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Friday, November 21, 2014

Maine

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...


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

my first real winter...

As the cold front moves through, I remember when I moved out of Florida. There were a few amusing incidents involving my complete ignorance of what exactly cold weather is. You see, I grew up in South Florida. Yes, I am north of Miami, but not by much. Growing up down here, the coldest days I remember were the ones where there was frost on the (still green) grass when I had to go to school. Within a few hours of sunrise, all the frost would have melted.  A nice cotton sweater is probably the warmest bit of clothing I owned. That's what I considered winter weather. Yes, there was that one winter it froze so badly that it was still freezing at 10am, but even that didn't last the day. It was freak weather.

So, although I saw pictures of snow, and mentally knew it was cold, I still couldn't quite comprehend what it means to actually be that cold. It just didn't register. So, cue my moving north to snow country (anywhere it actually snows during the winter on an even semi-regular basis), and couple that with this complete incomprehension of actual cold weather, and yeah…that first year proved interesting (and probably gave people I interacted with more than a good laugh, I would guess). I moved up in May. I thought that would be great, allow me time to adjust once the cold did come. I would get to experience summer, then fall, then adjust to winter! Great!

Of course, you lovely folks that live there know that even though it's summer, that doesn't necessarily mean it will be warm. Of course, it could be broiling hot, with temperatures over 100F. Or, like happened to me that summer, it was a cool summer and temperatures were still in the 60s in July. July! This concept was so foreign to me, I felt like I'd moved to another planet!

So, I thought, HEY! I'll get ready for the winter and go get myself a winter coat. So, off too TJMaxx I went (yes, inveterate TJMaxx-whore here). They had all sorts of coats, and I tried on this simple black wool coat that reached down to my calves. Ooh, it was HOT! Ugh, get this thing off of me. Logically, I had seen people (on tv and in movies) wearing these coats. I probably needed it. But, that incoherence, that deep abiding ignorance of actual cold weather, persisted. Would I really need this? Naaaaah!! It can't be that bad, can it?? Luckily, I was wise enough not to trust my own mind, so I asked this girl that worked there.

"Hi, I just moved here, and I was wondering, will I really use a coat like this in winter?" (mind you, I had this incredulous tone, like again, Naaaah, won't really need it!)

She looked at me like I was from outer space.

"Where you from?"

"Florida."

"Oh, yeah. You'll definitely use it."

And with that, she quickly moved away lest my stupidity might somehow be catching. I bought the coat. I figured, hey, if you can't trust someone that lives here, who can you trust?  And boy, did that coat come in handy.

Work sent me to Minnesota at the beginning of December. Sometimes, I wonder if they did it on purpose. Hmm…who can we sent to the arctic of the U.S? Hey, I know! Let's send the Florida girl there! Yeah, that ought to be amusing!! har har.

I had looked at the weather forecast prior to my trip. With a forecast in the 20's, I was ready- had my coat, long johns, wool scarf, hat, gloves, boots, and wool socks ready. What I did not expect was the pilot to come over the intercom as we were landing and tell us the temperature was -27F with winds of whatever the hell they were and to cover any exposed skin because frostbite would occur in less than 5 minutes.

Wait…what??  Did I hear that right?? That's not possible, is it?? Nooooo… So he came back on and repeated it again. Yep, that would be negative 27 Fahrenheit (equals -32C)! And I was going out in that? Aw hell….

When it was time to get out of the airport to go to my rental car (which I couldn't understand why they would leave it outside, and not inside, in a nice covered garage),  I bundled up as best I could…I had my coat on, pulled my hat down as much as I could without covering my eyes, wrapped my scarf nice and tight and pulled it up over my mouth and nose…and….

I survived. I was there a week, listening to the radio warn parents not to let their children play outside without properly covering them. I was there a week, letting the car warm up before attempting to get inside. I was there a week, scraping the ice off the windows every morning. And I survived.

Actually, by the end of the week, it had warmed up to a semi-tropical -1F. I went for a walk. I even left the coat at home.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A visit to the swamp

If you ever see a picture of Florida from space, you'll see that most of South Florida is very watery, thanks to the amazing Everglades. And although I grew up here, I didn't really go there much (if ever). No, it was there, but I always had other things to do, and it was a longer drive and blah blah blah. Always some excuse. However, it's really an amazing place to visit.

