Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Four Cameras

With all the writing I've been doing lately, you'd think I didn't take very many pictures. You'd think wrong. If you can imagine, today I used all four of my cameras, each of which are good for specific tasks. Sadly, the Panasonic pocket camera I bought last year has never gotten the use my former one did. I don't know if it is me, or the camera, but I mostly haven't had too much luck using it. I still, on the other hand, use my workhorse Panasonic Z8 that I've had for nearly four years now. I can always rely on that camera, in fact, although it's just a point and shoot with a long zoom, some of my best selling photographs have been taken with it. I started off the day reading this essay,  Natural Aging.
I am all about natural aging.

As such, after getting myself dolled up for my museum stint, to use an old-fashioned term, I brought my tripod in my bathroom to record the moment. My hair has looked like hell the last few days, what with swimming and yard work, time to remember what it looks like if I fix it!
As you can see, I didn't know where to look in the mirror! So, I tried again:
Even though I cut myself off, at least I was looking at the camera! I brought my Olympus to the museum which was slow as usual. I shot this of the flower beds with it:

 Today there was a volunteer appreciation lunch which broke up the time!
The grounds are oh so lovely. Mr. Polasek's Pan is there to watch over us. After leaving the museum, I went to see Corrine. This time I got out my pocket camera:
I'm happy to say that she is out of ICU, and doing considerably better. While talking today she told me the story of her first husband dying after coming in from mowing the lawn. Very sad indeed. I don't know when she's coming home just yet; her heart has the nerve to behave like it is 85 years old! She and I discussed the fact that she never in her wildest dreams imagined she would live so long. I know I can't imagine living nearly 30 more years!

It's the city calendar contest time once again. The neighborhood is Lake Ivanhoe, which is just down the street from Florida Hospital where Corrine is staying. I stopped at Lake Ivanhoe and brought out the baby camera, using the black and white film grain setting. They want black and white, however, after trying this, I don't think they will be happy with the grain. I kinda like it though.
I will definitely be going back with a longer zoom to photograph lotus flowers!

Next stop--Mr. Roger's house to check up on his progress. Slow and steady.

Poor, poor Baxter! This morning Bruce left early while I was still sleeping. When I got up around 7, Baxter was on his couch perch sleeping. For some reason I thought he'd gone out. He had not. Arriving home just before 4 this afternoon, I was met at the door by Baxter who was mighty glad to see me. No wonder! I put my things down and said--"let's go get the mail!" He did not hesitate one second. I swear I've never seen him pee so long! 

Walking around the yard I saw a few things I wanted to share with you, necessitating me to get out the Nikon D60, which is not in the greatest working order after it fell from the counter at the Polasek. The camera works, the flash does not. Plus, the sensor is dirty. I'm still puzzling about what to do with it. Meanwhile I use it when it seems like the thing to do! Bruce dug this up when working in the bed,
Neither of us can imagine how it got there. Finally, here's the bed itself with the Nandina staked,
I know it's crazy having so many cameras--it's giving me fits trying to decide which two to take on our holiday which is only 30 days away. The older I get, the faster time goes making this seem like no time at all. It's not enough to have to wonder what clothes to pack....decisions, decisions.

Monday, May 30, 2011

So Nice to Have a MAN Around the House

Of course, I don't just mean any man, I mean Mr. Bruce. My posting absence is a result of having a working partner at home. Am I ever glad that was the case!

So, we went to the reunion which felt a little bit like going to the Youth Center when we were teens. We arrived. We scanned the room for familiar faces. We saw no one we knew. Not anyone. We stalled by getting food. Still no one. There were people from Lyman, Colonial, Edgewater, Bishop Moore and Winter Park. A few from Boone, including the couple who walked in with us. They knew Maureen, as did a few others we eventually talked to, but by the time we left, we could count on one hand the number of people we knew. Disappointing in some respects, however, we're still glad we went. Here's one of the bands who probably haven't changed much in the last 40 years except for going grey.
One of the guys I spoke with was the son of the man who taught me how to do Nuclear Medicine studies 40 years ago at Winter Park Hospital. He's a few years younger than we are, thus he was an orderly during my student days, bringing the patients down for their studies. Small world.

If you can believe it, we stayed home from the market on Sunday. Why, you ask? Well, ever since we began four years ago, we've gone week after week except for inclement weather, show schedules, or a vacation. With Roger having only just been released from the hospital, I knew he was in no condition to print. Mostly, though, I wanted Bruce to have a break. We used our time ever so wisely. In fact, we worked together ALL day outside. It was wonderful, reminding me of our earlier days, stretching back all the way to when we bought our first house. We were 20 and 21 years old at the time. Every weekend, and lots of evenings, we worked on that house. It took us six weekends to paint the exterior. What can I say? We love making things look nice!

Arriving at Home Depot at 9:30 in the morning, we brought home an Element full. Seriously, it was packed! One of our purchases was a grill to replace the one we trashed during the remodel.
Bruce isn't really a grill guy, however, he wants me to have a nice spot to grill. We decided to put it in this corner because, really, who wants to look at a grill all the time. Our inaugural meal was--you guessed it--hot dogs and hamburgers.

