Tuesday, April 30, 2013

When It Rains, It Pours

But, you knew that didn't you?

If you can imagine, I've gotten myself into four art events this weekend, which is probably one too many. I'm going to have to rope Bruce into helping me on Sunday because I can't be in two places at once. What a nit-wit to agree to being a part of a "home art party", however, the idea intrigues me, so I figured why not give it a try. After all, Tupperware became a household name with the idea.

Thus, you will be spared too many words today as I must get things ready. There is FAVO to promote on Friday night, not something I enjoy doing at all. I feel like I'm bugging people when I remind them it is the first Friday of the month....it seems like it comes around so quickly. Mentioning that to someone, they disagreed with me, saying people often can't fit it into their schedules one month, and a friendly reminder about another one is helpful. We shall see.

Yesterday afternoon, I was lucky enough to score an invitation to sub for a bridge game with Bev and her clan. Arriving at Bonnie's house, I was so glad to have had my camera with me because she had a super photo op in the back yard which I noticed after seeing this everyday prettiness.
Just when I'd written about our shed, while touring Bonnie's herb garden I saw her shed, which apparently is slated for a take-down in the very near future.
From my experience, people love the worn-out look. I'm not showing you exactly what I did with this because we all know that I rarely put photos online that I plan to sell, but if my intuition is right, it might be a good one. Of the gang, Arlene is the most experienced making me nervous I'd have to be her partner because I'm so not good. Thankfully, Bonnie filled that role! Yeah for nice ladies!
Tasty snacks, good conversation, and a win for me and Bev. What's not to like? Had I any sense when it comes to bidding, we really would have won big--but I don't.

Riding with Sue the other morning, we came across this cat lying in the driveway. He matches!
While picking up Bruce's blood pressure medicine at Target I was parked not too far from the VW repair shop. Did I ever tell you I had a '63 bug while in x-ray school, giving it up only after the floorboard rusted through one day as I put groceries in the back? Then too, our baby Matthew was in the car, and I could only imagine him falling through the floorboard!
Mine did not have a terrific paint job like the two of these, instead, as I recall, it looked as if someone sprayed it at home. Hey, what do you want for $300?

Sue, as I've mentioned, is always finding new things to love. In this case, she found one of those lit globes I'm dying for!
Of course she got a huge bargain as well. I only hope she finds one for me one of these days.

On Sunday Cole returned my camera card from months ago when I photographed the "Broadway Babes" show. I unloaded it this morning which was kind of neat because I'd already mostly forgotten how excellent the show was.
So much to do, so little time....off to pick up my last order, only to put in a new one. Mayfaire comes up next weekend, and I'm going through the usual struggle about what to put on my walls.

The rain I mentioned? It did that in the literal sense in a big way last evening, continuing into the middle of this morning. Now, however, blue skies like nobodies business. :)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Closer to Home

The following post will contain no travel photographs, that is unless you count Regina's house travel, and come to think of it, the interior is so exotic, you might just as well be in another world. :)
The other morning, Sue and I met for a ride, and while she was on our street, and because I know she loves gardening, when we met Regina walking Argyle, I asked if I might show Sue her back garden. Go right in, she replied. We did. Sue was loving it, marveling at the whole vibe. Eventually we remembered we were supposed to be riding, and left. But, what do you know, we ran into Cheryl on her bike and turned right back around and showed her the garden, during which time Regina returned and gave them a tour of the house. They were dutifully impressed. By now we were all feeling the time crunch, so a quick five miles and we head our separate ways. It's nice to have some riding buddies.

Wednesday night, while eating outdoors, the setting sun lit up the shed in such a lovely way I had to take a photograph.
This led to some reminiscing about our garden shed, entirely built by Mr. Peck, without so much as a drawing, if you can believe that. It must have been in his very early days working for Darden that he was given a project in Gainesville which required tearing down an existing restaurant. Hmm.....that got his mind creating; he used both the siding and the tin roof for the project. The windows came from an antique store, while the concrete floor is from a driveway which once ran in our front yard. When we moved into this house, Bill, David, and Jonathan were all still either in high school, or middle school. I can't remember why David wasn't involved in this project, maybe because he was such a wizard with our lawn care, but anyway, Bill and another neighborhood friend, worked alongside Bruce beating up the driveway, and carrying the chunks to the back yard. Bruce must have built a frame, filling it with the large pieces, and then mixing concrete to hold it all together. You have to see it in person to appreciate the cleverness of it all. It is here that we store all the lawn and pool equipment, as well as a few tools that won't fit into our small garage due to my keeping my inventory in there.

