Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Eyes Have It

They say that the first thing most humans notice about another human is their eyes. While I can't say that is true for me, I usually notice hair, I can certainly see the value in such observation.

Yesterday afternoon, while watering the Pentas in their hanging basket, I discovered some eyes staring back at me!
It was so weird seeing those eyes as I held the sprayer over the basket! Now, here's where a macro lens works very nicely as long as you use the manual focus. Most cameras need a fair amount of contrast in the subject to focus properly, and as you can see, aside from the tiny red flower and the eyes, there's not a lot of contrast! I had noticed my once lovely plant was looking a little pekid, and now I know why--a hungry caterpillar!! You've all read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle haven't you? Here's a refresher for you....
After taking the photo, I thought to myself, "Self, now what?" Why I'll just cut the branch off, that's what I'll do. And so I did, hanging said branch by a clip on the yucca leaves so we could get a closer look at my "very hungry caterpillar."
I've tried to identify what kind of caterpillar this is with little success. Anyone out there know anything about caterpillars? What I did learn is that those markings along the side are called, "simple eyes." This morning I checked only to find no trace of our green visitor.

Moving on.....

The older I've gotten the more skeptical I've become. Whereas once I was naive, (some would still call me so), however these days I question our culture a lot. One of the things I've been questioning is the food truck fad. Around here, you'd think it was a brand new phenomenon what with all the publicity and the "food truck roundups." Now, if you want to stand around eating "gourmet" food, after waiting in line in our Florida heat, far be it from me to question it, but food trucks have been around a long time. I am married to a construction worker after all and "back in the day", as in more than 40 years ago, "Dots on the Dot" was the food truck of choice. Arriving at a site before 7 in the morning, they served coffee and donuts for breakfast, hanging around until after the lunch crowd had their fill. They didn't serve, Korean tacos, whatever that is, but for those guys who hadn't packed their lunch, they were there. While not technically a truck, this food purveyor has been around long before food trucks were cool.
By the way, this is not operated by our very own, Matty. That's a joke! When Matthew was small, we used to call him Matty, and at least one of his friends still calls him that, however, our Matty is a vegan, so this definitely wouldn't work for him!

Of all places, when I went to buy the new bird feeder at Ace Hardware, I found a garden bench for the bargain price of $49.99. Although it was marked $69.99, it rang up at the lower price, and I did not complain!
So, I'm really happy with the style, the black, not so much. I've purchased both blue and green spray paint because I can't decide which would look better. Stay tuned! Here's a little close up of the finish:
In my garden, which you may find hard to believe, it blends in with everything else. Angela, when I was over there, said the same thing before I even mentioned it. So, we shall see--the blue is similar to the bird bath color, the green is a close match to our door color. Decisions, decisions!

Moving on......

I second the information in this article from the Times, Tests, tests, and more tests! Good grief, when I was hospitalized because I had back pain and a seizure, I ended up having more tests than was good for me, and we all know what that lead to. Fortunately, despite having a pancreatic tumor marker, five times normal, I am here today to write about how wrong that test was. Thank God! When they start throwing around the metastatic cancer words, you sit up and take notice. The worst part of the ordeal--despite all the tests, I never received a diagnosis, and was sick for more than a year. The other day I remembered that my weight, after leaving the hospital, was 103 pounds. I'd forgotten how thin I was!

Finally, there is this fun article about treasure hunting at flea markets and the like. My favorite part of the article was this:

"Instead we have lots of landscapes with or without animals, bodies of water or rustic architecture; a few still lifes; and several examples of what seems to be a popular still-life subcategory: unanchored, free-floating flowers."

And here, all this time, I thought I had an original idea with my free-floating flowers in the swimming pool.
Surely I should have know better, after all, we all know there's nothing new under the sun.

Come to think of it, why didn't I put my caterpillar in a jar with food and air holes? Duh...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Two Movies in One Day

I wanted to like both films I watched yesterday more than I did.

For those of you afar who were worried about Tropical Storm Isaac and Central Florida, you need not have because it was a total "non-event" around here. Yes, there was some rain, yes, there was a little wind, but nothing really out of the ordinary for our region in the summer. 2 1/2 inches of rain fell in about 24 hours which is really not that much. Or, at least that's what fell at our house according to my handy-dandy rain gauge.