That was the only time we stopped all day. Dinner time was 9PM. Planting, digging, and chopping on Bruce's part. He moved a Nandina, which for those of you unfamiliar with them, it is a lacy, upright plant in the bamboo family, to please me. He also planted eight Cardinal Red Oleander plants. When digging the Giant Loripe up to make way for the Nandina, he came across an oak root from the now removed tree, the size of my THIGH! Using his axe, he chopped both ends and removed it. More plugs, more flowers. You would think we were gardeners or something!

It wasn't too long after our dinner that we fell fast asleep, although, not before feeling really great about our accomplishments. One of which was to move this plant, a Lysimachia, which was on the ground before I moved it atop the tree stump. I love how it cascades down:
Not to confuse me with my sister Lisa, a gardener extraordinaire, I just want things to look as nice as they can. I'm no vegetable gardener for sure. This is the only tomato from my plant, which also needs explanation. The photo makes it look much larger than it really is:
Seriously, it's smaller than a lemon. I picked it for fear it would go bad before if fully vine-ripened!

This morning I was out bright and early, sunrise, if you must know, finishing my plugging. Bruce, also got into the act, trimming more, edging, and general clean up. There's so much to do with a corner lot! There's probably also something to be said for living in a condo....

But, then you couldn't take pictures of yourself in your pool, now could you? I LOVE the salt water. It somehow feels silky smooth. We'll see what Miss Monica has to say about my hair the next time we meet. I'm not sure if I'm able to float easier in this pool than the previous one, but it sure feels that way.
Doesn't that look refreshing? It sure felt so, although, believe it or not, the weather cooperated so nicely this weekend. It was hot, don't get me wrong, but entirely bearable, except for a few hours in the middle of the afternoon. Humidity is on hiatus for now--if only it would stay there!

Finally we were done with our outdoor projects. Bruce, of course, went right back to his computer to work. I, on the other hand, continued reading by the pool, Portobello by Ruth Rendell . Years, and years ago, I read one of her books, which I seem to recall enjoying. I'm not much of a mystery fan, really, I almost never read mysteries, probably because I'm not clever enough to figure them out. Our mother was a great fan of mysteries, reading them any chance she got. The title refers to Portobello Road in London--I'm getting in the mood for the trip, which is now only 31 days away! Hurray!

Sadly, Bruce will be leaving me again in the morning. It was so very nice having him home for four days in a row!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Shows You What I Know

According to Linda, one of my new friends from bridge, I was mistaken, our "juvenile" cardinal is most likely a he.

After bridge on Thursday morning, which by the way, I did a very good job of faking knowing what I was doing, we ate lunch together. I learned that not only is she a photographer, she is a birder, a ballroom dancer, a bridge player and exercises as well. Somehow the topic turned to birds, and our bird feeder;  I learned that the little crest on his head is a dead give away. So, there.

When we were young, you heard about mortgage burning parties. You don't any longer, however, I feel like having one. On Wednesday I went to the bank, withdrew the balance of our mortgage, and mailed it off. I feel good.
Not only is it a good feeling to not have debt, I'm delighted to no longer associate with Chase after the Bill situation. As such, I convinced Bruce to go out last night for a little celebration. While driving through downtown after seeing Corrine, I decided it was high time we walked around to see what we could see. Lots of new places are opening that we haven't tried. After roaming a bit we settled on Heat which is visually gorgeous--think Monsoon Wedding kind of gorgeous. The food, on the other hand, was mostly unattractive. This is my first time trying purple cauliflower which was allegedly deep fried with Asian sauce:
I say allegedly because it was not fried like anything I've ever had before! I've no idea how they are going to make it because the prices during "happy hour" are pretty darn cheap. You don't pay for a space like theirs with $4.00 tapas portions! I'd say it was about the least expensive date we've had in years. Afterwards we walked back to the car and roamed a little bit on some of the streets in Thorton Park. Lots of folks eating outside on the patios in the nice weather.

Another new spot which recently opened is The Abbey in the bottom of the Sanctuary condo tower. Lots of Sundays, after setting up my booth, Bruce roams around checking out the downtown scene. Earlier this year he went inside to see how the construction was coming. Let's check it out we thought. Arriving around 8:45, there were three people at the bar to go along with three bartenders. Entertainment was to begin at 9:30. Because Bruce knew he would be working from home, we decided to hang around a bit. The space is very well done, with what appears to be, no expense spared. Eventually two other couples came in to have a drink. No one else arrived aside from the entertainment. A girl and a guy, who call themselves, Jen & Dave. Their stage set up was simple, two bar stools, a chair for assorted drinks for Jen, and an electric acoustic guitar. We waited. Finishing our glass of wine and beer, we decided we were ready to head home. As we were walking out the door, she began singing. Not bad. As you well know, Bruce and I are sentimental types. Our son Bill has played lots of venues in the last 15 years, however, I don't think he's ever played to a completely empty house. Where were their families at least? As such, turning back around, we took a seat and listened for a few songs.
I know the picture is small, but please notice the chair on the left with the drinks. A can of Red Bull, several water bottles, gatorade, and maybe a glass of whiskey? Weird. I felt bad for them, and maybe folks came later, but we were ready for bed so we left. Gotta be really hard to play to an empty room.

Yesterday morning I took Baxter for his annual shots. The vet mentioned he needed his teeth cleaned, which isn't surprising; apparently bad breath in a dog comes from tartar build up just like it does in humans. That'll set us back, $300+. Maybe after our holiday....

