Sunday, September 30, 2018

Keep on Moving

Does this look like an exercise class to you?
To tell you the truth, this is a pretty accurate assessment of the class, lots of ladies talking, talking, talking. Don't get me wrong, I might be considered a world class talker, but for crying out loud, there is so much talk in the pool that hearing the instructor is all but impossible. Nevertheless, in the words of a woman I met at the church who turns 76 today, the most important thing is to "keep on moving", thus I continue going when I can.

The weather is most certainly not a deterrent because it is still blazing hot. Just because we always say that September, and even into October, are the worst months, does not make it any easier. Those massive thunderstorms we'd been having have, for the moment at least, stopped, so although inconvenient, they do help to cool things off. Now we are just stuck with the HOT sun and days with temperatures reaching into the mid 90's. Meanwhile, Mr. Peck has left for most of the week, on his way to Calgary where the temperature is anything but hot. How does more than a 60 degree temperature swing sound? Snow is expected on Tuesday! Imagine that.

One nice thing about this time of year is the blooming of the Golden Rain trees all over town.
Their bright yellow blooms are a nice contrast to our mostly green world. One day I went over for a walk in Cypress Grove Park off Hoffner, a place that I would occasionally take Baxter. Gosh he loved going there. He's been on my mind of late because someone on facebook recently liked a post and it turns out it was the one about our Baxter's last days. Apparently I am a glutton for punishment because I read the blog post and lived it all over again. :(

Which brings me to some news you've been waiting for and that is about Maureen. While in the hospital, they found no reason for her shortness of breath, but what they did observe is how difficult it is for her to walk which is why she is now in the same rehab facility she was in after breaking her hip. They are working with her for nearly three hours a day to strengthen her muscles. Having Parkinson's disease is not for the faint of heart my friends. What happens next is still up in the air.

Being back home and seeing our trees, I often wonder what people who are new to Florida think of the draping moss dangling from so many of our trees.
At our home, if I saw even a speck of it on one of our trees, I would snatch it off because once it takes hold it spreads from tree to tree, and although it does not hurt them, in some trees it sure does hide their beauty and structure as is the case with the Crepe Myrtles above. Sometimes, though, it can look attractive. I started to write pretty, but they may be a bit of a stretch.
Tuesday I had a hankering for a layer cake, not something that happens often, but the idea took hold and the result was this super chocolate cake using espresso powder for even more richness.
It must have been while taking this photograph that I noticed the date on the calendar, September 25th would have been our Mom's 93rd birthday. It is hard to believe that she has been gone for nearly 15 years, however, if I think about it, she died 30 days before my 50th birthday and #65 is looming! I took a big piece to Michelle, and the following day one to Maureen, leaving me with a bunch of cake to eat by myself. Fortunately, although Bruce has been dieting, he relented and ate a few pieces while he was home. He's traveling a bunch now because all four of his projects are happening, one week after another. After that, it won't be much longer until he retires, something he is very much looking forward to. But that goes without saying, doesn't it?

Every few days one of these little guys visits the feeder, keeping my hopes alive.
Thursday a fellow came from Stone Crazy to template our countertops.
Hopefully, in a few weeks time, we will have some new heat resistant countertops, something I've been accustomed to and have missed greatly since we've been back. Using this drawing,
and the template, made from this material,
the kitchen will take on a whole new look. As to the cabinets, I had the same fellow who painted David and Michelle's come to give me an estimate. Whoa Nelly--way more than I was thinking and for that matter, way more than he charged them. Not sure where I go next on this aspect of our project.

