Friday, January 27, 2017

The Weather Continues To Be Mild

Year after year, about this time, we seem shocked that the winter has been so mild, however, according to my blog, having a cold winter is the one that is out of the ordinary. Of course, that only covers ten winters, but the trend seems established. About six years ago it was cold, as in numbers of days with freezing temperatures, causing us all to freak out. It is good to remember that the reason Florida is now so populous is the result of two things: air conditioning for the long hot summers, and warm winters. Low taxes don't hurt. :)

So, what that all means is that there are flowers in bloom! Now I'm no super gardener, but I do like flowers, and try to grow them with varying degrees of success. Incredibly, this little beauty bloomed, making me very happy indeed.
The other morning I went on the hunt for an eagle sighting only to see no eagles, but take a look at what I did see!
I so hope you are reading this on a largish screen, probably not, but in case you are, enlarging photos is always an option by clicking on them. I mention that because this one is worth seeing big if possible. Of course, I'm assuming you are interested in seeing Red Shouldered Hawks when that may or may not be true. In fact, you know what they say about assumptions.

The hawks were flying this way and that, screeching, and in general making their presence known, causing me to ride very slowly, stopping every now and again. While stopped in front of one house a young Mother and her son were outside and began chatting, asking what did I see? She ended up taking a phone call while her adorable son and I chatted and looked for owls in their big trees which she claims she hears all of the time. I told her to expect a return visit from me!
He was just as cute as he could be, reminding me of some towheaded boys I once knew. He had on two different socks, as well as his shoes on the wrong feet. At three years old, he can do that sort of thing and get away with it!
His hair was crazy, as was mine, having slept on it wet, which I suspect he did as well. After I left I thought Susan must have thought I was pretty crazy myself what with my wild hair!

Let's talk a little about cooking, a subject that gets short shrift most days. While Bruce was in Plano, I made some polenta with rosemary and fresno peppers; way more than I could finish. This was a first for me--I piled it all into a little loaf pan, and here is what I did with it when he returned. Black and white because the light on my stove is too orange!
Next I fried it in butter, using my fantastic ceramic pan. In the past I've done it in my All Clad frying pan, and it never failed to stick big time.
I told you the light was orange! Such a yummy and simple little treat. Or maybe you never make Polenta, and if that is the case, try it sometime and I think you will like it.
That would be cabbage, another favorite and easy as can be to cook in the microwave in a pie plate with a smidge of water. Yum yum!

Should you ever wonder what Bruce does at his computer most days, I give you this notebook of nearly 500 pages of documentation for the owners of the Mall at Millenia, who actually live in Michigan. Just one aspect of a very, very, demanding job.
Beginning in October, when the utility bill would arrive I noticed the water bill going up, making no sense to me, so I called OUC, our utility company. She convinced me it was not out of the ordinary. Opening the bill today I told Bruce, we must have a leak because this is plain crazy, more like a bill in the heat of the summer rather than one during a mild winter. Because this happened in May of 2014, (having a blog to keep track of things is the best!), I said, honey, you need to check the water meter connection. Although we've been steadily mowing the yard, I hadn't noticed that the grass had completely grown over the top of the water meter. What with the huge leak we discovered once the top was removed, it is no wonder the grass had gone crazy.
While cutting the grass away, there was an unintended consequence...
Ha ha...can't charge us for water now! No, seriously, I called OUC to tell them Bruce cut the wire, and they claimed someone would be out before days end, however, it is nearly dark now, so I'm not holding my breath. Bruce dug out all of the dirt around it...
Can you believe how green that grass is? Anyway, he did the digging but, unlike last time, he is having Herbert fix it, and God bless him, he is here now. Such a good guy that Herbert.

Last evening, about this time, we joined Bill and Roxanne at the Citrus Club as their guests and a fun time was had by all. Although I was captivated by the sunset, wow, the traffic on the major roads, 18 floors below was quite the sight as well.
That would be the Amway Arena where the Magic play, and the two distant lights behind the arena are from the Camping World Stadium, where the Pro Bowl is being held this Sunday. Don't get me started on that name!

Finally, I finished the quilt I was working on, the one I claimed was sort of Frank Lloyd Wrightish.
So I wrote finally, but there's just one more thing that is too funny to keep to myself. I don't know about you but generally when I can't find something I just quit looking, thinking that I will find it when I least expect it. And that is just what happened with the wall calendar I'd had made for myself back in early November. Getting my box of note cards down to write a sympathy note, there it was beneath the box except does something look a little off to you?
How in the heaven's name the one on the right is 2016 is beyond me. I've been making calendars for years now and this is a new one for sure. I never even looked at it when it arrived back in November! That will teach me.

