Saturday, December 31, 2011

Make Yourself At Home 2012, I'll See You In The Morning

We had our traditional chocolate fondue, popped party poppers, blew our horns (oh those horns), and played a rousing game of Dixit.
I'm full of sugar and fruit and chocolate, as well as a little wine.   I'm ready to let this year go.   But not so eager for the next one that I need to stay up.   Good night all.  See you next year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

One Last Look At Christmas

Time to clean it up and pack it away for another year.    Good-bye, Christmas tree,
good-bye seashell tree (with colors washed out by a brief moment of sunshine, lovely sunshine!),
good-bye Santa that my daughter made me many years ago,
good-bye basket that my son made me when he was a cub scout,
good-bye angels and flamingos and candy canes,
 good-bye beignets and sugary treats.

 See you all next year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ready For Next Year

The holidays remind me of all the things I meant to do this year, and the year before, and the year before that.   So too many things go back onto my 'next year' list.   It is time to revise my "61 things to do before I'm 62" list - although I'm not sure I'm up to doing a "62 before 63" list.   I am pleased -- amazed, really -- to say that I accomplished most of the things on last year's list, but the hard ones are coming right back at me.  Again.   Here are some of the things I did not do last year:

1.  I did not invite a new person into my house.    For many of you, this would have been the easiest item on the list, but it is almost impossible for me.    I am pretty much a loner by nature.    Although  I have never believed that I was meant to live alone, I have lived alone for many, many (many) years.   My son and his family come into my house several times in an average month.   My siblings, a couple of times a year.    And that's it.   

I think, perhaps falsely, that I am as nice, as warm, as welcoming as the average person, but I have not had luck finding and staying in a relationship of the sort I always envisioned.   I know that, at 62, neither the need nor the odds are as great as when I was younger.    But I like the idea of a warm body next to me on the couch, sitting shoulder to shoulder, listening if I feel like talking (and if my voice ever comes back!).    Even so, in decades of waiting - and yes, I know that word raises implications as to the reasons -  it simply hasn't happened.

At the very least, I need to plan not to be alone on holidays.  I  am a pretty passive person; it has only recently occurred to me that I could have had a say in how my life unfolded.   So I am inclined to approach things with an "ah, so that's the way it is; I'll adjust," attitude.    And so, after I was divorced a zillion years ago -- 24? -- and I "lost" (in the divorce settlement) my family gatherings on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, I just reconciled myself to spending those holidays alone.   Which is ridiculous, of course, but which is also exactly what I still do.   And yes, these days, on some of my alone times, I could easily walk down to my son's house and they would be happy to have me stop in, but I advise people all the time not to create their whole life around their kids, and I try hard not to do that.   

Now I already do a lot of things to try to meet people, mostly ineffective, which is all well and good.    But the thing is, next year I need to try harder.    Of course, this year I've been sick -- but wait, am I always sick at the holidays?    I wonder.    So next year, I need to make a plan in advance for the Danger Times when I know I will be alone, and when I expect I will not be happy for the alone time.

And yes, since you ask, I DO think about getting a dog.    It's not the warm body I had in mind, but it is a relationship that I am certain I could find, which puts it high on my list of possibilities.   Seriously, if I'm not going to get serious about bringing some new people into my life, maybe it is the year to think about a pet.   I don't want to have to scoop the yard, but no relationship is perfect.  Besides, I could dress it up and roll it around the block in a baby buggy like I did with my poor kitties when I was small. 

2.  Health matters.   Although I did check off all the pesky tests my doctor wanted me to do, I did not increase my exercise or get to a healthy weight.    I need to get more serious about my health.   In fact, my health is good, but the warning signs are there.    My glucose creeps up a bit more than it used to in the morning, my weight moves steadily upward, and my stamina and flexibility are in the toilet.   I am exhausted most of the time, and tired all of the time.  My joints always ache.   I am 62 years old and have no serious health issues, but my warranty has expired and it's time to do a better job taking care of myself.   I think I have the choice to do something about it next year; by the year after that, the choice might be gone.    My plan is to start by trying yoga, once a week.   And back to Weight Watchers, where I am a lifetime member who has run a muck.