After I moved back in 2009, we had some friends visit us from overseas and one of the places we went was to the Everglades. There are a number of Indian villages and various attractions where you can go on an airboat ride through the Everglades. That July, we visited Billy Swamp Safari. We decided to first go on the airboat ride…
It's basically a floating platform with a large fan that propels the boat through the water. It's loud! And it's fun.

On the way out, we passed the chickee huts. These are original Seminole style chickee huts and, if you want, you can stay overnight in them.

Here, we have the somewhat open waterway. See all the plants in the water? That's why you need an airboat- to basically float right over those without tearing anything up or risk getting a motor tangled with anything.

Along the banks, we some some wild pigs. The Seminoles have them on their land, along with some other creatures (we saw ostrich and water buffalo too!) Here we have what looks like either a pregnant sow and some semi-little ones. Our guide joked that they called the really little ones Bacon Bits.  

Then, of course, you have the ever present American Alligator. This guy had been across the river, but when he saw us, he decided to come and investigate. And he kept getting closer and closer. 
And here he is, right close to the shore, where all the little piggies are!

All of a sudden, our guide starts throwing dog food into the water! And all the pigs started coming into the water to feed. 
WHAT? WAIT! 
WHOA!! There's an alligator here, dude?? What are you doing?? I do not want to see some pig get massacred. NO NO NO!!! I think all of us on board were screaming at him. And then…
This happened….


The alligators completely ignored the pigs and started eating the food the guide had thrown into the water. Here they were, right next to each other, predator and potential prey, all eating this dog food that had been thrown into the water, and completely ignoring each other.

And finally, here is one of the pigs, laughing at us.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Detours and Adventures

I would say that's probably a good way to describe life. Well, my life at least. I've certainly still got a ways to go, but overall, when I think back to my younger self and the ideas I had then about what I would do with my life, thins have turned out quite differently than my expectations. I've had detours and adventures along the way. (In the meantime, I'm still trying to figure out what to do when I grow up.)

In high school, I thought that I would go to college, take my classes, do my work, graduate and find a job. That was what I had been trained to think, to expect. However, life had other ideas. I graduated all right, but couldn't find work within my field (shocker right? that never happens!) Many people would have been happy to have me come and work as an intern (free labor!) but, uhm, those bills have to get paid. 

My best friend and I were in the same boat. I ended up finding work at a restaurant as a hostess (loved that job, and I was damn good at it, too bad it didn't pay enough for me to keep doing it!) and my friend kept working at the used bookstore she'd been working in all through college. And we both kept looking for full time work. 

Finally, I landed what was a pretty good job with rather large, corporate, finance company. That was a definite detour.  I had not studied finance, or economics or business, or much anything like that, yet here I was. They picked me. I had a job. I had to go out and buy adult clothes (apart from my interview outfits.) It was a new world. And an adventure. I learned what they needed me to know, and I learned how to do my job and do it well. I also learned what it can be like in the corporate world. I learned what having a great supervisor is like. I also learned what having a not-so-great supervision was like, as well as what being micro-managed feels like. I definitely became more cynical when I saw how people were treated based on office politics, and how some people got set up to take a fall.  I saw the "golden" boy or girl get all the intangible benefits of being the golden one. I saw office romances bloom, then fade (or in some instances crash and burn horribly and then both people had to keep working together. Oh, that was fun to be around.) I also made some really great friends that I'm still in touch with 10+ years later!!)

But like I said, I was good at my job, which led me on to another path. I got a promotion and moved up north, to snow country. I stayed with the company for three more years after that before deciding to take yet another major detour and go back to school (not once but twice!) Now, I find myself at another crossroads, trying to decide what to do next. There are certain parameters I need- enough income to have a decent lifestyle, maybe some extra to put away, benefits, and preferably, have a feel-good factor in some way to it (still a bit of a hippie at heart and would like to be beneficial and helpful in some way…)

With the years as a filter, I look back on some of those experiences I've had, and think about the people I've known, especially at that first job, and my compassion goes out to most of the people I have worked with, because, in the end, everyone was just trying to survive as best they could.