That's not to say that it wasn't dreary because it sure was. I don't like dreary days one bit. This morning, while riding my bike, I realized that perhaps the reason I felt so dreary yesterday is because instead of changing into my shorts soon after getting up, I stayed in my robe until maybe 11:00 in the morning. Now, for some this may be no big deal, but I'm kind of a doer in case you haven't noticed. When I can't be doing, I feel a bit out of sorts. And, of course, Mr. Bruce is in California fighting his own battles.

My sunflowers are slowly dying, and I'm thinking I like their aging look, which of course means, let's take some pictures!
Fooled you, didn't I? Although it looked pretty good in the original, I thought the black and white fit yesterday's mood. I put it in front of the front door, which not only had rain drops, but was fogged up from the humidity. During a little break in the rain action I took the macro lens outside to see what I could see. Rain drops hanging onto the Nandina berries is what I saw.
About a month ago I took the screen off my kitchen window figuring I wasn't going to be opening it any time soon. Why bother? Well, lots of the bird pictures you see I've taken through the window glass; having no screen helps improve my chances of getting anything. A darling little Carolina Wren perched for a moment on my little bird house in the yard.
This is one tiny bird who moves very quickly indeed. Out back I saw yet another bird feeder casualty, and of course one of these guys is to blame.
Our very own backyard Nik Wallenda! Except ours needs no stabilizing bar! Really, I can hardly believe they can crawl on this wire suspended over the yard, but here's the proof that they can!

All of which led me to watch a movie; one I think I bought cheap when our neighborhood Blockbuster, now the new Applebee's, went out of business. Which means, I've had it for quite some time and never watched it. "A Single Man" starring Colin Firth had to be good, right? It was, and it wasn't. Stylistically it was incomparable; the scene when he and Julianne Moore do the twist was fantastic. The problem for me was it was almost too styled. I felt George's pain, who couldn't? Yet, somehow, the idea that he should have a heart attack after he fails to carry out his suicide plan seemed just a bit too contrived. I'm sorry if you loved it and I'm way off base. Perhaps it was my dreary mood.

Which, although I enjoyed meeting up with Bev and Linda at the Enzian, the film we saw did nothing to lift my spirits. In fact, it was depressing. I'm actually one who loves depressing movies, but "The Queen of Versailles" left me with more questions than answers. I questioned the film makers motives, the Segals for allowing the film to be made, and really, what were we supposed to glean from the excess the movie shows? Of course it is set in Orlando. Actually, their house is in a tiny town called Windermere which is about 25 miles from Orlando, but still. I've driven by their current home when I was going to my Biology professor's home in Windermere, however I've no idea where "Versailles" is. When asked why he was building such a large home, David Segal answered, "because I can" which pretty much sums it up. But, the real problem is, that although he did it on a humongous scale, other folks without means did it too. How else to explain someone making $40,000 a year thinking they could afford a $300,000 house? Everyone lays the blame at the banker's feet which to me seems a bit of a stretch. See it if you like, but don't say I didn't warn you.

Folks are seeing it in droves if our local theater is any indication. Thinking a stormy Monday night might be just fine, the line was long when Bev arrived. Amazingly some folks asked her if she wanted a free ticket which she accepted in a heartbeat! I was the last to arrive but Bev was kind enough to have purchased my ticket and in we went. The place was packed, the service was slow, and to cap things off, our checks came moments after the film ended. As we were settling things up, a server asked us to leave because another big crowd was waiting to get in. Go figure. Did I mention she shared her good fortune only charging me for half the ticket price. She's like that.

I went to be shortly after I returned home and woke up this morning to a new day and no rain. Into my shorts, camera in my basket, and off I rode through the neighborhood. It is a touch cooler right now but boy howdy, this humidity is something else. While I was out I took this which makes me wonder.
The scarecrows I got because there is an overgrown garden, but the chairs on the shed roof left me shaking my head.

"The Art of Fielding" is on my nightstand so I know what I'll be doing tonight. Do you?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Is It Real, or is It a Fake?

About 80% of the novels I've read in my life, and that would be quite a few, have come from our public library. My usual method is to skip all the New York Times bestseller books, peruse the rest of the new fiction, and pick out ones that seem appealing. I have to admit, oftentimes, the cover is a big draw. Other times it is the publisher, ones that I know print the type of fiction I like; for example, Algonquin Press. Based in North Carolina, their authors typically write about the South, and I do love a good Southern novel such as "The Cove" by Ron Rash. Speaking of which, Nancy read his former novel "Serena" and says it is a winner as well. I'm pretty sure I told you about how incredible the ending of "The Cove" was, and sure enough, when Nancy  finished the novel, she called me right up to say--"whoa!"

