Thursday, March 31, 2011

March Madness

4:45, that's what the clock said for what seemed like a very long time.

The day began somewhat gloomy with a few hours of relative calm. I needed both gas and groceries (you'll recall the bare cupboards), so I got those errands done early. On my way home from Publix, I stopped at Lois's house to see if the poppies were up. As a matter of fact, they were. Lovely. Even more lovely though were her irises in the back yard which she implored me to go see for myself. Oh my! She was not kidding! I took a few photos before saying I might be back later after unloading the groceries that needed refrigeration. While putting away some fresh milk, I recalled someone telling me that I could make something cool with food coloring in milk, so rather than throw away the expired milk, I put it to artistic use.
Pretty neat, huh? Hurray for a new idea to play around with! I've sold both of the small canvases I had of the food coloring, oil, and water which has spurred me on to experiment. Anyway, after lunch, I was looking at this
when Matt rang through on the computer. Bruce and I are hoping to finally make a trip to England to see Matt, which as it turns out, may be just in time for his 35th (!!!!) birthday. After catching up on his Singapore/Hong Kong trip, Tom's family, and of course, an evaluation of my new hair, we began to discuss what we might do while there. Originally Matt was thinking the Lakes district might be nice, however, the longer we talked, other ideas emerged. Last summer he did a mini tour of England by bus, visiting Stonehenge which intrigued me after he raved about the experience. Searching the web, he found some cabins in the Forest of Dean which seem ideal. Lots of ideas came pouring out, a very pleasant way to spend a gloomy Wednesday afternoon, for sure.

While chatting, it began raining, slowly at first, but then I looked up to see the rain pouring through the open window in my office, a rare sighting because our home, built in 1960, has very wide eaves to shade the house from the sun. I quickly ran into our bedroom to shut that window as well. Soon thereafter, the thunder and lightening was so loud, Matt could hear it all the way in London! And then, the power went out. 4:45 the clock read.

Moseying out to the living area I looked out back to see what was going on. Lots, as it turns out. While Matt and I were visiting, Tom, our pool guy was here, cleaning the pool, which, by the time I went outside, you would have never guessed he'd been here.
As you can see,  there is something in the pool that does not belong there. Why yes, it is a piece of the outdoor furniture, blown there by the ferocious winds. Here's a look at what was earlier a lovely clean front porch. Whoops! Never mind, I forgot to upload that one. How about this one showing the winds, which according to reports was 60 mph:
Not great, but you get the idea. It goes without saying that I am very happy now that the tree limb fell on a nice calm day forcing us to remove the tree. I hate to think what a weak tree would have done under yesterday's circumstances. According to people I spoke with there were downed trees all over! 60 mph winds will do that you know. The palms out back are the sturdy sort, blowing, bending, but never breaking.
Now, you and I both know that the television weather folks will hype anything, however, they missed their opportunity on this storm, saying it would rain, with no mention of what felt like a mini-hurricane!

Eventually, the rain stopped, allowing me to assess the consequences. Because I had no power, I couldn't peruse the websites of the travel plans, so I went out back to clean the debris out of the pool. Thinking the power would return any time, I then went and picked up the tree branches strewn all over the front yard. Still no power. David called, we chatted, his power was out as well. Angela called, no power. The daylight hours were waning. Bruce called while driving to Syracuse. I told him about the storm and he suggested I go get something to eat. Surely, I said, the power would be on any time now.

It wasn't. Finally, I braved the messy roads in search of food. Because I don't eat out often the location I chose wasn't the best. I was hankering for something warm. Not to be--Jimmy John's has no warm sandwiches. Oh well. After eating by candlelight, I then shut the house up, climbed in bed with a handy little book light and read for a while. Still no power. Baxter and I decided to call it a night.

It was the sound of the pool pump coming on that woke me up. Rolling over, I saw the digital clock by the bed flashing 12:00. My cell phone, which fortunately I'd charged yesterday morning, told me it was 1:00. I'll tell you what, I can't remember any time that the power was ever out this long. I kept thinking about those poor Japanese people--they would have been delighted had their only inconvenience been no power for eight hours! I'm unsure if our new underground power, once it's active, will make this the last time we have to manage without power. Good grief, there sure are a lot of "I's" in this paragraph!

After falling back to sleep, the next sound that awoke me was the sprinklers coming on in the middle of yet another round of rain. As I type this, the wind has once again died down but you'd swear it was early evening by the color of the sky. Allison and Trish both called to discuss our bridge meet up this morning, with all of us deciding that driving in this weather unnecessarily is not a good idea.

Finally, a timely anecdote. Angela, is 43 years old, old enough to be much savvier than I, but not as tech savvy as our children. One of her calls during the black out was asking me to look up the phone number to Tijuana Flats because she knows I still have a phone book. Our children, a decade younger, have an app for that.

