Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve



New Year's Eve in my house was always chocolate fondue night with my kids and nephews, and now -- thank goodness! -- I have grandchildren to serve as my excuse for a chocolate feast.

Wishing you all a very sweet 2009 - happy new year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Free Press travel section

Headlined "American Airlines Now Charging Fees To Non-Passengers," the story reveals that AA plans to charge $25 to anyone traveling with another airline, $15 for every piece of luggage customers have inside their bedroom closet and a onetime payment of $40 for any American whose name is Greg.

Source: TheOnion.com

(Best fake travel story)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Homespun Christmas


For Christmas breakfast with my grandkids, I made homemade beignets, strufolli, mozerella, pita, alongside (nitrate free) bacon and sausage, orange juice and coffee. The kids were more interested in presents and playing, but their parents and I ate and ate and ate. It was all so nice: time to cook, time to bake, time with family.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wordless Wednesday


Down the rabbit hole . . .

Monday, December 22, 2008

I'm dreaming of a green Christmas


(Thanks, sanibelover! I still love your (copyrighted) bumpersticker!)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Chanukah

First try at challah. Not perfect. Getting better.

Cold




It's 13 degrees and very windy here. Cold as heck and not as pretty as Alaska, at least not in my neighborhood! Although it's cozy inside and there is lots for me to do, I also have errands that should be taking me out of the house, but I don't want to go! I comfort myself with the knowledge that I am saving fuel by staying home . . .

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Paradise Lost




What a difference a day makes!
(Insert pathetic sad face here)

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Last Supper




I am kicking myself for not booking a longer trip. So what if I have to work? So what if it's nearly Christmas? I am not happy to have reached the last night of this Sanibel Adventure.

And what do I do when I'm not happy?

Eat. (jerk nachos, tropical salad)

Drink. (sanibel sunset)

Sigh.

No Vacancy



Another beautiful low tide, spent a couple of hours on Algiers Beach. The tide was way out but the air was not as fresh as yesterday, the result, I suspect, of the many bivalves that died there yesterday. But there were plenty still alive and the birds were happy happy.

For me, the good news was that I found 2 beautiful cone shells. The bad news was that both of them were occupied by hermit crabs. I recognized that it might be possible to force them out of their homes to rob them, which would undoubtedly have the side effect of killing them, but karma can be so touchy sometimes. I put them out in deeper water, and hope they stay there so that I can find them some other day - empty!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fun fun fun, til some daddy took my t-bird away



I had such a good time with my cyber-friends tonight, and got to spend time with the Snowbirds and Tootie, and finally meet Tink and Gary and Sanibelover (I have displayed one of her bumper stickers on my Michigan car for years!) Of course, I don't remember a thing about it because I had 2 for 1, but I know I enjoyed it. By the time I left, I had already received 3 calls from Dr. Cranky so, although I had not listened to them, I was pretty sure it was time to leave. I know they went on to have more fun after -- someday when I am one of the big kids, I will do that, too.

Shell Heaven





There was a super low tide this morning and the wind has died down so it wasn't as cold as yesterday. I went to the Nerita beach, and - although you wouldn't guess from the few that I picked up -- there were so many shells that I went into shell shock! I pointed the camera down to show the beach every few feet just so you can see. I was too stunned to pick up anything much, although I saw pretty much everything except junonias, angel wings and pink tellins (now that I know what those are!) Big paper figs, big tulips, middle sized whelks and fighting conchs and millions of clicking bivalves, foolishly calling attention to themselves. The birds were gorging on the seafood buffet. I only brought home a few shells -- I should donate the worn cones but I can't pass a cone without picking it up.

Believe it or not, there ARE other things to do on Sanibel Island besides shell. I love Ding Darling and went on the nature drive 3 times this week, and hope to go at least once more. I saw white pelicans, brown pelicans, wood storks and roseate spoonbills. I saw lots of ospreys, two nesting and one flying with a big fish in his talons. I saw several mangrove crabs. Yesterday I saw a dark weasel-like creature running across the road, and of course raccoons fishing running across the road and fishing in the shallows. I do love it here!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A pocketful of treasure



In keeping with my promise to be more picky today - I collected lots of beautiful minis. In fact, some are so small that it was almost silly to pick them up because they will be lost in any display. I found quite a few bubble shells, and one tiny bubble shell even had a tinier crab inside - I suggested that he leave the shell to me, but he declined, so I had to leave that one behind. I found nutmegs and a few battered cones. I even found a couple of golf balls for my trash bag! My fingers are still numb and my nose is still running, but I think this was a very good way to start the day!

