Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Here's Looking at You Lady

Let's just start out by saying that the weather this weekend could not have been any better. Not even one tiny bit. Absolutely glorious! Who knew this could happen at the end of May? Because it was so beautiful, Sunday's market was grand. Lots of folks were there with some of them buying from yours truly.
Yup, she was trying to make up her mind, eventually settling on The Bouncer. A very sweet puppy with a very sweet owner. So, unlike the previous Sunday, take down was easy and comfortable, as in virtually no heat or humidity. Woo hoo!

Once we were unpacked, I went to check on "my" baby cardinals. Oh my goodness! They were out of the nest already! Where could they be? While I made some pizza dough I asked Bruce to hunt around the yard. No sightings. :(

HOWEVER, in a crazy twist of fate, early Monday morning, Bruce opened the bathroom window to let in some of the delightfully fresh breeze. Going in there, I heard a little cheeping--a very good sign. Just outside the window look who was staring at me:
Baby bird was doing his best to hide in the azalea bushes making it hard to get a good shot. How dare he? You know what happened next don't you? Heading outside, I brushed away the bushes the best that I could, trying to get closer. This little ones Mother was not so happy about that, coming very close to keep an eye on me.
Papa came around as well. After a few shots, I was SO surprised when baby bird flew off into another hedge  across the yard, with the parents in the lead! Imagine that? Flying after only about ten days. I tried to leave them alone, I really did, but my resolve crumbled. Once again, I went on the hunt in the other hege, listening all the while for the faint cheep-cheep. Finally I found him and wanted to show you how much the feathers have developed since last you saw them in the nest.
As I type, the windows are open and I'm hearing a little cheeping, however, I promise to stay put until this post is done!

We had a blast on Memorial Day, first visiting Bruce's brother's family and ending the day over at Dave's place. Two lakes in one day. Guess what I did? Finally, I rode on a jet ski, something I've wanted to do for ages and ages. Judy took me around the lake first, traveling at a pretty slow pace while showing me the sites:
Here is where the new point and shoot is so handy. Jessica, our niece was kind enough to take the photos after a quick tutorial. She was freaking at the zoom action! After my training, I did it on my own:
Nope, I didn't do anything fancy, just sped around the lake a few times, unlike Judy who later showed off her moves, circling around doing figure eights. Good grief it was fun! People lounged around the pool:
Nice setting right? Eons ago, when Cris and Judy first bought the property in Altamonte Springs, they offered us half, however, by then we already had a pretty large family and were watching our dollars very closely. Although it's a beautiful spot, we've never regretted staying put in Orlando, raising our children in neighborhoods close to where we grew up. Same high school as their parents. In our transient city, there's something to be said for that.

About the middle of the afternoon we headed back to our side of town, stopping by the pool at Dave and Michelle's condo. Most every weekend you will find David, Michelle, and Bill, hanging by the pool and cooking out, oftentimes for lots of folks at their invitation. Mostly David is the grillmaster and pretty much the young prince of the pool.
I called him the prince because he is one of the younger folks that live in Lake Pineloch; a good many are our age or older. What fascinates me is how well the twins get along with the older folks.
The recent rains we've been having have done wonders for the lake levels around town. By around 8, we were all partied out, heading home to Baxter, who was only too happy to see us!
Okay, so he doesn't look so happy, but he does look pretty darn cute.

Before I forget, on Saturday night, while out on Park Avenue with Jane and Michael, she said something I suspect you can relate to. Regarding this blog, she told me she doesn't read it faithfully, and sometimes when she does, she clicks on it, and if she isn't grabbed immediately, heads to somewhere else on the web. Now that's a good friend who can tell you that! Prior to that confession, I figured that everything I wrote was interesting, but apparently not. :)

In other big news, we are heading to Austin in the morning for a five day stay! Having helped Jonathan and Alissa move into their apartment, we know what it looks like, but the rest of the city--not a clue. They will be working a few of the days, a few not, so we will be seeing the city on our own Wednesday, Thursday and some of Friday. What we're going to do, I'm not so sure. The busy weekend kept me from planning, but if ever there were a time to get going on this, it is now.

