Friday, June 29, 2012

Christmas in Six Months!

Monday, as we were all studying our newly dealt hand, Beverly pointed out that it is only six months until Christmas. Really? Where did the year go? Ladies our age always feel as if time is flying by, and maybe it's not only our age, but everyone. Does it feel that way to you?

With the Christmas remark fresh in my mind I then realized, oh my gosh, I've left that Christmas basket of British "goodies" from Angela sit on the hearth all this time!! Good grief! The truth is, the contents left me less than excited, so there they sat for six whole months. Judging from the interior shots of our home, you've more than likely gleaned that we like to keep things neat. Clean, we're not talking about that--it's neat we strive for. Clean is a bonus! This is no dis on the Brits, it's more about me not being an adventurous eater. Spotted Dick. Just can't do it.
For all I know it is perfectly good, perhaps even delicious, but there's just something about the thought of canned pudding that bothers me. I had forgotten about that sweet bowl in there however. We are hosting a certain British gentleman around Christmas and he may just be the man for the job. 

Thinking about Angela, besides the fact that she would eat something with such an incredibly weird name, does not recycle. Neither does Regina. How can this be that two of my best friends from the neighborhood throw everything in the trash bin? To be fair, Regina does recycle her newspapers and magazines, but seriously what is up with this? Aside from the new dishwashing routine, we moved our recycling bins outside. For years and years they have been in the garage until this problem arose. Moving them alongside the garbage cans has been just another form of home exercise because I try to recycle as much as I can. I've heard it said that much of what we put in the bins ends up in the trash, which if true, is on them, not me. We are doing our part and can only hope the recycling folks do theirs. Enough said.

I've been a practicing fool with mixed results. Because the pictures from the new Nikon are so huge, I'm trashing them like nobodies business. Bruce's flight did not land until after midnight this morning which kept him in bed a bit later than me. I can't remember a time that I did not do laundry for two weeks, but, it seems there's a first time for everything. Taking Bruce's bag into the kitchen to retrieve his dirty clothes for the marathon wash session, this tag clunked so loud I was sure it would awaken him. It did not.
For the highest level of frequent flyer, these tags are so bad. Note how bent up it is! Plus it is made of some sort of metal that clangs around creating an annoying racket. Back to the drawing board Delta.

From the sound of it, my readers probably think that all I do is play and there is some truth to that rumor, however, sometimes I do all my chores at once. After getting the clothes hung,
I mowed the lawn and was it ever a scorcher by 10AM! Plus with all the rain the grass was oh, so high. Lately I've been putting a little pizazz in my lawn mowing by cutting the grass on the diagonal. Apparently I'm not the first to think of this technique as Angela mentioned that when she was a girl her Dad insisted on a diagonal cut. So, there's that. Taking a look at the clothesline tells you a bit about your favorite blogger and her husband. Or maybe just me. Color and patterns. Love them!

When I first began taking photographs in earnest I usually drove around looking for flowers, or really anything interesting in folks yards. Plus, I was always going to Leu Gardens. It never occurred to me  that I could create a beautiful outdoor garden right here, mostly because where was I to put it? Once the tree came down, everything changed, leaving me with plenty of space, but iffy soil. Which is still iffy, however, I imagine with each passing year it will improve. Things were looking very spiffy indeed until this past week and now, not so good. My gorgeous ivy geranium is dying back, there's been a death by fertilization in the side garden, and the dianthus are turning yellow. What's a grieving gardener to do? Why, plant Pentas, a Floridian's best friend for the summer. Plus, butterflies love them. From all my trips to Leu Gardens I learned that more often than not, once you spot a butterfly feeding on a Penta, even if it flies away, it will return. The trick is to just stand there and await their return. Opening the gate I saw a black swallowtail feasting away on the pinkish-red Penta. Of course you already guessed that the camera was outside, so grabbing it, I shot away. If you are unfamiliar with this type of butterfly let me just tell you that it is a mover, as in the whole body floating around with constant wing movement, making for a difficult photographic experience. Nevertheless, I got a decent one--not great, but you may enjoy seeing it.
After writing this post, I'm getting out the manual to see how I can improve this type of shot!! Not many birds today, but there were both bees, and butterflies, as well as this moth on the bright yellow zinnias.
Most of you probably already know this, but in case you don't, the way to tell the difference between a moth and a butterfly is how they rest. Butterflies rest with their wings together (upright) and moths are just the opposite. So there you go, you've learned something--reading this post has not been a complete waste of time!
I can't recall if I've already shown you this dahlia or not. My goodness was it ever lovely. The funny thing is that out of all the blooms on the plant, only one was two-tone. I kept thinking it was kind of like children in a family, not all are alike, something we can all agree on! Here's the adjacent plant with the blooms in all states.
I almost forgot, there's one of those busy bees I was mentioning! 