Lately, my friend Terese, who buys books like nobodies business at Costco, has been arriving at our bridge game with a bag of books, some of which I've been thrilled to take home. So, Gail, what's the point of all this drivel? Hold your horses, I'm getting there!

What I do these days, which I've always known was possibly silly, is to look up on Amazon the books I've brought home with me, either from the library, or my new librarian, Terese. I knew it was silly, in part because I don't know the folks who review the books, so how in the WORLD I had the idea I could believe their reviews is beyond me. After reading this article Playing the Game, I'm even more skeptical. It is not really called playing the game, that's just my way of thinking about what I read about fake reviews for books. Although I love the internet, it can be a dubious source of information.

Remember when I signed up for Etsy, putting my most popular pieces on the site? After perusing Etsy, not only did I see that there were over 300,000 photographs for sale, I saw that some folks had lots and lots of sales. At first I couldn't figure it out, but over time I realized there was a game to be played to get sales, and to date, I've been unwilling to play it. Despite having sold one my listings over 350 times in person, I've yet to sell it online because I can't be bothered to constantly promote myself, and if the above article is any indication of how the Etsy game is played, I need to break some rules. I would ask all sorts of folks I know to buy from my shop, then refund their money, after securing a favorable review and chalking up another sale. Very unappealing to say the least. So, if I sell something great, if not, that's the way the business works.

Speaking of fake, I went to Florida mall again last week. Every time I go to the mall it feels more alien than the last visit. After completing my business, I walked over to the Gap. I was immediately struck by  this window photograph:
What do you think? Does his right foot even look real? Then again, I'm trying to figure out how someone can assume this position! A few weeks ago, when I participated in that group shot for Dana's company, I later learned the photographer moved a smile from another picture onto the face of a girl who was not smiling in the photograph they used. Maybe I'm jealous because I don't know how to do something like this, but maybe not. It all seems so weird and contrived to me.

And then there were the mannequins in the H & M window displays. Now, I'm all for diversity in mannequins, but seriously what does an all black mannequin mean?
Not to be outdone, Zara across the way got into the black act:
They did, however, have this beautiful one in the window:
Looks almost real, huh? Sort of like someone on the cover of a magazine, or perhaps a tv newscaster, not a line on her face. Those hands are pretty gigantic though--my goodness!

Have you seen one of these before? Coming from behind, I could not imagine that anyone would have their teeth whitened in the middle of a MALL, but I was wrong.
Seriously weird to me. There goes that whole fake thing again. Let's have another look at him shall we?
I did not hang around long enough to see whether he was pleased with the results. Headless manequins anyone?

Because my mall visits are so rare, I had no idea that both Pottery Barn, and William Sonoma, closed their Florida Mall locations. Now you know too.

By the way, it is now finally pouring. As you're probably already aware, Isaac has been somewhat of a dud so far. Yesterday we had a few bouts of sprinkles, but nothing remotely like a major storm. One casualty has been this mornings bike ride due to wind and rain. :(

Now here, my friends is something real. In as a few words as I can muster, here's the scoop. Our largest bird feeder, hanging in the new oak tree, broke and you know who is exactly responsible don't you? I finally caved, buying a crazy expensive feeder which if their claims are trustworthy will save me a bunch in seed and aggravation.
Bruce reminded me that with my poor memory, the cost will quickly be forgotten. See, I told you a good memory is overrated! Charging it up on Saturday, I filled it Sunday morning, and since then the finches have been very happy indeed without having to fight the squirrels for the seed.
Although we keep watching, I've yet to see one of our squirrels take a spin. Actually, it was surprising how quickly the finches took to it because oftentimes it takes a few days for the birds to "take" to a feeder. Time will tell, but I'm optimistic thus far.

Are you bothered by all of the fakery? Perhaps I'm making more of it than the subject warrants? You tell me.........


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Out and About

Everyone knows that I pretty much always have a camera nearby. Perhaps it is my Olympus in my handbag, my Nikon on the kitchen counter or, the Panasonic in my bike basket. You just never know when a picture opportunity will present itself; horror upon horrors, I  should miss one.

