liked. Suffice it to say, we drove nearly an hour longer, finally finding a hotel in Hillsboro, TX. The kids stayed on the other side of Dallas. I had my first Texas nachos that night--man they take their spices seriously! After driving 700 miles, Bruce once again fell asleep within minutes, as did his navigator companion. I did, however, wake in the night, worrying myself sick over J&A driving through Dallas. Misplaced fears my friends. They sailed right through it!

It seemed like the last 150 miles were the longest, but finally we arrived, finding their apartment with the help of our handy GPS. Nice. Very nice. Before long, they pulled up and the unloading began.

More than once, we marveled at Bruce's strength. We all pitched in and before long things looked like this:

It looked even better some hours later, however, the parental units were bushed, falling asleep in a heartbeat on an air mattress set up in the living room. Morning arrived, and after much hugging and good wishes, Jonathan drove us to the airport. While Bruce was photographing Jonathan and I, a nice man stopped, asking if Bruce wanted to join us. Of course he did!
Good grief do I look like a hag or what? Yikes! You would have thought she drove! While waiting, we enjoyed some of the famous fare from Salt Lick in the airport. Delish!

Flying on Southwest was about a 360 degree difference than our flight to Chicago, but it got us home:
And there you have it folks, a tale of three journeys. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Road Trips

Once upon a time a young couple embarked on a long road trip in a 1977 Toyota Corolla without air conditioning. Not to be confused with young couples searching for meaning, or adventure, said couple went in search of work. Florida, their state of residence, was struggling through a serious economic downturn; construction jobs were few and far between. Towing a little Ford Ranger truck behind them, they headed west to the promised land--California.

Now, this young couple had a little help with the trip. The young man's parents flew to Florida from their home in California, taking the couple's one year old with them, while the couple made the difficult journey across the country during the worst heat of the summer. Day after day they drove, sometimes he, sometimes she. Even then she had a serious fear of bridges. Once, during the trip, while he was taking a much needed nap, the news came over the CB radio that there was a serious bridge up ahead. Not surprising, as this was in Louisiana, a state with many bridges. Panicking, she woke her husband, telling him that they must find a place to pull over so they could switch drivers. Without complaint, he did so, all the while trying to alleviate her fears. By the time, the little Corolla, towing the Ford, made the climb to the top, the car was straining in first gear. Imagine how frightened she was heading toward the bottom. Truth be told, he was probably scared as well, just didn't let on. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Charles_I-10_Bridge)

The trip was hard--five days of intense heat, no more so than in Death Valley near the end of the trip. Temperatures were hovering around 130 degrees. Phoneix was hot, Texas was wide, and New Mexico was pretty. Up until the journey, she had spent very few nights of her life in a motel room. Gas was cheap in those days. At one time she still had her diary with all the gas ups logged. If her memory serves her right, maybe $85? Didn't seem so cheap back then. Her frugal nature was shaken by all the expense involved.

Up until the road trip, said couple's little boy was rarely out of their sight. Before leaving Florida, he'd taken a few tentative steps, making his new mother think that walking would begin any day. Every evening, when the couple called his parents, the woman would ask the same question--is he walking yet? Every evening, her mother-in-law gave the same answer--no.

Finally, after more than five days, they reached the promised land, reuniting with their beloved baby. After just a few hours getting settled with his parents, he was off searching for a job. And guess what? He returned several hours with one! Oh happy day!

One year later, in their 25th year, they made the same journey eastward. The woman, succumbing to homesickness, implored her husband to take her home. Being the agreeable type, he did. This time, their now 2 year old boy accompanied them, playing in the back of the Corolla. And he was talking for the first time in his little life. Complete sentences even. Just before leaving the promised land, the couple discovered that their little family would be expanding. As they drove into the state of Florida, the woman began feeling queasy, something that would continue for the next six months. At the time, they had no idea that instead of a family of four, they would soon be expanding to a family of five. That is a story for another time.