So long for now,
Gail

p.s. I neglected to mention I think I saw another of the cardinal siblings, the third, not yet.

p.p.s. This is a bonus feature: The Making of a Carousel

Friday, May 24, 2013

Lake Eola

I can't tell you the number of times people have questioned me about what type of camera I use. I bet you've wondered as well. The truth is that I have a bunch of cameras, nothing wildly expensive. I use my Olympus Micro Four Thirds camera, primarily with the terrific Panasonic 1.7 lens. As well, my Nikon D5100 usually can be found in my bike basket with the zoom lens attached. What's been missing from my lineup of late is a regular old point and shoot. Using my "found money" from Sun Dance, I bought a new Panasonic FZ200 at Costco. This morning I took it for a test drive at Lake Eola with mixed results. The thing about a camera like this one is the zoom is SO long (600mm), that it takes practice to keep it steady, something I wanted to work on today.

Week in and week out, I go to Lake Eola, however, what I see is primarily limited to our circle of vendors, those on the bridge, and the park restroom. Parking on Eola Street, I walked the whole park looking for subjects.
There seem to be a gazillion pigeons, but by golly, this was the only white one I saw. By the time I arrived the sun was already too bright, making it especially challenging to get a shot of this white bird. Don't for a minute think this is the only one I took--there are about ten already relegated to the trash bin!

There I go, getting ahead of myself again. Last evening, the minute the battery completed charging, I tried it out on our resident model:
Baxter keeping cool on the tile. Furthermore, I did some shots of my daisies before they too are relegated to the trash bin.
Back to Lake Eola, which I only just now realized that some folks reading this blog haven't a clue what I'm referring to. Briefly, Lake Eola is downtown Orlando's signature park--every major celebration is centered around this lake with the newly renovated fountain, swan boats, swans and more swans, as well as an amphitheater. Then too, it is the site of the Farmer's Market where I sell photography every Sunday. Now you know.
And now you've seen it for yourself.

There are various types of water fowl, including this little couple of herons:
The way they bend those legs is really something. I watched a black swan working on a nest, actually, the nest was already pretty big with Mama swan sitting on it, but I guess he thought bigger is better?
It was remarkable watching him pick up big mouthfuls of pine straw, dumping them, and going for more.
Looks like I missed the white swan having her cygnets awhile ago because, seeing them today, they are already pretty big. The fellow pictured on the left, despite signs asking people not to, was feeding them bread.
Although they have never bothered me, a significant number of homeless people hang out in the park. Can you blame them? Every now and again on a Sunday morning, one of the men will ask Bruce if he needs help setting up to which he always politely replies, "no thanks." The truth is, he has a very specific method and likes to keep doing it that way. I know you are not surprised.

I read somewhere recently that we have the influence of Japanese culture for our newfound fascination with all things cute. Maybe, maybe not, but I do know that the new swan boats are way more cutesy than the previous batch!
Having a retractable shade thing must be a very welcome addition for those who like to power boats with their legs.

A nearby school apparently uses the park for physical education because there were a group of young people, probably in fifth grade or so, playing a running game which didn't seem to bother this gentleman's ability to make art.
I wonder how long he waits around for buyers?

There were loads of variously colored ducks, other wading birds, and loads and loads of pigeons, but I think you've seen enough don't you?

Things have been relatively quiet around here this week, except for some baby bird watching. I try not to look every day, but I just couldn't help it yesterday evening, and was I ever rewarded! Wondering what six day old cardinals look like? Wonder no more!
They are definitely outgrowing the nest wouldn't you say? Bruce, taking a break from power washing the driveway, helped me out by holding back the palms for this shot which I took very, very quickly. Mama and Papa have their hands full trying to keep these growing babies fed! I put some extra bread crumbs out in the dirt adjacent to the nest, hoping to make their job a wee bit easier.

In the kitchen, take a look at what has happened with that bunch of basil given to me by Sue a week or so ago!
I can't believe how big the roots are already. Angela is definitely getting some to plant.

Unrelated to this post, in pretty much no way, I'm showing you a photo I took in Siesta Key a while back that I came across during a feeble attempt to clean out my photo library.
The water looks unreal doesn't it? Now, if I'd had a super zoom camera when taking this, those dolphins would be more than specks!