Yours truly,

Gail

Monday, January 23, 2017

A Happy Dog,

and a happy Mommy too, for that matter.

Our groomer quit us about six weeks ago, and no, it wasn't because we weren't likable, rather it was because she was moving too far away to come into Orlando. I can't say as I blame her what with the construction on the interstate, the main artery into town. Yikes, it is a nightmare! I won't bore you with the details of finding another one, but look at this handsome little doggie now!
Thursday, just when I was counting the hours until Tom arrived, he sent me a text asking if he could come early? You bet you can because Mr. Baxter is in dire straits. Should you be looking for a mobile groomer, his business is called Shiny Paws, a name that leaves me a bit stymied as I try to imagine shiny paws, but hey, it seems to be working for him, so who am I to wonder about the name?
And yes, he did live up to my expectations of a man called Tom.  It made for a very happy Gail.

Friday was a day of brilliant weather, so much so, that I finally was able to hang clothes on the line, and watch them sway in the breeze. They were dry in no time.
The green print pillowcases I made a few months ago suffered bleach damage caused by you know who, however, they are still useable, just not quite as attractive as they once were.

Because the weather was so wonderful the back door was wide open, and look who got a little lost.
This little girl was smarter than the last bird to fly into the house, finding her way out of the house in no time, all by herself.

Saturday was another gorgeous day and Glen, Pam, Irene, and myself, spent a bunch of the day in the Convention Center attending the World Quilt Show. After riding there in style in Glenn's Tesla, we made our way inside, and came across this really cool upright garden, one of two used for growing lettuces and herbs for the center's food folks.
Irene and I became separated from Glenn and Pam, probably because we were busy shopping the fabric vendors whereas they were studying the displayed quilts! I may have mentioned how Jane and Ray, Tom's folks, sent me a gorgeous book for my birthday by Kaffe Fassett, called Bold Blooms. If I am repeating myself, please forgive me, however, as I am new to his work and fabric collections, I quite possibly may be overzealous. Anyway, his fabrics are indeed bold and colorful! A shop owner from Louisiana had his patterns and fabric in her display, (see below), and while talking to her, she mentioned how some people wouldn't come in her shop anymore because the fabrics were too bold for them. Imagine that!
I've yet to purchase any, but it won't be long before I do!

So many quilts, so little time! Because we spent so much time shopping, Irene and I confined ourselves to looking at only the modern quilts, and photographing them, of course. Just for reference, mind you.
Not your grandmother's quilts, that's for sure!
We are all jazzed up because the quilt below is made by a young woman who will soon be the education coordinator for our quilt guild.
As a matter of fact, I'm working on a solid only quilt right now which is turning out very Frank Lloyd Wright-ish. Photographs soon.

These days I mostly avoid facebook because, well, I am more than a little sick of everyone espousing political views. Both sides do plenty of name calling, and it is just not my style. There is a reason that for the longest time etiquette rules suggested leaving politics and religion for only private conversations. That said, I am in a group that posts photos of the eagles at Greenwood Cemetery and over the weekend a woman posted, not photos of eagles, but of Roseate Spoonbills that she said hang out in a retention pond off of Orange Blossom Trail. Her explicit directions to the location enabled me to easily find it early this morning, actually, before sunrise. And why, pray tell, was I up so early? Mr. Peck left for Dallas at 5AM!

I'm not much one for driving in the dark, nor rain, but you do what you have to do when it comes to seeking out birds, especially Spoonbills which are hard to find. Or, at least they have been for me. Of course, I haven't been out and about like I used to, but that very well may change now that I have a super fun car to drive. I was thinking on my way there about all of the times I took my old MINIs on photography adventures. It felt good to be out once again.