Yikes, before I forget, Michelle picked up her pictures last night and her reaction did not disappoint. Although she'd seen the same photograph I put in the blog, in person, it was another story. May I just say I think I detected an intake of breath, as in almost a gasp? Now, as if I need a new camera for inspiration! Duh! 

I know what I'm about to say is both unfashionable, and perhaps even a little controversial, but I'm saying it nonetheless. It's a good thing my artist sister Carol does not read this blog because when I say that I keep up with the trends in home decorating, trying to create something that is salable, there would be more than a barely audible intake of breath. I can just hear her getting on me now! To her, art is something that if it sells, fine, if it doesn't, that's okay too. It's all about process, and what an artist is trying to "say" with their work. No one would ever confuse me with this type of artist. Although I do love making photographs, I 'm thrilled if some of it is marketable. Mostly that sort of stuff never makes it into my blog posts because you and I both know how easy it is for folks to steal pictures when posted online. Because gray and yellow are making a comeback, I figured it wouldn't hurt to try making something interesting, however, my efforts to date are not good enough. Which means you GET TO SEE it!
I've got to get some texture going with the gray which, now that I have a new camera, I'm sure is going to happen like magic! Yeah, right!

Are you about sick of flower pictures? I can't blame you! When next we meet I hope to have a little more variety. Time will tell now, won't it? 


Thursday, June 28, 2012

I Got a Nikon Camera

Let's just say at the outset that Ron Rash's The Cove is a fantastic read, that, if you have the time,  I highly recommend. So good in fact, that this early to bed woman stayed up until midnight finishing it, as if she were a young girl again. The shocking ending was on my mind a good bit yesterday.

With that out of the way, let's recap the storm. It's finally out to sea, which is probably about all you need to know, however, I've still got a few more things to say about the ordeal. Mistletoe is not something that gets a lot of attention at this time of the year. I'm thinking mistletoe comes up in conversation for only about two weeks of the year, aren't you? Furthermore, you've probably only seen small branches, right? Cleaning up the yard debris, post Debby, I dragged this bunch out to the curb, placing it beside the bin to give you a bit of context regarding the size of said mistletoe!
Although I can see more up in the tree, I had no idea how large it was until this one broke off, tumbling onto the grass. By the time I completed the pick up, both cans were overflowing! A little later in the evening I noticed that the sky was finally another shade of color other than gray. Talking to Regina out front, I kept one eye on the sky, hoping that indeed it would turn red as I've found over time that the old "red sky at night" is pretty darn accurate.
Except when I awoke yesterday morning it was raining. Not a lot, and certainly not enough to keep me from my bike ride, but still, it was difficult to read my rain-covered odometer. Finally, finally, the wet blanket left us in the afternoon, leaving behind these lovely clouds.
And that was that. Today, the sky is a blank slate of blue, with brilliant, live giving sunshine. :)

I must admit that for some time now I've been thinking of getting a new camera. Did I need one? Maybe not, but ever since I broke the flash on my Nikon D60 a year ago, it's been on my mind. I don't use the flash very frequently, but when I have needed it, it's not been there for me. Totally my fault because I placed it on the high counter at the Polasek reception desk one day, and somehow it got knocked off, falling about 45'' onto the hard tile. So, there was that reason, along with the advancement in technology over the last four years. Finally, I needed to spend some of my earnings for tax purposes. So, off I went yesterday afternoon to Colonial Photo and Hobby where I've purchased both my Nikon D60, and Olympus EPL1. I asked for the entry level Nikon that could be purchased as a body only because I wanted to continue to use my two Nikon lenses. I came home with a Nikon D5100 and a new toy--a macro lens made my Tamron. While mulling over the purchase I noticed a sign advertising money for trade-ins, and because I had my D60 in the car, I went and got it for their inspection. Turns out the cost to fix the flash would be more than it is worth. Oh well, it didn't hurt to try.

