It has been a rainy week here in Venice. My sister was lucky to have picked the previous week for her vacation.
Some pictures of a trip to Spanish Point from last week:
I have been busy this week in spite of the rain--lunches with friends, a picnic, my volunteer duties, yoga classes, impromptu get togethers with neighbors for an evening glass of wine. Some how I have had so many occasions to laugh and really enjoy myself in the past two weeks. I am feeling good. I think I will be able to face things at home once I get there.
I will be in a whirlwind next Monday and Tuesday to get the house cleaned up and closed down. All I have done in that regard is make up my list. I have not even printed it out yet.
I finished my wall hanging and put it in my bedroom:
This will be the weekend of strange meals as I clean out my refrigerator. I won't be posting any of the recipes. i will be thankful for the garbage disposal.
Last night there was a story about a nine-year-old girl whose best friend has cancer and has undergone a number of treatments that resulted in her going bald. The girl shaved her own head so that her friend would not feel so odd about losing all her hair. The girl was suspended because her school has zero tolerance for dress code infractions and shaved heads are an infraction. The school board ended up apologizing--as well they should have, in my opinion.
Another major storm hit the New England coast. Where is it all coming from?The Washington state mudslide is so tragic. There really is so little we humans have control over and yet we go on acting as though we do. I heard a geologist saying that the mudslide in this location was inevitable. Why were houses built there? Well, people have to live somewhere and I don't know if there is a place on earth that is not vulnerable to some kind of catastrophe. What can we do except hope for the best and shake our heads when the "inevitable" happens?
I have seen a Pepsi commercial a couple of time now--the point of which is that you can get a small can of Pepsi. Does this mean that the super-size-me trend is about to turn around?
There was an article about a small (as in tiny) homes trend in the March Ladies Home Journal. HGTV is also exploring this HERE. Now, my VT home is way more house than I need, but I don't think I could see myself in one of those little places. It looks like camping--okay for a few days.
And on the topic of HGTV: Is anyone else just sick of those home shopping shows where young couples demand gourmet kitchens, open concept floor plan, master bedroom with en suite, etc. etc. -- the "I want everything and I want it right now" starter home? I am probably just jealous because it is not likely that I will ever have granite countertops and stainless appliances. MAYBE ... if I move into a teeny, tiny house with a 1' by 2' counter...
This was my last Thursday to volunteer at InStride. For the past few weeks, the literacy program has been on break so I have been doing side walking with the therapy clients on their horses. I love their program and have met really nice people there. I will definitely sign up again next "season" as they say here (season meaning winter when the snow birds are around).
I fly home next Wednesday. I am planning on a trip back down on June 30 and I will be bringing my grand children down for vacation. Am I crazy? Good question! They will enjoy the beach and the pool, I am sure.
My company has headed back north and it will only be a week before I pack up and follow them there.
It is going to be quite difficult to have to drag out boots and a winter coat, but I am afraid that is how it is going to be.
I enjoyed having my sister and my brother-in-law stay with me for the past week. We had a good time and they obviously really needed the break from a brutally cold winter. I have plenty of room here and there were plenty of things to do. The weather, except for their last day, was beautiful.
The weather has been cooperatively pleasant. A long walk on the beach yesterday morning and a walk in the preserve today. Sister and her husband went down town while I walked horses yesterday. Lots of dining out. Lots of laughter. relaxing by the pool.
Down side? They looked at the VT weather forecast for next week (highs in teens, lows below zero, snow) and have decided not to go back.
My sister and her husband arrived Monday night. I picked them up at the Ft. Myers airport. It poured buckets all night, but my sister got up the next morning and went out with cup of coffee in hand to watch the sunrise. It was 10 below zero when they left Vermont and they had 20 inches of new snow the day before. She laughed at me for having on my morning sweater.
We took a tour of town and beaches, went out to lunch, and mostly relaxed on Tuesday. On Wednesday we made a trip to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota. The orchids were in bloom. Even though I had reminded her to bring her camera before we left, I forgot mine. I took pictures with my camera, but the cable to get them off the phone is at home.
I should have reminded them about sun block, I guess. They both got red faces. To me, putting on sunblock is routine--wash your face, brush your teeth, put on sunblock, start your day.
They are glad for the break from the unrelenting winter and my sister and I have been laughing and laughing while brother in law rolls his eyes, but smiles.
Tomorrow is the next meeting of the poetry group I joined here in Florida. I have invited my neighbor to go with me since I recently learned that she writes poetry as well. Actually, I have met a number of poets this year.
Then I will have to head down to Fort Myers to pick up my sister and my brother in law. They are coming for a week. I know that the Vermont winter was oppressive when they are making a trip to get away from it! I have never heard my sister say she is sick of snow before.
I have a list of things to do to impress them with the area. Beaches, parks, and botanical gardens, birds singing, palm trees, sunshine, and shrimp. I am excited about having some company.