Arriving in the dark, I spotted them with my headlights, impatiently waiting for daylight. We had some stormy weather last evening, bringing in a cold front I was unprepared for, that's for sure. My little hands were cold as can be by the time I left! Without further ado, let's take a peek at what I saw.
Say what? Sandhill Cranes too? Actually I knew from her post they were there, and because I love those birds, I was thrilled at the thought of seeing so many together! The red lights reflected in the pond are from the adjacent Burger King. Isn't this unreal seeing a whole scad of birds alongside busy Orange Blossom Trail?  It gets better my friends...
That color!! I suppose they are male and female? I've seen so few of them that I'm not very well versed in their colors. So, those are two of them, and here, from the other side of the pond, are two more, along with a Wood Stork.
Ducks galore as well. The light was still pretty dim, so I thought I might use the Nikon I'd brought along, however, while getting it out of the car, as well as trying to remember how to use it, the Spoonbills took off. Boo hoo! The Nikon was covered with dust because it has been so long since I used it, not to mention what I thought was at least a slightly charged battery, died after two shots, so I just kept using my trusty Olympus.
I absolutely love that red cap! After a bit, a pair began walking to the edge of the road,
and just like that, they all took off...
which I was not really anticipating, so I did what I could in the heat of the moment! Funny how I kind of like this action photograph, in spite of the blurriness.
And off they went, along with the Wood Storks, and the Ibis which were also plentiful.
Wasn't that a fun way to begin the week? I thought so.

yours truly,

Gail

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Sun Also Sets

There are times when I am seriously attracted to both the sun rising, and the sun setting. And then there are times that I barely notice their occurrence.  I guess for some, those two daily events are often overshadowed by clouds, so they definitely go unnoticed, a pity, really. In Florida we've got both most days, some more brilliant than others. After finishing the bookcase on Tuesday afternoon, I made a quick trip up to Goodwill around the time of sunset, and why wouldn't I pull over at the lake lot, and photograph the sensation?
Just now I've Googled why Florida sunsets are at their most colorful in winter because they seriously are. For my science loving friends, the answer is cloud placement and less humidity. Of course you probably already knew that, didn't you?

While I do love a good sunset, there's just something about the beginning of a new day that especially appeals to me. Yesterday morning, Wednesday if you read this in the future, as the dark of night gave way to day, the sky was all kinds of shades of pink, red, and lavender. I know it sounds crazy, but there was an amazing glow to the sky which came through the closed blinds. Had I not been still in my pajamas, I might have gone somewhere without so many trees, however, I was, so my backyard had to suffice. I hope you can see what I mean in this photograph with the waning moon.
While our summers may be brutally hot and humid, you sure cannot beat our winters!

I am well aware that people love a good rehab story, so let's get to that bookcase, shall we? Before Bruce left for Dallas on Monday morning, he insisted on putting some caulk on the bookcase to fill one of the cracks. I did tell you the bottom shelf was split in two, didn't I? It was, but now you would never suspect a thing.
As well, he glued the fabric on the back for me....I told you I had an idea for this remodel! Originally I'd thought to paint it some fun color, however, common sense prevailed and I used the same color as I did on the kitchen cabinets, Benjamin Moore's Simply White.
Actually, he cut a new back and then did the gluing. The fabric was some I'd bought just because I thought it was cute, not really knowing what it would be used for. So, after two coats of primer, and three coats of paint, it is now done! I moved the little one I'd been using into the hallway. Want to see it in the kitchen? Of course you do! Everyone likes a before picture, don't they?
Another thing Bruce did was to teach me how to use the drill for putting screws in after he'd drilled the pilot holes. As well, he drew lines so I could line everything up. In a first, I put in 24 screws all by myself!
See my guide line? Further you can see all those shoring up pieces he put in Sunday afternoon!

Actually, it is tricky getting a good photograph because the table is so close there is no place to stand! How about if I stand on the side?
Aw shucks...let's try it from the front.
You know how the saying goes--"it takes a village", well looking at this photograph, I can count more than ten people represented here, from our parents, to my sister Maureen who gave me the adorable swan measuring cups. I won't list them all, but isn't it remarkable to ponder? I'm certain it is the same at your homes, or so I hope!

Meanwhile, in between the painting, I've made two trips to the MINI dealership because the previous owners only had one key to the car, and everyone knows you need two!
A couple of posts ago I used the title Let's Motor, and now you know where it came from! Everything at MINI is just so darn cute!

Additionally, I finally met up with Bonnie and Bev, two wonderful friends who I met at the bridge center when I thought I was smart enough to be a bridge player. NOT! We went to the happy hour at Santiago's Bodega, during which time some of the wine, and tapas are half price. Score! For both the food, and the conversation! The wine was good too.
Just before I took this photo of Bev, she gifted me with another darling owl present!
By the way, Bev is from Bristol, Tennessee where my sister Nancy now manages a new Marshall's!

