Tuesday, October 14, 2014

More Ladies, Women, Wenches and Girls....


We saw several other interesting ladies that week at the beach besides the Reading in the Waves lady.


This one was at the Ringling Brothers Circus Museum in Sarasota. As a child I always thought life in the circus must be magical. I devoured adventure stories about girls running off to join the circus. Daring tight rope walkers, trapeze artistes flying through the air without so much as a safety net to catch them, elephant trainers, beautiful horses with bareback riders, lion tamers, clowns and acrobats. What was not to love? Until I saw elephants chained at a circus in Belgium with about 5" of space to move back and forth. That took all the romance out of it. 



We came upon this smiling girl in the pouring rain on the Ringling grounds. Not sure why she has that hole in her head but it doesn't seem to be affecting her mood any more than the rain is....



Thoroughly soaked, we went from the gardens into the Ringling Art Museum where we met this demure damsel. I felt a kinship with her instantly as my hair was plastered to my head from the rain just as hers seems to be. The style was perhaps a little bit more flattering to her than it was to me...Still and all --- sisters under the skin!



And then this formidable madam hove into view and put me in mind, instantly, of schooldays and the nuns! Glad I never had to go to her office and stammer and fidget and justify my actions. Doesn't look to me as though mercy would be her strong suit.



This elegant maiden was standing on a table in a hallway  in the C'a d'Zan, a beautiful Moorish mansion on the Ringling grounds.(Standing on tables is in the forefront of my mind at the moment as I'm reading "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves." Go read it, you'll love it!)  Nobody seemed to mind her state of deshabille...and the last mentioned lady, who might have had some harsh words for her, was at a safe distance in another part of the museum.




I couldn't help wondering how long this lady spent fixing her hair and how much starch it took to keep her collar standing so elegantly out from her neck....




And this poor soul looks as though she needs a chill pill. Doesn't she look a mite tense?



My inner wild child warmed immediately to this beautiful person. She looks like she'd do all the wild and carefree things I'd probably just think about doing. She certainly doesn't look like she needs any chill pills. She could give all hers to the lady above. Wouldn't you like to know what she's thinking? I'd love to hear some guesses!



And here I give you the Biblical Judith, just after she and her maid cut off  Holofernes' head, something that unfortunately seems to be enjoying renewed popularity. Not all women back then were docile and submissive apparently. She looks awfully calm for one who has committed such a ghastly deed. I'd have been for poisoning him or pushing him off a bridge.


Meanwhile, outside in the rose garden, this coy milkmaid and her besotted swain were demurring --- would they or wouldn't they go somewhere more private where she might or might not submit to his beseeching?



And in the Dwarf Garden we came upon this grotesque female hiding in the bushes.We beat a hasty retreat!




To end on a lighter note, here is the OC catching another naked lady by surprise and I'm not even a teeny bit jealous!





Saturday, October 11, 2014

I Do Love To Read Beside The Seaside....




Walking on the beach a few weeks ago we spotted this woman in the water. 





There were other bathers all around her but she was oblivious to them all, totally focused on her book. 

I was intrigued. 

I like to read.  I've been known to do it at the beach in spite of the lure of shells and swimming. I've even been known to read in the bathtub notwithstanding the possibility that I'll fall asleep and drown the book which wouldn't win me any brownie points at the library. 

I was not, however, intrigued enough to wade out there and ask her what she was reading, but I'm still wondering.

My Guess is it was "How To Speak So Dolphins Will Really Listen." What do you think?



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I Love I-R-E-L-A-N-D!





Tickets in hand, I thought there was nothing left to worry about other than what to pack.

Wrong!

Perusal of the fine print brought me bolt upright (from a relaxed, no worries posture.) Who knew that our destination requires that one's passport be valid for six months after one's return? Realizing that one is short of that mark by two months, one began to feel faint.





 Some deep breathing was deployed to restore one's equilibrium and attempt some logical thought.

What to do? Brainwave incoming ----Google, Google, Google! 

