Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Our New Pet

We are now thinking that this single sand hill crane is the youngster of the pair we see around the park.  We think the day we heard the broken-hearted crying was the day Papa and Mama invited him to strike out on his own.

Doesn't he look like he is lonely as he heads our way?

Maybe we need to do some lawn work.  It appears that there are plenty of grubs available for his lunch.

I got a little worried that he would mistake my little toe for grub and peck on me.

He didn't...although he did eye Mike's plump little curly toes for a second or two.

Monday, January 30, 2012


Just last night I copied this quote from Anne Lamott in her novel, Blue Shoe:

It was not facing what life dealt that made you crazy, it was, but rather trying to set life straight where it was unstraightenable.

This morning I opened an e-mail from a friend which had this quote attached:

Life is not the way it's supposed to be.. It's the way it is..
The way we cope with it, is what makes the difference.

These seem like two very similar ideas received in such a short period of time.  I am thinking the universe is trying to send me a message and that I better listen.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Putting on a Show

Twitterpated.  That's what they are.  It is that time of year and the pair of Sandhill Cranes that frequent our lawn in search of grubs in the sand have caught the fever.

Actually, early last week we saw just one crane.  It was bleating and walking around looking exactly like it was looking for its mate.  We were afraid something may have happened to one of them, but then the pair was back on Sunday.  Well, we are believing that it is the same pair.  Whatever...they were obviously a pair and in the mood.

We got to watch the male do his courting dance right there on the lawn.  I mean, he was all that and a bag of peanuts.  M'lady pretended to be unimpressed, but I noticed that they did leave together.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


It is no longer quite as easy for me to stroll through the historic section of Venice (FL) now that we are off the isle and across the main highway.

The traffic at nearby intersections is a bit intimidating.  I swear the crossing lights are timed to maximize the possibility that pedestrians will be flattened by oncoming cars and trucks.  There is no audible signal and the "Walk Now" flashing guy last about two seconds--just enough time to get half way across the road.  Right turns are never not allowed, making it all that much more of a challenge.

Still, I did manage to make it two miles down the road to an athletic park that features a fitness trail.

It's a well marked trail through pines and cabbage palms with twenty exercise stations spread out along the length of it.

Doesn't this hanging vine make you want to grab hold, swing out, and then drop into the water?  Actually, it made me want to have a second cup of coffee even though it was 80 degrees today.

There were whole moments when I had the feeling I was out in wild jungle territory, but in reality I was never more than hammock away from civilization in the form of residential neighborhoods or ball fields.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Knit Towel

I have not been knitting too much lately.  I only have patience for small, quickly finished projects like this towel.  It still needs blocking, this is fresh off the needles.  I think I should immediately start another since it took me so long to finally get into the rhythm of the pattern.

I knit a lot of hats in the round.  That involves pretty mindless knit stitch and some counting.  I usually start from the top and work down.  That's not how most of the instruction I have say to do it, but I find it easier for some reason.  I have convinced myself I don't have to worry about gauge so much that way.  Also in a hat, the occasional extra stitch doesn't become a big worry.  Knitting along almost becomes a meditative state.

Not so with a fussy pattern.  I kept ending a row with an extra stitch or a missing stitch.  Then I would have to  undo and try again.  That kind of knitting has the opposite effect of a meditative state.  My muscles tense, my blood pressure spikes, my mind is no longer empty but filled with negative thoughts about knitting ability and my very worth as a human being.  I work myself right into a spiritual crisis.

But if nothing else, I can be persistent.  Eventually the pattern gets in my head--or maybe into my fingers--and I get a feeling of having completed a task and of having made something with my own hands.

These little towels are decorative and they make a nice hostess gift.  They may have some aggravation factor, but they knit up quickly.  I'll make some more.  I have convinced myself that I only need one lace shawl  in this lifetime.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What is it?

What is it?

What's it worth?

Have you seen the number of shows that follow a similar theme to American Picker?  They are meant to be, I'm guessing,  the next step beyond (or down from) Antiques Roadshow.  