Not only is this the time of the year for beauty in the sky, it also the time of the year when golden leaves are falling...
and, my personal favorite...blooming trees!! Oh how I love trees with flowers. Our friend Mary Lou has an amazing Hydrangea tree with big, fat, pink flowers,
which are beautiful in both stages of their life.
Tremendous! As is another flowering tree I discovered...a pink dogwood in bloom! Although this shot doesn't show off the pink so much, I thought it was kind of cute.
I am so darn blessed to have the time to appreciate the beauty in my part of the world, and I never forget that for a moment.

As well, I feel blessed, beyond your imagining, to have a few faithful readers who are willing to spend time with me as I make this journey through life. I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

May your day be filled with beauty, this day and everyday,

Gail

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Putting the MINI to the Test

Shall we start with something beautiful? If I were you, I'd say Amen sister!
See, I told you it was beautiful, and yes, the camellias are blooming, and yes, it has been raining. Not a lot mind you, but more than it has in the past few months. Very welcome, I might add.

Just so you understand clearly that everything I do does not turn out wonderfully, I give you my blueberry loaf.
When I opened the oven at about the 45 minute mark, only to see that ragged top, I knew that I had done it again. What's that, Gail? Unbelievably, I have made this same recipe not once, but twice, without adding sugar!! How can that be? Beats me, but I've taken a step so that I might never ruin a loaf again, because, when made properly, this recipe is delicious!
Inexplicable.

Here is our little Baxie, soaking up sunshine while hogging my sewing chair!
He is desperate for a haircut which will finally happen on Thursday afternoon with a new groomer called Tom. Hopefully his talents will match his good name. Both my Father, and my awesome, and wildly talented, son-in-law, are named Tom. :) Come to think of it, my fantastic brother's first name is Tom, although he goes by his middle name of Patrick. He came by way of Regina's recommendation and she is known for her good taste.

Perhaps Baxie got in the chair while I was taking a break from making another basket...
That is how you get the sides to form, by turning the "bowl" up on it's side. Because I don't seem to be able to perfect something before I add something else into the mix, I put some handles on this one, and it looks like this:
Long time readers will recognize the coasters, another project that I failed to perfect before giving up. Using my photographs, well, actually, who remembers how I made them? It is safe to say I won't be doing so again because, although they looked decent, their functionality was not the best.

Finally I got my hair done in a marathon session with Monica. As in, four hours!
It was last April that she put highlights in, so you can see I was in no rush to update my look. As well, she lopped off about 3 inches, making my head feel lighter, especially after she thinned it out. Perhaps you recognize the quilt? That's the nice thing about hand quilting--it is portable.

We picked Bruce's car up on Thursday night after enduring an hour of traffic traveling the 9 miles to the dealership. Both of us are in a learning curve...for sure.
So yesterday, while Bruce was fixing something at the restaurant, I was bike riding when I came across a yard sale with something I'd been on the lookout for. A narrow bookcase that fits our home because it is small. The asking price was $7, however, in a rare moment of bravado, I asked if she would take $5. Affirmative!

I then told her, bummer, I'd only just gotten a MINI Cooper and I'd need to wait until my husband came home to pick it up, to which she replied that she would set it aside. Perfect. Continuing on my ride, it came to me that I'd once bought an easy chair and stuffed it in the back of my car, so perhaps the bookcase would fit after all.

Guess what? No problem at all! It fit like a charm.
There was a reason it was but five dollars; the back was coming off, and the bottom shelf had a huge crack in it. Not to mention, it was beat up in general. By the time I'd returned with it, Bruce was home and rolling his eyes, however, I told him I've not steered us wrong in the used furniture department before, and with his help, I just knew it would have a great second life. Plus, it is real wood!

"I'll help you tomorrow honey."

Yikes, I have to wait, instead of my usual plan of getting going with a project the moment it presents itself? Yes, I did wait.

For the last 45 minutes Bruce has been sanding away, after cutting the curve on the bottom off to update the look a bit.
Given the task of sanding it myself, I would have quit after probably 10 minutes, however, Bruce has an amazing amount of patience that is completely missing from my makeup. That's why we are so good together--opposites attract!

I heard the sander stop, so I just took a look at the progress...he's added seven pieces of wood for stabilization, and I'm thinking it is time to get out the KILZ. I've got an idea for it that I hope will work.

Then again, as this post clearly demonstrates, some of my ideas fall flat. Hoping this one won't!

Ready to paint,

Gail

p.s. Almost forgot that I wanted to end with something I find beautiful...




Limping Along