Maybe it was nostalgia that made me buy the camera, a big upgrade from my long time Panasonic FZ8 which served me so well over the years until the battery refused to keep a charge. Don't know, but one thing I do know is that if you have a good subject, the camera is not terribly important. Sure, bigger sometimes is better, but as it is with all things in life, that's only partly true. What I do know is this: about 8 of my top 10 photos were taken with a point and shoot. I'll leave it to you to decide how much the camera matters.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Revolutionary Cleaning Tip!

I'm not entirely clear why it is so, but if you've read this blog for any length of time, you'll know that I have no problem with outdoor work-- in fact, I love it. Indoor work? Not so much. However, yesterday I learned something so revolutionary  that I couldn't help but want to clean more.

I love just about all things Google. If I had to pick one of their products as my favorite, I might be hard pressed. Yesterday though, it was search engine that pretty much changed my life. Yep, I'll admit it in this very space. While playing bridge with Bev, Arlene, and Barbie Monday afternoon, the talk turned to stainless steel appliances with much grumbling about how notorious they are to keep clean. Although I said I was thrilled with my new purchases, I did not admit how messy they looked as we played. That, my friends, is a thing of the past, thanks to my search mission. Neither Bruce nor I can figure out how it happened, but all over the front of our wonderful new freezer, there were spots. I'm not exaggerating. Furthermore, the front of the oven had big swatches of ugliness. More of the same on the dishwasher. With two relatively neat adults living in this house, you would think this would not be a problem. It is, or make that, it was. Olive oil. That's the ticket. I bought some fancy British stainless steel cleaner, as well as a special wiping towel that claimed you only needed water, but I swear, both of them made things worse.  Plus, you had to be careful about wiping with the grain.

According to Martha Stewart, Windex is king when it comes to cleaning stainless, however, several commenters on that post mentioned the ease of putting a little olive oil on a rag and wiping away the spots. Certainly I was skeptical but figured what could it hurt? Not a thing my friends. It worked like magic, and now everything looks just like new again! I was so excited I immediately called Angela who I know struggles with the same problem. This morning I had a message from her: "Brilliant!", which pretty much sums it up. Speaking of Angela, do you see what I see in her umbrella?
Clearly Angela is a very smart woman, however, she's yet to add bird identification to her repertoire. Last week she told me there was a bird nest in her side umbrella, but I never dreamed it would be so visible, facing directly into her sun room window! Early yesterday I went over to see it for myself and to determine what kind of bird would do such a thing. Can you guess? Yup, a cardinal. Guess what? Our eggs have hatched! Actually Bruce checked on Saturday and there were the three chicks huddled together! While showing it to Angela, mama cardinal flew away and one of the chicks popped it's little mouth up for me to see!!! Won't be long until those little guys are hopping around the yard.

Rain fell steadily throughout most of the day yesterday while I cleaned for hours. Hours? Can you believe it? Neither can I. Stormy weather oftentimes makes for some nice skies at sunset like this one from Monday night.
In more bird news, it seems as if this is either a couple, or a parent and child,
because they both are on the tree, then the really red headed one jumps to the ground, and the other follows suit. Could this be a second Mr. and Mrs. Peck on the property?
Not only did I clean the appliances but I actually washed my floors. My friend Bev does it daily, me, every few months. I got rid of my kitchen rug while doing so. Ever since we put in the new floors, I struggled to find a rug that really looks good in front of my kitchen sink. Well, duh! Why do I need one anyway? I suspect the practice began to make things easier on the person washing dishes, but since that's mostly a thing of the past for folks like me, then what is the purpose except to collect dirt? Any thoughts on the matter?

The living room now looks great; the rest of the house mostly got the vacuum treatment. My work table is pretty good because I've yet to put in my order--today's task. Without prints, room is left to showcase all of the goodies from Dave and Michelle.
Clearly she understands her mother-in-law prefers writing lists on paper, rather than notes on her phone. Plus the awesome colors!

Bruce is across the street as I type, straightening out Herb and Corrine's new mailbox. His son put it in Sunday night, following the mega-storm, without regard to it being level. He does not have to look at a leaning mailbox tower every day, however, the rest of us do, and if Bruce can fix it, why not? Angela, in particular, was an advocate for this project. "While you're at it, can you straighten their tree?" she asked the neighborhood handy man. Indeed he can.

Rain all day kept me from riding until just before dinner. It was nice going out at that time because there were more folks out enjoying the weather break. Then too, I came across this very interesting variety of passion flower, a color and style I'd not seen before.
 I'll have to go back today, after I finish mowing the lawn, to see if those white things curl up as is typical of this type of flowering vine.

