Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Harsh Reality

Sunday morning I asked Bruce about leaving a little early for church so that we might have time to visit the memorials I'd yet to see. Although that didn't work out, following church it most certainly did. Astonishingly, there are encouraging words all over town; what an amazing change our city has undergone. When Matt was young, he felt that as a gay man he needed to get out of our conservative little city, however, now we seem to have become a mecca for gay individuals from all over. Irony, isn't it?

As to affirming, positive words and slogans, our new church is no exception.
Furthermore, every week they invite parishioners to share what is happening at the church via their social media which is why I felt no qualms while taking this of Reverend Garvey.
During my absence Bruce attended a service on the first Friday night following the tragedy, and the young man, in the plaid shirt pictured above, spoke. His name is Sam; Bruce told me he called himself a queer. I don't know about you, but I'm somewhat confused with this label.  Any explanation from readers would be appreciated. We have spoken with him on a number of occasion,s and he is such a nice fellow, a student at seminary. He does wear full makeup, including bright red lipstick, which puzzles me. In any case, he is a popular fellow while home from school.

Driving into Orlando, from Winter Park, on many store marquees they have something along the lines of Orlando Strong, or Orlando United. While we were in church there looked to have been quite a rainstorm, however, there was no miraculous rainbow over the Dr. Phillips Center when Bruce dropped me off to walk amongst the memorials. Did anyone see the rainbow over Lake Eola during the first vigil there? Astonishing, although I only saw it in photographs. Oh, to have been there in person!
I cannot tell you how moving it is to see this up close. For everyone visiting, I'm sure there was that one thing that triggered emotions more than others. For me it was the Care Bear, plopped on the couch signed and hand printed by children and adults alike.
One of these days I'll dig out one of my favorite photos of Matt and the twins holding the Care Bears that I made them so many years ago. You will love that photo, maybe not as much as I do, but they are fresh from their bath, and looking so beautiful.

Herewith some other photographs sure to give one pause:
The small handwritten sign, signed by the artist, implores anyone who knows the families to please share the portraits.

There are many such banners on the ground.

Here is what will happen to everything:

A closer look at the flag which has been embroidered with all of the names of the dead.
As you clearly see the creativity is amazing. Who would have thought to paint rocks with faces?
Using a blow dryer on crayons is how you get this effect:
 When I first walked up I saw a keyboard that soon was being played softly, and tenderly, by an unknown kind soul. He is under the portico...
Somewhere Over the Rainbow to be exact...

The flower displays are really something:
And yes, those are all real, albeit dyed.

In spite of the new banners along Orange and Michigan Avenue, in our part of town, the headline that the Orlando Sentinel is running today seems to be meant to incite people rather than unite them. Claims of blocked fire exits, along with second guessing the police reaction, will do no one any good. At least that is how I feel!
Now that Orange Avenue is finally open in front of Pulse, the people are coming to pay their respects. We did as well.
While I was standing there, some women asked if I wanted to be part of a healing circle. Asking what was involved, a prayer perhaps, I received an affirmative response. The young man in the red shirt, as well as the woman next to him, along with some on the sidewalk, all joined hands. Young, old, lesbian, Hispanic, we all bowed our heads while a woman invoked blessings for those who were killed. Powerful, to say the least.

This company is tasked with the bio-medical clean up.
Seeing all the new fencing around the property was almost the worst part of my visit. Imagining the young people, wounded, fearing for their lives, either climbing, or scurrying through makeshift holes in the previous fence, almost made me wish I'd not gone. :(

May this never happen again,

Gail

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Change of Plans

Some of you were under the assumption that we would be on a plane just now, headed to Vancouver for Bruce to do some plan reviews of his next project. As was I, that is until Thursday night, or make that early, early, Friday morning when he explained that he just could not leave his current project for nearly a week. And so I am blogging instead.