We are experiencing our own March Madness around here, here's hoping it will be over soon, in time for both the twins 32nd (yikes again!) birthday tomorrow and a little weekend getaway Bruce and I are planning.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

You Just Never Know

Arriving in Lake Wales at dawn, here's how it looked:
Yes, that's right--foggy, foggy, foggy. Leaving the house about thirty minutes before me, Bruce had the tent pretty much all set up before I got there. By the time everything was ready, the sun was streaming into the tent, with no trace of the earlier fog.
Both of us had an uneasy feeling because there were few people milling about once showtime rolled around. Well, we were right. As the saying goes, a picture tells a thousand words;  as such, I'll save the whining, letting this photo taken Sunday afternoon speak for itself:
I managed to eek out some sales, however, they added up to less than half what I had last year. When I was telling Bruce about it Saturday night over dinner at home, he admitted to thinking I was exaggerating a bit. Being the sweet husband that he is, he decided to come down early Sunday afternoon to keep me company, regretting it soon thereafter. After about a half hour he was already bored! On occasion, if the show isn't much, the neighbors keep one amused. In this case, the artists on either side of me were Asian women who spoke broken English, if I may use that term. So much for that diversion.

I'll put this show to rest after I share this last little anecdote which seems to sum up the whole affair.
Woman: "Do you take checks?"
Gail: "Why, yes I do."
Woman: "This one is $5, isn't it?"
Gail: "No ma'am, that one is $10."
Woman: "Well, it says 5/25 right here!"
Gail: "That is the number of the print."
Woman: "Well now," as she puts it back in the rack.
Need I say more?

Both Saturday and Sunday night Bruce asked if I wanted to go out to eat, however, I declined both invitations because I wanted to do something productive when I got home. There is no real way to get comfortable at a show because if you put your chair in the back you can't see the folks. If you put it in the front they feel awkward. That is why I like to be busy, standing up, chatting, and of course, doing transactions. You will be happy to know that (or at least I hope you are), although it was hot, there was a breeze both days. More importantly, my hair held up great! I was a bit nervous as it is too short for a ponytail, however, the new slimmed down version was perfect.

Last evening was the last bridge class. Can you believe 12 weeks have passed since I first mentioned it? I've really enjoyed it, even though it's hard and I'm pretty terrible right now. Perry Poole, our instructor, allows you to re-take the class for free one time which several of the ladies did as I may have mentioned before. Everyone I met was so interesting! Here's a group picture from last night:
As you can see, we're all of a certain age. Judy, third from the left, is the former x-ray tech. She is 70! On the far right is Allison, the baby of our class, who is a second timer. She has been a great help on Thursday mornings, coaching me as to what I'm supposed to be doing. There is just so much to keep straight--counting your points, knowing how to bid, winning the tricks. Sounds pretty simple, but believe you me, there are intricacies that I never imagined in a card game! Then there is the matter of my poor memory......I can only hope this will help!

Yesterday morning we woke up to rain which we sorely needed. All day long the rain came down, giving all my new flowers and herbs a much needed soaking. The new tree was supposed to go in Friday, then Saturday, and now, I don't know when. Apparently, when Bruce got home after the show set up there was a message from Bill saying that our new tree had a gash in the side which caused Bill to reject it. I do so hope it's this week because rain is in the forecast for most days. The side yard continues to look dreadful. Seriously.

I must go scrounging in the kitchen now for something to eat for breakfast. Talk about bare cupboards....

P.S. Here's a neat little slideshow from the Times:
Estee Lauder

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Change in Plans

I just finished giving the yard a hair cut and now I have a little time to talk about mine. I know there's some witty saying about women changing their minds, however, it escapes me just now. That, is what I did yesterday. I went into the salon with no bangs and blonder in mind, coming out entirely different. So different, you may only recognize me by my now scabless cold sore!

Leaving bridge early, I drove to the Winter Park Village to not only have my hair done, but also meet a customer to deliver the canvas she ordered at the Baldwin Park show. What a super nice lady she is. Calling me before I left the house earlier, it was amazing that she was going to be at the center too! Onward from there..
I've never even noticed this salon before, but it was easy to find. The outside gave me no clue as to how trendy it would be inside. And here's Monica, who turned out to be the most delightful young lady which was a very good thing because we spent the next four hours together.
Doesn't she look sweet? I told you she was young and as it turns out she's almost exactly the same age as Matt. Well, we talked and talked about what to do. After taking her photo, which I told her was for my blog, she asked about taking a before picture of me. This is a pretty horrible picture of me, but here it is anyway. Obviously I'd not been wearing the bangs down! As well, it was just taken down from a ponytail, however, looking at it, I just feel sad about how I look these days.
Although the disgusting scabs are gone, the evidence lingers. After much discussion she put three different shades of color on my hair to blend into my natural color, adding a glaze for shine after taking all the foils out. Another lengthy discussion ensued regarding the bangs with her describing bangs as the new "Botox." I didn't get it. She explained they were a good cover for faults. Duh! What it boiled down to for me was I decided without bangs my eyes were just too much the focus of my face. Thus, they were reinstated. Both thinning and layering like crazy followed. A sassy hairdo with movement was the goal. Drumroll please......

