Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jewelry

I visited a local artisan-made jewelry and bead shop and bought these jasper stones and pink pearls. I made this necklace and another of just the pearls on a gold chain. Very basic stuff, not at all at the level of the work on display at the shop.

I used to wear simple necklaces, but then I hit those awful years of protracted hot flashes. A necklaces and bracelets became rings of fire around my neck and wrist. The only jewelry I could tolerate actually touching my skin was ear rings---and at that, only some of the time.
I'm finding I can wear a necklace again, but I certainly am not going to sink any amount of big money into the idea. Mike has given me an antique silver pin, a gold and diamond pin, diamond earrings, pearl and gold earrings over the years. Then he gave up. All that stuff is in the safe along with my diamond ring and gold wedding band. It makes me nervous to wear it because know I'm bound to lose it and I would feel worse knowing I lost it than I would feel good having it on. I know that doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but there you have it.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Telemarketing


Here's a new one! We always put our phone numbers on "do not call" lists, but we always get the occasional call even so. I love the "we are a paid fund raiser for ..." Like I don't understand that something like 90% of the money raised goes to the paid part and about 10% goes to the for part. Tonight...it's 8 P.M. and I just put on my pajamas because it's dark and Mike thinks I am going to get up at 5:30 A.M. to ride with him to Eustis (if he carries me and my pillow out to the car!)...a call from the Police Association of Florida. "Please hold for the next available..."

Riiight. That's happening. Hold for an unsolicited telemarket call. What is the world coming to?
The wind has been blowing like crazy here--with great clouds of pollen rolling past. Our car is yellow but even though I had the option of getting a car wash when I was filling the gas tank today, I decided to wait until next week. We'll be taking a long drive to Eustis, FL tomorrow for an antique motorcycle meet. Mike is no longer in the old motorcycle business, but going to some of the meets gives him a chance to keep up with old friends and acquaintances. I won't have all that much interest in looking at antique motorcycle parts and listening to tales of the glory days, but it will give me a chance to do some exploring of that part of the state. I'm especially looking forward to spending a couple hours in Mount Dora--so close to Orlando and yet so far, far away.
I was ruminating on gas stations, because if you read A Slower Pace as I do, you know that Linda has a way of writing about things that just get you thinking about things like that. Today she wrote about the old style gas stations where an attendant came out to fill your tank, check your oil, and clean the front and back windows. Remember those days of full service? Gas stations in those days also serviced cars--doing maintenance and repairs like tune-ups, oil changes, tire rotations, brake work.
I guess car repair is more specialized now and computers are definitely required to diagnose, repair, and run cars today. (And yet, Toyota just yesterday decided to consider whether or not electronics might play a role in their recent troubles!???)
Now gas stations are associated with convenience stores and quickie markets. Commuters can stop and get a coffee and a pastry on the way to work and a bottle of beer or two and a bag of pretzels on the way home. Personally, I find eating while driving almost as dangerous as texting.
Then too, who wants the trash in the car so just toss that out the window. My idea is that there should be a hefty tax on food that will obviously be eaten in the car--a "sin tax" like on cigarettes and alcohol. The money could be for highway maintenance. Maybe Congress will get to work on that as soon as they take care of the health care situation.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spring Is Here


This strange looking image is pollen accumulated on the outdoor table. I was sneezing and sneezing on Sunday night and I started to be afraid I was coming down with another cold. I guess it was a relief to see the pollen covering the outdoor furniture and the car the next morning. There is a disadvantage to winter in Floirda and missing the worst of winter in the northeast--two spring pollen seasons. Nothing in life is ever perfect.

Look what I can do...

I do not believe I could ever live in a gated community or any place that has an association and here's why. I suppose it doesn't take a gated community to get into a hassle, though.

