Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Quilt #2 and Exercise

I have been working on two different quilts and have finished the tops to both.  That is the easy part.

I went to the community center to work on the large scrappy quilt.  I set up several tables so I could lay out the three layers and get them pinned together while keeping each layer as wrinkle free as possible.  It was hard work.  In the process of either setting up or taking down those tables, I did some damage.  My knee cap is black and blue and my shin too.  I managed a small cut just below my knee.  All on the left leg.

It looks like I have taken up a rough and tumble contact sport instead of a sedate activity like sewing.

And let me tell you, maneuvering a large quilt around a small machine to do the quilting is labor intensive as well.  First of all, it involves setting up extra tables to hold the weight.  Then there is all the adjusting and readjusting to keep all the layers smooth.  I'm hoping my arms will muscle up.

Maybe I'll go out for a long bike ride.  It's a lot easier on the joints.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Rules of the Road

Those who keep track of such things are predicting a huge influx of tourists this season.  Cold winters in the north are good for the Florida economy.   I have already noticed a big increase in the traffic around town.  Today there was a big car show at the airport and we had to take the long way around to get to the beach.  Damn Snowbirds!

I can get away with outrageous statements like that because--when I am not driving around in my car with a Vermont license plate--I am often taken for a native.  That is not necessarily a compliment, but I do plan to check out the Cracker festival this year to see how far I can push it.

Even before the tourists get here though, there is plenty of what the Allstate commercials call mayhem on the roads.  In fact with the number of three wheel cycles, golf carts, and those scooter things, there is plenty of mayhem even off the roads.  Those ride-in grocery carts?--mayhem in the supermarket aisles.

I did hear that the state is planning to stop automatic re-issue of handicap passes.  There will need to be a doctor's verification every so often.  I am just hoping that they will stop issuing the tags to blind people.  I am not kidding.  Our neighbor is legally blind...and he drives...every single day.  He is not the only one.  A couple of years ago I had to see a retina specialist.  I got a clean bill of eye health, but I don't believe everyone did.  There were plenty of people walking out of that office in those dark plastic  glasses who got behind the wheel and drove away.  Designated driver, people!  Please.

I have made a few winter rules of the road for myself.  I can't enforce them for anyone but myself. but I will put them out there in the hopes that they might prove useful to others as well:

  1. Avoid driving at all during the full moon.  It affects the entire ocean.   Think about what it might do to the fluids in your brain.
  2. My preference is always to park so that I can pull out of the space head on.  Parking lot construction in Florida, or at least in Sarasota County, thwarts that effort far too often.  Therefore, park at the outer edges of the lot.  A little extra walking is good for you anyway.
  3. Never assume that the driver of another car sees you.  Doesn't matter if you are in your car with the invisibility shield clearly turned off, on a bike, or a pedestrian.  Never assume the other driver sees you.
  4. Be aware that a right turn signal does not preclude a left hand turn.
  5. Nor does being in the left lane preclude a right hand turn.
  6. Know the local laws.
    • A red light is a suggestion that traffic stop after six cars have passed through the intersection.
    • Right turn on red after a slight tap of the brakes.
    • Pedestrian crossing lights are mere ornamentation.  Who walks anywhere?  Also, refer to #3, above.

Now, I have noticed that automobile technology is making rapid advancements.  There are cars, I have noticed, with no one visible behind the wheel.  Right now they are fairly slow moving, but I can't help believing that self-driving vehicles equipped with programmable GPS are the wave of the future.

See more HERE.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Day Trip

On Thursday, we made a trip to Pine Island.  Mike has an old and dear friend who bought a house there so we visited him and went out for a lunch.  Later we went to visit another friend of ours, a neighbor from Jericho, VT, who also stays on Pine Island.

Venice is about thirty miles to the north of Fort Myers.

I forgot to take my camera, so the pictures are from google.


You go there to fish or to grow palm trees.

I love these day trips and exploring the areas around us.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Night at the Theater

Mike and I had our evening out at the Venice Theater.  We went to a sold out performance of Intimate Apparel, a play written by Lynn Nottage.  I might add—very well written, too.

Images of from various productions of the play can be seen here.

There was a certain amount of buzz as we stood in line about the play being based on a true story. A lonely woman being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous man—really not to hard to believe!

It is about Ester, a 35 year old woman who makes her living sewing fine lingerie for New York society matrons and less reputable ladies of the night.  She longs for love even as she diligently stashes dollar bills in a crazy quilt.  Her savings are to be used to fulfill a dream of opening a beauty spa for black women.  In the meantime, she visits her customers and Mr. Marks, a purveyor of fine fabrics and a devout Hungarian Jew.

