Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Eagles Have Landed

I can tell I'm going to have a new obsession for the next week or so. Are you ready for this?? This morning my ride took me down Ferncreek towards the Lake Conway dock. The neighborhood adjacent to the lake is lovely, and I'd not visited there for a few weeks. It was a chilly morning, one that reminds me I must get some sort of longer pants, rather than shorts, as well as some light gloves. But, I digress....

As I was heading home along Ferncreek, I spotted, not one, but TWO eagles in a needleless pine tree!! Without further ado....
It is times like these when I wish I had a longer zoom! I've cropped this pretty severely because they are about 60-70 feet in the air. After coming home I decided perhaps I could try the Panasonic, so jumping in the car I drove over there only to find that one had flown away. Despite having just charged the battery it showed only about 1/4 charge, further proof that it is heading for retirement. Typically I don't use the digital zoom feature, but I decided to give it a try. This one is not cropped.
You just know that I'll be back! Once I returned, and was finally eating my English muffin with peanut butter and a glass of V8 juice, this lovely wood thrush had a little bath out front.
Good grief birds are fascinating creatures. Did you know that there are more bird species than any other type of animal? 10,000! Astonishing number, right?

Before we go further I must warn you that today's post is going to be uber-heavy with photos because there are just so darn many interesting things to see. So, if you're up for it, here we go.....

During yesterday morning's ride, I saw this at the corner of Ferncreek and Pershing:
So what? Well, this gentleman from the County was putting new gigantic stop signs together to replace this 30" one:
At 48", the thinking is that surely people will stop. Duh! Seems to me like 48" is overkill, but with everyone texting and driving, I guess it takes something huge to get people's attention.

Since I've been using my "Thank You" bags, I've never run out of them, but by golly, heading into Sunday's show, I was down to two. During the week, although I'm constantly taking photographs, I rarely think about my baskets and such. Good thing while in the garage yesterday morning I noticed a small canvas in said bag and remembered that a trip to Barr Display was in order. 400 should do it for a while. On the west side of town, I saw a few things on my little journey. I can't help it--stuff just jumps out at me!

Santa has come to this yard and threatens to take over:
I dropped into my favorite Midcentury Shop, "Something Different" and immediately was accosted by ORANGE!
Indeed, an orange sectional, wall and accessories. Turning around, this display of one of my new favorite colors, purple, was on a table:
How cute is this?? In case you're wondering, the set is Japanese. I remember when products first began arriving from Japan when I was a young girl--it seemed so exotic back then.

In the evening I went to see my new friend, the director of FAVO, Will Benton's exhibit at "Infusion Tea." More orange as I arrived!!!
This was my first visit to Infusion Tea but it won't be my last. Fantastic tea pots---I wanted one in every color! The multi-talented Will has been painting for a short time which seems not to matter a whit--he is good at everything!
Pictured on the right, he is talking up FAVO with this gentleman. The space is filled with both awesome art, and trinkets, with folks enjoying dinner at the many tables. Really, everything about the space is so creative including this fantastic screen facing Edgewater Drive.
Clever way to shield the outdoor dining from the passing cars isn't it?  Love it!

Well, that wasn't so bad after all was it? Continuing the orange theme, the oranges are ripening on the trees in a few yards, including this one which was having a bath:
My plan is to begin wrapping gifts this morning, followed by an afternoon of bridge, followed by my husband's return this evening. Yippee!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I Should Be Sleeping

Alas, I am not. Baxter is normally perfectly happy to sleep as long as I want. This morning however, he decided that 4:30AM was a good time to go out. Hmmm....try as I might, I could not go back to having
--- instead I got to work, putting clothes in the washer, and cleaning up my desk. I know, if I kept it neat daily that chore would not loom it's ugly head, but, what can I say? It gets messy, or at least by my standards.

When your birthday falls in late December, not only is it largely ignored, but it means all sorts of things must be updated, including my radiology licenses and my car tag. I've not taken care of the car tag yet, but I'm happy to report that both my National and State licenses are a done deal. Who knows if I'll ever use them again, but for now, I'm keeping them current.