Immediately upon taking my purchases to the car I put the new lens on the D60, got back out of the car looking for something to photograph in their parking lot. Here's the first shot with the new lens.
Crazy, right? It is a hole in a piece of wood by the trash can. Because there is a $100 mail in rebate that expires in a few days (great timing right?), I wanted to see if this purchase was right for me. The guy explained I had a few days to try it out. Once home, I asked Baxter if he wanted to accompany me to Regina's house and he said he was more than happy to do so. Although I now have many flowers in my own yard to photograph, she has some things in her back garden with loads of texture like this:
Meanwhile the new battery was charging up. First thing this morning I went to Ken Rockwell's website, a guy who explains all things Nikon including this astute comment:

"To get great photos you still need to get yourself to the right placeat the right time and point the camera in the right direction, which is a lot harder than mastering the D5100. Right out of the box at default settings, the D5100 does a great job all by itself. Making a great photo involves locationstimingpatience and a whole lot more. I cover this more important stuff here." 

Will the new stuff make me a better photographer? Probably not. New inspiration--for sure.

Something so random happened today while playing bridge. A woman stopped, saying how the eight of us looked like we were having so much fun. She was right, we were. Barbara told us a little about herself and before you know it she was handing out cards, saying she lived just down the street in one of the oldest homes in Maitland. Hmmm.....

Because I had my new stuff in the car I decided to take her up on the offer of a visit. Well now. Several years ago I wrote this post  about visiting a home that was filled with all sorts of wonder. Same thing today beginning with the sign out front declaring "Martha Stewart Doesn't Live Here." Barbara was an absolute delight from the moment I met her on her front sidewalk as she guided me to her home over the phone. Eclectic--you bet!
First we did a tour of their one acre which is filled with all sorts of stuff, including a back building which once was a chicken coop, now turned into a rental property. We roamed, we chatted. In all my years I've never once seen a swimming pool that is mostly a very, very large oval hole, with a fancy liner, and edged with rock. Very clever indeed. Eventually we made our way onto the porch where most of their living is done, as it probably once was back in the late 1800's when the house was built. Apparently when they bought the property 25 years ago it was headed for the wrecking ball. Sadly because I am not adept with the new lens just yet my photograph of Barbara did not turn out, but I did manage to take a few of some of her collections.
These days, instead of selling plants and flowers as she once did, she is spending time going to estate sales with starting a business in old collectibles as her goal. Of course I was crazy about this old case of Coca Cola.
Made of metal, the handle in the middle pulls up when you lift it. Life before plastic--hard to imagine. The inside walls of her high ceiling rooms are adorned with sleighs, bicycles and other stuff which I've already forgotten. I definitely should have gone to the car for a different lens! All in all, it was such a great random visit which I think will turn into something more. Don't know just how yet, but I've got a feeling.

While we're on the subject of plastics, how about this happy news that Google is manufacturing in the United States. Reading the article I kept thinking to myself, with the cost of shipping I've never fully understood the rush to China.

Once I was home this afternoon Matt called despite feeling a bit under the weather. It is way too complicated for me but the short version is that Apple is no longer hosting my website so an alternate had to be found before June 30. You are correct if you thought he was the man for the job.

Dinner is calling and after just getting off the phone with Michelle, a photo pick up is in store for tonight. I can't wait to see her reaction!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tropical Storm Debby

At least it hasn't been hot for the last few days. What it has been is rainy, (4.5 inches so far), grey, gloomy and WINDY. When last I wrote, the rain was merely sprinkles, however, soon thereafter, the rain began falling and essentially did not quit for two days. Even so, we have been going out and about because that's what Floridians do. Staying home because of the weather is generally not on our radar!

Giving Bruce the choice of a drive up to Sanford, recently made infamous because of the Zimmerman case, or, over to Cape Canaveral, where I'd read there is a nice restaurant overlooking the ocean, he chose the former because, truth be told, the 45 mile drive to CC might have been challenging. As it was, the 25 miles to Sanford had it's moments with yours truly the designated driver.

I'll admit Bruce was skeptical of both ideas, however, once we arrived in downtown Sanford, such as it is, he was glad we'd made the trip.
On my last visit to the tiny downtown I noticed the tables filled with diners at the Willow Tree Cafe, thus my mission was to see what the fuss was all about. My half reuben on marbled rye bread with German potato salad on the side hit the spot, however, for some unknown reason, Bruce ordered a liverwurst sandwich leading to a discussion about the difference between braunschweiger and liverwurst which this link clearly spells out. Although he carried fond memories of the stuff from his childhood, the real-deal German stuff wasn't nearly as tasty as he recalled. According to him, Oscar Meyer is to blame.
We next wandered into the art gallery next door spending an hour or so perusing both the work spaces and main gallery area. Despite what you may imagine, for such a small town, there were many fine works of art, be they sculptures, folk art, watercolors, mixed media or abstract paintings.