So, we reminisced about building the shed, which brought to mind a book I purchased for Bruce during our trip to England on his 50th birthday. Called "Men and Sheds", it came from a bookstore in Cambridge. He got it out, we marveled at the creativity of sheds, and were just plain happy to be alive. There you go.

Feeling slightly creative the other day, I discovered the monochrome setting on my Nikon. Why it is not called black and white is unclear to me, but I set to looking for things around the house to photograph.
The shell is from our lake, the starfish, a favor from Rich and Jenn's wedding, and the hunk of coral (?) is from Siesta Key. When you look around your home do you find your life history in what is displayed?

This flower, from a bunch purchased at Publix, is a lovely shade of lavendar, normally not a color I would purchase, however, the arrangement of the petals is so good, I bought it anyway.
More experimentation to come in this mode, although truth be told, people seem to like my colors, so it's probably won't go far.

I've had a few neat things happen of late. My sweet niece Laura hooked me up with her bosses who were looking for something new to decorate their office. Woo hoo! They bought a big canvas, unbeknownst to her, so when she arrived at work on Friday and saw it hanging in the lobby, she was most pleasantly surprised. Me too.

Furthermore, I've heard from my publishers about something cool. One of my images was sold for a hotel project (no other details, so don't ask), as well as to HomeGoods. Can you believe it? Me neither.

Back in the color mode, here's a creepy cowbird,
you know, those birds who drop their eggs in another bird's nest because they are too lazy to build their own? Despite those faults, the brown head and almost iridescent feathers is worth taking note of. According to my link it is not laziness, only an adaptation, but I'm standing by the above sentence. See how bad information gets passed along?

Traveling is good, however, had I stayed closer to home, I would not currently be looking for one of my watches, as well as an unfinished library book. How I could have left them elsewhere is beyond me. That book was super good too.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spring Cleaning

Bruce is out front painting the front porch deck as I type. After making a coffee cake first thing this morning, I went up on the roof with my bucket of bleachy-soapy water, a scrub brush, and a rag. It's not that I like going on the roof so much, but I like it more than I like algae on my eaves. Yup--spring green on my lovely white paint. It had to go, and I knew this for a while, but I couldn't do it without Bruce to hold the ladder. Oh how nice it's been to have him around the house to help out with these maintenance chores!

Speaking of which, on Tuesday, we spent ALL DAY working in the yard, more specifically the back yard. All six palm trees needed grooming, both frond pruning, and seed pod removal. Those seeds provide food for rats, and you know how much I hate rats. We own four large garbage cans, not nearly enough for this project so I borrowed FIVE from our neighbor Pete who has a whole slew of them, even though he doesn't do his own yard. Weird.
Three more than what you see are strategically placed to hold the frond pile which the garbage men kindly took yesterday morning. We took yesterday off for the most part--Bruce went into the office, and I ran errands. Today, that easy life was not in the cards.

Lest you think Bruce was not pulling his weight while I scrubbed all the mold, mildew, and dirt off the eaves, he was washing all nine of the large windows in the sunroom, as well as the screens and windows on the back of the house. I worked on both the front, as well as some of the side of the house from my roof top perch, kneeling in the gravel. Good thing I'm a tough old bird.

Then I got the small ladder out to reach the gutters. Have I told you how much I hate gutters. If not, I should have because I do. Around here all they seem to do is collect roof gravel and leaves, plus they get grungy to boot. Getting the smaller ladder out, I started in on the porch area which has all this gross frog poop on the walls and around the front door. You probably wouldn't notice it, but I do. It's like little slash marks, and guess what? They don't scrub off. Bummer. Nevertheless, I've got my scrub brush going on the door lintel, when YIKES!, a gross frog flew out of the top landing on the plant shelf!
I'm a little partial to toads as I mentioned a few posts ago, but frogs--no way! I hate their gripping digits, and pretty much everything about them. See how dirty that plant shelf is? Now you know why I was cleaning! I scooted inside to grab my camera and my phone for a shot. I'm not so great with my phone camera, but I got a shot off, as well as this one with my camera. I was petrified the frog would jump on me! Fortunately that did not occur, instead he leaped to the adjacent wall, a distance of about two feet. Horrible.
The porch furniture got the treatment as well. Can you believe that green carpet, or rather lawn, surrounding it? Seriously, I can't. After all our lawn struggles I'm reveling in the greenness.