Five years ago, when I named my little business, I never expected that the home front would provide such inspiration for my photo taking. In fact, in the early days, most everything I took was indeed, out and about. These days, as you've probably noticed from my blog, I stay closer to home, instead of rising early, early to go on a photo hunt. I'm thinking some of it has to do age, as I'm not quite as limber as I once was, nor do I relish getting up in the dark. You might think I began bike riding because I felt guilty about not exercising, but that couldn't be further from the truth. It was my knees-- once so easy to get down on the ground without hesitation--these days harder to accomplish, so I thought maybe bike riding would help, and it has somewhat. Now all I need to do is incorporate some arm exercises, because, despite being thin, my arms are getting pretty saggy which hasn't kept me from wearing sleeveless clothes, but maybe it should!?

Before we head out and about let's take a look at the promised under the sink clean up, shall we?
Beginning with emptying everything out, I trashed a bunch of stuff whose usefulness had come into question. I threw away some candles that if Isaac does cause us problems, I may regret. As well, I finally put this into the recycling bin:
Do you recall the broken glass door? For two years now I've saved some of the pieces thinking I could put them to use for a photography project which never materialized. Gone now!
We'll see how long this lasts, however, even with my good intentions, oftentimes before long, things are back in disarray.

We haven't discussed the squirrels lately. Rectifying that situation, take a look at their latest acrobatics, giving new meaning to the term, hanging by a thread, or in this case wire!
For the last several weeks they've been content to feast on the budding pine cones, however, after leaving about two hundred empty ones on our yard and in the street, they are back at the feeders. Not, however, the Nuttery, which has been pretty much squirrel-free since I put Vaseline on the little baffler. Woohoo!

Finally, the last of the shots from home, here's a Brown Bud Allamanda, which is aptly named:
So let's see what has interested me in the wider world:

Here's one I've been meaning to show you from when I stopped at the Polasek last week to check on the inventory:
Looks like a cool art installation doesn't it? Apparently they painted all the shovels this bright yellow enabling the volunteers to see them at a ready glance when they are lying in the grass. I suggested they put this display out in the middle of the big front lawn and watch folks reactions. :)

Several friends have mentioned a new little spot on South Orange Avenue, which we tried on Friday night. Cheap food+tiny little space = fun.
The Gnarly Barley, as you can imagine, has lots of beers which as you may also recall, I don't drink. Bruce, on the other hand likes beer, and is always game to try something new. The young server brought him samples, some of which he liked, most he did not. The glasses were cute though.
My friend Kris, who I used to work with at the hospital, arrived with friends, adding to our fun. The owners, 23 year old FSU grads, seem to be making a go of the place as it was nicely crowded. I'm thinking Jonathan and Alissa might like it when they are visiting in December. After the hard week Bruce just finished, it was a nice little diversion.

Lasting, maybe two weeks, all around town the bromeliads were blooming, as in this shot of Lake Gem Mary, which is two doors down from us.
Once they are tired, they lose that great reddish color. but prior to that, it is quite the sight.

Steve and Barb had another get-together last night which is always a good time.
You may remember Bruce's boss Tracy, who was diagnosed with acute leukemia a year ago on the weekend of his wife's 50th birthday party. Happily, his stem cell transplant seems to be working and he's returned to work, cancer-free, albeit 50 pounds lighter.
It has been a very rough go for Tracy and Liz (pictured), but they are hanging in there, and hoping for the best.

Glancing out the window as I type this late Sunday morning, the sky is pale gray and the palms are swaying in the breeze. Yesterday morning Dana called with the news that the city was canceling the market because no one knows how Tropical Storm Isaac will affect us. Time will tell as it always does.

Speaking of time, has anyone read, "A Visit from the Goon Squad "? My, oh my.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Experimenting with Macro

I am easily distracted. Let me just sit down at the computer, to say, look up how to remove seeds from spent marigold blossoms, and the next thing you know, I'm watching a video on Macro shooting. Truth is, the video is probably more important in the grand scheme of things to an alleged photographer than the seed gathering so maybe it wasn't all bad.

You see, although I bought the Tamron lens, I really had/have no idea how best to use it. Sure, I've had it on the Nikon D60, but how close can you get, what settings, all that stuff is mostly beyond me. So, the video helped, first and foremost because I learned that if I want to get really good shots, I need to manually focus the camera, certainly not my specialty. I'm more of an automatic girl, but don't tell that to folks who think I'm a "real" photographer. They may quit buying--oh wait, they already have! Just joking about the buying part, but it has indeed been a difficult summer.