After a fine session with the artists yesterday I took a few moments to photograph at Park Lake which is across the street from FAVO. Isn't that a pretty name--Park Lake? There is a lovely dock and some benches surrounding the lake along with water fowl and a Great Blue Heron who didn't seem to mind one bit that I stood on the bench over him taking photographs. His only interests seemed to be preening. GBH are such elegant birds, nearly as fine as a Sand Hill Crane.
Those are Cypress tree knobs for those unfamiliar with Cypress trees. Here's a nice fat duck taking off after having had a little rest between the knobs.
Talk about a ripple effect!

Although my bird feeders are not seeing the normally robust activity I've become accustomed to, I have been seeing some birds. I think it was last Friday while putting away the Thanksgiving dishes and washing what was left over, I heard some pretty loud tapping sounds. My goodness it was a Pileated Woodpeck way, way up in the Laurel Oak tree in the front yard making all that racket. So high up he was that my Nikon, despite using my longest lens, could not do it justice. Instead I turned to my Panasonic FZ7 which has a very long zoom capability:
Still not a great shot but for our purposes I think it will suffice. I told Bruce that I thought it seemed about a foot long and how about those claws? Sadly, after giving me great service for five years, I think my Panasonic has seen its best days; no longer will the battery hold a charge for more than a few pictures. These days a five year old camera is like a dinosaur, however, I will still keep it in my camera arsenal, if only for the sentimental value.

That same day a Northern Mockingbird came to visit:
 Cute little bugger!

Monday afternoon a trip to Sun Dance with new photos, and Costco for a few things, was on my agenda. You should have seen me in the Costco parking lot as I came out with my purchases. The sky, just before sunset, was looking so awesome that after putting my stuff in the Pilot, I grabbed my camera and started walking towards an unobstructed view. It's a wonder I didn't get run over as my eyes were glued to the sky!
So very glad there was nothing to report in the Sentinel such as "Local Photographer Run Down While Chasing Sunset!"

Matt called yesterday to Face Time while Corrine was visiting to see the new appliances. Did I mention she'll be turning 87 in two weeks? Ever the Alabama girl, she dresses every day in smart clothes, matching her earrings and nail polish. I'm sure she'd never seen anything like it when I showed her Matt on the phone! She agreed with me that he is darn handsome!

I guess I'm like all Mothers when talking to their grown sons--it seems like I monopolize the conversation, however, I do try and keep anecdotes about people he doesn't know to a minimum. We did have a nice little chuckle about the half-bearded, recently deceased, Orlandoan. Three weeks and he and Tom will be here enjoying the sunshine!

What I'd meant to be doing was a gift inventory. I'm about half way there as all the gifts are covering my sewing table, soon to be recorded in a list of what I have and what I need. Perhaps I'll get really ambitious and do some wrapping?

The sun is up and my bike awaits.....

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

'Twas the Month Before Christmas

'Twas the month before Christmas,
And all along the streets,
The yards were adorned 
With Christmasy things

While some looked good in the daylight
Others did not,
But oh what a sight this must be,
when the lights go out.

There are bows and striped candy,
and a dog here and there,
with some dressed to kill,
while others just barked.

There is Jesus and Mary
and Joseph too,
With an oversized angel, 
and an elephant in fireman gear,
both watching out 
for the Holy trio.

Not to be left out,
Santa appears too,
Perhaps he's become a vegan
in 2012?
As the calendar turns to December,
We shall see more,
keep coming back,
for a laugh or two!

Okay now, my last attempt at poetry! With Thanksgiving coming so early this year the folks who have already decorated may be wondering when they get their utility bills, "what was I thinking?" Then again, perhaps not. I'm probably only jealous because Bruce has never been one to get into Christmas lights. 

Are you with me on the silliness of people now calling it "holiday lights?" Come on folks, lighten up please! The world of political correctness has gone crazy in my humble opinion. I heard this piece on the radio yesterday about how in Sweden they are becoming a gender neutral society.  No more he and she! Instead when a child is out sick they say, "our little buddie is out sick" instead of he/she. Yikes!! What will they think of next?