It is set in 1905, but the themes are truly timeless—what brings us together, what keeps us apart.  Very well done here.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Quiet Life

I am in the middle of Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.  Perhaps you can tell from that title that the bias is strongly in favor of introverts.  Since I happen to clearly be one of the introvert persuasion, that is quite okay by me.

I like my quiet time and Mike absolutely has to have his quiet time and would prefer for it to be about twenty-three and a half hours out of his day.  He loves to talk (quietly) but to one or two people at a time. I can tolerate about ten minutes of social chit chat and then I want to get down to business.  I do not mind public speaking although that did come with thirty plus years of teaching experience desensitizing me to it.

So when there was an all New Englanders’ dinner last Saturday night, I surprised Mike by saying I wanted to go and he surprised me by saying he would go as well.  There was a lot of food—clam chowder, NE boiled dinner, Boston Crème Pie, apple pie with VT cheddar—way more food than was actually needed.  There was a lot of noise—people talking and singing along to the music, laughter, and dishes clanging.  There was dancing, but Mike sat firmly in his chair.  I danced anyway.  We were home by 8:30.  We sat and had a quiet glass of wine together and then went to bed worn out from all that raucous socializing.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Snakes Alive!

Whoops.  Not alive.  Dead.


As some of you may know, there was a python hunt in the Everglades a week or so ago.  Pythons have become an invasive species in southern Florida, having escaped from parks and zoos over the years.  So of course when I saw this tail sticking out from under the lanai screening, I screamed calmly called Mike to come outside and deal with it.  He thought it was probably definitely not a python.

DSCN2342He tugged on it with a pair of tongs.

DSCN2343And tugged some more.  It was quite stuck and already dead.

DSCN2345It must have been trying to follow one of the lizards that can squeeze through those little drain holes with no problem at all.

DSCN2346We looked in our Audubon book and identified it as a red (scarlet?) snake—harmless.  Unless you are a lizard, but the lizard won this time.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


I am slowly but surely becoming frustrated with the spam that accumulates daily in Comments.

I tried turning on the comment moderation which seemed to have the effect of letting more spam through the so-called filter.  And then there is my tendency to hit the "delete" instead of the "publish" button for legitimate comments.  I hate that!  My apologies to those whose comments did not make it into print.

And why does Blogger tell me it is "saving" when I hit "delete" I wonder?

Of course there is always the dreaded word verification option.  Surely there can be a better way?
The one good thing I can say about it is that it does always prompt me to clean my glasses.  Sometimes that helps.

Connie at Family Home and Life does a link-up where I read this post: Please Turn Off Captcha.
I have decided to tweak my settings a bit.  I turned comment moderation to "sometimes" (for older posts) and I disallowed "anonymous" comments.  We shall see.

Check out the click and drag option shown on the second link above.  It seems so much less noxious.  Why can't blogger do something like that?

Thursday, January 17, 2013


I picked up my bicycle last Monday.  Here it is--
It’s a Raleigh Detour 3.5 in silver.  I had to wait for a 19” frame to be ordered.  I am so glad I went to a bike shop instead of trying to buy a used bike from Craig’s list.  They were good about listening to my needs—easy to ride, easy to shift, comfortable.  This is a hybrid, something I didn’t even know existed, but it really fits the bill.

I took it for a short ride around the park on the first day.

DSCN2337You can see that Mike is much more interested in taking pictures of scenery than of me on my bike.

I have taken longer rides each day.  I love it!

Now I will need to get a basket.  (I do have a helmet).  I told Mike that I would not get the skin hugging biking clothes, but now I see where ordinary cotton shorts could chafe on a long ride.  Well, anyway it will take me a long time to work up to a really long ride.  It’s very easy to ride, but I do noticed my legs are rubbery when I stop.

Today was rainy--the first time since we have been here really.  Red tide has hit the beaches so we are hoping some stormy weather will blow it away.  We went out for lunch and then I spent the afternoon working on a quilt top.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Clueless or Manipulative?

Tuesday, for me, is a full scale mop of the kitchen day.

I really cannot complain about Mike when it comes to helping out around the house.  He does his own laundry.  He makes the bed.  He helps with the cooking.  He doesn’t dust or volunteer to scrub the bathroom, but he takes care of electrical and plumbing emergencies and always says, “Call your brother,” when carpentry skills are needed.

So don’t take this as a complaint.  It is just an observation.

