Thursday, January 30, 2014

Here's the Scoop

It was Florida winter today!    This is the third Thursday in a row that has been cold, but today was the coldest.  It was cold and rainy so that the damp just settled in the bones.  I am aware of the Thursday pattern because it is the day I spend working in the Literacy Program at InStride.

The Literacy Program is a shared grant between InStride Therapy and area schools.  A group (30 to 35 kids with teachers and parent chaperones) arrives.  There are four stations set up that teach the  kids about the horses and their care while reinforcing basic academic skills.

The first two times I worked with the arts and crafts station.  The kids made a decorated book mark, put together a horse puzzle, and did a reading/writing activity.  Today I helped in the arena station where my job was to have the kids scoop horse poop--really plastic golf balls tossed around the sand.  They scooped with a scoop/rake tool and we did adding/subtracting problems that I made up as we went along.  It was way more fun that it might sound like.

But, boy, was it cold.  The kids (6 and 7 year olds) were shivering so much the field trip was cut a bit short.

I went home and jumped in a hot shower.  Poor kids and teachers had to go back to school.  They say it will warm up tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Warning!  if you are winter weary, tired of ice and snow, shoveling,  high fuel bills, and four layers of sweaters, you may hate me for posting these pictures.

(Yes, I know Miss Ginnie, some of you already do!)

You know you are welcome to come for a visit.

These pictures are from Monday's walk.  It was a beautiful day with a warm breeze from the south but there was hardly a soul on the beach.  Just as I was leaving the beach i did run into a woman I knew and had a long chat.

It started raining this afternoon and this is the view from my carport.  I went to a yoga class this morning and then to the dentist.  I lost another cap and had to have that repaired.  Geez, I am slowly but surely falling to pieces.

Yesterday I went to a yoga class and then to the eye doctor because I had to get another pair of glasses to replace the pair mangled in my bike accident.

Even though the opticians were advertising two pairs for 80 bucks. even no-line progressives, my one pair cost me $250.  This is actually not a bad price at all for a pair of my glasses; I had no illusion that I would get two for $80!!

My tooth cost $275.  I don't have dental insurance.  It could have broken in the accident, but no, it waits until I am flossing.  My reward for trying to be good about my dental hygiene because I don't have insurance.

Tomorrow, no yoga class as it is my volunteer day, but I will probably be able to pick up my repaired bike and be prepared to drop another $275.  I plan to get a new helmet as well as pay for the bike repairs.

My budget watch dog at will be hyperventilating.

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Meatless Monday

Southwestern Quinoa Salad

This is a lovely combination of black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado, onion, and quinoa dressed with olive oil and fresh lime juice and seasonings such as cayenne pepper and cumin.

It is both vegetarian and vegan and really a nutritional powerhouse.  You can read about each individual ingredient if you click HERE, the World's Healthiest Foods.

The dish is full of fiber, protein, complex carbohydrates, monounsaturated fat (the good kind), vitamins and antioxidants.  All these nutrients are good for heart health, help prevent stroke and digestive woes  (quinoa is a gluten-free grain), and help protect against the development of cancer.  Quinoa is also a plant-based source of calcium.

Plus, I think it tastes really delicious and it is very satisfying as a meal that will keep you fueled and energetic.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Rainy Sunday

It was a rainy day in my little corner of Florida today.

It rained all day.  And I just enjoyed the peacefulness of the patter against the windows.  It was a day indoors.

I read some.  I wrote some.  I did a couple sewing projects.  I talked on the phone.  I watched a bit of television.  I made myself a list of the things I have to do in the coming week, but I did not start on any of them.

My knee is still painful if I bump it (and I bump it often, it seems).  There is still a large lump over my left eye and a small one above my lip.  The bruises are fading little by little.  None of it is painful anymore except for the knee.  I apply arnica.  A woman I met at the library the other day said she's had cosmetic surgery that left her face quite bruised and her doctor told her to eat fresh pineapple.  So I have tried that.  It tastes good, if nothing else, and it helps with a feeling of hydration.

