Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Milestones

In a matter of days our family will be celebrating a milestone. Yes, the day is nearing when our eldest son is getting married. And, in an even bigger milestone, he is marrying a man. I know this makes some readers uncomfortable, and I respect that, but seriously if you could see the love these two have for one another, you too would want them to make their relationship official.
Well, now you have seen it, haven't you? No one, looking at the photo above, even the hardest-hearted person, could deny that there is love exuding from this photo. I can't really explain sexual attraction, can you? Nor can I explain why God makes some folks prefer their own sex, however, I do know that in the animal kingdom it is widespread, so make of that what you will. For me, I think of it like this: I don't know what goes on in the bedrooms of heterosexuals, so why should I concern myself with the same for homosexuals? Agree?

It will be the first day that England officially recognizes that "all men are created equal and deserve the same rights as others." Such as marrying, which despite what some folks claim, at it's simplest, it is a legal agreement that many folks choose to celebrate in a religious setting.
Isn't it so darn easy to be high-minded about various social issues until you've actually been up close and personal with someone who exhibits the behavior you so loudly protest? I know I've been guilty of that crime. However, once I have seen through my prejudices, I quickly realize being judgmental is not only a waste of time, but just plain wrong.

Every parent, no matter the age of their child, wants them to be happy, or so I thought until the other day, while doing the photo shoot with Kelly, she told me the story about how her cousin's mother would not attend her son's wedding. Seriously? Is she crazy? Her own son? How devastating that must have been for him. In our little world, where Tom's parents are also thrilled that their son has found a life partner, it is easy to forget some folk's attitudes have not changed with the times, a deeply depressing thought. Tom and Matt couldn't be happier, and so are we. I know there those amongst you who send all your good wishes for their lives together, and I will be happy to pass those along. :)

Another milestone passed with no mention from me, until today because I finally scanned this photo Bruce recently found:
Although mighty weary, do you see what I see? That would be Gail on the end at her graduation from x-ray school in 1973. Don't we all look so neat and tidy? Keep in mind, pants were not allowed in those days. I can remember thinking perhaps I wouldn't go to x-ray school because I would have to wear stockings every day! Let me tell you, those stockings cost a fortune, and ran like you wouldn't believe. I was always having to scrape money together to buy new ones. The taller man is the radiologist who was in charge of the school, Tom March. If you can imagine, before Christmas, a youngish woman came into my booth, and after some conversation, I discovered she was Tom March's daughter! Maybe I've told you that story--at any rate, it was a pleasant surprise. So, what does the picture have to do with current milestones? I finally, in December, let my licenses lapse after 40 years. It was painful and practical. Never again will I legally be able to get behind an x-ray machine. Of course, at my age, who was going to hire me anyway????

While at Bill's the other day, Herbert looked at me quizzically, finally saying, you look different. Indeed I do. My friend Jim, Ken's partner of 40 years took this of me at the market on Sunday because he wanted to turn the camera on me for a change.
I still had not washed my hair at this point, despite getting it all wet at Bill's house on Saturday. In another first, I used our pressure washer on the moldy wall in his backyard.
That amazing transformation comes with a price--sore arms and wet hair and clothes, however, I was happy to do so because I was more than tired of seeing it! Later on Bill used it on his pool deck, while Herbert is seen carrying away the old toilet.
Before the toilet went away for good, I photographed the inside lid:
I suspect, one of the dates is the manufacture date, and one is the installation date. I also suspect that there is not much you can purchase today that will still be functional 55 years from now! Herbert put it out by the road, hoping someone would want/need a gray porcelain toilet. The old dishwasher as well as some cabinets found new homes that way.

Well, we are leaving on a jet plane, and I do know when we will be back again, but this being the internet and all, I'm not divulging the dates. Check back now and again, and you'll find me writing in this same place soon. After all, where else on the world wide web will you again be treated to a photograph of the inside of a toilet?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

This is the Ticket

This retirement life is suiting us just fine.

On our way home from some adventures last evening, as we were driving down Summerlin, the sunset was showing off some fine color. "Drop me off!", I exclaimed.
And so he did...