I was saying, “Thank goodness for old fashioned mop and bucket,” because the steam cleaner I had purchased last winter just did work after being stored for the summer months.
He looked at the floor and shrugged.  “How often do you ever mop anyway,” he says (not asks).

That floored me!  (I know, I know.  Allow me to amuse myself.)  Really.  He must believe we have magically self-cleaning floors.  But he does tend to believe that a job done once stays done.  I know this because he bought a pressure washer to clean the deck  and when he was done he said he was going to sell the washer—like the deck would never get dirty again.

But I am confessing here and now that I am the clueless one.  I bought myself a ticket to a play at the Venice Theater.  I said to myself I would not even ask him because he always says no.  Going out at night??  Going to a play??  And yet, when I told him I had bought a ticket he said, “Oh, I’ll go with you.”  Go figure.

Well, yes, figure:  The play is “Intimate Apparel.”  I may have hinted that it would be a bit like watching a Victoria Secret commercial live on stage…but I absolutely did add ala 1905.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Drifting Along

What is this?  A roast in the oven?  On such a hot day?

No, it is the second step in an attempt to sterilize some drift wood.
The first step was soaking it a bucket of bleach and then drying it in the sun.

And the completed project to add a bit of beachy ambiance to the place:


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday Salad

Can you stand another 'recipe'?

This salad was a throw-together for a vegetarian meal one night when Mike wanted a pork chop.  I cooked his meat, but it was just not what I was in the mood for.  The salad is some of the rice that I served to him and some of the corn.  I added about a cup of quinoa and a a half cup of garbanzo beans.  The dressing is just lemon juice and olive oil with salt and pepper.  There is some fresh basil thrown in.  If I had mint, I would have liked that in it.  I had it with roasted carrots.

DSCN2325Tasty and lots of good protein to fuel my walks.  Or bike rides.  My new bike should be ready early this coming week.

Quinoa is a seed with subtle flavor.  It mixes well with grains and I will throw leftovers of this concoction over a lettuce and tomato salad to add the protein.  Quinoa contains a very high quality protein, since it contains all eight essential amino acids.

Mike just gives it his pinched-nose look.   It is a good thing I do not mind cooking--what with having to make twice as many meals as most.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Florida Food

Fresh fruit and vegetables are such a treat for us Vermonters and our short growing season.  I find plenty of my “winter” favorites—brussel sprouts, parsnips, and squash—right along side fresh citrus, strawberries, and local tomatoes.  Sometimes it is as though there is just too much good food around and we can’t possibly get around to eating it all. 

And then there are the other times, when I just want the same thing over and over again.  Here is a current favorite.

DSCN2324A lightly toasted slice of multi-grain bread.
A very ripe couple of slices of avocado smeared on that.  A slice of red tomato.  A drizzle of really nice olive oil.  A sprinkle of sea salt and a good crank of pepper.

A proper glass of ice tea—having a squirt of lemon, no sugar—and one of these sandwiches after a morning spent walking the beach.  That is the way to do lunch as far as I am concerned.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Gift from the Sea

This morning's walk on the beach was a reminder to be grateful for the good things in my life.

We had our coffee while watching a beautiful sunrise.  We slathered on some sunblock (well one of did, but not the one who has been treated for pre-cancerous sun-damaged spots), and made our way to the beach. 

Eight in the morning and it was 74 degrees.  The sun was shining, the sky blue with soft pillows of white clouds.  The beach was lined with fishermen and behind them, a phalanx of snowy egrets.  Brown pelicans rested on the rocks jutting into the water to the north of the boardwalk.  A few plovers with their doe-like eyes Kippy toed along the shoreline, not very concerned about our presence there.  The early morning beach pickers, smiling greetings, were making their way back to the parking lot.  A couple of osprey were scooping up bits of seaweed.  Nest making time.

I spotted a porpoise and we stopped to watch if it would surface again.  And she did!  She was circling around two young who were absolutely exuberant in their play.  They leaped out of the water and performed back flips again and again.  They chased and played a game of catch—tossing a fish back and forth.  We watched in wonder and felt as though we were certainly blessed with a special gift from the sea.

This is NOT my photo, I got it from Bing images.  But I think you can see that these animals seem to just love life.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Being There

I met with my writing group—a small intrepid band of us who get together on a fairly regular basis at the Jericho Town Library to discuss and support each others’ writing—last night.  I attended from 1500 plus miles away through the wonders of technology via web cam.

Having the ability to do this was one of the main motivations for getting my new laptop last year.

So now I have no excuse for slacking off on the writing.  I was not even the farthest away as the group had a note from one of the original group members who is currently in Croatia.

