Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Fall Wardrobe

To a Florida gal, a fall wardrobe, in the conventional sense, is like a foreign language, you know they exist, but darn if you understand them. Then too, it has been so long since I've been in even chilly weather, it is hard to imagine I'll need warm clothes, but warm clothes it is for visiting England in early October.

The boots finally arrived last evening and they fit great, although to make sure they really feel great, I'm wearing them as I type in my tank top and bike shorts.
Here's a little side view, although since I took these I have on socks--very glamorous indeed!
I don't exactly know why this is, but every single time I go on a trip, I feel as if I don't have any clothes, which you and I both know is not true. Although I don't have as many as some ladies my age, I have a fair amount, however, all those lovely sun dresses do not a fall wardrobe make. Then too, most days I just reach in the closet, pull something out, and off I go. Obviously that isn't going to cut it either. So, I got some of the new stuff out and tried to figure out what I already have that will work.
Yep, here is the jacket which came late Tuesday evening. I'm going in style. :)

Pictured above is a new handbag I found at Marshalls because I wanted something brown, but I'm still not sold. We've discussed the mini-suitcase look some women adopt, but for most situations, that's not me. HOWEVER, and that is a big however, I need something largish to carry my cameras. Nope, you're not going to see me with a camera bag, either they are too bulky, or pretty much just plain ugly. A quandary, that's what I'm in.

Thank goodness for Matthew! He's put together an itinerary filled with interesting things to do. Want to see what we'll be doing?






The View from the Shard

Dinner at Tate Modern


Boat trip on the Thames from Westminster to:


Thames Barrier (Annual Closure)

St Paul's Cathedral


Bruce is understandingly nervous about leaving his nearly completed jobs. Originally he had two and a half weeks left in the project, however, they took one week out of the schedule after we were already booked. It goes without saying that the end of a job is full of last minute details which need his attention. Let's face it--being a construction project manager is really hard, and while he gets many weeks of vacation, they are hard to actually use. I'm so hoping his field workers will step up to the plate with performances exceeding his expectations!

With all the shopping I've been up to, it's a good thing the folks at the Winter Park Autumn Art Festival did not want me. Then, I too, would be nervous, and instead of buying new stuff, I'd be ordering, signing and the like. 

I've been dodging rain drops to get in my morning ride. No blue skies at the boat ramp,
unlike the previous week, which I know I posted once, but it's so interesting to me, I'm posting it again!
Perhaps we're being prepped for some gray weather? That said, they are having a mini-heat wave in Southern England. The temperatures, or at least as predicted, and you know how much confidence I have in that, should look like this.  I've been wondering though, cold in Florida, the only cold I know, feels different than in other places, or so I've been told. Perhaps middle 50's and 60's won't be too bad?

Angela is pretty well set at her new home which is very good news indeed as far as Baxter is concerned. Taking him over to the Appleton house the other day, he was very confused with all the emptiness.
In the next few days Baxter is going to accompany me to her new house to get the lay of the land. I hope he doesn't pout too much while we are away. 

If you've a hankering, check out some of the provided links--that Emirates Air Line, (which is not what you think it is,) looks sort of scary, although surely Matt would not pick an activity putting his parents in harms way. Of course he wouldn't! Actually, I was absolutely no help in the planning--all I told him was that I wanted to do some outdoor activities, especially now that I have, what I think is a "fall wardrobe."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Workout

Good grief the days have been busy of late! I've had a workout in more ways than one in the last week.

Beginning with Friday when my nerves had a workout doing the senior photo shoot. Mostly I was shaky on the camera settings, but I did my best. Typically, for my regular work, I'm happy if something comes out, and no one is the wiser if it doesn't. In this instance, that attitude was not going to fly, so we took a bunch hoping for a few good ones. I don't know which pictures she ended up choosing, as I gave her my card to download the photos on her computer, but here are a few of my favorites:
Delanee's mom, Kathy, along with my friend Sue, have a small business renting vintage items to brides, thus the couch, which they lugged from the car to this green spot at one of my favorite places, Orlando Wetlands Park. That was the first outfit, then she changed into a dress in the car.

Hair moving in the breeze = fantastic!:
Warning them ahead of time that I don't use Photoshop, (one of the main reasons I rarely do people), they agreed anyway. Seriously, with skin like that, who needs Photoshop? I wonder if hair blowing in the breeze is a no-no because it is too real?

Then, sitting on the little concrete stoop with Orlando carved into the side, we showed off her pretty dress:
We were lucky with the weather, not too hot at all, and more importantly no rain, of which, as you well know, we've had more than our share this summer.

Over the weekend, my stamina got a workout at the markets. Saturday, I had a few sales, considerably better than the previous weekend, then it died out, and for hours not one sale. It's a darn good thing I have Missy next to me to keep me entertained when it is dead!
She is a load of fun, and then too, she makes a wicked pimento cheese spread! I figured by the time I paid for gas, a little for my time, and the cost of the product, I made about $3 an hour. I constantly have people remark that it must be fun to do what I do. Wonder what those same folks would make of the wages?

Sunday, imagine this: we closed early due to weather! Not as early as the previous week, but early nonetheless. Morning sales made for a good start to the day, with a continuing trickle throughout the remainder. One thing that keeps me going is the folks that tell me they will get back with me, and then actually do! Becky is one such woman. She sent me an email with an order for not one, but two canvases, that are being made as I type.

My brain got a workout on Monday while playing bridge at Bev's house. How is it possible that Arlene and Barbie were dealt such great cards allowing them to win by a gazillion points? Fortunately I don't mind getting beat to a pulp! We played away the whole afternoon because it was raining cats and dogs for most of it. Speaking of cats, here's the resident cat at Dandelion Communitea:
This cat has a very clever name, Dorian Gray;  apparently he is their "watch cat." It's hard to believe the time has already come to take down the exhibit--seems like only yesterday we were putting it up! Sunday morning, before the market, I'll get my unsold pieces to sell on my own.

Tuesday, both my body, and my heart, got a workout. Monday's rain soaked, and I mean soaked, the ground, and it continued drizzling Tuesday morning while I was riding. Time to get to those neglected weeds in my garden. Which reminds me, have I told you gray hairs are sprouting all over my head like a bunch of weeds? Although late to the gray hair party, no telling what it will look like this time next year at the rate they are coming in!

Back to the narrative--what began as simple weeding, morphed into a three hour stint of trimming, pulling stray camphor trees out of the ferns, along with nasty potato vines, and the like. The three pento palms got quite the trimming---enough to fill all of our garbage cans, as well as two of our neighbors. It felt good to be back outside after neglecting things during the worst of the summer heat. You might assume that it really is fall,
but I'm here to say, that is merely what the calendar says, in spite of the two leaves pictured. We've got another few weeks of "greater summer" remaining before heading into "lesser summer," or at least that's what I call our weather.

Following the outdoor work, I went to FAVO to pack up my room, making way for another artist to use it during our trip. Will and I had a good chat about Berto, pictured below, when he worked in the gardens at the Polasek.
Just about every week I get an email from Alejandra at Sun Dance asking if I have this or that in my photo library--a succulent, vintage cameras, the American flag are the most recent examples. While hunting for her I usually find photographs I'd completely forgotten existed, with the Berto one as an example. It must have been just a random shot that I will now treasure.

Fittingly, the Polasek gardens will be the site of a memorial service on Sunday evening, organized by my friend Pam, who came over yesterday afternoon for another chat about Berto, giving my heart a workout. Apparently, thoughts of how she might have helped him more have been waking her at night. We're all prone to second-guessing when something like this occurs, however, according to Will, this was a well thought out plan that we all must accept as his decision. In spite of his immense talents, the truth of the matter is, that it is hard to make a living as an artist. All that to say--support those whose talents you admire!