Driving there we took 17-92 all the way to the downtown, allowing Bruce, as the passenger, to point out all of the empty businesses which was mighty depressing. Our discussion centered around the idea of were too many buildings built in the first place, or is the recession to blame for what we saw?Probably a little of both don't you think? Heading to the interstate towards home,  I pulled into a lakeside parking lot to take this:
Some parts of the world have white outs, on this occasion we had a grey out! Caution was the order of the day driving home on I-4!

I had some chores for Bruce before he left for the week, one of which I'm ashamed to say took me way longer to prepare for hanging than is reasonable.  Last summer, while visiting the Fludes in Melton Mowbray, they showered us with gifts, including this, finally hung, piece by Tom's brother, Ollie.
The color is way weird in the photograph--despite what your eye tells you, everything is blue, the wall, the mat, and the drawing, although that's not really the technique. Once again, I'm embarrassed to say that I've forgotten how he does it. All that is water under the bridge now, and because it is hanging in the hallway, I'll be seeing it daily from here on out!

Let's get back to the weather shall we? The pool was overflowing yesterday morning when I went out in the rain to empty some of the water into the already sodden ground, which is becoming more so every minute. The wind, as mentioned above, has been wild one minute, calm the next. Windy enough to blow the float out of the pool and across the yard.
If not for the bushes stopping the forward momentum, I've no doubt the float would be resting on the gate! The palms have been blowing like crazy as are the pots of flowers. Check this out:
My how these whirly things have faded since I got them a few months ago! Because I wanted the movement of the whirly gigs to show, I used ISO (film speed) of 100 which was pushing it because the light has been so bad. Who should appear on the fence behind me but a beautiful cardinal? Those photos were terrible because of said slow shutter action. Heading out into the side yard, and our little man was on the other side of the fence!
Somewhat surprisingly, at least to me, I decided, what the heck, I'm doing my bike ride, rain or no rain. Now, as an adult, it is rare that I voluntarily go out in the rain, but as I discovered, it was still fun, not quite as fun as when I was a child mind you, but fun nonetheless. Originally, I planned to take a road trip from Tuesday to Friday while Bruce was gone,  but you know what became of those plans! Monday was already spoken for because I had to drop off my framed prints for the Red Chair project, explained at length in this video. Putting them in a kitchen garbage bag for protection, I drove to the Orange County Office of Cultural Affairs. Good thing I did so because I had to park way far from the door, and because of their size, I could not carry an umbrella at the same time! What's a little rain?

Soon thereafter, I went to play bridge with the "experts." Man, was I terrible yesterday, holding at one point nine hearts and not even bidding them. I won't bore you with the details, but Bev and I got spanked!

Bruce called last night while I was reading in bed, and his trip to California is going just fine for those of you wondering.

I'm blaming it on the barometric pressure due to the storm, (for lack of anything else to pin it on), but the last few mornings I've flet glued to my bed. Yeesh! Nevertheless, I finally got up and after a few chores, took my chances again on my bike ride. I'm happy to say not a drop fell during my ride, however for the last few hours it has rained off and on. Do you suppose that all the wind and rain are responsible for the condition of this sunflower?
It seems as if all our roads are flat, when in truth, if you ride your bike around you'll soon discover that is not the case at all. Sadly, these are in the way on the part of my ride that would normally be a fun little coast!
Like a good girl, I walked my bike through these piles, lest I fall and break something! Which leads me to the end of this post. Instead of little spikey things, my trees are dropping copious amounts of twigs and mistletoe all over what was once a nice green carpet, mostly in the front yard. Tomorrow is yard waste pick up so the time has come for me to get that stuff off the yard and into the bins. Perhaps tomorrow we'll be back to our regularly scheduled weather pattern? Or, so I hope.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday Roundup

Say what? Posting on a Sunday Gail? What is that all about? Just in case you haven't heard, Tropical Storm Debbie is just off the Florida coast in the Gulf of Mexico, primarily just causing gloom and doom at this point. The weather forecast, here we go again, was 80% rain chance for the weekend which didn't exactly pan out on Saturday. Deciding that skipping the Winter Garden market was the prudent thing to do, barely a drop of rain fell yesterday, which according to Dana was THE topic with the vendors yesterday. Puzzling last night about what to do about today's market, my decision was to stay home if it was raining when we woke up. Well, it was raining, albeit mostly sprinkles, so here I am all cozy inside and blogging away. There's lots to discuss.