The YMCA is less than a mile from my house. It's a busy, busy place and parking is sometimes a problem. It only makes sense to ride my bike there. I was looking for a basket to attach to my bike. I can strap my yoga mat to my back, but sometimes I want to take extra things like a towel and my wallet and my house keys. I also thought carting books to and from the library would be easier in a basket than packed up on my back.
Then I remembered that I had some upholstery fabric samples. I got out my sewing machine and made my own bike basket.
It works for me.
Of course I did purchase some material at the quilt show last weekend. I am making a wall hanging, not a bed sized quilt. My Florida bedroom furniture is oriental style. I think this will look nice hanging on the bedroom wall.
The red material is for the backing. I have not decided yet whether I will fold that around to the front for the binding as well or use another color for the binding.
I had this patio taken out and replaced with sod. The patio was stuck at the back of the house with no entrance to it from the house. It was just another weeding chore as far as I was concerned. Right now it is a big watering chore, but I hope it will look better once the grass takes. That reminds me, I need to take a quick run to Lowes and get some lawn fertilizer.
This is my effort to foil the rabbits in their attempts to eat up all my herbs. It seems to be working very well. Pasta with pesto for supper tonight.
I planted this mandevilla in front of the ugly garbage can enclosure that was exposed when I had the grapefruit tree taken out. It will have white flowers with yellow centers. It should grow enough to eventually soften up the yard.
I have a couple more projects to finish up in the yard. Then I will have to leave it all behind and hope that mother nature stays kind to what I have done.
It never occurred to me in my pre-retirement years that I would someday be living in an age restricted, gated community. But here I am.
I like my house. I like the city of Venice and this general area of Florida. I have friendly neighbors. I have made the effort to be more involved in activities and meet new people than I ever have before. I have been going to yoga at the Y. I joined a poetry group at the library. I do my volunteering. I have made the effort to stay in touch with the couple friends Mike and I had made down here, but I have also been inclined to branch out with female friends. There is no shortage of widows around here. I helped out with the fund raising big yard sale here in the park and I met a lot of new people that I had only waved to in the past. I am trying to remember people's names.
Where I am going with this--I decided I would attend the park picnic. It is the big deal for the social activities committee. I don't have much interest in Bingo or euchre (don't even know what euchre is exactly). I am not drawn to the group lunches at area restaurants, to the pot-lucks, or the pancake breakfasts. I have no interest in ever signing up for a bus trip to the casino. But for some reason I thought a picnic sounded like an okay, relaxed, no pressure kind of way to socialize.
The outdoor pavilion was expanded last year and new chairs look inviting.
Most people were inside the club house where long tables were set up.
A nice, large outdoor kitchen where the food was cooked, then carried into the club house and set up on a single serving table.
Apparently the rule is at 11 a.m., rush down to the club house and reserve seating. Come back at 12:30 and sit down in your claimed spot. Stay seated so as to only have contact with those sitting nearby and gossip and/or complain until the master of ceremonies (because what is a picnic with out someone dressed as a bottle of ketchup and carrying around a microphone to harangue the crowd about having fun?) calls table numbers so there will be an orderly line for the food, which will be served with strict measurement by retired lunch ladies. Yes, exactly like the ones you remember from your high school days.
the shuffleboard courts and the bocci area--
all stood empty. A picnic is for eating and drinking a couple of beers. And, apparently, it is preferable that those two activities be carried out with military precision.
This was the spot for those of us newbies who did not know enough to reserve a space earlier in the day. It was a pleasant, uncrowded spot--what I would have picked anyway.
The cupcakes for dessert were really delicious. I had a chocolate one. Then they started to raffle off door prizes and the love bugs started to swarm. That was the end for me.
Wandering around the antique shops the other day was a major nostalgia trip. Nostalgia on so many levels.
One shop was filled with depression era items--the glassware that my mother amassed by going to the Saturday matinees. The dishes and tinware that filled her kitchen were a snap of recognition and then memory around every corner.
My mother would have been amazed to see the prices on some of those pieces. She did not consider her things anything but useful items to have in the home.
She had a banjo clock with a picture of Mount Vernon on the case hanging on the wall. I once referred to it as an antique and she actually snapped, "That is not an antique! That belonged to my mother!" Which would have easily made it 150 years old, but to my mother's mind, antique and junk were synonyms.
Seeing the prices on some of that stuff made me think that maybe we should not have been so quick to give it away. We all took what little we wanted to have, but we might have sold the rest and made a little money. Oh, well, it was a charitable donation.
Another place had a Victorian/shabby chic kind of atmosphere. It was set up like the different rooms in a house. The kitchen area took me straight back to my grandparents' house. It was filled with all the practical tools of preparing three meals a day. The dressing room with all its dressing table items, the hats, the fabrics, the shoes, the lace. I was going to say "like sitting on my grandmother's lap" but I seriously doubt that ever happened. So...like sitting on my grandfather's lap watching my grandmother primp.
Of course, I had to handle each and every little thing in the sewing room. The nursery room was precious as well. Both had some beautiful old quilts and other textiles.
On shop had very primitive, early Florida homesteader items. Mike would have recognized things and told me stories about how those things were used or how they cropped up in some book he had read. He was a history buff. And an excellent antique picker. He had the eye.
I find this kind of thing disconcerting:
There were quite a few of these Corning ware dishes on the shelves. I am like my mother(!) These are not antiques; they are useful kitchen items that I still have and use.
It did not happen on this trip, but it has happened and it is even worse than seeing something from one's own era in an antique store--seeing something that my children played with in an antique store. That is almost as bad as catching sight of yourself in a store window and wondering who the old lady is who seems to be following you so closely.
The weather would not co-operate with my plan for a long bike ride today. It was very windy and riding into the wind is just plain no fun.
I took a car ride instead and went to check out Arcadia, FL. This is one of those side trips Mike and I had talked about doing but never got around to.
Compared to Venice--a different world entirely. The interior of central Florida is farm country--citrus groves, cattle farms, and a few horse ranches. It has its own beauty.
Also, it was a good reminder that there is more diversity in this state than one would ever gather if Venice was one's only experience of Florida. Venice is older, white men with grey hair, gold watches, and sporty convertibles. Then there are the tan, blonde women of a certain age that you would not be able to guess. (There is a reason why the dentist office offers all kinds of make-over services!) I mean, I live in a "poor" neighborhood where shopping at Steinmart or Beall's marks our status. I had kind of started to forget the rest of the world.
I did not realize that a rodeo was going on. Arcadia is cowboy country. I hit a bit of a traffic jam driving into town. However, the rodeo left the historic downtown area crowd free, and I enjoyed browsing through the a fraction of the many antique shops.
California pottery dish, pie bird, small egg cup, Noritake plate, and two Swanky sips juice glasses.
Most of these will be gifts, but I will keep the juice glasses for myself.
I get it. Nobody really cares all that much about what anyone else had for meals on any given day.
All the same, I will continue to bore you with Meatless Monday posts, because Meatless Monday is a real thing, a movement that I do support. It is good for our health. It is good for the environment. It even has historical significance as part of the nation's war effort during WWI.
And I care what I eat and this is my blog.
And I learned something. Bear in mind that it is full blown pollen season her in Florida. Since avocados are so readily available here, I have been choosing them over cheese as a topping for sandwiches. Yesterday, though, I had some homemade tomato soup and the thought of a grilled cheese sandwich really appealed to me and I enjoyed my light supper immensely. However, when I went to bed, I really noticed the stuffiness and the cough. This made me notice what I had not noticed before--that I had not been bothered by stuffiness and an annoying cough for some time before last night.
Here's another meatless meal I enjoy:
It's polenta with spinach and mushrooms. Peppers and onions, tomato salsa, any kind of sautéed vegetables work for me.
My mother used to call this cornmeal mush. I liked it as a kid, but polenta sounds so much more "foodie," cosmopolitan, and plain grown-up.
For some reason, I have always found it tricky to make. Yes, I know one can buy it in a sausage like tube, but that is not my style. Recently I found this method in a Redbook magazine:
1 cup yellow cornmeal
4 cold water water
1 cup low-fat milk
1 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp. butter
Put everything in a slow cooker. Cover.
Cook on low setting for 8 hours.
I had perfect results and I got to use my crockpot, which always makes me happy.
I picked up a copy of Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. It should not be hard to guess that I drink Michael Pollan's kool-aid.
And even so, no sign that this brutal 2014 winter is going to let up any time soon.
If you are not in Florida, I don't know why not. Everybody else is here! Since I am one of them, I am not allowed to complain about the snow birds, but I am also just glad that I am here long enough so that I don't feel the need to do all the "vacation" things. I don't think it has been as crowded in this area since I have been coming here. They are predicting that next winter will be record breaking numbers of vacationers because of the bad winter this year. I suppose I will make travel plans with that in mind.
Since I am half Ukrainian, I have been watching the news about the crisis there. It is pretty scary stuff. As I understand it, this big stand-off is over Crimea, which has been a part of the Ukraine only since 1954 and which is ethnically Russian. Crimea was a "gift" from Russia to the Ukraine? It makes so little sense to me. As a parent, I would say, "Let the children work it out amongst themselves." Maybe it doesn't work that way for a big brother.
I cannot recall ever having watched the Oscars. Those kinds of shows tend to bore me and I wander off, but I may tune into bits of it tonight. I have actually seen three of the movies that are nominated this year--Captain Phillips, Philomena, and Nebraska. I also saw August, Osage County and Meryl Streep is nominated for her role in that. Or, I may just find out the results on the morning news.
It looks like another full week ahead. I intended to keep myself busy this winter. I am being successful with that.