Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Battle of the Grays

I used to be someone who you might call, "confidant with color." Picking paint colors was pretty much simply a matter of thinking I wanted, say, a green bedroom, and going to Sherwin Williams and choosing one I liked. Perhaps the turning point for me was when I met Cheryle who is really, really confidant with color. Now, when I want to paint something Bruce says fine but why not consult with Cheryle? And so I do, but not before going through a big rigamarole first!

I did tell you I wanted to have the house painted didn't I? I felt the same way in November 2009 when the house looked like this:
Before that, when we moved in, it was peach with white trim, and forest green doors. I had it painted sage when that color was all the rage. This photo also shows the big oak that used to be outside Bruce's office window before we had to take it down. :(

During the height of the recession, when we were fortunate to escape any hardship, I decided to go light on the house. Calling Louis, our painter at the time, I said let's do it. He, having suffered greatly through the recession, was ready to work the next day if I would buy the paint. Stopping by the Benjamin Moore store, I picked up a leaflet, looked through it, and said to myself--here's a beautiful color scheme. Three days later the house was done.
Aside from the awning not matching, I was in love.  So, we made a new awning cover, which was a good match color-wise, however, in spite of being outdoor fabric, it did not wear well, so I had a new one made, choosing from my options. No green in the awning to match the door, which I ignored until the middle of last year when I went electric blue on the doors, which was a mistake.

Which leads me to the "battle of the grays." Most of the time Bruce lets me do whatever I want as far as the house goes, but this time he voiced an opinion, saying he'd like to go dark, and gray. Well, who knew there were so darn many grays to choose from?
This is merely a fraction of the chips I picked up from various sources! By the way--when did grey become gray?

The paint colors run the gamut from those that look blue, and those that have green, or brown in them. Decisions, decisions. This time I'd like to get a look I could be thrilled with for years to come, so I became tentative. Who me? Yes, me!

Scouring the web for ideas, every site I turned to insisted it was best to paint some on the wall to test it in various lights, although, seriously, it can't look great in every light can it?  Anyway, I had a lucky stroke when I went to our local Ace Hardware to pick up more Benjamin Moore cards. As it turned out, they were having a special on paint, including 99 cent sample cans, rather than $4.99. I had him make SEVEN, and while he was doing so, he had to add colorant to the machine. I just knew you'd be as interested as I was to see the inner workings,
The only thing about having all those samples is what to do with them now that I have them because I only used a tiny bit...
One was too blue, one looked like a battleship, others were lighter than B wanted. At first I was in agreement about using the dark charcoal color pictured under the second shutter, until I thought about our pool furniture, lighting fixtures and really, we have a brown gravel roof.
The white box you see is the brains behind making chlorine from salt for the pool. Anyway, the more I thought about it, the more I thought I should use the one that looks almost taupe, albeit, a very dark taupe, as well as being called Ashley gray. Then I started thinking about the shutter color etc. Out to the garage I went to find the color I wanted to use on the kitchen cabinets. Remember how everyone vetoed that idea?  Perhaps I could finally use it on the shutters?
The reddish color is another one I found in the garage that I love for the door, but no one else does. Who would no else be? Why Cheryle, who brought Catherine along to both see the house, and commiserate. The one on the left is the Ashley Gray; the Chelsea Gray is on the right. I mentioned Cheryle being a color expert, and if you've forgotten why she is so, I'll remind you that she had a design firm in Chicago before moving to Orlando. So, what did she think? Ashley Gray!

We are going to have Herbert paint it, and because he is so busy helping Bill, among others, it will be a few weeks before he can get to it, leaving me with too much time to second guess myself. We shall see. Now what to do with all that paint???

Speaking of Cheryle, Bruce went to a guy thing at Bunker's house on Friday night, so I went over to Cheryle and David's for dinner. Of course they had other guests, not to mention airbnb guests. Never a dull moment over there! I've taken scads of Angel Trumpet tree photographs but never one lit up at night, and covered with blooms. Magical...
While we were eating in the dining room, her guests from China were in the kitchen eating as well. What a delightful group! The girls are called Happy and Joy.
It was such a pleasure meeting them. The lady on the right is in America for a year as a visiting professor of computer science at Auburn. Her daughter is Happy, with the bangs, and Joy is her cousin, the daughter of the lady on the left. Joy has come to live with her Aunt, and her Mother is here for a visit. What brought them to Orlando? Theme parks baby, the theme parks.