My Sunday was a day of rest and recuperation facilitated by the rain.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sandhill Cranes

I was sitting outside and reading when I happened to look up and notice that visitors had come to call.

These two wandered right up close and did not seem at all disturbed when I got up to get the camera.  They can have all the insects, creepy crawlies, and grub-like things they want.

Is anyone working on genetically engineering ants to eat garden weeds?  That would be a useful thing, I think.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


We have been coming to Venice for some part of the winter since 2006.  There have been a lot of changes in the area over that time.  2006 was near the beginning of the big development crash.  Huge water front, luxury condos were being built but then stood empty.  Sprawling developments were laid out in land, but then construction was stalled.  Brand new shopping plazas stood mostly empty, but the new roads to reach them continued to be built.

The lovely downtown of Venice has suffered from a constant turn over of smaller shops but a few mainstays have managed to hang in there and the main street always seems to be busy, at least with window shoppers.

In 2006, there were two small, indie bookstores in down town.  One was gone in 2007 and the other was gone in 2012.  I have nothing in particular against the big chain bookstores and nothing against Amazon at all, but I sure do miss those little shops.  I feel the loss of some sacred spaces.

Here is a Burlington, Vermont, book shop.  I can never, ever resist going inside if I am anywhere near there.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Saturday afternoon was stretching out in a rather directionless fashion so I decided to take in a 4:00 movie at the local theater.  Apparently, many others had the same notion as the line, when I got to the theater fairly early, was extremely long.  I bought a ticket for August: Osage County.

I 'll admit that I did not know too much about it, but I figured with Meryl Streep, I couldn't go wrong.  It is not an upbeat, feel-good kind of movie by any means.  That was okay with me.  I did appreciate the story and Meryl Streep is beyond brilliant.  To watch her acting is to watch art being made.

There was quite a bit of grumbling about the trailers having given people to believe it was a comedy.  Themes of abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, infidelity, suicide, incest--hard to make a comedy out of that stuff.

I did hear a few remarks along the lines of, "Well, my life doesn't seem so bad now!"

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Another Day

Well my meatless Monday came in handy last night!  Oatmeal that just slid down without the need for chewing.  Yogurt for breakfast and a mashed potato for lunch.  Tonight I making some tomato soup in the crock pot.  My face is pretty swollen on the left side.  It is actually easier to see using my smashed up glasses because they adjust better to the asymmetry.  Tylenol seems to be taking care of the aches and pains though.  The pharmacist recommended Tylenol because of my blood pressure medication and I am just happy that I don't feel the need for the strong stuff.

The purple is now a big circle around my left eye so eye shadow is not going to be of much help.  My lip is actually black and blue.  Hard to believe that some starlets actually pay money to get this bee-sting effect. It's quite annoying.

I divided up my orchid bouquet and have been enjoying flowers in every room.  As many pointed out, Radiant Orchid is the Pantone Color of the Year.  I am not usually not so much up on the fashion trends, but here I am with orchid orchids, an orchid trimmed tissue box, and a matching purple face.

I got a call from InStride today and they would like me to work in their literacy program which takes place on Thursday mornings.  It is not my choice of a time slot, but it is apparently what they most need doing right now.  I warned them, but they may take one look on Thursday and decide I would scare the little kids.  We shall see.  I really got a nice feel about the place at the orientation so I am looking forward to spending some time there.

Today has been quite gloomy outside.  I had a little bit of gardening to finish up from my labors over the weekend, but several rain showers saved me the effort of dragging out the hose to water some new plants.  A rabbit ate all my parsley.
Silly rabbit!  I am pretty sure it has a burrow next to the air conditioner.  I also have heard that there has been a coyote lurking about, so that rabbit better watch out.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Okay, Linda Reeder.  Okay, Arkansas Patti.  Yours is NOT a club I wanted to join.  But I did anyway.

Bike meets car; face meets pavement.  Olga meets EMTs, gets ride to ER, meets nurses, doctors and X-ray technicians, and friendly police officer who issues a citation for negligent bike riding.  Not pretty.  So very not pretty.

Are you ready for this?

Yes. I was wearing my helmet. Plenty of bruises and swellings, but no broken bones, no concussion.  

I will take it easy for the next few days, but first order of business is to go out and purchase purple eye shadow.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


I have signed up at the local YMCA, only about a mile from my house here, and I have started taking the beginner yoga classes.  I am really enjoying it very much--four classes under my belt so far.  Flexibility has never been my strength, but I can already feel a small difference and I am definitely more aware of my posture.

They say that yoga is good for blood pressure and insomnia.  I really would be happy to find that to be true.

My other "keep busy" tactic is to find a volunteer opportunity while I am in Florida.  I thought about the library since that is what I do at home, but then I found this place.  I went to a volunteer orientation today.  It is not far away although it is a little tricky to get there (Thank God for GPS!).  It is a very cool place.  I don't know what I will be asked to do.  I know it is a little mean spirited, but I do kind of hope that they give the shovel-horse-manure jobs to those who are court ordered to do community service rather than to us do-gooder retirees.

I am hearing some rumbles of thunder.  We have had a lot of rain for this being the "dry season."  However, we have not had the kind of flooding rains that have occurred in eastern parts of the state.  It was beautiful here all day and I got in  both a walk and a short bike ride.  My bone density test in December was mildly bothersome so I am recommitting to exercise.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Fashion Found in Funny Places

When I was working, one thing I could count on was a miserable cold from late September into October.  An advantage to retirement is that I am no longer exposed to that concentration of germs in a confined space as one typically finds in a classroom.   Colds have become a rare thing for me.  The sound you hear now is me knocking on wood so as to not jinx myself be making a statement like that.

In the working days I bought tissues for the softness on my nose, but I was never immune to the look of the box.  This designer development would indicate that I am not the only one to use tissue boxes as a piece of room decoration.

 None of my tissue boxes are designer originals as far as I know, but I did think about what might go in each spot when I shopped for them.

Then, of course, there is the tall, round box designed to fit in my car cup holder.  I think it would do with some design work myself, but it is convenient.  Even though I don't have a cold, I do tend to sneeze every day--sensitive to smells, dust, etc.

I wonder with all the fashion lines attached to Hollywood celebrities and reality TV personalities, if real fashion designers with actual training and experience, like Isaac Mizrahi (whom I think is absolutely adorable) has to branch out to paper products just to make a living.  Do you think?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Stupid Arctic Polar Vortex!

It was even cold, cold in Florida today.

Still, after the nice hot soup for supper last night, I had fresh Plant City strawberries for breakfast this morning.

That's yogurt, by the way--not whipped cream.

I got a big surprise when I returned from yoga class this afternoon--a big bouquet from my daughter and two grandchildren waiting on the doorstep.

Aren't they gorgeous.

They made me happy.

I put one stem at the kitchen window.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Meatless Monday

Today started off as a gorgeous day--sunny, temperature at 76 degrees at 9 in the morning when I was preparing for a trip to the library.

But the weather report warned it was not to last, and it did not.

The sky has turned grey and the palm trees are bowing in the strong north wind
while the temperature plummets.

It will be a good night to heat up a bowl of this sweet potato soup with roasted red pepper and toast up a crusty roll to dip in olive oil.

It is a literary day for me.  This morning at the library I met with an area poetry group and I felt an instant connection there.  Later I will Facebook with two of my Vermont writing partners.

I do miss my Vermont family and friends, but not the winter weather.  I have heard too many stories about falling and getting stuck on ice to miss the place itself.  I heard from one friend today who fell on the ice outside her back door  and could not get herself back up again.  After 40 minutes of being sprawled on the icy ground with her husband and a neighbor slipping and sliding all around her and not being able to get enough purchase themselves to lift her, her husband got out his tractor with a bucket loader, scooped her up in it, and drove her to the front door.  Can you imagine!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Movie Night

My sister belongs to Netflix.  She watches a movie nearly every night, a habit she developed about the time her nest emptied out.  There are certain movies (To Kill a Mockingbird comes to mind) that she watches again and again over the years.

Unlike my sister, I am not a big time TV movie fan.  It's like a two hour commitment and other things are always there to call to me.  (Like what?
Well, nothing really.)  Last night, I decided to check out the offerings on Free Movies On Demand.  I can tell you right off the bat that there is little danger of my developing an every night movie habit based on the offerings there.  However,  American Graffiti did catch my eye.

Good grief!  Has it been THAT long since 1973??!??  Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfus, Harrison Ford--all young enough to at least get away with playing teenagers.  And whatever happened to Wolf Man Jack, I wonder?

I remember it like it was yesterday--1973.

Do you have a favorite movie?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Reflections at the Start of a New Year.

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.........Anatole France

A new year starts and we think, "a new beginning, the opportunity to change and to make things better."  We think, "This year, I will do better.  I resolve to do better.  This year, I will change my unhealthy eating habits.  I will change my slovenly ways and exercise every day, write every day, save more money, learn a new language, train for a marathon, devise a plan for lasting world peace."

This spurt of cockeyed optimism rarely, if ever, lasts.  In fact, there is that hint of melancholy followed by resistance to change.  Buddhist nun and author, Pema Chodron calls it "the fundamental ambiguity of being human"--we want things not to change but everything changes anyway.  Wanting things not to change causes pain.  No wonder it is so easy to abandon those lofty resolutions, so easy to go back to comfortable old habits.  

A year ago, I did not know that 2013 would be a year of huge change for me.  I have always mostly thought of myself as a progressive kind of person, one who is willing and able to embrace change more readily than most.  How easy to do when the changes to a good life only make it better.  How actually a kind of blindness.  A year ago, I did not have an inkling of the lessons I would learn.

Not wanting my life to have changed--yes, that is pain.  Everything changes and sometimes change means loss.  I did not see the loss of my husband
anywhere on the horizon a year ago.  I did not see the grief lurking in the wings of such a loss.  I did not anticipate the emotional, physical, and spiritual toll--the naked grief.

Everything changes and our control over that changing is an illusion at best.  I was pushed into vortex of swirling reactions.  I am carried down a river I did not jump into willingly, battered and bruised along the way, and not always able to grasp the usual safe holds to pull myself out.  Grief is a journey without any guide posts.  I have to make our own, as we all do.  We do learn along the way--sometimes the hard way, sometimes by lucky happenstance, sometimes by the grace of others.

I have learned to face the feelings as they may come, to really see them for what they may be.  It is, for me, the only way to figure out what to do with them and to make peace within myself.

I learned that I am quite capable of angry fist shaking and shouting at the unfairness of fate, of life, of God.  I also learned that is not an especially helpful reaction when you find yourself in a turgid river.  You are going to swallow water and sink.  Acceptance allows me to float for a while and renew my energy so I can keep swimming.  I have learned I do want to keep swimming.

I have learned that I can steel myself for the pain of the big things like holidays and then be completely dissolved by something as little as a strand of his hair caught in a hairbrush found unexpectedly in a suitcase.  Tears sneak up on you.  The one-two punch takes you by surprise.

I have learned anew that I have been greatly loved and that I am loved.  That is solace.  That is the life jacket thrown in so quickly.  That is the reason to find my way.  I did not know that Mike saved every single card, letter and note that I ever sent to him.  I found them in a file marked simply "O" when I was searching for his advanced directive.  That tidbit of news about the person I thought I knew best touched me to my core.  Now I am touched by the acts of caring from family and friends.  Nothing is too small or too slight to be appreciated.

I have learned that on this first day of a new year, I will not make resolutions to improve myself.  I will take myself as I am right now but know that, too, will change.  I will embrace change with sadness or happiness, as the case may be, but treat myself and others with kindness and affection in doing so.  That is my intention for 2014.