Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A Place for Everything...

and everything in its place was something we tried to do for most of our married life. Of course there were exceptions throughout the years, especially when we had a houseful of four young boys, however, that was long ago and this is now. Frankly, I underestimated how challenging I would find this move on many levels, the least of which is I can't find things. Foremost is the fact that we spent so many years on Gem Mary Court making it our home, starting anew, well, it's definitely harder than I thought it would be. Just typing that sentence I realized that it is ME that has to adjust my attitude, not our situation, which is great, just different. Perhaps I am still missing Vancouver with the cooler temperatures, little humidity and wide sidewalks?

Wide sidewalks? What's that all about? Here's what it is about...riding my bike has been quite challenging, especially along Michigan which I must travel if I am to go anywhere. No bike lanes, and riding in the street is not an option what with the traffic barreling along at 40+miles per hour. I take to the sidewalk, illegal as that is, yet, the sidewalk is often less than two feet wide because some brilliant soul decided to put massive, and I do mean massive, power poles in part of the sidewalk. Then there are the bus shelters planted in the middle of the sidewalk. Oy vey!

The fridge is leaking again, and it is, once again raining cats and dogs. In fact, yesterday afternoon I sat down to write and then the storm came along,  prompting me to shut off my computer and Bruce unplugged it for good measure. Seriously loud thunder and lightening raged for several hours during which time Bruce had a conference call with his work colleagues in Vancouver who could hear the storm over the phone it was so loud. Count them amazed as no such thing exists in that fair city. Of course they do have serious fog, wildfire smoke, rain, and snow. Pick your poison, right?

Enough already. I sound like a spoiled brat, don't I?

Friday afternoon we paid a visit to Monica for Bruce to have his hair cut. Mine looks terrible, but as I explained to Monica, it will just have to do for now as I am swimming most days and the chlorine will do highlights no favor. Then again, maybe I am out of sorts because my hair looks bad? I didn't think of that before, but maybe I should. Plus, with the stormy weather, our fun afternoon visits to the pool have come to a screeching halt. But I digress. Why pray tell did I come along? Bruce is not enjoying the Orlando driving experience any more than I am so we take turns. As we'd not had a decent lunch, from there we went to one of our favorites, Chuy's where they have that crazy happy hour with a free taco bar included.
Although it seems crazy, somehow it works for them and us. Should you ever be tempted to think you have too much on your walls, pay Chuy's a visit and there is a good chance you might think to add more to your walls. Possibly mobiles too. Or maybe not.
Most every night you can find folks hanging down at the pool, not swimming, but socializing and doing some sunset watching. We joined the group on Friday night, but unfortunately I left my camera at home. That is until I saw that it was going to turn into quite the show, at which point I hightailed it back to the condo, grabbing my camera and walking back as fast as I could. While I missed the high point, it was still pretty darn good.
What I neglected to mention is that there is also a nightly show including a colony of bats flying out of the gazebo at dusk, and if you look very carefully, you will see I caught one of them in the top right corner of the frame. I vow to do better.

We interrupt this whiny post to say that, much to my utter delight, we have finally seen the otters in the lake. I was looking out the window as I type and, by golly, I saw the two of them moving all over, up and down, as they went fishing. It was all I could do to tear myself away from watching them from the shoreline! Unfortunately, I am shooting towards the sun, so we shall see if any photos are good. Another day.

Saturday Bruce tackled another small project on my request list. A few years ago I bought those mid-century type dressers from our friend Mary who found them at an auction. Baby blue, I used them successfully in my sewing room. Well, since that was not happening in our new place, I am using one in the entryway that looks like this with the chest moved.
Bruce set up his sanding and painting area in our little courtyard.
Necessity, being the mother of invention, he managed to find a way to make the small area work, one piece at a time.
BTW--still no birds, but I'm not losing hope yet! A small problem with this set up is the ever present possibility of rain, so once all the parts were painted, we carefully brought them inside for drying. And here you have it, although the color doesn't really ring true in this photograph!
Benjamin Moore, Deep Teal, I am thrilled, although looking at the picture, I'm going to have to do better with the stuff on top, something is wrong with the scale of things.