Now, this next picture may not look like much to you, but to me, it's fantastic!
Not such a green carpet here, however, it's better than it has been! While Bruce was on the side of the house washing the windows, he decided to do a little work here as well. That clothesline? All new rope. The bricks? All new today! That's a fair amount of digging, moving bricks, etc. If the grass ever fills in, it will be perfect. On the upper left of the photo is where until today I have been storing the pots all my flowers come in from Lowes. No longer are there fifty or so pots, as I finally took them to Lowes for recycling.

You know what? I'm pooped. So is Bruce, so I guess I'll go feed us, and we can take it a little easy before bedtime. In case you are wondering, the porch deck looks super with no sign of the frog! At least for now. :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Destin-ation

When last we met, I told you we'd just checked into our 10th floor room of the Hilton, overlooking the Gulf in Sandestin.
The sand really is both soft and white in this part of Florida, something folks have been telling me about for years. Thursday morning, driving across the street to the Bayside of the resort, Bruce finally got to put his kayak in the water, but not before a delicious breakfast in the hotel. One of the perks of being a traveling man is primo-status with the hotels he frequents. Adjacent to us sat a family with a beautiful little girl, mostly being ignored by her parents because they only have eyes for their phones!
It was really remarkable how little attention they paid to her--made me sad.

The kayaker/fisherman heading out to sea:
 I'm always surprised how often I see roaming cats wherever I go:
While Mr. Bruce was battling the wind, I rode my bike on the pristine bike path amongst the various villages, golf courses, lakes, and small ponds.
Oh wait, there's a leaf on the ground in this shot, probably one of only a few! Seriously, everything is perfect; the developers thought of everything for an idyllic life. Some folks apparently actually live there. Riding around, I thought to myself, this must be what utopia is. Not that I think I'd want a steady diet of perfect, but it was nice for a few days. Locking my bike (probably unnecessary), I walked a little nature path seduced by this:
Apparently that is one thing they can't control--the presence of birds--I saw nary a one. That said, it was pleasant despite the lack of feathered friends filling the air with their song. Not far from there, I saw a sign for "Joelee's Island," with an adjacent gravel parking area. Indeed, a bridge connected visitors to an island in the bay, left mostly in natural conditions.
Mostly because there are a couple of themed playgrounds here and there amongst the pine trees and palmettos. A nature trail runs along the shore line. Back on the mainland, I kept riding towards "Lakeside", passing flowering trees and attractive benches.
The weather, slightly overcast, was windy and comfortable. I met Bruce back by the water where he was resting in a comfortable chair beneath palm trees. Once out on the open water, that wind almost got the better of him, with only one fish to show for his efforts. I say show, however, I never saw said fish because he always puts them back.

Once our gear was loaded up we finally headed to Destin proper. I'm unclear what folks do or see there, but what we saw was the marina.
On the far upper right of the photograph, there is a bridge leading visitors to the barrier island you see in the distance. My zoom lens shows the lovely water color.
Destin, before becoming the go-to spot in the Panhandle, was a small fishing village. Apparently, the fish have not abandoned the place in spite of the influx of tourists.
Having lunch at Al's, overlooking the marina was fun--fried pickles on the menu! We headed back the ten miles to our place, me to do some reading poolside, although many folks braved the winds to sit directly on the beach:
Once back in our room, I looked from the balcony to see this wedding about to begin:
I wonder how they convinced the guys to wear those outfits?

Later we went back over to the Bayside for Bruce to fish in one of the catch and release ponds,
where he caught one little one as I read. See how pretty everything is? Although we walked around the Bayside Wharf area, which I think I told you looked like Downtown Disney, with a rock climbing wall, zip line, multiple themed eateries and even a carousel,
we ended our day back at the hotel for a little bite to eat.

Friday was overcast and misty with the promise of rain later, which on our drive home we encountered sporadically. Again we took the long way, this time a different route, taking us through the town of Bruce,
which was so small, we missed it on our way through. Pulling over, I ran across the street to get this shot of the entry sign we just passed.

If we thought the towns were small along the coast, the interior towns were even smaller. Bruce, for example, has about 500 residents. More wildflowers and lovely country scenery.
Eventually we came to Ocala where the traffic picked up considerably, staying that way pretty much the rest of the way home. We took turns driving the 400+ miles home, amusing ourselves by looking up obscure facts on our iPhones, county by county.

