January 31, 2008

That's Better

A new haircut and dinner out with the husband can turn a day right around.

January 29, 2008

Democracy in Action

Today is Election Day here in Florida.
So, I took my morning cup of coffee and walked up to my polling place.
And I voted.

January 28, 2008

Finding Comfort

Our home definitely has a distinctive smell - its a hint of the fresh garlic, soy sauce and sesame from the salad dressing Alex makes and that we eat almost nightly. But, its a gentle smell and most definitely means home. Tonight I opened the door, more tired than my day warrants, and it was like kicking off your heels and slipping on your thick socks. The familiarity and comfort of that smell just enveloped me.

I've been pretty much right here all week, soaking in the comfort. Coming home to change straight in to my new, beloved sock monkey flannel PJs and reading romance novels every chance I get. These drastic weather changes coupled with a hectic week at work have had my energy level low. So, I've been pampering myself with plenty of down time.

As I write that, it strikes me that we really did quite a bit this week - my brother in law was in town, we went out to dinner with friends (and turned it in to an engagement celebration when we learned he proposed over the weekend!), made an appearance at a happy hour, went to the farmer's market, celebrated a birthday with another friend, tried to shop at Ikea (and fled with our tails between our legs) and enjoyed a brief visit from my parents. And yet, I still think I spent most of my time in my PJs. Of course, my brother-in-law and my parents didn't warrant getting out of the PJs, and as soon as each of those activities I was back in my PJs. I certainly didn't get any housework or yard work done!

And I did finish this - the last of the Christmas gifts just in time to be given to the recipient. I've never been big on wallhangings, but I find this one to be absolutely adorable. I may have to make one for myself. I'm thinking with a blue border, for the bathroom. I think having turtles living in the bathroom would be fun. Well, the fabric variety at least.

And that leaves me with very few works in progress at the moment. I've set aside the sweater I'm knitting until I have a clear head, after ripping out everything I stitched. And the t-shirt quilt is downstairs slowly being quilted. The boo-tiful quilt needs me to go find a border fabric. And.. that's it. I get to leap in to another project, probably the pillowcases for our room.

But, not now. Right now I'm enjoying the flannel PJs and my novels.

Photo Monday

I've ditched the idea of the 365 project. My schedule and my life being what it is, I wasn't spending more time with my photos, but turning it in to a chore. And taking more boring pictures, rather than better ones.. So, I'm going to narrow the resolution to posting one photo a week - a reminder to spend some time developing my skills in my already prolific photo taking.

This one is a favorite wedding gift. The Love Lives Here is a Bill Davis exclusive, given to us by his wife, with the statute, because he did not live to see our wedding day. It was one of the few wedding gifts to make me cry, and a treasured little tableau at the top of our stairs. It is a daily reminder of how lucky I am in - in my marriage and in my life. Life sometimes feels too full, too busy, but that is a side effect to being so full of love.

January 21, 2008

Photo Monday

Introducing Pippen

It's 1:30 in the morning, and I've been in bed, awake for over two hours. I've listened to two disks of Harry Potter and the rhythmic snores of the man and the dog. Thankfully, tomorrow's a holiday, and I've decided just to cry "uncle" and give it up for now. I'll go back to bed when I feel sleepy and just grumble at Alex when he tries to wake me at an hour that I would normally consider decent.
Instead, I'll introduce you to Pippen. My Mom has patiently been awaiting her chance for a lap dog, and Friday he came to live with them. We think he's about five or six months old. He's a Whippet who apparently got lost and found a family that already had its quota of dogs. They found Mom, and Mom and Pippen were clearly a match made in heaven.
Like her, he loves the garden and is fascinated by plants. We have already begun negotiations over the definition of stick and plant. He doesn't, however, have any interest in actual chew toys or bones. Nothing I did to demonstrate the joy that is a rope inspired any curiosity whatsoever in him, though he was fascinated with the camera. I had to use the telephoto lens to get good pictures of them, because otherwise all I could get was a snuffling nose.He was quite inquisitive all around, in fact. He was very interested in anything we were doing and assumed anything we had must be great fun. Pippen, like Gwen, is definitely a people's dog. While he liked having the other dogs around and found them interesting, it was most important to him that the people be close by, Mom in particular. He needed no time at all to bond to her. Then again, while clearly favoring her, he didn't exactly have a hard time getting comfortable with the rest of us, either.It was busy few days for a little pup, and he was happy to take a soft lap wherever he found it. He obviously knows a sucker when he sees one.

January 16, 2008

Doggone Cute

After our boycott on traveling, or sleeping in any bed but our own, over the holidays, we finally made the long trek down to Alex's family for a visit. What? Three hours doesn't qualify as a long trek? Well, its my blog and I say that is a trip of epic proportions.*

Anywho - the timing could have been better. I was a full week in to a lingering head cold that wouldn't go away. Not nearly sick enough to shirk responsibilities (though I appreciated the pampering from Alex in the evenings) but dragging enough not to want to do anything. But, we'd put off this trip for so long and I really wanted to see the family, so off we went with Sud@fed packed.

I'm glad we did. It was the perfect medicine. I lounged on the lanai couch, watched the fire we didn't need, and received some TLC from this handsome guy.

And the wrinkle on this guy's forehead makes everything he does seem adorable and funny. Laughter is the best medicine you know.
All species have learned to co-exist, and I just dare you to look at this scene and not have your heart melt. The boys compete for Dad's attention. (Just ignore that gleam in Bucky's eye. I swear he was really up there making sure his place was secure. He just got...distracted for a second.)

Gwen, on the other hand, was lurking on the other side of the couch with a forbidden treat. She loves visiting the grandparents', where we don't have the heart to deny her the rib bone when the other dogs have had two each. She was much less interested in co-existing than getting all the good stuff off it before somebody stole it from her.

*Just how does he succeed in getting my lazy butt to Bulgaria again?

January 14, 2008

Photo Monday

This is the fastest growing member of the household down at my in-laws. He's a personable little guinea pig, too.

Change - The Good and The Bad

Warning: This post has been brewing for awhile and is a bit, well long-winded would be a kind way of putting it. You may want to just skip to the bottom three paragraphs. Or skip it all together, for that matter. Sometimes you just gotta say it.

I am a Florida girl to my bones. Not only was I born and raised here, but my family has been here for as long as we have family memory. So, I get a little impatient with those that move to the state and then complain it 'doesn't feel like Christmas.' If you want icicles on your eaves and snowmen in your yard, Florida is not the place to make your home.

And I vehemently disagree with the oft-repeated statement that there 'are no seasons' here. There are, actually, very distinct seasons in Florida. I will agree they are not nearly as dramatic as they were when I lived in DC, but they exist. They simply take a more discerning eye.

I know it is Fall when the sticky nights of summer suddenly give way to cooler temperatures that are a relief from the heat of the day. You are still in short sleeves during the day, but the sweaters are out at night. And we put the blankets back on the bed. The vegetable plants that burned up in the summer are suddenly vibrant and prolific, but the prolific flowering vines wither up for a period of dormancy. This is a time when we venture back outside, lighting a fire on the patio and enjoying the crisp air. Plenty of gardening, hiking and camping get done in this weather.

Winter comes when the regular rains stop and the plants are now more green than colorful. The air is cold at night and it smells of the dry oak leaves and on the best nights wood smoke. You need the sweaters all day now, and the coats fairly often. The air conditioning is completely off, and the heat often on. The bed now has a comforter, and the indoor fireplace gets some use. Gardening slows down, but doesn't end all together. You have to protect the plants from the occassional freeze and now isn't the time to put new plants in the ground, but there's a bit of maintenance. The citrus trees, on the other hand, are heavy with fruit. Its almost dark when I get home from work, so I pack all the yard work in to the weekend.

But Spring is right around the corner, heralded by the blooming of the azaleas, the smell of orange blossoms and the falling leaves. Yes, falling leaves - our trees lose ours when the new growth pushes off the old. Gardeners are out putting in the new plants for the season, and everything that was dormant springs back to life. We quickly rush out for our pruning, because the new growth will take off just a week or two after spring comes.

Early summer - because our summer is definitely two season - is here when I come home from work and change in to short sleeves and a skirt, and do not realize an hour later that this is still premature. Our blooming plants are in full swing now, and the first vegetable crop of the year is happily producing. This is the time of year I can't help but spend every free moment outside, even though the insects are beginning to return. The garden is a happy place to be and, if we're getting our regular rain, seems to grow with no help from me. The days are long, and it feels like I have all the time in the world to get things done.

And then there's late summer, definitely the toughest season for those not used to the rhythms of our state. It is hot and sticky, with incredible humidity that is barely helped by the afternoon rains. And by rains, I mean monsoons. While many of our tropical plants thrive in this weather, many others burn up or drown. It is definitely not the time to put anything new in the ground, but that's okay because its too hot and buggy to work outside anyway. This is the time for lazing in the shade or, better yet, finding your way in to a body of water. And since there's one around every corner, it's not that hard. This is also hurricane season, and it pays to keep an eye on what NOAA has to say.

It's not a northeastern change of seasons, and I know its not for everyone. But, it has a charm all its own. I happen to prefer it to short summers and bitterly cold winters myself. The only problem is, everything I've just described to you has gone out the window. I don't know if its freak weather patterns or global warming, but I want it to stop. We are, literally within three days, swinging from highs of 40 degrees (with a frozen pond in the backyard) to 80. Its January, 80 is high even for us. Today it is 65 degrees and even I am relieved that something approaching winter has come. I haven't had to resist the urge to roll my eyes at the northerners all winter, and I'm agreeing with them. (I'm not sure I can express to you the magnitude of that fact.) This is not winter.

And it wasn't our summer, either. Oh, it was plenty hot enough. But where were our monsoons? It felt like the dry season in the rainy, and now that the dry season is here we are in real trouble. They've enacted water restrictions from Orlando straight down through the Keys. We're a long state, that's around 390 miles and at least two, probably three temperate zones. You never take water for granted living in a state like this, and the faster our population grows the more we think about it. But, this scares me.

I've been working on building more sustainable practices in to our life. Using canvas grocery bags in all stores is second nature now, as is bringing my recycling home from work. My compost is still a work in progress, but we're actively working on it. We replaced the leaky faucet. The thermostat on the air conditioning keeps the house from being over cooled, and the timer turns it off while we're at work. We didn't feel the hybrids were ready when we bought our cars, but we chose small, gas efficient ones. (We're particularly pleased with that decision as gas prices continue to rise.) I enjoy reusing and repurposing, and what I don't goes to goodwill rather than the landfill. That was the easy stuff. I'm going to have to start looking more closely now. But, I want to continue living here, in this wonderful but somewhat fragile state, so I'm going to have to do something more.

I just don't know where to start.

January 09, 2008

I Should Know By Now

Listening to the pundits debate what it would mean for Hillary that she teared up while making a personal statement and thus 'showed a moment of weakness', Alex says with exasperation "tears don't mean a woman's weak. It's just a release so you can go about doing what needs to be done."

When will I stop being surprised that he pays attention?

January 07, 2008

Photo Monday

A beautiful sky seen during a late evening walk on January 1st.

**A quick note of explanation: While I take a lot of pictures, I was inspired by the wedding photography to spend some time focusing on this as a skill. This year I'm doing my own Project 365. On Monday I will post a favorite from the week before, with the idea that this will make me spend some time with the photos really taking a look at how they came out.

January 03, 2008


The temperatures fell below freezing last night, and we woke up to this ice on our water wheel this morning.

Its hard to believe it was 80 degrees at Christmas, or that it will be in the 70s this weekend. Florida is a strange, strange place.
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Mind Over Exercise

Actual thoughts I had at the YMCA today:

It hasn't been too long if you can remember your locker combination on the first try.

I'm so glad I'm a girl; no matter what I never get
that stinky.

Apparently, as long as my short term memory holds up, I only have to go to the gym every three months. And I'm not one of those women who finds a man's body odor sexy.