But onward we go because rather than cleaning out my food cupboards, I got into macro mode and these photographs are the result of my distraction.
If you can imagine I even put it on manual settings with mixed results;  I'm only showing you the good stuff.
Amazingly, most of these have only been slightly cropped with not even the "I'm Feeling Lucky" treatment. So, as you can see, I went around the yard looking for small stuff.
If only bees stayed still longer we might possibly see the pollen on the legs and body even better. I still can hardly believe the ivy geranium is still blooming:
The thryallis is going plumb crazy, blooming like mad with all the recent rain around these parts.
And then there are the marigold seeds:
By now I have so many I could plant a field of marigolds next summer! I'll be happy to share if you're so inclined.

I went looking in the garage,
and back to the coffee table display,
In case you didn't notice, I'm pretty jazzed with this combo, mostly because two friends contributed, the candle is a Goodwill find, and the Frank Lloyd Wright coasters are a nod to Mr. Bruce. Isn't it great when you can decorate with feeling? So much more interesting than purchasing an already made "look."

Adjacent to the thimble I found in my sewing box is a small piece of dust which looms large when you're shooting macro!
This thimble belonged to either Bruce's Mother, or Grandmother, don't know which because I have both of their sewing boxes, but either one put it to good use as the close up makes very evident.

Even the spirals on a notebook can look interesting when viewed close up:
Finally this little scene which is on my external hard drive:
On the left is a box of candies from our visit to London--the company website is fantastic!  The little figure dates back to my time at Valencia; I'm thinking I maybe got it at Burger King which was about two blocks from the Winter Park campus? Mr. Penguin bobs if you pat his head. :)

So, there you have it. The light has been particularly dull all afternoon, which can be both good and bad for photography. Good if you know what you are doing, bad if you're a lightweight like me! You guessed it-- rain this afternoon, with more on the way.

Although I did not get to my can cupboard, I did, early this morning, clean out under the sink, which, don't hold your breath or anything, will be shown in way more detail than is necessary tomorrow.

Off to the kitchen to dream up some sort of dinner,

Good grief, it's another P. S. !!  A photographer made a pilgrimage to photograph the sites used on Twin Peaks. There are those amongst you who will find this fascinating.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How About Orange?

Today I came across this awesome blog called How About Orange. Need I say more?

Perhaps you are new to this blog and if so you may not know how much I love the color orange. So much so that I now have SIX orange lamps in my house! SIX? Yes, and I'm offering no apologies.

While watching the Olympics I went through a stack of magazines which had been piling up. Corrine, my dear 86 year old neighbor, gives me both Southern Living and Good Housekeeping after finishing them each month. Love recycling like that don't you? Now I know what you are thinking--Good Housekeeping? Believe me, it's an excellent resource for all sorts of things besides cleaning, which as everyone knows, unlike orange, I'm not a fan, despite my last post. By the way, when Nancy called this morning she asked if I'd oiled my teak tables, to which I replied--"are you kidding?" "I vacuumed the sofas, isn't that enough???"

So while leafing through the above magazines I came across an orange lamp at JC Penny, renamed to sound hipper, JCP. Well, hip might be a stretch, but I can sure see they are trying.
I want stores like this to continue doing business. I hate that everything as we've known it is going by the wayside. James Cash Penney was certainly an interesting character, and whether or not this is true, while David was studying economics, he learned that JC Penney was one of the first retailers to issue credit cards. Furthermore, Sam Walton began working at JC Penney in 1940, of course, later on starting Wal Mart. Time will tell if Ron Johnson, formerly a brainchild at Apple, will be able to turn the company around. Okay--enough of a history lesson. Back to the story...

I went to the store at Florida Mall, only to discover they did not have the lamps pictured in the magazine. They did, however, have one orange lamp that pleased me. That sounds strong, but seriously, if you had looked as often as I have to replace aging bedroom lamps, you would understand. I wanted high wattage so my aging eyes can read in bed at night, not too big to fit on a nightstand, and of course, they needed to look good. So, voila--they arrived last night and here you are:
Cute huh? The fact that they were only $45 each added to their allure.

