For all of the past summer there has been ongoing road and utility work all around my immediate neighborhood. Needless to say, traffic has been a nightmare for months. One stretch of road was complete between the interstate exit and the left hand turn to access a large shopping center was completed and drivers were raving about the improvement in the traffic flow.
Previously, the two northbound lanes were set up so right hand turns had a designated lane while the other lane was for cars going straight as well as cars turning left. Cars turning left have to wait for oncoming southbound traffic which means straight through traffic had to wait behind any left tuning vehicles and, as one would imagine, this often resulted in back ups. The contractors painted the road markings to indicate that the left lane was dedicated for left turns and the right lane was for right turns and straight through. Makes sense, right?
No. Vermont Agency of Transportation said this lane change was a mistake on the part of the contractors. The old configuration was the way the road was designed (for whatever reason) and so that is how it is going to stay. After three weeks of smooth traffic flow, the lane designations were switched back just in time to frustrate the h#!! out of Christmas shoppers and work day commuters.
I'm from the State Agency of Transportation and I'm here to help!
I left Florida for Burlington, Vermont this past Wednesday. I flew Delta airline which pretty much guarantees a layover in Atlanta. The layover was quite a long one this time, which is fine with me. I much prefer having the time I need to get from one gate to the next.
When I got to Atlanta, I looked at the departure board and went to find the gate for my connecting flight. There were only a few people sitting at that gate so I dropped my bag in one chair and settled into another. I checked e-mails and read for a bit. Then I plugged in my earphones and listened to a guided meditation. I did not fall asleep, but I did slip into a nice, relaxed space in spite of the airport noise. At the end, I opened my eyes. The gate area had really filled right up.
I looked around, people watching in my zoned out state. I could hear lots of Southern accents. Well, I was in Atlanta. Most of passengers in waiting were Black and I didn't think anything about that. There must have been quite a number of Hispanic people as well because in addition to the Southern accents, I heard a lot of Spanish.
I swear it was fifteen minutes before the penny dropped. This is very unlikely -- a crowd of this particular make-up and of this size particularly going to VT? In November? Why am I going to VT in November? And i live there. I looked at the Gate display which no longer said flight to BTV but Jackson, Mississippi instead.
I found another departure board. The Burlington flight had been switched to another, much smaller gate. Fortunately, it was a gate not too far away.
I went to the new gate and immediately recognized that I had the right one. I was surrounded with people in plaid flannel shirts and fleece vests, Boston Red Sox caps, running shoes or clogs, and rumpled hair. Yep, this was a crowd clearly bound for Vermont.
I should know by now that flight gates are often switched around in the Atlanta airport. It's a real trick to be able to meditate in a noisy airport, but probably not the wisest thing to do.
The "Snow Birds" are definitely drifting back to Florida homes. There are noticeably more people in the stores and the restaurants and the streets.
I will be heading back north soon, I considered my trip a working vacation. I had a lot of little projects to get done, but I had a lot of fun things to do as well. Yesterday there was an art fair downtown.
The main street was closed so artisans could set up shop.
Someone got tired of the family silver and decided to make clocks.
There were lots of colorful offerings.
Paintings and photography, of course.
I just like this plant by one booth.
I doubt that these mailboxes would pass muster with the HOA.
The park was pretty quiet. I sat here awhile and enjoyed the warmth and a bit of shade on a sunny day.
It doesn't seem much like fall,
but if you go in any of the stores they are all pretty much decked out for Christmas already.
My friends and neighbors, Ken and Annamarie, are very social and hospitable types. They enjoy going out and they enjoy throwing parties and they are fun people to be around.
I am much less of a party person. I like to not invite more people than I can comfortably seat around my table and six is pushing it. I find it nearly painful to mingle at parties and like to find myself a nice almost out of the way spot to sit until most of the crowd has left.
Perhaps their biggest party of the year is the Halloween party they throw. I arrived on time and enjoyed myself starting around 10 when it was down to the close friends.
There were superheroes, doctors, nurses, a priest and a nun, kittens, witches, skeletons, sexy French maid, hippies, and Ozzie Osborne. I went as a snowflake.