Obtained phone number for Irish Consulate in Atlanta. Logical, right? Called said consulate. Listened dejectedly to recorded message directing me to call consulate in NY instead.

Had I really hoped, expected, a human being to pick up the phone?  Actually, yes. I'm Irish.
An eternal optimist.

Called NY. No human beings available. Leave a message.





Left a message, being careful to b-r-e-a-t-h-e so as to sound cool, calm and collected, not frantic, which is how I felt. How many weeks would it be before a Leprecaun called me back? In my mind's eye I saw a long list of phone messages from Americans eager to travel to the Auld Sod and dig around for their roots. I figured my message was # 347 in the lineup.

Pulled my thinking cap down lower over my ears, the better to hear any Plan Bs my brain might suggest.
Silence for a while, then a humming sound as an alternate plan slowly took shape. 
Back to the web site and e-mail the blighters.

I then busy myself deleting old e-mails and general in-box housekeeping, when, quick as a blink, there's a reply! Addressing me by my first name no less, and instructing me to send my address asap so they can send me the necessary application.

I'm tempted to send hugs and kisses. 
Instead I reply with the requested information, adding that, being used to the bureaucracy and the slow movement of great bodies, I'm ecstatic at their speedy response.





I'm just pushing send when the phone rings. I glance at the caller I.D. All that registers is "Consulate..."  My heart jumps into my mouth from surprise and delight as I pick up the phone.

 Charles is his name. His accent solid Irish. He sounds a little bored, like it's been a long day and he's beyond ready to go home for his dinner. He tells me they will send the application and instructions as soon as I send them my address. I'm so full of plawmawss I think it cheers him up a bit. He laughs outright when I tell him he should be grateful I'm not there in person as I'd be hugging him.

"Don't worry," he assures me, "We'll get you a fast track renewal and you'll have it in plenty of time."


I am especially impressed, since, a few years ago, I tried to renew my green card on line and was scammed out of my fee by some fly-by-night organization, sounding very official but being, in fact, a bunch of thieves. It was a tortuous tangle and a thoroughly unpleasant experience.

Have I mentioned how much I love Ireland?




Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Little Beach Music




I think I've cracked the code. Just come to the beach. Bring your bucket and your shovel, a couple of big towels and your swimsuit. Oh, and don't forget some books. Nothing too cerebral, just easy beach reading. Leave clocks and watches back at the house. Tell your everyday life to hold its noise, you'll be back in a week.

First order of business is to walk along the beach. Even if it's late when you get there you can walk along the water's edge with the waves slapping your ankles....



.....and watch the sun go down, the best kind of multi tasking.




 Get some sand between your toes and listen for the music to start in your head.
Wear something short so you don't have to get the hem of your britches soaked by a sneak attack from a runaway wave. Soon the pounding of the waves will blend with that music in your head and wash you over with peace and tranquility.

I forgot to mention --- bring tea. It's important to have the means to make a nice cuppa before you crawl in between the covers and sleep like a baby, full of salty fresh air and sea spray.

Next morning get up, no alarm, just whenever you wake, and do it all again.

Be brave. Go swimming. It'll feel like bathwater, back to the womb, or at least to Ballybunion, fifty plus years ago, with the endlessly blue sky and the vast stretch of the strand and your dad dollacawling with the little stove in the hollow of a sand dune, out of the wind, brewing the best tea you ever tasted.....To go with the best sandwiches ever, made by your mum who was always dainty and cut off the crusts....

 'Cept its warmer here, the water more greeny-bluey-turquoise than grey-green. But the exhileration of outwitting the waves is the same. So, added bonus. You're not only subduing time, you're travelling back in it. And yet another bonus --- when you come out of the water your teeth won't chatter like they did way back then, and you won't be covered in goose bumps 'cause the air here is just as warm as the water. Then you can sit in your beach chair or lie on the sand and read your book or just gaze up at the sky and watch the gulls wheeling by.

And if it's raining, as it is today, you just make another cup of tea and curl up on the couch that isn't yours but comfy just the same, and lose yourself in the romantic entanglements of your beach book, confident that, for now at least, you have subdued time.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Made in America


Local art and hand made soaps

It used to be that that little tag from the Garment Workers of America, stitched into unobtrusive seams in shirts, trousers, skirts etc.was a guarantee that you were buying something made in America, by American workers, and you could feel a small bit of satisfaction in supporting the national economy, or at least helping someone in America to remain employed and able to support his or her family. In recent decades that little tag is as hard to find as feathers on a fish, worthy of a place in the Smithsonian.

A few casual hours at the mall would convince you that nothing is made in America anymore. Everyone I know has had the experience of thinking they've found the perfect gift for a friend's birthday, or a souvenir of a local place they've visited, only to turn it over and groan. "Made in China" automatically makes it a less than perfect choice.

But I have good news!

Heading home through Kentucky after a visit to Lily and family we spotted a sign for this off the highway.....




Walking in the Door



Beautiful hand blown glass
.....and quickly exited. In his former, unretired life, the OC would have been hard to persuade as he'd have been fixated on how quickly we could get home. No persuasion was needed however, and before we knew it we were walking in the door. If you were beginning to think that we didn't know how to make anything in America anymore a visit here would convince you otherwise. Kentucky, at least, is bristling with creative artists and craftsmen. Have a peek......

One of a kind pottery pieces







Unique fiber arts and quilts
More beautiful pottery
.
Hand painted silk scarves

We came away with some Kentucky bacon for our aspiring chef who thinks there is no dish that cannot benefit from the addition of bacon, some locally made chocolates (only two left as of this writing!) some beeswax candles, and restored confidence that there are artists and craftsmen aplenty in Kentucky, and all across the country, making beautiful and useful things, breathing new life into ancient crafts, each one putting his unique, creative stamp on each piece of his work and causing people like me to smile twice --- once at the beauty and craftsmanship of the object and  again, with delight, on turning it over and seeing that it was "Made in America."







Monday, September 01, 2014

Blind in One Eye, Can't See Out of the Other



My excuse is I'm savoring life. Don't want to miss anything. If I maintain a sedate pace, I reason, I'll see it all, live it all, experience it all. But, in reality, my sedate pace means that I think it should be March while the calendar adamantly insists it's September already.

Today is Labor Day, summer's end, though summer will linger on here a few months longer. How did that happen? Was I not paying close enough attention? Long ago, September meant new books, the smell of leather, walking home in fading light, the chore of polishing school shoes every night, cozy fires, the smell of burning leaves.....possibilities. Now it means the temperatures will make a gradual descent to bearable figures and it won't be a penance, but once again a pleasure, to go for long walks.

Last week we saw our grandsons' first football games of the season. They are back in school already and were pretty excited about their first games and happy that we were there to watch. We sat in the bleachers in brilliant, late summer Ohio sunshine. Everyone seemed to know what was going on and I cheered manfully whenever it seemed appropriate to do so, though I had no clue what was happening on the field. I'm still puzzled, after all these years, as to why American football is even called football, but I was mesmerized nevertheless by those handsome little boys (#33 and #1) in their football helmets and crazy bulky padded jerseys and their little thin legs sticking out under it all.





Wait a minute, wasn't it just weeks ago that they were babies?

As you can see, I have no hope of a future in sports' photography. Not quick enough to catch the action shots. Blame that sedate pace mentioned above, besides being "blind in one eye and can't see out of the other". As far as I know, in spite of how it looks, nobody was injured here. There was a lot of tackling and subsequent rolling on the ground, which, if it had been me, would have required an ambulance and a visit to the hospital, but for these elastic little whippersnappers it was just a matter of jumping up, then doing it all again. I'm still no wiser about the whole purpose of the game.

Speaking of failing eyesight, I got in the shower the other day, leaving my glasses on the bathroom counter. I'd been out in the shade garden, clearing, so had twigs and the like caught in my hair. Twigs don't bother me, but when something fell from my hair and moved I was not happy. It looked like a rather large bug.

 I don't do bugs.

I didn't say "eek!" I'm a bit more dignified than that, but I did swat enthusiastically at the creature with a washcloth in an effort to subdue him and stop him from possibly moving onto my toes. I cornered him out of the flow of water and he sat still while I peered at him myopically, trying to determine if it would be safe to pick him up and eject him from the shower.....

That's when I realized "he" was a leaf.

Another time, quite recently, I washed my face, wearing, of necessity, no glasses. I patted my cheeks dry and reached for my tube of face cream. Removing the cap, I was about to squeeze some onto my fingers and apply it to my face when, just in time, I realized that what I had in my hand was the toothpaste tube.

Yes, getting older separates the sissies from the stalwarts. It seems to me that a sedate pace is the best plan.

An even better plan would be to sedate Time.





Thursday, August 07, 2014

Piddling by Candlelight and Other Delights




Domesticity comes to me in spurts. I get by on a minimum, get by, get by, get by, until the howl goes up "There's nothing to eat here!" usually on an unannounced visit from The Bean. Warn me and I will provide, drop in and you'll eat as the Romans do. Us Romans eat well. We eat our veggies and drink our wine and are generally happy as clams with the service. Twenty-somethings we're not, but I like The Boy to visit and don't want him to starve while here......So.

Early in the week the fridge looked a little bare. I could feel a spurt coming on. We'd worked our way through all the leftovers and hadn't seen The Bean for a week. First I made Carrot and Beet Salad, a recent discovery from Scaling Back, my current, favourite food blog. It's a simple recipe but Oh! So delicious! If you can get yourself into a zen-like trance, the julienning and slicing of the carrots and beets won't seem too tedious. Zen-like trance achieved, I chopped away.



As my hands chopped and sliced, my mind wandered back to the weekend. Sunday afternoon we re-connected with an old friend and set off "on an explore." It was a grayish day, a delight in Florida, and raining sporadically. But neither wind nor rain nor gloom were about to deter us from our explorations, so, in the middle of a drenching downpour, we were confident that, in five minutes or less, the sun would peek through again. And so it came to pass.

We wandered down side roads to little towns off the beaten track. It was like stepping back in time to an older Florida, one in which amusement parks and frenetic fun were not the main draw (can you tell I'm not a Disney fan?)




One where time passed more slowly, while you lingered under giant spreading oaks and sipped your iced tea and watched the world go by. We found a little grove by the water and sat under some of those shady trees to eat our sandwiches.


My friend has a of wide range of interests so we chatted and sat and caught up on a few lost years.



Then off to explore some more. To a little fishing village, way out on the gulf, surrounded by water. We had an idyllic afternoon, just wandering around and, towards evening, stopped at a little, rustic, seafood restaurant for supper.

It was raining hard when we parked and dashed for the entrance. Inside was decidedly dim. Ambiance, I thought. But no, a power failure. They seemed unconcerned and ushered us to a table by the window. It was casual and cozy but we could still read the menu. Leaving the OC to peruse it, Becky and I went in search of the ladies' room. Oops. Total darkness!  As in inky blackness. Death by falling into a porcelain commode did not sound inviting.....What to do? Cell phones? Hardly enough of a glimmer. Then, through the gloom, a woman approached bearing candles. Aha! We would not have to cross our legs and sit tight for the duration! So we got our ambiance --- piddling by candlelight!



By now I had all my beets and carrots chopped. It had seemed effortless.




Next I made some hummus. Yum, yum.

And then a cake. Yes, the OC is trying to lose a few pounds, and I'm not trying to have what he loses come to roost in my britches but it is nice, like Winnie the Pooh, to have a little smackerel of something sweet with your tea and your books in the evening. Hence Strawberry Almond Cake. If you're not drooling you should be. It's delicious....

Spurt of domesticity over, I exchanged my Kitchen Goddess tiara for my gardening hat  and headed outdoors to my pet garden project, but that's a story for another day.