People hit the road to track down a barn full of junk that just may have something of value buried within, or they bid on packed storage sheds in the hopes that they are filled with precious, resale-able stuff.

That's a big part of what Mike did for a living although they didn't make a TV show about his working life.  Back then, lots of folks would have called him a junk dealer.  He and his partner had a motorcycle shop that repaired, restored, and sold antique American made motorcycles.  Probably the bulk of the business was selling parts to anyone who was looking to restore their own vintage bike.  That meant hunting down those parts to have on hand.

It's not that glamorous.  I can remember spending an entire day sitting outside a barn so packed with stuff--telephones, typewriters, appliances large and small, car parts, motorcycles, sports equipment, on and on--
while Mike and a friend literally crawled through it.  Then the guy was hesitant to sell them what they had pulled out--they maybe ended up with a third of it.

In the process of stocking the shop shelves, Mike also was able to build up a considerable personal collection of motorcycle memorabilia.  He always called it his retirement fund.  And that is what it turned out to be.

He sold his half of the business to his former partner and invested that money in the stock market.  Let's just say, "Thank God" for that personal collection and e-Bay.  And once in a while he still finds things and scores.

Actually, I would have liked to keep this piece for a while.  We have a small grouping of pen and ink sets decorating our computer desk at home.  This would have looked nice among them, but we have a winter place to furnish.  It's worth what someone is willing to pay...and I can't afford it.

Have to say, though...junk collecting has been very, very good to us.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Caspersen Beach 2

 According to the local Herald Tribune, Venice has the highest median age in the United States, around 68, if I remember correctly.
Only about 30 percent of Venice (FL) residents have jobs--not so much due to the bad economy, but due to the number of retired people who live here.

So you see a lot of people fishing.

  Of course, some have to fish for a living.  I missed the picture of the crab boat, but this pelican was hard at work diving for fish.
I no longer have a job, nor am I crazy about fishing, but I do enjoy a quiet walk on the beach. This was way quiet and the water, very calm.  It was still early, though.

The "dead tree" has always been a landmark for beach walkers and shark tooth hunters.  I don't know how much longer that will last.

I told someone recently that I did miss walking in the snow.  That was a fleeting feeling.  I don't really miss it that much.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


"Surely the day will come when color means nothing more than the skin tone, when religion is seen uniquely as a way to speak one's soul; when birth places have the weight of a throw of the dice and all men are born free, when understanding breeds love and brotherhood."          Josephine Baker

This quote in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  He was not alone in having a dream.


Now, on a far less serious note...I have had recurring dreams, nightmares, in which I am on a college campus.  The settings vary, but always I am frantic because I cannot find my way to a math class.  The room has moved, it's impossibly far from the last class, even requires my taking a boat to get there.  

I keep wondering what this means.  Something is not adding up in my life?  I feel a sense of failure over something?  Math teachers are generally mean and petty people?  I don't really know. (Really, though, I know many very nice math teachers!)

BUT, last night there was a break through of sorts.  I dreamed I was actually in a math class.  I finally made it!  No relief though.  I was hopelessly befuddled by the problems the professor was posing.  I could start a computation, but then get so confused I could not go on.  The pace the professor was setting was way too fast for me.   A teaching assistant came in to offer help, but he took one look at my scribbles and just scoffed, then went on to someone else.

Okay, that's not much of a breakthrough.

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I don't know if this is true for other places, but some VT colleges offer free classes to those over 65.  I'm looking forward to that, but I definitely will NOT be taking any math courses...free or otherwise.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Remember the 80's?

Do ya remember the 80's?  The winged hair, the baggy knits, the football uniform shoulder pads?

Sadly, I do.  Even sadder--we thought they were such an advancement over the 70's.  Is it just me, or does some of the 70's look have a much fresher and recent kind of look to it?  Okay, I know everything old is new again, that fashions come and go and then come again.  This has got to be one of the most vicious aspects of aging--seeing the trends of one's youth flashing once again before us.