Lots of people thought it was a cute reference to my Vermont home. One astute gentleman made the political connection. Probably just as well. Parties are not the place for political discourse.
In my travels around the Venice, Florida area I have seen a couple of strange and curious things.
A Cadillac pickup truck.
I am sure it's expensive. I am sure it is posh to sit inside it. But why? Why does it even exist? Aren't pickups working vehicles? How practical does this look? What kind of person ever feels the need for something like this?
(If you have one enlighten me, but I think it is just plain wrong.)
An SUV by Jaguar!!
Again, certainly very expensive and very posh, but it kind of looks like every other SUV on the road.
If I ever get to own a Jaguar, I for sure want it to be a whole lot sexier looking than this. If I ever even ever in my life get to just sit in one, I would want it to look a whole lot sexier than this.
(If you have one enlighten me, but I think it is just plain wrong.)
They say that the unofficial start of Fall in Florida is the day that the daytime temperature drops below 80 degrees. There are Halloween decorations here and there. There are piles of pumpkins at the markets. But it is not Fall, in spite of the Autumnal Equinox and the recent harvest moon.
There has been a great deal of beach erosion since I have been coming to this area. These kids were enjoying their own little pool though.
I don't suppose brown palm leaves count as call color.
Things are pretty green and tropical looking in town.
Last evening the occupants of the five houses on my immediate corner got together for beer, wine, and snacks. We sat outside, talking and laughing (trying not to be too rowdy) until eleven p.m.
The temperature did not fall below 80 but there was a most pleasant breeze stirring and we were all happy to have spent another day in our little bit of paradise.
Well, at least these are not tick bites although I never did see what it was that had a feast on my leg.
There are four welts on my leg and two on my big toe. The whitish areas are just reflection. I have to conclude that I need to slather on sunscreen and then spray myself with insect repellent before any move to go outside. I bought some Skeeter Screen at the health food store.
I left my new car behind and flew to Florida. I was wanting to see for myself what damage vixen Hurricane Irma brought to Venice. There are still piles of fallen trees and other brush along many streets just waiting for pickup from the county. There a number of fences down and some of the street signs were crumpled and bent. People who were here say it was scary but it could have been so much worse.
My place has a little bit of water damage -- a spot on the ceiling and the front door frame. I have a can of Killz Premium ready to apply. The screen door is a little askew, but I am not having much luck getting anyone to attend to that. Eventually I will probably just have it replaced. Area handymen are out straight.
Outside, my bougainvillea was sheared off but it is already sending out new shoots. It's a survivor (aka weed). The frangipani I thought was uprooted was really not uprooted. It just was bent over and is blooming away as it reclines on the lawn.
I can't move it. My neighbors tried to pull it upright but they couldn't move it either. Good luck finding someone to tend to this in the near future, I suppose. I think I will take some cuttings and try to root them and just replace this tree entirely as it has gotten quite large. YouTube shows how it's done.
Other than the aforementioned water stains, things look good inside.
I have yet to take a stroll around the park to check out how others fared, but my immediate neighbors all look to be in good shape.
My heart is definitely going out to those affected by the brunt of hurricanes this season and for those who can only watch as their homes go up in a flash of flames and smoke.
My friend Donna had a family wedding shower to attend in Rochester, NY. Her nephew is getting married in November. She didn't want to drive that distance by herself and no one in her immediate family could take the trip with her. I have relatives in Rochester. I said I would go with her. I said I would even drive my new car.
It wasn't a long trip, but I am happy that we did it together. We left on Friday morning and arrived at my cousin's house at dinner time. We took him out to dinner and then sat and talked until bed time. He graciously put us both up for the night. On Saturday, we took Donna to the hotel where the shower was to be held and he and I went to visit his mom and his sister.
My aunt is the last one of my parents' generation left. She is starting to show signs of memory loss, but she knew me right away -- OlgaPolga! I am so happy to see you!"
I wrote about my bittersweet visits here.
Afterwards I went to lunch with my cousin John. He is caretaker, financial and otherwise, for both mother and sister. It is a hard, draining responsibility. My heart goes out to him so often.
