Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Redacted Report

My trip to cocoa beach was spent mostly discovering that my law school friend and I have nothing in common except law school, and I am pretty much over taking pleasure in those years. (I never liked lawyers anyway.) My friend had been asking me to visit for most of the 20-some years since then and I finally decided to do it on impulse, trying to be more like the spontaneous Namesake! And really, I did enjoy the one good conversation when she and I got to just sit together and talk my first evening there.
That said, it was a weird trip. I did not get to do any of the fun things that Neptunesmuse suggested. How weird was it? Hmmm, let me count the ways. I feel guilty and ungrateful to be complaining because I suspect they were really trying, and for sure I am not going to dish in a public forum, but . . .
Slept on couch that was shorter than I am. No pillow.
They had no interest in going to the beach (what? why am I here?) They put a lot of effort, truly, into showing me their favorite things, often driving for many hours . . . INLAND! I was within sight of water for only a couple of hours, total. Walked on the pier at Fort Pierce, visited a Ventura gated condominium complex (I am not a gated type of person) to visit friends of theirs, and walked around Winter Park. But it is not their fault that driving for hours - away from the coast - in the back seat of a little convertible (with the top up) was not a keen interest of mine. We did walk to the end of the cocoa beach pier, where I had one very delicious coconut shrimp with orange marmalade, part of a shared appetizer.

They do not like to shop, but we went to goodwill and Walmart. We walked by a ton of cute little shops after they were closed. They don't like to spend money. I do, I definitely do. No souvenirs for my family, but maybe that is just as well.

No coffee (major tragedy). Food in general was disappointing, because they do not like any spiced or ethnic foods (and every culture you could imagine was represented in the vast array of eateries!) They don’t drink, either. (another major tragedy.)

Quite often, they went into their closed bedroom to watch the news on television, leaving me to sit alone with my own books and knitting – I felt bad because I figured it meant they'd had enough of me. But there was no TV in my space, so I read three coffee-table books on beach stuff, one book on sea turtles, and an entire novel (and a half), and knitted most of a washcloth while I was there. Friend repeatedly reminded me that I have gained weight since law school. Of course, she had a point there.

And not the best ending, either, although I guess not anybody's fault. I didn't get to the airport until my flight should have already boarded – lucky for me, the pilot had been grounded in Detroit and the flight sat there on the tarmac until several hours later. Then I had to dig my car out of a snowbank and shovel the lump at the end of my driveway before I could get into my house. (sigh.) But, against all reason, they told me a thousand times they were so happy I came and hoped I would come again and even offered to let me use their place when they aren't there. They were so sweet in many ways, but really, I think not.
I had no idea where the beach access was until my last evening there, but my last morning I snuck out of the house before they awakened and walked to the beach (a couple of blocks away) . . . ahhhhhhhh. As expected, not much in the way of shells, but did pick up a motley assortment: a giant cockle, lots of oysters, slipper shells, jingles, scallops, and a few common shells that aren't on my Sanibel Shell chart (surf clams, maybe?) I know the photo doesn't give enough color and depth to let the experts make any identification.

It wasn't Sanibel, but the weather was great and it really was beautiful there, especially in the early morning when I had a whole beach and ocean all to myself. Besides, even the worst day on the beach is better than a good day at work.

Wordless Wednesday

Gladly back from a very wierd, awkward trip . . . but sadly back from beautiful weather and the ocean in all its glory!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A stitch in time

My suitcase is packed and in the trunk of my car. I leave in a couple of hours for Cocoa Beach, still a little nervous but looking forward to seeing Judy after all these years. Among the things I packed are these little baby blankets. I am not much of a knitter, but ever since Tamara taught me how to purl by one of her blog comments, I have been knitting squares and rectangles. Last year I made wash cloths as Christmas gifts, the year before that it was scarves. This year I found out that Judy takes part in a knitting project at a local hospital, where they collect small blankets for the babies there. These 24 inch squares took me a lot longer than they should have, but I finished the third blanket last night and it's ready to go, along with my capris and sunscreen. I am already wondering what I've forgotten but, as my sister always reminds me, anything I need will be available there. But I have no idea where I put the cash I took out for the trip . . . I think I might want to explore that suitcase one more time before I check it!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Make new friends and keep the old

Later this week, I am going to Florida for a few days, and for the first time in many years, I am not going to Sanibel Island! I feel almost unfaithful, as though I owe the island the fidelity of all my vacation time. But an old law school friend, someone I haven’t seen in over 20 years, has repeatedly invited me to her cottage in Cocoa Beach and, on impulse, this year I decided to go. From the photos she’s sent, this is clearly not a shelling beach, and I wonder how much we will have to say to one another since we’ve kept up to date by email. In law school, our bond was formed because we were both older than the other students and we both had little kids at home. The highlight of the trip might well be that we will each sit and marvel at how old the other has gotten.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I wish you love

I got a dozen roses for Valentine’s Day. From a friend, not a romantic partner. Okay, from a friend who used to be a romantic partner, before he turned into a cheating, lying, otherwise unacceptable choice, but before I could dump him he got really sick and lost his sight and needed someone to help him with medications and errands . . . and now gleefully announces that he has reaped the benefits of my guilt-driven-fundamentalist upbringing. Snowbird rescues animals, but for me it has always been people. A counselor friend claims this is connected to my childhood, calls it "atonement" and says I should get over it. She believes the friend who gave me roses is just another needless penance, which seems a bit cold to me. But I digress.