Writing about homes, such as mine is threatening to become, that get a little carried away with their outdoor decor, I realized that I'd given you no hard evidence of my observations. Let's change that shall we? These folks know the rule of odds--only five whirly things!
And then there is this home where it seems that the folks inside are interested in all manner of things.
They've got a horse thing, a gnome, angel and bunny guarding the property. To date, a gnome has been good enough for me.

Aha, I just realized that the above photo has yet another purpose. You see the patio furniture made of white PVC? Well, we used to have a version of that eight years ago. We then purchased new outdoor furniture for the pool area at the same place that makes the PVC stuff. Palm Casual is the name of the business, family owned and operated. Undoubtedly, regular readers have seen what we have now. Well, a few days ago I noticed a rip in one of the slings. Forgetting that I'd mentioned it, Mr. Bruce sat down and what was once a small rip became a gigantic one! Thus, a trip to Palm Casual was in order to have said seat replaced.
See the gray sky? Stayed that way all day long and hasn't changed a bit today. Anyway, on our way there I had to pick up some prints from Mr. Roger for both the Red Chair project, and for Michelle and Dave's bedroom. Michelle asked for something in sepia to go with their new headboard from Ethan Allen. Take a look at the link because it's a great headboard and I think you'll agree. Anyway, she was interested in copying the look, but the prices of the photographs--oh my!!! $689 each!!!! I studied the frames, and with them in mind, made a trip to Hobby Lobby to see what I could see. After much discussion we decided the ones they had would do just fine. Waiting until this week when the frames were half price, essentially a BOGO, I purchased them and here's the final product.
Not a great photo what with the reflections and all, but you get the idea. I'm so darn excited about these.   Unfortunately they have gone to the beach to see friends for the weekend so I won't see them up for a few days.

After dropping off library books we drove by the old arena to see if the demolition was complete which it is not. To do so we were driving on Parramore, which to those unfamiliar with our area, is not the best street in the city. Lo and behold, as we drove up to the intersection of Parramore and Colonial, I saw a sign outside a restaurant for Chicago dogs which is one of Bruce's favorites. As it was lunch time, why not?
Italian Beefstro. What a name, huh? Because they'd taken such care on the outside, I figured it had to be just fine and was it ever.
More than fine, the folks were friendly and the food delicious! As we scanned the wall mounted menu, the owner described all the dishes and then once we had the food, he kept making sure things were just right. It is such a pleasure to find a hidden gem amongst all the crummy food served in our city. Orlando friends--check it out! Bonus points for the reasonable prices.

Speaking of prices, Thursday night we finally used our Christmas gift certificate for Morton's from Dave and Michelle. Because their gift was generous, we decided to splurge on an expensive bottle of wine from a winery we visited during our only trip to Napa Valley, which after consulting just now with Bruce, was 12 years ago!! My golly, we were just babies in our middle 40's then!
The thing is, the volume of food served is what I think once would have been described as obscene. My spinach salad was delicious, however, it was more than I usually eat for an entire meal. Oh well, you don't do this kind of dining every day, and in truth, the leftovers have been terrific.

Forgive me for jumping all over the place but during our visit to Palm Casual, after picking out a spiffy green color for the chair, Bruce pointed out all the fake food on the tables, allegedly to entice buyers into purchasing said tables. What do you suppose this was meant to represent?
Guesses most welcome! The beer and popcorn looked more realistic, although this particular faux beer was suffering some fading from the strong Florida sunshine.
Be very glad that's all I'm showing you.

Do you think if I was really dedicated I wouldn't have let the sprinkles this morning keep me from my bike ride? Actually I've surprised myself at how easy I've picked up two good habits of late. One is the bike ride, which has been good for not only my body, but I think my spirits as well. I'm really lucky to have such a diverse group of neighborhoods to ride in, from the lovely five bedroom homes in Southern Oaks, to the tiny little houses scattered on the other side of Ferncreek. Here's a little one for you:
The basket on the front of my bike is where I carry my camera just in case something interesting presents itself. Can you even believe how this tree is nearly the size of the house??? In truth, I mostly ride fairly quickly, but every now and again I MUST stop and take a photograph.

My second good habit is the dish washing. I've discovered that I much prefer emptying the drainer every morning over unloading a full dishwasher. Don't ask me why, but I'm happy with this new way of doing things. Plus, there is the intended consequence of a declining roach population. 

Finally, you may be wondering about that green chair, and why we don't just go out and buy some new stuff. Mr. Record Keeper, who lives with me, found the original receipt and I was shocked to see that we'd spent $3,000 on said furniture eight years ago. Apparently, the price was well worth it because those chairs have been in the sun all these years and are just now getting thin, which seems pretty remarkable to me. Slowly but surely I'll replace the seats and hope they last another eight years.