So, who knows what will come next? Who knows, but I'm sure it'll be an adventure, no matter what! Like I said, I still have a ways to go!


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sunrise


Sunrise on the beach. I'm not really a morning person, but I haven't found anything yet that can compare to the feeling I get from making it down to the ocean and watching a new day come alive.

I love my friends...

I missed a day yesterday, but I had a great reason- my friends came over to visit, bringing wine and gifts and lots of laughter! How lucky am i?

Here is the homemade get well card they made for me. I love it! Inside were a bunch of little cards each with jokes from everyone. I am overwhelmed (in a good way) with their creativity and they that took the time to do this for me.

 

They also brought me a present. They said knowing I'm mostly home and lots of time on my hands, they thought this could entertain me a bit.


OOOH!!!!! This looks like so much fun! I've never done any type of pottery, so this is going to be a new experience for me. It's like being a kid again!! Needless to say, the wine flowed and the time passed too quickly. Before I knew it, it was late, and it was time for them to go. And I missed a blogging day-some things are just more important!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

It's the little things...

This one goes in the "Makes Me Happy" category!

I admit, I do like a good gripe every now and again, but overall, I do try to stay positive. And often, it's about the little things. Like the photo above, it was just a moment this past summer, but everything came together for that photo. Just looking at it, I smile and feel the same peace I did the day I took the photo.

Monday, November 10, 2014

It's a sunny world

As I mentioned before, I love flowers. I was looking through some old photos today, and found these of some sunflowers. I hope you like them.







Sunday, November 09, 2014

iPhoneography

Well, that's what I call it anyhoo…  does it have to be an iPhone? No. It can be any phone you have, as long as you have access to some cool apps.

So, what's the deal?  Everyone takes pics with their phones. So many people have Instagram accounts, which allows you to tweak your photos to a certain extent.  But if you want to have a little more fun with it, you can actually combine apps and get some funky results. It's all a matter of experimenting and playing with it. Some apps allow you to add textures and effects to you photos. Or maybe they let you add a negative frame. Some have built in effects that maybe mimic Holga or something similar. For example, one of my apps has a Tilt/Shift effect, which is similar to Instagram's blur. But when I combine it with some of their lens filters, it creates a whole new look. Here's one I did that way….It was just some faded bracelets taken up close. However, I like the effect much better than if I had just taken it without the tilt shift effect.

As I mentioned, you can combine effects with various apps too. It's a bit of a hit and miss…but here are a couple of ones that I feel worked well for me.


I love this one. Two friends of mine were walking toward the water around sunset, but being that we're on the East coast, we will never see the sun setting on the ocean. But adding this texture effect, and then adding another with the film frame gave the photo a whole new look. 

Of course, in Florida, palm trees abound…I layered a couple of different effects here and got a new look. I thought it worked well with the colors of the palm tree.


Another thing we get quite often here? Trains. I'm not sure if you get stopped as often where you may live, but here, it happens quite often. So, I sit there at the light and snap pics, then mess with them. This one I added a cracked effect, added the photo frame, and then chose one of the instagram filters to give it the enhanced color. 


And finally, Christmas (yes, it's coming!) I took a closeup of one of the decorations on my mom's tree, added one filter and voilĂ …the effect is complete. 

So, I hope you have fun with them. All the programs I have are free photo programs downloaded from the apps store. Since I am on an iPhone, I don't know if all the programs are available for Android and other users, but I'm sure if you look through, you'll find some you'll like!

Enjoy.


Thursday, November 06, 2014

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

South Florida living...

This is where I grew up, and when I moved away, one of the big things I missed was the ocean, warm and inviting, full of life.





Monday, November 03, 2014

Flowery…

I have to admit, I love flowers. I think they are magical, beautiful creations. Earlier this year, I committed to my little patio garden and, for a little while, enjoyed a beautiful, lush garden. Here are a few images.

This is my Joseph's Coat Rose
This is a lily I bought from the grocery store
My Geranium just after watering
Last but not least, Morning Glory




Thursday, May 15, 2014

Feels like kindgergarten...