Here's Bruce drawing up our current sink measurements so I can find a new one. Square, one bowl, stainless, 60/40? Who knew there were so many considerations?
I really took this photo of Bruce because I was practicing using my portrait lens because later in the day I was to photograph our condo board members for the website. Currently there are blanks which I am only too happy to fill. The office is nearby so I next took my camera over there to find a suitable spot, enlisting one of the maintenance guys for a practice shot.
Can you tell he was uncomfortable having his photo made? I'm with him there as I'm a terrible subject! Susan is our board president, a former high school principle, she is cool as a cucumber running the show.
Friday afternoon we were to help set up for a church-wide indoor picnic, having invited Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church to join us.
Actually Bruce signed up to help, however, turns out he had a hair appointment, so I went in his stead. He joined in a little later, and before too long, all was ready. On our way home we stopped in to a restaurant we'd visited once, remembering it as pretty good. The food was very so-so at The Porch,
but this sign caught my eye on our way out. Friyay?
The macaroni salad and baked beans I'd made were totally unnecessary as there was enough food to feed the crowd three times over. And what delicious food it was. If you've not been to a church supper/lunch in a while you are missing quite the treat. And the folks were all good too.
Mac and cheese, green beans cooked the old fashioned way, cole slaw, corn on the cob, pulled pork and chicken, any type of salad you can think of, brownies, cupcakes, cherry and pumpkin pie, and the list goes on and on.
A wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Once we were home, it was time for some college football and laundry. The Florida State Seminoles may be hard to watch this season, and one is tempted to give up on them as was the case yesterday, however, somehow, someway, they came back for a win. By then B was dozing on the couch, so he missed seeing me jump up and down as if I were on a pogo stick, during the winning drive. My squeals of delight woke him, allowing him to enjoy the replay.

And now, I intend to keep on moving through Sunday....

Tuesday, September 25, 2018


When last I wrote, I mentioned that otters were nowhere to be found, but like most things, their presence is unpredictable. One thing I have learned to date is that if they are to be seen, it will be in the morning with the worst lighting for a photograph, at least pointed East. Nevertheless, I'm still trying. Perhaps it will be fun to see if I ever do get an excellent shot? Then again, maybe not.
I will keep trying, however,  I won't subject you to every attempt. I still keep trying with the shore birds too. Same lighting problems with them, but again, that never stops me from hoping one day the shot will be good.
On Wednesday, Sue asked if I'd like to walk with her at Barber Park, meeting just before 8AM. You bet! Except, I woke up countless times the night before, rising on my elbow to see the clock on Bruce's side of the bed. Finally a little before 5 I got up and soon thereafter sat down at my sewing machine to make, well I was thinking one of those spiral rugs like some of my sewing friends are making. Instead of the traditional version, I found one that only partially covered the rope. Because I'd just been sorting all that fabric, I knew scraps were no problem. Plus, this one is totally random, right up my alley.
That jar was packed to the brim with scrap pieces, making it easy to grab one and sew. Because the park is close, I left with what I thought was more than enough time. Except, it wasn't. Why, you ask? Traffic? Oh no, traffic was fine at that time of the morning. Nope, I was on my way to the wrong park when it hit me, and I had to turn back around. Success, and off we went.
Round and round, six times in total which amounted to around four miles. Having someone to chat with while walking is quite the treat, and even though by the time we were finished it was blistering hot, the time did go quickly. During our laps, we saw a bunch of Muscovy ducks, never my favorite. This was a super sad little situation as this duck kept trying to climb the bank and could not while the siblings were happily on their way. Seems as if it has a broken leg. :(
Mom followed the little one back into the water and who knows what happened next. Following our walk, I made a stop at Clemons for fresh tomatoes; the very best place in town for them as I've mentioned before. Home again, as I was having a new friend over for lunch, I used the cool dishes Sue gave me as part of her downsizing/move. Awesome, baby!
Nancy and I had a good long chat over our meal with bonus points because she lives just on the next street so we will see each other again.

Where was Bruce you might be wondering? Still in Canada, as he was until late Friday afternoon.

