Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Packing Up

We will be leaving Florida early (really early) on Thursday morning.  We did a lot of packing up yesterday and Mike will start to load the car with the non-essentials today.
It's always tricky thing to get the fridge and kitchen cabinets cleaned out.  We are down to a half bag of frozen corn and one egg plus one can of artichokes and one can of evaporated milk.  Doesn't that conjure up a lovely dish for lunch??
I'm hoping that the same cleaning lady who was called in when we got here comes back after we leave.  I have been worried that she thought we made the mess we found on arrival.  I just can't bear the thought that someone would think poorly of our housekeeping skills.
We did have a monthly cleaning lady for a while when I was still working and taking care of my mother as she started her journey through Alzheimer's disease.  One day she was arriving just as I was leaving with my vacuum and a bucket of cleaning supplies to go clean (as a gift) for a young, single-mother friend who was completely overwhelmed.  She just shook her head and offered the opinion that it would make far more sense for me to stay home and send her to clean the friend's house.  Well, that day maybe it would have because it must have been a school vacation week in April, but I can't even tell you how much I loved cleaning day, coming home to a freshly cleaned house after work.  Undisturbed vacuum tracks on the carpets--what a thing of absolute beauty.
Any way, our time is getting short, but we will look forward to returning next winter.  Right now, I have to get out for my walk to the beach.  We had a big thunder storm last night, so the whole town smells fresh and clean today.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Car Seats

A week or two ago, my daughter posted on Facebook:

Today I had fun messing with my daughter, who is 9. I had her convinced that as part of the new car seat regulations she would have to now get a car seat and sit rear-facing in the back until she reached 5'4". She was getting all worked up, so I finally told her I was kidding - now she's really mad at me! :D



Honestly, I cannot imagine where she got this cruel lying streak that compels her to mess with an innocent child.

But, Amy, you really ought to check out this post:
Six Decades and Counting - Life Reinvented: Car Seats for Seniors

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I've noticed

I've noticed that just when you finally get around to doing a major closet clean out and packed off all those items from the seventies, the 70's look is the new fashion trend. 
Could be worse--the 80's look making a comeback.  Heaven help us.

I've noticed that cyclist are getting ever more militant about the right of sharing the roads with motorized vehicles...but if they are riding on the sidewalks (the one right next to the designated bike lane on the road), they expect pedestrians to jump out of the way.
Or they won't hesitate to wing you with the rear view mirror on their bikes.

I have noticed that some people feel perfectly free to comment loudly to a complete stranger about the teen-agers passing by who are sporting multiple tattoos and body piercings.  What if that stranger has teen-aged children with tattoos and body piercings?  What if those two are her children?

I've noticed that other people look really nice with polished nails, but I myself will immediately start picking off even clear nail polish because I can't stand the feel of it.
Does anyone else have sensitive fingernails?

I've noticed the person who walks into a store and says to the sales person, "You know what I'm looking for?"  I never worked as a sales person.  Is mind reading part of the initial training?

Finally, I've noticed how many times a clerk rings up your purchases and then asks, "Is that everything?"
I really have always wanted to say, "Oh, no...I forgot the butter.  Hold on a minute while I go get it."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Back to the Health Kick

My first little ripe tomato...almost too cute to eat.

Beautiful salads for our lunches

Last fall at my annual physical, my doctor was concerned about my blood pressure numbers creeping upwards.  I monitored at home and it seemed fine, but when I went back for a follow-up visit, my blood pressure was high again.  Then at a second follow-up, same results even though I was watching the salt and taking daily dose of atenonol.
My doctor wanted to put me on a different medication, but not just before I would be away for three months as it would require monitoring.  A little scary.  My insurance will not pay for doctor's visits in Florida, only trips to an emergency room.  That seems like a not very practical or cost-effective way to monitor blood pressure and the effects of a new medication, so we made an appointment for yet another blood pressure follow-up in April.
In the meantime, I have checked and recorded my blood pressure readings for a week in late January and for seven days two weeks ago.  It goes up and down, but I get a prehypertension level reading way too often, not to mention an occasional hypertension reading.  I think I do a decent job relative to the DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) plan even before I ever heard of it.
SOoo...it looks like new medication and follow-up visits to the doctor are on the agenda for when I get home.  I have been practicing with a potassium cocktail, since it is the potassium level that will need the monitoring.  I am not overly fond of bananas, but I can stand this whipped up in a blender:
  • a cut up banana (peeled)
  • juice from on or two oranges
  • a dash of coconut milk
I will really miss the orange tree!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

