Tuesday, May 30, 2017

De-Personalizing

Where shall I begin? One thing is for certain, there has been not a stitch of sewing going on around these parts since last we met!

So, here's our plan...

Close on the condo, and fix it up ASAP so that we can move our things into it before July 15 rolls around and Mr. and Mrs. Peck, with Baxter in tow, begin the long journey to Vancouver. Sounds pretty ambitious, doesn't it? I couldn't agree more, but we are going to do everything in our power to make it happen. Our realtor is going to do everything in her power to sell our home before then, which would be icing on the cake.

Which means, I've been out shopping in between cleaning, and de-personalizing our home, both of which are painful. That said, I haven't done all of the cleaning myself, Bruce did some major tidying up in his garage on Saturday morning. It looks ever so much better than this now.
He made that work bench many, many years ago and it will be very hard to leave; we are so hoping the new owners will want it. I have a super crazy idea to turn that giant metal cabinet into something more for our new place because storage is definitely at a premium over there. I'm thinking of having it painted at an auto body shop...what do you think?

Meanwhile the window washers came, and not only did they do the windows, but they cleaned the gutters and fascia as well. Everything looks as good as new. I read online that during the open house I need to bring the blinds up, and it does let in some lovely light.
In the room above I removed the quilt on the end of the bed, along with everything, leaving only one thing on the dresser and nightstand. I do see in the photograph that I've left an old photo of Jon boy, taken by Matthew for a high school photography class on the shelf, and you know what? I'm leaving it there!

Most readers of Camera Crazy know that if given the choice between cleaning and sewing, well, make that anything else, I would choose the later. My house is tidy, but super clean, not so much. I spent hours and hours cleaning on Saturday morning before we met the condo owner in order for Bruce to take measurements and draw out the floor plan. A remodel budget has been established. We have become experts at renovating around our things, mostly because we've had no choice, but here we do have a choice, and we are seizing our opportunity to make it nice before we move in. Dave is talking to the owner in this photo of the circa 1986 kitchen which will not be looking like this in a month or so.
Some folks take down the whole wall behind the fridge, move the appliance and cabinets to the other side  of the room, opening it all up, however, we may not get that crazy. Instead we are thinking of lowering that ledge Bruce is writing on, and extending the counter top to make a small seating area on the other side. As well, some of the wall will come down, opening it up to the living area. Here is where some folks have moved the fridge.
I've said it many times before, but I'll say it again, Orlando is really a small town.  Chuck's Dad lived in this condo for 26 years along with his wife, I believe her name was Pippa. Chuck lives in the same neighborhood as our old neighbor of 18 years, another Chuck! They know each other! Not only that, but our friends Bill and Roxanne have been in this condo before! Further, when the twins were teens, they had a friend named Robby, and get this, Pippa was his grandmother! Chuck said he felt like his folks would be looking down on us with approval, which was super sweet. As to the space above, I'm thinking of putting a booth there!! That will wait until we return though.

As to the countertops, if you have even remotely looked at a design magazine, or watched anything on HGTV you know that all of the designers are using marble these days, which looks great on television, and in print, but actually living with it, that's not for me. I don't want to be worrying all of the time about my countertops. After picking up a sample of wood for the floors, I visited Mystic Granite nearby.
I don't want anything too busy, but I have had granite for about 15 years and it has performed flawlessly, so why change? It was super interesting watching them move those heavy slabs!
Thursday night Pam had the "girls" over for dinner and painting of wine glasses. I had dinner, however, no wine glass for me. NOT, of course, because I don't drink wine, but the last thing I need to do right about now is bring something else into our home.
Here are two totally off topic things...this newspaper article reminded me of how people sometimes have not a lick of sense. A rat named Princess....are you kidding me???
Number two on this list...books I returned to the library, three of which were good, two were started and stopped.
I could not get into either The Real Liddy, or The Wives of Los Alamos. Maybe it was just me.

Back to the business at hand....

One of the nice things about the new place is we actually have a back yard and don't have to worry about maintenance!
This is taken about 1:30 in the afternoon, and I'm glad I am looking at it just now because I am trying to choose a wood floor, and this is a big help. I brought home something lighter than what we have now, but then thought it was too light. Now, after looking at this, which, btw, I've just downloaded from my camera, I may have been on the right track after all.