That coiled rope thing became a plant trivet of sorts because I decided I didn't like it so much after all.
Friday was meant to be one way, and  it ended up in a very unpredictable way. Water aerobics--check. Taking Maureen to lunch downtown where we were to meet with someone from the building--not so fast. As we we were waiting on our food, she mentioned a health issue that I did not think could wait until her next visit to the doctor, more than three weeks away. Instead of our meeting, we ended up at the doctor's office where he agreed that it was something that needed checking out immediately. They told us to go home and wait for the hospital to call when they had a bed ready. In the meantime, Bruce's plane landed, but instead of his loving wife being ready for a date, we waited. And waited. Finally Nancy suggested I call the hospital which turned into a big deal as they said they didn't have the orders. I disagreed, saying I had overheard the doctor's phone conversation with the hospital. The hour was getting late. After three phone calls with the same result, I said I would just go to the office in the morning and we'd begin again. I told Maureen to go to bed and I'd pick her up in the morning.

Then the phone rang. The orders had been found, could I bring her in? Nope.

Next morning, bright and early I did take her to ORMC which is beginning to look like a hotel it is so big.
Orlando Health is the stupid name that it now goes under because they own multiple locations. But, I digress.

The admission process went great, they wheeled her to a room and in walked the nurse who turned out to be just the ticket, in part because she is a Boone High School graduate, like Maureen and Bruce, and Matt, and Bill and David and Jonathan. Me, I went there for tenth grade and then our family moved to Melbourne. Anyway, she was so kind and friendly. Plus, she let me take her photograph. Doesn't she just exude kindness?
Once we established names, it turns out she had such fond memories of Cris, Bruce's brother. Her brother, on the other hand, went to the prom with SUE who is mentioned above. When she mentioned her last name, I knew I'd heard it very recently. Turns out, a week ago Friday there was a reunion which Sue attended and ran into Felica's (above) brother. Pictures were taken and Felicia rushed to show them to me on her phone! Who knew? I am most definitely back in our home town.

On my way out, I saw this on the front lawn, some sort of rescue class.
Oh how I hope I never need one of those helicopters!

Because I knew Maureen was in good hands, I came home to see Bruce AND wait on my new washer and dryer.
We'd actually planned to use the ones that were here, however, after last wash day, Bruce insisted I buy new ones as the washer was what you might call, "a traveling washer." It rocked so hard, moving out of position and nearly running into the door. Plus it was super loud. If you could see this space you would understand.

People have asked how we like living in Lake Pineloch and I can tell you that we like it more every day. Ellie, a new neighbor held a party to celebrate the "Corn Moon." Not familiar with that term? Neither were we, but the party was fun despite not know what we were celebrating.
Surprisingly, it was actually fairly comfortable to be outdoors; a small miracle. Even more so as the evening wore on and the moon rose over the water. Loads of folks our age!!
Sunday morning Bruce left for most of the week in Boston where a remodel was starting. It happened both Sunday and Monday overnight and from his call this morning things went very well. Life may be unpredictable at times, however, one thing I've learned through these many years together, if Bruce is in charge, the results are VERY predictable. Hurray!

Maureen is in good spirits with the next step being that she spend some time in a rehab facility to improve her walking. After that, well, it is unpredictable. One step at a time.

your friend,


Wednesday, September 19, 2018


Whatever gave me the idea that our settling into a new life would be seamless is hard to imagine, let alone explain, however, it finally occurred to me late last week that it was okay if it were harder than I expected. I'm one of those "look on the bright side of life" kind of gals, but I suspect I needn't put that into writing because it is something you probably already knew. Or did you?

It was late las week when I finally looked into our landline answering machine which read something like VM, call company for access. Before I did that though, I pushed the button on the answering machine, thinking it might be full and that is why messages were going into space, or in our case, AT&T. That's when it hit me---not only was I missing Vancouver, but I was missing our house as well. What a step back in time---one message was from Maureen, "hey Gail, I heard you sold your house, congratulations!" Several were from Scott who installed our new flooring in the condo. Then there were a couple from Charles, from whom we purchased the condo. The painters, the ceiling guy, the folks who sprayed our yard, Regina, and on it went. Once they were all cleared, I made the dreaded call to AT&T, spending about thirty minutes speaking to a heavily accented woman who kept telling me I had to have a pin number, and when that didn't work, walking me through how to set up not only one, but like three. Good grief, I was a crazed woman by the time that call ended. How has it come to this? A pin number for every blessed thing we do?