A big THANK-YOU to Arkansas Patti for teaching me how to link. Patti, I know your computer is ailing right now, but I hope the thanks reach you eventually.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Style File

I was interested to read the post "Style--You Must be Kidding" in A Slower Pace.
I picked up a copy of Dress Your Best: The Complete Guide to Finding the Style That's Right for Your Body by Clinton Kelly and Stacy London, the duo who does the TLC show, "What Not to Wear." Yes, I admit that I watch that show on occasion and when I saw the book at the local library, I checked it out and have spent some time skimming through it.
Now, Stacy and Clinton, it seems to me, do not seem to fully understand that the metropolitan New York life style and fashion demands do not necessarily translate to life in, say, rural Vermont or retirement living near the beach in Florida. I have never in my life been to an event that required a cocktail dress or anything like a formal, full length gown, so the emphasis on "evening wear" just goes over my head. On the other hand, the styles that they picked out to flatter different body types really did show flattering fit.
I've gotten interested in fit since I have started sewing. Well and also that whole aging process thing where parts of your body shift around. I used to have a nice round butt and a flat stomach. Now I have a nice round stomach and a flat butt. It's not so easy to just buy off the rack and it's discouraging to sew up a garment that looks great on the pattern cover but just doesn't seem right on me when it's done. So I have been paying more attention to fabrics and fit and style since I have been retired and I am actually finding it interesting.
When I was working, teaching, I wore "teacher clothes." Stacy and Clinton disparage "teacher clothes," but I'll bet if they had to teach in a middle school for just one week, they'd get a clue. Comfort, movement and body coverage trump style. I expect to see the car mechanic in coveralls, the nurse in scrubs, and the teacher in a roomy jumper style dress because there are jobs where fancy clothing is just going to get in the way. And when a student slips you a note saying, "I have a crush on you and you have a nice ass," you just know baggy is better from then on.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Piggies on the Beach

Finally! A break in the unseasonably cold and windy weather that has been bothering those of us so spoiled by a more typical winter in subtropical and tropical areas of Florida. I met a friend for a long walk on the beach this morning and only wore one sweatshirt instead of the three I have been piling on. It was cloudy and just a bit sprinkly, but it was so good not to be fighting against the wind. The air was warm.
The beach we usually go to is classified as a rural beach. The land behind the back shore is undeveloped and left in its natural state, which is pretty special. You never really know what you are going to see as you walk along, but we sure didn't expect to see four baby pigs trotting over the dunes and onto the beach. There they were--two black and two brown baby pigs, with one definitely the runt--so adorable. Their noses were covered in sand. They went down to the water, but soon realized that wasn't going to relieve their thirst. There was no evidence of a mother so we worry about what might happen to them. We have been trying to contact some one from the park service.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Back Seat Driver

Mike gets nervous about being mentioned in my blog. He's always worried that I will portray him in a bad light or something. Okay, sometimes I pick on him and call him the south end of a north bound horse, but only when it's part of humorous back and forth banter. Let's just say he gives every bit as good as he gets. Nevertheless, he was pleased that my daughter's response to my last post seemed sympathetic to him. I'm an excellent back seat driver.
Amy remembers (everything, and) a time when her father was driving at night. I don't remember everything but I think we were returning home from a performance of The Nutcracker, a trip of about 70 miles in the pitch dark. I was nodding off as my first husband drove south along route 7 between Burlington and Rutland. At some point I woke up enough to open my eyes, and with that vision that is not so acute nor well-trained, I saw the headlights of a north moving semi heading straight at us. My, god! We were going to be killed. My life flashed before my eyes. I think I yelled, "Look out!" and I know I grabbed the wheel and pulled it very hard to the right sending us onto a narrow gravel shoulder. Fortunately my husband was an excellent driver and managed to counteract my "help"--saving us from disaster.
It's not that anyone would deny that I am, indeed, an excellent back street driver; it's just everyone wishes I would actually be in the back seat--blindfolded and my mouth taped shut.
Control issues? Who, me?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Hawks


Mike and I have the habit of sitting down to read for an hour or so in the afternoons. Mike has been finding a sheltered but sunny spot on the patio. I've been curling up on the love seat that sits in a sunny window. Because he is outside, Mike has been able to watch a large hawk flying into one of the lob lolly pines in the neighborhood. Later, he realized it was two large hawks always carrying some food in their mouths. Out came the binoculars, but he couldn't see a nest.


Here's the thing about Mike. He only has vision in one eye, but the vision he does have is that of a hawk. He is always picking out wild life along the roadside--turkey, deer, a woodchuck way off in the corner of a field, an eagle soaring way up in the sky. I miss all that stuff because my vision is not that acute or well trained and, besides, someone has to WATCH THE ROAD.


That said, I was driving us home from the beach on Tuesday and I was just pulling to a stop at the corner of our street when I looked up at the nearby tree and said, "There are the two hawks!"


"Where? Where? I can't see anything. Are you sure?" Well, that made me slightly unsure--could be a bird shaped knot in the tree branch, I suppose, but as soon as we got home, I got the binoculars and went back to the corner to look. It took me a while to get a good focus and just the right angle, but no doubt there were two hawks sitting in the tree. It turns out they were immature, the babies, not the adults that Mike had been watching. But I spotted them (first)!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

One Year, 200 Posts

It was a year ago that I posted my first blog and I managed to blather on about 200 other topics since then. Today, I feel extremely lazy...OR...I'm celebrating, yeah,yeah, I'm celebrating by reposting my very first blog entry:

SATIN SHEETS

Our Florida rental came with a set of satin sheets. Now sheets are a wonderful thing in life. I happen to like to snuggle into smooth, soft, clean sheets. New cotton, high quality, sheets are wonderful, but those sheets washed and washed to a silky smoothness--ahh. Maybe I still miss my silk baby blanket. But I’m getting off the point, which is those satin sheets.I went to ASK.com and asked, “Why satin sheets?” In reply, I found Ann’s Satin Sheet Guide, http://ann'ssatinsheetguide.com, to wit:
What is so great about Satin Sheets?It's the Look and Feel. For most people,
satin sheets are great for two reasons: Smoothness. Smoothness comes from
the small size and tight weaving of the fibers. The tighter the weave, the
smoother the surface - often described using a term called "thread-count." In
order to pack so many threads in a small space, the threads must be very thin.
Imagine how rough a sheet made of button thread would be! Man-made fibers like
polyester, nylon, and acetate can be made very fine, which makes them perfect
for high-thread-count fabrics. Shininess. Shininess comes from the
type of thread. Very few natural fibers are shiny; so usually you must use a
man-made fiber like polyester, nylon, or acetate to get a shiny surface. In
fact, you've probably seen sheets described as "Sateen." These are usually
cotton sheets with very high thread counts (over 300 per inch) that feel as
smooth as normal satin sheets, but since they are made of cotton, they are not
shiny. So they really aren't satin as the world typically views it.

But, of course, smooth and shiny have to be code for “SEXY.” I assume all the advertising references to “bridal quality” satin sheets are meant to evoke tingly anticipation of one’s honeymoon--or in my case, found memories thereof. I have to mention that the usual sheets at this house are a cotton-modal blend, which do have a smooth feel but my husband finds these “too slippery.” Sexy is not a word he was likely to apply to satin sheets. A satin sheeted bed,--just not a bed he is going to climb into. Open to new experiences?--not that much. We don’t mind having our own beds, though, so I decided to try out those satin sheets myself. Into the second bedroom I march armed with satin sheets and the determination to remain (in my 60’s and beyond) willing, even eager, to try new and different things. The fitted bottom sheet smoothed right over the mattress. I’m thinking I’ll wake up with unmussed hair. I remember seeing an ad for satin pillow cases making that a feature. I’m thinking I’ll sleep the sleep of child clutching her treasured silky (my many sleep problems being the reason we often end up in separate beds). I snap open the top sheet and glide it effortlessly over the bed. It slid, just as effortlessly, right off the bed to the floor--the entire sheet--to the floor. Okay, obviously a bit too much snap. One has to go gentle with satin sheets, slide it the top carefully up and -- whoops. Okay, maybe start from the head and work to the foot of the bed -- whoops -- but almost! Okay, third time is the charm. Next, the comforter -- acck -- slides to the floor and the top sheet crumbles half way down the bed. Okay, okay, okay, even three attempts isn’t doing it this time. “Mike, can you come hold the sheets down while I finish making the bed??” Turns out it is possible to make up a bed with satin sheets, but it takes two people at a minimum. Four people would have certainly been better, but why bother the neighbors for something like that.
Bed time comes. I slip into the bed and the satin is cool and soft on my skin. It feels kind of good, kind of sexy. I wiggle then stretch luxuriously. Fortunately, it’s a warm night. The comforter slides to the floor. The top sheets does stay tucked under my chin, but the pillows skid across the mattress slowly--just like the racing rocks in Death Valley. I wake up with a case of bedhead and high humidity-Florida hair. I strip the bed, wash the satin sheets, and put them away--neatly folded of course, but that being a whole story in itself. New experiences keep you young. When the grand kids come, I’ll pull the mattress to the floor, cover it with satin sheets, dress them in satin pajamas, surround the room with every pillow in the house, and let them play pretend waterslide.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day