I was thinking about the '80's because I was thinking about cars I used to drive once again.  During the 80's, I drove a Nissan Sentra.  The first one I had was actually my first brand new car.  It was a grey sedan with upholstered seats, radio and cassette tape player.  I loved it.  My son learned to drive in that car.  It had all kinds of other bells and whistles--like a tachometer (which I never learned to use).   It did have that pesky standard transmission--a problem for me, not those learning to drive. It also was not good in the winter weather, not a great feature for a car driven in Vermont.  But I liked it enough to trade it for another Nissan Sentra when the time came (meaning when I was looking at yet another expensive transmission repair).

The second one was a black sedan, used.  It was two years old and had 2000 miles on it.  Literally, it was only driven to church on Sundays.  That car was also a standard transmission, but it had no bells, no whistles.  I had to put a radio in it.  The dash board boasted a fuel gauge and speedometer and that's about it.  My daughter learned to drive in this car.  It handled like a dream.  It had 102,000 miles on it when I gave it to may son in 1995.  He drove it across country and around town until it had 202,000 miles when he finally traded it in.

But it wasn't a perfect car.  It did have one tiny flaw.  It would stop running completely at random--but anytime, anywhere.  I'd be zipping down the highway and the engine would just stop running.  I'd pull over with the aid of momentum and in a few minutes it would start again.  Sometimes it would be weeks and weeks before it would happen again, but it always happened again--no pattern, no rhyme nor reason.  As many times as I took it to the dealership and other mechanics, a problem was never found that would explain this quirk and that's the way it was til the end.

Maybe I just have bad car karma.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


A storm blew through last night but the sun was up this morning to shine on a newly washed world.
The beach, though, was holding onto the storm.  White capped waves pounded a mist covered shore line.  Only shards of shells were left along the back shore where the angry gulf had taken another bite out of the dunes, toppling several palm trees and exposing the underside of a long ago paved road.

But the tide always turns.  Just as we reached the end of our walk, these shells were released from waves.

So today, I had a small present from the universe and I left the beach with a smile that felt almost like a prayer.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Few Stray Thoughts

After six winters in the same neighborhood, it is interesting to be exploring a different side of town.  The new area does not have the historical cache of Venice Isle, but it is a work in progress in its own right.  We are close to good food, that's for sure.

An eagle flew over my head yesterday--not much higher than the telephone wires.  Cool.

The walk to the beach is 3.5 miles.  I put on my pedometer and measured it this morning.  (This is opposed to 2 miles from the old neighborhood.) I do a LOT of walking here.  The funny thing is, when I get back to VT and walk up that first hill by my house (like the first 100 yards or so) I always wonder why it feels like I am hopelessly out of shape.  Maybe it has something to do with the altitude versus sea level.

Fresh squeezed Florida orange juice is a reason to get up in the morning.

I am going to attempt to stay in touch with my writing group over the next few months by sending out by pieces and giving feedback to the others.  There is something about that group that keeps me working when I am attending, but it is too easy to slack off when I don't have the audience and the deadline.

And...reality set in.  The December bills have all arrived.

However, it is my brother's birthday (62nd) and there is a full moon rising.  I have poured myself a glass of wine to toast the occasion.

Friday, January 6, 2012


It's nice to own rather than rent until something doesn't work and there's no property manager to call.
I tried the dishwasher for the first time and...nothing.  Water filled the bottom and then didn't drain.  The motor whirred and whined and got smokin' hot.  The dishes remained dry and dirty.

Fortunately, Mike will always try to fix things himself if involves plumbing, mechanical or electrical tinkering.  More importantly, he's good at it.  He has the ability to look at these things and figure out how they should work, then problem solve what's not working and how to get it to do what some design engineer intended.   He did some research on line, never having fixed a dishwasher before, then took off the foot plate and reached underneath.  It took him a few trips back and forth to the computer, but he got it running like new.  Voila!  We have a working dishwasher.