Time to get Bruce out of the house before he gives into the temptation of answering emails. 

Stay dry Florida friends,

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Slippery Slope

There is a slippery slope one finds oneself on, once one hangs something up outside and I should know because I'm slipping. First it was the bird feeders, followed by a bird house, followed by some sun thing, and the list goes on. Why, if one is good, two is better, yet isn't there some sort of rule of thumb when decorating that odd is the best? Of course there is, so three, or even five is just fine.

The zeal I once reserved for shoe shopping has been replaced by finding cool outdoor decor. Mind you, I don't spend a lot on these purchases, but when I find something I like, I don't hesitate. But, now I should. Three things hanging from two trees, three sets of wind chimes, some hanging baskets--certainly that should do it. Unless, of course, I find something else....

The prompting for this has come from my bike travels. Riding down all the streets within about a mile radius of our home, I've discovered some houses that it seems the owners have not been able to stop. One chime leads to another and another and another. You get my drift. Which reminds me of something that was both funny and painful. I believe it was the first time I did the annual "Fiesta in the Park" around Lake Eola. A big show filled with some good stuff, and then again, some not so good stuff. The lady next to me sold wind chimes. Now, talk about some volume! As I recall there must have been 200 wind chimes. As stated above, I'm all for wind chimes but that many? No way! By weekend's end I didn't care if I never heard another one again. Since then, I've changed my mind. To set your mind at ease just a little bit, let it be said that we have a very big yard and each chime is placed quite a distance from one another. Feel better now?

I like purple almost as much as the next person, however, I'm thinking these people have taken it just a wee bit too far. Then again, maybe not?
Yesterday I was remiss in not showing you what a thryallis plant looks like, or at least the blooms which pretty much cover the plant right now.
It is quite pretty when all abloom; allegedly the flowers attract butterflies but to date I've not seen that in action. Now you understand why when a squirrel breaks a branch off it is just one more reason to want to banish every last one of them from our property. I've added something to the war chest:
Unfortunately, despite the menacing appearance of this water gun, the distance the water travels is not that great. While at Wal Mart I looked at all the squirt guns, and there are many, none of which seemed to the simple fill and spray. They are all double barreled and oddly colored as this one is. You have to slide that silly yellow thing on the bottom just to pump up one squirt. Too darn many choices!

Yesterday was the official first day of summer, the longest day of the year, however, it was gray and gloomy for much of the day with some much needed rain falling all through the evening and into the night. You would have been hard pressed to notice the length of the daylight. By 9 PM I was already snuggled up in bed reading The Good Father by Noah Hawley from Austin, TX. Weaving the story of both a son who seems to have committed a political assassination with previous crimes on the same order, I have to admit it gave me nightmares last night. Still, it's a good read about what it would be like to be the parent of a child that commits a horrific, highly visible crime. I've often thought how dreadful that would be. It was bad enough when Bill used to give us fits in high school doing all manner of stupid things!

While we're on the subject of Austin, this is a very cool article about the department where Jonathan works at the University of Texas in Austin. He is the Center Administrator. This is well worth your time checking out because it is all about the next generation of solar energy.

Never one to sit around just because it is raining I pulled out my oil paints, given to me by Angela, who received them as a gift, Lord knows why, anyway here is how I started.
Every single paint tube got a few squeezes which in hindsight was a few too many. Using my little scrunched wax paper technique I did some blobbing of said paint and here you go:
And you thought I only posted my good stuff on this blog! If that were the case, it would be pretty darn boring, wouldn't it? I want you to know that although I'm always experimenting, there are plenty, and I mean plenty of failures along the way. Just the other day the image I entered did not win the Mt. Dora Poster contest. Remember all the excitement regarding that last year? My only hope is that I get into the show next year!

It's that time of the morning my friends--the sun is still shining, the birds are chirping away, and in fact, looking out my window just now, a male cardinal is sitting on the fence wondering where his next meal is coming from. Okay, I made that up, but he IS sitting there.

Off I go to add another 100 miles to the odometer.
Five miles at a time. :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Kayak Has a New Home

So much for the high wire. First thing yesterday morning I looked out the windows to see what, if anything, was happening on the townhouse feeder. What to my wondering eyes should I see but a damn squirrel perched atop munching away. the sound I made while opening the door. The darn thing jumped, landing in my pot of thryallis, breaking branches along the way.