3.  I only went fly fishing once last year,  and I did not catch a fish.  This year I need to fish or cut bait, whatever the heck that means in terms of fly fishing.    I don't much care about fish, but I like standing in streams, and casting is meditative.     And I was given a kayak for Christmas, something I didn't want and can't imagine using.  So next year I want to try harder to get out and fish, to find out whether this is a hobby I want to pursue or not.    And if not, I need to pass that kayak on to someone who will love it.    It is not a great time of year to fish right now, but my plan is to sign up for a new fly-tying class in January, and go to a women's-only fly fishing/tying retreat in February, hoping to be inspired.
4.   Straight Shooting.   I did quite a lot of target shooting last year, and I became fairly competent, but my time on the range tapered off after I went back to work.  I don't have a back yard where I can fire a gun, and the nearest range is half an hour away.    Next year I want to set up a schedule and keep to it so that I don't lose my skill.    I can't expect to shoot 3 times a week like I did in the beginning, but perhaps I can commit to twice a month.    Not enough to keep me really good, but hopefully enough to keep me good-ish.

5.   I failed on my ambition to make freezable dinners.   Partly because there is no room in my freezer.  So this year's goal is to buy a small freezer for my basement, and get back to cooking so that my son/daughter(in-law) and I will have emergency vittles.

6.  I did NOT check out any local music or theatre.     Back on The List for 2012.    I want to at least get to World Cafe and the Crow once.    If I hate it, fine, I don't have to go back, but I owe it to myself to see what's around here before I stay home every night and watch network tv.

7.  I want another vacation with my sister next year.    Even thought I checked that one off The List, it goes back on again.

8.  Maybe I will try geocach-ing.    I have a smart phone now, and there are lots of caches hidden within a few miles of me.    What do I have to lose?    Kim at Snug Harbor Bay makes it look like a lot of fun!   It's free, which is a big plus.

9.  I don't care whether or not I ever make a pair of earrings.   It would be fun, but I'm not willing to make the commitment or buy more stuff.     If I see a convenient local class, maybe I'll reconsider.   I am sure, though, that I will do some crafty things.    My bloggy friends come up with great ideas, and then I just copy cat them.  

10.  On the other hand, I also don't much care about my basement, but getting rid of all the junk and getting organized goes back on The List anyway.    Because it's embarrassing.   Next year, I'm planning to get it under control.

11.  Connected to the messy basement, I still want to downsize my stuff.    Way too much stuff.

12.  Also back on The List for next year, the potting table.   I have a big old door just sitting there, so I either need to make it into a table and spare my back, or drag it out for the trash guys.

13.  And I'm definitely going to scan those Rome photos next year, as soon as I remember to ask my son to explain again how to use the scanner.

14.  I went shelling - sort of - with my grandchildren last year.    I want to share other things I love with the this year.  I think this item will be easy to check off, but putting it on The List will keep me thinking about it.    Probably not sharks teeth yet this year, but I'm looking forward to that someday, too!

15. Although it was on last year's list, I'm not really sure I want to take piano lessons.    But I hope I'll remember to consider it next year.   I definitely need to find ways to stretch the creative centers of my brain.

16.  Next year I am putting finances on The List.    I want to spend more mindfully, to stop wasting money on things I don't even need or want, so that I have more for the things - like travel - that I do want.  My biggest weakness is spending money on other people, for things they don't want or need.   Working on it.    (even as I type this, I've ordered two things online.)

17.   Next year I definitely want to snorkel with turtles.   And/or belugas.   And, of course, my sister.    Adding her to this particular list makes me laugh.     And maybe that's what it's all about.

18.  I want to see the Northern Lights.

19.  I want to get to New Orleans to visit my daughter.

20.  And I want to find more sharks' teeth.

I'm ready, Next Year.   Bring it on.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Santa Came Early!

I won an advent prize from Janne at Spindelmaker, and it arrived in time for Christmas!    Janne is an artist, by which I mean not only that she makes beautiful things, but also that she sees beauty even when it is hidden, and - better yet - helps me see it, too.   Her blog delights me over and over, especially her paintings and her textile creations, although she does so many things - costume and set design, jewelry, the list is endless.   Check out her etsy shop, I really love her 'girly girl bags'!   I think she's amazing, even though she and all her family seem to be elegant and pretty and talented -- the sort of thing that would normally just annoy me.  The niceness of her just keeps pulling me back.
Anyway, her package arrived today, with my little advent prize, a little mitten ornament that she knitted, and which I promptly put on my tree.    No surprise, I love it!    But the package contained more than just my prize.    She also sent one of her Christmas-greeting postcards and a note on a sweet little gift card that pictures one of her textile parrots, AND a packet of herbal tea and, another surprise, little numbered hearts, very sweet, which I've also put on my tree for the time being, although I am not sure that is where they'll stay.    For now, I will sip my tea (which is lovely and soothing at a time when I am feeling cold and damp -- I've pretty much lost my voice today!) and enjoy the view.
 Thank you Janne, again and again.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Other Side Of The Story

I could try to tell this story, but I wouldn't do it as well as Dr. Bobbi French does in Finding Me In France, one of my favorite fill-my-need-for-fantasy blogs.   She is usually funny and irreverent, but she generally makes sense, and, in this case, she offers a timely reminder at a time of year when I am inclined toward all kinds of excess.    Click the link, read her blog entry "Food For Thought," and see what you think.

The Night Before The Night Before

I felt somewhat better today, after 24 hours of shivering and fever, and I had work to do at work, so in I went.    And I'm glad I did.    I meet the nicest people.    Not always, but more often than not.   One man told me with tears in his eyes that he is not afraid to die, and is grateful for a life filled with blessings, but that his family will miss him so much and it hurts to know he won't be able to comfort them.    For some reason that touched me so much, because he (rightly) knew how loved he was, and was worried only about the ones who would be left behind.   His family, for their part, was anxious only about his comfort, and even the littlest 4-year-old grandchild hugged me and thanked me for coming to visit his grandpa.   When I offered to pray with him before I left, he called the whole family in and made sure we were all touching one another, and I don't think there was a dry eye in the room when I left.    I meet many people whose faith - the type, the degree, the existence - is very different than mine, but something about this man, his spin on what was important in life,  and his family made a special impression.    He was funny, and practical, and not sentimental, and a wonderful man to meet.   And - a little like finding a special shell or an amazing sharks' tooth -- the odds against my ever meeting him were nearly overwhelming, the window of opportunity is so small.    It humbles me every time I think about it, and makes me feel very fortunate with each new "find."

So that was the good thing that happened today.   The bad thing was that I got all lazy and decided to have cereal for dinner, and

I found something yucky in my cheerios.    Very yucky.   It is brownish gray and a little rubbery.   I don't know what it is and I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW.    It never got anywhere near my mouth (thank goodness), but I am still struggling to quiet my gag reflect.

I'm going to go and try to think, instead, about how fortunate I am for a bit.    And I'm crossing cheerios off my grocery list for the time being.    Besides, I'm really not hungry anymore.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It Must Be Nearly Chirstmas (because I'm sick)!

Cold, damp and dreary, chills and fever -- doing the holidays my way!    Ugh.    Got all wrapped up with 2 robes, 2 pair of socks, a fuzzy blanket, and a microwave-heated pillow.    I am certain that a little sunshine would set things right, but this is the best I can do.   Hopefully all better in time for work tomorrow!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Giveaway!

This is the last week for Janne's advent giveaway at Spindlemaker!   All you need to do is comment and you could win one of her beautiful bread bags -- even though I would rather win it myself, lol!   Go quickly, before I change my mind, and give yourself a chance to be a winner!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

New Normals


I am back at home, back to work, getting the laundry caught up, and (almost) unpacked.     It suddenly feels like the year has flown by, hard to believe that Christmas is next week, that 2012 is just around the corner.   At home I am trying to wrap and clean and plan Holiday food.   At work, I am trying to comfort people who are dying, and families who are losing someone to death.   As I swing back and forth between my two lives,  neither situation seems any more normal than the other.

It snowed last night.   As I went out in the early morning to visit a patient who is not doing well, the driveway was slippery.   Shells and sharks' teeth still clutter my kitchen table, reminding me of warm beaches and sunshine.   It is good today to be reminded. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dr. Cranky

I have posted a few times about a friend who is known to you by a not-so-friendly name.    Among many other annoying and negative things, he has told me for years that there is no such thing as a pretty baby, that they are dull and uninteresting, and that anyone who thinks so is fooling themselves.

He met his 8-month old granddaughter for the first time yesterday.   He phoned me with tears in his voice to announce that she was the most beautiful baby.

There is hope for humanity after all.

Home Again

I arrived at Detroit Metro Airport last night, and spent the night at my sister's.    This morning, I was on the road at 6:30 am,  a time that - on the beach - was the beginning of first light.    Here, it didn't begin to be even barely light until nearly 8 am.   I miss the sunshine.   I miss the sound of the surf and the cry of the osprey.    I even miss the ridiculous sand fleas, that look like cartoon characters as they tumble in the waves.

As I go through the photos of my trip, I remember the many things I didn't post about.   Faces and sights and sounds, more than I can post here.     I am glad to be home (and especially glad to have found and turned off the faucet that has been dripping for the past 9 days.    Not only an almost-criminal waste of water, but a mistake that I will pay for dearly when the water bill arrives.)    I brought back a lot of sand and teeth and shells, but I left part of me on Sanibel.



This one is my favorite,   I think it should have won the whole caboodle!













Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Day 7, Hard To Say Good-Bye

I am leaving this morning, and I have a lot to do, so I allowed myself one hour, from 6 to 7 am, to get out on the beach one last time.     It was beautiful.    I love being the first person out, it is a sacred feeling.   I didn't pick up a thing.    I have plenty already.   But leaving here is always bittersweet.   I will be so glad to see my family, but it is hard to leave this place, especially at low tide.

Monday, December 12, 2011

6. Best. Day. Ever!

Day 6.   My last full day on vacation.   And I had the BEST DAY EVER!     Prepare to be jealous, envious, and amazed.    Seriously.

I left my condo at 6:45 am and headed north.   (I didn't get back to Sanibel until 4:45 pm!  This was an all day adventure!) When I arrived at Englewood, my day-planner, The Essential Beachcomber, met me with an apple fritter and a smile  -- what a great way to start the day, right?!    And then she took me -- are you ready? -- SHARKS' TOOTH HUNTING!!    I have waited for this day for a LONG time, and it was NOT a disappointment.    Unfortunately, I won't be able to do it justice, because I've already forgotten the name of the first beach, but it was on Manasota Key, and it was beautiful.
I had never been there before.   I had never even thought of going until I read the descriptions of shark tooth hunting on The Essential Beachcomber.   I was hooked then, and I'm even more hooked now.    It was fun to see the jumbo sand fleas that she pointed out to me -- on Sanibel I am used to seeing sand fleas that are the size of, well, fleas.   On Manasota Key they were enormous, the size of cocktail shrimp.   So that was fun, but it was super exciting to see my first tooth in the middle of the shell crush, and then another, and then another.   
I found a LOT of them, and Mrs. Beachcomber found even more -- she has the sharkiest eye! -- and she insisted that I take every one of them home with me.      What a great day.
But she wasn't done with me.    Next, we went to Stump Pass, where she produced the most amazing picnic lunch.   I have had a lot of good meals this week, but nothing tasted as good as the cuban sandwich, carrots, hummus, and honeydew melon eaten on a tiny spit of land between the Gulf and a small inlet, water on both sides and blue sky above.   We found a few more teeth there, and were treated to an amazing display of gopher turtle aggression, with one large turtle beating his head against a smaller one until she ran away.    Quite the show.     
Before I left to return to my home base, Mrs. Beachcomber surprised me with a big ol' bottle of MORE sharks' teeth! 
And if that wasn't enough, she sent me on the road with a candy bar for dessert.   Gooey, stickey fingers but no worries, it's a rental car!

Thank you so much, Karen, I can never repay your amazing generosity.   Englewood and Dearborn are CRAZY not to make you their official ambassador.   I can't wait to return.     It was a truly wonderful day.

But that's not all -- I saved the most amazing for last!    The Amazing Essential Beachcomber found -- and gifted me -- a nearly intact megalodon tooth.    INCREDIBLE!    Every bit of this find is unbelievable to me.    I can't wrap my mind around the idea of a 40-foot shark, much less that they became extinct millions of years ago.    And that they sent this tooth to ME!!
Tomorrow I return to Detroit, and cold weather, and work.    But I have sharks' teeth to show my grandchildren, and stories of the Best Day Ever!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day 5, Good All Day!

I ended my Day 5 by having dinner with Snowbird, Tink, Tootie and Jeanne -- what a fun and nice group!   It was so good to see them all.    After dinner, we met up with several other our of favorite friends for cuddles, squawks, more drinks and dessert.    Definitely a nice way to end a nice day!

Celebrating Advent!

Don't forget to check into my friend Janne's giveaway on Spindlemaker -- I won a prize from her, a little mitten ornament,  and can't wait to get it!   Janne is an artist and everything she touches is beautiful, which makes her weekly advent giveaway an especially sweet offering.   Go!   Make a comment and maybe you will be her next winner!

Visit Emily at The Nest, too, while you're at it.   She is posting a new craft for every day in Advent.   I am planning to try her hot chocolate recipe as soon as I get home -- I have have never used brown sugar in my cocoa, and I suspect it will make a richer flavor.    Emily and Janne make me want to make more of my Christmas gifts but, alas, I am not as clever as either of them.   Still, they have inspired me to do more this year than I usually get done.

Day 5, Still Good

What a beautiful morning for a walk.   The tide was low and far on Lighthouse Beach, where I walked in the dark.   I didn't pick up any shells, but just love being able to walk out 'forever' into the sea.    Although it doesn't appear so in the photo, Blind Pass was also extremely low when I got there, and I walked out farther than ever, ankle deep.   I didn't pick up much there, either.   This seems to be a non-shelling year for me, but I don't mind a bit.    I am soaking in the beauty instead of stacking up the shells.

Sunday is Farmers Market day on Sanibel, and they have one of the nicest markets I've ever seen.   There are food carts with a variety of yummy smelling foods, a large array of vegetables at a fraction of the local grocery prices, baked goods, handmade soaps shaped like seashells, flowers and herbs and plants (oh my).     I'm having local strawberries with my coffee as I type this.     It's still early morning, and I've already done enough to declare it a very nice day.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Day 4, Rainy Day

It is raining, hard, this afternoon.   But right outside the place I am staying, on the branch of a palm tree, sits an osprey complaining about the rain.    He has been hanging around for a couple of days, gnawing on the same large fish, with zillions of grackles suggesting that he let this one go.    He must not have a nest and a mate of his own, otherwise I imagine that he would have carried the fish home by now.    I'm glad to have him here.    I am not crazy about the sound of grackles, but I love the osprey's cry.


Lunch

I finally remembered to take a photo of my plate at lunch! Not losing weight on this trip, that's for sure!



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Day 4, Beautiful Morning

Another early day on the beach, with nothing but memories to show for it.   I am just being fussy this year, because truly, there are lots and lots of shells.   Tulips and whelks and turkey wings and scallops and conchs, just not a lot of the alphabets that I am hoping to find!    But I have been taking beautiful long walks.   
The temperature this morning was mild, perfect, with just a gentle breeze.  I visited Gulfside City Park and Blind Pass today.   I passed a woman who was meditating on a picnic table as I walked down to the beach, my squeaky shoes no doubt disturbing her peace.   I saw an osprey gathering nesting material from the beach.   I talked to a man who caught a large drum fish from the beach.   I saw several other ospreys standing sentinel on their nests, waiting for their mates to get home from work, hopefully bringing dinner.   I watched a dolphin feeding just off shore.    This is such a beautiful place.