This afternoon we're going to the old youth center. I'm pretty sure one had to be in the ninth grade before you could get your youth center card which was a really big thing. Dancing to live music was the draw, not to mention seeing, not only your friends, but teenagers from the other high schools. Those were the days! Because I moved away after the tenth grade, I've no idea how long it stayed open, but I do remember it was fun the times we went. There is a group called, Growing up in Orlando before Disney which is sponsoring the event. I'll let you know how it went.

Good news: Roger is finally home recuperating! Corrine is still hospitalized. This morning Bruce told me yet another of our neighbors has died. Three men in the last six months, all in their 80's. The one who lives closest to us, in the center of our cul de sac had mostly been reclusive since his wife died a few years ago. What makes me sad about that situation is that there were NEVER any cars at his house to indicate visitors. There were plenty once he died. Do me a favor--vist or call your loved ones while you still can.

The yard continues to obsess me. I am so happy we finally have color almost everywhere we look. Here's the view out my office window:
What a pleasure! Time to put on my game face for the reunion.....

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Best Tech Support Ever

While the children were growing up there was always a Tupperware pitcher of Kool-Aid in the house. Some favorites were grape, fruit punch, cherry and lemonade. Recently I got the notion to buy some Kool-Aid, possibly to use in an art project. Instead, I remembered something my friend Mary used to do, adding squeezed lemon slices to the lemonade Kool Aid. It's very nice and refreshing if you like that kind of stuff.

Of course, some of today's parents, the hyper aware type that they are, have some sort of notion that sugar is an enemy food which I find ridiculous. Everything in moderation folks. From what I've heard, fruit juice is also on the hit list. I'm happy to report that neither seems to have done our children any harm. I came across Apparently it's high time in yesterday's Times. Duh! Apparently it's high time indeed. Just yesterday morning while mowing the lawn I was thinking along those same lines. Have you ever read anything about exercise in this blog? There's a reason for that--I don't like it. On the other hand, I'm not afraid of productive work. In fact, I love to mow the lawn. Some people get a rush from lifting weights, I get the same feeling from seeing results of a different kind. Namely, a freshly mown lawn. Speaking of which, it's coming along great. Won't be long before bare dirt will be just a memory. Here's a look at the caladiums I planted on Saturday.
Can I just tell you it's been delightful to pull into the driveway and see all the color? I was hoping that the flowers we planted around the tree might be spreading a little bit more by now:
Yesterday when Baxter and I were returning home from his morning walk, I finally got a good shot of the baby cardinal:
Isn't she cute? By now, I feel pretty confidant it's a she.

While reading Always Julia I was amazed how she kept making the same recipe over and over, trying new techniques as she went. Unexpectedly, I did the same thing last week. Because I've been making the french bread about once a week, I keep the bread flour in the freezer to keep it fresh. For the birthday dinner last week I used it before it had a chance to get to room temperature. The cold flour made such a difference in the kneading process! Actually, after realizing what I'd done I was worried it might impede the rising step. Not to worry. Here's how nicely it worked.
It might have had something to do with the lovely French dish cloth I used to cover it with--a gift from Matt. When slicing the bread for dinner, I did notice a difference in the texture. So that's what Julia was doing--combining the best of many ideas.

Speaking of Matt, this is where the tech support title comes in. The phone rang while I was in the back yard watering, a little after 3 on Tuesday afternoon. Out of area, the talking caller id proclaimed. Usually I ignore those calls, but I had a sneaking suspicion it was my very own personal tech guy calling. My intuition was right. "So, what's going on Mom?" After explaining my problems, he got to work, taking control of my computer from London. I'm here to tell you this was an infinitely more pleasant experience than my time with Nick. As well, I'm also just saying the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Just like his father, Matt will not give up on a problem, staying up until one in the morning to get it right. Turns out one of my many external hard drives was incorrectly formatted causing everything else to go crazy. We're in business now!

Are you wondering how all my sick friends are doing?

  • Roger is still in the hospital, feeling much better, however, they are having trouble getting the blood thinner dose correct. 
  • Corrine is in ICU at Florida Hospital. Yesterday afternoon during my visit, her wonderful nurse Michelle asked if there were any questions. My response? What's going on?" Turns out her collapsing is related to low blood pressure, a result of pneumonia in her left lung. She's alert and in not too much distress, however, at times she would drift off. We shall see what happens next.
  • Debbie, my bridge buddy, is still waiting for the breast cancer surgery. We talked again yesterday afternoon and her spirits are still upbeat. She did tell me her breast MRI was slightly daunting, however, she did her yoga breathing and got through it.
I hope this list grows shorter any day now!

Finally, if you live in the Orlando area, unless you were living under a rock for the last two years, you know at least something about the Casey Anthony murder case. For my part, I've mostly ignored it, never quite understanding how it got to be so prominent in the first place. These folks, stationed across from the courthouse, are feeding the appetite of the curious.

I took this yesterday afternoon while driving home from the hospital. Earlier I was catching Regina up to speed on Corrine's condition and told her I was coming up on the courthouse zoo. She said she was sick to death of the whole thing. I second that!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hmmm....

Remember I mentioned that I was worried about Corrine? Well, Sunday and Monday's events validated my concerns. Returning from setting me up at the market, Bruce was flagged down by Herb asking if he was strong. Does the sun come up every day? Yes, he answered, he could help. Apparently Corrine collapsed in their bedroom and was wedged between the wall and the bed. Walking into the bedroom, Bruce was greeted by Corrine in only her underpants. Herb answered Bruce's question about covering her up by saying they were too old to be worried about that. Later, when I was just backing into the driveway from the market, I saw Herb helping her out of the car. She needed it! Shuffling at a snail's pace, I rushed across the street to help. Not only was her color bad, she was very, very weak. Why they went to the grocery store together, I'll never know. To refresh your memory of these nice folks:
I took this for practice about two years ago after buying a news lens. She is much smaller these days. Anyway, after returning from a walk with Baxter yesterday morning, I went to take their recycling bins up from the curb. Seeing me through the window, Herb opened the door.
"Where's Corrine?" I asked. 
"She's on the bathroom floor", he replied. 
"Well now, what's she doing there?"
"She collapsed again."

Indeed she had. I found her, lying naked on her back, without her hearing aids, and disoriented. Covering her with a sheet from their bed, I asked Herb if he'd called 911. Yes, he had. Soon thereafter they came, taking her to the hospital, but not before I found a "duster", as my mom used to call them, to cover her nakedness. 

I'll tell you what, few things make me as mad as people working in healthcare who have NO business doing so. I know, I know, it's a stable job, but if you don't have compassion, do something else! It was all I could do not to give the woman paramedic a piece of my mind! According to Herb, whom I spoke with around 6, her blood pressure was so low it was causing her to collapse. Why that is happening, I don't know, however, I don't think it's good. Only time will tell. 

Following that situation I went to the hospital to visit Roger who is still there, resting fairly comfortably, until the blood thinner he's taking does it's thing. Before I arrived, he had horrible coughing fits which actually made him feel better. Trish is sleeping on an air mattress, having not left the hospital since his arrival by ambulance in the wee hours of Friday morning. They are making him wear this:
My poor collapsing friends!
David called while I was there asking if I could give Michelle a ride to pick up her car which, of course, I agreed to. Actually I took her over to Dave's office on Park Avenue so he could take her. On my way home I stopped first at Mead Gardens, a place I've not visited in a while. It just so happens to also be the place that my brother Pat married his lovely wife Ruth. Because it was hot as the dickens by now, with humidity promising to bring out the mosquitoes, I didn't stay too long, but I did stay long enough to see some butterflies, a gigantic grasshopper, and some mallard ducks. As well, they have this amazing wrought iron surrounding the outdoor stage:
Actually, while trying to take the back way into the gardens, I got a little lost in a neighborhood. Maybe I've told you before, maybe not, but Winter Park is big money my friends, with loads of gorgeous old Spanish style homes like this one next to a tiny, lot-sized park I discovered:
I wouldn't mind living there at all.

Driving down Mills Avenue the other night on our date I saw some colorful chairs alongside the road. Yesterday I decided to stop and see what was what. Armed with my camera, I realized they were placed at our notoriously, seating free, bus stops. No clue who did them, or if it was a collaborative project, but here's one of them with what looks like a weary traveler who, for some reason, isn't using it:
Could he have objected to the flower on top?

There is a lot of color on Mills, making it an interesting place to photograph, albeit a little difficult what with all the traffic:
Just letting you know, I'd planned on writing last evening, however, my computer is giving me fits again causing me to quit in frustration. I told Roger yesterday that he'd better get well soon because I need his help!  

Now, on to some exciting news--if you can believe it,  Top Chef is coming to the Market!!! 
Indeed, they will be there on June 5th for three tapings. This could go either way for the vendors; a huge crowd with no buyers, or the opposite, a huge crowd with new buyers! Let us hope for the latter.
The weather was ridiculously hot for this time of year, which made for a very long day. Folks came out in the morning, but who could blame them for not wanting to do so in the afternoon?

Finally, two weeks ago I purchased some caladiums to replace these petunias; I was certain they would be worn out by now, however, aren't they still gorgeous?
Must be that pruning I gave them last month! Randy Knight, from the Polasek, taught me that trick. That reminds me, after quite a few years, RK, is moving on. The gardens won't be the same without him.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pluggging Along

I'm pretty whipped this afternoon after planting five trays of plugs this morning in the ongoing effort to restore a green surround. For the uninitiated in plug planting, each tray holds 18 small squares of sod, which once planted, spread to meet each other. As I told you recently, much of the yard is looking fab, some not so much, with completely bare patches mostly near the street. The helpful man at Home Depot steered me to a little tool called a bulb planter which worked like a charm, not to mention it was very reasonably priced. Adding today's total to my previous planting, I've now "sown" 144 plugs. Mostly this is done on my knees which suits me just fine. Because that re-run of Spring seems to be a thing of the past, I began this chore just at daylight to beat the heat. As I type it's in the low 90's outdoors. Whew! As well, after Bruce did some much needed trimming in the jungle, I planted 15 multi-colored caladium plants. Those will be shown sometime next week after they've had a chance to settle a bit. After all these years of green everywhere we looked, I'm adding as much color to the landscape as I can.

I wasn't working alone today. The best yardman anyone can find was out there with me, spreading top soil, trimming, watering and cleaning. My, how I love to have company! This is the second time I've seen this, a swallow tail butterfly hanging around dirt.
Normally, they are the hardest butterfly to photograph when amongst flowers, however, as I mentioned, they seem to like to light on dirt which baffles me. After Bruce spread the top soil, this butterfly kept hanging around. I wish I'd been able to get it a little better, however, I hope you can still appreciate the lovely blue on the wings.

I spent yesterday cleaning and cleaning. Our house needed it! To illustrate what kind of a housekeeper I am, when I moved a couple of things in the sunroom to vaccum, I found to my horror, that a mud dauber apparently made a nest in one of the fake trees! While it was out of it's normal position in the corner, I gave it a shake, my version of dusting. I turned around to find the glob of dried dirt with some little wasp inside on the floor! Yikes! Apparently I spoke way too soon about leaving those doors open!

Our friend, Anna Schmidt recently completed the interior of a new restaurant off Park Avenue in Winter Park, Cocina 214,  which we decided to visit last night. Because there was a wait, we had a glass of wine beforehand just around the corner at the Winter Park version of Eola Wine :
One of the reasons I took this is because one of Bruce's superintendents is named John Craig. Fun. Arriving I had to head into the restroom while Bruce did the ordering. Upon my return I asked him what he ordered, only to be told to guess. Looking at the menu, naturally under the Reds, I guessed correctly. How did I do it you ask? In what seems like forever ago, Bruce and I took a glorious trip to Napa Valley, specifically Yountville. We tried to visit all kinds of wineries, from well known to teeny tiny ones. Dutch Henry was one of the tiny ones, however, from the looks of their web site it may have grown since our visit. I was so surprised to see it on the menu, knowing immediately that that's the one he would order, despite the $17 a glass price. He's a romantic you know....

Instead of little gadgets that light up when your table is ready, they said they would call, and they did. Seating us on the patio was fine by us because although the interior is stylish as all get out, it is very, very noisy, making conversation difficult. We're old you know. We're totally over that when given the choice. The food is "gourmet" Mexican if you can imagine. A few glitches, like not hot enough food, but on the whole it was a good time.

Inserting this now to add a little spark to things. Sunflowers are so cheery aren't they? Good, you're cheery just when I have some serious news to report.

I didn't hear my cell phone ring in the noisy restaurant last night. Turns out, this morning around 11 when I came in from my plugging for a moment, I saw I had a voice mail from Trish on my mobile. Her message was that Roger is in the hospital with a pulmonary embolism! Calling her immediately, she answered only to say she'd call me back. Once I talked to her, I learned that the breathing problems Roger was attributing to allergies were instead blood clots in his lungs. A very scary business here my dear readers. A blood clot remains in his leg,  undoubtedly the origination of the clots in his lungs. He's on a regimen of blood thinners as I type, which hopefully will dissolve the remaining clots. I talked to him this afternoon and he seems to be feeling much better, but will have to remain hospitalized until the medication levels are right. Goodness! Keep him in your prayers, will you? I left out the part where he had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital after falling flat, and I mean that literally on his face in his home in the middle of the night. Lots of blood involved.

Crazy me, although I made Bruce a gourmet birthday dinner on Thursday night when he arrived home from his business trip, tonight I'm making him a second one of comfort food. Meat loaf, mashed potatoes and corn. Those potatoes need attention right now!

p.s. no editing--too tired.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Reading Time

Thank you very kindly for spending a few minutes reading time with me; I do appreciate your kindness.

This blog post will undoubtedly be all over the place as I feel like I'm bursting at the seams with things to write about. Before I launch into things, let me just tell you that I finally got around to watching ADELE at the Brit Awards and if you don't watch it yourself, you are really missing one of the great talents of the day. Here's a few things I love about Adele:

  • She's sort of big. Not grossly fat or anything, but regular size.
  • She wears false eyelashes so well.
  • She's got great hair.
  • Did I mention her lips?
  • She appears to have her own breasts.
  • Her laugh is a cackle which doesn't seem to embarrass her in the least.
  • Saving the best for last, that voice! It gives me either the shivers or tears.
Several years ago Matt gave me her first album which was excellent, however, this new one blows me away. In fact, I have to ration my listening because I can't get the songs out of my head! Mostly she sings about heartbreak, which I've mostly avoided, so go figure why it gets to me so. Although I've talked to Matt several times since he last saw her, I keep forgetting to get the low down on the concert. She was small time when he saw her several years ago, wonder how she's handling things now? From my observations, she sounds even better live.

One of the best parts about my bridge playing adventures is the ladies. I've told you that before haven't I? Anyway, I'm sad to say that one of them, Debbie, has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Calling her this morning for an update, I was delighted to hear how well she's taking the news. Preliminary tests show that it hasn't spread, which I don't have to tell you, is great. Apparently she's got a "super" husband like I do and he's supporting her like nobodies business.

Speaking of husbands, today is my sweetheart's 58th birthday. He's traveling; it's Wednesday after all. While mowing the lawn this morning I was thinking how long we've been best buddies. A long time my friends. 44 years. It's been heaven on earth. Seriously. Mostly I don't dwell on us getting older, however, there's no denying that we are. I hope we have lots and lots more birthdays to celebrate together.

While getting gas for the mower on Sunday, Bruce called me at the market saying he'd found this:
Surprisingly, it was only after I showed him this that he realized she was naked.

Can I just tell you that we are having a re-run of Spring? Glorious day today. Greater Summer was sneaking up on us, however, Spring reclaimed the day. Thank God! Lawn mowing today was a pleasure, especially so now that the grass is filling in. There's nothing quite like the smell of newly mown grass is there? With such low humidity(30%!!!),  I've been keeping the windows open, enjoying not only the cooling breezes, but the sounds of the birds. When we were little there was no way you could leave the doors wide open because of the FLIES. Every Florida home had at least one fly swatter because invariably flies would follow children inside when they came in from playing outdoors. I can still remember them lighting on the screens by the dozens! Seems like our fly population decreased as our people population increased.

So, what have I been up to?

A visit to Eric's house around the corner to see their wild jungle of a yard. In a crazy incident of Orlando being a small town, last Thursday, while I was imprisoned at the Apple store, Bruce went to the Agricultural Center to ask some questions regarding our new tree. The volunteers turned out to be none other than Eric, AND, a girl we went to high school with. Plus, her husband works with David! Small town life folks. Anyway, Eric came by the house to look at the tree, and was he ever surprised it was ours. He told me they found a lens that I must have dropped in their garden on one of my last visits. What it was is kind of like a poor man's macro lens; you screw it on the front of your lens and it magnifies the image. Thus, I went over there Monday morning and have the bites to prove it! This picture is not great, however, you may be interested to know that this is the flower they use to make the wildly expensive perfume, Joy.
    Eric, like most of the master gardeners I know, love the challenge of growing exotic plants.

    I just got an email letting me know that my submission for the Winter Park Autumn Art Festival poster contest was not selected. I'm not surprised in the least, however, I figured I had ZERO chance unless I entered. 

    Pictured above is my work table filled with crazy art projects. Make me stop!

    Finally I finished As Always, Julia and was it ever terrific! Can you imagine working on something for ten years? That's about how long it took for Mastering the Art of French Cooking to be written and published. Oh my, the ups and downs! Interestingly enough, the publishers dreamed up the brilliant title. I may have touched on this earlier, if so, please put up with me for a moment, the letters were so informative on so many topics of the day, chiefly politics! Bruce spends what I consider an inordinate amount of time watching CNN. What struck me so while reading the book was that the more things change, the more things stay the same. Insert the names of today's politicians and they would fit right into the 50's and 60's political scene. You think bi-partisan politics is something new? Think again. Particularly if you are of a certain age, you will really like this book. 

    Occasionally, when I look at other blogs, I'm almost embarrassed that I don't have better photos to share with you. That said, this blog is mostly about words, with pictures filling in the gaps. I try to show you, and my future self, what my life is like on a week to week basis. This blog is invaluable to a person such as myself with a VERY faulty memory. I do so hope it stays put. Last week when there was the outage, one of my posts disappeared completely. I would be very sad indeed if they all did; they help me keep track of time, which seems to be moving as fast as the grains of sand in this hourglass.

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Up to Speed!

    I knew my computer was running slowly, just didn't realize how slow. Now, my friends, I'm zipping around my computer once again. As well, when I left you on Friday evening I shared with you that I did not curse or shout at the Apple folks. I did. Only it was later when they wouldn't let Nick call me because he was helping others and they respect their customers time. Yeah, right!

    It's not something I'm proud of but the store managers cavalier attitude made me do it. I blew up using words that don't jump easily or often from my lips. I hung up after he said he'd connect me to Apple Care. I'd had enough. Well, when I called Roger a bit later to order a few prints for Sunday I told him my woes. He offered to come by after he and Trish went out to eat and I jumped at the chance.

    It's been dry around these parts, very, very dry. Friday after finishing my blog post, the heavens opened up taking care of that, dropping over an inch and a half of rain in short order. Looking out the kitchen door I saw that a large branch from Herb and Corrine's massive oak tree fell, landing sideways across their driveway. Not as large as ours, however, way too big for Herb, aged 82, to mess with. Bruce to the rescue! Donning our work gloves, we headed over for Bruce to use the chain saw and me to clean up. By now, the rain was mostly done for the night.

    And that's where Roger and Trish found us when they arrived. Fortunately for me, Roger, the computer engineer Roger, not to be confused with the printer Roger (one and the same really), sat down and rebuilt the files in pretty short order. I don't really know how long it took because it was still working when we went to bed, but it's looking good folks. Hurray!

    Saturday morning before sunrise, Bruce and I, mostly Bruce, planted some super cool flowers around the new tree. Mostly Bruce because there are ginormous roots making digging very challenging. I'll show you what the red ones look like in another post. Speaking of the tree, here's another shot of that bird we liked so well.
    You'll notice the touch of orange under the gray wing which is what allowed us to identify this bird using the Audubon bird book Bruce's mom gave us some years ago. A tufted titmouse is the name. I've not seen it again, however, working at his desk yesterday while I was at the market, Bruce saw several of them. By the way, the dead leaves pictured are just from the transport--so far, so good.

    The downpour of Friday night showed us a drainage problem just outside the back door which Bruce set about fixing on Saturday afternoon. Guess what? More rain once he got started. He's taking shelter under his canoe in this picture, however, not for long. He just got out there and worked.

    The grass is finally coming along nicely, don't you think? Because of all this digging by dinner time he was pretty worn out. Earlier we'd discussed going out; instead after rustling up some food, we sat down for a Friday Night Lights marathon. Calling Jonathan, I told him I'd cried my way through the first episode. It is SO good. He assured me it wouldn't be the last time! I checked it out online, discovering that they do no rehearsals, use only three moving cameras, and let the actors ad lib when they feel it is appropriate. I knew it had a very organic (I know, overused word but the only one that will do) feel to it. I am hooked! Sadly, bedtime rolled around leaving us wanting for more. Another marathon session soon, very soon.

    The rain continued most of the night, with thunder and lightening waking us several times. Waking to a drizzle, not to mention soaked everything, we pondered our about the market. The forecast was for some rain in the middle of the day with blue skies and cooler temperatures to follow. So, we went. Bruce dreamed up another easier set up which I think we may use for the hot months. The weather cooperated nicely, with not a drop of rain and indeed cooler temperatures. People came, some people bought, not quite as many as I wanted but I'm getting used to it now. I did enjoy my day, despite the sales slump, because so many folks came to visit. That's the nice thing about having been at the market for so long, people know me. Some people even like me.

    Switching gears, I've got two articles from, you know where, to share: Keeping Up With Fashion , and then there is this: I Wish I Said This 
    The fashion one is fun and clever, the food claims article more serious but important I think. Either people are pretty gullible, or, science is the new religion. Whereas once lots of folks believed that God appointed the time for our birth and death, nowadays, they seem to think relying on "science" is the way to go. Who is really in charge?  Ask those folks in Alabama about that. Or Louisiana, or Japan, or wherever "natural" disasters occur. Hmmm.....

    After that little rant, how about if I leave you with something so beautiful it gives me pause?

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    15 Minutes Turns Into 7 Hours!

    When I walked up to the Genius bar, carrying my iMac and a bag with three external hard drives and the cords that go with them, I'm sure Nick NEVER thought we'd get to know one another as well as we did.

    I found out that he's an only child, rarely talks to his mother in Michigan, hasn't seen his father since he was a toddler, and spent a year "male dancing" if you know what I mean. He eats candy bars and soda for meals and is thin as can be. Plus, he's Jonathan's age.

    I may very well have missed my calling. For as long as I can remember, people have always told me a lot. While working my patients told me the "darndest" things which constantly amazed my co-workers. Well, the Apple store was no different. Of course, when you sit there for hours on end, conversation ensues.

    Fortunately, I didn't have to worry about this little guy
    while I was gone so long because Bruce was working from home as I may have mentioned. By the way, Baxter, unbeknownst to me, turned 8 years old on May 3rd. We neglected to throw a party.

    What did Nick do all those hours? One thing he did was discover my usb ports were just fine. Erase my hard drive, yes. Install completely new software, yes again. Back up all my data, check. This last part nearly killed me, and once he started it back up again, my fears, at least for the moment were realized. Mostly for the last, say two years or so, I've been using Picasa for my photo storage and editing. Gone!

    But wait, he found it. Or did he?
    This was the note he left on my computer while it reigned supreme on the Genius bar counter, or make that bar I guess. Actually, what happened is that around 5:00 I said I'd pretty much had enough, how about if I return at 7:30 before you get off at 8? I drove the six miles home just to get out of that mall! Working at his desk, Bruce called out for me to look at the bird feeder, which by now you know is providing us with lots of entertainment.
    Neither of us know what kind of bird this, but I'll tell you this much, the male cardinal was none too happy that his territory was being invaded.

    After making dinner for Bruce (I'd finally eaten lunch at Nordstrom around 3:30), I headed back to the mall. Nick was waiting on someone but eventually he got to me and showed me he'd found the Picasa pictures. Hurray! This time I did not lug everything back to the car, instead driving to the alley way behind the store. The iMac is heavier than you'd think.

    So far, so good. Naturally I plugged it in the moment I got home, hoping for the best. During the reload, as if it were a new computer, he upgraded me to iPhoto 2011, which I was anxious to see. All this fiddling around has left me with stuff on three different hard drives, some data split between two or three. Basically, it feels like a mess, however, for sure the Time Machine is now working properly. Before leaving I asked Nick what should I tell folks was wrong. Software was his answer.

    I was prepared to tell you all about it earlier today, however, the server for this blog was down--apparently for many hours. In fact, at this very moment, my last post has been wiped out. Plus, the bird picture above looks way better than what you are seeing. No clue what is happening.

    Finally, after errands, cleaning and laundry, I sat down to type. Guess what? No Picasa=Unhappy Gail.
    I phoned the store asking for Nick. Dan said he wasn't in but he'd be happy to connect me to regional service. I didn't shout, I didn't curse. Calmly I told him that after spending 2 1/2 hours on the phone Wednesday afternoon, and the aforementioned time yesterday, I was NOT going to talk to just anyone. I am still waiting for the return call 1 1/2 hours later.

    You know something else? On Wednesday, after swimming and reading, I showered, washed my hair and put on a nice dress for my honey's return later. Normally I let my hair air dry for about an hour, then style it with the blow dryer. It needs that you know. WELL, staying on the phone forever, my hair dried into a crazy mess. And that's what it looked like all of yesterday during my mall imprisonment.

    Thus, I am leaving you to go blow dry my hair before I look like a slob for the next two days. I'm hoping that once I turn it on, Nick will call and try to solve my problems.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Mayfaire 2011

    I suspect, if you've been reading any of my recent posts, you are wondering how Lakeland treated me this year. Very well, thank you very much, although it was not nearly as wonderful as last year. Maybe I should retract that statement because even though my sales were lower, the weather was markedly better. As in, tolerable all weekend long, including the set up time.
    We arrived just before the 4PM cut off time to get our registration package which included both the paperwork and goodies. Both kinds of M&M's, bottles of water, trail mix, pretzels and crackers. The reason I mention it is because both Bruce and I had to raid the goodie bag before we were done setting up to ward off famine. Please note in the above photo the blue umbrella behind my booth. Bruce fashioned a shade shelter for me to retreat to during slow times which fortunately were few. Because he was too busy to help at the show, he gave me a little knot tying tutorial hoping I could set it up by myself. I'm not sure if I did it right, but whatever I did worked. As well, please note the lovely green grass, unlike the pure dirt we faced in Ocala. Another great thing was that I faced the morning sun, rather than the blazing afternoon sun which makes an enormous difference, especially during the set up and take down. Here's what I had behind me:
    Very nice indeed. The folks were nice, some repeat customers which is always a huge bonus, along with plenty of new ones. I drove back and forth this year, missing the awards party where Laurie Coppedge was announced as the $5,000 best in show winner. Astute readers may recall that she wins every show I enter. I'm never expecting a prize, probably because regular people like my stuff a bit. I'm at a loss as to the market for her kind of photography. Having said that, if you win big money like that at multiple shows, you don't really need a market, now do you?

    By the time I got home Saturday night I was plenty bushed. Although it was bearable, it was hot nonetheless. Fortunately we had some leftovers to warm up for supper which we ate while watching the exciting Kentucky Derby. After a nice cool shower, a trip to Mr. Roger's house to pick up some prints I'd neglected to order, and a few minutes reading I fell soundly asleep underneath the fan set to maximum speed. Did I mention it was 9:00? Staying up late aren't I?

    Good thing I slept so well because I had to get up around 5 in the morning to prepare the prints, dress for success and make the hour drive to Lakeland. Having driven it for three days in a row I can say it was pretty easy. I wouldn't want to do it every day or anything but it wasn't bad at all. Now, if there'd been an accident I'd be singing a very different tune about now. Oh yeah, it was Mother's Day wasn't it?

    Somewhere I've lost some pink flip flops that I was pretty keen on before their disappearance. Bruce, otherwise known as my perfect husband (he denies it, but it's certainly true to me), remembered that and went on a search mission as only he can to find me some new ones for a Mother's Day gift. That darling boy had a pink theme going on, putting the shoe box in a pink gift bag with printed pink tissue, along with a PINK card. He's a doll for sure!

    Jonathan gave me three DVD series of Friday Night Lights, a show he swears I'll love. Bill called later in the day, I think Matt phoned on the computer before we returned, and David presented me with a stellar bottle of wine which we picked up from his condo while there to do a photo shoot. He was so hoping I wouldn't be too tired and I wasn't.
    What for you ask? David has amassed a one of a kind collection of wrestling cards, of which he's very proud. He wrote to the editor of a sports card magazine regarding same, convincing them of the news worthiness of his collection. To accompany the story they needed photographs and Dave told them his mom would be happy to help. And she was. Anyone who has talked to David for only a few moments on the subject of wrestling cards knows that he is passionate beyond all reason. We didn't send this one to the editor, but I liked it nevertheless. Probably should have moved that candle....

    The alarm went off at 4:45 this morning because Bruce had an early flight to the Boston area which woke me as well. Been up since, mostly finishing up all the details involved with a show. As in credit card entries which thankfully all went through! A trip to the bank was also in order. Silly me, the teller counted $180 more than I'd put on the slip. Woohoo! Don't ask me how I did that but wasn't it wonderful it was in my favor?

    A final word before I go. Our dear friends Sam and Mary Whited showed up at the show to encourage me AND let me run to the terrific air conditioned outdoor potty. I was never clear if they drove from Orlando just to see me or what, but I'll tell you this much, it was a delight to see familiar faces. Their lovely daughter Amanda accompanied them, wearing the style of the day, a maxi dress. Or a maxi as we called them "back in the day." Plus, Mary brought some scrumptious brownies. The Beatles sang it so very well: All You Need is Love

    Thank you for reading dear loved ones. Forgive any errors if you will, by now I'm already getting sleepy. :)

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    We're Almost Off

    The prints are ready:
     And, thanks to Bruce, the panels are all nice and fresh:

    Once he gets off a conference call, we will head out to Lakeland. This morning, just after 5, Bruce packed the truck, but not before he vacuumed it!! Can you believe he vacuumed this morning? Neither can I. He wanted me to ride in style. :)

    I am booth 61:Mayfaire
    Last year, it was the very best show that I'd ever done before. Then I did Winter Park....
    I will be oh so happy if I do nearly as good as last year. I know what I want for Mother's Day.
    This cat could care less how I do:
    Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers in my little reading circle.

    P.S. I told you those plants were growing like nobodies business.

    You Just Never Know