Lake Pineloch Village is filled with lush plantings and gorgeous trees like this one, so you know what that means....birds!!
Lynn, who is both our realtor, and a family friend, asked me to remove everything personal for the photographs which are scheduled for tomorrow at 2PM. I began that process yesterday morning, and I can tell you, it was not so easy for me. Now, instead of my magnet filled refrigerator side,
it is merely a blank wall of gray. I'm not much of a souvenir girl, however, wherever we travel, I pick up a magnet, and my kids do the same for me whenever they go somewhere. Now they are tucked away in a box. :(

I needed a basket for storage, so I cleaned one out that still had some stuff from my business. Although it pained me to do so, I threw my "title" book away.
Whenever I would have something new printed, I'd dream up a title, jotting it down with the number I thought I might sell over time. Each week, I'd erase the first number as things sold. Now it will just be a memory. I have my huge inventory of prints that I have no idea where they will end up.

I spent most of yesterday cleaning and de-personalizing most of the rooms,  and this morning I had our young neighbor George come over to help me move my sewing table against the wall, which not only shows off the pretty floor, but shows off the room size better.
Not nearly as practical, but I'll have to get used to having it against the wall in our new place. The scrappy quilt is pretty much the same as the last time you saw it! My sister Nancy thinks I should remove the glass jar of scraps, but I can't bring myself to do it unless Lynn insists. We shall see tomorrow, won't we?

She plans to hold an OPEN HOUSE this WEEKEND!! So, not only does the inside have to look good, so does the outside. Wouldn't you know it, our new lawn guy could not come this week so I did the mowing yesterday, and mostly everything looks just fine. Those sparkling windows help.

Finally, and I include this sorely for posterity, we finally had some rain. Fast and furious, we wish it were more, and sadly none has fallen since I took this probably last Friday.
I cannot remember the last time my house has been so clean.

yours truly,

Gail


Friday, May 26, 2017

A Charming House

While talking to Mary the other day, she reminded me of something that I hadn't thought about in a long time. Telling her that we had decided to put our house up for sale, she said, "we helped you move in there 21 years ago, we can help you move out."

The memories came flooding back of when we did move here, October 15, 1996 to be exact. And just how did we come to be the owners of this house, you ask? Well, our house in Conway proper had sold and we were struggling to find another one, when one day, David came home from visiting a friend on Appleton, and brought home a flyer for an open house, saying you might like this one Mom, the rooms are pretty big. Who buys a house during an open house?? We did.

By that time, the twins were 16, and Jonathan was 12. Matt was away at Florida State with no real plans of returning to Orlando. After church on that Sunday, we came straight away to Gem Mary Court, wanting to be the first ones there. I can still remember walking up the brick sidewalk to the front door, The flyer advertised the house as charming, and obviously, we thought so as well.
That brick is long gone, replaced by a newer version, but I am more convinced than ever that it is indeed a charming house.

We were immediately impressed with the kitchen, although I knew I would miss the awesome booth we had in our previous home, and the truth is, I still do. The floors were different in those days, but the wood ceiling really wowed us. My carpenter husband was not as thrilled because of the workmanship, but he took care of that many years ago.
I'm definitely feeling nostalgic now that we have actually decided to sell, remembering all that has happened in this house that we've made a home.

Another thing that sorely impressed us were all the backyard palms surrounding the pool. Little did I know at that time how they would grow, and grow (duh!), dropping those dreaded seed pods in the pool, but I can't say that I haven't enjoyed the tropical feeling of an open pool surrounded by palms.
Over the years we've done so much to improve our little slice of heaven, twice refinishing the pool, and once actually removing the whole concrete deck and replacing it with travertine. That darling shed? Handmade and designed by Bruce with some help from Bill. When we moved in there was a long driveway out front that was used by a previous owner for a boat. Although Bruce left the pad down by the street, he and Bill, along with the friend who lived down the street, broke it all up using it for the floor of the shed.
All that lovely green grass? It took us probably five years to achieve that as the previous owner, or so it seemed, did not believe in either a sprinkler system, or fertilizer! Our staghorn!! What will become of that? Bruce will think of something...

