Friday, March 29, 2013

Updates

I got smart today and took my bike ride early...before the wind kicked up to 30-45 mph.  The wind has been relentless for the whole month of March and it has been colder than usual (but not that bad relative to other areas, so I do not complain. Usually, March is the nicest month here.

Mike's swollen ankle has gone back to near normal.  His blood test showed a high level of uric acid which indicates gout.  We thought he had gout before, but the uric acid levels were not so high back then.  He of course wants it to be something else because gout means diet changes.  I am hoping I do not have to become the diet police.  On the other hand, it might mean fixing just one dish for the both of us--lots of vegetables without salt.   We need to follow up with his primary care physician at home for a review of the medications and how they may be impacting his kidney function.  So many meds mean too many side effects.  At least congestive heart failure was ruled out.  The FL doctor gave us all the test results to take home.  (I was there to ask for that.)

My sister was telling me that her kidney function was a concern at her recent physical and that her doctor is moving her off the blood pressure med she is taking because of that.  She takes the same medication as I do so now I will have to make an appointment with my own doctor to ask about this.

We took a ride to Manasota Beach:
 
 
 It seemed crowded compared to our usual haunt, Caspersen Beach:
 



Monday, March 25, 2013

Signs along the way

This is a community near where we live.  It is a gated golf community that covers acres and acres of land.
I am not a golfer, but there are some in my family who would consider this paradise--to walk out he back door and be on the links.

I noticed some signs as I took my walk today part way around the perimeter of that place.
Yep, plenty of those around.


And, yes, some sand hill cranes nearby.

The wild life was not interested in crossing the road today.
 An egret and a heron were having a fine feast in the creeks that had filled up in yesterday's rain.  They were not planning to move away any time soon.
 
 
And of course, these guys were just feeling too lazy, hanging out in the sun, to bother with crossing the road.
 


 
While I was walking, I did see one man playing a golf ball off the sidewalk.  Better that then hitting into one of the water traps.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Sewing

The past two Sundays have been iffy weather-wise, and with Mike not being up for adventure because of foot pain or the medication for foot pain, I have had to amuse myself.  If it is going to be rainy, out comes the sewing machine.

 I put together another quilt top.  The top is the easy part, especially since this material has all those blocks built in so I cut big pieces. 

Even here in FL, I am building up scrap piles of fabric.  I made a couple of fabric bins to organize a closet.
 

 
 
I did not bring too much of my card making/paper crafting supplies with me, but I was inspired by a project on The Paper Boutique to make this lap book out of file folders and patterned papers.  I plan to use it for my medical insurance and prescriptions and all kinds of relevant personal information that I like to have in one spot.  


It folds up.  I still have to come up with some kind of closure.
 
 
At least I am never bored.  I may be boring, but never bored.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Scam Alert

We bought our Florida house from the original owner, who was extremely organized and who left us all the information we would need about the appliances.  He had the air conditioning unit put in and maintained by a particular company, which happens to be named Honest AC.  Their contact information is on the unit outside and on the thermostat inside.  The owner recommended them quite highly.

After we had the closing we were contacted by a guy who claimed to have worked on the air conditioner and wanting to set up a contract with us to continue.  He wasn't from Honest Ac.  Mike said if he would lie about having done the work before, what kinds of major "problems" would he be able to find upon inspection?  Vermonters don't know much about air conditioning.

Mike went to the Honest AC office.  They had our unit on file with all the maintenance records.  He signed a contract with them and pre-paid for the service contract.  They would come twice a year for an inspection and filter replacement.  The same person has come out three times now and we are very satisfied with his work. 

So what is the problem?  Last Tuesday I got a call from some woman who wanted to schedule our AC inspection and service.  I knew it was time for that, but I thought Mike had already scheduled.
He had actually...for today, Friday.  The caller was telling me she could send someone out that afternoon.  Okay, fine.  Then she said, "And the price will stay the same as last year, $59.95."  Whoops.  Wait a minute.  We pre-paid. 

"Am I talking to someone at Honest AC?"  Why, no, but she then assured me that this particular company worked on our air conditioner in the past.  "No, no, you did not.  And don't send anyone here."

Do you see how easily they can take advantage of us trusting souls?  I thought that was pretty underhanded.

Mike also had a scam encounter the next day.  He was contacted by a wealthy European who is dying of cancer.  Sadly, he cannot trust his family to distribute his vast wealth to charity as is his wish.  Isn't it fortunate that God lead him to Mike's e-mail account, and wouldn't it be awesome if they could work together to bless some charitable organization with much needed assistance.  Of course, Mike may have to...

They are out there, folks.



Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring

They say that Florida has only two seasons rather than four.  There is the wet season and the dry season.