Once again, he found a job and he's been working hard ever since.

Now, 32 years later, the couple, in their 57th year, find themselves preparing for another road trip, albeit one in polar opposite weather conditions. This time, they will be the parents that help their young son transition to a new life. Let us hope that their son finds work as quickly as his father did, once upon a time.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

RIP

One member of our little household has escaped much notice in my blog of late, although the health of said member has been on our minds. I'm speaking, of course, about Ric Flair, our beta fighting fish, named after one of Dave's favorite wrestlers. Just writing that I can hear Dave's voice doing the imitation. Anyway, for some time now, Ric has exhibited signs of decline. Not only had his tail disintegrated, but his color was diminishing by the day. As well, I cleaned his water each week, but in the last month or so, the water would get icky after only a few days. I scoured the internet hoping to discover the source of his problems, to no avail. And so, this morning, this is how I found him:
I'd assumed that he would float to the top if he died, but it seems that is not the case. Last week I even went to the pet store inquiring about his condition, however, once again they were stymied. I do hope he didn't suffer.

Yesterday, after posting, I remembered I wanted to show you some photos I took of the back yard in all it's ambient light glory:

Fantastic, right? We were enjoying our dinner poolside, I think, maybe last Thursday. It's still warm here most days. In fact, on Saturday at the show, after about two hours, my hair went into ponytail mode because even though I was wearing a sleeveless dress, I was roasting!

That certainly won't be the case in just a few days from now. I have no idea what clothes to pack for this trip. What, pray tell, will I be comfortable in sitting for hours on end in a UHaul truck? According to the weather forecasts it will be about 50 degrees colder than what I'm used to. I'm definitely ruling out sleeveless!

Bruce has jobs galore under construction with three breaking ground next Monday. He, of course, is pretty stressed out. And who can blame him? Nevertheless, here's the plan:
  • Fly to Chicago on Thanksgiving day, hopefully J & A have found a place to celebrate.
  • Oddly enough, UHaul doesn't open until 9 in the morning Friday, with the scheduled movers arriving at 10 to load the truck. In the high rise where they live, one must reserve the elevator for this kind of thing. So much for an early start.
  • Drive, drive, and drive. There are three routes one can take from Chicago to Austin. Not sure just yet which one to choose. Either down through Memphis, across Arkansas, into Oklahoma, and straight down to Austin. Another route sends you West right off the bat, heading into St. Louis, through Missouri, Oklahoma, and South to Austin. I can't recall the other one, however, I've got an atlas to study. Maybe, just maybe, Miss Out & About Photography, might just get a picture or two out of the deal.
  • ETA--Austin, probably sometime Sunday. 
  • Fly home on Monday afternoon, after hopefully helping them get settled. 
Seriously, I can't believe it's only two days away.

I found a few interesting things to share if you're interested:http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2010/nov/21/pencil-sharpen-service Crazy, right?

And then there's this:
http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2010/11/16/travel/20101121HOURS.html Bruce and I visited here many years ago and what an interesting place it is! As I recall we walked about a mile, pulling our suitcases behind us on the bumpy sidewalks, before finding our hotel. Some of the most beautiful photographs we have are from this very place.

Yesterday I laid a bit low after the busy weekend. I did, however, go to the bank! On my way home I saw this on our street corner:
I just had to stop and check it out. Turns out the car is a 16th birthday present. The celebrant's friends came by to decorate:
Clever girls.

It's that time again. Breakfast. Polasek. Bruce returns. Planning. Have a nice day; I plan to.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Excellent Showing

We'd be hard pressed to find much to complain about at the DeLand Festival of the Arts. Sure, you can't get your car right next to your booth to unload, but pretty close anyway. Which, by the way, is easy for me to say because Bruce does most of the carrying. Furthermore, the organizers have thought about everything; serving the artists both breakfast and lunch in a comfortable setting, booth sitters, great security, terrific advertising, lots of prize money, and lots of patrons. Of course I didn't win any of that prize money, but that's beside the point. If I ever get good enough, I might.

Which is to say that I did win a patron award. Can you believe this ribbon?
A very nice woman who purchased from me last year came along, spending nearly $200 and a ribbon besides! It looked pretty impressive in the booth. Although patron money is not free money like prize money is, I'm pleased as punch that a patron of the show thinks enough of my work to purchase it, not just say that it is good.

I am, however, getting ahead of myself.  After packing the Element at 5:15 Saturday morning, Bruce took off first, hoping to get a space close enough to unload without breaking his back. Many, if not most, shows allow Friday set up, however this is not one of them because it takes up the main downtown street. Shortly, well not too shortly, thereafter I drove the Beemer. This makes me nervous. Very nervous. Thinking about it after the fact, I realized this is the furthest I've probably ever driven the BMW since he's owned one. That's not to say that it doesn't drive like butter, on the contrary, it's just I want to take care of one of Bruce's prized possessions!

I haven't really told you this yet, but last week I took a bad credit card again. This time for $170. Plus, she "bought" one of my favorite new canvases! Knowing me as you do, you've probably guessed I had no contact info. You guessed right. Taking matters into his own hands, Bruce tried to find said woman without success. Making sure I didn't do THAT again, he wrote this gentle reminder on my sales table:
I was good friends, getting each and every number per the project manager's orders. Of course, I didn't need any of them as all sales went through just fine. And there were quite a few. Must have been MORE than I recorded because my bank deposit didn't match my log. So much nicer to err on that side, don't you think? Special thanks to Bruce foremost for all his hard work making it happen. His business trip began EARLY this morning. How early you ask? I don't know because he's such a dear he does his utmost not to awaken me.

As well, Denise, Gayle, Sarah, Christy, Sheila, Andrea, Margaret, Lisa, Donna, Pamela, Cathleen, Jean, Brian, Lois, Desiree, Nancy, Michael and Jack deserve my thanks. Wow--so many women! I'd not realized that until typing the names. The buyers at this show are also very good about having cash because many artists don't take credit cards due to the fees involved. I actually had more cash purchases than credit which is highly unusual. The crowds were steady most of the weekend until the gathering clouds made it look like rain was imminent. Fortunately, it never materialized!
My booth is about seven down, taken in the waning hours of the show. If you've never been there,  DeLand is a nice little town. A few booths to my left a husband/wife team had some really neat painted gourds. After purchasing this one, I moved it around the living room before deciding on the mantle. You might note that I'm sticking by the decorating rule of odd number of objects. What's extra cool to me is that the seeds are still rattling around inside under the glossy black paint with ribbons of both gold and silver.

So that was the show--some driving, lots of selling, and some fatigue. In other words, an excellent showing.

That bad credit card I mentioned earlier? Well, this morning I received a message from a market friend regarding a credit card scam last Sunday. Turns out I was one of three folks she duped, one for $500! My friend Gabby even asked for a phone number which turned out to be false. Remind me NEVER to trust a pink haired woman in her 40's again will you? I should have known better--pink hair on a woman of that age is just plain wrong.

 


Thursday, November 18, 2010

The MINI has Landed!

Just after 1:00 I heard from Jonathan that indeed, the MINI arrived in Chicago safe and sound. He was excited. Make that thrilled, and after all, who could blame him? Certainly not me.

Actually, the car made the trip in record time thanks to our driver Dino, and Trish, whom I'm imagining is a dispatcher of sorts. Let me tell you in a world of diminishing customer service, Trish exceeded my expectations at every turn. She definitely went the extra mile to ensure that the experience was relatively anxiety free. Hurray for dedicated people! At one point I asked her if she was one of the owners because of both her pleasant manner, and over the top service. No, she replied, I just try to do a good job. And, she does.

I wish I could say the same for the folks over at Thrailkill Mowers. Yuk! Yesterday morning, before hanging the clothes on the line, I wanted to use our newly serviced and repaired mower to mow the grass under the line. It would not start. And again it would not start. And once again it would not start. Grrr....

Later in the day I called to tell them as much. Their response: It started when it left here! Even though there's no real connection anymore, long ago Mrs. Thrailkill was Matt's first grade teacher. She went to bat for us, imploring the principal to allow Matt to be tested for gifted, even though in those days they generally waited until about third grade. Several years later, Bill entered her classroom for first grade, and once again she was a champion for another Peck boy. I can't remember how many years ago they sold the business and moved to North Carolina. Unfortunately the new owners are not so great. Still, our preference is to buy local and so we did, buying both a new blower and edger a few weeks ago. Not to mention leaving the mower because it would not start. You may remember that our lawn guy no longer wanted us as customers because I asked that he not come while the grass was such a disaster. I am the new lawn guy, and happy about it. However, I need a mower that will start.

Long story short, after grumbling, the owner sent Willie to pick up the mower. Before loading it into his truck, he pulled the string more than a few times. Eventually the mower came to life. What he discovered is that the pull string they installed was about a foot too long! After shortening said string, I could start it right up. Willie is definitely the shining star over there, unlike the owners. Now, I just need grass to mow.

I exaggerated when I said I was going nowhere yesterday. For most of the day I cleaned, and boy does the floor feel better. After Willie's visit ,and Mark's visit to fix the newly installed gate, I headed over to Angela's house for a birthday party. She has a good friend named Dodie,  whom I've gotten to know through her. Angela requested I take pictures, which I did, however, they were just okay. There is glass everywhere, not to mention lights at every turn; I believe my poor camera didn't know what to do. Here's Dodie:
I've never seen anyone open gifts quite like she did. I believe this is when she was throwing tissue paper around. As well, after opening each card, she ripped the envelopes in two. Interesting. You might note the little bag on the floor. It was my gift, and to be truthful I did not want to give that bag away. I found it at Tuesday Morning and just loved it.

Although Jonathan is soon to be jobless, Bill is not. Wachovia/Wells Fargo was thrilled to hire him once again, and he began his new position Monday. His report so far is positive.

Matthew called today and during our conversation it went video. What are you saying Gail? Well, welcome to FaceTime, a new Apple feature that works with an iPhone and a Mac. He was on his iPhone, I was on my Mac. No telephone needed on my end. This is some crazy world we're living in isn't it? You have to wonder if Alexander Graham Bell ever imagined the possibilities of future communication. In any case, it was great to see Matt in his flat. Plus he had on a really nice shirt and sweater/jumper. Seeing his boyfriend Tom and speaking with him was a bonus. Ahhh....the charm of a British accent.

Those acorns keep dropping like mad. Thousands of them really. There are some good things about getting older, one of which is you've heard a lot of stuff. Can't remember most of it, but still.....
Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I seemed to recall that dropping acorns were used long ago as a sign of impending weather. Indeed, apparently, according to the Farmer's Almanac, over-zealous acorn drops may signal harsh weather ahead. Only time will tell.

Not only has the MINI arrived, but pointsettias (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphorbia_pulcherrima) have as well. Today, while picking up my atlas for the trip, the garden center at WalMart was loaded:
Absolutely beautiful and only $3.00. I bought two, which was good. With all the money that has been flowing out of this household, I'm thrilled at a $6.00 purchase. My frugal nature has been severely challenged in the last few months. I'm heartened to know that we have been part of the movement to keep the economy moving. Let's hope others will soon have the means to join us.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Homebody

Yep, that's the plan for today. I don't want to go anywhere unless there is a dire emergency, which is, dare I say, very unlikely.

Monday morning I was waiting for our new insurance people to call with the final numbers, and to be honest, I was getting anxious because the trucking company was scheduled to pick up the MINI in the afternoon. So.....I went to the kitchen and made something new.

These days I don't go to Costco too often, nothing like the days when six people needed nourishment three times a day. My purchases are mainly things that last for months, however, on my last trip I bought a large tub of ricotta cheese to make lasagne, which by the way was not very good. What to do with the rest I wondered? Well, somewhere in the back of my mind I knew people made cheesecake with ricotta, although I'd never done so. For that matter, I'd never made cheesecake period. Everyone's new best friend, Google, led me to a recipe by Martha Stewart.(http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/ricotta-cheesecake) Simple, it said. Good deal, I'll give it a go...
These are the beaten egg whites which I folded into the ricotta mixture. I'm afraid my trusty hand mixer is wearing out which doesn't please me one bit. Just yesterday afternoon I told Angela that I had WAY TOO MANY new things at once, causing me grief. Don't get me wrong, I'm a lucky gal, however, with a new blower, edger, pool, landscaping, there's too much to get right at once. Like, how to make the pool cleaner work. 

After the requisite waiting period, I finally tried to set up the cleaner once again with no luck. I could not get the dial to turn, even after trying multiple times. I called the Bowles, leaving a message. No answer. I called again yesterday wondering why I hadn't heard anything. Well, they think I'm dumb is probably why. Who couldn't just turn a dial???? Well, me, for instance. Returning from the Polasek and errands, I phoned Angela asking her to give it a try. Duh!!! It wouldn't turn because I was trying to turn it the wrong direction! The cleaner is now sailing along the bottom picking up the multiple acorns that have been dropping like bombs. Seriously, when one hits the canoe, it is incredibly loud! Plus, some leaves are falling, nothing like will fall soon, but enough to make our beautiful pool look a tad less beautiful. 

OK, where was I? The cheesecake--you want to see the cheesecake don't you?

It came out just like the picture. Oh my, I didn't try it until yesterday morning, but when I did, I swooned. Delicious! There is no crust, and a lighter texture than the cheesecakes you've probably eaten. As well, my sister Maureen will love the lemon zesty taste. This will definitely be added to my repertoire.

I forgot to mention the new grass, which at this point looks more like a patchwork quilt. At least I'm not looking at dirt!

In passing I just threw in that we are getting new insurance, which is really sort of a big deal around these parts. Our Nationwide agent retired last year, selling the business to someone new. Guy Wren was our agent for at least 25 years, always there for us, or at least his assistant Sabrina was. Every time we added a new car, I'd just give her a call, she'd set it up, and we'd be get to go. For any readers who don't know me personally, this doesn't sound like much. For those of you who do, you can well imagine that with four sons, there were cars aplenty. Of course, they probably were happy to have us as customers, especially when our auto insurance premium rose to $5,000 a year. That's what five cars will do for a policy! 

I noticed some silly errors on our current policy, which after phoning them, got me nowhere. Remembering that our neighbor a few doors down was an agent I called him last Thursday evening. I explained that I was purchasing and insuring the MINI for Jonathan's use, until such time as he is established in Texas. No problem. SOLD! We're now in good hands. 

So, here's the new baby car just before Dino, the truck driver picked it up. Did I mention I didn't even drive a MINI so as not to be too covetous?

The sports stripes are cute don't you think? 

Monday morning Bruce flew to Chicago, picking up boxes for the move at Home Depot. You don't think of those kinds of things if you're accustomed to having a car at your disposal. Because Jonathan has none at the moment, he was mostly going to have to rely on UHaul boxes which are priced outrageously. Like $6.00 for a box that cost $1.00 at HD. Moving, it seems, is an expensive endeavor. The truck rental is over $1,000. So, I guess that makes it a little less than one dollar a mile, with a promise of 12 miles to the gallon. Yikes! While there, Bruce, Jonathan, and Alissa packed up the remainder of Matt's belongings, moving them back into storage. Again, the car thing. Next month, while Matt is stateside, he will make the hard decisions about what to do with his beloved books and music. Lest you think Jonathan can't do anything for himself, he carried boxes two miles from his office to his home. Fortunately, it wasn't snowing. At least for now...

Some serious cleaning needs tackling now so that's it for today. Just as the timer went off to remove the springform on the cheesecake, my neighbor Corrine came over with a magazine. She told me she was wondering if I'd gone back to work I was gone so much last week. I assured her that nothing was further from the truth. I'm a homebody. Matt, on the other hand is not. If you're interested in Iceland take a look at these amazing photos taken on a weekend trip there:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Where's Gail?

I do so hope you've been wondering why the heck Gail has not posted all week--that means you've missed me!

Last Saturday afternoon when I made my last post I never expected that a week would pass before I was composing once again, but that's what's happened, as you well know if you're a regular reader. If you've missed me, I apologize for my absence. If you've enjoyed the break, that's okay as well.

So let's back up a week shall we?
  • Saturday, a heartbreaking loss by Florida State in the final seconds. It might have been my fault because I didn't drink my morning tea in the lucky mug Bruce's mom gave me.
  • Sunday, because there was no market, we took full advantage of the situation by going to the Concourse d'Elegance and having lunch on Park Avenue. Here's one of the neatest things we saw:

It's a 1934 Packard--the peacock ornament is an antennae! Very cool. And, who wouldn't be happy on a holiday in this aptly named beauty?

  • Later on we went to a surprise birthday party for our dear sister-in-law Judy's 60th birthday party. For those of you who know Judy, it will amaze you to hear that she was absolutely speechless when everyone shouted surprise! Judy always has something to say!
Not only that, she has a very hearty laugh--again, if you know Judy, you can just hear it while looking at this photograph of Judy and her daughter Katie. I converted it to b&w because it's more forgiving if you've not taken the time to change the light setting on your camera!
  • Even later on Sunday Jonathan called to chat. After our conversation I discussed the upcoming move with Bruce. Monday morning while he was getting ready for work he told me he had a plan to help our youngest son which required me to get busy. Which I did.
Because of my faulty memory I can't really remember the exact timing, but I'm thinking it must be about five years ago, our eldest son moved to Chicago to enter a PhD program at Northwestern. At the time he was living in Atlanta. How it all happened, I can't really remember, but I do know that his daddy helped him drive a UHaul to Chicago to start his new life. Well, that same daddy decided he would feel much better if we got involved in another long distance move by one of our boys. So....that's why I've been absent.
  • I've been car shopping, and shopping, and shopping. I've learned a lot too. It's way too involved to go into, but here's the bottom line--we bought this beautiful Mini Cooper which will transfer to Jonathan's ownership once he gets a job in Austin:
After the black sport stripe is applied, this will be shipped via carrier to Chicago with an ETA of Thursday. This took me until Wednesday afternoon to accomplish. I test drove a Mazda, Ford Fiesta, Nissan Sentra, and Versa, and finally I went to MINI. I purposely didn't test drive the MINI because as you know I still miss mine terribly even after two years! Here's to hoping it won't be long before Jonathan finds a job. 

Secondly, we are flying to Chicago on Thanksgiving to drive the UHaul to Texas on Friday morning. Now, this is going to be quite a blow to our family--I will not be preparing Thanksgiving dinner as is our tradition. I can't help it. He's our baby--he needs us. So, Jonathan and Alissa will drive the MINI, we'll drive the truck, or more likely, Bruce will drive the truck. I'll do what I can, however, you know how I feel about bridges--I just can't do it, unless, of course, you want to see me have a panic attack! More about this to come.

BTW--FSU is playing once again as I type, and as I wrote in my last post, there's more pain than pleasure watching our team....

  • Both Thursday and Friday I left the house before 7 in the morning to head to Darden for the annual craft fair. Arriving home at nearly 6 on Thursday I had some things to do around the house so no blog...insurance issues. Friday I got home a little earlier, but once again, my home demanded attention. And then, Bruce and I went on a date to the Ravenous Pig. Lots of food on the menu which required explanation, but we did have a much needed time to visit. He'd been gone for days!
  •  I left the house early this morning to attend an all day continuing education seminar. Horrible. Boring. Even though I haven't worked in mammography for five years now, there wasn't anything new to learn, at least from this presenter. I thought I'd go crazy by the time 4:30 rolled around! I absolutely hate it when presenters read a power point with no interaction whatsoever with the students. I CAN READ, THANK YOU VERY MUCH! Get creative will you? She even went over time! Did I mention she had a very, very strong accent as well? Well, she did.  I was not inspired to return to work, I'll say that much! I do, however, now have enough points to renew my national license.
In my absence today Bruce decided to take a day off before his marathon travel week. He'll be gone every single day next week, not to mention I have the DeLand Art Festival next weekend. Anyway, he went fishing with his little buddy Baxter this morning, which necessitated a re-tooling of his fishing rod holder. He made a new one with a cup holder for the front which allows Baxter to lie down in front of him:
Here he is in the back yard checking it out. While out back with him after returning from the seminar I noticed the sunset looked to be spectacular. Grabbing my camera I walked down the street to see what I could see. I won't show you the sunset because, that you've seen before, however, I will show you something you've probably not seen very often. As I stood in our little lot, a dog was barking like crazy on the other side of the fence. I turned to calm him down and saw this wonderful scene:
A boy's first ever bass, which after being photographed, would be returned to the lake. Pretty impressive, huh? Doesn't he look happy? When I returned home to show Bruce, he wondered if I was trying to make him feel bad for not catching anything this morning. You know better--I'd never want to make my honey feel bad. 

So, now you know what's been keeping me away from my blog. I promise next week I'll be more regular because even if you don't miss me, I miss you. xo



Saturday, November 6, 2010

Out & About

I can hardly imagine that after more than 700 posts, I've yet to use this title, however, it seems as if that is the case. Once I begin typing in the the title bar, previous names pop up, allowing me to not repeat myself. I've a feeling you wouldn't remember either way, but I might. I can hardly believe I've just typed that about myself. With my memory--preposterous!

Anyway, when I began my little business more than three years ago I chose the name Out & About Photography because that's what I mostly did. The baby camera and I went in search of photographic subjects near and far. It worked fairly well until the day I photographed the flowers on Bruce's desk successfully. Remember this:

I discovered that I could take photos at home that people would like, much to my everlasting gratitude. Furthermore, it's a lot easier than traveling around in all sorts of weather. Creativity and ingenuity is what it takes, which is challenging in its' own right. But you knew that already, didn't you?

That doesn't mean that I've lost my passion for scouting photo opportunities out and about. Far from it. This morning was one of those times I just had to find something to photograph, even if I'd tried it before.  Hmmm...where to go? Downtown, of course. Pulling up near the graffiti complex, I noticed an unusual amount of homeless people milling about down the street. Nevertheless, I parked and made my way across the field to get a closer look at the amazing new work of Decoy. He's the wonderfully talented artist who did both the Warhol and Hendrix stencil art on parts of this building. He's also done some darker work and this one fits that bill:

I've heard from loads of folks that clowns scare them, a phenom that puzzles me. This clown, on the other hand, is not one I'd like to run into...

As I was walking towards this piece, I heard a woman call out to me. Turning around to face her, she asked me to take her picture. This is not the first time a homeless person has made such a request, another thing that puzzles me. Usually I oblige and this time was no exception. Chatting with me, while holding her plates of food from the Coalition for the Homless, Yvonne told me she was on facebook and wondered if I'd post the picture on her wall! Now that really surprised me. Apparently she moves in and out of homelessness, depending on the job market. This explained why I was seeing so many folks--lunchtime! Makes me feel extra grateful for my life.