HERE'S GAIL:
Naturally it will never look this good again; while Bruce was home I had him take this to document what it can look like in the hands of a professional! I'd just gotten out of the shower after mowing which was a dirty job. I hope it still looks nice in the morning!

Bruce has just packed the car and is getting gas now for the show tomorrow. He's so busy I hate for him to have to drive down there and back but he's not complaining. His jobs are plentiful with problems everywhere he turns. That, of course, is the nature of building, however, this is a new one:
Bruce's Woes Mostly he kept thinking that the fours hours they had to evacuate the area were four hours the men weren't working!

Time to do a little work on my face. As a treat I'm taking Bruce to Graffiti Junktion to get himself a nice hotdog. While in the neighborhood we'll pick up the last of the order from Roger. Last year the show was good despite the second day mostly cancelled due to a terrific rain storm. No such weather issues are predicted for the weekend. Wish me luck!

It's About Time...

.....that I got a few things done around the house. Seriously, I'm getting lazier and lazier in my old age, so when I woke up at 5:30 yesterday morning I determined that, for at least that day, to be productive.

I don't know about you but I can be highly influenced by reading something in a magazine. Not to belabor the point because I've written about it before, but I really find the articles in Good Housekeeping to be informative. While eating my breakfast I finished reading this horrible account of a 17 year old California girl who died from alcohol poisoning after drinking 15 shots of vodka. Vodka, I'm convinced, is not something anyone should drink regularly. Are you listening David and Bill? Vodka, unlike say gin, has no taste, thus it is so much easier to consume too much. Every now and again I'll have a martini made with gin. The strong taste of gin requires sipping, not guzzling. I never want a second one.

Well now, that wasn't at all what I'd planned to write, but there it is. What spurred my action was another article about spring cleaning and how if you do your least favorite task first thing in the morning you might just be energized to do more. Right on.

Take a look at this refrigerator:
All done while my banana nut bread was baking! I brought the outdoor garbage can in the kitchen and tossed old, mostly condiments, out with abandon. Old Chinese mustard--gone! Ancient salad dressings--gone! Chili sauce--trashed. You get the picture.

Just getting that project done spurred other ones. I'm not sure how it happened, maybe it was the rain, but somehow during the tree incident, sap got all over the house, including the white windowsills and shutters. I couldn't find the blue paint to fix the shutters, however, I did re-paint the windowsills and the house itself, covering up all the rusty colored stains. It looked so good I thought while I have the paint brush out, let's see what else I can make look better.

The front porch, as it turns out, is what I attempted to refresh next. Oh how I wish I could have found that blue paint to repaint the plant shelf. Not letting this deter me, I at least scrubbed it, as well as the deck and chairs. The windowsill is repainted as well. It sure doesn't look perfect, but it looks much better. With all the tree droppings it is hard to keep it looking fresh. For sure.
There was no stopping me now! If you know how tiny our shower is this will make you laugh. I brought a smallish ladder into the bathroom to clean the walls and ceiling! Although it was a tight fit opening the ladder in the shower, it was just big enough. Job done.

Meanwhile there were men out front digging a giant hole and a smaller one in the front yard. Here's what they did. They blasted something in between the holes which allowed them to run a pipe and our power underground. They worked all day on this project. I did not envy the poor men digging that hole through all the tree roots. Bless their hearts. They returned this morning to finish things up.

Lunch time rolled around and for once I was slightly hungry what with all that activity. I took advantage of the lovely weather, eating my egg salad sandwich by the pool. Have I told you how warm the pool water is already. Gosh, it seems like it won't be long until you'll be reading out us enjoying the new pool. As well, I wrote about it last week, all the lovely red in the back yard, well, it keeps getting better. After you've lived with an all green back yard for fourteen years you appreciate color all the more. My hibiscus plants are blooming like crazy. While I was eating they caught my eye and you can guess what happened next. Clever reader that you are you know that I began thinking of clever ways to show the little beauties, which sadly only last a day.
Truthfully, I had to swipe one of these from Corrine's lovely, bloom filled plant. She'll never miss it. Later on, while having a marathon phone conversation with Nancy I excused myself for a few minutes. I took this over to Angela's house to welcome her mother to Florida.
Her mother was visiting for the first time since Angela and Matt married three years ago. After meeting her last evening, I can't say that she was too impressed with my hibiscus arrangement.

That last sentence was written on Friday morning because I ended up being too busy yesterday to finish it when I got home from my hair appointment. That little adventure will be chronicled in the next exciting installment of "Camera Crazy." Stay tuned....