Having longish hair is the path of least resistance for a good many women, most definitely this woman. It was last January (gasp!) that I had, what might be considered, a serious haircut. There have been a few trims along the way, once when Nancy was visiting, and then again this past fall I went to the salon twice, but not much happened with the scissors. Well, now it has.
Ponytail holders will not be in my luggage, that's for sure! Then too, Mr. Bruce's hair was longer than it's been for a while;  Monica took care of that as well. He was even sporting some curls in the back..
That's him, as if I need to tell you, working with drywall mud around the electrical panel. I have some very good news to report...next Saturday Bill will have kitchen appliances!! Although he's had that tiny fridge for the last month, it is no match for a full-sized version. There will be no cabinets, or sink, but it's a start.

It must have been on Wednesday that I finally finished painting the bookcases, although I took this photo before I'd gotten to the last two cabinet doors.
That, my friends, is a photo of Baxter as a puppy---hot dog--he was the cutest!

Well, the painted bunting are no more, but there are goldfinch aplenty. It's been a while since you've seen the Nuttery, now hanging under the eaves just outside the sunroom.
Speaking of the sunroom, there's a new chair in town....
Finally! We purchased the fabric maybe two months ago? It took a while for Richard, the upholsterer extraordinaire, to pick it up, and then weeks to actually do it. Another funky chair joining the ranks.

My gerbera daisies are sending up new flowers weekly, joined now by another one with brown in the middle from some other plants. Bought in the bargain area at Lowes--natch.
The swivel rocker, in it's third incarnation,  is one I purchased at a thrift store, years and years ago. If memory serves me, and this is always suspect, as you well know, this chair sported a nubby orange, filthy dirty, exterior when I bought it for $5.00. It is the scale of the chair that keeps me from buying new--we have an older home, begging for older furniture. Richard decided against putting a skirt on the chair in an effort to make it look a tad more modern. What do you think?

Thursday afternoon, while Bruce was at Bill's house, I set out to make some oatmeal cookies. I couldn't figure out why Baxter was barking up a storm by the side door until I looked out and saw Herb and Corrine washing her car!!!
Actually, Herb is only pictured, but here comes Corrine...
At 87, Corrine is sharp as a tack, however, she is getting more physically feeble by the day, thus my shock at the two of them out there washing her car! He's 86, and while his body still works pretty well, his mind is going. Could this be us in another 25 years? Taking some freshly baked cookies over, as I know they both have a sweet tooth, I expressed my dismay. It was the yellow pollen that was driving her crazy, or so she said.

Once the cookies were baked, I drove over to Kelly's house to take some photos for her. Mostly for her various social media needs. Anyway, here she is playing around a bit, imitating her dog with one eye.
How she kept that smile at the same time is beyond me! After a very quick supper, we drove downtown to attend the opening night of the Twitter Art Exhibit, organized, and curated by my friend Robin Pedrero, pictured below with Aimee Wheaton, another artist friend.
This show was simply amazing. The link, underlined above, goes into more of the specifics, but from our viewpoint, this was one of the best shows we've been to in Orlando, with works, albeit small, from artists across the globe. In fact, here's one from an artist in Leicester, a place we'll soon be visiting.
It was great fun seeing the fantastic international creativity and talent on display, all in one room.
Our only wish is that we'd arrived sooner!

With only a few days remaining before our trip, it is time to get serious about things. Presumably this will be our final work day over at Bill's place. I suspect, when we are not around, he'll get all sorts of projects completed--or so we hope.

Won't be long before we'll be in coats and pants again....

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

David to the Rescue!

I'll admit, Bruce and I have our talents, but financial planning is not one of them. Aren't we so lucky to have sons who are? In this case it was David who came to our rescue Monday night.
Sunday, while reading at the market I came across a line in The Orchid Thief that was so good I had to write it down. At the time I thought it pertained to folks perception about me, however, once Dave spent about four hours talking to us, I knew he was the rightful heir to this line---"he has an excess of verbal energy." Those of you who know David know just how true this is!! And, I love it. There's no holding Dave back when he gets going on a topic he is passionate about! Of course, the same could be said of me, however, in reality, I do NOT hold a candle to David.  So, for the first time in our lives, we are going to try and get serious about our finances. Time will tell...

That same night, well more specifically, the wee hours of Tuesday morning, rain woke me up, and I do mean that literally. The good thing about living in a home, built pre-air conditioning, is that the builders included wide eaves in their designs to ward off both the sun, and the rain. Except, in this case, the eaves were no match for the ferocious wind and rain howling outside our OPEN window. I can't say as I can ever remember that happening before. The good news is, in spite of said winds, we only lost one large branch from the front yard oak tree. Could have been much worse!

Monday was a dreary day, so after checking out those cabinets for Bill, we filled the afternoon with meandering through two antique markets, reliving our past if you will. I swear I am always amazed at what people are selling in those places. The question is, "is anyone buying?" Before leaving the house, I was picking up the garbage cans from streetside, putting them back in their place. As I passed the open can filled with yard waste I noticed this little guy on top:
I haven't the foggiest notion how he got there, but once I showed him to Bruce, he, not I, as I am the squeamish type, carried him to the bushes. Briefly we considered putting him in a jar, however, briefly is the operative word here.

Tuesday was filled with activities both good, and bad. Because the weather has been so great, my thoughts have turned to camping, and in this case, specifically Moss Park off Narcoossee Road which is fairly close to us. Some of you may have read about our last camping adventure here, and if so, may just recall we had a little problem.  You see, we use the back of the Pilot for our sleeping quarters, and the car has a mind of it's own regarding the alarm. You'll just have to read the previous post. In any case, Bruce is having a look under the hood so we won't have a repeat of that fun!
As is quite evident, we had the place to ourselves. Except for the birds and some squirrels. You've not seen a squirrel picture in quite some time, have you?
When they are not in my yard stealing form the bird feeders they seem quite cute, don't they?

In my office I have a darling photograph of Bruce and three of our adorable little boys fishing off this pier.
That was a very long time ago. Can anyone believe Bill and Dave are turning 35 on April Fool's Day? I can't say it seems like only yesterday, but it sure doesn't seem like they've been part of this world for that long!

Along the shore of Lake Mary Jess there were quite a group of Ibises, along with several Wood Stork, whose name I could not remember for the life of me, that is, until I started walking to the signage with the shore birds names.
Wood Stork have the ugliest heads, almost pre-historic if you will, but when in flight, oh my!
The sun was so bright I was following this bird in flight, shooting over my head, thus, cutting the tip of his wing off; nonetheless, I thought you might enjoy it.

Our mission was both as a recognizance one, and a picnic, which we enjoyed seated at one of the many lakeside picnic tables. Just as we finished, a Sandhill Crane wandered up to our table, getting so close you can't imagine. Normally they travel in pairs, but this one seemed to be on his own.
I love these cranes--notice the almost heart shape to the red on his head. With his sand covered beak it is easy to see where they get their name!

Here's a nice peaceful picture for you:
Well, that was the last peace we had all day! Our next stop was to the phone store, and was it ever anything but peaceful. Hours and hours later, I have my phone set up, however, not so for Bruce. Let's just say it was both confusing, and frustrating. No more gory details as the whole affair is too darn confusing to relate.

That said, we are making progress on both the financial side, and the communication side of our new life together; next year at this time, it will be a distant memory. Except, of course, for this blog to remind us! (See car camping post!)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Today is the First Day...

...of the rest of your life, or so the saying goes.
While I waited in the car, Bruce turned in his work computer on Friday afternoon.
Before leaving our home, I made a suggestion: "How about we finally use our gift card from Matt and Tom and celebrate at Dexter's?" You know a couple has been married a very long time when the response is: "I was thinking the same thing!"
And what a fine time we had. Thanks Matt and Tom!

As I type my darling is still asleep which is a good thing. Early on he was having a little trouble sleeping, however, that is a thing of the past. No more worrying about jobs spread across the country!
At the moment our biggest concern is getting our phones settled in with a new carrier. How's that for a tiny problem?

So, now that that is dealt with, which I'm glad it is finally over, let's see what is happening around the garden, shall we? I told you I would show off the tabebuia tree and now I am:
I think we've had it now about four years, and it is finally showing it's colors. Beforehand, I've had only a smattering of blooms, but this year? Gorgeous! Because there are so many big trees it is hard to isolate, but I've done my best to show it off. Please note the top of the photo--gorgeous spring green leaves on our neighbor's oak tree.

This is also the first year our newly planted oak tree has behaved like an oak tree, dropping it's leaves, while forming new ones.
I guess it goes to show you that it takes time to settle in, which undoubtedly will be the case with Bruce. He is so accustomed to waking up to hundreds of emails, beginning the day with a blank slate will be quite the shock to his system. A nice shock though.

In a little case of art imitating life, the goldfinch are back,
pictured with my little sitting bird stakes in the background. :) The brilliant pink are the glorious azaleas, a plant that doesn't look like much most of the year, but in the spring they show off like nobodies business.

Then too, the caladiums are coming up!
Before long the jungle, or what we call our jungle, will be rimmed with the caladium's bright colors. I suspect by the time we return from England there will be more than I can count!

Saturday, while Bruce was finishing the kitchen soffit at Bill's place, I finally made it over to Roger and Trish's new shop.
Now you get the RT part of the name. Trish is more than happy to finally have her home back after ten years. As you walked in the door of their 1923 home, to your left sat one of the 60" printers. Furthermore the business took up two large bedrooms, as well as a bathroom turned into a spray room. She says the house echos without all the equipment! The new space is roomy, but with their reputation, it probably won't be long before it is too small. Seven years ago, when first we met, their customer base included maybe 20 people. These days that number is in excess of 200! I have never forgotten what Roger said to me that day in 2007--I bet I can help you out, and his bet proved oh, so true.

Yesterday the market was busy with both people and oak leaves--good grief those leaves and fuzzy things were flying everywhere! The temperature was lovely, albeit a tad on the warm side, with a nice breeze, thus the flying part. As the day drew to a close I had the cutest sisters visit my booth...oh my!
The older one was a budding artist ,while the little claimed to be a dancer.
Was she ever delightful! I am still reading The Orchid Thief, which I'd brought along for filling the slow moments. Just as I was getting to the part about the "Vanda wars" between orchid growers, Jim brought one to the market. Not just any old Vanda, but one with two spikes.
If not for our upcoming trip I might just have had to take that one home for myself. According to Jim, those blooms should last about two months while the rest of the year it will be leaves, and roots. Curious plants, orchids are.

So, what is on the agenda for the first day of the rest of Bruce's life? Why, a kitchen cabinet finding mission, that's what! Time to get that man moving...

p.s. Blue Fedora it is! Nearly finished the painting on Saturday--pictures soon!

Friday, March 14, 2014

I See Blue!

When Angela and I first became friends, one of the things I found most strange about her was she claimed not to like the color blue. Together, we spent many days talking about home decorating and that included talk about her dislike of blue; back then she was a red girl. Really, who does not like blue? For God's sake, it is the color of the sea and the sky! (old picture from Vero Beach)
It is one of the colors of the rainbow, a loved one's eyes, birds, and even hydrangeas, which might explain why she dug up the biggest, most beautiful display of hydrangeas you've ever seen that former home owner, Mae in this case, planted and nurtured for more than thirty years.

I am happy to report she has now seen the error of her ways, with blue decorator items finding their way into her new home. Whew!

I like all colors, some more than others (think orange), however seeing Bill's pool water finally turn the right shade of blue has me dancing in the streets.
I have worked on this for at least six weeks, brushing, vacuuming, chlorinating, and cleaning the damn filter more times than you can imagine. Arriving Tuesday morning, the first thing I did was scoot out back to see what I could see, and by golly, I saw blue! Now let's hope it stays that way!

Turning one of the bedrooms into an office was off to a good start with the cable installation. In said bedroom there is a wall with built in bookcases built by what might be considered an amateur. Tuesday, Bruce and I set about trying to improve it's appearance beginning with a major, and I mean major, caulk job by Mr. Bruce. Wide gaps are now nicely filled. Before moving the desk against the wall, Bruce put a few things on the wall, including Bill's Rollins diploma, and the old photograph of his namesake, Rolla Jr.
Actually Rolla is Bill's middle name, unusual, but full of history. In fact, Jane, Tom's Mom, while doing some genealogy research, taught us more about him than we previously knew. He would have been Bruce's uncle had he not died in WWII, earning a Purple Heart, which, although nice, was probably not much consolation for his Mom. Speaking of whom, it was her ring that I gave to Jonathan, who in turn had it remade into the engagement ring for Alissa. Isn't that what families are for?

Aha--that's it. We'll use that same blue to paint the wall behind the book shelves! During my lunch run, and I mean for food, not the exercise kind, I stopped by Ace Hardware with diploma in hand, asking for a color match. Turns out one of the colors by Valspar was pretty darn close, and to make matters even better, it passed the paint name test, Blue Fedora. You might be thinking, well this is mighty presumptuous of you, and you would be within your rights to do so. Bill agrees with you.
I knew it was a risky move, and not to mention difficult to paint, which is why I stopped where I did. He is still mulling it over, which is at least a start. I was hoping to give it a classier look, and I think the blue does just that. You can see  how unattractive the bottom cabinets are where white paint has yet to be applied.

I'm also seeing yellow, the happiest color around, aside from orange, of course. :)
Believe it or not, I worked in our own yard Wednesday following a stop at the bargain racks at Lowes. In this case they just plain had too many of these yellow daisies, marking them half price. Now that's the ticket!
I'd so been ignoring our own home that until yesterday this blue pot contained a severely fading poinsettia! The side garden got a makeover, or at least the addition of new flowers, and fewer weeds.
While poking around the back yard, I almost fainted when I came across this orchid blooming while no one was looking!
To tell you the truth, I can't even remember buying it from Kathy and Jim, but surely that is where it came from as they are my go-to orchid folks when I'm in the market for one. Can you see the gazillion buds? What's most interesting about this exciting find is that when I'm not working, I'm trying to find a little time for reading. Currently The Orchid Thief by Susan Orleans is on my nightstand. Have you read it? While at Pat's a few weeks ago, I borrowed it because I'd always meant to read it. Good grief, folks are wild about orchids! My only complaint so far is when she says alligators are as prevalent as crickets--not so fast Susan! Living in Florida pretty much my whole life, I can say with confidence that is an untrue statement. It is sort of like folks who think we experience hurricanes all the time--we do not.

We met Barb and Steve for dinner at Eddie V's, one of the new restaurant concepts Darden bought in the last couple of years. An onslaught of photos to follow because it was fantastic! Plus, Steve was the project manager. He is understandably proud.
I was bitching and moaning about the huge number of parking spaces reserved for valet when Bruce said just take a look, and look I did.
Valet at work under the portico! Bonus points for the Rollins College billboard on the right!!

Steve did not have to twist any arms to convince us to order good wine.
Neither did he when he ordered the crab cakes for an appetizer:
I haven't the foggiest notion how they got all that crab to hold together but it was delicious as was the bread baked on the premises. Note the extreme holes in the bread, a feat I've yet to accomplish in my own bread baking attempts.

I even ordered dessert, a rarity for sure, but since it was sort of a dinner to mark Bruce's leaving Darden, we decided what the heck? Never before have I tasted Baked Alaska, but now I have.
Oh my gosh!!! Scrumptious!

Leaving the restaurant a few hours later, we saw the fountain in operation.
Did I mention the restaurant is lakeside? Everything about it was gorgeous! Being the wife of a project manager, I know Steve sweat blood over this project, all so folks like you and me can enjoy a lovely night out.

Or should I say, former project manager, as today is Bruce's final day. In fact, he's a little blue himself over the end, but I suspect that won't be for long. You know where he is as I type? MIAMI. Yes, you read that right, traveling on his last day. Thorough to the end.

Long Beach, CA