I mentioned that we walked up that brick pathway to the front door, but most folks never even think to use it, instead, opting for the door on the driveway side.
Over the years we have been constantly amused that canvaser types come to both doors; somehow it never occurs to them that it would be really, really, odd for two seperate houses to have a bright blue, terra cotta, spring green, or hunter green glass door. BTW--those are all colors I've used, changing probably every five years or so.

So that is a tiny bit about the physical plant, but what really means the most is the "heart" stuff, like my Mother's last birthday party here, Jon boy playing a computer game for four years straight, Bill becoming an outstanding guitar player, and Dave learning about the stock market by day trading before he was 20 years old. Matthew has come and gone from this house, never really having a place to call his own as we had downsized from a four bedroom, to a three bedroom. Then too, we thought it would be fine, thinking the twins would be moving on in a few years, however, that turned into quite a few more than a few! Bruce, well, he's been the steady one, building over 100 restaurants all over the country, whereas, during that same time, I have been a Mammographer,  College student, photographer, blogger, and now pretty much spending my days sewing.

So back to the day we moved in....it was Parent's weekend at FSU and Bruce, Jonathan, and I went to Tallahassee. As I recall it rained and rained during the football game. Before leaving we had a plan...about twenty friends were waiting at our old house when we arrived at five in the afternoon for the move three miles away. Cars, vans, pick up trucks, all filled with our stuff descended on Gem Mary Court; everything was tentatively in place by 11 that night. We spent a VERY restless Sunday night because, guess what? We had not officially closed on the house! By Monday afternoon everything was official. The next day I began my new job at Orlando Regional Medical Center, now dubbed, Orlando Health. Whew...it was wild and crazy, but we were young!!

We are not so young in body these days, but we've once again decided to do everything at once, except this time we found a place before we sold this one. Slightly overwhelming what with Bruce completing a restaurant, an elderly dog, a move to Canada, AND selling our charming home, HOWEVER, we can do it. Or, at least, I'm hoping we can. :)

yours truly,

Gail

p.s. I just took these photos of our home because Lynn, our relator, has someone potentially already interested. They will hire a professional to shoot the house, but these were to wet their appetite. YIKES!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Thunder and Lightning, Oh My!

While selling photography those many years, I was often asked if I had a photograph of so and so...butterflies, giraffes, elephants, cars, you know, all manner of things that captivated people. One request that came often was for dragonflies. I do have a lovely pink dragonfly, but I never had any that looked like this one perched on my clothesline the other day. Is this little guy cute, or what? Maybe it's a girl...who knows?
Let's see what I can find out about one that looks like this....way too many for me to sort out! Anyone else familiar with dragonflies?

Wonder of wonders, we finally heard the glorious sound of thunder last evening. I had to run up to Publix a little after six last evening, and I thought you would enjoy seeing this fantastic yellow tree against the stormy sky.
While talking to Bruce about twenty minutes later, I told him I thought it might just pass us by, however, much to our relief, I was wrong. Going to sleep to the sound of rain was such a blessing. I'm thinking we didn't get that much, but at this point, we will take anything the heavens offer!

Well, my friends, a lot has been going on around here. As you know Mr. Peck was not here for his birthday, but I went to his party nonetheless. Cheryle and David were having a get together, and when I told her that both Pam and Bruce had birthdays last week, we decided cake was in order. I made two, with the first one being this Ina Garten Beatty's  Chocolate Cake.  As you can see, mine looked nothing like hers!
Sort of a leaning tower of cake; at least the name of cake shared the last name of our hosts! The Beatty's do such a wonderful job entertaining, they put most of us to shame. The garden is always put to use in the centerpieces.
Having only just returned from a road trip to New Orleans, along with several of their airbnb guests, David had fun making Hurricanes, going so far as to use freshly squeezed juice.
Cake and ice cream is served...
How do you feel about serendipity? I'm pretty much a believer in it, while at the same time believing that everything happens for a reason. Last weekend, our son David called, asking me if I wanted to hang out with him on Saturday afternoon because both Bruce and Michelle were busy. Not something I ordinarily do, I agreed because, really, why not?