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Enough is Enough

Okay, this hair experiment has gone on long enough--I'm totally over it, although I've been thrilled having my hair off of my face. For most of my life having bangs has forced me to fight a cowlick. Furthermore, with my thick hair, it was heavier on my face than I realized. Thursday at noon though things will be different. I'm not sure exactly what that means as of this writing, however, even though my level of concern regarding my looks is decidedly less than it was when I was younger, I still have a modicum of pride. I'm planning on making up for lost time, splurging on a new stylist who is just young and hip enough to have ideas. Not too young mind you, just enough.

Besides my hair looking bad, my cold sore continues to deface my face. As if my baggy eyes weren't enough, I've had to contend with this, with no end in sight. Actually, if I'm very, very lucky, it will be gone for the weekend. Right now it's this large, brown, bumpy, scabby mess. It's been hard to head out in public as if I looked normal. It's equally hard for people to look at it. Did I tell you it sits smack dab in the middle of my face just below my lip? Not off to the side, where you could look elsewhere if you had to talk to me. It's been slightly amusing gauging people's reaction. Amusing Gail? Are you kidding? Hey, I've got to look for a silver lining in this!

Some people try not to stare, and then there are those, like Pam today at the museum, who exclaim, "What happened to your face?!" Wouldn't you know it, we had forty visitors today at the museum. I can't say as I blame them because the gardens have never looked so beautiful. Here's a view of the front entrance with all the black-eyed Susan's coming into bloom.
It's my job to ask people for their zip codes because somehow this helps with art funding. Wait just a minute--before I forget, I had the pleasure of selling one of my posters today! Yeah! Now that doesn't seem like much, however out of the forty visitors, we had two sales. Two! Our gift shop is markedly better than it was, however, apparently, it's still not tempting enough, even though we implemented the "exit through the gift shop" strategy this year. This poor little guy is kind of beat up like me!
 Hidden in the trunks of an Australian Pine Tree is this:
Back to the visitors--Petra, the docent on staff came in later, and asked the same thing Pam did. You know---what happened? Overhearing, a visitor said she sympathized with me because on occasion she suffers the same malady. Like a complete dummy, when this first came on I'd completely forgotten that there is an over-the-counter cream that you can now purchase to shorten the life span of a cold sore if treated at the first sign. Maureen was kind enough to remind me. I'm not so dumb that I didn't go out and buy it yesterday at Target.

I'm not much of a Target shopper for reasons I can't explain. I did, however, peruse the makeup area while there to buy the Abreva (expensive cold sore cream). Many women of a certain age, myself included, are inclined to buy makeup at a department store, having become accustomed to the infamous "GWP", which for those of you who need an explanation, means gift with purchase. Surprising myself, I bought a bottle of Essie nail polish in Raspberry, cosmetic sponges, face make up, and some Boots mascara. Oh yeah, I also bought some eyeshadow recommended in Good Housekeeping. Really, that's what made me look around. Corrine has been giving me her magazine after finishing it and I seriously like it. Lots of informative articles and good recipes. So, if Boots doesn't ring a bell with you it's because you haven't been to England. As far as I knew, it is the "national" drug store chain, but if they carry Boots at Target it must have gained a new cachet. Target, as you well know, is always trying to stay on the cutting edge. What's my verdict? Good. I can actually see my eyelashes.

Yesterday afternoon, in an effort to distract my fellow bridge students from staring at my cold sore, I not only painted my nails, I applied full on makeup, something I rarely do. I pretended like I knew what I was doing. I'm talking the works here folks. Primer, makeup, blush, powder, three kinds of eyeshadow, eyebrow powder, and the Boots mascara. I'd just gotten a start when Michelle showed up. Who is Michelle Gail? Well, unexpectedly I got a message after dinner on Sunday from a Michelle who wanted to buy my latest peacock canvas. Apparently, when she saw it at the market she was attracted, and after measuring her wall, decided she wanted it. She even came and picked it up! Score!

Last night was the second-to-the-last bridge class. Surprisingly, I've learned a few things. There are several of the students who are in the midst of retaking the class, however, I'm pretty certain I wouldn't want to do it again. Hopefully some of the ladies I've met will want to continue getting together to play because, although it's been challenging, I think with consistent practice, it could be fun. The makeup tricks only went so far--multiple people asked what happened to my face.

Angela just left after a drop in visit for tea. Walking in she said "how's your face?" Didn't take long for her to see for herself. She said I was in serious need of an amputation and other British witticisms. Thanks Angela, I needed that.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Officially Spring

Although it's felt like spring around here for a few weeks, the calendar tells me that spring began yesterday. People often complain that Florida has no seasons, however, I beg to differ. We do have hot, and not so-hot weather, sort of a greater and lesser summer, however we definitely do have an official spring with no humidity to speak of which is a huge blessing. There are birds everywhere, re: my last post, but the ones we like the most are the cardinals. Saturday afternoon Bruce called out telling me a cardinal was perched on the bird feeder. The picture I took through the window wasn't much. After Bruce turned on the sprinklers, I went outside, stalking them, hoping to get something cheerful.
This little guy had the best time cooling off in the sprinklers. Normally they go off at 2 in the morning, thus we've never seen them flying through the spraying water. I'd like to say we turned it on for that purpose, however, we were actually checking to see that nothing broke during the tree mess!