I hope everyone experienced something of love and kindness on Valentine's Day--giving and receiving.

Mike and I did things we do together--a walk on the beach, sitting in the sun on the boardwalk watching porpoise playing in the surf, preparing and sharing a favorite meal, a bottle of wine.

Then we watched "Big Love" on HBO. Yikes! That is one contorted twist on the concept of love.

I try not to be too judgemental about peoples' religions. I try, but mostly I fail. Seriously, I think religion is rigged like a game of One-eyed Jack (see Patti from Arkansas at http://thenewsixty.blogspot.com/2010/02/punch-buggy.html).

Note #1: I don't belong to a church or subscribe to a particular religion. I'll go to a Unitarian-Universalist service if I find one that I judge "not too Unitarian." See what I mean about failing in the judgemental department?

Note #2: I know there is a less awkward way to link, but I can't seem to master it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Grandparents

A friend sent this e-mail "special" for me. What exactly is she trying to tell me? Hmm?

After Christmas, a teacher asked her young pupils how they spent their holiday away from school.One child wrote the following:We always used to spend the holidays with Grandma and Grandpa. They used to live in a big brick house but Grandpa got retarded and they moved to Arizona. Now they live in a tin box and have rocks painted green to look like grass. They ride around on their bicycles and wear name tags because they don't know who they are anymore.They go to a building called a wreck center, but they must have got it fixed because it is all okay now, they do exercises there, but they don't do them very well. There is a swimming pool too, but they all jump up and down in it with hats on.At their gate, there is a doll house with a little old man sitting in it. He watches all day so nobody can escape. Sometimes they sneak out, and go cruising in their golf carts.Nobody there cooks, they just eat out.And, they eat the same thing every night --- early birds.Some of the people can't get out past the man in the doll house.The ones who do get out, bring food back to the wrecked center for pot luck.My Grandma says that Grandpa worked all his life to earn his retardment and says I should work hard so I can be retarded someday too..When I earn my retardment, I want to be the man in the doll house.Then I will let people out, so they can visit their grandchildren.
The picture is our grandson (#4 of 8 grand children between the two of us) in South Carolina yesterday.

Wow, while I was lost in my own little world, I missed (until the evening news) the fact that it is snowing again throughout the south. They said all fifty states had snow on the ground yesterday. I guess we should be good neighbors and lend economic aid to Canada by sending truckloads of all this snow to Vancouver.


My brother and sister-in-law live for six months at their home in North Carolina. They were frantic to pack up and be out of Vermont by the first of November to avoid the snow--no small task since they travel with two miniature donkeys, twelve exotic chickens, two Italian greyhounds, a Jack Russell terrier, and a bird. My brother's goal was to never shovel snow again and my sister-in-law's goal was to never see snow again. That has not worked out for them for the past two years.

Friday, February 12, 2010

What a dark and gloomy day we have today. It's been pouring and we've needed the lights and the heat on most of the afternoon. We spent a lot of time reading. I even made a loaf of oat bread. It's not ready yet, but I am enjoying the aroma while I finished a cup of tea and my new favorite cookie--"digestive biscuits"(I know. Boring)--and now start a little computer time. Today would have been a good day to visit the aquarium in Sarasota, but we somehow just could not work up enough energy to make a dash out to the car. Instead I'm going to take a cruise to some of the recipe sites and plan a Valentine's Day meal for my sweetums.
This looks to be a major foody weekend around here so I do hope the weather is a bit nicer tomorrow. There is a Polish food sale on Saturday, a Jewish food festival on Sunday, and an Italian festival running all weekend. I could do some damage...better stock up on those digestive biscuits...find them on the tiny British shelf in the Cuisines of the World aisle at the Publix.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Stuff and More Stuff

An assignment for today was to think about "stuff" (see Time Goes By at http://www.timegoesby.net/weblog/). I think about stuff a lot. I am a tiny bit of a tidy-and-organized freak and clutter has always bothered me. I have a recurring nightmare that involves having to pack (maybe for a vacation or maybe for moving a household) and everything that needs to get packed up is scattered and disorganized. I wake up in a cold sweat.
The movie Grey Gardens and those tv shows about hoarders that seem to be all the rage now--my idea of horror. I'd sooner watch something like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Rosemary's Baby (and you can probably tell how much I keep on those horror flicks). Really, I had a hard time watching the "let's get you organized" shows, but these hoarder shows are just beyond me. They would feed the nightmares too much.
I actually do the rule about: Do you love it? Do you use it? Do you have a place for it? I gave away bags and bags of "teacher" clothes and shoes when I retired. We had a garage sale and got rid of an unbelievable amount of stuff in 2005, when we thought we might be moving. I still find a couple of boxes full of donations to a church "Clutter Barn" in our neighboring town when I do spring cleaning. If I get something new, something old leaves my possession. Still, it always seems like we have a lot of "stuff" around.
A few years ago, I met a woman who retired with her husband. They sold their house and most everything in it and bought an RV that they live in. Sometimes they will rent an apartment for a season, but they just do not buy "stuff." She said it was the most freeing feeling in the world. I don't know if I could do that, but it is an intriguing idea.
My husband Mike is tidy but he is also a collector. He has loads of stuff that he has now started selling on e-bay. Honestly, he makes a pile of stuff he wants to sell and usually I have never seen it before and I don't even know where he keeps it. Some of it is noticeable for its absence, though--like at one time there were seven or eight motorcycles in the garage and they're all gone now. He calls his collections his retirement fund, but it's a job to get rid of it. I hope I never have to deal with it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hobby Heaven



According to the Herald Tribune, Venice has been named one of the top ten locales for hobbies. I’m not sure exactly how that distinction came about, but I do see lots of people playing golf, fishing, and bird watching. There is also a large arts presence in the area.
Mike’s hobby is walking the beach each morning searching for sharks’ teeth. There’s a competitive little group out there every day--the serious ones getting out there first with flashlights in hand because it’s still dark. Mike found these two nice teeth this year even with waiting until the sun is up and without consulting a tide chart.
I go for a walk on the beach, but I am avoiding picking up any of the detritus that tempts me there. I have boxes of shells and coral and rocks enough to fuel any craft project I may contemplate (and never actually carry-out anyway). There are only so many bowls of shells and rocks you can pass off as decoration.
I've been doing some knitting. I find that is a good way to keep my hands out of the chocolates in the evening. This hat goes with a little sweater I made. I'm donating to them to a fund raising auction.

I've made a number of kittens and bunnies and kind of burned myself out on that, but they were kind of fun for a while.








I am not all that comfortable using some one else's sewing machine (even with permission) but I saw this pattern for kid's craft aprons and had to whip up a couple. Is it just me, or is it getting harder to find a good fabric store these days...unless you're into quilting. There seems to be an overwhelming supply of quilting shops. I do appreciate the workmanship that goes into quilting, but it seems like way too much math to me--which would not be a fun hobby.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Week for Poetry


I just read a novel, The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker. It's a stream of consciousness kind of narration by a poet who is supposed to be writing the introduction for an anthology of poems that rhyme. It's very funny. At the same time, it seems very revelatory of the thought processes of a poet and it was chock full of tidbits of literary information. I was fascinated...and it makes me want to read some more poetry.