Next, I tackled the answering machine, spending nearly thirty minutes listening to all of the messages left during our absence. Not just the message, mind you, but the robotic voice telling me I had a message, press this and that to hear the message, and prompts to delete them. There were two from Dillards, one telling us that our shoe order had come in. At first the name didn't ring a bell, probably because the whole exercise was so annoying, but when I heard it a second time, I had an "aha" moment. Yes, that is the name of the woman who now lives on Gem Mary Court, in a charming little house that we spent more than twenty years fixing up, laboring over every paint color choice, where the money would come from to do different projects, continually working to make a house a home. No wonder I was a little out of sorts!

I'm good now, and there's good reason for that, as I look out the window while typing this, watching the ducks chase each other in the light of early morning. Plus, fish are jumping like mad. No otters though. Another left message was from a woman I don't know, telling me she had purchased one of my photographs from the Polasek museum and wanted to tell me how much she liked it. Never mind that it has been years since I put something new there. She also talked to Bruce at length, leaving her number for me to return her call. What a pleasant surprise, right?

Well, speaking of making a house a home, I spent hours and hours on Saturday with a project that only I will notice, but it will make my sewing life much easier going forward.
Gathering most all of my sewing supplies in one place, I emptied boxes and a tub onto the floor sorting everything into three baskets I'd purchased at Marshalls. Thank God for Marshalls, right? Our sister Nancy manages one in the Atlanta area, regaling us with stories of the retail life which is not easy my friends. I thank her and all those who labor at this kind of work! During the hours I worked, FSU football kept me company. Sort of. Wow, our team is bad beyond belief this year. Painful. One basket now holds solids, one yardage, and one small pieces of fabric which have been sorted into colors.
Who knew I had it in me? The hanging file is now gone, after I emptied it of years worth of Out & About Photography papers. Who knew I had that in me? Nearly nine years out in the heat every Sunday? Speaking of which, it is still blazing hot, maybe worse than ever. Typical of September, however, every year, while elsewhere leaves are beginning to change, we are sick to death of it and long for cooler temperatures. Middle of October if we are lucky.

Which brings me to Sunday when, following church, we visited one of the Lucky's Market that are opening around town, including one that is under construction, across the street from our Publix. What is all the fuss about, we wondered? Not sure, even following our brief visit.
I seem to be full of stores today because here comes another one. There are lots of chain restaurants in the Waterford Lakes area and we chose a familiar one for lunch. Many years ago, Blaine Sweat, the creator of Olive Garden and Seasons 52, among others, came up with another concept, this time a Caribbean style restaurant called Bahama Breeze. After opening the initial one on International Drive, he was seeking to refine it on a piece of land in front of the Altamonte Mall, asking if Bruce could be the project manager. Oftentimes when Bruce thinks he is working hard, I remind him of those days when it was not unusual for him to work nearly round the clock, responding to Blaine's every whim, and there were plenty of them, as is often the case with very creative people. Not only was he demanding, but generous as well, rewarding Bruce with a beautiful engraved Rolex watch that he's been wearing ever since.
I couldn't resist having Rebecca's Key Lime pie, named after his wife.

Two woodpeckers are making quite the racket in the trees outside my window, but they are not nearly as noisy as these two were the other day, both landing on the same branch, but a good shot of that was elusive.  I'm thinking one of them is young?
Look at the difference in the size of their legs!
We are still waiting on birds, although Bruce saw a couple the other day, and in time, there WILL be more.

After sorting out all of my fabric, I made a "block of the month" for our guild. The instructions said to take two pieces of fabric and sew them together and keep going in the same color family until the block is 14.5 in size. Fun.
Paint colors mentioned above? Yes, I am once again laboring, this time for our beautiful new place which I hope to make even more so. Sorry paint company, but I gathered a whole bunch of paint color cards, taped them together and hung them up for an audition,
trying them out in different light.
None of them excited me, so when Fallon sent me a message on Instagram with a kitchen photo attached, I knew I needed to keep looking, this time at Sherwin Williams where I picked up about ten different greens and all of the coordinating colors. (counter top sample on bottom left)
Decisions, decisions. Coming soon!