After the shower was over, Donna and I headed back to Vermont. It was an uncomplicated drive. We stopped in Saratoga to get something to eat and were not home until midnight, but we conversed the whole time, examining the complexities of family dynamics. I was certainly tired on Sunday and even took a nap (quite unintentionally, just zonked out). Even so, I was glad I went and I feel that Donna and I are even closer friends because of that time together.
I did it. I looked at a number of different cars but I wanted the Ford C-Max Energi.
I ended up getting a 2017 "used" one. It was the dealer courtesy vehicle with 2000 miles on it. Dealers were really pushing leasing and that is what I ended up doing. There was a nearly $8000 rebate, plus more for the used status. And the car is loaded -- all the bells and whistles.
I gave my Toyota Prius (2010 with 112,900 miles, but still runs really well) to my daughter.
So we're both happy.
Once a month or so a bunch of us get together at my friend Donna's house to make cards. She has a large, dedicated craft room with a table that accommodates the nine or ten of us who gather to chat, laugh, eat, and make a few cards. We range in age from 18 to 97.
I took my grandson to one of these gatherings once and he whispered to me that he would be sent to time out for the type of shenanigans that were on display. Some of these women could be stand up comedians. The get togethers can be rowdy, even a little raunchy.
It's fun and we do make some nice cards. This weeks selection:
I saw an ad for a nearby "Oktober Fest." It's being held this weekend, September 22 to 24. Am I missing something.
Am I missing something? This confused me.
We had a fairly chilly and wet summer. Now that autumn is officially here the weather prediction is for record breaking heat over the next couple of days. They are reminding us that the lake temperature is still swimmable. I have been enjoying the nice weather but I still am somewhat unsettled by all the extremes and tragic weather events elsewhere.
I have been wishing I could get a new car. Actually, I have only ever had a brand new car twice in my life and they were the two worst cars I ever had. The Saab I bought was an out and out lemon. So I am really looking for a new to me car. Anyway, I was looking at some cars on line, reading an AARP article about good cars for those of a certain age. I had never even heard of the Ford C-Max, so I made an inquiry about it. I am now the best friend of every single car dealership in northern Vermont (at least until they figure out I will not be buying a car from each of them).
I hate car shopping.
Maybe it is just me but I think that if Kim Jong Un is calling you mentally deranged it's time to take a good hard look in the mirror. Two arrested development world leaders cannot be a good thing.
Oh, well. I head that the world was going to end this weekend any way. In preparation I polished off a container of Ben and Jerry's ice cream (actually frozen yogurt). I really try to avoid dairy so this was waiting for a visit from my grandkids, but what the heck. I couldn't let it just go to waste. But if the world doesn't end it will go to waist.
I don't understand the artificially colored versus naturally colored Trim cereal. Why is anyone eating Trix at all? Really, sometimes I think there is no hope for this country.
This post was inspried from a post by Cranky Old Man about watching movies backwards. I have no memory of watching a movie backward but the post, as so often is the case, was quite amusing. However, what caught my attention was the use of the expression "back in the day."
My ten-year-old grandson uses that expression. Grandma, did you have television back in the day?
Oh, yes, I knew of televisions of a primitive sort. We had one. One! And my parents (but mostly my father when he was home) had total control over it. There were cartoons on Saturday morning and Captain Kangaroo on week day mornings but certainly no channels dedicated to kids' viewing 24/7. The picture was only in black and white. Programming went off the air for the night. The horror!
Grandma, what video games did you play back in the day? Oh, the inhumanity! There were no video games, no hand-held devices or computers. The one phone in the house was connected to the wall and was used sparingly to talk with someone and with respect for the others on the party line (beyond imagination). Games were played on boards on the table or outside.