If you've had any access to news lately, you know all about the super moon Saturday night. Bruce took the kayak out fishing Saturday evening, but not before he discovered that what appears to be the work of squirrels on his kayak rim. All we can figure is that they gnawed at the edge, leaving it very rough to say the least. Using a rasp he was able to smooth it out somewhat, and then he went down to the lake. Baxter and I fooled around at the house, then took a walk down there to see what we could see.
Baxter is sporting his latest kerchief after his grooming on Friday. He looks good in blue doesn't he? Seriously, I leave it on for a few days, and only a few days. At the market I see dogs with all manner of "clothing" which often leaves me speechless. Finally, after what seemed like forever, the moon rose. I first glimpsed it down the street and was it ever bright and orangey. I am no good at moon shots, but I took through the trees out front:
This is the kind of subject which requires technical skill, of which I'm sorely lacking. After it was all said and done, I'm not sure any of us would have really noticed much difference without the news stories hyping the event. The lunar eclipse, on the other hand, was really something!

Yesterday the market was slower than it has been, probably because half the city was at the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival. Which reminds me, the best in show winner was about a booth away from me at Baldwin Park. Coincidentally, according to Friday's newspaper, the winner from last year was the painter across from me at the Ocala show. (Ocala ) By the way, that prize is worth $10,000!

Another thing I see with much greater frequency than I'd like is young people sporting tatoos. Don't get me going on this one because I'll never stop! Here's a new one I've yet to see heretofore:
While showing this to Bruce, I enlarged it a bit, noticing only then that the girl doesn't shave under her arms. Could this be a new trend I've not heard about? Please say no.

On the other hand, it may have been my horrible cold sore that scared customers away yesterday. Believe me, it's hard to look at.

Jonathan is thrilled with this story http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/21/sports/ncaabasketball/21irish.html right about now. Ironically, the Seminoles came to Chicago after he left!
Still looking for something special with this damn tulip! The color is just so spectacular it seems a shame to waste it. I did learn through this process that if you refrigerate your tulip it will close back up and stay fresh. Don't say you've never learned anything from this space in cyberworld.

I'm so disappointed right about now. While working on this, an email came through from Olga, our CPA, and it looks like this year will be no different from any other. $3,000 tax liability. Thunderstruck is more like it. :-(

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Restless

Well, just after titling this post, there was a little bit of excitement around here. I heard Bruce calling out for me to bring my camera to the sun room quick. Grabbing my Nikon because it's the fastest focuser, I was expecting to find a cardinal at the bird feeder. Not quite!

Instead there were two little birds flying around inside! Apparently I scared one of them into flying out the open door, however, the other little one kept flying around and landing on everything from the curtains to Bruce's laptop.
Finally, after several failed attempts the little cutie made it's way out into the great wide world.
 I nearly forgot about this photo I took yesterday morning as I was leaving to attend the Winter Park Art Festival.
 What do you see in the spout dear ones? Yes, indeed it's a rat!
Baxter has been nosing around the wood pile lately, or sometimes over by the gutter which must be where this little guy came from as the gutter drains into this trough. Because I didn't have a camera with much of a zoom I kept getting closer and it barely budged. Yikes! I think it was after some dropped bird seeds by the bench.

That's the last of the critter news for now. I suppose what's making me restless is that I need to order some canvases and sometimes it just paralyzes me. If I'm honest, it always does. For the market I've got plenty, but by this time next Saturday, I'll be two hours into the Lake Wales Art Show and I need more to fill my walls. I studied last years sales, only to discover that I sold lots of wine and flowers at the show. Will the same kind of buyers show up? Of course I couldn't have my business without my darling Bruce to set things up, nor would I be able to function without Mr. Roger to do my printing, but ultimately, it rests on me to decide how I present myself. I've always been an Indian, never wanting the responsibility of being a Chief, and I haven't changed one bit. I don't relish the role. Once I get over this hump, I'll settle right down, but for the moment, I'm restless.

Wandering through the Winter Park Art Festival I saw some really great things, and some not so appealing. There seemed to be an overload of clay and glass work this year. I studied all the photographers, whom were, for the most part, all male, with the exception of two women. Lots of landscapes, travel shots, barbershop photos. No one was like me, which I'm not sure if that is good, or bad. I'm setting my sights on getting into that show one of these years!

Off the topic of photography for a moment, those of you who keep up with these things know that I mentioned a while back that our son Bill had a good job opportunity. I believe when I wrote about it, we didn't know if it would happen or not. Well, my friends, he's on his way, studying at home for six weeks at the bank's expense for his Series 7. So? It's the stockbrokers exam which would afford him greater employment opportunities, not to mention, money making opportunities in the future. His identical twin David has some years on him, however, because they are so much alike, I've no doubt Bill will make good as well.

I'm very grateful that some of my sons don't totally subscribe to this: No Calling Please. I find the gist of this article very disturbing because without the sound of the human voice, we are, in my humble opinion, the poorer for it. I've been saying for a while now that more people in the history of mankind have phones, and less people are talking.

Here's a great story Bill shared with me in a phone call yesterday. Maybe ten years ago or so, Bill was in a band called "Gotti 13" which played at the House of Blues. Johnny Wright, the producer of 'NSync was the man behind them. The opening act at the HOB was a band called "Wild Orchid," also produced by Mr. Wright. Still with me on this? Okay. At the time the singer of WO was being groomed to be a solo act and Bill was asked to do some guitar work. WELLLLLL....guess who that singer was? Can't? I give. Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas! Amazing, huh? Now I'm totally wondering how she made it out of obscurity....

The weather has been spectacular this month; if only this low humidity would last! Because there are flowers blooming everywhere, I can't quit taking photos of them. Silly me. It's rare that I sell photos taken out and about, mostly it's the posed ones I take at home that garner attention. Anyway, isn't this an adorable little bloom from Lois's garden?
While I was there, her neighbor's cat posed for a picture as well.
I suppose I've put it off long enough, I must get to my order. Have a super weekend!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Awash in Red

While nothing to do with the title, it's worth mentioning that when Bruce saw my cold sore this morning he remarked that he's known me a very long time and this is the biggest one he can ever remember. Nice. I'll spare you the photographic evidence. Fortunately it's mostly on my face so it's not nearly as painful as one on my lip. It's been years since I've had one and it goes without saying, I hope it is years until I have another one.

Yesterday morning I went to pay for the new tree. I brought our checkbook along with my bank deposit from the weekend. Lots of cash. It hit me that why not use that cash for something besides new inventory? I rarely spend any of the money I earn but now that I've amassed some it's high time I start. Across the street from the nursery there's a big field with horses which you know me--I can't resist!
Bill, whom we've talked about in the past, is 80 and still loves working with plants. Apparently at one time his landscaping company was one of the largest in the area. Anyone who drives into the airport will notice his handiwork--all the big trees lining the entrance. The tree will be coming from North Florida with the planting scheduled for next Friday. You may recall he got me the jatrophas from Miami which are the inspiration for the blog title today.
The plants are covered with little red flowers which is just as we hoped. In the foreground of this picture you might notice some little green sprouts. You guessed it! Oak trees everywhere from  the massive acorn drop earlier this year. As well, I planted two large red hibiscus plants which are beginning to bloom. In fact, I think there are about twenty buds already. Here's one of them:
Not pictured is a big bed of red impatiens that are simply wonderful!

Continuing the flower theme, I realized yesterday that all flower pictures are merely covers. I mean how many millions of times have tulips been photographed? The other day on public radio there was a piece about "American Idol." It had to do with the contestants singing covers and one of the judges mentioned that if you don't bring anything new to the song, what's the point? I've been thinking about that a lot lately in regards to my photography. Judging from the lack of comments, I've posted no photographs lately that make you say "Wow!" I'm working on it folks. In fact, after buying a tulip plant at Publix I've been obsessed with finding a new way to photograph a tulip. I've taken probably thirty shots with different lights and backgrounds. Using a little spray bottle I bought especially for this purpose, I sprayed water on them as well. Even still, I'm not sure I've got anything.
I'll say this much, in person this tulip is gorgeous. It's opening larger every day.
 After paying for the tree yesterday I did a few errands which took me by three of my former residences. It's no secret that we like this part of town, neither one of us lives more than three or so miles from where we grew up. For some folks, that's not enough adventure, including two of our children. Bruce and I, on the other hand, are perfectly content to know our way around, run into folks we know all the time, and continue to put roots down. One of the homes is the one I grew up in, another really isn't there any longer. Sometimes that makes me sad to think that all the living we did in that residence has been wiped away. We bought that house when we moved back from California, a small three bedroom with a gigantic family room, practically as large as the rest of the house. Before we even moved in we discovered I was pregnant, and in short order we found out it would be twins! No sewing room for Miss Gail! Those early years of raising Bill and David were pretty rough, to say the least. I had to put our then nearly 3 year old into service helping me because Mr. Bruce had to work very long hours to bring in enough money for the five of us. Imagine--we were 25 years old at the time. And then, a few years later, along came Jonathan. Finally when Jonathan was 2, and ready to get out of a crib, we found a four bedroom home where we spent the next ten years which were mostly great. Along the way we remodeled every space. Well, I say we, it was mostly Bruce doing the big projects including this amazing sandbox with fort on top which then had a bridge to the swing set! So many great hours spent out back with the children. When we put that house up for sale the offer included the aforementioned play equipment. Sadly, we left it behind. Within a few years those folks let the house go into foreclosure which was followed by someone tearing it all down.

I have to say that despite raising three teenagers in this home, it's been my favorite. Sometimes it feels weird that Matt never really lived here except sporadically for short periods of time. He's now lived away from home as long as he lived with us which also seem strange. As a parent you know that's how it will go but they will always be your babies.

I do have great neighbors here for sure. Tuesday evening while walking Baxie I was passing Regina's home when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a Welsh Corgie at her gate! Seriously for a moment I thought it was some kind of illusion because the dog looked just like Abbie. Turns out after Regina's daughter nagged and nagged her to get another dog, she did. Meet Argyle:
He's one year old and lively as can be. I took Baxter back over there last evening for a little play date although you can see in this picture how much Baxter enjoyed himself:
He really did have fun running around and nipping at Argyle but only for so long. After being chased all over the year he plopped down in front of where I was sitting to rest. I was there to take some photographs for Regina to share with her loved ones who've worried about her since Abbie had to be put to sleep. Baxter was jealous, the little stinker.

I've had my lunch now after returning from my Thursday morning bridge fun with the ladies. Today there were 8 of us which made things perfect. I'm learning, albeit slowly......

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Heartbreaking

While talking to Bruce on the phone last night, after returning from bridge class, I mentioned that I'd woken up with a cold sore, plus my eye was hurting terribly all morning. "So, you've got a cold sore and what else?" You could tell by his tone he was unimpressed and who could blame him? In his hotel room in Watertown, NY, he was watching footage from the devastation in Japan, which is unimaginable to say the least. These photos from the NYT really put it all into perspective. Before and After

Because I was so busy all weekend with both the art show and the market, I'd had little time to actually see, rather than read headlines about the destruction in Japan. Now that I have, I'm shell shocked thinking about what those poor souls are going through. It was only last week that Jonathan sent me a link to the pictures he took after Hurricane Charley of both our neighborhood and Southern Oaks. I'd almost forgotten what massive trees laying everywhere in the streets, not to mention through roofs, looked like. I can remember how powerless we felt, and I don't mean just that we were without power for five days! To think that entire lives were washed away in seconds is heartbreaking. Add to that the threat of radiation poisoning and it heads into territory that no mind should ever have to contemplate. Please God, make it stop.

Meanwhile we go on with our lives don't we? By the time you read this, Matthew will be experiencing Asia for the first time. We talked yesterday afternoon while he was waiting for his twelve hour flight to Hong Kong, where he'll be leading some seminars with the firm's employees in SE Asia. After almost a week in Hong Kong, he'll fly to Singapore. With his jet setting ways, he's travled to four continents so far and he's only 34!

Don't let this picture of my booth fool you, the show was not very well attended, in part I think, due to little to no advertising. How to describe my sales is always a challenge. Not as good as some years, but so much better than some of my friends, that it seems silly to complain, don't you agree?


It was a long day for both Bruce and me, with him heading out early to set up and me signing prints at home beginning at 5:30 in the morning. By the time we got home around 8, after eating dinner with our artist friend Gabby, we were both weary. Bruce spent part of the afternoon working in our yard to continue the clean up. He started to lay down on the couch until I suggested we head to bed after moving the clocks ahead an hour. A 9:30 bedtime seems so much more reasonable than 8:30!

Before we knew it, we were doing it again. The weather was gorgeous on Sunday, couldn't have been one bit better for sure. Lots of folks, more than the art show-- that's a fact. Every day that you go out as a vendor is an adventure, with no clue who will walk by your booth. Most market days the vast majority of my sales are of paper prints, however on Sunday, people mostly purchased small, or what I call, baby canvases. The usual suspects for the most part. I brought home some green tomatoes from the market which I fried up as part of our dinner. Delicious!

Another early bedtime because Bruce had a 5:30 flight in the morning. Bless his heart. When I got up yesterday morning I was still worn out, and then there was the stupid cold sore and eye problem! What a mess I am some days! Soooo.......I pick up my camera and try to find things around the house to photograph. Ever since I brought these shells home from Mom Peck's house I've tried to do something with them. Here's my latest attempt:
Although this shell has an ugly exterior, the interior sure is a pretty color:
These may look very simple, but it's harder than you think to get the lighting just right to show all the details. This is where my back yard table comes in handy. As well, I am delighted to show you the bougainvillea that is returning to it's former glory:
The lighting is sketchy on this one, but I'm so pleased that after looking at bare sticks all winter it is blooming once again, that I couldn't wait to share it with you!

Finally, how about this cool heart in the peacock feather?
Plus there are those touches of gold. The beauty and complexity of nature is thrilling isn't it?