Saturday night, once again, found us at Pam and Glen's house, this time for a surprise 65th birthday party for Oren. Lisa somehow managed to keep the whole thing a secret, so much so that he hardly knew the party was for him, even after arriving. Of course, once they brought out a walker, he began to understand.
This group was having quite the lively conversation about college football; the season start is just around the corner. I am definitely looking forward to many lively conversations surrounding this topic.
Apparently there is a baker nearby that does a fantastic job as evidenced by the cake below.
Oren, Lisa, and Bunker, with candles that look like wine corks.
I certainly cannot complain about this aspect of being home as it has been so great being with our friends again. Speaking of friends, Sunday, as we were driving home from church, Bruce's phone rang and it was Jeff, asking if we would like to join he and Lori for brunch at White Wolf Cafe? You bet, so we turned around to meet them there. My heart swelled as I met Lori for the first time. For years, following the death of his wife, dating has been a challenge, to say the least, but if my intuition has any merit, I think he's found his match in Lori.
I missed my opportunity to meet her during our time home in March as my tummy kept me home. Now, there is no reason to not see them again soon even if they are die-hard Florida Gator fans. :)

In the afternoon, David came by for a visit, bringing along Grace, their almost one year old dog who is cute as a button. Bruce, David and I sat out back, enjoying the breeze coming in off of the lake. Not long after leaving, he called and asked if he could bring us dinner? Well, who says no to that? Having one of our sons so close is a real blessing for many reasons. Had it not been for David's help, our time in Vancouver would not have gone nearly as smooth. Hooray for Dave!

If the sunrise over the lake is not enough to keep a girl happy, the full moon the other night was so bright, I merely took the reflection.
On a side note, as I was coming in the back door after taking this, I called out to Bruce, please come quickly! A tiny snake lay on the tile, which goes to show you, you have to take the good with the bad, a reminder that I need to keep my focus on all things positive. Before long, things will all fall into place as they generally do.

your friend,

Gail

p.s. White Wolf was way better than I remembered.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Week Three

Should someone have asked me, if given the choice, would you prefer to live on a lake or the ocean, my answer would have been a lake. Never would I have imagined I would have the choice, but now that it is a reality, well, it is good. For some folks, the answer would be just the opposite, so perhaps you are wondering about my choice? Wondering or not, here is my reasoning--the variety of animal/bird life is more abundant. Sure, there are wonderful shorebirds at the ocean, however, I'm learning that life on a lake, albeit a small one, is new everyday. Especially when there are so many trees lining the shoreline! As I type, I'm seeing tiny birds, the type I don't know, flit from branch to branch. Squirrels leap from one tree to another, and most afternoons the Wood Duck and her ducklings come onshore to snack on the birdseed our upstairs neighbor provides. Oh, and did I tell you there are otters? In the early morning,
the ducks head out from the aquatic plants, heading, presumably to the other side of the lake. The heads of turtles peek up from the water, as they too get moving. So far I've seen a hawk,
an Ibis, many Annhinga, as well as several Snowy Egrets. A Great Blue Heron too.
We have also learned that the trees drop all manner of branches into the lake, and with the extreme heat of summer, algae blooms as seen above. Both are pesky, so Bruce is going about changing that, borrowing a rake from Pam, he pulled the branches from the water, as well as some icky, and I do mean icky, sheets of algae. How it grows that way is beyond us.
When the sun hits just right, you can see the little fishes swimming in the shallow water, and we hope with this clean up, to see far more of them.

I've been out riding my bike a few days, once heading over to Southern Oaks to check on my owl trees. Much to my dismay, Hurricane Irma must have been the culprit that took the giant oak tree in Nell's yard. Amongst the flowering plants below, a mighty oak once stood where the owls slept the days away.
I always knew when they were present by how the driveway looked. Clean and tidy, and they were nowhere to be found. Spotted with their droppings, I knew to look upward. Remember this cutie?
A fellow came along, seeing me stopped in my tracks in front of Nell's, he asked if I were looking for the owls? "Oh yes I am", was my reply. Hearing them most evenings, he claims they have moved a street over. Well, what with all of the rain we are having, me riding over there probably is not going to happen. After about a week of intermittent rain, the downpours have once again begun in earnest.
Lord, have mercy! That Sunday evening whopper while we were at the Hill's house, according to the newspaper, dumped just shy of FOUR inches in three hours! And you thought I was exaggerating...