There is a growth explosion going on here, as is probably the case where you live as well--it is Spring after all. The tree we planted to replace the one above is getting big!
Another change I'm making is painting the fence the same as the house color to have it blend into the landscape better. The awning will have to go and what I'll paint the bench is anyone's guess. Live and learn. Did you know you can always click on the photos in this blog to make them bigger? What prompts me to tell you is the waning Tabebuia tree on the right side which only two weeks ago was that mad yellow!

We've got another oak tree that Bruce tells me he nurtured from an acorn--it has become so large it is moving in on the adjacent pine tree.
You know, when you have an older home, there is always something that needs attention, really, it never stops. I am ever so grateful we can afford to do so.

Do you have a favorite gray?

The market calls.....unlike last Sunday when the weather was sunny and 90 degrees, today's forecast is sunny and a high of 70--perfect!


p.s. Here is an amazing two minute video that is both inspiring, and beautiful, using color like mad. P

Friday, March 27, 2015

Off the Beaten Path

Starting with a photo of my beautiful new hanging geranium before getting into the nitty gritty.

This article, posted by one of Matt's friends, brought back so many memories of my early days as both a student, and x-ray tech. To say that the piece is good is not nearly enough praise. As such, I thought today I might veer a bit from my usual fluff pieces, and dredge up a few of those memories.

I, too, was just 17 years old when I began x-ray school at Winter Park Memorial Hospital. Little did I know what I was getting myself into. First, it should be noted, I got into the program after learning about the profession from one of my sister Maureen's friends who had gone the same route. Convincing my father that I should do so was the first hurdle. The cost of the two year program was $100, and $125 for books. My eagerness was fueled by the opportunity to return to Orlando and be with Bruce. Eventually my Dad was on board, and I moved in with Maureen and her daughter Elizabeth on Zelma Street.

Early on you discover that an x-ray tech does not receive the same pay, or respect, as a nurse, however, I've never understood that because, certainly at that time, our training regimen was nearly identical. Our days began at 7 AM, ending at 3:30, if we were lucky. The time before lunch was spent on what we called, "the floor", while classes in physics, anatomy, chemistry, and the like were held all afternoon. Unlike today, there were no spring breaks, Christmas holidays, maybe a week vacation, although of that I can't be sure. 24 months we went to class. As time went on, you could pick up paid hours on the weekend "pushing patients", or better understood as getting them from their hospital room to the x-ray department. I remember a time I worked for six weeks in a row without a day off!

About six weeks into my training I was ready to call it quits. I'd gotten myself into something I knew nothing about. What, exactly was an enema I wondered. Wasn't long before I found out. On this day, as a newbie I was tasked with holding a person steady as they sat on the side of the table for a spinal tap. The man got sweaty, I got sweaty, and the next thing I knew I was passed out in the hallway. I was sure I would never get though it, however, my instructor convinced me that I could and I did.

My very first two weeks were spent in the darkroom along with my fellow student Carol. Eight hours we spent emptying pass boxes of the cassettes (sealed film holders), and putting them in the machine to be developed, the refilling them with fresh film. The cassettes were heavy, and Carol had terrible body odor, making that time pretty miserable.

In those days, as mentioned in a previous post, the only imaging tools available were x-rays, and nuclear medicine, meaning that every body part had an exam to learn, including the positions to film it in, (generally three), and the actual machine settings for each position. MAS, KVP, and time, pretty much like in your own camera if you were to choose the film speed, the exposure time, and the aperture. Nearly 100 different exams, and that is a lot of memorization, which in truth, the things you memorized were merely guidelines as they had to be adjusted on the fly due to body habitus. Imagine being 18 years old, inserting a large catheter into a patient's rectum, blowing up a balloon to keep it in place, the radiologist enters the room, and the barium in the bag hooked to said catheter begins flowing by gravity. He takes films using fluoroscopy (an Edison invention), and when he leaves it is up to you to position the patient in five different ways, set the techniques, change the cassettes after each exposure, all the while the poor patient is holding onto the barium. Rapidly is one way to describe how we worked. Then too, you only got that one chance to get it right. Stressful, and more often than not, very, very messy. Barium is difficult to clean up.