One of the very first things I did on Tuesday morning was to go see for myself some of the things I'd been seeing online while I was in California. I'd watched a time lapse video of the making of this mural, across the street from both Track Shack and Hawkers.
Apparently Track Shack purchased the property to use as overflow parking. For more perspective it is across from this.
Traveling South on Mills Avenue, I also saw this display made using popsicle sticks.
I've yet to get over to the Dr. Phillips Center to see that memorial; huge according to photos I've seen others take, but I did drive straight away to see the beautiful cross display. As there was no handy parking, I took this out of the car window.
The man who made the crosses installed them at night--imagine the surprise when people saw them come daybreak. It has not taken long for them to be thoroughly decorated and visited, so much so that the Red Cross volunteers are out in force, distributing water.
It is probably the same for many others but as I mentioned in my last post, there are so many things that tie us to the tragedy. You may remember I spent 10 of my working years employed by Orlando Health.
The news reports make no mention of the x-ray personnel, but I can assure you they are vital in an emergency such as this. Long ago, while working at a hospital in a sketchy part of town, I x-rayed many gun shot victims and it is neither easy, nor a pretty sight. Orange Avenue has finally opened up and I noticed just yesterday some new banners on the light poles. Perhaps on our way home from church today I can take some photos. We'll see.

On the plane journey westward, I did the hand sewing on a quilt I made for Jon and Alissa's third wedding anniversary, coming up this week. I did not intend to make them a quilt for a gift, however, when I saw this super cool fabric at Sewing Studio, an idea formed. Perhaps it has always been this way, don't really know myself, but these days, fabric is made in what they call collections. Plus there are rock star designers of fabric, in the vein of clothing designers. One such group of young woman have formed a company called Cotton + Steele. Mostly funky because they are so young, when I saw the fabric pictured below, from the collection, Tokyo Train Ride, I just knew, or hoped anyway, that my youngsters would love it.
Because this quilt was more about the back than the front, I kept the front very simple, recreating the little block design.
You may be wondering why I was pretty confidant they would like it and that is because they went to Japan on their honeymoon!!!
Well, there you go! I insisted they open it on Friday when it arrived via USPS. I think it was well received. :)

During my absence the mailbox money came from SunDance along with two gift bags that manufacturers made using my photographs and Sarah's from SD, writing. Worked out great because Fallon had a birthday on Monday so....
She loved all the glitter. You might find it interesting to know that the blue on the bag is our swimming pool as a background for the tulip shot.

My sister Nancy is in town, arriving maybe Thursday? I'm losing track here. Anyway, while we were out back I saw an Osprey sitting atop a nearby telephone pole. Several smaller birds were, as we've already learned before in this space, flying around and squawking like mad. I had no idea the Osprey had a squirrel in it's talons until I saw it on my computer!!
During my mall visit I took another shot of the restaurant in progress. Windows are in since I took this.
We are mostly caught up now...time for this blogger to shut her computer down and get gussied up.

Going with the flow,

Gail

Thursday, June 23, 2016

I Saw Some Birds and Houses

First off, I'm thinking my readers are awfully jaded by now, seeing my adorable hummingbird photo and not a word from anyone!! Perhaps you've grown tired of photographs, which is not a good thing because this post is packed with them.

Aside from cooking and nursing, I spent a lot of my time going up and down these steps.
That's Leila atop the stairs. To say that there are a lot of steps at Carol's house is an understatement. In fact, there are 35 steps from her driveway down to the pool!
Yup, according to Carol, some folks think her pool belongs to someone else it is so far down. Although it looks very pretty, the truth is, in spite of the soaring heat at the end of the week, all I did was look at it because the water is too darn cold for a Florida girl! I spent a good deal of time, while Carol was sleeping, on one of the four decks on the back of the house. I had my very own one, pictured on the left.
It was here that I got my best internet connection, so I could keep up with the sad news from Orlando on the iPad. It was also on this deck that I took, yet another adorable hummingbird photo. Well, it could have been better, but I was still thrilled to see it in person.
In the front of the house there is a small patio with a little table and chairs. It was while sitting in one of said chairs that I observed another hummingbird that roosted in the same tree, on the same branch, day after day. When not on that branch, this tiny one had one other favorite spot.
It was fascinating to witness as I'd always assumed they just flew around all of the time. Plus, I had no idea there even was a brown hummingbird, did you? The California Jay is a pretty bird, isn't it?
No less vocal than our blue jays though.
Another duty was walking the dogs some days. Her street has no more than ten houses on it, obviously quite short, which over time, would bore me to death walking the dogs up and down that street, however, they don't seem to mind, so why should I? Right.

The houses are stacked one upon another, or so it appears from the street level. Looking in one direction:
and further down the street, looking up there is a PINK house.
I did venture around the corner, seeing what is undoubtedly a drought resistant front lawn.
Lawn doesn't seem quite the right term to use, however, I can think of nothing else. The sky was as blue as pictured, day after day, barely a cloud to be seen.
I, once again, took to my iPad to identify the above bird, learning that it is an Eurasian Collard Dove, or so I think!  I love how they describe it as chunky. Definitely chunky!

Before leaving the hospital, Carol expressed interest in a donut from, according to her, this famous shop featured in many movies. Nearly right next door to the hospital, I walked over to get one for all of us. Unfortunately, arriving back in her room, I discovered the worker had left mine out! :(
Aside from the trips to the hospital, I stayed pretty close to home. One morning though, I rode along with Hank to take the dogs for grooming in Studio City.
As well, we stopped at Trader Joe's for groceries. Getting in Hank's car to come home, I witnessed a parking lot stand off that although it did not come to blows, the folks wanting our parking spot would not budge from either direction. Shouting and great waving of hands ensued. Naturally I had to take the shot below.
The first thing I did yesterday morning, after writing my blog post, was head up to the post office, mailing Matthew's birthday gift. I can hardly believe he will be turning 40 years old in a little more than two weeks. Oh my goodness!!

One day I did get up my nerve to drive to a fabric store on Pico Drive, about six miles from the house. Using written directions, yes I still prefer that, it went pretty well getting there.
That's a cute name isn't it? There was much excitement in the shop because they were holding sewing camp for whoever wanted to come, in this case, all young girls.
It made me happy to know young people are still interested in sewing! So I said it went well getting there, going home, not so much. Not terrible, but I did get turned around, not once, but twice. When I got to this intersection, I went the wrong way.
That would be both brown grass, and the Mormon Tabernacle.

Following some ups and downs in Carol's recovery, the morning I left she felt like she was heading in the right direction. Thank goodness!!

Hank drove me here.
I was a nervous wreck because the traffic, while it looks good here, became terrible. I arrived at my gate 10 minutes before boarding time. And then the flight was delayed...

Happy to be home on flat ground,

Gail

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Learning to Cook with Gas

Before we get into cooking on a gas stove, and, out of someone else's pantry, I need to write about the tragedy that unfolded on the morning of my departure for California.

My flight was scheduled for a 9:45 AM departure and knowing my stomach as I do, I was happy I woke early before needing to leave for the airport. Bruce, an early riser as well, also woke up about 5 AM. Walking outside to pick up the newspaper on the front walkway, the sound of helicopters was quite loud. Weird, but not unheard of in our neck of the woods, being so close to ORMC and all. What did seem a little strange is how they stayed almost in place, but still we had no idea what we were soon to learn. Around 7 AM I ran up to the store for something last minute and saw that police cars blocked Orange Avenue at Michigan. Weird. Asking someone standing outside if they knew what was going on, I received a "no clue" response. Driving home down Michigan I saw police cars blocking the side streets, including Delaney, which definitely made me think something out of the ordinary was happening. The minute I walked in the door I told Bruce that perhaps we should turn on Channel 13 to see if there was an explanation. NEVER, in our wildest imaginings could we have predicted the horrible news broadcasting from our television. TWENTY people shot and killed just two miles away???