Saturday on Sanibel








I went out to the beach in the dark this morning (don't know why since I forgot to bring a flashlight and it was dark as, well, as night) and it was cold and windy. I ran back to the timeshare for another coat, to wear on top of my 3 t-shirts, 2 fleece shirts, and thermal vest. Found my winter headband, too, to cover my ears. I was still cold, and my fingers went numb almost immediately!

After half an hour of walking in the dark for no particular reason, I began to see shapes. Although several people told me later that it was a 'terrible' shelling day, I have never had a bad day at the beach, and I had fun today.

I saw the usual huge and gorgeous, but alive, whelk - there are always a few on Lighthouse beach. Sea urchins were blown everywhere, there were sponges of every imaginable shape, color and size, and tons of live bi-valves (although they were not clicking as actively as they did yesterday!) I saw lots of tulips and fighting conchs, and of course, since I complained yesterday that I had not seen any intact olive shells, I saw a bunch of those, too. I restrained myself from picking up any more fighting conchs, but discovered a pocket full of olives when I returned to the timeshare. How DOES that happen?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Early to bed - low tide tomorrow!



Dinner at the bar next to Timbers, pot roast and gin, a lovely combination! I read on Yahoo that the moon is especially close to earth this month - that, plus all the wave action, should make for a very nice morning walk!

Access 7


This is the 'first soak' from Access 7 -- where Tootie was a good bad influence, both by giving me shells and by reminding me that I could always sort them later . . . many more shells are in the soak bucket! Believe me, I have the mother-lode of jingles and buttercups (baby)!

I will have to photograph it later, but shealso found an operculummy for me, just like the ones that Tink has!

Lighthouse shells



Here are just a few of the shells I found at Lighthouse beach this morning -- many more are soaking!

Sanibel - what a great morning!





I shelled on two beaches during low tide this morning and brought back 2 full bags of shells -- at the Lighthouse beach, I stopped to take a photo of an old, pitted horse conch, and realized that a small octopus was clinging on for dear life! Check him out, on the left side of the shell picture above. The conch shell itself is well camouflaged against the shell back ground, and the octopus blends into that. I waded the conch back out into the water - he was pretty active when I found him, and hopefully will survive the trauma.

I also got the chance to finally meet and spend some time with Tootie, and that was a real treat, even though she is a much better sheller than I am. She took me to the exclusive, residents only access 7 - the wave-action photo was taken there. There I found a baby's ear! That's a shell I've seen photos of but would never have recognized without Tootie's expertise. And at least a bizillion jingle shells, I might be able to fill a whole container with them!

I know I brought back fabulous shells from both beaches, although I don't really know what-all I've got yet. I am planning to sort through them before morning, though, so I can justify going back to the beach!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sanibel - another dinner at Traders



Traders' happy hour (3:00 til 6:00 pm) is the best deal around. They have a happy hour menu with a bunch of top notch entrees, including seared tuna and crab stuffed portobella. The supposedly smaller happy hour plates are also lower priced than the dinner menu, and it's definitely more than enough food. And they have crayons. It really doesn't get better than this. Today we had salads (I had mine with blackened chicken, my dining companion had scallops), 2-for-1 wine, and their amazing ice tea! I forced myself to have creme brulee, just to be polite. I am very, very polite. Why does no one on this island get fat except me?! Whatever. I love Sanibel.

Sanibel, where time passes too quickly



I went for another long walk on the beach this morning. The wind was blowing like crazy inland so I walked the Lighthouse beach again, even though it is never my best shelling beach - I hoped all those waves would blow something in for me.

I saw over a dozen dolphins, including one light gray dolphin who fished near shore, about half-way down the fishing pier. I saw quite a few live sea urchins, a couple of dead horseshoe crabs (does anyone ever see them alive? I have not.) So it was an enjoyable walk for me.

I picked up 19 empty soda cans, one snorkle, part of a mask, several plastic rings of some kind, 3 or 4 red plastic cups, 2 plastic bags, and other assorted trash, until the bag was almost too heavy for me to carry comfortably.

I brought back 2 empty and spineless urchins (I don't know why, I always break them before I get home), a venus sunray, one small pink paper fig, and a handful of scallops for the kids.

I left behind a zillion buttercups (baby), several lace and apple murex, a lovely lightening welk (there were children hunting right behind me and I wanted them to find it since I really have plenty).

There is no place in the world (if you don't include being with people I love), that pleases me so much with so little.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Cheering from the sidelines

Lance Armstrong got my attention when he somehow beat cancer after it metastasized to his lungs and brain, even though the experts said it was impossible. Then, just to show them how little we understand either cancer or the human spirit, he won 7 Tours de France to top it off. I've watched the Tour ever since and am often amazed at cycling junkies.

I started reading the Fat Cyclist because I hoped I would learn how a fatty could force himself to exercise. That would be news I could use. Turned out that he is not fat and he is a very serious cyclist. But I found a different kind of inspiration there, as I read about how he and his young children care for his wife Susan, who spent many years caring for them. And, although I am not a cyclist (ha! I am definitely not involved in anything that requires effort!), Fatty grabbed me with his stories of his wife and children and they face her struggle with cancer with incredible courage and - believe it or not - humor. The kind of humor only really courageous people are capable of.

As a result, I am a virtual member of "Team Fat Cyclist, Fighting for Susan," raising money to fight cancer through the Livestrong Challenge.

In addition to "Fighting for Susan," I also dedicate my virtual ride to Becky and Joana, and so many others who are engaged in battles of their own with courage and grace. WIN Susan, WIN Becky, WIN Joana.

If you would like to join me and donate to the LiveStrong Foundation, my team webpage is here. Cancer is another type of pollution. We need to stomp it out.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Giving Thanks

Like many of us, I thought a lot this weekend about all the things I have to be thankful for. Then I read this and decided that I am not nearly thankful enough.

I stole this whole thing from Well-Seasoned Woman, a blog I visit when I can.

"The following excerpt is by Elisa Jaffe at KOMO News, Seattle:

BOTHELL, Wash. — The day I met Brenden Foster, I met an old soul in an 11 year old’s body.
“I should be gone in a week or so,” he said calmly.
When I asked him what he thought were the best things in life, Brenden said, “Just having one.”
I didn’t understand how this child, who was a year younger than my own son, could be so courageous facing death.

“It happens. It’s natural,” Brenden told me.
Three years ago, doctors diagnosed Brenden with leukemia. The boy who once rushed through homework so he could play outside found himself confined to a bed. But there was no confining his spirit.
I had a great time. And until my time comes, I’m going to keep having a great time,” he said.
Brenden’s selfless dying wish was to help the homeless.
“They’re probably starving, so give’em a chance,” he said, “food and water.”
But Brenden was too ill to feed them on his own. So volunteers from Emerald City Lights Bike Ride passed out some 200 sandwiches to the homeless in Seattle.
Then Brenden’s last wish took on a life of its own.

A TV station in Los Angeles held a food drive. School kids in Ohio collected cans. People in Pensacola, Florida gathered goods. And here in Western Washington, KOMO viewers from all over took part in the Stuff the Truck food drive in Brenden’s honor. Hundreds with generous hearts donated six and a half huge truck loads of groceries and more than $60,000 in cash to benefit Northwest Harvest and Food Lifeline.

Brenden touched hearts all over the world. His wish came true, and he lived to see it. “He had the joy of seeing all of the beautiful response to his last wish,” said his grandmother, Patricia McMorrow. “It gives him great peace and he knows that his life has meaning.”

“He’s left a legacy and he’s only 11,” said his mother, Wendy Foster. “He’s done more than most people dream of doing just by making a wish.”
Days before dying, Brenden surprised us with a sudden burst of energy. He wanted to get off the oxygen, hop out of bed and go buy a video game. Wise beyond his years, but still a kid.
“I have been so blessed to have this child. A mother couldn’t ask for a better son,” Wendy said.