For the summer, I decided to take a drawing class. Yeah, a drawing class. I haven't done this since high school- and that was a while ago. So, class started and we got to take out easels (easels?? I have never used one before!!) and set them up because we started drawing the first class. Oh boy!

So, after going over the syllabus, the teacher showed us how to hold our pencils. It's not like holding a pen or pencil to write, I would describe this more like holding a wand. And then she had us stand while drawing. Another first for me. Our first exercise was a blind contour (I think??). Anyways, we had to "draw" items that the teacher had laid out on the table without looking at our paper. 

Say what??? You don't want me to look?? How? Wha? Uhm…

So, I tried. I kept running off the paper, which is rather amusing. The hand-eye coordination is certainly not there. When we were done, I had ummm, I suppose it was a drawing? Anyways, it was interesting. Basically, mine looked like a mess. I was seriously impressed that some of the kids in the class actually managed to make it look like what was on the table. Maybe they looked? Maybe not? I don't know. 

After that, we got to draw the same thing, but this time we were able to look. It came out much better, but again, there is a certain childish look to mine. I lack the coordination. I try to get the pencil to do one thing, but I don't necessarily succeed. I guess that is part of the process! 

And finally the items were switched and we then practiced framing our drawings and seeing what came of it. All in all, interesting. And fun! I'm just letting it go, not trying to get it perfect but just get into the movement of drawing and moving and just having fun with it. 

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Thunk!

This morning, I woke up when I heard a "Thunk!" against my window. I thought, "What was that?" and got to look. On my small balcony, I saw the source. It looked like a brown-grey blob that, to my unawake eye, seemed like a large seed or demolished toy of some sort. I figured someone threw it, but who and why? All sorts of strange thoughts- maybe it was something someone shot, not realizing it would hit someone's house? Maybe some neighborhood kid found this thing and just threw it, again, not realizing it would hit? All sorts of strange, sleepy thoughts. I decided to investigate.

After pulling my jeans on (after all someone could be out there, I don't need to flash the neighborhood), I stepped out on the balcony and there, in the cold pre-dawn, was my little blob--a tiny bird, just sitting there, dazed, probably wondering, "what the hell just happened??"

I scooped it up and it just sat in my hands, blinking up at me. It was a little warbler. I went downstairs and sat outside with it, waiting for it to recover from its shock. At least in my hands, it had warmth. We just sat there, it blinking up at me, me staring at it in wonderment.  A few times it closed its eyes and napped, but at my slightest movement would look back up at me.

Finally, it flittered a few feet away to an empty plant pot on the table, and studied me from there. Sitting in the cold morning air, my nose started betraying me and, as much as I tried to stifle it, I sneezed, startling my little friend to the fence, a little further away.

Now, knowing it was recovering, I slowly got up and grabbed my camera. It wasn't afraid, and sat there looking at me while I took some photos of it as the sun came up. Finally, it recovered enough to fly off into the nearby trees.


Sunday, January 05, 2014

New Year's Day

On New Year's Day, my family convened for the annual family New Year's meal involving lots and lots of food and drink! The night before, celebrating with my friends, I made my New Year's resolutions (which I usually eschew, just on principle) which were to spend more time outdoors and at the beach, and more time with my friends and family!

After we'd all eaten and sat around talking and laughing and the table was clear and the dishes were in the dishwasher, I took a stroll down to the beach in an effort to not break at least one of my New Year's resolutions on the first day of the year! To the north lay bright blue skies; to the south, an ominous black cloud, which looked like it was heading our way. Common sense told me to turn around before the rain started, and I thought, "BAH! I'm not turning around till I see the damn beach!" And on I walked. On the boardwalk, I could feel the sprinkling rain beginning, like the spray from a sprinkler when the wind blows. Undeterred, I walked on…

And there, right on the beach, a rainbow emerging right out of the ocean.  And so, here it was, the beginning of the year, and I was able to see a rainbow being born out of the water. I'll take that as a good sign.

**(And in case you were wondering, yes, it started raining harder. I figured I'd get drenched walking home, but who should pull up in the car to give me a ride home but one of my sisters! Yes!)