Speaking of creativity, this is the first time I've seen this:
The arms are a nice touch don't you think?

Today is session six of our ArtBiz class at FAVO. The homework this week includes questions about where you want to show now and in two years. You know me, I'll probably still be at the Lake Eola market come rain or shine. She also suggests you think about if you've outgrown a space. Have I? One thing this weekend showed me is how all artists approach the customers differently. Whereas I usually say, "If you have any questions about where I've taken anything?", Brandy is reluctant to even speak to folks who come into her booth because she doesn't want to appear pushy. Maybe it is our age difference, she's only 31, but I don't think I'm being pushy, only informative. Sometimes folks say something like, I'm okay and I back off completely until such time as they raise something out of the bin saying "where was this?" I may be wrong but I think when I say what I do, it raises their curiosity level. Who's to say but it seems to work for me.

Breakfast awaits as does my class. Let me know if you can think of some better rhymes will you?

Monday, November 26, 2012

I Wore an Apron for Two Days

And it served me well, not only for keeping my clothes clean, but I don't know what I'd have done about wiping my hands! Before leaving our home, the Iceberg held my dishtowel, which was directly behind me at the sink. I can't bring myself to put it on the new fridge, or at least not yet. Then too, I know I'm in the minority, but I'm not a big fan of paper towels. Crazy, right? And then there is the big pocket on the front which held my reading glasses as well as Angela's house key. Her key? Yep. I used her wide oven to cook my two pans of dressing, which for the first time ever, I cooked all of it out of the turkey. I won't get into the dressing/stuffing debate, but it seems to me that if it is out of the turkey it should be called dressing.

Before I donned my apron I arranged these lovely roses sent by my brother-in-law Danny.
I know others think it is too much work, but for me, there is nothing like homemade. Thus, I made my pie crusts and fillings. Making a pie crust is so darn simple I have no idea why more people don't try it. As long as you use ice water and cold fat, it comes together easier than making a cake or cookies.
Although I bought the pastry sheet last year I did not use it this one, instead, placing a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter, covering the chilled dough with a second sheet, worked like magic. Talk about easy! I kept thinking of how last year Matt fashioned a lattice top for my apple pie which I did not attempt.

No, I didn't cook the pumpkin....I'm not that crazy! Instead I used the same recipe that our Mom did--the one on the back of the can of Libbeys. I did, however, mix it up in the blender which works like a charm.
The pie went into the still perfect oven:
It is times like these when I'm thrilled at the size of my kitchen because it was far enough carrying this ultra-full pie from one counter to the oven! The finished product:
As you can see my crimping skills are minimal. The apple pie looked like this:
Sorry for the blurriness--taken with my phone! The apple pie was a fat, lumpy mess, but it sure tasted good!

I made the pies in the morning and other stuff in the afternoon, including this simple recipe that I encourage you to try:
 Cucumber Salsa
Mix 2 c finely diced peeled cucumber
1/2 c finely diced red onion
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 c fresh mint
1 finely diced jalapeno (with seeds if you like it HOT)
3 T fresh lime juice
1 T vegetable oil
Season with salt and pepper
It may sound weird to make a salsa for Thanksgiving, but it seemed to be quite the hit. Because we had some vegans in the house, I searched for anything tasty that would suit a vegan. My brother Pat, along with his wife Ruth, decided to go vegan earlier this year in an attempt to lose weight and lose weight he did, shedding over 70 pounds!! He's sitting at the head of the table with Bruce and Michelle in the background doing dishes.
The other day I mentioned the cranberry stuff and I'm here to tell you it was delicious even to a non-cranberry lover like me! Furthermore it was pretty.
I must admit I did not enjoy the work involved in getting those orange sections. The towel behind the bowl is covering my oatmeal roll dough. A new recipe which will be a keeper.

I slept well Wednesday night. Bright and early Thursday morning I began preparing the rest.