In good news for the village here, the paving has been getting done, and if you have ever wondered how they paint the lines in a parking lot, wonder no more!
While rhapsodizing on lakeside living, I neglected to mention the butterflies! It is no wonder the Zebra Longwing is our state butterfly as I have been seeing them like crazy, one of which just flew by the window.
Pam sent everyone who was fast enough to claim it, home with big bunches of a new type of basil she's grown. Irene made pesto, while I made a Panzanella salad, the epitome of summer.
All is right with the world because I have made some cookies, definitely a sign we are settling in. No longer do I need to use an upturned broiler pan for cooling, nor wait for one batch to cook before forming another. Snickerdoodles, an old favorite, made many times as is evidenced by the dirty pages of my Betty Crocker cookbook, a wedding gift.
More often than not, recipes written today suggest one use parchment paper on your cookie sheet. While it does make cleaning up easier, there is the matter of waste. Many years ago, my sister-in-law, Ruth, gave me these excellent cookie sheets for Christmas, and friends, they work like magic, with the little ridges keeping the cookies from sticking without any added cooking spray.
I will say, I was delighted that the oven worked as well as it did, something, at this point, not to be taken for granted. We are still mulling over our kitchen remodel with nothing decided so far.

I was telling the ladies last night, at a get together at Lynn's adorable new place,
that the nickname Vancouverites have for their city, Raincouver, would be somewhat of a joke here as their idea of rain and ours differs greatly! Pours and pours here, whereas there it is not quite a mist, but hardly what we would call real rain.
That roof at the top of our back room is some kind of hard plastic that really magnifies the sound of the downpours. Speaking of sounds, I neglected to mention how loud both the crickets and frogs are in the evening. It's a chorus out there folks!

One more short story on sounds carrying across the lake.....yesterday morning, just as I stepped out back to check to see if the water was clearing, I heard a huge crash, knowing instantly it was the sound of two vehicles colliding. Soon thereafter I took off on my bike, heading to Ferncreek, the street on the other side of the lake. Sure enough, one car was hit so hard, the passenger door came off, landing in someone's front yard.
The other car was just shy of the ditch! What worried me, aside from the damaged car was the open window. Rain, you know.
Finally, earlier in the week, I drove over to Winter Park to see what Orchard Supply looked like and found it to my liking. I picked up some hooks for the bathroom doors as well as some handles that I thought were super cool to use on a chest we plan on painting this weekend. Except, we realized that they would look great on this chest I purchased a few years ago. There are indentions on either side of the door that you pull to open it which worked so-so. Bruce surprised me by putting them on yesterday and I could not be any happier.
And not a few days later, following our visit together on Sunday afternoon, we learned that Lowes has decided to close all 99 of the stores. Very sad indeed. I was probably out looking for rugs as we've discovered that in our absence, moths have found our living room woo rug rather tasty. Finding one has not been easy, but then again, is anything?

I said I was done, but that was before I realized there is one more thing to say---our sister Carol is having another procedure done today and needs your thoughts and prayers. Now, I'm done.

your friend,

Gail

Monday, August 20, 2018

Settling In, Part Whatever

Our anniversary was on Saturday and I must say, we spent it in an unconventional way. Now that we've been here for more than two weeks, it was time for me to get serious about unpacking more boxes from our original move last summer. I didn't begin Saturday thinking I would tackle that project, but after having breakfast out at a nearby diner, Bruce began some chores to continue the porch prettying, while I did laundry and opened boxes. Before I launch into that part of our story, I wanted to show you a few nature photos taken on property. This Little Blue Heron sat on the dock watching the water as I watched it! That tongue!!!
Two weeks later and the bloom on the Bird of Paradise out back is still just as vibrant. I wonder how long they last?
Before leaving Vancouver, Dale promised that he would write and write he did; his letter arrived in Friday's post. BTW--there is no mail delivery in Canada on Saturday, something I found interesting. Anyway, I'd told Dale that once home I would have some prints made of our walk through Stanley Park, something I'd planned to do at Costco. Not so fast Gail. Costco no longer has an in-store photo lab which bummed me out. Walgreens to the rescue, and because they had a deal on multiple prints, I went ahead and had others made. Returning home with them, Bruce remarked that it had been quite a while since we'd seen printed photos, and both of us thought how great they are.
Probably it was sitting at my table that finally forced my hand. Turns out one huge box under said table was filled with a second box, both empty. And then there was two boxes of fabric. I threw away more than I kept. And I found a few things I'd been wondering about too.
After having lived a year without our things, it is far easier to give stuff away than it was when we originally moved. Not that we didn't give a bunch away before, but I found more things on this day. So, under my table is but one clear box of fabric, some of which I brought home with me from Vancouver.
Plus, I moved the computer to its rightful location. Because the table wasn't ready, I'd had it on the kitchen table, and while convenient, it was a little big. Plus, I found the quilt I'd made for our bed and changed that out too. The bedroom was looking too dull for my liking with an off white coverlet that added no pizazz whatsoever.
Actually, I used the back side because for the cheerful color, however, Bruce was not as impressed, saying, "you know how I like the patchwork look best". Thus, I turned it back over the next day.
We need some kind of new artwork for over the bed as that small print is just not working. So many things to think of, and it is just so darn hot that thinking does not come easily.