While grocery shopping last Friday I bought a small bunch of sunflowers at Publix. Is there anyone who doesn't love sunflowers? If so, shame on you! They are so bright and cheery! So, here's the thing, when I purchase flowers, I try multiple ways to create a beautiful photograph, failing more often than not. Despite trying multiple scenarios, I'm afraid my sunflower photographs fall short. As in not quite ready for prime time.
I tried, Lord knows, I tried, but with any subject that has been photographed a million times, coming up with something new is MUCH harder than it seems. This morning I took one of them outside, setting it on the canoe in a bottle. Lo and behold, a yellow butterfly came to visit:
My goodness, who knew the yellow butterflies floating around had yellow heads as well as wings???

Speaking of GH, I tore this recipe out, and last night we had a salad made with cherries, Israeli couscous, mint, and celery.
Although the recipe called for barley, which I was out of, the substitution worked beautifully, and oh how happy I was that I found my cherry pitter in the back of the gadget drawer. The taste? Delicious!

Yesterday I made what I thought was going to be my second-to-the last trip to Palm Casual. Two chairs to pick up, two to drop off. But wait, the new WaWa was open on the corner of Silver Star and John Young Parkway. All the transplanted folks from the North East have been so excited WaWa was coming to town, so, of course, I had to see what the fuss was all about. I'm still not entirely sure, but it was kind of neat using this touch screen to order my sandwich.
Any sandwich for $1.99 during their grand opening was a deal too good to pass up! It just occurred to me that perhaps they get around the Spanish language problem with the pictures? I ate the sandwich at lunchtime and it was good but at the risk of angering some folks, not memorable.

Next stop Palm Casual. The young woman at the counter, after taking my last payment, mentioned that she had the worker cut four slings, and this time it would not take two weeks. Great news! When I drove to the back to pick the chairs up, the fellow who has been handling things said, if I wanted to wait about thirty minutes he would do the last two, saving me another trip. Yippee! I told him I needed to make a quick trip to the WalMart down the street--perfect! And it did. I got all four chairs, my new sink plug, and some fabric I couldn't resist.
Stripes to match the green chairs, and the new dress I made earlier today from the fabric.
Using a pattern from last year, I know the cotton will help keep me cool at the market, which by the way, Dana reported that, although we had very little rain at our house, the market got drenched. So happy to have missed all the drama! Bonus points for pockets in the dress!

It has rained like mad the last 24 hours, quite a bit overnight ,and then more this afternoon. This makes me, my plants, and my checkbook very happy. Maybe not as happy as orange but.......

P.S. Fans of Ira Glass might enjoy this interview. I love the way he described something as cunning, a very good word indeed.

P.P.S. I thought I'd try one of the fancy blog templates again--what do you think?

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Last Laugh

Remember how last week I was getting all high and mighty, in particular warning you against believing everything you read online? I told you this was our 38th wedding anniversary, and by golly, it was our 39th!!! Furthermore, Miss, trying to act like a kid again, now has water in her left ear from her handstands! I laughed at myself, but I'm ceding the last laugh to you dear readers. :-)

Things have been busy, busy, around here, some of which happened last week, but I never got around to telling you about it. On facebook I saw someone post that a curator needed some work for the monthly Third Thursday because their artist canceled at the last minute. Well now. I sent him a message telling him I had some pieces that were just hanging around after coming home from the Church Street gallery--we agreed to meet to see if they would work for his space. They did. I drug myself downtown to show support on Thursday night ,and fortunately I ran into some friends who accompanied me to the space. (they will hang there for a month--a blessing because I won't have to store them myself!)
Lots of color right? I did a little gallery hopping, however, it's really not my thing, so I didn't stay too long. Heading back to my car, I came across these guys setting up for the evening along Orange Avenue in front of a way-too-long, vacant lot.
I suppose every city has their own version of both the drummers, and vacant lots but I wish that weren't so. I'm all for the drummers, in fact, they were making great sounds, however I wish the city would just go ahead and turn this space into an impromptu park until the economy improves, and a tenant is found. We can dream can't we?

Walking up to my parking space, I saw this terrific cloud formation as the sun was setting:
 I told you I've been obsessed with the sky of late!