The B-Man, as his family called him, had one more wish before going: sprinkle wildflower seeds to save the bees. He had heard bees were in trouble.
Someone answered B-Man’s wish. A retired pilot asked his pilot and flight attendant friends to sprinkle wild flowers around the world, from Bali to Brazil, on Brenden’s behalf.
When asked what made him sad, Brenden said, “When someone gives up.”
Brenden Foster never gave up. Even as he clung to his last hours of life, Brenden kept giving.
“Follow your dreams. Don’t let anything stop you,” he said.

wildflowers

It is rather humbling to consider the metaphysical weight of simple existence when most of us are just jonesing for turkey leftovers, a late-night bootie call, or a better job… and yet, here on earth was this mere child that knew he was short on time and made the most altruistic requests of the people around him. Even more astonishing was his attitude about the years of his life, that he had a great time, no regrets.

Ponder this when you are doing your Thanksgiving gratitudes: There are so many gifts this young person imparted on us and we are fortunate enough to be able to play it forward for him."

Let's plant some wildflowers. Not just in memory of Brenden, but in hope for all of us.

Monday, November 24, 2008

This week's baking


I started baking again because I wanted to get away from additives and other ingredients that I don't recognize. And my plan was/is to learn how to make better whole grain food, you know -- not only healthy but also good enough to eat.

This might not be that bread. I made it (another secret recipe), but even I was surprised at how lovely it was when I sliced it. Chocolate babke, grilled in butter. My coworkers like me much better now.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The 4th anniversary of my Grandma-hood


The past 4 years have flown by, my grandson is a big boy, and this is the best job I've ever had.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Snow - oh no!


And I really mean it. Stop!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Still keeping the house warm, and other reasons I like Sundays


Muffins are just my standard poppy seed/blueberry, they freeze well so I can grab one for breakfast when I'm running late. I also baked bagels this week, a first for me, and they were such a big hit with my coworkers that I decided on an encore!

Expectations

I have heard a lot this past week about what we expect of President-Elect Obama. People were calling into my local public radio every afternoon to announce their demands, what they expect from the new administration. And the helpful pundits were carefully explaining that we (the people) don't really want the change we voted for -- I heard one guy say on television that we really elected Obama because he is black, and not because he was the best, the smartest, the most able candidate in years.

I, for one, hope that President Obama will use his inaugural address to tell us exactly what he expects of us. We've spent years turning the other way and wishing for someone else to solve our problems. That didn't work, and the problems have gotten bigger. If we don't get our heads, our minds, our hands out of the sand, nothing at all will change. Gather your strength - it's time to get to work. It won't be quick, it won't be easy, and it probably won't be pretty. We will all gain, and we will all have to give something up. Will we do it? (yes, please yes, we will)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Oh yes we can

Warning: I am going to blabber on, and this might not make sense to anybody but me. That is the true luxury of blogging.
I am cynical by nature (or perhaps by nurture), but I have been filled with hope this year, this month, this week. It's as if recent events have ripped the lid off things that we have refused to address and have pretended, out of fear or laziness or disinterest, not to know.

I know that the problems of this country and this world are too complex for any one person to offer us quick solutions, but I feel reassured that, finally, we as a country are not going to simply look the other way. I hope for a future where it is no longer fashionable to be apathetic, where it is not admirable to be greedy, where we hold one another accountable and celebrate each other's achievements.

I believe that, if each of us individually will admit responsibility for our personal actions - my trash, my food, my response to the poor, my economic decisions, my behavior -- it will be change enough to rock the world. We cannot fix any of our problems until we admit that they are there. It is time to ask, what am I still pretending not to know?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Time to turn on the oven!

I think I've mentioned (whined) that I am more sissyfied every winter - it is already way too cold for me in the mornings. So it's time to bake. And bake. And bake. I made 3 loaves of bread this week, each better than the one before. By the end of winter, people will be lining up. Okay, probably not. But I have been wanting to get 'closer' to my food and this is one way to begin. I still need to track down some local flour, but at least I am eating local bread!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - good morning Detroit


Thanks for stopping by -- please say hello!
There are dozens (and dozens) of great photos and a zillion interesting blogs out there -- link on in at Wordless Wednesday