Later in the afternoon I managed to plant my herbs, oregano, cilantro, and basil, which had been languishing while I was tending to my business. I'm very excited because as well as the aforementioned, I've planted Italian parsley, rosemary and thyme. I suppose I should hunt down some sage.....

For the last several weeks I'd been bumped from my usual seat at bridge class, however, last night I claimed my chair once again. Mostly because Bob and Judy intrigue me. I learned last night that he just lost a race for Windermere city council by three votes. Adding to the intrigue, I learned they met at ballroom dancing! No wonder he wiggles his leg throughout class and she wears high heels every week! Another reason I sit there is because Bob knows what he's doing and helps us along. Last week, the instructor was quite put out with me; this week I managed to fly under the radar.  I'm learning, albeit slowly.

Where has the time gone? I was up bright and early, but now it's time to dry my hair or I'll be late for the Polasek.

Many thanks for stopping by.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bright Sunshiny Day

Oh my goodness, it's beautiful outside today. A little on the chilly side, but the sky couldn't be any bluer, with nary a cloud to be seen. The clothes are swaying in the breeze on the clothesline as I type.

Yesterday, on the other hand, the weather was far from perfect, in fact it was downright miserable. I felt so bad for they guys yesterday finishing up the tree work, although I guess I'm getting ahead of myself.

Let's back up a few days shall we? When I last wrote, I was waiting on tree guy #3, recommended to me by our friendly proprietor of Palm Gardens, the nursery where I purchased all the plants for the back yard. Because I already know that Bill from PG is really reliable I chose Jody Lee for the job. Bless his heart, he first quoted me $1,600 to which I replied, "Are you sure about that?" "Can you go $1,700?"
"You've got yourself a deal!"  He told me he'd pull a crew from a commercial job and start that afternoon. Well, start he did. Driving home from Palm Gardens, I pulled down our street to find five trucks and men in our yard, the staghorn already moved, and work begun in earnest.
The two other tree guys were going to use a crane, however, Jody said he could do it with a bucket truck, and so he did. Watching from Angela's front window it made me slightly nervous seeing the gigantic pieces dangling over the roof but true to his word, he got it done. Can you see where the limb broke off? Here's a better look at it and the reason we elected to take the tree down. As you can see, the limbs are all connected here and for all we knew, the two limbs hanging over the roof could have fallen out of the clear blue.

Piece by piece the mighty oak came down. While talking about a replacement tree with Bill I learned that they measure a tree 6" from the ground across the trunk. He told me he has a 4" caliper tree for $375 and a 7" for $575. Want to know how big the trunk on this tree measured? Well, sure you do! 37"
Yes, you read that right. Sad, very, very sad. That said, we always knew someday it would have to come down because of it's close proximity to the house. Way, way too close, so much so that it was lifting the foundation. I told you it was mighty! This is the last of the foliage before it came down.
There were seven folks here working. Bobby, Jody, David, Paul, the gigantic man whose caliper was at least 37" to grind the stump and some girl with him with no hair. Apparently she suffers from a nervous condition which causes her to lose her hair. Anyway, they all worked like champs, however by nightfall there was still much to be done. This is Jody wielding the chain saw.

Except we woke to steady rain Thursday morning.
Everything was messy before with the rain adding another dimension to the mess. The night before the stump grinder guy had to leave his vehicle in the driveway because he had a flat tire. Looks pretty pathetic in this picture doesn't it?
Around 10 they began arriving as the rainfall slowed down.
They put the tarp over the window to keep any chips from the grinder from hitting it. Take a closer look at the size of the pieces.
While this was all going on I was doing my best to sign prints, preparing them for tomorrow's show in Baldwin Park, however, you know me, I had to keep checking things out. In fact, although I didn't do much of any work related to it, I was worn out last night just from all the activity!

By around 4:30 the job was done. All in all they spent at least 12 hours here. As such, while talking to Bruce we decided that Jody had underbid the work. I'm not sure what Jody expected when Bruce called but I'm pretty sure it wasn't that we wanted to pay him more for the job. Coming by this morning for another check he expressed sincere gratitude. We're very grateful to him and his crew for doing a wonderful job on an extremely difficult project! Watching those people work in the rain, with vehicles that won't start, most people would realize how easy their life is in comparison. Sure, I didn't' want to spend the money, but at least we have it, whereas I imagine if any one of the crew had to spend several thousand dollars unexpectedly they'd be hard pressed. We definitely count our blessings around here.

I took this photo earlier this morning to show you what I've done with the space. 
Not too bad, at least temporarily. 

It's been quite a week, beginning with my flooded garage last Friday. I never got around to mentioning that did I? Stemmed from a kaput sink disposal which had to be replaced on Friday afternoon. New cable installed outside on Saturday, then all the fun stuff, then on Monday they cut the power for most of the morning, then the tree fall on Tuesday. Let's hope things return to normal next week, but not before I have an awesome show at Baldwin Park tomorrow. Wish me luck!



You Just Never Know