On my way home, I popped into TJ Maxx, hoping for a rug find which did not happen, but what did happen was sweet, and I mean that literally. While Matt and Tom were on their two week holiday in Portland, Maine this August, they visited a gelato shop which just so happens to have a location in SoDo, right near our home.  Although the name, Gelato Fiasco seems a bit off putting to me, I'm sure there is good reason they chose it. Their product, on the other hand, is outstanding.
Rarely do I snack, but on this occasion I made an exception, getting this small cup of scrumptious, chocolate butter pecan, or something like that. Yum, yum!
I suggest, should you be in the area, that you try it ASAP.

After bringing home three huge baskets the interior of the MINI was looking pretty neglected, so I forced myself to vacuum it, beginning with the back. With the tail up, I was paying attention to the inside when the roof came into my sightline, I was none too excited seeing this small Cuban Tree frog within inches of my face. Ad nauseam, I've detailed what a menace these invasive frogs are.
I'll admit, they look kind of cute, but they are not good for our native frogs. Using a paint stick, I flicked it off and continued sweating as I vacuumed the car which looks infinitely better now. As to the baskets, they are all stored below my table, neat as can be.

With sunsets like this, not to mention a huge flock of birds flying in for the night, can you blame me for wanting to document it?
Bruce is actually in Vancouver this morning, heading to Calgary this afternoon where it is already very chilly.  When I read the forward to the first of David Sedaris's book of journal entries, he said he rarely wrote anything about the weather, whereas I rarely fail to mention it. Perhaps that is why he is a professional and I am a wannabe? Seems to me that it forms the shape of our days, but what do I know? More everyday is my goal though.

your friend,


Saturday, September 15, 2018

Everyday Life

I wish I had more exciting photographs to share, alas, that is not to be. However, what's wrong with everyday life anyway? After all, that's what makes up most of life, interspersed with excitement, and in our case, a year long adventure? Speaking of excitement and grandeur, Jon and Alissa are in Iceland for ten days and oh my gosh, that is one place that I now know we must visit after seeing their tremendous photographs. Matt and Tom visited some years ago, and my sister Nancy has now been twice. From what I can tell, visiting Iceland is anything BUT everyday life.

Hot and humid days remains the story here. Thunderstorms continue.
The above clouds produced some seriously heavy rain, however there have actually been two days without rain, in part thanks to Hurricane Florence which is pulling moisture out of the air. This past week was the anniversary of Hurricane Irma which struck Central Florida pretty hard although we hardly knew much about it because the coverage in Canada was minimal. David shared on Facebook a photo from that time which showed a massive tree limb filling the parking lot, the way we walk to the pool. It goes without saying that any major storm is no fun and we are so wishing our fellow Americans well.

Here's some good news for you. The exhaust fan in the new microwave is working quite well, something not to be taken for granted when living in a condo that does not allow for outdoor exhaust.
Yup, I caved in and used the cooktop, cleaning it like mad when done. Hard to know how long that will last, but if I were to put a wager on that, not very long. :)

The guys came with the new dishwasher on Wednesday morning and guess what? This one was damaged as well, however, they found a workaround for that, removing the bad front panel on the one I already had, and using the good front panel from the one they'd brought.
Now we are in business, and I am so happy with our purchases. As I was when I ran into Angela at Marshalls yesterday afternoon. I know, I could have already called her, however, my little month long funk hadn't allowed for that. Our chatting time was way too brief, but now that I am functioning on a more normal for me level, we'll get together sooner, rather than later.