You might note that she's wearing a jacket because, baby there's a definite chill in the air.

Most of yesterday these guys kept their jackets on as well:

Tilling the ground prior to removing the spotty grass and installing the new sod.

Wouldn't you know it--they ran out of sod before completing the area where Bruce's sign was located.

There was plenty of drama yesterday with Bruce returning from his trip just in time to get involved. The irrigation system would not come on no matter what we tried. The sod installer called their irrigation specialist to come check it out, because, Lord knows, we didn't want to put in that much sod with no sprinkler system.! He couldn't figure it out, so instead of heading to his office from the airport Bruce detoured home. Still no success. After multiple suggestions as to what could be wrong, it was determined that the mother board of the system up and died on us earlier this week. Maybe all the overwork trying to revive a dying lawn? Anyway, luckily he had a new system on his truck which he installed successfully and water is now flowing like manna.

While all that was going on I decided to clean out my makeup drawer, or really basket. Here's yours truly in her darling top:
The color is slightly off, but you get my drift.

As you well know, I love Florida State football. Actually, more often than not in recent years it's been more pain than pleasure, but I stick with them no matter what. As if they cared... Game time in 30 minutes my friends! Go Noles!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Link City

Today it's all about links. I've been surfing the web my dear readers.

First off, this comes as no surprise does it?http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/04/business/04eye.html
Pathetic really.

I've finally read something worth talking about- a book of short stories by Karen Joy Fowler. Click on the link to see what others have to say:http://smallbeerpress.com/books/2010/09/21/what-i-didnt-see-and-other-stories/ What I have to say is that the first story in the collection, The Pelican Bar, was simply amazing. A troubled teen is abducted with her parent's consent to "rehab" in an unnamed seaside location. Whoa....

The promised cold front has arrived, with cheers from your overheated blogger. As such, today I am wearing my new pair of "jeggings." Apparently, I have good company: http://www.beautips.info/fashion-tips/hot-fashion-trend-in-fall-2010-wear-jeggings/ Purchasing them during the summer from Nordstrom Rack, I was not sure how I'd feel about them, come time to wear them. I think I feel great. Talk about comfortable. Finding pants, or shorts, for that matter that fit me is an ongoing problem I face. Actually, it seems to me, most people have difficulty finding clothes that suit their bodies. Is that true for you?

Instead of my usual writing garb, my nightgown, I'm all dressed up in my jeggings and a darling long blouse. When I saw this top on the clearance rack at Marshalls I couldn't resist both the coral color, or the white polka dots. I'm a serious sucker for polka dots. Cheerful is what I think when I see most anything with polka dots. Do I lose points for writing polka dots four times in one paragraph? Probably should.

My reason for already being dressed by 7 AM is allegedly, the sod folks are to arrive by 8. Yesterday's stormy weather prevented them from coming, although by 10 in the morning most of the serious rain was over. Did I tell you that our lawn guy fired me? You know the one, he broke the front door glass and Bruce let him off the hook for the damage. Because the grass was nearly non-existent I asked him to skip some weeks to possibly let it heal by avoiding the lawn tractor tires. He sent me an email stating he needed to fill the slot so YOU'RE OUTTA HERE!

As you grow older, if you're lucky, you have the means to pay folks to do things for you which can be both good and bad. Sure, it's nice to come home from somewhere and see your yard looking spiffy, however, upon closer inspection there are always things that don't get done. It sounds petty but it used to drive me crazy that they would never pick up the dropped stag horn fronds. We were not paying for blow and go service, we were paying a premium for attention to detail. So, now it's my turn to see how I can do once again. Cutting the grass is something I've always enjoyed, weeding, not so much. As of today, all of our equipment is in top notch condition, just waiting to be used.

Guess what! They're here! With a trailer load of sod! Looks like Bruce's campaign worked.

More pictures to follow.....maybe even one of me in my POLKA DOTS!

Long Beach, CA