While I was indoors, Bruce was out in the extreme heat, changing the porch light,
after having painted both the metal door, beautifully I might add, and the shelving unit which he did out back.
The metalwork screen door is not necessarily our style, but it fits the condo and looks tremendously better after painting. Now our little shelving unit looks cute.
Sadly, no birds have found the feeders yet, but they will! I think I mentioned Bill had given us an Amazon gift card for Christmas, and we finally put it to very good use. Now the porch looks very inviting, or at least we think so.
Around 4 in the afternoon, exactly the time we married 45 years ago, we went down to the pool to cool off.
Judy asked recently how we liked sharing a pool and our answer is, great. After being a pool owner for so many years, having someone else maintain it is a real treat.

We did not go out to eat, instead we had hamburgers at home. While eating, it occurred to me that we should begin a new tradition of having hamburgers on every anniversary, after all, we ate at McDonalds on our wedding night, and it didn't hurt us a bit. St. Augustine, in those days, was a pretty sleepy town with all of the restaurants closed up by 9PM, thus McDonalds was our only option. Sounds pretty funny now doesn't it?

After church we used yet another Christmas gift, this time from David and Michelle. Sitting in our comfy little booth at Hillstone, I noticed the neon sign reading Houston's which reminded me of how they changed their name. And do you know why they did that? Do you care? I'm chuckling because I'm going to tell you whether you care or not. In order to not have to post the calorie count of their food, something chains have to do if they have a certain number of restaurants, they up and changed the name of about half of the restaurants. Most folks still call it Houston's nonetheless.
Nary a soul was out on the lawn or dock, and who could blame them as it was brutally hot?
Turns out that after nearly a week of little to no rain, the above clouds turned into rain clouds which in turn became a massive storm that hit while we were at the Hills.
A new guest was there last evening, a woman who just moved to Orlando two weeks ago. She remained calm throughout, however, that was quite the introduction to our massive, thunder, and lightening summer storms! It went on for so long that most of us ran to our cars, or homes, in the driving rain. At least it was cooler, I'll say that much.

I'm not sure how to read this morning's sunrise, whether the storms will return again this afternoon or not. Sort of a "red sky in the morning" thing.
Let's hope not as they are continuing to re-pave all of the roads in our little village and today it is happening in front of our place. We shall see.

The settling in continues....

your friend,

Gail


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Somewhat

Lying in bed the other morning, I asked Bruce if he was getting used to being back in Orlando. He honestly replied, "somewhat", which pretty much sums up my feelings as well. It has been harder than we imagined, however, with a view like this, we'll adjust.
I haven't had the time to blog this last week as it seems that every time I intended to sit down and write, something else was needed for our new home. And with Bruce home all of the time now, it seems as if either I am making one meal and it is soon time for another. Not that I'm complaining, mind you, it is just another adjustment. He has really enjoyed being able to take the kayak out weather permitting. Speaking of the weather, it is damn hot today, as in 95 degrees with no rain in sight. After the earlier massive storms, things in that department have calmed down quite a bit. Both of us still marvel at the lack of thunder and lightening in Vancouver. Plus, their clouds are not nearly as interesting as ours!
Whereas in Vancouver, the scenery creates all of the drama, here in Florida it is the weather. With skies that often look like the above, it is no wonder that flat sky in Vancouver was challenging for me.