As if we needed more proof of what a nuisance they are, Bruce took his kayak off the stand to check for more damage and boy did he find it! Check this out.
Lord knows what they find appealing about hard plastic. A few weeks ago he bought a sonic device that alleged to ward off rodents. Thinking like others do that squirrels are little more than rats with fluffy tails he thought perhaps it might work. The evidence above shows it did not. Neither did the moth balls which he'd sprinkled liberally and for good measure left the nearly full box inside. Clearly, something had to be done.

If you don't know it by now, I'll reiterate that it is great to be married to an inventor. A problem occurs, Bruce looks for a solution. Because the garage is mostly overtaken with my business stuff it hardly seemed possible to use it to house the kayak but by golly, he's made it work with an ingenious holder he created the other evening while I was dying to eat dinner. Well, I could have eaten, but I'm only too happy to wait when I have the chance to not eat alone.
I took this before he unloaded my car, but after doing so, everything fit neatly underneath atop his saw table. Let's see the squirrels get to it now! There's only one small nuisance related to this move--the garage smells like mothballs big time which hopefully will diminish sooner rather than later!

Our neighborhood shopping plaza is getting a big makeover which I may have already mentioned. Yesterday morning I decided my bike ride would be to go up to the center and check on the progress which I discovered is coming along nicely. While still in the residential neighborhood section of my ride I saw this incredible mushroom?
Seriously, this thing was about the size of a large dinner plate beneath a tree. My goodness it looks otherworldly doesn't it?

Late Monday afternoon Baxter is sniffing out the rodent in the back yard. You probably already know that Yorkshire Terriers were bred to be ratters, although to date, our little Yorkie has yet to earn his keep.
Aren't those pots of flowers lovely? Your frugal blogger bought them in the reduced section of Lowes about a month ago for $6 each. Original price--$20! Only recently did I give them a good pruning, which we've discussed before, is good for the health of the plant and from the looks of these I think you'll agree. You see that red birdbath with the fake bird on the edge? I've had that now for nearly two years and only last night did I see a bird having a long bath, splashing like mad. Sadly, it was a crow. I'm not the biggest fan of crows because they scare the little birds away. Not that we haven't had a ton of birds lately, including a new one:
For those of you without a handy Audubon guide, and I suppose those who have no real interest in bird identification,  it is a downy woodpecker. The finch you already know. Mr. Downy Woodpecker seems pretty tame as he was comfortable pecking away on the trunk of our new oak tree while I gardened nearby. I am thrilled to report that last years dahlias have made an encore visit.
While planting the supertenias around the oak tree, which didn't turn out so super after all, I discovered some bulb like things in the soil. Never one to let something go to waste, I decided to plant them and see what happened. Ta da!

Speaking of not wasting, there were several pots of snapdragons that by the time I was ready to plant them looked pretty rough indeed. What the heck, let's see what will happen. And happen it did--a lovely shade of orange contrasts with white petunias which are still blooming like mad.
As are my geraniums, which typically by this time of the year, have pretty much petered out due to heat stress. Truthfully, it has not been that hot so far, however, having lived in Florida my whole life, I know it is coming!
Mr. Bruce has gone to Lakeland today for the inspection of the Olive Garden he's been in charge of these last four or five months. The superintendent, that makes it all happen, is one he's worked with on many occasions so I'm predicting everything will go swimmingly, or at least as close as is humanly possible given that it's a construction project!

Generally for breakfast I eat a toasted English muffin. slathered with peanut butter. along with some fresh fruit if we have anything good around the house. I'm off to do so now, and in fact, we do have something good around the house--the Georgia freestone peaches are in season much to everyone's delight. Especially without the peel which has easily come off.

Finally, at least we're not plagued by swarms of bees  like they have been in New York City! There's always a silver lining isn't there?

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Battle Rages On

While I was selling my wares at the Winter Garden market on Saturday, Bruce was battling the squirrels, stringing a high wire if you will. Despite his best efforts, the previous set up was not keeping them from eating more of the bird seed than the birds do!
So now, he's hoping the squirrels will not have the agility of Nik Wallenda. Because the wire is super thin, it is a bit hard to photograph, but it is visible with close inspection.  Attaching a pole to the fence on one side, and some sort of hook contraption on the house eaves, he strung the wire. See it now? The red winged blackbird, one of the few birds I recognize by call, is having dinner. He's also dines for breakfast and lunch around these parts!

The squirrels so far have not attempted to walk the high wire although no one will be surprised if they do. For now they are clinging to the side of the feeder in the tree, and on occasion, settling for the fallen seed below.
As is another unwanted visitor. In the photo which of these is not like the other??? My gosh, if it is not one thing it is another!