I'd almost ridden my bike over to her house one morning, but instead I stayed in Lancaster Park which is such a beautiful neighborhood, aside from the brick streets. Of course the brick streets only add to the charm there, but for a bike rider, they aren't the best. I saw some fellows on the lake, wondering what they were doing with an airboat.
If you've never been around an airboat before, you just can't imagine how loud they are. Long ago, a next door neighbor had one that he kept in their driveway. Every now and again he would start it up, and I swear, you probably could hear it several blocks away. Turns out these were city employees spraying the lake for weeds.
There are so many beautiful homes in that neighborhood of every style and age that it is hard to pick a favorite, but this one might be a contender, and I suspect you can guess why.
Yup, I am a sucker for colorful doors! Which brings me to some sewing I've done this week involving color, specifically some fabric we got at the guild meeting and a challenge to combine it with one other solid color. Because there is also a drive going for placemats to give to Meals on Wheels recipients, I decided to combine the two ideas.
The off white is my contribution. And the back looks like this.
BTW, the pieces were small which is something I'm not accustomed to because I generally buy fabric by the yard rather than in what they call fat quarters. Well, as is often the case, one thing led to another, and I've now made a table runner to brighten up the dining area. Once I saw the placemat on the table, the idea was born. At first I was going to make a pattern of some sort, however, I scrapped that idea, no pun intended, and went for our favorite, a scrappy runner instead.
Making something scrappy was super easy before but not so much now, because I have fabric in several places, some of which require me to get out a step stool to reach. That tub under the table was neat as a pin before I began, but I used about thirty different fabric strips which required some searching. I decided to contrast the straight strips with some curvy quilting.
One thing I do love about scrappy is the memories that are contained in a piece like the above. Some of the fabrics I have purchased at estate sales, some brand new like the blue and pink you see that was one of my last purchases from Dress Sew in Vancouver. Some folks might find it to be too much, but I'm not among them--the more colors and patterns the better! I've yet to bind it, but now the dining area feels so much better to me. Plus Bruce likes it, so it is a win-win.
Because we do have a new home, I've spent some time looking at images of other homes, mostly kitchen ideas, and it is astonishing how beautiful some spaces are, yet devoid of any personality. Oxymoron? I think not.

Working on these projects perhaps made me more aware of color because when I went to our downtown library for another Rachel Joyce novel, I was super surprised to see they had organized all of the new fiction by book jacket color.
I thought there would be more attention grabbing red covers, however, although the photograph doesn't include the whole scene due to lens constraints, blue was the color victor. That probably should surprise no one other than me because I'm pretty sure that in surveys, more people pick blue as their most favorite color. What about you? What's your favorite color?

Although I love all color, you can't deny that my favorite, orange is quite a show stopper.
I saw the above while riding my bicycle over to the pool at Wadeview. One thing about having a class that is three mornings a week involving chlorinated water is that my hair is looking worse than ever. Finally I sent Monica a text saying I give in, time to do something with it. Perhaps, looking at myself while having a good long chat with Matt on Facetime, I finally realized how silly I was being. Because I so rarely look in the mirror, apparently I'd convinced myself it wasn't so bad. So not true! It is bad. Bruce will be in Calgary most of next week, and when he returns, I'll be a new woman.

If you have lived in this part of town for any length of time, you undoubtedly have seen a place that sold beer and ice called Aardvarks. Super run down, we would only step foot in there when hosting a large party, something that has not occurred for years. There was a time, however, when we would host an annual outdoor party involving lots of drinks in an ice filled canoe. Aardvarks was good for that. So, it was with great surprise that we drove by there and found a very spiffed up Aardvarks that now serves food. Last night we gave it a try, and it is cute as can be, both inside and out.
Still working out some kinks, we hope they can make it in the competitive restaurant market.
And yes, they still sell ice.

Bruce is at the condo budget meeting this morning, and I am now heading back to Marshalls to purchase some baskets that I saw, hoping they will make a big improvement on my current fabric storage method.

And that, my friends is a recap of our everyday life this week. Exciting? Probably not, but good, yes.

your friend,


You Just Never Know