Sunday morning we decided to visit the church where we married, 45 years ago this Saturday.
Although we didn't see anyone we knew, we did run into the Aunt of a fellow we went to school with. It was nice, but replacing St. Andrews Wesley is going to be quite the challenge.

Pam had us over on Sunday night for delicious gazpacho, which won't surprise you in the least, as you've learned from this blog that she is such an excellent cook.
Another neat thing that I discovered on my bike ride the other morning is an area in the front of the property with about ten raised bed plots. Checking with Susan, our association president, I learned there is an empty one that has our name on it. That is if we can even think about working in this heat!
All sorts of plants that attract butterflies are planted there, and unless you venture in, you would never know that it is there.
Another thing that has been fun to watch on the big lake is a white duck with a harem of Mallard ducks. I have no explanation for this phenomenon. Anyone else?
Oh how I do love having access to a large swimming pool which I am making good use of when I can. The other afternoon I went there to finish an excellent book that I brought back with me from the used book store at the Vancouver library. Should you be looking for a fantastic, and strangely uplifting book, and by that I mean it is set in a hospice, check out The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce.  It has been quite some time since I enjoyed a novel as much.

So, that was all the news that is fit to print from here, but I do have more to show from the trip across the country. Without further ado, let's go to Iowa, a state that I could best describe as tidy. Rows upon rows of corn fields, that although do not have the dramatic effect of a place like the Badlands, is beautiful nonetheless.
Oops, I got ahead of myself.
After the rugged beauty of the far West, Iowa was a soothing treat for the eyes.
This was going to be one of the long days of driving filled with tiny towns along the State roads.
Filled is actually not the right word as the towns were generally few and far between. More like seemingly endless fields and roads lined with beautiful wildflowers.
Lovely rolling hills too.
Finally we came to a small town, the name of which escapes me. Because it was going to be a very long day, we found a space on a little residential street, under a big tree for shade, where Bruce could take a twenty minute nap. Naturally, I went on a little walk, seeing this in an open backyard.
And this highly decorated front and side yard, complete with an old sleigh.
I wish I'd remembered the name and I would have learned what went on in this town that warranted a residence like this one.
Someone made some money there, eh?

Finally, we were across Iowa, staying the night in Coralville where we visited the Olive Garden Bruce built.

Drive, eat, sleep, repeat..

The sun rose over Iowa,
and we were off again, heading to, and reaching Missouri, where we finally headed South.
There isn't a whole lot to say about Missouri, after all of the days of stunning beauty we'd passed through. Perhaps it is the Eastern side of the state that is so-so. We did stop here for lunch and it was indeed very tasty.
Whether or not our burger was the "worlds best" is up for debate, but it was very tasty, and we enjoyed sitting at the counter with the locals. With the atlas and iPad on my lap, I led Bruce on a route that would completely skirt St. Louis which might have been nice to see, but after driving so long with no traffic to speak of, we preferred to keep it that way. And there it was, the crossing of the Mississippi River in Cape Girardeau.
Just over the bridge, we drove into Illinois,
where we found a better spot to gaze upon the mighty Mississippi.
More corn fields and this great find!
Driving just on the corner of Illinois, we found the road that next led us over the Ohio River,
and into,
where we were immediately greeted with a wall of kudzu.
When we visited Hilary several years ago, I never expected to find myself anywhere near Fancy Farm again, but here was the sign my friends.
If this intrigues you to know more, you can read all about that fantastic trip here. Which I plan to do once this is finished because I want to relive the memory. :)

There very well may be loads of kudzu in this part of the world, but what there is a shortage of is hotel rooms. So, although tired, there were still more miles to go until we reached Mayfield, Ky where we discovered that there was a Mexican restaurant within walking distance.  Hallelujah, and can we get an AMEN?
Oh how happy we were to finally have some Tex-Mex again. Vancouver has many restaurants that serve fancy tacos but none that we found served our favorites. Since returning to Orlando we have seen an absolute explosion of Mexican restaurants and we can't wait to try a bunch of them!

Well, friends, there you have it, a road trip through parts of two Canadian provinces and 13 states where the biggest thrill came from seeing that everywhere is beautiful if your eyes are looking for beauty. Even Missouri.

your friend,

Gail




Long Beach, CA