Monday, May 02, 2016

Clouds over land and sea...

I never fully appreciated how amazing clouds are. Until they were no longer there. The sunny days of California were marked by an endless blue stretch of sky. But where were the clouds? The big puffy clouds that seem ever-present here in Florida? The rolling storm clouds? The wispy? The unusual? Where, o where could they be?? Usually not in California. Unless they were endless gray, or the fire clouds, neither of which were really that appealing.
Ever since moving back to Florida, my love and appreciation of these massive cumulonimbostraticumulocirrus darlings in the sky continues.  Yes, I realize that is not actually a type of cloud, but that's how I feel about them. Driving back from California, my friend G. was amused by my exaggerated enthusiasm as we entered Florida and-Behold! Clouds!!  She and I have now traded places; I am in Florida, and she is out in California. She now understands. Whereas other places might have hills and mountains,  or some other geologic features, Florida is blessed with the most amazing array of clouds. 
I mean really, look at this… oooh, clouds! It just wouldn't be the same without.
clouds over the ocean at Juno Pier
Juno Beach Pier
On Singer Island, a storm moving in from inland

And here, a storm moving in over the ocean

Or this…like an angel's wing...
It's not always about the storm clouds though..

And these? Surreal.

Taken in Tampa. Reflections!

And finally, shot at night-an amazing storm out in the ocean.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My mid-week mini-vacation

Group sitting on beach doing beach yoga
As summer approaches, the days get longer and life just feels…better. I love leaving work and and still having hours of daytime available. I'm one of those people that need sun and light in my life. I just am. Which is why I adore the summer days.
Another bonus to the long hours- beach yoga! Every Wednesday evening, my friend D., a certified yoga instructor, hosts what I call a mini-yoga-retreat at the beach. For one thing, it's a great reason to get out and go sit on the beach for an hour, listening to and watching the waves. Then, this is a very gentle type of yoga. D. stresses that you need to listen to your body-don't try to force it, just get in touch  with yourself and enjoy the process. That's really what it's about. With my x-amount of knee surgeries, and x-amount of time sitting like a bump on a log as I recovered, not to mention having a desk job, this is something I look forward to each week.
And let me tell you, it feels great! To just go out on the beach, dig your toes in the sand, stretch and move, and breath in that ocean air for an hour as the sun sets. 
At the end of it, I am both energized and relaxed.
It feels like having been on vacation.
Even if it was just an hour.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A rose by any other name… naming the blog

I started this blog when I moved to California in 2006 as a way to keep my friends and family back East updated with my life, but of course I needed a blog name. My So Called Life was a bit too reminiscent of an old TV Show. My Life seemed a bit…soap-opera-ish. In fact, most names I thought of were…uninspiring.
Then I thought back to my first trip out here to Santa Barbara to search for a place to live. I stayed in the youth hostel right by the train station for about 5 days. Of course, shenanigans ensued, being surrounded by young travelers out for a good time.
However, I met J. on that trip. He had been traveling through India, and was working his way back home to England. I remember the first night he arrived. One of the hostelers was this young 20-something boy, and of course, he got his guitar out and played while everyone gathered around. I can't remember if we had a bonfire or not, but it seems that it would have been appropriate. J., the newcomer, stood there, a bit to the side, smoking his hand-rolled cigarette. He caught me looking at him, and he gave me this amused grin, like, "Can you believe this crap?"
And just like that, our friendship began. The next day, we took off on foot and explored Santa Barbara. Turns out his birthday was a day after mine, so I would joke with him about having Johnny Depp's birthday, as well as the fact that I was a whole day older, so obviously much more experienced, "listen to what I'm saying here, J. I mean, I am a day older, I know these things."
We went to the museum, which was free on Sundays. He joked about smuggling a Monet out of there, "Do you think they'd notice if I just took it home with me? Put it right under my arm and walked out?"
Then we headed down to the beach for a bit. We walked and talked and skipped stones, and walked and talked. I can't even remember what it was we talked about now, life and work and ideas, I suppose. It was just one of those things where you talk about anything and it just flows. 
He left the next day. I took him to the bus station as he went on his journey. I only had a day or two left myself, a good thing because it just wasn't as much fun without him around.
I named this blog after the day we spent, skipping stones into the ocean in Santa Barbara, talking about life and whatnot. I came up skipping stones for the url, but titled the blog La Vida Claudia for many years, as it was about my life. I've just now changed to Claudia's Skipping Stones, matching the original url.

Years later, after I'd moved back to Florida, I found out he had died from brain cancer. Turns out he had been in remission when he and I met. A few years later, it came back and that was it, nothing to be done. He was gone. I am happy to have met him, to have had him become part of my life, for even a brief few days. Some people you meet leave a lasting impression, their ripples continue even after they are gone.

Friday, November 21, 2014


I love Maine. I don't know how my fascination came to be, as I had never been there, didn't know anyone from there and hadn't even done any research on it. All I knew was that I wanted to go.  Years ago, I finally had the chance to go when I passed a licensing exam (to keep my job) and got a bonus for passing. The bonus was about a week's worth of pay.

Everyone asked, "What are you going to do with your bonus??"

"I'm going to Maine," I answered.

The reaction was mostly the same: Maine? Why? Have you been there before?

"No, I've never been. But I really want to go."

Finally, a friend, one of the supervisors, had a better question, "Where are you going in Maine?"

Oh. I hadn't thought that far ahead. All I knew was that I wanted to go to Maine. He recommended Bar Harbour. I looked it up. It was on the water and had a national park. And that was where I went. That trip is at least a blog post in itself, but let me just say that trip justified my fascination with Maine. It's magical, as far as I'm concerned.  I was able to go up a few more times since then, usually involving a work trip. Then, in 2010, I was able to spend a week there, for a workshop.

Now, here's the kicker…I went in February. Cold. Snowy. Beautiful. Still magical. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Surprises of older houses...

I bought my place "as is" and it was a short sale. It took months to finally get approved and closed. It's a good thing I had a place to live in the meantime. Anyways, after moving in, I realized that some work definitely needed to be done. The question was, what could I live with, what needed to be done now?

As I had mentioned, the kitchen was one of those that needed to be done.  

Here is the kitchen as it was (except for the yellow…had to paint! Love my yellow!)  It looks ok, right? Except that…weeellll…some of the drawers were actually falling apart when you tried to open them. 

So, the dismantling begins..

At the sink, evidence of not so great upkeep- wet and mold. Yuck. 

Then, there was this! Under one of the cabinets, a strip of the original linoleum from when it was built in the 1970s!! Whoa! cool.  Actually, I don't have a picture of it, but we also found an S&H green stamp catalogue from 1980!!  You never know what you'll find!

The kitchen, outside...

And what was left inside...

Redone… almost done...