It may look like my new carpet with a wooden instrument on top, but it is really cooked quinoa, one of the strangest looking grains I have yet to cook. Part of a vegan salad with arugula, mixed spring greens, Granny Smith apples, (don't you wonder who Granny Smith was?), red onions, roasted sweet potatoes with a simple vinegar dressing. They said it was good. I made some vegan dressing (see above), as well as some mashed potatoes which gained protein from pureed navy beans.  Everyone began arriving around 4 in the afternoon, with merriment and feasting into the evening. Another year, another day of giving thanks for our many, many, blessings.

Friday morning I finished the clean up, and around noon began the laborious process of signing 90 prints. Talk about blessings, I am ever so grateful that my images sell, but I freely admit that the business side of things is difficult for me. With distractions it took me nearly four hours! Yikes!

The weekend show was to run from 11-8 on Saturday and 11-5 on Sunday, making this our first ever nighttime showing. Surprisingly it took only two lights to make my tent glow. My friend Brandy was right next to me making the show even better!
 But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself! Saturday morning as we were setting up, a ladybug landed on my hand, staying there until I inadvertently knocked it off. You know what they say about that don't you? Good luck indeed.
The weather was perfect with a nice crowd on Saturday, that is until the annual Florida State/Florida game, which did not go well for our Florida State Seminoles, despite the fact that I drank hot tea out of my lucky FSU mug all week long.    :(

Sunday was beautiful again, as in probably the best-ever-weather for an art show, which goes a long darn way when you are outside for most of the day. All in all, I sold 54 things, making for a nice weekend. Bruce arrived in time to have a beer before the take down, and we were home and unpacked by 6:30. Dinner was a chef salad and a glass of wine, and as you've probably guessed, bed time came not too much later. Bruce took the 6AM flight to California and I won't see his darling face again until Friday.

Because of all this activity I've not been on my bike in days which now that we're done catching up I think I'll get my shorts on and get a move on. As I've been typing this, emails keep popping up with deals for Cyber Monday--perhaps some online shopping to come later?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Seal of Approval

It seemed as if both the food and the new appliances won the crowds seal of approval on Thanksgiving! Regrettably, my cooking duties kept me from taking many photographs except for a few, some of which turned out, while others did not.  Before we look at those, look who came back yesterday afternoon!
All Thanksgiving day, what with the beautiful weather and all, I had the front door open and kept hearing Mr. Cardinal all morning, which, as you can imagine, made me quite happy as I went about my work. It seems as if all the flowers are blooming out of season and with that in mind, perhaps these two are once again building a nest?

Bruce just called and is already out in Winter Garden to set up our booth for the weekend. It's chilly my friends. Oh how I hope there will be folks, although if it were me, I'd be home watching the Florida State-Florida game which is on at 3:30 today. After watching my favorite team all season, the reality that I will have to miss the big rivalry game today is sinking in now that the big day has arrived! :(

In fact, now that I've heard Bruce is there I best be getting myself ready rather than blogging....we'll visit on Monday. Sound good?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Whole Lotta Beeping Going On

While it is common for me to read the obituaries, it is uncommon that doing so leaves me chuckling, well, in this case make that downright laughing uncontrollably. I know what you are thinking--who laughs about the dead? Take a look at this and see if you can keep a straight face.

Monday night, while chatting with Brandy, a painter I met years ago, we started talking about originality in making art. Our conversation continued about those artists who always win at art shows, a source of contention for many. This past weekend she was shocked and happy to recieve an Honarable Mention at a show, going on to tell me who won Best in Show. Turns out it was a photographer who does black and white Florida landscapes. Heading to my computer, I looked him up, telling her it didn't seem very original to me. Nice, but nothing you haven't seen before. Brandy does a lot with hearts in her paintings, and so, while still on the phone, I Googled "heart paintings," coming up with a gazillion. Next we discussed how in our city, there is an artist who is widely known for doing hearts, with some thinking Brandy has stepped on her territory. Those folks have not checked out the wide selection of heart paintings available,  that's for sure. Said artist also gives out glass hearts as a blessing to people she meets, including me.
I took this yesterday morning as the sun shone through my kitchen window. Yes, Mr. Sun came out to play!! Hurray, hurray. The gloomy weather prompted one friend to say it looked like it was going to snow, and she should know, having moved here from the Buffalo area! After returning from my bike ride, I finished up my planting. Coming into the house, the lovely light forced me to take this shot:
Now you know what that green splotch is; the bottle is from a Lucky Buddha beer Carol drank while we were out to eat in West Hollywood. That's an old photograph of Bruce and Matt in front of Frank Lloyd Wright's studio taken when Matt was still at Northwestern, or more accurately, hours before he told us he was planning to call it quits. I can still remember crying when he told us, however, this Mother did not know best because had he not, he never would have gone to London and met Tom. So there.