During our conversation David mentioned that a unit two buildings away from him was up for sale, and the owner did not want to use a realtor, relying on word of mouth. He claimed it was a fantastic unit that was fairly priced, as well as having a wonderful location in the complex. He suggested we think about it for an investment property, however, he also knew that his Dad has been talking for several years about us living in Lake Pineloch Village. So, David arranged a showing on Sunday afternoon. The moment we went in the front door we were pretty much sold because of the view of Lake Willasara. The folks who lived there spent 24 years enjoying that view, however, they never upgraded a thing, which turns out to be perfect for us because we can now make it our own. The view from the bedroom..
As are most of the lakes in town, it is low, but not nearly so much as some. The folks put in serious sliding doors against the screens so you can shut off the living area and open the sliders for breeze on the porch, but if it is too hot, you can shut them and open the others so it can become an air conditioned space. Pretty clever, I'd say.
It is smaller than our home, but not by much. Then too, I am so looking forward to having a larger shower. While I've become accustomed to a 1960's sized shower, I can't say as I haven't wanted more for a while now.
As if we didn't have enough to think about, now this, right? Bruce got home last Friday night after midnight, but he was up bright and early, so we went to see it at 9AM before signing any papers. What I neglected to mention is that both Bill and Dave looked at it with me last Sunday, and it was quite the show with both of them "double teaming" the owner on price. You had to have been there, but I will say, I could have never done what they did, negotiating about a 10% discount. :)

In Texas, Bruce's job is nearly finished, on time, and mostly on budget. The managers take over on Wednesday meaning any further work has to be accomplished over night. I am so proud of his team there because they have done an outstanding job, so much so that Bruce can almost say they walked across the finish line, something he is always striving for. Woo hoo! The opening is about three weeks from now.

In my last post I mentioned I was holding back some photos, but now is the time to share them. The green heron from my last post was quite the find, as was these Limpkin chicks who were valiantly trying to catch up with their parents.
Eventually they did..
We learned from an earlier post that they primarily eat Apple snails, and here is one of the parents with just that for the chick.
So all very exciting. This was on Lake Cherokee, situated a block from Lake Davis. I parked by the former, than walked over to the latter, where I saw an Ibis in breeding colors.
Those legs and face are crazy red this time of year! Lake Davis is SO low with all these weird circles along the shoreline. At least fifty, I'd say.
After walking around the whole lake, I'm thinking perhaps reeds were there and withered from the drought?

I saw a Mom on her nest in an oak tree.
As well, a heron that I'm not quite sure if it is a Great Blue, or not. Seeking all kinds of input from readers today, aren't I?
Walking back over to Lake Cherokee, I was struck by how much I oftentimes take our beautiful lakes and scenery for granted, having seen the same thing over and over again. Then too, most of the millions and millions of the tourists that visit our area yearly, never do see the "real Orlando."
Yet another puzzling thing I saw were quite a number of nests (?) amongst the reeds that looked like this.
I'm heading back over soon to see what is happening with these reed tepees. It is such an awesome time of the year for photo enthusiasts, that is for sure!

Days for Girls went well yesterday with quite a few volunteers in attendance including my friend Leslie who has taught me a thing or two.
She has been with Sharleen since the beginning two years ago. In another room, several women were putting together the 53 kits, packing them into boxes by panties size.
Should you be reading this blog for the first time, here is a link to Days for Girls International, obviously an organization I feel strongly about. We learned yesterday that there are five countries that now have woman making the kits to sell to their own countrywomen! Fantastic, right?

I'm still moving photographs, watching ten years of our lives pass by. The scrappy quilt continues as well.

As I type, the sky is a gray mass of clouds that we all hope will bring more thunder and lightning, followed by a big downpour. A girl can dream, can't she?

yours truly,

Gail

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Middle of May

We now know where we will be living in Vancouver. It's an area of town called Yaletown, and from what I hear and read, it was once a warehouse district that is now trendy. So there you go. The condo is absolutely lovely, but I will admit there is little funkiness to be found, and for me that will be a little hard to live with. Remedying that situation, I'm making another scrappy quilt for the patio/balcony which I suspect will be more than a little chilly for this Florida girl. As well, it is a way of taking my fabric with me as I intend to leave the drawers as they are until we return.