Then, I went to the UU church service this morning. The man who sat next to me said it was his second time in a UU church--last Sunday (about spirituality, which I missed) and then today which was themed, "Let the Good Times Roll," complete with New Orleans jazz and Mardi Gras
costumes (no nudity or drinking though). He said he was a Lutheran by upbringing so I kept wondering what ever must have been swirling around in his mind as the masked and bejeweled choir danced down the aisles. There was no sermon--just the minister reading poems he had written while he had lived in New Orleans followed by his piano playing (which he does very well, professionally, actually). It was brilliant. I don't think you'd find a church service like that anywhere in New England.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Bike Ride

(photo from PhotoXpress)
My cold seems to be over...not so bad. On Wednesday I pulled a bicycle out of the shed and took it to the bike shop to get air in the tires. Thursday, I took it out for a ride--first time on a bicycle in at least twenty years. You know how they say that you never forget how to ride a bike though.


I had a bike as a kid, of course. As an adult, I got a ten speed bike for one of the 30's birthdays from my first husband. We did some riding with the kids and all, but I never really did get the hang of shifting the gears. The bike pretty much stayed in third gear. When I tried to change a gear, as often as not, the chain would fall off. Being able to change gears is actually a very desirable feature when riding in Vermont--the Green MOUNTAIN State. I spent enough time pushing that bike up big hills that I finally figured I should walk and leave the bike at home.


The bike here has maybe twenty-one speeds and it's actually easy to shift, but now I realize I don't really understand enough physics to appreciate the subtleties of all those gear ratios. It's flat here so it doesn't really matter that much anyway.


And it's true--you don't forget how to ride in terms of the very basics--balance and pedal. What you do forget about is how riding a bike uses completely different areas of muscles than walking and it makes your butt pretty darn numb.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Jaxon

We always told him he was the pick of the litter. He was a singleton. His mother was a purebred, very petite Siamese. His father, obviously, was not. I brought him home telling a skeptical Mike, "He just followed me home. What could I do?" That night, he jumped up on our bed and slept on Mike's feet. He was Mike's cat form that moment on.

Notice in the picture he is rolling around next to Mike's (and trust me on this) very stinky sandal. Obviously some kind of chemical/olfactory bond took place that first night.

Mike could hold that cat in his lap for hours. If I tried to pick him up or pet him for any length of time he would stalk off in a huff. His preference was so distinct and so well communicated that any cat person could immediately "read" his nonverbal communication--"I LOVE him, but her job is to feed us so I tolerate her presence in our house."

Because it was my job to feed him (even though Mike often did), he would only wake me up in the pre-dawn hour should he get hungry before the alarm sounded. He would tap on my side of the bed (tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, TAP, TAP, TAP). If that didn't do the trick, he would bat my arm a couple of times. If I still showed a disinclination towards making my way to the kitchen, he would jump onto the bed by my head and start pulling my hair with his teeth. He pretty much always got his way one way or another.

He may have also thought of me as a sibling that he never had. He played with me--tag. I would be walking through the house and he'd run up to me and take a swing with his paw or nip at my ankle with his teeth, then run like thunder in the opposite direction. I would run after him. He'd turn around and jump at me and I would run back down the hall with him chasing. Then I would turn and chase after him. He's hide under the couch, but his tail would be sticking out so I could give it a gentle tug, and we were off again.

Sometimes we would play our game of tag outside in the back yard. The little boy next door would watch from his yard and I'm not sure if it was curious fascination with a cat playing tag or an old woman playing tag.

Jaxon got slower and crankier in his old age (go figure). He could no longer jump up to the window to watch the birds at the feeder in the crab apple tree in the front yard. He no longer slept on the bed or woke me by pulling my hair. Mike had to lift him onto the couch. He started to "Meow!" to get our attention. (We had thought he was mute for the longest time so that was a surprise).

One morning Mike had let Jaxon out to use the litter box in my flower garden. I was still asleep, but I was startled awake by a god-awful screeching and I had the distinct vision of Jackson swirling in furry commotion. Mike found him right there by the garden shed--killed by a fisher that managed to escape, but without its intended meal.

We buried Jaxon out near the lilac tree. I take some strange comfort in believing it was a natural death--in the way that nature can be overwhelmingly cruel. Neither Mike nor I could have handled the end-of-life decision. We still miss that cat.