Mike is not so confident with projects involving wood, but I really wanted this Sauder sewing table and he was a good sport and put it together for me.  I am slightly ashamed that I did not even attempt the assembly myself, but there is something to be said for admitting our limitations.  It's not because I am female that I cannot operate a simple screw driver, it's because I am just plain clumsy. Who wants a wonky sewing table?  But I did help.  I handed tools when requested and held things in place as needed.

So, now I have my sewing table and I am ready for some projects of my own.

Here it is all set up and ready for action.

My first project was pillows for the outdoor furniture.  It's white and really needed a shot of color.  I recycled an old beach umbrella that got broken spines a couple of years ago.  I held onto the material because I always liked the colors.  I guess I should say that I "upcycled" it but I am not sure that this little project qualifies.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Our New Year's Eve celebration was an early and a quiet affair.

Antipasto means "before the meal,"  the first course of a big Italian dinner, meant to take the edge off for hungry diners.  In our case antipasto, was a large part of the entire meal, served with a bottle of white wine.

There is an Italian market just a mile from the house that may prove to be our downfall.  And how easy is this?  Arrange food on a plate, then let it come to room temperature and enjoy.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Resolutions, 2012

Resolutions.jpg (400×305)
I am not so big on resolutions because they always tend to bring out my inner "should" lady (not because I'm perfect already).

You know, as in:
     You really should be nicer to others.
     You should get more exercise.
     You should lose ten pounds.
            and on and on and on...

That inner lady really bugs me sometimes. Still, it is that time of year and old habits die hard.

My intentions are good; my resolution, my on-going determination, often falters.

So this year, 2012, I am making only one resolution and that is to be kinder and gentler to others AND to myself.  

This morning, I went to the small gym at the club house and worked out for 30 minutes.  It felt good and I intend to make regular use of the workout equipment because it makes me feel stronger and healthier.  And sometimes I won't feel like exercising and that judgmental inner "should" lady will nag at me, but I will just thank her for her concern and decide for myself whether or not to exercise that moment or make a plan for another time.

Monday, January 2, 2012

I'm Reading

I was intrigued over learning that Christmas celebrations were once banned in Boston so I am reading Sarah Vowell's The Wordy Shipmates.  I am learning more about the country's Puitan heritage.

Usually, I am a nonfiction kind of reader, but I do try to expand my horizons.  Speaking of which, I suggest checking out these resolutions for readers.

Virginia Heffernan's New York Times book review called the book and its author annoying.  She said its cocktail mix of paraphrase, topical one-liners and "blogger tics" made the book the literary equivalent of Long Island iced tea--"festive, but bad."

Of course her review title was "Mayflower Power" and the book was nothing about the Pilgrims at all so I question whether she even read the book.  Although Heffernan did say that, while she kept being annoyed, she did keep reading.

Another blog review also seemed to find the book annoying.  Quoting:

Perhaps the best way to pinpoint my problem would be to say that it's not what Vowell says, but rather how she says it. She's hilarious and witty and fills the stories about the Puritans with pop culture anecdotes and modern day comparisons. For instance she compares the differences between the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies to both the rift between the Sunni and Shia and a love for The Godfather Part II while having an equal amount of disdain for Part III.

That exactly states why I am liking the book.  It's a serious topic, but it is funny.  The author jumps from primary source writings to current events to her peculiar and personal life events, but I find myself entertained as well as informed.

Roger Williams--I remember him as the founder of Providence, Rhode Island, champion of religious freedom.  What I didn't ever contemplate was that that did not mean he thought all religions were acceptable, he just thought people have the right to be wrong.  You just can't force everyone to be right-thinking. 

There were lots of little tidbits and insights into the religios debates of the 1600's that have to make one stop and think about our "National Character."

I consider it a book worth reading.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Who's Calling?

When Mike got his cell phone last fall, I gave him my carrying case because it has a clip for a belt.  I just carry my phone (when I remember) in my purse.  I made myself a new cover.

I offered to make one for Mike's twelve year old grand son.  He declined.  Something about making him a middle school target.  I would have taken him for more of a leader, but he said that if owls become all the rage at his school, then I could give him one.  Some just are not cut out to be trend setters, I guess.