Grandma, what did you do all summer back in the day? I woke up, had breakfast, and went outside to play. If I got hungry or hurt I went inside and my mother would give me lunch or put a bandaid on me and send me back outside. Otherwise I was free until called for supper. I met up with friends and we played kick the can or Red Rover. We played cowboys or soldiers if there were boys around or we played with dolls. We rode bicycles. We went in the woods and threw rocks in the brook. We climbed trees. On rainy days, I might go to a friend's house to play, but mostly I stayed in my room and read so my mother wouldn't hand me a broom or a dust rag. Beyond comprehension -- You saw your friends everyday? Without a play date?
He can keep up a steady stream of questions. That coupled with the expression "back in the day" can become very annoying. (Once he told me my amygdala was becoming excited, but that's a whole different Dane story.)
Sometimes I take Dane to Al's French Fries. His comment, very apt and I don't believe he has ever seen that Youtube video and which he makes with a kind of nostalgic sigh: I love this place. I think it must be exactly like things were back in the day.
If you have a place in a popular vacation spot you can pretty much count on visitors coming to call.
As we all know, some visitors are far more congenial than others. Some visitors are the type you can't wait to be rid of -- some visitors like Hurricane Irma.
At first it looked as though Irma would head up the center of the Florida peninsula. Then it shifted to a path along the west coast and my concern for property escalated. I watched the Venice weather -- mandatory evacuation of the island part, hurricane warning/watch, storm surge warning, flash flood warning, and, to top things off like a cherry on this disaster sundae, a tornado warning. Water was shut off in Venice due to a broken main. In the end, Irma downgraded and wobbled, leaving external damage but structures mostly intact.
My bougainvillea was damaged. That thing is more or less a weed. It has an ardent will to survive and no doubt will thrive once again. The frangipani was uprooted. I am not sure whether it is salvageable or not. It is beautiful in full bloom, when I am not there to enjoy it. Through the winter months it looks like a strange leafless shrub that Dr. Seuss might have drawn. I am not entirely sure I want to salvage it.
I have yet to hear about anything inside related to the leak in the roof. I will make a trip down to deal with that once hurricane season has settled down. I surely hope it will soon!
Some pictures from the news:
Fishing pier at Sharky's showing how the gulf waters were sucked back out by the force of hurricane winds, preparation for the surge. This is four miles from my place. Surge was less than was predicted at first.
A tree down in Venice, FL. Not in my yard though.
Looks like palm trees just decided to take a nap in Sarasota!
It seems certain that Irma will hit Florida and travel up the center of the state. Florida is a peninsula. The damage is likely to affect both coasts.
My roof is not fixed yet. It's not going to be fixed before the winds and rains come. I can only be grateful I am not there and hope for the best.
I was seeing the traffic jamb as people were evacuating. There are always those who refuse to evacuate. I am thinking about those who are on island countries. They can't just jump in cars and leave. Scary stuff.
Sure, sometimes a little rain is a welcome thing but I'm thinking a lot of people are not singing about the rain that Harvey dumped.
I understand that parts of Florida are getting some residual rain from those stubborn bands swirling near the Gulf of Mexico. So I have to confess that my heart did do a flipping kind of dropping kind of bounce when the phone rang and I recognized the name on caller ID. It was the woman who does a walk through my Florida place on a regular basis. She sent me a picture of a water stain on the ceiling in the laundry. It must have been from the weekend.
So I probably didn't sound to happy when I said hello, but I am so glad I have someone who can keep an eye on things for me. She recommended a roofing company. I called and they inspected and will do the job soon. It will be a big expense. Florida weather is not kind to manmade structures. It is windy, the sun beats done (it's 91 degrees there today, "feels like 106") and then it rains. What can I do but have a new roof put on?
I was thinking about a new car, but the old one still runs. Priorities -- needs over wants.
It was a beautiful day here -- plus sky, temps in the 70's with no humidity. I went for a walk and wondered why one part of the country could be so genial while another could be in the midst of such devastation. I am wondering how much rain is falling on my place in Florida. I have heard there has been some minor (relatively speaking) flooding there.
But the beauty of the day distracted me as I took my walk. I was noticing signs of the end of summer, the approaching of autumn.
Leaves changing colors
Roadside wild flowers
And some colorful garden flowers
Apples scenting the air.
And a message to remind us that summer is indeed fleeting: