Sunday, March 31, 2013


One of the things I always loved about taking x-rays was my exposure to people of all ages. Unlike a nurse who often spends days with the same type of patient, pediatrics, geriatrics, surgical, that type of patient, during my days of taking general x-rays, my patients were from newborn to in their 90's.  Of course, once I began only doing mammograms, that changed somewhat, but stil,l the ladies, and occasionally men, were extremely varied.

You might think that my job was boring, and if not for the age differences, it might have been. Every morning, arriving at the hospital by 7AM, I started by checking the day's schedule. Oftentimes I could guess my patients age by their names; Margaret, for instance, usually meant the woman was in her 70's. Debbie, on the other hand, was a dead give away for someone my age. Hearing life stories from woman in their 80's, and even 90's, gives one perspective on life's struggles.

I couldn't help but think of that time in my life after chatting with Corrine after they finally returned to their home after four days. Unlike a younger person who might be complaining about the cost of the storm damage, she only wanted to be back home. Here's what the back of their house looks like with the new power box, which, by the way, cost $1,100!
I had no idea that the power company did not pay for that! Plus, the part of Wanda's tree that fell into their yard was their responsibility as well--another $750. At their age, 87 and 84 respectively, Corrine and Herb have experienced it all, and just as you do, they have keep going. In our younger years, someone mentioned to us that if you can fix a problem with money that's a good thing; at the time I did not realize how true that statement is. Losing a spouse, a daughter, your hearing, those problems are not so easily fixed nor forgotten.

In the last few days I've had some super wonderful experiences, from seeing a bunny during our bike ride in Baldwin Park,
to meeting a super cool 80 year old woman named Dee.
Although she insisted she didn't look good enough for a photo without her makeup, I disagree--she looks great! On my way to Roger's house, Friday afternoon, a bench on what I later learned was Dee's front porch caught my eye.
Knocking on that pretty red door to ask permission, I was slightly startled to see the Christmas tree, covered in what I estimate to be 1,000 ornaments, just inside the front door. After explaining that she is a collector of loads of things, she invited me inside to take a look. The robe? Baking Easter cookies and cupcakes all day. Guess what? She has a daughter named Gail, who I immediately knew had to be close to my age--see above.

Seeing only the bottom floor, I was impressed with how nicely she displays all her various collections. Here's another look at that tree:
Simply astonishing! Remarkably, because her husband has undergone three brain surgeries, she manages everything by herself, including the yard! Our vist was cut a little short because she had to take him to the doctor for a shot, with only 45 minutes to get dressed and get her makeup on. Before I left though, she insisted on showing me all the rooms, including the guest room. Much to my surprise she has a Kermit the Frog obsession as well.
My sister Lisa would appreciate one thing she said to me, "I'm a thrift store, garage sale, and pick up by the side of the road shopper." I feel pretty confidant that her open invitation for a repeat visit was genuine.

Then too, earlier in the day, while on my bike ride I saw both eagles again!
Day after day I've been watching and waiting; finally after maybe four months my wish came true!

Thursday, while riding with Bruce on the Cady Way Trail, we ended up in Baldwin Park, riding along Lake Baldwin,
we continued until we got to Fleet Peoples Dog Park. Although we've read about dog parks, this was our first exposure to one in person. This guy was quite the instigator,
racing around with the other dogs, and even swimming!
Bruce's comment about having "lost touch with reality" rang a little true. Working non-stop for years and years has a way of insulating one to what is happening out in the world. Although I'd never stopped to check the park out, at least I knew it was there!

Returning to our car that morning I asked Bruce if he knew how far we'd ridden--he was most surprised when I told him 12 miles. Good for him; I've had time to work up to that, he's just a newbie, however, he enjoys riding as much as I do so I see lots of it in our future.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Having Fun

It's true that Bruce is not the only one from this household who likes to work. Pretty much all of our lives, that's what we've done, between our home, jobs and family, there has been little time to spend just playing around. We're definitely beginning a new chapter in our lives, and what better time to start then now?

Thursday evening, last week, Bill mentioned those Bay Hill tickets he had, and I took him up on it. You know that already, but what you don't know is that I actually went! Typically, when something involves a parking garage, a long walk to a shuttle, a shuttle ride to the event....all that rigamarole seems like too much fuss to me, HOWEVER, telling myself I must expand my horizons, off I went, after picking up the ticket from Bill at the bank.

Once in the garage, snaking along with all the other cars, I was ushered into a space. Cat in the Hat parking garage, row 268, which I wrote down because I knew I'd never remember once I was faced with the sea of cars following the event! Folks next to me exited their car about the same time, and I suspect you can guess what happened next.

That's right--I attached myself to Durwood and Geri, staying with them the entire time.
Wonderful folks who knew how to get around the course. Durwood, a former elementary school principal, put us through our paces, in spite of his 78 years. While he read the map, Geri and I talked as if we'd known each other forever. It was she who, once we saw everyone in the gallery taking a photo of Tiger Woods with their mobiles, encouraged me to get my camera out of the bag. It appeared that most everyone missed the signs stating "no photos!"
That would be Tiger in the orange shirt, Justin Rose, Ernie Els, and the caddies. Apparently there are two ways to watch a tournament--follow your favorite, or hang out at a hole, watching everyone come through. The second option is the one we chose, waiting at the fifth hole for our favorite, Phil Mickelson, who, although not in contention, still had big smiles for the crowd. Surprising how much slimmer he looked in person, something we all remarked upon. The day began quite chilly, got super warm, followed by rain after I left, complicating how one should dress. My tote bag held the forbidden camera, my wallet and a few other things, leaving enough room for both my jacket, and Geri's. So far so good, that is until I decided to leave early to beat the rush, carrying Geri's jacket with me. The moment I realized, I turned around, heading to the twelfth hole, except then I got caught up in the huge crowds following Tiger. Meanwhile they headed for the shuttle buses in search of yours truly! By some miracle, we ended up finding each other, so all's well that ends well! A new and fun experience under my belt!

Then, of course, came the weekend and all that entailed. Finally, on Tuesday we were pretty much set with the yard mess, leaving us time to look for some frames I want to use for this month's FAVO event. Because it was lunch time, and because we were only blocks away, I suggested we visit Sportstown so Bruce could see what a neat place it is. Guess what? We ended up playing pool all afternoon!
Following our first two games, struggling I might add, Bruce was ready to go home. Not so fast Mr. Peck! The games were free, so why not keep trying? Try we did; me--I was terrible, Bruce less so. Whiling away a chilly Tuesday afternoon with my husband--priceless!

Brandy Renee called while we there, inviting me to attend an artist critique at 6:00 PM. Here's how it works: an artist brings three items to be judged by a panel of three art professionals. For example, here is Linda, the former director of the Orlando Museum of Art, with her paintings being critiqued by Josh Garrick.
I, for one, think this would be so difficult! Standing in front of a crowd having your work analyzed does not fit into this "fun" category we're incorporating into our new life! My friend Brandy:
For the record, the middle painting garnered the most positive comments. Our friend Dawn was in attendance as well, not for critique purposes, but because she is one of the resident artists at the Maitland Art Center across the street. Following the event, a tour was on tap of her super cool studio. Home again, home again.

Laying bets as to when the trash folks would come on Wednesday, both of us were off. Because there was so MUCH debris all over our area, Orange County sent out ,not only the regular garbage guys, but a crew for the loose stuff.
An excellent job was done I might add. Across the street, the electrician is working at Herb and Corrine's, reinstalling the outside power box after the tree fall knocked it clean off the house!

Earlier in the day we set a play date for 3PM, however, it was 4PM before Bruce could quit working, or sort of. The bike rack came out, the bikes went on, and off we went to try out the new Orlando Urban Trail. Riding along Mills Avenue, Bruce remarked, "we used to do this when we were 16." Yes we did; riding our Schwinn bicycles around the city streets of Orlando. Bussing tables at the old Robert Myer Hotel, gave him the money he needed to buy a bike for me from the Schwinn shop on Mills Ave. Back then, they used a little credit ledger... Both the credit ledger, and the bike shop are long gone.
How nice it was to ride on such a smooth surface! Following the trail we made our way, first to Loch Haven Park, where the museum is situated:
With a BEAUTIFUL blue sky overhead, cool temperature, and only a slight breeze, we made our way to Mead Gardens, entering through a back side I'd never seen. Making our way to the main entrance, I was thrilled to see the improvements made by my old friend, Randy Knight, the former garden curator at the Polasek. My goodness! What was once mostly sandy nothing has been completely transformed!
Remember I said earlier Bruce sort of stopped working? See if you can spot him in the above photo talking his superintendent through yet another crisis at the Santa Monica job. Tonight is the opening party--always a time for nervousness, and in this case, made even more so because one of the refrigerators is mal-functioning, as well as some outdoor smoke problems. This too shall pass.

The trail skirts Lake Highland Prep with the actual Lake Highland across the street.
What, do you suppose, Mr. Bruce is talking to this fellow about?

Once the sun set, it got quite chilly, prompting me to suggest a fire. A fire?? In late March. Indeed. I'll always remember that it is not as unusual as it sounds because a very important event in our lives occurred right around this time of year. For some strange reason, I vividly remember wearing a long robe when I got home from the hospital with my twin sons, born April 1, 1979. My goodness, it is hard to believe that next Monday they will turn 34!!
It might be tempting to ask the rhetorical question, "where has the time gone?", however, I already know where it has gone. Having fun, albeit of a different kind, has made the years fly by!

Because I still don't have last week's order to prepare (yikes!), today may just bring another new adventure.....check back soon. :)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Nothing But Blue Skies

It was a magnificent day for a clean up, nothing but blue skies and a cool breeze. I mentioned the yard mess yesterday, however, what I neglected to mention was how all of our things, aside from the art, was soaking wet. Overnight Bruce hung stuff up all over the garage with two big fans blowing. In the morning he got more serious, setting up the tent in the yard to dry, as well as the cars!
Just below the awning is our rug, kept in the back of the Pilot, out for an air dry as well. Using a rake, and then the vacuum gadget for cleaning the pool, I managed to get it all out.
This is more like it!
After using the chain saw, Bruce carved a path out our side gate:
Not only was it a good day for a clean up, it was also great for drying clothes on the line. After hanging everything I made a quick run to drop Bruce's shirts at the dry cleaners. Along the way I took a few pictures of our surrounding neighborhoods.

Can you believe how gigantic this root system is?
A utility truck gives it perspective.

Why yes, that is a backhoe under the fallen tree:
Who needs a back wall anyway?
The yellow house used to have a matching set of oak trees:
The tree trimming guys were out trolling for work on every street;
one stopped by our house while I was having a little chat with Matt and Tom who were concerned about our well being.

Here is the house with the tree through the roof:
What you don't see in the photo above is another huge limb filling the entire front yard!

I heard from Regina that a concrete utility pole went down and she was right. Stopping to take a photo, the young woman (whose home is adjacent to the downed pole, ) told me that Orlando Utilities worked through the night replacing it at 4 in the morning.
It must have been about 4:30 when we chatted, and her concern was that although they were there throughout the night, they hadn't been back since and she was still without power. As were our neighbors across the street. Most of you know that we live in a neighborhood with many original home owners who are now in their middle to late 80's, including Bob who lives next door to Angela. Seeing Bruce out in the yard, he came looking for help to start his generator. Our man did the job, although it was even a struggle for him.

After dinner we took a little stroll, Bruce to check on Regina, and me to see what was happening. While talking to Wanda, wondering when the power would return, the calvary arrived in the form of four OUC trucks:
The temperature was to drop into the 40's overnight, so although we didn't turn our heat on, those who wished to, could now do just that--their power was restored around 8:00.

It would be oh so nice if our power lines were underground wouldn't it?
Following a big storm like this, there is a knee jerk reaction regarding the big trees--get rid of them all, some think. Not so fast friends. Trees not only provide wonderful shade from our broiling Florida sun, they also house our feathered friends. While I've shown you trees down, it's important to remember that many trees are still standing, and will continue to do so in spite of our sometimes blustery weather.
This beautiful street in Southern Oaks would not be nearly so without the tree canopy, don't you agree? For me, I like to focus on the positive--bad things do happen, BUT mostly good stuff does!

Monday, March 25, 2013

2:31 PM

As I type, Bruce is helping our neighbors. Wanda's husband is in the hospital; as if that weren't bad enough she still has no power and her gigantic oak tree toppled over onto Herb and Corrine's roof, dragging the power line down with it. Matt and Angela are still without power as well. Lucky for us, ours came on last evening while we were still cleaning up outside.

Checking my phone in the aftermath, I see I called Bruce at 2:31 in the afternoon, telling him the market was closing down for a storm. The skies darkened quickly, as in almost dusk kind of dark with torrential rain following soon thereafter. He must have rushed to his car because he was there pretty darn quick, just in time to take over the securing of things. Earlier, while setting up we discussed the possibility of some rain which, as outdoor vendors, we've been through many times before. Deciding it would be wise to pare down our display, all of the big stuff went home with Bruce instead of staying with me. I pushed the table to the back of the tent, making room for people who had to get out of the rain. Mostly only small canvases went on the wall to make our take down easier. Here's a photo I took around 2:29,
People were out having a good time. My booth is pictured near the back of the photo, mostly empty of display because, despite the weather, I had a great sales day, selling 9 small canvases. Woo hoo--less to pack up!

Here's a photo taken about an hour later:
That is our tent with Bruce sneaking out, a basket under his blue poncho. Because it was still raining I had to take these quickly, not wanting to damage my camera. Dana asked if I could to document our horrible drainage problem to show to the city officials.
Yup, this is in front of our tent. So, what exactly happened? It was like no storm we've ever been through. Without me leaning against the tent side, along with Bruce holding onto the top of the tent somehow, we would have lost everything as 60 mph winds came through during the worst of it. Hail, the size of small peas began falling and of course the rain. It all happened so fast it was hard to understand what was happening. At one point, Kathy and Jim's tent flew into the side of ours and would have done so had Kathy not been hanging onto it for dear life. And then there was the huge cracks of lightening, so loud we knew they were quite close.

Poor Cole, Dana's son! Directing cars in and out of the mess, he obviously was soaked in spite of his poncho. Everyone was safe as far as their lives were concerned, four people not so lucky with their tents. Total losses.
Both Bruce and I were pretty much soaked to the skin as were my new KEDS! Eventually, we got everything into both cars and headed home, finding downed giant oak trees and black traffic signals along the way. This tree blocked one way home:
Turning around I tried to use Ferncreek, however, it too was blocked. In fact, there were so many downed trees it was pretty stunning. Eventually we made it. Do you think our nightmare was over yet?
NO, it was not!

It is a nice thing to have a corner lot, that is, until there is a big storm, at which time, your lovely yard becomes a depository for every flying thing out there and looking at ours, during the time we were holding down the tent, tree debris was flying everywhere at our home. My beautiful little garden looked like this:
Why yes, that is a gigantic tree limb from our neighbors on our side, blocking the gate. In his haste to get there as quickly as possible, Bruce mostly shut the back door, leaving it slightly ajar for Baxter. Water and debris found an opening to come on in!
If not for the step down into this room, the living room would have gotten it as well. The pool and back yard--what a mess!
Which is still what it mostly looks like, save for the gigantic branches out to the trash. I'll be tackling this as soon as I finish my blog. From the time we returned, till about 8 PM, we worked on cleaning it all up. Here is pile #1:
And pile #2:
Finally pile #3:
The morning after:
We had to borrow cans from Pete and Terry to house it all. Now, we're hoping and praying the garbage men will take it all! The beige house across the street belongs to Marion, another of our 80+year old neighbors. Her damage: blown off shingles, quite a large patch. Just what an ailing widow needs!

Bruce is setting up generators for those without power--he's a good neighbor! From what I've heard, there are others who fared much worse. Trees through roofs, downed walls, and uprooted sidewalks. 

My friend Sue just arrived with news of nearby neighborhoods--we're heading out for a look on our bikes although as tired as my legs were when we dropped into bed last night, makes me wonder how far I'll get!

Nothing like a little ride around the neighborhood to put our difficulties in perspective. After seeing the massive tree poking through a house in Southern Oaks, I'd say we got off pretty lucky. Now, to get that pool clean!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Lunch in Lake City

You might assume that I was all driven-out following the camping trip, however, I was not. Monday morning, bright and early--oh wait, not so bright at this time of the year. I digress. Early, the Pilot hit the road once again, this time headed to Lake City with Gail behind the wheel, and Bruce behind the mobile phone. :)

Our mission: to check off the punch list before the Olive Garden opened to the public.
Timing: Well, it's everything, isn't it?

So, it was that just after 9 that we pulled into the empty parking lot. Me, I noticed the banner hanging stating they were opening for lunch rather than the 4 PM Bruce was expecting. The good news is the list was short, so perhaps it would work after all.

As we got out of the car, a funky green VW Bug pulled in adjacent to our parking spot.
After using their facilities, I left Bruce to his thing, and headed to the car to figure out how to spend two hours in Lake City. On my way out I ran into the occupants of the Bug sitting on the little front porch, or whatever you call it, just outside the doors to the restaurant. Well, you know me, I had to have a little chat, which worked out perfectly, because they were definitely up for a chat! And a photo!
Here's how it went:

Me: I guess you want to be the first to eat at the Olive Garden?
Lady in blue: That's our plan!
Me: You are here pretty early.
Lady in blue: You bet! I've waited 22 years for an Olive Garden to come to Lake City!
Me: Wow!
Lady in blue: I even took my Korean exchange student out of school so we could be the first!
Me: Wow! 

What doesn't show up very well in the photograph are the two dachshunds waiting in the car for the OG to open as well. Pondering this interesting experience, I took off for downtown. Not much there, except for the creative sign, or at least an attempt at one, on the side of the building housing the cafe I visited last trip to Lake City.
Do you see it on the left? Espress Who U R, indeed.

What next? The Lake City Mall, all dressed up for Easter:
Sad to see no folks along with many closed up shops. As I made my way through the Belk store, I remembered how much our Mom liked working for the retailer, however, in those days, and I may be wrong about this, but seems to me the merchandise was better. Now what? Keds, my friends, Keds. Passing a shoe store, I saw a window advertisement for Keds, and decided to check them out. Didn't take me long to say yes to a new pair of navy blue Keds.
Attempting to pay for them with my credit card for convenience sake, the young clerk apologized for the delay saying they were on DIAL UP!! Get a SQUARE folks! Cash is king in that store.

Still not 11, my appointed time to meet Bruce, but with nothing left to do, I went back to the parking lot and found this:
As I sat there, more and more folks lined up, coming from every direction. I have to say, seeing this made me very happy. Closer to 11, Bruce and his superintendent, Jim, came out of the restaurant and we lined up with the customers, a first for Bruce. Twenty years, and many, many Olive Gardens later, he's never once eaten the first meal served at one of "his" new restaurants. Seated by the manager in the bar area, we joined the other happy patrons enjoying a delicious early lunch. Say what you will about OG, but from this experience, I glean that there are still small cities all over the country that are wishing, and hoping, an OG would come to their town. Otherwise, they probably have to eat out at places like the sad litte cafe where they invite you to Espress Who UR! Following our meal,  I noticed the green bug still parked in the lot--they were making the most of their visit!

Let's take the scenic route home, shall we? 

Just outside downtown, instead of heading North on 44, I went South, and what a lovely drive it was. No real traffic to speak of, wildflowers along the highway, and sights like this one:
I pulled off the road to take this, running across the street and once there, stepping right in the middle of an ANT bed!!! Jumping and slapping at my feet (in their new Keds, I might add), I managed to get out of there with only minor bites, and a few blurry pictures! 

Our next stop was O'Leno State Park, a lovely heavily wooded park, filled with all manner of trees and loads of blooming dogwoods. What a treat it has been to go to North Florida this year and see the dogwoods!
The most interesting feature of this park is the Sante Fe River which, if you can believe this, runs along nicely only to disappear underground and resurface about three miles away!!! The suspension bridge, built by the CCC, was off limits as they were repairing part of it.
Following the path adjacent to the river took us through an area where a controlled burn was still smoldering:
Soon we came to this:
And that was that. The river just plain stopped. This looks kind of eerie, and to tell you the truth, it was. Here's a little close-up of the top left of the algae covered water:
Yup--a gator and a turtle! Although there is a swimming area, after seeing this, I'm not so inclined to want to do so.

Onward to our next stop--Ginnie Springs, just outside High Springs. Long ago, along with some other folks, we camped alongside the Sante Fe River at this private park. Here, the river is lovely and wide with some brave folks tubing on what I'm certain is very cold water:
Much prettier, right? There are over 2,000 camp sites! During our short visit I saw loads of them filled with yellow wildflowers.
Plus, no gravel--a very good sign! We're definitely going to return for a longer visit soon.

Are you tired of these little travel posts? I'm not. I want to go more and more places to see what there is to see! Bruce left early Tuesday morning for California. As you might expect, I had loads of chores to do, a bicycle to ride, shopping, ordering, and so on. The Santa Monica Seasons 52 is finally just about done, however, a few snags popped up yesterday, forcing Bruce to stay another day. Now, after all the misery that project has given him, it only seems right that he should eat their first meal served to the public, don't you think? Last night, a final hurdle was crossed at his Century City Seasons. A long- delayed, and I mean long, water feature is finally doing it's thing; Bruce and cohorts ate dinner there to see it in action. Whew--another thing to cross of his list.

Me, I'm thinking of going out to see the Bay Hill Golf Tournament today courtesy of our son Bill. I'd better get moving....

You Just Never Know