Funny that I was nervous about the photo shoot because, if I think about it, for most of my adult life I photographed the inside of people every work day; if only I were more confidant of my camera skills, I'd use my people skills to photograph the outsides more often!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Re-Visiting Gatorland

There is a lot to like about Gatorland, beginning with the admission price for Florida residents. Admittedly, they are nothing like the "new kids on the block", Sea World, Disney and the like, so they can charge less, but $10? You can't go wrong. Plus they don't charge a thing for parking, a practice I am fully on board with; parking charges are highway robbery in my book.

Arriving at 9:40, I discovered they did not open until 10, so I stood in a very small line with mostly British tourists. Maybe ten minutes later, after finishing their preparations, two friendly women opened their windows, took our money, and welcomed us to Gatorland with a smile. Imagine that.

The first thing you see is a whole pile of gators, mostly who look like they may not really be alive. Perhaps it was the slightly cooler weather, but a few of them seemed downright lively:
Of course these are the youngsters, the big boys mostly hang out in the water. Because I was lucky enough to get an awesome gator shot on a previous visit, my mission was to see the new panthers, or at least new to me. I made a beeline to their freshly built area, previously home to some sandhill cranes.
Although the glare makes it a bit hard to read, what you really ought to know is that they are rescued cats, a brother and sister. Here's Neiko looking very serious:
In case you are wondering, there is a window that you have to shoot through to get shots of them. There was a mixture of sun and clouds, which at times made it easier to put my lens directly on the window to avoid the glare, but not entirely. This is Florida, after all...bright sunshine is the rule. So, Neiko followed Lucy over to the pond area, and I spent some time watching him groom her:
They are such beautiful big cats, so clean! Here's Lucy keeping it cool under a palm a little later:
Because the exhibit is new, the glass is not scratched, making it ideal for photographing. This was the highlight of my short trip, but I did see some other cool stuff because for the first time ever, I RODE THE TRAIN!
For the bargain price of two dollars you may ride it as many times as you'd like. Why haven't I done this before? The young man driving the train doubles as a gator wrestler, when he's not narrating the park's history. Every single visit I am impressed with how genuine the employees seem to be, and how much it appears that they like being there. He took me around the back side while telling me how the founder used to take a big alligator in a trailer up the Eastern Seaboard in the early 50's, charging a dime to see the gator. Seems like a brilliant marketing plan to me. Apparently it worked because here it is more than 60 years later and they are still growing. I had the train all to myself!
Mostly undeveloped, but there are some white tailed deer, whose pictures did not turn out, and two "cracker cows".
Following my ride, I walked on the boardwalk over the gator breeding marsh:
Along the way there are loads of snowy egrets protecting their nests. My driver mentioned that the birds have been laying more eggs than usual this summer.
I'm pretty confident it was my first time seeing this great horned owl, who pretty much stared at me  during my attempts to take the photograph.
A stop at the petting zoo area which is always entertaining:
I can't decide just what kind of animal this is, because it looks like a cross between a cow and a donkey.  Any ideas?
That is some tongue isn't it?

I always make a stop to see the flamingos who are getting an upgrade in their living quarters, or so I learned from another friendly employee.
Hanging around the flamingo area:
If Bruce were here, which he is not, he'd be able to identify the fish for me. Mostly I haven't seen him all week as he was in Houston for two days, home for the meeting on Wednesday, and back to Houston until later tonight. Fish in the water are mighty hard to photograph so I was pleased to get something on that shot.

I wanted one last look at the cats before leaving; Neiko was resting inside, while Lucy remained under the palms. Adjacent to their area is the housing for several Python Reticulatus,  better known as big huge snakes!
That mouth looks seriously scary to me!

Just the opposite in temperament, nearby there are three giant tortoises, one of which was on the move, albeit slowly, while I was there.
For less than the price of a movie I was able to see life in action, thanks to our good neighbors at Gatorland.
Did you enjoy your virtual visit? I hope so. Because the price is so low, and it is so close, spending two hours there is very convenient, and guess what? They gave me a pass for a return visit for free! Crazy, huh?