Yet, after a time I discovered that I loved the patients, and knowing me as you do, you know I did everything in my power to make it as comfortable as was humanly possible.

Remember I said the cassettes were heavy? One day, pulling a 14x17 cassette out of the passbox, I somehow hit a front tooth, and broke it off, necessitating a cap that is still with me today.

As to the respect I mentioned earlier, how was it that, although we gave injections that could actually kill a person, gave enemas, were involved in naso-gastric insertions, spinal taps, surgery, and the list goes on, we were not respected? It is still a mystery to me.

One final memory and I'll quit for today.....I was nine months pregnant with Matt, and working at Mercy Hospital out in Pine Hills. During the overnight hours there were no techs on site, so we had to take call. Pine Hills is not such a great part of town, then, or now; in fact it should not have surprised me when, after coming in during the middle of the night, and bringing the patient from the emergency room over to the department to x-ray his femur for a gunshot wound, I discovered, after lifting his leg to put the cassette under it, that it was no ordinary gunshot wound. The back of his leg was so bad it is hard to describe--riddled, and I mean riddled, with buckshot and blood. Ahhh...the life of a tech!


On a lighter note, although there are those of who think Baxter is quite possibly the cutest dog ever born, the truth is, he smells, or I should say, he smelled worse on Monday than he does today. Folks thought he had bad breath, and after thinking about it for a long while, I ponied up the $350 and had his teeth cleaned. The cost--ridiculous, but it is so high because they put the animal to sleep. How did he do? Great. How does he smell now, four days later? Less bad. The groomer told me that it is not uncommon for older dogs to smell, and after all, he will be 12 years old in a month or so. Where has the time gone???

Thinking about how I've spent the last eight years as a photographer, I've been asked many times how long I've been at it. My answer is generally, "I've been a photographer most of my life, I just used bigger equipment!" Perhaps that is why I prefer color these days, having shot black and white for so long. That said, I'll finish with a black and white photograph of a yearly display from one of our neighbor's yard.
Now that I've started down this unbeaten path, don't be surprised when I revisit this topic soon!

as always,

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Two Choices

I've got two choices in front of me---doing all the stacked up dishes in the kitchen from our guests last evening, or writing. Which is more fun? Writing it is....

Sunday's market was better than expected, what with it being the weekend of both, the
Bay Hill golf tournament, and the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, two of the biggest events of the year. Spurts of big crowds happened every now and again, but more importantly, the Canadian woman I was talking to when I fell ill came to see me. Meet Linda! And, wouldn't you know it, I screwed up her photo!
Looking at it just now I recall she wasn't going to look at the camera, deciding apparently at the last minute to do so, thus, the non-focus on her face. Nevertheless, it was so helpful to hear from her, what she saw happen. Furthermore, I learned it was she who grabbed the policeman, telling him to call the ambulance. I've wondered about how she must have felt seeing me go down like I did, and now I know. If only I could fill in the missing piece about how I got to be where I was the second time I passed out ,but my policeman friend has not been scheduled at the market since I've returned. Seems crazy that I'd want to know, but I do. It will be then that the entire horrible episode will be behind me. She was super sweet to check on me, wasn't she?

About a month ago we learned that our friends, every Sunday around 5, invite friends to sit in their driveway and catch up for the week. Well, and then there are some light refreshments, but you figured that I'm sure.
We met these folks over at Cheryle's house, and everyone is just so nice. On the far right is Cathy Hill, and here is her husband, Bunker Hill.
No kidding, that is his real name. One of the beautiful features of Southern Oaks, where they live, is the manicured lawns. Seriously, nearly every single one is perfect. And then there is Mr. Hill, who maintains a lovely front yard, but in the back--well, he is returning it to nature. Behind him are the bags of shredded oak leaves he uses for mulch, and in front of him is his little shed. He's a very interesting guy with a very interesting name. :)

While going through some things I came across our travel plans for last year. It is very hard to imagine we left for London on this very day, one year ago. Although that trip got off to a bit of a shaky start, it sure ended up in wonderful fashion. Matt and Tom are celebrating their first anniversary Sunday. Click here if you want to go down memory lane.