Back to our conversation--while looking for a London street art image to send to Brandy, I came across another photo I love from London of Matt and his Dad in Canary Wharf. Everything about this photo makes me happy. Who says the sun never shines in London?
I love clocks, and I love photos of Matt and his Dad. Re our conversation about my new-found appreciation for purple and gardens--I'll tell you who has a beautiful garden, Tom's Mom, Jane. Aren't these lovely?
I seem to be rambling today.....

Still Goggling art stuff, eventually Googling myself, I came across a few fascinating things including this. As well, several years ago, make that maybe four, I entered a contest at the Polasek Museum, where, for those who don't know, I volunteered for many years. This critique of my submitted image was very, very interesting.  On the same page, image number 12 is mine as well, and that critique is even more scathing! Apparently the judges were from the Orlando Camera Club and they were not particularly impressed with my efforts. I've never claimed to be very adept with a camera.

So, what's up with the title Gail? Most of the time I'm a savory girl, eschewing sweets for something tart or salty, however, of late I've been craving something sweet. Thus, I made some chocolate chip cookies Monday afternoon. Learning to use the oven, while not terribly complicated, proved a bit challenging. There's something called timed cooking, as well as a timer. Beeping ensued as I tried both settings. The fridge beeps if left open, and the dishwasher beeps when you close it. The microwave? Beep city. The digital domination takes over the kitchen! Some might argue that the beeps from the oven are preferable to the old screech from the timer, and who am I to disagree?

I spent a fair amount of time shopping yesterday for Thanksgiving, after finally making a list of ingredients. Don't ask me why, because no one hardly likes it, but every year I make a new version of cranberry relish. This year's recipe is from Bon Appetit as is the homemade ginger ale I started last night.
We shall see what the crowds think tomorrow evening. This prep was after heading over to the Stromberg's house to take their annual Christmas card photo. Because I've been doing this for a few years now it is amazing to see Michael's transformation form an average-sized 12 year old, to a 16 year old who is as tall as his Mom! He insisted on wearing his white stylin' shoes.
They won't use this one, but I sure like it. Mr. Bruce has just walked through the door after taking the red-eye from Los Angeles with a cup of Starbucks in his hand. This must mean he will not be going to sleep, so I may just have to get him to do a few chores before the big day. Today I'll be making pies and whatever else I can dream up. For now, it's the more mundane things of life--a bike ride and breakfast. Happy Thanksgiving my American friends!

Monday, November 19, 2012

She Called Me a Thief

While it may not look like much right now, my garden is now primed to be a cacophony of color and beauty. It began with a trip to Home Depot on Colonial Drive after bridge on Thursday. Did I tell you Debbie and I came in second place in our division again??? Woo hoo!!

Anyway, finally the garden centers have beautiful flowers once again. I picked up two trays of white petunias, four baskets of the cutest violas you can imagine, and something else I can't remember. You don't have to wonder about those violas because here they are:
Aren't they adorable? Or do you prefer this color combination?
From what I've been told, violas, sort of a mini version of pansies, are more prolific bloomers which I'll let you know in a month or so if that is true or not.

As I began planting on Friday morning I thought to myself, Gail, you don't have nearly enough to make a statement. Thus, I went to our Lowes which is only three miles away. I don't know about "your" Lowes, but mine has a section in the back with discounted flowers, mostly annuals, but other plants as well. I'm very grateful that one of the employees pointed this out to me last year because have I ever benefited from those discounts. Friday was my best haul ever, prompting the cashier to call me a "thief." How good was my haul? Really good. I bought seven trays of 18 annuals for $3.00 each. How much do they normally cost you're wondering....$10!!! I bought snapdragons, purple petunias, red salvia and pink impatiens. Apparently the fungus plaguing impatiens has been eradicated because they are once again appearing in our garden centers.

Have I told you how much I'm loving purple these days? My niece Laura will undoubtedly think it's about time I got around to appreciating her favorite color! While these supertenias aren't traditionally purple, they are close.
Now, you may have already done the math, and I didn't until I was about 2/3 of the way through, but my goodness that is a lot of planting. By the time I quit five hours later, I was one achy lady! My poor knees and back, however, unless Matt and Tom bring the cold with them like they did on their last visit,   the beds will soon be looking spectacular. During their last visit for Christmas, there were some crazy cold days which would not be to my liking. I don't know what the temperature is this morning, but it is plenty chilly enough for me!

Waking up on Saturday morning I considered finishing planting, but then thought better of it because I did not want to be a party pooper. Party? In Sarasota no less. Bruce's best buddy Steve turns 60 this week, and his brother and sister-in-law threw quite the shindig. Because it was a surprise, the invitation asked us to arrive by 4:30 which meant we left a little after 2 to make the 135 mile drive. Along the way I took this:
Wondering why? Clouds for Karen and the Micky Mouse ears for those who've never seen them along the interstate near Disney's planned community, Celebration.

Celebration indeed. George and Sandy went all out, hosting 32 for dinner and drinks at Flemings. So fun.
The light was so dim I was forced to use the flash, which as you can see, bounced off the dark walls. Steve is wearing the light blue shirt, and that is Barb sitting to his left. Earlier in the week Barb asked if I'd take the party photographs which of course made me happy. Did I tell you how dark it was? So dark that no one could even get a decent cell phone photo. Steve requested a group shot, which is always a challenge, but to make it less so I suggested we gather outdoors. Here is the group:
George and Sandy are to Steve's left, and his Mom is wearing the orange shirt. Her recently broken hip is  mending nicely. She is one lively 83 year old!

Leaving Flemings some of us met up at a Tiki bar on Siesta Key, after which Bruce and I spent the night with Barb and Steve at the condo. We went to bed WAY PAST our bedtime! The morning light peaking through the blinds woke me earlier than I'd have liked, and you know me, my curiosity got the best of me. Throwing on my dress, I had to see the beach in late fall.
As the sun broke through the clouds all those gorgeous bands of blue shone through. After a light breakfast and some visiting we were heading home, but not before a stop at The Broken Egg in the village of Siesta Key. Before finding a parking place, I convinced Bruce to drive down the street towards the beach. Oh my! I had forgotten just how white and powdery the sand is!
I jumped out of the car and took this:
Whereas I thought the sand was fantastic at Ponce Inlet, it is no wonder that Siesta Beach is rated the #1 beach in America. Steve's condo is on the other end of Siesta Key, and while the sand is nice, it is nothing like this, in part because a past hurricane displaced much of it. I only wish we'd had more time to explore! Orlando was calling so off we went after breakfast, arriving home mid-afternoon.
One thing I love about my new phone is the ability to looks stuff up. No longer do we have to wonder how long a road is, how much it cost to get into Dinosaur World, or what is the difference between the Unitarian Church and Unitarian Universalist. In case you're wondering, the cost for DW, is $14.95, and the churches are one and the same having merged in 1961.

Here is a photo taken a few years ago on my last sighting of Siesta Beach which gives you a notion of just how wide it is:
I can't wait to return!

This morning, which I've already told you is chilly, is also gray and gloomy. Not my kind of weather. Earlier, I did my bike ride but to tell you the truth it was no fun. Although I figured by now the sun would have begun to shine, making the rest of my planting more enjoyable, I figured wrong. I still have   54 more plants to go.  Mr. Sun, please come out to play.

You Just Never Know