You begin by cutting loads of different fabrics into 2 x 3.5 rectangles. To mix them all up, I read somewhere about putting them all into the dryer, and it worked pretty well.
Ha ha...new meaning for tumble dry! Actually, when I opened the door, they indeed, just tumbled out! Putting them all into a bag, I then made my way to the sewing room where I began pairing them, the uglier the match the better.
In all there will be 720 pieces in the quilt, so it takes quite a few pairs to make that happen.
The above is what you call chain piecing because you just keep on sewing those pairs together, pretty much continuing, until either your bobbin thread runs out, or your piles do. Next you join those with other pairs, eventually making a small block with eight strips, again the uglier the better.
I wasn't kidding right? For some folks it makes their head spin looking at a quilt like this, but in the end, it mostly is a riot of color that I hope will add that touch of funk the condo is missing, So far I have five rows together, and about three more waiting to join ,so by this time next week it should be a done deal. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of sewing, but with my darling husband gone all week, I've got plenty of time on my hands.

Here's a shot of my computer screen that says a lot, if you know what to look for.
That little notice in the upper right hand corner? A reminder from facebook that it is Bruce's birthday-- as if I needed reminding! He was not here to celebrate, but it wouldn't be the first time. Then too, there are loads of "screen shots" that I've taken for the guys at Apple, and I mean that literally. Will called yesterday morning a little after 8, and after all this time, he realized he didn't have what it took to make the photo moving process succeed. I am now hooked up with Adam in Austin, and we are making some progress, although as soon as I finish this post, he's the first person I will be calling.

Does my family know how to send great cards, or what?
The card from Matt and Tom, inexplicably, took two weeks to arrive from London. So strange.

I've also had loads of time for birding, and some super good things have come my way, beginning with a few days ago, when I rode up to Nell's house before 7, and found this!!
Mom and the kids together in a very low tree!! I was literally jumping off of my bicycle when I saw this, leaving it beside the curb.
For this shot I'm standing in front of Victor's house, looking up at the Swallowtail who is still hanging around. (those are stray feathers falling in case you are wondering.)
While I was standing under the Kite, I began hearing the squawking of a Blue Jay which could mean only one thing....Papa must be around as well. Guess what? He was in the tree above my bicycle! In my excitement at seeing Mom and the kids, I never thought to look up. I watched in fascination as the BJ kept knocking into Papa who merely flinched, although after about the tenth hit, he had finally had enough. Taken before he flew higher:
The other members of the owl family remained low in the tree allowing me to get pretty darn close.

No sound came out of this big mouth,
Now one thing I've learned is that owls have three membranes on their eyes, and I think we are going to see all three in the next couple of photos. The juvenile facing the sun was pretty lively compared to the other one. When he stretched out his wing, I was thrilled as I've never gotten a photo like this in good lighting.
Those legs are getting pretty long aren't they? Here is another shot of all three,
Aren't those eyes something? After a time, Mom and the lively one flew across the street, leaving the quiet one behind. Eventually though, she rewarded my patience.
Believe you me, I never take these moments for granted because sometimes you just get lucky, and they may never happen again. I invited my new photographer friend Candy to meet me yesterday morning early, and although the Swallowtail was around, no kids could be found. Candy just kept gazing up at the Swallowtail, exclaiming over and over again, "isn't she beautiful?"
Asking her if she'd like to see the bee hive, she was more than happy to walk over there, having never seen one before. She was just as awed as we are, or at least I think you guys are impressed. Walking back over, hoping the kids would be around now, that was not the case, however, Victor's sprinklers were running, and Mama was having it both ways when we returned.
During our walk she told me about a few new birds in town so, as you can imagine, I just had to go out in the baby car this morning to see what I could see. I've got lots to both say, and show you, but I know you may already be on photo overload by now, so just a few until another day.

Mama Swan and her little brood at Lake Davis:
It took me quite a bit of sleuthing, but I think I've identified the bird below as a Green Heron; I'm thinking this is another first sighting for me.
For those readers who don't live in Florida, and I'm thinking there are a few of you, what the bird is perched on are Cypress tree knees which jut out of the water along the shoreline.

So much more to relate, but if I ever hope to finish up this computer project, for now I will say goodbye. I hope you enjoyed this post and the interesting birds found within.

yours truly,

Gail

You Just Never Know