Can you wait to try the tip on your own stainless steel appliances? I thought not. You don't need much oil, just enough to rub the front, followed by a clean soft cloth for buffing and that's it. Let me know how this works for you.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Saturday Night Glamour, Back to the Real World on Sunday

Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and corn, all served up on the good china for my birthday boy!
The table was set, the food was ready, however, the guest of honor was not to be found. Actually, he was around, just sitting on the tarmac at the airport. Our strawberry shortcake dessert had to wait because by the time we finished dinner, we were both too full and tired to eat it. Nonetheless, our early birthday celebration was a success. Asking him what he thought I'd made when I told him over the phone that I was serving all his favorites, he replied that he knew it was either meatloaf or roast chicken. This is what happens when you've been married for nearly forty years!

Because I had some folks who ordered two large prints the week before Mayfaire, I had to go to Winter Garden on Saturday. Man, I wish I hadn't because aside from the those two items, I sold two cards for $6.00. And you thought I always had good days! Fortunately for me it's not often I do this poorly, but it happens. Thank goodness, Alan, our market masseuses boyfriend, kept me company all day, or I would have gone mad! That and the excitement I felt about the evening ahead.

Glamour was the order of the evening. According to the boys, the Citrus Club has undergone a major remodel in the last few years. Heading up in a special elevator to the 18th floor, I knew I was in love when I saw this kind of decor:
Shades of orange everywhere! We did not spend any time in one of these little spots, however, we did get there early to watch the running of The Preakness on their 120" screen television in another part of the bar/casual dining area.
There was a little nod to other citrus, but I'm happy to say that orange ruled! Earlier in the week David told me that coats were required in the main dining area which was good news to me. I really miss the days of dressing up to go out to dinner. The view from one of the large windows:
I bet this is super great when night falls. Mrs. Camera Crazy missed the little black dress memo!
The food was terrific as was the company. It was such a lovely way to spend Bruce's birthday and the only thing that would have made it better would have been having Matt, Tom, Jonathan and Alissa with us. You've got to love a place that has butter balls.
And no, I did not pick one up and eat it whole! David insisted Bruce spare no expense which felt a little weird coming from your son, however, Bruce did as told, ordering a nice bottle of Sequoia Grove cabernet for the two of us to share. This dinner was really a combo gift, Bruce's birthday, and Mother's Day for me. Michelle bought me a straw clutch with my initial monogramed in orange on the front! While reading the cards I burst into tears at the sheer beauty of the night and the love from our family. Do you every cry happy tears? This is not my first time doing so, and I imagine it won't be my last! By 9:30 it was all over, and we headed to our respective homes. I imagine they did not go to bed, but this Peck couple did just that.

While packing the car Sunday morning at 7:00, there was a little mistiness in the air. Bruce asked if I was sure I wanted to go? You know me, always thinking positive, said, "of course I do, it won't rain!"
So much for wishful thinking! Thankfully, Bruce arrived moments after I called him a little after 3, telling him the market was closing for a storm. Fortunately he'd been able to park his car fairly nearby, so he immediately began taking the print baskets to his car, along with anything else he could carry before the deluge, and deluge it was! How can this be that we experienced another massive storm and summer has not begun?
Not so glamourous now! Bruce is soaked to his skin! The rain came down hard and fast, and just kept coming, forcing us to hole up in the tent for more than an hour! At least it was just the two of us rather than a group of strangers this time. Huge cracks of thunder and lightening! Flooding again!
Because of the lightening, Bruce had us stand on the highest ground in our space.
Finally the drains kicked in and we were no longer standing in water. I do not like having soaked shoes  for one minute; I ended up going barefoot, even running to get the car that way. I pretty much looked like a drowned rat by the time the rain finally let up and we packed the rest of our things.

By 7:45 Bruce was asleep, with me not far behind. Giving in, we went to bed and slept the evening and night away. When I get asked if I will make a deal on a print, I am not the least bit happy. I already keep my prices low, and when we got through an experience like this, I get all the more worked up at those folks. Walking by a booth, unless you know someone who does this for a living, it looks pretty glamorous, but you and I know differently. It is hard work!  Our garage is still strewn with hanging sides and a half-opened tent for drying.