It looks like a good week ahead—temps above average.  Mike has gone to visit a friend today and I am going to shop for a bicycle.  I have been looking at ads for used bikes, but have decided to go to a bike shop and get a new one.  That way I will know what I am getting.  Way more expensive, but I am worth it.
Tomorrow we will make a trip to Sarasota and shop at the Costco there.  The pantry is one of my favorite things about our Florida house.  It could use a bit more filling up since we will be here three months.  Kind of looks like we drink and we clean from this view.

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Quick Sewing Project

  Here is a quick way to use fabric scraps.  I found the basic directions on a site called All Free Sewing.

 The pillow:

Cut a 9.5” by 6.25” rectangle. Fold it in half lengthwise. Stitch round the edge, leaving a one inch gap for turning. Trim and turn. Use a knitting needle or a pencil to poke out the corners.

Fill with dry rice. Tip: A funnel made from the cut off top of a plastic water bottle works well because the rice will flow more freely than through a typical kitchen funnel.

Hand sew the gap closed. Tip: A few drops of essential oil really make this more pleasant to use.

The pillow cover:

Cut an 11” by 6.25” rectangle. Tip: This is a lot easier to do with fabric that has clear right and wrong sides.


 Hem the raw edges on the 6.25 sides.DSCN2314  With right side facing, fold as follows:

DSCN2315  and  DSCN2316

Sew the sides using a quarter inch seam.

Turn out one pocket and insert the completed pillow.

Turn the other pocket to close.

How easy is that? You can make a bunch. DSCN2321

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Yard Work

Mike was waiting for me to get ready for the morning trip to the beach and he decided to get in a little bit of early morning yard work.
DSCN2307Here he is wielding his “shovel.”

He is moving some grapefruit around.

We spent a lovely morning on the beach.  I guess he deserved it after all this intense labor.  Almost all of our snowbird friends are back.   It feels kind of like home.  Good thing, because probably all my northern family and friends are not talking to me right now.

I have not been picking up shells on my trips to the beach, but I have been picking up driftwood.  I feel a project coming on.

The weather is droopy just north of us and I suppose we will get the foggy, rainy weather tomorrow.  Oh, well.  I do need to do some housework and I am sure I can find a project or two for Mike if we have to be indoors for a day.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


I am always paring down possessions, trying to simplify, but at the same time acquiring new possessions and hungering after new stuff.  This past year, I made many trips to the Goodwill and Salvation Army donation centers.  Really, I have lost count of the boxes and bags I hauled away.  It's a feeling of lightness that very soon leads to a feeling of "Oh!  That empty space needs to be filled!"  and off I go on a shopping trip.

I bought a Himalayan salt lamp mentioned by Patti at the New Sixty on this post.  Eventually, as I meditate next to it, that void I try to fill with stuff will be healed.  That's how I justified that purchase.  That and they are really cool and I wanted one.

My vacuum cleaner, the one that was supposed to pick up bowling balls with its powerful suction, but in fact did little more than push cat kibble around the kitchen floor, made its way to the scrap metal bin (even tho' it was mostly plastic as things are these days).  Of course that had to be replaced.   I bought a bagless Eureka that promised: "thanks to the state-of-the-art Whirlwind® Cyclonic Technology utilized in the creation of powerful suction that leaves no spec of dust, dirt, or debris intact..." my house would be spotless.  Heh, maybe I should have spent the money on one of those robot cleaners, because the one I got has to be pushed around--explaining those times when my house is not spotless.  It does clean super well, but it is heavy.  Pushing it around is a bother and taking it up and down stairs a true pain.

Mike invested in a set of TV Ears and he is in television watching heaven now.  Personally, I wish someone would invent Wife Ears...but I am sure he would not use those so much.  Most of the time I talk to myself anyway.

Of course, I have to support my hobbies and managed to amass card making supplies and fabric and quilting supplies.  I just finished the bureau topper.  My sewing machine was humming away and Mike was plugged into his TV--great way to spend a rainy day.  Idle hands being the devil's play ground and all that.

There is a picture of my Himalayan salt lamp. too.
Now I am really giving serious consideration to buying myself a bicycle.  I do a lot of walking, but a bike would expand my range considerably and there are many bike paths and trails in the area.  Unlike Vermont, there are few hills here along the coast, making the idea of riding a bike more appealing to me.  I will make a solemn promise that I will not try to force my body into any kind of spandex riding outfit.  I believe that I am not quite ready for the very popular (here in Venice) adult size tricycles, but it has been quite some time since I owned a bicycle.  We shall see.