The weather was absolutely gorgeous on Saturday, warm, breezy with very little humidity whatsoever. Is this really the middle of June? I'll take it.

Driving home on Old Winter Garden Road, I finally stopped to take a few photos of one of the most interesting buildings around--Health Central, which was once an independent hospital now owned by my former employer, Orlando Health. I deplore that name, Orlando Health, almost patronizing if you ask me. When Lisa was born way back in 1960, it was called Orange Memorial, as it was from way back when. It was only in the '90's, probably around the time marketing became bigger than healthcare,  that they began changing names every few years, or so it seemed. But, I digress....
Interesting shapes, colors, and textures. The colors are just as they appear in the photo-I think it was all those puffy clouds in the blue sky that caused me to finally stop and see what I could see. The market was nice with decent sales, in fact, the sales nearly outpaced Lake Eola for the second time in two weeks. Of course, that tells you that they weren't great, but certainly better than nothing. Saturday afternoon I got out last year's sales book, noting that on the Sunday of Father's Day I sold all of two prints for $50 at Lake Eola. I prepared myself for the worst which didn't happen. It was better than last year despite the weird weather. The forecast called for 20% rain chance which is hardly worth mentioning in Florida. But then it rained--not a lot, but off and on. The life of a street vendor is very unpredictable as you well know.

Before leaving on Saturday morning I noticed a large box left the previous evening on the front porch while we were out on a date. Wondering what it was, I dragged it inside. Drag you say? It was heavy.
Of all things it was filled with about 75 prints from Sun Dance. I'd forgotten that they promised to send prints of what they are publishing for my use, but seriously what will I do with them? Here's what I'm planning to do--take them back! I appreciate their sentiment, however,  I've no use for them. It was kind of cool though. :)

Bruce had a lovely Father's Day, spending most of the afternoon and evening with Bill and Dave for a cookout by the pool at David's condo. Following the market I joined them; by then the weather seemed to have stabilized and it was nothing short of beautiful sitting beside a pool, lakeside. While he was chatting with Matthew on the house phone, Bill called him on his mobile, with Jonathan calling in while he was telling Bill he couldn't talk. What can I say---the boys love their Daddy. As well they should! I was realizing that my father has been dead longer than I knew him. It's well known that our parents were not the greatest but still, I'm grateful for many things I learned from the both of them.

Speaking of my parents, both of them played golf, my Father better than my Mother. I've never played golf, but perhaps it is their influence that's caused me in my later years to enjoy watching the game. I spent a serious amount of time watching the tournament this weekend, but if you can imagine, I went to bed before it was over. Webb Simpson was in the lead, coming out of nowhere, when we went to bed after 10 last night, and stayed there. Something very cool to share--my sister Nancy has worked as a scorer for many tournaments, most recently the St. Jude's Classic in Memphis where she lives. Last year Webb Simpson was in her group. Maybe you have to be a golf enthusiast to be impressed?

On a typical market day I mostly stay in my booth except for bathroom breaks which normally include a round of picture taking for Dana, which is to say, I normally do not shop. Yesterday was an exception  and I came home with two things. One, a very cool orchid for the living room from Jim and Kathy:
According to the tag it is an Oncidioda Kilauea B550-A Haloween. I can't find much online to share about this orchid, but it sure is delightful. Just yesterday, after all this time, I overheard Jim telling a customer that an orchid will bloom three times in two years. Six months of growth, two months of bloom time, and so on. Furthermore, he says to cut off the stalk once it is done blooming. Perhaps I've mentioned that Jim taught high school science for more than 30 years and oftentimes you would think we were in his classroom!

They have five acres and not only grow orchids but fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Two weeks ago Kathy brought blackberries to share which I then made into syrup for pancakes. Delish. I've no clue if it will work or not, but I put the blackberry solids, leftover from the syrup making, into a jar and filled it with vodka. A small one mind you. I'm expecting it to become blackberry liqueur, but then again, it may just become vodka with blackberry in it. I've placed it in a dark closet and plan on letting it set for a good long while. Time will tell now won't it?
Yesterday I came home with some sage, tarragon and chives from her garden.

Stopping at a booth that sells stuff, allegedly made by African women who need income. That's not a great description but in truth I didn't stay long enough to get all the info. Here's what I bought from them:
Little carved wooden birds painted very colorfully. The exact location for their cuteness is yet tbd.

Happy Monday friends,

You Just Never Know