Adding the no sales at WG, to the rain ending Sunday, it was not my best weekend at the markets. Wasn't it lovely to have some glamour in between?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mrs. Peck Does a Little Shopping

Mrs. Peck indeed. Despite being unfashionable these days, I became Mrs. Peck in August 1973, and Mrs. Peck I shall remain.

Oftentimes, while I'm sitting at my desk, either writing or going through photographs, Baxter likes to make himself comfortable behind me, using up almost all of the available space.
There's just something about the material that he loves rubbing himself against. Perhaps I should scratch him more?

Before I left for the mall, I ate lunch while reading the newspaper. Yet another unfashionable thing I do! As is often the case, I'm struck most by the obituaries, reading about people's accomplishments which seemed so important at the time. That will be all of us my friends.

Anyway, a woman, aged 94 died whose obituary was particularly fascinating because among other things, her grandfather told Marjorie K. Rawlings about the flora and fauna of Florida while Marseille (the deceased) sat on the porch listening! "The Yearling" came from those sessions. So, she was a master seamstress, tailor, and hatmaker, "but will be remembered for being a home room mother in her daughters third grade class, where she baked intricately designed cookies and hand decorated each with multiple designs which not only delighted the children then, but those cookies are still remembered." And I quote.

Doing the math, that little cookie baking episode had to be, at the very least 40 years ago! Probably more like 50. How is it possible that during the ensuing years nothing more memorable occurred in her life? Will my children include my stint as PTA President, and the like? Will I get credit for attending every sporting event all four ever participated in? Please don't leave me Orlando Sentinel, even with all of your flaws, you have been a part of my daily life for longer than I can remember!

Where was I? Oh yeah, Millenium Mall where all the rich kids shop. Who else would wear this kind of get up for gardening?
Actually, I love the window displays, no matter how silly. Particularly this time of the year they are so colorful, including this new Kate Spade store. Hello Orlando indeed.
Colorful handbags galore at Bloomingdales Coach display:
I am way too practical to buy most of these handbags but they sure are fun to look at. More my speed is this $15 (awesome sale price) orange handbag, which because of the price tag, I can use only occasionally.
If I spent $300 on a handbag I'd feel as if I needed to carry it 24/7! Here's a cute little bag featuring my beloved orange:
Pretty clever huh?

My niece Lib surely already knows about this find from Urban Outfitters, being a big-time Ryan Gosling fan and all.
 For only $15 you too can have a cool coloring book.

I walked through the entire mall noting stores closed, or moved. Chatting with the employees at Papyrus, I learned H&M is coming to Millenia which will make some people quite happy. I had several things in mind for Bruce, however, I came home with very little. He is pretty hard to shop for, so rather than buy him things he won't want or use, I'm thinking we'll go together and see if there's anything special he wouldn't buy for himself. To tell you the truth, a card will probably do just fine.

Today's shopping was nothing like yesterday's excursion. Because Sue has been so gracious by visiting me at the various places I've shown, I wanted to do the same for her. This weekend she and Kathy, her business partner in Vintage Chic Affairs, are participating in a wedding show at College Park Antiques, setting up a mock vintage wedding to showcase all they have to rent.
There is much more to this set up including this part:
And I thought our set up was a lot of work! I do so hope they get some customers from this!

In the front of the shop there are separate little spaces for rent, one of which, until recently was rented by my good friend Mary Whited. Anyway, I looked around, seeing what I could see. Mostly my family will be amused by this:
Why, you ask? We used to call our sister Carol, the big C.

I came across this chest which has to be pretty old because it has been some years since FSU was known as Florida State College for Women.
DO NOT ask me why I bought these funky vases because Lord knows I don't know what I'll do with them, but for $7.50 they were just too cool to pass up.
On the way home I did a little more mundane shopping at Publix, and now it is time to prepare the birthday boy his favorite meal.....meatloaf, mashed potatoes and corn, here I come. Actually I've got loads of time as his plane does not land until 7. Tomorrow night, Bill and David along with the beautiful women they love, are taking us to Citrus Club downtown for a combo celebration--Mother's Day and the big 60. It's been more than a few years since we've been so I'm excited.

My work week begins in the morning, just as it is getting crazy hot again....

You Just Never Know