Monday, April 22, 2013

County By County

Leaving Homosassa, we continued on 98 up the coast, entering one county after another. By the time it was all said and done, at least on the way up, we traveled through 16 counties! Some are big, some not so much. If you thought we kept driving straight through, you would be mistaken. Actually, after the park, we really just wanted to find a place a little further down the road to have a picnic. Seeing a sign, pointing to our left, I took this road, into Yankeetown.
It was, by now, indeed a dream of mine to eat, however, that dream was postponed by just a bit because, hot dog, the road kept going, and going, and going....nine miles in all until we came to the picnic area!
Little did we know that we would be driving all the way to the Gulf. If you're in no hurry to get somewhere, I recommend the peaceful location. Prior to arriving in Yankeetown, we passed through Crystal River, a town I visited while in x-ray school 42 years ago! Why, you ask? From what I'm reading the plant must have been under construction back then; our instructor, (a male) must have thought we needed to see how nuclear power was made? Can't remember, but it sure sounds like something a man might want to do. Anyway, according to this article, the plant will soon be closing. From our picnic spot, if we turned around, we saw this:
It is so large, with no other buildings to speak of in the area, I could see it in my side mirror for five miles! While I am out and about, oftentimes I see something that makes me think of a loved one, in this case, seeing a comedy club in a town of 510 people immediately brought my soon to be, daughter-in-law, Alissa, to mind. Wonder what she'd think of this place?
Who, do you imagine, performs there?

Gilchrist, Dixie, Taylor, Jefferson, and what's this? Leon? How, pray tell did I end up in Leon County, home to our state capital, Tallahassee? Mentioning to Bruce that it seemed odd there were mile markers to Tallahassee, he figured it was because it is the largest city in the area. He figured wrong. Eventually, I realized that I missed the turn in Perry, where the road splits, ending up on 27 instead. Duh! Now what? We thought about turning around, but after determining we'd gone more than 20 miles, we decided to find an alternate route. Meanwhile, Bruce looked in our guide book for a room in Carrabelle, because by now it was nearly 7! I told you we take forever to get somewhere.

The town of Carrabelle, located on the Carrabelle River, has several claims to fame, none more so than the training of soldiers on their beach for the Normandy invasion! We booked a room at The Moorings. Arriving, we had a little bit of an off feeling, however, our choices at this point were limited. Eventually a man came to the office, checked us in, and gave us our key. His dinner recommendation was just across the street.
Mostly full, people seemed to be enjoying their meals--we thought it was nothing special. While there we did learn that bears are a common occurrence around there. Although we'd seen bear crossing signs along the highway, we did not take it very seriously, however, after listening to one of the servers tale of her Mother's car being lifted, perhaps we should have. Fortunately, they kept to themselves during our overnight stay. So, what's to like about The Moorings? Nothing really, unless you like bare walls, one bar of soap, a puny pillow, AND the blaring lights of the marina all night long!
Tossing and turning throughout the night, I woke up, thinking the clock said 6:30, meaning, if I wanted any sunrise pictures, I better get out of bed.
There's a reason this photo, taken shortly after my wake up call, is so dark--it's 5:30 in the morning! Bruce came outside; looking at each other, we decided the best thing to do was put the place behind us, and get back on the road.

Further down the highway we pulled over to take this:
Bruce was behind the wheel on this stretch while I did the navigating and reading the book. Let's go out to St. George's Island State Park, shall we?
The lighthouse has had quite a history through the years--rebuilt many times.
Miles of unspoilt beaches, camping, fishing, and BIG dunes.
Wonder how that dock got so far away from the Gulf?

So, we thought we saw big dunes at St. George's Island, but the ones at Cape San Blas put those to shame. More specifically, on a tip from a lady we met in Appalachicola at a thrift shop (!) where I bought a yellow plate for 50 cents, we went to the very end of St. Joseph's State Park (not the full name), and were in awe. Seriously, it was so interesting, and to tell you the truth, weird, walking up a big sand mountain, which my builder husband, who is a good estimator of heights and distances, estimated was 80 feet tall.
Here's a shot of the only other folks we saw while there, making their way back to the parking lot:
It felt as if it were a desert, with an ocean on the other side of the mountain. Okay, high hill. There was a sign indicating it was moderately strenuous, mostly because the sand is so fine and powdery, it's a bit hard to get a grip. Bruce took his sandals off to make the return trip.
I'm getting ahead of myself with the above shot! Oh well. Here's what you get for your efforts.
Gorgeous sand, no people, and beautiful water which I suspect would be even more beautiful had it not been a bit of a hazy day.
No one at all, not even shorebirds.

After picnicking nearby, we took off once again, finally reaching Walton County, and Sandestin, which apparently is a combination of Destin and Santa Rosa Beach. Using Hilton hotel points, Bruce booked us into the hotel for two nights. Taken from the 10th floor on the Gulfside of the resort:
They call this area the Emerald Coast and you can see why. Unbeknownst to us, the Hilton is part of this which turned out to be very nice indeed. You'll see more tomorrow.

You Just Never Know