Amazingly enough, for the first time in more years than I can remember, we are getting a tax refund. Actually, we are applying it to next year's tax bill, but still. Olga, our former CPA, referred us to a firm where she worked right out of college. Everything has gone well. I picked up the forms to sign on Monday morning in the rain. Located in Winter Park, I thought the building architecture was very modern for that quaint little city.
Driving home I made a stop at Mead Gardens to see what I could see. The bromeliads are blooming...
As are the amaryllis...
The rain makes all the colors very intense, don't you think? Then too, who can resist the tiny droplets left on the new growth of, I believe, a cedar tree?
While there I decided to fool around with some of the art settings on my camera, switching it to "dramatic monochrome." The weather was slightly dramatic, so why not the photographs? My brother Pat and his lovely wife married right here. How many years ago you ask? More than twenty is all I can come up with!
The wrought iron is delightful! When I am in the picture taking mood, any subject presents possibilities. While sitting at the stop light I wondered how long it took for the light covers to lose their paint.
At one time they were entirely black, and now they are silver. Then again, when am I not in the picture taking mood? The answer is NEVER!

One final stop- a tiny lake off Briarcliff, not far from Angela's house. An unattractive wood stork was feeding along the shoreline.
Switching back to color--ducks and their reflections.
Thinking of Angela and Matt, the feeding tube is in, his spirits are high, but his pain level is up. Bruce called the other evening only to discover that Matt finds it next to impossible to talk because his throat is so sore. Texting to the rescue! Visiting right now is out of the question. :(

Well, I've put off those dishes long enough--heading to the kitchen for kp duty.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Ending the Week on a High Note

A high note indeed. Not only did my darling husband return from his four days away, BUT I received the good news that the test for c-diff was negative!! If that isn't enough to make a girl happy, I don't know what is. Apparently, it takes time for things to work properly after having a colon infection.

With that out of the way, let's move onto something other than toilet talk.

I'd spent the week eating some seriously crazy dinners, including one night of popcorn. So, once I knew I had the go ahead, I asked B about going to eat at Chuy's, a new place, or new to us, only a few miles away. Thinking the name sounded familiar, I checked with Jonathan, and indeed, it is his favorite taco place from Austin. With that endorsement, we checked it out.
The food was seriously yummy, while the place was seriously busy. They make their own tortillas:
Because Bruce slept poorly while away, we did not linger, and I'm glad that was the case because the setting sun we saw on our way home was glorious. For whatever reason, it looked huge, which will not be so evident in the photo I took through the windshield, but believe me, it was so spectacular I was still talking about it yesterday.
I could not get over it reflecting on the car hood! Outside of Chuy's, everyone in the parking lot had their phones out trying to catch the moment. :)

A trip to the library a week or so ago had some long lasting effects. Generally I only check out novels, however, when I saw this book, Denyse Schmidt's Modern Quilts, I was intrigued, and then inspired. Finding the right throw pillows for the new sofas has been slightly challenging, so, I did what I always do, try and make something I like. Most of the ideas in her book were not meant to be pillow covers, so I took to the iPad, coming across a technique called, "quilt in a day" where you sandwich everything, and sew the fabric on the front, layering as you go. It starts like this:
If I were any good at math I would have calculated how long each piece had to be to run on the diagonal, but I am not, so winging it, here is the result on the back side:
After using my handy rotary cutter, the front looks like this:
Obviously, the back will never show, so you might be wondering why I didn't just sew the strips together, and that is a good question without a really good answer! The softness factor? Then too, I wanted to try something new, which won't surprise you in the least!

While buying the fabric at Hobby Lobby, I checked the prints department, and sure enough they have the poster sized ones in place including this one:
Perhaps Matt will remember me taking it in Brighton during our visit together?

How about a few shots of bird couples? After all, it is Spring, so love is in the air.
Super cute, right? While passing through the kitchen Friday afternoon, I glanced out the window, and saw two woodpeckers chasing each other on the big oak tree. Grabbing my camera I went to watch the action which was very fun. I hope you think so too.
Turns out the bird on the left is standing on the rim of a big hole, if you will, in the old tree.
The invitation phase:
Sure, I'll join you:
There was much flying of feathers, and off they flew! Afternoon delight you might say.

So much going on in the garden; although Bruce trimmed the hibiscus plants practically to the ground, apparently he missed this branch, leaving me with a cheerful surprise:
I'd nearly forgotten I had a yellow hibiscus plant! Then too, the caladiums are coming up:
Always a welcome sign. If you have room for them I highly recommend caladiums; you get a lot of bang for your buck with them and they require no deadheading!

Well it is that time of the week when I put myself on display. Perhaps I will start the week on a high note?

As always,

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Just Like That

And, just like that, the blooms are gone. Sarah, a friend on fb pointed out how when the trees are going crazy in Florida, it is sort of like fall in the North. I like that comparison. Ahh...if only their beauty stayed around longer. I can't seem to stop myself from taking this same photograph of our neighbor's yard, year after year, not only because I love the old chairs but, that yellow carpet!
Can you blame me? Early this morning I read this informative article in the Sentinel, and before I'd had time to write this, our niece Laura posted it on my fb wall! Click here to learn how they came to grace the Orlando landscape. I like how he used the term "supernova" in the article!

My yellow covered tree, just like that, is no more.
The bench looks pretty vibrant though. The salvia I plucked from the side of the road is showing signs of new life. Look who I found sunning on one of the blooms.
I really love my home, I do, but after staying home alone for two days, I begin to get a little crazy. It seems as if my ticking time bomb of a gut has given me a rest today, so off I went to pick up my order. While there, I popped into The Lovely Boutique, and sadly my stamp projects are not taking the world by a storm. The globe does look nice though, doesn't it?
Now, what I just wrote is not entirely true, our darling friend Mary bought one of the hearts after seeing it on this here blog. Having a friend buy one hardly counts now, does it? Time will tell.

If you, like me, love a good bird picture, spend a few minutes looking at these from an amazing photographer I came across on flickr. From England, the photographs are wonderful, each one more spectacular than the last!! Generally I don't think having great equipment means all that much, that is, unless you are a wildlife photographer, and in that case, you need the best you can afford. I imagine the lens he uses for these is at least $1,000, if not more. Don't expect to ever see this quality from the likes of me!!

While on the subject of cameras, you would think, after using my current Panasonic for well over a year now, I would know how to operate the darn thing. Except, out of the clear blue, it began shooting about ten photos with one push, commonly known as the burst mode. For the life of me, I could not figure out how to turn it off. I removed the battery, the card, changed the lens; following each procedure, I'd take a photo, and got ten, including this one of my desk with the adorable photo of Bruce, and his brother Cris when they were mere lads. Too cute not to share!
Duh, after calling Panasonic, and giving my serial number, she told me my camera is a 2012 model. that how Costco sells things so cheap? I bought it in January 2014. Anyway, unless I sent in the receipt, she was going to have to charge me for advice. But, then she let it slip, telling me where I could find the button. Well, duh, again because it was right under my nose! Thankfully I am now back to one shot at a time.

Dahlias, aren't they gorgeous?
Yesterday, in my forced stay at home mode, I decided to sew. Using a pattern I'd purchased some months ago, I made another "easy" dress from some fabric that I never should have purchased in the first place, because #1, it looks like it is for a child, and #2, pajamas come to mind. Alas, I could not resist the little birdies, and so after cutting out weird shaped pieces, I went to work putting it together. The fit is horrible. Never in all my years of sewing have I done this, but in my orange trash bin, is the pattern. Rubbish!
It looks like a sack on me, and not just because I've lost weight! Sadly I wasted my birdy fabric, along with some black and white polka dot fabric I used for the pockets. Looking online, I see I am not the only one who finds "easy" patterns harder to use than regular. Trying to use unconventional tailoring techniques, they have you doing all sorts of weird construction. Give me some darts, and a zipper please.

Finally, it has been quite some time since I last posted a squirrel photo so why not today?
Obviously not the best quality but I thought it was sort of fun.

To answer your implied question on the state of my belly, I've yet to hear from the doctor. Taking it one day at a time,  hoping, that, just like that, this nightmare will be over!

feeling good,

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Well, this is one way to lose weight, not that I was trying to, however, it appears to be a fact of life for me at the moment. My innards just don't seem to want to return to normal, so I'm being re-tested. Bummer....

On a happier note though, let's talk about how wonderful this time of year is in Central Florida. And do you want to know just why it is so marvelous? The tabebuia trees are blooming everywhere, and I mean everywhere, even in your blogger's yard! Maybe six years ago, somewhere in that time frame, we had a yard guy for about a year who planted a baby tree in our yard. Except it was pink. Pink can be a glorious color, however, when it comes to the tabebuia tree, yellow reigns supreme. Or, at least I think it does. He was kind enough to switch it out with a little whining from you know who.

While Northerners are just digging their cars out from the snow, down here, people are getting a blossom shower! I put together a little collage of some nearby trees, and of course, you will recognize our place by the blue bench.
Oh wait, the bench doesn't show up! Mine are the two bottom corners. The one on the right is when it all began on March 12--really only a handful of blossoms. Now it is covered, but that won't last long, especially on a windy day. I took this one yesterday afternoon;  while heading up to get my specimen cup today I noticed there are a whole heck of a lot more blooms on the ground.
Continuing the shocking yellow theme, below is a photo taken of me by an accommodating stranger.
While roaming early to take my weekly market photos I thought this would make a good one, what with me outfitted in my shocking yellow. That would be some of my estate sale fabric I'm sporting. :)

Something very fun occurred near the end of the market day--I had a visit from some young folks, and after chatting a bit, I found out it was Sabrina and C-Lane from the News Junkie on 104.1. To most of you this will mean next to nothing, but in our house, it means something alright. Last summer, on all of our beach days, we listened to them on our drive home. Bruce, in particular really loved the show. Just when I was asking them to pose for a photo that I could show B, he arrived! So, it was, that he is included in the shot.
As is my cute bunting! I can tell you Bruce was delighted.

Saturday, he was just plum wore out after working for hours in our yard, cleaning up all the brown fuzzies from the oak trees, cutting our azalea bushes in half, mowing, edging, and the like.
Don't the two of them look adorable?

So, not only are the tabebuia trees in bloom, so are loads of other trees, and you know how much I love that. Here's quite a shocking pink, no less.
Riding my bike the other day I came across this sweet wildflower, or maybe it is just a weed, but I'm telling you, how could the color be any prettier, no matter what it is?
Turning to the kitchen, last week I was just sure the worst was behind me so I decided to make french onion soup. The recipe called for a two hour cooking in the oven using a dutch oven, a pot I do not own. Instead, I used my Mom's old deep cast iron skillet. If you can imagine, when the cooking all began, the pot runneth over with onions.
While the soup was simmering, we drove the few miles to Edgewood where they were having their weekly market/food truck event, which included a classic car show. We were glad we did. Some very cool vehicles I'd never seen before. How about a 1953 Hudson Hornet?
The chrome on those old vehicles is terrific. Here's a fun Ford convertible...
Another thing--the colors of old cars! Before silver (boring) cars ruled the roadways.
And, of course, bringing back very fond memories for both of us....a 1960 VW bug.
Mine was a 1963 bug, while Bruce had a 1964. Back in the day.....

One thing I can tell you is that I do not relish the thought of going back on Flagyl, in fact the very idea makes me feel worse! In the meantime, I am going to do what I can to enjoy the warm, but not humid weather, gorgeous blue skies, and, all those amazing yellow tabebuia trees in bloom on every street. Speaking of which, Sunday, while driving down ours after the market, I was so captivated by the sight of the bright yellow in our landscape I nearly pulled the car into the driveway the wrong way!

Hallelujah for nature's bounty!!


You Just Never Know