I got a dozen roses for Valentine’s Day. I love flowers, more than most people, but all I can think about is how much carbon was poofed into the atmosphere to fly them here from who knows where. Because these flowers most certainly were not grown within any reasonable distance from my home, where the windchill is way below zero. I also got very tasty chocolates from my sister, but I know they are as bad an environmental choice as flowers for my part of the world, because chocolate (and wine, and coffee) also require long-distance import and the accompanying waste of petroleum. Just as bad, because there is a lot of money (and greed) involved, these are also products that are often tied to the exploitation the workers and the land. Ditto for jewelry, brought to the surface by people who too-often die digging into mines so that my fingers and ears can sparkle. So I wonder, what is the new romantic gesture? Can green living be romantic?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sanibel Dreaming

This has been a terrible winter month for me, probably for everyone in Michigan. But this week was the worst so far. First I slipped on the ice while driving, bumped over a curb and got my car stuck, wheels spinning and screaming away. I had to wait until traffic cleared, put the car in gear, and PUSH until it slipped back onto the road. It wasn't graceful, but it got the job done. (Where ARE the manly men when you need them?)

Then, of course, I had to shovel my porch, sidewalks and driveway several times, to keep up with the repeated doses of several inches of snow. But my winter woes weren't over yet - on my last shoveling pass, I slipped on a patch of ice and fell hard. Thank goodness I was able to twist my head up and land first on my well padded rear end and my sorry ungloved hands before toppling over on my back. I rested for a few minutes and thought about Sanibel Island. Then I picked myself up and went inside for the traditional treatment, a couple of motrin and a big dish of ice cream. Gotta keep that fanny padded for my own protection. Yeah, I'm fine, but winter has lost me as an admirer forever.

Wordless Wednesday: driving by Lake St. Clair

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Note to self . . .

It's another cold, grey day in Detroit. I believe this peregrine falcon, outside my office window, is thinking the same thing that I am: next year, go south with the rest of the Snowbirds!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Unexpected Riches

What a surprise! I learned several things when I returned from my weekend trip to visit the grandkids. I learned (1) that there is such a thing as a blog award, (2) that they are passed on from person to person, and (3) that I was given an award by one of MY favorite bloggers, Snowbird . What a surprise and an honor! Snowbird received the award from her daughter, ShamaLamaMama , whose blog I also read, but I have to say, the daughter-to-mother award was no easy giveaway. If I had a blank slate to choose from, I might well pick Snowbird for an award, too. She is my never-met hero, with her amazing energy and her volunteer work at CROW on Sanibel Island. I am (just) a few years younger than she is, and can barely get my fanny out of bed some days, but she goes for the gusto and is living a life that, in many ways, is my dream. I guess the only thing I DON'T envy is that her adorable grandchildren live even farther away from her than mine do from me!

And now I am supposed to pass the award on to another blogger who has been a treasure to me. This is a difficult responsibility, for a number of reasons. I read several blogs, some of which have reached the ‘famous’ category. I am thinking here of blogs like Pioneer Woman, a fun place to visit if you haven’t done so, but way out of my league; Crunchy Chicken, who has taken the environmental-living dare to new heights (washable wipes and diva cups? Eeeaw.); and no NoImpact Man, the first blog I ever read. But I figure they probably get sufficient awards without an unknown like me adding trophies to their mantles.
Which leads me to InfiniteParentheses , truly a blog-treasure by a busy stay-at-home-mom with surprising insights and adorable photos. I personally know that blogger and you have my permission to question my ulterior motives (full disclosure), but the bottom line is that InfiniteParentheses is my favorite blog of all time and a great treasure in my life. Because she is someone I know, this probably falls into the general category of Shameless Commerce, as the Car Talk guys would say. Even so, I have decided to pay homage to InfiniteParentheses , even though this means blowing my cover because, through this award, she will be the first of my friends or family to know I even have a blog. So Jen, I pass the blog award on to you because you and your blog are both treasures!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Across the miles

I have been thinking lately, although it may not show, what a lucky woman I am, all in all, with my wonderful (if colorful) family. In addition to the Namesake, my Carnival child, I also have a son. My son is a Lagnaippe, a word I learned when he and his family lived in New Orleans, because Lordy, he is a whole lot more than I expected or deserved. He and Sweetie, his wonderful green-eyed wife, whom I love like a daughter, and their children, Blue and StinkerPinker, bring peace and joy to my life. They make me laugh. They make me feel appreciated. We are planning a few days together at a Michigan beach this summer and I can’t wait to watch the little ones frolic on the sand (I really can’t wait til they are big enough for their parents to trust me to take them to Sanibel!) So I am blessed with balance, between the Namesake, who is full of surprises, and my gentle, steady son. But my son and his family are in a different corner of my state, snowed in, and my daughter is in an entirely different corner of the country. A good day to hold them all close in my thoughts.