In Bloom

Bird of Paradise

Amaryllis

In the six years we have been coming to Florida for the winter, I have not seen the amount of blooming that is going on this year.  The sun has been shining for two weeks straight.  In fact, we have had only two showers and one big thunder storm to interrupt the sun shining for the whole month of March to date.  I'm not bored yet, though.
I did just talk to my grand son on the phone.  So that makes me want to go home.  I'll bet that the kids have done some blooming of their own in my absence.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Edison's Retreat

Mike went fishing with a friend down on Pine Island yesterday.  I rode down with him and then made a trip over to Fort Myers and toured the Edison-Ford Winter Estates.  It was well worth the trip.  The guided tour was interesting, but what captured me was the grounds.  Everything was in lush spring bloom.
The Moon Garden

Mike and I stopped for dinner on the way back home.  The restaurant was right on the water, served very fresh fish, and offered a view of the setting sun while dophin and manatees went swimming by.  There was no need for dessert.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Super Moon

After our Saturday night supper, Mike and I headed out to a nearby park.  The parking lot was almost full and people were lined up along the walkway, the beach and the fishing pier to watch a spectacular sunset.  When the last bit of sun sunk below the horizon, there was a mass exodus.
But Mike and I sat tight because we had come to see the rising of the super moon.  As the last red glow in the sky faded to the west, we watched the moon come up to the west.  It looked huge and pink in the reflected light.  We were awestruck.
I didn't get a good picture of the moon.  I think that was beyond the capability of our little camera.  I do hope that where ever you were, though, you were able to get a glimpse.
The sunset from Maxine Barrett Park.
a glimpse through the sea grapes.

The super moon reflected this reddish glow.
What a delightful show...and all for free for the watching.  Some days turn out to be perfect and this was such a day.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Go, Red Sox

Lego rendition of Fenway Park, Boston

Our neighbor had an extra ticket for a game at the Red Sox spring training park in Ft. Myers--the Red Sox played the Detroit Tigers.

Of the 8,000+ people there, I was probably the only one who was not wearing a Boston or a Detroit hat or jersey or tee shirt.  I'm not a big time sports fan, which made me kind of an odd ball in my family when I was growing up.  I do enjoy watching games live, though.


It's been a long time since I attended a ball game--or sports event of any kind, for that matter.  It was a lot of fun.  I'd forgotten what a great people-watching opportunity these events can be and how you get caught up in the excitement.
 
The Red Sox were behind when we left the stadium (it just got way too hot) but that could have changed.  I don't know the final score.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Thoughts

Sitting here by the shoreline, watching dolphins slowly circle in their feeding and carefree children flirting with the surf, listening to the call of shore birds and the lapping of waves against the sand, smelling the fresh sea scented air mixed with a heavy dose of coconut scented sun block, tasting the salty essence of the gulf, and feeling the warm sun on my skin--
Here, where every sense gently drifts in the soft arms of our beautiful Mother who sings a loving lullaby, it is easy--easy to feel loved and caressed; easy to feel blessed, favored by the universe; easy to feel grateful and contented; easy to forget--
But, there, in the distance a siren sounds.  Listen.  That low, swirling wail is a reminder of what we forget too easily and too often.
The earth, so solid seeming beneath our feet, can lift and crack, split open and spew its molten innards.  The gentle wave can turn, pulled back and sent forward in a mighty thrust like a crazed boxer beating a weak and weary opponent.  The air, so light it feels like nothing, can charge with lightening bolts, leaving acres of smoke and ashes, an acrid stench of burnt pine pitch.  The gentle breeze can begin to swirl and twist into a mighty wind storm, a vortex of destruction.
We, the children of a bipolar mother, we conjure vengeful gods and rules, both sacred and profane, to appease them. Is it any wonder?  Has magic ever saved us?  What we have truly forgotten is that we are not the favored of the universe.  Our creations on this planet is no more important to Nature than her own.

And yet, a ghost crab skitters across the sand, making it safely to its sandy tunnel.  The siren fades. A child shrieks with delight as a foamy wave washes over her bare toes

Travel

Remember when travelling was an adventure and getting there really was half the fun?  Times have certainly changed and not in a good way.  This e-mail excerpt from my sister-in-law made me chuckle in the way you chuckle when you are just relieved it wasn't you:

  •  Just a heads up, Sarasota Airport has one of those body scan machines. Even if they tell you to empty your pockets and you think you did, double check to make sure there isn't the tiniest wad of tissue way down in your pocket. You may be subjected to the pat down around the time another agent is pulling your luggage aside because an odd bomb-shaped jar of marmalade is making everyone suspicious. All the while your spouse is sitting smugly off to one side, pretending not to know you.
The first time we went to the Bahamas, we had bartered antique Harley parts for at least part of the weeks rent on a villa.  This must have been late 1990's.  The cost to ship to the Bahamas, plus the duty on the imported products, was so high that it only made sense to wrap up the parts (gears. shafts, fly wheels, wires--who knows what all--though Mike could tell you exactly) and pack them in the suitcases along with our bathing suits and flip flops and bottles of sun block.  With effort,  we placed the very heavy suitcases on the scale by the airport check-in--then paid no extra charge for overweight baggage, endured no suspicious looks nor embarrassing searches of body or luggage.  Upon arrival in Marsh Harbour, we were asked by the Bahamian customs officer if we had anything to declare as he watched me straining to pull my suitcase through the check point.

"No!"  Mike startled me with the conviction of his reply.

The customs officer kind of raised an eyebrow, but waved us on through.

Can you even believe it?  Now, a jar of orange marmalade, bought as a thank-you gift for the neighbor who fed your cat while you were gone for a few days, puts officials on alert.

Incidentally, on the return trip from the Bahamas, motorcycle parts had been replaced with massive quantities of conch shells.  At U.S. customs the two women in front of us were asked if they had anything to declare in their luggage.  They responded, "just sand and sea shells."

"Huh...sand and sea shells?  Step over there and we'll have a look."

My turn came, "Anything to declare in here?"

Having  learned the value of bold-faced lying,  I quickly replied, "No, sir."





Monday, March 14, 2011

Manatee

We took a ride to the North Jetty near Nokomis Beach to watch the dophins feeding and the sunset--always a relaxing way to end the day.
The last time we went to the North Jetty was with Jean and Shawn after a lunch at Pop's Sunset Grille.  We saw a number of dolphin that time, but the spectacular event was that we saw a manatee.  A big ol' manatee floating its bog ol' self down the channel of the Intracoastal Waterway.  We followed it the length of the jetty, watching it as a huge dark blob that would surface just its nose for a sniff of air and then slap its flat tail very quietly and continue on.  That was quite exciting.  I'd never seen one close up before. Very cool.

This is not my picture, but the one that we saw was scarred like this.  They are not so smart about staying away from boat propellers as the dolphin seem to be.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

We have had another fun visit with Mike's sister and brother-in-law.  It went by so fast, though.  A lot of good food, good drink, good company and general relaxing.  I remember how much we loved a winter vacation when we were working and had reached a point where we could afford to do it--just gave us hope that winter would end eventually; gave us something to look forward to and then to remember during those distressing late spring snow storms.  Good company and sharing good times make me happy.

The landscapers came yesterday and planted a new orange tree in the backyard.  It is full of blossoms and smells absolutely wonderful.  That makes me happy.  I haven't heard much lately about the concern for bees dying, but there certainly are honey bees buzzing around the orange blossoms.  I hope that is a good sign.

Doesn't the world just cry out for a good sign or two right now?  We watched the news about Japan and earthquakes and tsunamis and flooding and nuclear explosions and tour bus accidents until we were just left numb.  Then, the news switches to war torn areas like Libya.  With all the natural disaster the world has to handle, why do human beings have to add to the chaos?  It makes me very sad.

I think I will spend the day sitting down wind of the orange tree, enjoying the fragrance and the sunshine.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dancing with a star

I received this video in an e-mail from a friend.  Ginger Rogers, at 92 years of age, dances with her 29 year old grandson.  It starts out slow and staid, but then heats right up into a salsa. 
The great thing is, I still have almost thirty years to learn how to do this!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Oh, no...

Not more snow.  Mike continues to read the Burlington Free Press on line so he really didn't need the e-mailed notice that we should not expect newspaper delivery today.  Apparently, after a day of heavy rain yesterday, it turned cold again in Vermont and snowed heavily through the night.  Roads are closed, schools are closed, any non-essential travel is discouraged, and even essential travel is nearly impossible. 

Keep in mind that Vermonters typically laugh at places that shut down after a couple inches of snow.
I can't say that I miss any of that.  In fact, I am kind of having an anxiety attack just thinking about it.  I'm sure there will still be snow on the ground when we return to VT in April.

Pre-retirement, Mike got really anxious at this time of year because of the real possibility of flooding.  His shop was (still is) located next to the Winooski River.  An ice jam once sent the river water over the banks and flooded the shop.  Imagine the rust and oil clean up required after a motorcycle shop floods.  Not fun.

Ah, to not have those worries anymore...we went to the beach today and I am not even going to complain one bit that the temperatures were only in the low 70's...so don't hate me.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Really, Be Yourself

I was reading a magazine article that mentioned a book by Mike Robbins: Be Yourself: Everyone Else is Already Taken, Transform Your Life with the Power of Authenticity. I don't know anything about the book or about the author, but I hope that he is authentic enough to have give attribution to Oscar Wilde for the first half of his title.

I have been watering tomato plants for my next door neighbor while she is visiting a friend on the east coast.  My own little tomato plant has a number of tomatoes and I have been out talking to them, encouraging them to ripen quickly.  I do have all the fresh parsley and Greek oregano I can use from my little portable garden bag.  I will be picking a couple of peppers this week, too.
We have been harvesting the oranges off the tree in the back yard.  The juice is excellent--Vitamin C and a full dose of fiber with the pulp and the tiny bits of seeds.  I don't usually drink a lot of orange juice, but the fresh squeezed kind will definitely spoil me from the stuff that makes it to a Vermont supermarket so I guess it is okay that I am downing my year's supply during the winter months.

It seems that I cannot take a walk but that someone stops me to ask directions.  It's kind of funny because I generally cannot tell my left from my right and my direction giving has never been known to be all that reliable.  Actually, though, I find that I can give directions for things on Venice Isle.  It's not the big an area for one thing.  Also I take my walks through so many different neighborhoods, that I really have become familiar with the layout.
The annual downtown arts festival is happening this weekend and I spent the morning wandering around the booths.  I didn't even see it all and will probably head back there tomorrow afternoon.
Mike sister and her husband are coming down for a visit next week.  I look forward to that.

AH-Choo

Washington Palms
Venice, FL Arboretum


There is a downside to my winter stay in Florida.  I get to experience two spring allergy seasons.  The pollen has been flying thourgh the air for a good week now.  It is dangerous for me to drive when I am having a sneezing fit.  You know how you have to close your eyes to sneeze--that does not go well with driving a motor vehicle.
We've been having the kind of weather where we just want to throw open all the windows.  It's in the mid to high 70's.  We hate to close up everything to put the air conditioner on, but that does give me relief. 
At least it is not as bad as last year.  We haven't seen huge yellow clouds of pollen swirling through.  Still, I'm glad I brought my neti pot.
*******

Thursday, March 3, 2011

AHA!

It is funny how sometimes an idea is thrown at me from two seemingly unrelated sources.  It is as though the cosmos (a guardian angel, maybe)  is saying, "You! Pay attention here!"
Yesterday, I picked up a book by Anne Lamott, All New People, and read the intro.  The narrator is under hypnosis and the therapist is leading her back through a series of painful memories until she is remembering being in the hospital after an operation, screaming for her parents.  She is guided to thank her parents for taking care of her and then assure them that she could take care of this child from now on.
Not a new concept--the book was copyrighted in 1989--but interesting.  I decided to check out that book and brought it home from the library.
This morning I opened Google Reader and read Linda Meyer's post about the Bag Lady and the Little Banker.   She recounts her conversation with a money counselor who guides her in envisioning her inner Little Banker, thanking LB for her good efforts, and assuring LB that she is ready to take charge of her money management.
It hit me.  I need to figure out what it is that stops me from doing what I want to do AND I need to look within--not at circumstances outside.  Wow, flash of lightening, thump on head, I could've had a V-8 moment of insight, AHA moment!
Not that I want to do something dramatic and life changing.  I am not going to, say, take up skydiving although I admire anyone who does that.  It's little things.  I want to spend more time with the grand kids...but they are so far away.  I want to take a Zumba class, but I don't have the right shoes.  I want to spend more time writing, but I have to clean the kitchen so I don't have time.  I want to go to the botanical garden, but Mike would not be interested in doing that.
My inner child is not so much dysfunctional as plain lazy.  Oh, there's inner Miss Judgemental.  Well. Somebody needs a talking to.  When I figure out just who that is, I'll get back to her.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Flower power


I wish the fragrance could be added here.




Note the blue sky.

A fallen blossom from an orchid tree. 
Usually the blossoms are pink and are quite fragrant.