Having lived in the Northeast for all my life, I am fully aware of the changing of seasons from summer to fall to winter to spring.  I am also aware of the joy a beautiful spring can bring after a long, cold, snowy winter.

I have been reading other blogs that are either celebrating the arrival of spring or waiting with breathless anticipation the snow melting and the first green shoots pushing through the earth.

These flowers beside our house have been in bloom like this since we got here in December.  I am hoping the recent rain will turn the grass a bit greener.  Maybe a little bit of the stirring of hope the first little purple crocus can bring in missing in our Florida life.


Still, there are signs of spring here if one looks. 
Little leaves are popping out on the Crape Myrtle tree.  I don't think we will see it bloom this year, though.

 The grapefruit tree in our back yard has plenty of blossoms--so very fragrant to me and the bees.
I planted sun roses for ground cover.  The red blossoms are starting to open.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Trip to the Doctor's Office

Google Image


Mike went to the doctor referred by the doctor from the emergency room visit a couple of weeks ago.  He had been given steroids at the hospital, a five day course of treatment.  That did knock the swelling back, but it returned.  Only his right ankle this time, but it was very swollen and very painful.

The doctor today did talk about possible causes.  At least it felt like a step beyond agreeing that there was swelling evident.  He ordered some x-rays and some blood test and made an appointment for next week.  He gave Mike a prescription for the pain, but he did a thorough review of his medications.  He asked him to stop taking one for a few days before the blood tests so its side effects would not interfere with a measure of kidney function.  I am hoping that the tests will lead to something that can be done.

I do think that I am now committed to attending every doctor's appointment with my dear husband who did not wear his hearing aids because he might hear something he doesn't want to hear. (Do you have any hearing or vision problems? What? Oh.)

Did you talk to your regular doctor about the swelling last summer?  No.

Has any one talked to you about low kidney function? No. (They ER doctor did tell him kidney function was low and would need follow-up.)

Why are you not taking a blood thinner?  I don't know.  (He stopped taking it because he was getting terrible nose bleeds.)

Do you have problems with unusual bleeding.  No, no. (Nose bleeds, constantly blood shot eyes, spurting blood from even minor cuts.)

Do you eat a lot of restaurant meals?  Use a lot of salt?  No, we don't eat out that much.  My wife thinks I use too much salt, but I don't think that I use that much. (Here is a man who salts all his food before tasting it--Chinese food, pepperoni pizza, sausage included, even though we don't have that stuff on a regular basis.)

I am sure the doctor must have thought the Bickersons were in his office that day.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Quilt


I finished another quilt.
 
 
I am already planning the next one.
I found this fabric at a yard sale.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Internet Access

As in totally unreliable lately.

I have to say I really miss our cable internet provider  even though I may rail at them often when we are in Vermont.  This wireless antenna thing is not working real well for me.

I am finding it very difficult to stay online long enough to read through all the blogs, let alone make comments.  I think on Monday I will head to the library or to a Starbucks and catch up.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Reading

March by Geraldine BrooksHistorical fiction.

Geraldine Brooks is the wife of Tony Horwitz, so I guess it was only inevitable that she would write about the Civil War some day. 

March takes the characters from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women--the characters in which are based on the Alcott family.  Brooks' focus is on the experiences prior to and during the Civil War of the March family patriarch.

Although a work of fiction, from what I understand of the Concord, MA, Transcendentalists of the 1800's, I would say the author has captured the personalities and the tenor of the times extremely well.  She has also captured the incredible awfulness of slavery* and the absolute horrors of war.

I say this is a book that is well worth reading.

*So, I'm sorry, but don't anyone try to tell me, as I have actually heard before, that slavery was beneficial to Blacks and that they were well taken care of.  I won't buy it.




Historical fiction

It seems that people either loved or hated this book.  I loved it.

The story is based on a real life London scandal involving a divorce case in 1864.  (Hmm...stuck in a time frame, I see)  There was no such thing as "no-fault" divorce at the time.

Helen Codrington was friendly with Emily Faithfull, whom she nicknamed Fido.  That should tell you something about the friendship right there.  Helen was a user and a flbbertyjibbet.  Fido unwittingly aids Helen in an affair with a young officer and is then subpoenaed to testify on her behalf.

Interesting that the courtroom drama includes such tidbits as a former friend of Helen's who comes forward with a tale of a strangely stained yellow dress, accusations of adultery that contains a discussion of what sex "is", and repressed vs. false memories.  It may seem as though Donoghue got momentarily confused with the Clinton era scandals, but she says those things were all part of the records of the proceedings found in her research.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

In the News

I don't always pay attention to the news the way I should or the way I used to back in the days when I actually held some trust in news shows and newspapers.  Here are some random bits filtered through my memory of what I watched or read in the past two days.

  • As of now, there is no new pope selected.  I see that there is an American under consideration,  No woman, though.

  • Twinkies may be coming back.  The recipe was sold for "a pittance."  How disappointing...only 410 million dollars.

  • The red tide outbreak has continued to plague this corner of the world.  I watched a news segment that was billed as "efforts to save the manatees".  They are sucumbing to the red tide toxin at a record breaking number.  The scientist interviewed sated something to the effect of "we need to save them so future generations can enjoy manatees as we do."  How?  Didn't say, but there is a HotLine number to call.  What is it? Didn't say.  Poor manatees deserve better.

  • There was a man killed in a Florida sinkhole in February.  An Illinois golfer fell into a sinkhole on a golf course earlier this month.  Now there is a report of a sinkhole in Washington, D.C. (Look for the jokes on social media and late night TV.  They are too much of a cheap shot for here.)

Why all the sinkholes lately?  Apparently Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania are the most prone spots because of the limestone soils that are subject to dissolving.

  • It is top secret, but word has leaked that the Russian military has a program that trains attack dolphins.  The dolphins are trained to detect mines and even attack enemy swimmers.  The problem is that the dophins wander off -- go AWOL-- during mating season.  It is so hard to get good help these days.
 
When you think about it...doesn't it seem like a hopelessly inefficient strategy...to send enemy swimmers to Russian shores.  And dolphins are the answer to this egregious threat??

  • Finally, Elizabeth Delaney of Sarasota, Florida, celebrated her birthday number 110.  She loves sweets and avoids most vegetables but is very outgoing and has a great social network at the Friendship Center.  I love this quote from her perseptions of the many "old" people there:

"I find that a lot of people at the center, they've lost their memory and they don't know where they are and things like that. I think they're too young for that," she said.
"And the men and the women, they go to the bathroom so often," she added. "I wonder why that happens."
 
God bless her.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Walking in the Woods

The T. Mabry Carlton, Jr. Memorial Reserve is a 24,500+ acre area  used for nature studies and recreation.  There is a clipboard on this little building where people can enter the flora and fauna spotted. 
There are horse back riding trails, biking trails, hiking trails, orienteering and geocaching activities.  There is a moonlight hayride sceduled for the next full moon.
Panthers have been photographed here and one was noted on the day's list for Sunday, but we did not get to see anything that exciting.

Still, it was a pretty day for a walk.

It has been very dry.  The small ponds that are usually filled with wading birds were pretty much dried up.  You have to go to a golf course to see the water fowl in times like this.  Fire danger is high right now and it is not hard to imagine a field like this turning tinder.  They do call it dry prairie for a reason.


We went on to the Sleeping Turtle Preserve nearby.  It is bordered by the Myakka River--lots of oak trees dripping with Spanish moss and other epiphytes.  We will have to return after some rain to see the resurrection ferns.  Might be fitting if that should happen on Easter...
Definitely more of a tropical vibe.
We still did not see a Florida panther, though.  We did not see any snakes either and that was very okay with me.
 


Friday, March 8, 2013

Bike, Book, and Shopping Bag

Mike left early this morning to go to an antique motorcycle meet in Eustis, FL.  Even though he is no longer in the business, he likes to attend a meet just to catch up with old friends and acquaintances.  I joked about his trip giving me a day off--even though it was of course a day pretty much like any other. 

I had coffee and read the paper, did the puzzles, emptied the dishwasher, and mopped the kitchen floor.  Ususally I like to get all the housework done on Friday, but not if Mike is out having fun.

So finished the book I was reading, The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue.  From the reviews I read, this is a book one either loves or hates.  I loved it.  It is based on an actual divorce case in 1860's London. Although it is a work of fiction, the stained yellow dress and the question of a woman having sex with a man while the man is not having sex with the woman were actually part of the court records from the time.  History repeats and repeats.

I went shopping and bought a darling orange sweater with polka dots.




I got in my long bike ride today--two hours of steady pedaling.  There are just so many areas to explore around here.  I went at least fifteen miles, not a bad little cruise.

I was tempted to go get a pedicure.  I don't care about having my toenails polished, but the massage chair and the hot stone massage of the legs...ahhh.  But then I would have to ride my bike back home and it would kind of defeat the purpose.  I nice long soak in the tub is in my immediate future though.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

I Got Nothing

Bay Preserve, Osprey, FL--Fog Bank
 
 
 
March already.  Yikes!  We will be heading back to Vermont in a month.  Time to start thinking about using up all the food in the freezer/refrigerator.  It is an exercise I find kind of like doing a jigsaw puzzle in reverse.  I always seem to end up with that open freezer bag of broccoli with maybe three icy stalks left inside.  Also we will leave on a Saturday and garbage day is Thursday, so there is that to factor in as well.
 
 
Some people use their winter time get aways as valuable reflection time and write posts about all they have learned in the time away.  See Thoughts of a Bag Lady in Waiting, for example.  I'm sitting here writing about freezer-burned vegetables and garbage pick-up.  I feel kind of bad about myself right now.
 
I did not go for a long bicycle ride I had planned for yesterday.  It was very windy and that takes a lot of the fun right out of a pedal when you hit it head on--as, inevitably, you do. 
 
 I did, however, get out and clean up the old mulch in all but one planted area.  I will put down a new layer of soggy newspaper and cover it with new mulch in an attempt to keep down the weeds over the summer.  I suppose if there isn't some rain soon plant growth of any kind won't be an issue.
 
I have to mix up a batch of weed killer for the woman who will be watching the place to spray on the stone path.  My recipe is: 1 gallon of cider vinegar, 1/2 cup table salt, and a few drops of Dawn dish washing liquid.  (Don't want to end up on the bulletin board of shame at the community clubhouse!).

Mike's foot swelling has subsided.  He has a follow-up appointment next Tuesday.  I expect that he will be told that his feet are not swollen now.  I am preparing a list of questions and concerns to take along.

Here is a big surprise, though.  He has started borrowing my bike and going for rides around the park -- short rides, but a few each day.  He needs to exercise to keep his weight down.  I did not nag, he just did it on his own.  We are both happy.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Pillowcase

Last weekend I spent some time sewing pillowcases.  I am ready to do the quilting on my latest quilt, but I needed a break before tackling that job.
An easy project!
 


 Here is how it is done--at least how it is done by me.



 Three pieces of material are needed:

Main color
enough to make a back that is 18.75 x 35.35"
and a front that is 18.75 x 24.75"

Contrast color
a piece that is 18.75x8"

Trim
18.75x2.5"
I had to improvise to get the back measurement, but that worked out okay.  This is not rocket science.
Fold the trim strip in half and align it with the narrow edge of the top piece.  Place the contrast piece under this with the right side up, aligned along the wrong side of the top.  Pin and stitch through four layers.
 
Pull up the contrast piece.  Press over the top edge, fold to cover the stitching on the trim.  Top stitch the contrast piece to the top piece.


 The extra length on the bottom is meant to be a flap that keeps the pillow enclosed.  Do not fold it over the top like this:




Fold it down against the wrong side of the bottom and aligned with the front top.



With wrong sides together, stitch around three sides, leaving the contrast edge open.  Turn the wrong side out and press carefully.  Stitch around the same three sides using a seam allowance that keeps those raw edges within it.

 
Voila!


Useful tools--seam ripper and small scissors for
snipping threads.



Sunday, March 3, 2013

Quilt Show

It was cold this morning--only forty degrees outside.  The wind picked up around noon.  While it was mostly sunny, a few rain showers did spare me the effort of dragging out a garden hose to water in the new plants I have put in.  Red tide is once again affecting the nearby beaches.  While Mike is feeling better, he was content to read and watch a history channel show about the Middle Ages.  So it was a good thing that what I had planned for the afternoon was attending a demonstration put on by the Venice Area Quilters' Guild.

The show was set up in a large conference room at the Venice Community Center.  There were guild members demonstrating each step of a basic guilt construction--from picking out the fabric to binding the completed quilt.  Other members demonstrated machine embroidery, hand quilting, Japanese quilting techniques, and quilt preservation.  There was a display of antique quilts.  There were also craft stations where kids could do a small project to take home.

I picked up a few good pointers and tips.  I like to go to see jury vetted crafts and art quilts, but they can be intimidating.  This was fun just because it was simple and everyone was friendly and relaxed even as they worked.  There was the occasional gasp of "whoops'" and seam rippers on every table.  So I left feeling that I could do this.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Medical Marvels

I spent the morning at the emergency room with Mike.  He had suffered with swollen and painful feet though last summer.  It finally went away, but then came back this past few days.  He was in such agony last night that he decided to go to have the situation checked out.  After three hours and numerous test, including one for Lyme disease (results will take a couple of weeks for that one), we were informed that he has swollen feet that are painful.  Hmm.  That was the exact complaint he gave when we checked in.  I just wonder how much it will cost to confirm his (non-medical) opinion.  So now he has one more drug added to his list of the other ten.  At least it is just short term.

He gives me funny looks when I suggest Reiki or Qi Gong.  Could either possibly be less effective than "modern medicine"?