Speaking of neighbors, the movers just left with the packed truck. 909 Appleton is officially now a shell waiting for the next folks to make it a home once again. I sure hope I like them. :)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Marching Orders

It seems as if there are others catching up with my fascination, as this piece points out: Obituaries are a thing now..

So, that one was good for a laugh, not so much with this one, sent to me by my friend Cheryl, recalling the funeral for our neighbor: Kids Shame Abusive Mom. I've waited a very long time to read one like that!

Yesterday's paper ran this obituary: I'll leave out the name, but underneath said name, it reads, "Mom, the Myth, the Legend." Naturally that caught my eye! The body goes on to say that she of course "was loved by many and had the heart of gold. She lived life just the way she wanted....on her own terms!" Pray tell, what does that mean? She ran traffic lights if she didn't feel like stopping?

Speaking of the deceased, it seems as if the older I get, the more I sound like my Mother. As a young person, this seemed an impossibility, but by golly it has come to pass, as in today's blog post title. If I heard that once from my Mom, I heard it a dozen times! Ask Bruce about others because they could probably fill a page!

You didn't think that Matthew would let his Mom worry about what to wear in the English weather now did you? Of course he wouldn't. After reading my previous post he, called Monday afternoon, giving me my marching orders: a quilted jacket and boots. Like a dummy I asked if quilted jackets were in style. Duh! Would he have told me to get one if they weren't? Looking online I found a multitude of choices answering that question pdq. Don't know what pdq means? Another one from my Mom--the lol of her generation, meaning pretty darn quick.

While chatting with him, Angela came over, ready to start the move. And so we did. Actually not quite that quick because I was working on the pool and couldn't stop immediately. Earlier in the day I rode down to Lake Conway, parking my bike at the Ferncreek boat ramp.
This is the same place I took my current best seller, the old VW van. Every single time someone buys it I'm happy because it seems to make them happy. I was so lucky to have come across it when I did, a few days after Christmas, because I have yet to see it again, despite regularly riding this route. The clouds, of course, are for Karen.

Loading up the Pilot after the pool work was accomplished, we drove the 2 1/2 miles to the new house, and what a house it is, filled with all manner of beautiful woodwork and doors. Oh my, those doors are nice; pocket doors, swinging doors, a dutch door, which for those who haven't heard that term, is a door cut through the middle so the top half can open and the bottom stay closed. We worked until nearly 7:30, finally stopping for a sandwich at the old house. Matt, Angela's husband, is unhappy about moving, not wanting to leave the neighborhood. It goes without saying I don't want them to leave either, after all, it is Baxter's vacation home!
Isn't he just the cutest? Unfortunately, Tanya, our groomer, did not cut his hair quite short enough around his eyes, which will too soon be practically covered! Then again, maybe it's because he is getting older, and you know how men get those crazy eyebrows!

Tuesday morning, beginning at 8:30 we started in again loading both the Pilot, and her Lexus, making multiple trips between the houses. I don't know what else to tell you about it except that we worked all day long until 5:30, when I said it was time for me to get back home. I know one thing I can say: it is a big house, four bedrooms and four baths, an upstairs and downstairs, and so many other rooms I practically kept losing my way. I finally hung a piece of art on the wall to mark the stairwell which I kept passing. That may sound crazy, but it is a bit of a spiral, with the opening upstairs looking almost like a room entrance!

I gave her that much time on Tuesday because Wednesday the palm trimmers were coming at 8:30 in the morning. Arriving promptly, they cleaned out the smaller palms,
removing all the seed pods we simply cannot get to. These all look much improved and more importantly, which by the way, I'm mostly seeing people say more important, which I know is off topic, but I wonder why that is. Anyway, the seed pods are all removed, along with the dead fronds.
The squirrels are not going to be one bit happy, however, I sure am; the seeds kept dropping in the pool, clogging up the cleaner. Ignore the next photo, it's for me to remember their name the next time I need them!
While they were working away, a lady I'd met at Winter Garden came to the house to pick out some images to use for canvases at her new office in Longwood. Apparently she lives out that way because when she came into the house she remarked that she always forgets how cute the neighborhoods are near downtown. :)

After everyone left I went to Nordstrom, which I know does not surprise you in the least. Although I don't have the jacket in hand just yet, they ordered one for me, as well as the boots which were not in stock in my size. Before Bruce left for his department meeting in the morning, I told him about the jacket, and he told me that cords were back in style. So, now I have two new pairs of cords as well. Actually I'm glad they are in style because I find them very comfortable indeed. Leaving the store the sky was pretty gloomy,
which would have been fine if not for the photo shoot scheduled for 5:30. Canceling it due to the rain, I did decide to meet the young woman at her house which is only blocks away. I brought along my hat to use as a prop. Actually it is for a senior picture, the latest trend amongst teenagers. Thinking it might be a good idea to do a few test shots on her covered front porch, she was game.
Oh to have skin like that! We're going to try again for Friday evening, hoping the weather will cooperate.

I bought the hat at Nordstrom Rack a while back, and I'm pretty much obsessed with hats at the moment. People look at me funny, but I don't mind. I also bought a straw fedora with a black ribbon. Previously I never looked at hats, but yesterday afternoon found me in the hat department trying on a bunch of cute ones. Perhaps it is the Downton Abbey influence? Which, by the way, we finished season three on Monday night, and are anxiously awaiting the next season. Don't be jealous DA fans, but it starts in the UK while we are there!

While helping Angela move the smaller things, one thing became so clear to me-- once we removed the wall art, the house, despite having all the big furnishings still in place, was pretty much a shell. It's hard to put into words, but if ever I saw the power of art, this was the time. In turn, this makes me happy that for some people, my photographs are affordable enough that they can bring some into their houses, helping to make it a home. :)

Marching orders for today: photograph something beautiful!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Variety Day

If variety is the spice of life, this blog post is full of it!

The other morning, before sunrise, heading out front to get the morning newspaper, much to my surprise, I heard what I thought was an owl hoot. Naturally, in the pitch dark, I couldn't see a thing, although that did not stop me from trying. Then I heard it again, and a few moments later, again. Mind you, the oak trees are so very tall, even in daylight it would be difficult to spot what I was hearing. Apparently the owl hooting was to keep me out front long enough to remember I was to drag the trash cans to the curb, something I'd forgotten to do the night before. Bruce has been working steadily on Saturdays to tame all of our bushes, making lots and lots of yard waste. By now it was nearly daybreak, and as I was dragging the last can, I saw a big bird fly off. Maybe one of these days I'll actually see that owl, or so I hope!

Hearing an owl reminded me it was high time I return Beverly's copy of "Wesley the Owl," a book I just couldn't finish. When someone loans you a book it can be difficult to just come out and say it's not for you, however, in this case, it was not for Beverly either. We both agreed, what woman (I've forgotten her name), keeps an owl in her bedroom willingly? Promptly, I put it in my car so as not to forget it when we play bridge next Monday. Of course, now I have to remember to get it out, but for now, I'm on the right track.

The last few days I have continued to make my way through the magazine; in fact, I made three more dishes, including the one entitled, "Introducing French Chicken in a Pot." In this instance, all of his claims were true, cooking a whole chicken in a pot, covered with aluminum foil and the lid,
makes for both a delicious, albeit unattractive chicken. Browning in one tablespoon of olive oil, followed by a sprinkling of a handful of chopped onions, garlic cloves, a stalk of rosemary, and a bay leaf, the chicken is left to cook slowly in it's own juices for around 2 hours with the oven temperature set at 250 degrees.
Not quite done in this picture, but it did not look much different when the cooking was finished! The taste, on the other hand, was really good, moist and juicy. Putting the cut up pieces on Bruce's plate, alongside some rice and green bean, it was not a pretty sight. He ate with a little skepticism, however, said skepticism did not last very long. As well I made the "Simple Italian Meat Sauce" and the "Almost Hands Free Risotto", both of which were delicious.

While thinking about this current obsession of mine, I came to the conclusion that, having cooked for almost 50 years, using mostly the same techniques, I am enjoying learning new ways to make the old standards. Consider it, continuing education in the kitchen. Which reminds me, this may be the year that I let my x-ray license go inactive. At my age, who is going to hire me to take x-rays after a seven year absence from the profession? No one, that's who.

The above chicken was purchased from Freshfield Farms. I know I said I was troubled by what the cashier told me about their hiring and firing practices, but whole small chickens are hard to come by at Publix. As it turns out, my cashier was the manager of the front end, and as you well know by now, I'm never one to keep things to myself. Repeating the claims, she thanked me for speaking up. Remember when I spoke to the assistant produce manager about this? He rightly passed it up the management chain that day, and they were hoping I would return to discuss it. Calling in Julio, a vivacious young man from Haiti, he answered all my questions in a forthright manner. During our conversation he told me about his rise up that management chain, from the lowest job in the organization, to his most recent promotion as one of the managers at the new store they are opening in Jacksonville. I left feeling better, knowing that their starting wage is nearly $2 more than minimum wage with opportunities to advance for hard workers. Was it the whole truth? Probably not, but I learned enough to think it best to give you an update.

So what else is new? Cheryl, in her former life before becoming a newlywed, had a commercial interior design business for many years in Chicago. You can see her eye for color from the way she is transforming Lois's gardens. Lovely isn't it?
While we are on the subject of nature, in all my years of blogging, I don't think I've ever shown you a photograph of a "snake bird", otherwise known as an Anhinga, which seems funny as they are very prevelant in our area. I took this while roaming at the Ritz.
According to the Wikipedia link provided, in Brazil they are called "devil bird." A little trivia for you in case it should come up in conversation...

Hot and hotter at Winter Garden. Not to whine or anything, well maybe just a little, it was my worst sales day of the year, and dare I say, perhaps the last five years! I should have purchased one of these little Cokes to cool me off and drown my sorrows...
Then too, you will not be surprised to learn that the market closed early yesterday. Did it rain or storm? No it did not. While I was there, Angela called Bruce to help her with a few household problems, something she won't be able to do for very much longer, as they are closing on the new house today. Although she has a mail slot on Bimini Drive, she insisted on taking her new ladybug mailbox with her, especially since she has a neighbor who can do it for her! As well, he took down two very large ceiling fans to go to the new house. Like a good neighbor, Bruce is there!

Before heading to the market, I went to FAVO to do Will a favor. I'm still not sure what he intends to do with it, but he asked me to photograph Berto's palette just as he'd left it in his studio.
One of the other artists made this for his door:
We'll be in England during the next FAVO open house, sparing me the difficulty of his absence. So darn sad.

Did I tell you how nervous I am about the English weather? I am. What to pack? What to pack? Taking only one suitcase that fits in the overhead bin may prove challenging on this trip. Now that the trip is a mere two weeks away from today (!!!), it may very well be time for me to get out of the kitchen and into my closet. :)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Oh What a Night!

Can you just say "Wow!" with me? I always knew that my dear Bruce was brilliant, but now everyone else does!
Actually, the above photo was the night's culmination, but I thought because that was why we were there, it would be a good way to begin. Of course Bruce can't figure out what to do with it, but that's a good problem to have.

Bruce went about his work business with the same diligence as every day. I, on the other hand, went to the nail salon and got that part of my old body looking presentable. After a mad dash home for lunch, I went to see Monica for a haircut. Guess what? I came home with a minor bang trim, and an up-do. Isn't that a funny term? In my entire life I've had that done about three times, for a prom and homecoming a long, long time ago, and David's wedding. Now I'm up to four.
Good thing I'd brought my dress to the salon because I would have never gotten it on at home! I am pretty much a last minute kind of girl so it sure felt weird having it on at 2:30 in the afternoon with my sandals. Angela took the above photo so I could actually see what it looked like. Although I wasn't too sure about it, I'm happy to report that it felt great all night long.

Angela took a few more of the two of us in the front yard as it was so sunny anywhere else I knew we'd be squinting.
Doesn't Bruce look spiffy? The wind was picking up and I was sure some of my hair would come out of it's maze, however, my fears were unfounded.

Traffic was terrible, getting to the Ritz-Carlton, putting us both a little on edge, Bruce more so than myself because the night was all about him--and a few others. :) After checking into our room, we were ready to make our entrance:
Let's just say they thought of everything. It was not only beautiful, but there was music, an open bar, fancy little canapes, and a photo spot, where they took our photograph and gave Bruce his badge with WINNER attached to the bottom!
All of the company presidents were in attendance, sitting at tables with the individual winners of which Bruce was one of 14. The doors to the room opened, and what a lovely sight it was.
Note Bruce with the winner badge..

I don't need to tell you how lovely the tables were with the starter course waiting:
Here, my friends, is the menu:

Truffle Beet Carpaccio, Lump Crab, Avocado 
Florida Citrus, Goat Cheese
Mache

**********

Ritz-Carlton Rolls
Butter

************

Stacked Local Greens, Heirloom Tomatoes
Sliced Burrata, Lavosh
Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

************

Oak Roasted Chateaubriand, Citrus Dusted Striped Bass
Mack Farms Fingerling Potato, Royal Mushroom
Creamed Leek, Rainbow Cauliflower
Green Beans with Almond Butter


Plus, following the meal they served tiny desserts and coffee in the lobby area, which is when the winners picked up their trophy, I mean award statue. Everything was delicious, with wine and champagne flowing throughout the evening as well.

To keep it moving Clarence Otis (President) and Drew Madsen (COO), gave out the awards during the starters, and in between courses, reading out something wonderful about each of the winners who went on stage for a handshake and photo op. Good thing they had a professional in front of the stage because my vantage point wasn't the best. Nor did I want to look too much like a dork taking photos. I did my best:
Mr. Otis is on the right. Needless to say, my heart swelled with pride. :) I'm getting a teeny bit teary eyed just writing about it.

We sure are having quite a big year aren't we? What with both of us turning 60, a 40 year wedding anniversary, a son getting married, and now this? Getting old does have it's advantages.....

Then it was over, a once in a lifetime night. The lobby sure looks beautiful at night, doesn't it?
After sleeping in this morning, at least our version of that, I spent a few minutes outside taking a few photographs:
This looks like it would be a lovely spot to spend the morning once the weather cools off!

Here comes something amazing!!!

Deciding to eat breakfast close to home, we vacillated, eventually deciding on a little restaurant on Orange Avenue called "Carol's Place." Regina told me it was good, so why not? Getting out of the car in a pretty run down gravel lot, I told Bruce it was certainly a far cry from the Ritz, not that I was complaining mind you, only making an observation.

I was going to write a little lead in, but let's just cut to the chase, shall we? Bruce recognized the hostess, and I'm sure our son Matt will get a kick out of this, turns out she is now the owner of the restaurant, but many years ago, as in 20 +, she was the wife of Bruce Wallick who owned the company Waltree. Because she worked in the office, Bruce knew her well. So, where is this leading?

It was while working for Waltree that Bruce built his first Olive Garden on the contractor's side. Because he was good at that end of things, when I saw an ad in the paper for a Project Manager at Darden, I urged Bruce to apply, and lo and behold, they hired him nearly 21 years ago. It seemed so incredible that we would see her after the big night, not having done so since Bruce left Waltree for Darden all those years ago.

Oftentimes I complain about how hard Bruce works, but the truth is, our lives, and the lives of our children, have benefited greatly from his time with Darden. Last night was evidence that Darden thinks they have benefited greatly as well.

Long Beach, CA