Texting Matthew in London, I sent him a link to the broadcast. Amazingly enough, he had already heard what we were just learning. I wrote that I wondered if it had anything to do with it being a gay nightclub. In the next few days, we learned that it did. :(

Because it was only the second time I'd flown by myself, my darling husband, using Delta miles, booked my tickets first class. But you already knew I was the luckiest girl in the world, didn't you? Anyway, we were so fortunate to have the most wonderful flight attendant I think I've ever had. An Orlando resident and gay, he kept coming to my seat to watch what EVERY SINGLE person was watching as well. During the entire flight to California, I might add.
See the fun sign above the tv? Gosh he was the greatest! The shock of finding out, almost as soon as I was seated, that 50 were dead was, well you can imagine because you felt the same way. I will say I was very proud as I watched Mayor Dyer and Patty Sheehan on CNN.

Unfortunately, my sister felt to ill to talk about it, begging me to stop even mentioning it during my time there which was difficult for me because, on the one hand, I was happy to be there helping her, but on the other hand, I needed to talk about it. Thank God for facebook and my iPad where I was able to stay in touch, albeit from nearly 3,000 miles away.

And now to the reason for my trip.

Carol had a Whipple procedure done for a benign tumor two weeks ago today. Serious, serious, abdominal surgery. Because of the uncertainty regarding her recovery and discharge from the hospital, it was decided I would go there last Sunday. Unfortunately she remained hospitalized until Tuesday morning because of a higher than normal white blood count. Honestly though, doesn't she look good on the morning of her departure?
We, and by that I mean my brother-in-law Hank and I, picked her up Tuesday morning. The flags were flown half mast in the hospital courtyard.
Speaking of the hospital, it was quite nice, but in a real California move, the concession stand outside sold only diet drinks because regular soda has too much sugar. I really hated being in a police state!!

They live in Beverly Hills, and of course you've always heard that name, but did you know that there really are hills, and that they are mostly brown? Here's a home around the corner from Carol.
Carol's house is in a similar style with amazing succulents in the front.
Aren't they something? They live in a canyon with hills both front and back. Here is the view from one of the four back decks, taken during the sunrise, giving it a golden glow which faded fast and then just looked brown to my Florida eyes.
Because I only got home last evening I have some catching up to do around here, although I will say Bruce kept everything in tip-top shape, that's for sure. Anyway, that just means this post will be short!
On my first day I asked Hank if there were many birds around there. Yes there are, and we have loads of hummingbirds as well. Say what??? Indeed, on Monday morning, after learning how to walk the dogs (!!), I went back out and saw this down the street!!!
Oh my goodness!!

My days were mostly spent either cooking or running up and down her stairs which I'll show you in my next post. I'd never cooked on a gas stove before, and now that I have done so for seven days, I'm pretty much in love. Oh how I wish I had the same. What was I cooking? Anything I could think of and could find ingredients for from the pantry. The grocery store is about five miles away, and this girl did not have the guts to face the California traffic, not to mention the hilly, winding, roads, so it was quite a challenge. Then too, Carol is on a special diet for a little while which presented it's own challenges, but somehow we managed. Plus I left meals in the freezer which I hope will help.

As you might expect, her days were not pain free, and she spent a good deal of time sleeping. Sleep--God's gift to man.

Speaking of gifts, almost as soon as we arrived home from the hospital, a darling flower arrangement arrived from David and Michelle. So cute with the little flower doggie!
Carol's artwork pictured above the sofa. :)

Yesterday morning I realized I'd yet to get a photo of Hank, Carol's bedrock. He's sitting at the kitchen table enjoying the only peace and quiet of the day, reading his LA Times with his breakfast.
Disappointing I waited till the last minute with the terrible lighting! He is how she will get through this, and it won't be easy in spite of his attention.

The tincture of time will be the saving grace of both Orlando, and Carol.

Happy to be home,

Gail

p.s. Some of the nurses expressed appreciation for the quilt after Carol introduced me. :)

You Just Never Know