What I really wanted to be doing was reading my novel which I finally finished this afternoon. Stones from the River by Ursala Hegi, a book I got from Bev, was yet another in a long line that I've read about the Holocaust, however this one was very unique. Told from the perspective of a young woman, beginning in early childhood, who just so happens to be a Zwerg, the German word for dwarf. Set in a small town in Germany, she relates the lives of her fellow townsfolk, and how Hitler's rise to power affected everything and everyone. Because I've spent some time reading this, last week at bridge I asked Willie, our Dutch friend, when she came to America. As it turns out, the beautiful woman I've now known for a year, was deeply affected by the war because she is way older than we all thought. Living in Amsterdam as a young girl, she can still recall the German troops coming onto her street with machine guns, taking her Mother's best friend away. Incredible to imagine isn't it? Sadly, my innocent question brought her to tears, and needless to say, that was the end of our bridge game for the day.

Because something work related came up late Friday evening we never made plans for our anniversary. Between Bruce having to sleep off his red-eye flight, and the work problems, the timing wasn't great for a celebration. Instead we took it easy, meaning Bruce did NO work on Saturday which is really a celebration in and of itself. We moseyed. The weather was dreary. Our plans to purchase a new garden bench to replace the rotting one I have in the yard didn't work out either. Although we tried both garden centers in College Park, neither one had anything suitable.

So we went to Dubsdread. What's that Gail?

Here's the scoop: 14 years ago, Bruce's parents threw a 25th wedding anniversary party for us at Dubsdread without consulting us. I pouted. I ranted. I was ridiculously ungrateful! "Why didn't they ask us where we wanted a party?" "What were they thinking???"  They were thinking that special occasions are meant to be celebrated, that's what they were thinking. The older I get, the clearer I see that they were right. Year after year they wanted to take us out to dinner, and there were many times that I just didn't want to. Shame on me! The party turned out to be fun, and for years and years, I couldn't bring myself to give away the shoes I bought for the occasion. Ladies amongst you will surely understand.

Anyway, Dubsdread is our city golf course, and back then, it needed some revitalizing. It now has it. We had lunch and enjoyed ourselves immensely.
I knew that this photo with Bruce sitting by the window would be difficult, but I still like it. He's sporting his anniversary gift around his neck. We then came home and napped for two hours which is pretty much unheard of around these parts. Nice. As we played canasta through the evening and night, we ate pretzels with ranch dip and popcorn. That was dinner. We were acting like we were kids again. Actually, when you've been dating since you were 13, in some respects, we will always be kids in each others eyes, no matter how old we become!

We skipped the market on Sunday! I cleaned! Bruce worked! I had a nice chat with Matt except for the internet connection was spotty because while moving furniture around I knocked the extender off. Duh!
Sunday night I got a little more creative with dinner, making the above. What the heck is it Gail? Well, the skillet holds corn, scraped from the cob, poblano peppers, charred in the oven, three kinds of diced tomatoes, red onion, garlic, and cilantro. The tray behind holds some spiced pumpkin seeds and honey, do I mean spiced! The recipe is from the Flying Biscuit Cafe cookbook from Atlanta. Somehow I got some of the cayenne pepper on my hands causing some serious burning all through the evening. Oftentimes I've read to wear gloves while chopping peppers, which I never do, but that advice came to mind as my hands felt like they were on fire! Pasta in the last pot. Very tasty concoction.

So, I spotted a new bird in the jatropha tree, and despite poring over the Audubon guide, I can't figure out what kind it is.
Right profile and here's the left. Don't get upset with me for posting two, they will probably never appear again in "Camera Crazy."
We've discussed how birds are molting so perhaps there's some of that going on? Mrs. Cardinal is looking pretty spiffy these days as she sits on the fence:
Much improved appearance, don't you agree? This morning as I was hanging the sheets on the line, a hawk flew overhead, landing on the same post as the Osprey from a few weeks ago. Those mocking birds are fearless, antagonizing the larger birds.
How about that for a size difference?

While I was on Facetime with Matt, I told him that while cleaning I decided to do something different with the coffee table. I turned the camera around so he could see what I'd done. He wasn't impressed. Eventually we settled on this arrangement:
Okay, I admit, I'm including the above to show off Baxie. Let's get a closer look shall we?
With Bruce's help I took this glass top off, cleaned both sides and rotated the rug. What you are seeing is the cleanest the living room has been since Nancy visited last summer. Obviously, cleaning is not my thing. You and I both know I'd much rather be writing and taking photographs. Nancy will surely call me tomorrow to get more details as she loves cleaning.

As we sat in Dubsdread and I told Bruce I'd written the story about his pool cleaning days,  I realized the error of my dates. I laughed and laughed and I hope you will too.

You Just Never Know