Saturday, June 27, 2009

Gracie in the Garden

You say it's your birthday!?

I treated my daughters and their boyfriends to dinner last night. Yesterday was Sarah's birthday, and Lauren's was 3 weeks ago. Dinner was in celebration of both birthdays. Sarah chose Doc Ford's a new restaurant just over the bridge on the mainland. (they also have a Sanibel location). I called to ask if we needed reservations, somewhat tongue in cheek, as it's dead summer, and most places are barely surviving. The hostess told me they accept reservations for parties of 6 or more - we are 5. She suggested I call a half hour before we plan to arrive, which I did.
I drove - the kids decided my car was the most luxurious (<>). You'd think I was a stranger to this area, as I drove over the bridge and turned right onto Main Street, only to realize that it's one-way. I turned around and was stopped at the light to cross San Carlos, while we made fun of the car that was pulled over by the sheriff. When the light changed, I started to turn left to go back up over the bridge - SOOO not paying attention! Sarah was quick to say, NO! Go straight! I'm sure the sheriff had his eye on my erratic driving, as well!
We walked in and were told it was a 25 minute wait. Seeing the puzzled look on my face, the hostess said that had we not called 30 minutes ago, the wait would have been 45 minutes. The pla
ce was jumpin'! As we tried to figure out where we could go to wait (inside bar, outside bar, upstairs bar or downstairs bar) we ran into several friends probably checking out the new place to dine. We decided to go downstairs to wait.
Downstairs was a boardwalk with two open air bars, several tables and chairs, a stage with a two-man band playing favorites all along Hurricane Pass, part of the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve.
We realized that there was food service at the outside bars, so I asked if it was the same menu as upstairs, and with an affirmative response, I asked why there was a wait upstairs, and not downstairs. "Some people just don't like to eat outside" was the response. We were all OK with dining 'al fresco', it was a beautiful evening, with a view of the bay and a gentle, balmy breeze.
Ice water all around, a martini for me, beers for the kids - all except Brent, who was drinking cherry cokes.

I picked up my ice water and before it got to my lips, managed to pour it down the front of me! Well, it was only water, and my shirt was cotton, and we were outdoors and , well, it'd dry. (When we began taking photos, however, I forgot about my water front wear, and ...alas! looks a bit tacky in the photos! )

We had appetizers of tosquitos with pesto, and black beans and purple corn chips. I ordered a half pound of peel and eat shrimp and a calamari salad, with extra lemon. It was a huge plate of awesome food, and the shrimp were large, perfectly steamed. Sarah ordered salmon, Lauren ordered fish tacos, Brent ordered a cheese steak and Kevin ordered parmesean chicken.

While we were eating, a woman approached me and asked, "Did I use to work with you at the News-Press?" (Good lord...I left the News-Press in 1995!) Her face was vaguely familiar, her eyes, mostly. "Yes, I said..." not sure if I knew her... she knew me, "Michelle, right?" Her name was Susan. Darned if I can place her. I was somewhat embarassed that I didn't remember her. Kevin said, "That must mean that you're a very memorable person" (is the boyfriend sucking up to the mom?!)

For desert, Sarah ordered a chocolate martini (she didn't know we had chocolate cake waiting back at the house!)

Brent snuck away and had the band play "Happy Birthday" to Sarah.

The kids danced to island faves.
We headed back to my place, fired up 22 candles, sang and ate cake and opened gifts.
Sarah's roommate was texting her, saying that there were people coming over for her "surprise" birthday party, and where was she?
Ah, tough being a birthday girl with all the demands!!
It was a good evening.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


I feel as though caught in a quagmire. My health is still not as good as it can be; I have chest congestion and shortness of breath, and after being vertical for several hours, my ears feel like I'm underwater. My energy level is low. I drag myself out of bed each morning, after hitting the snooze on my alarm three and four times. I haven't had decent exercise in quite some time. Oh, I walk Gracie, but I haven't had my kayak out or taken a good, hard bicycle ride. I no longer have to double over the waist band on most of my pants - they fit. I haven't been on a scale because I don't want to confirm what I suspect. Maybe this quagmire is a rut.
I am moving closer to my dream vacation - just a month away. Most all plans are in place. It's somewhat like two vacations in one - the rugged, backcountry lodge with limited luggage, and the opulent Holland America cruise with its "formal nights" and shows and clubs. I am "mentally packing." A stroke of luck came last night in a conversation with my daughter. She was perusing my cruise itinerary, offering advice for shore excursions, and we were talking about the weather. I mentioned that I was unsure whether to buy hiking boots, mentioning various other footwear I own that would suffice, depending on the terrain and weather. Then she said, " I have those boots that you bought for me when I went to Colorado" and she went to her room an brought them out. UREEKA! They are PERFECT! They are Merrell brand, waterproof, broken in, and MY SIZE!! Good deal...just saved me a hundred bucks and the grief of a decision and break-in period!
The next 30 days will go by in a flurry. Sunday starts 4 days of clerks' school. Then a holiday weekend, back to back council meetings and all smack in the middle of budget hell. I'll be taking 18 days' vacation - unheard of! And, those days will be "incommunicato" - I am taking my BB Storm, but no laptop, and in the backcountry there's no communication, and on the cruise, I believe it's limited to ports. Maybe it's my "indispensable" opinion of myself, but I like to think more that it's "no body can find anything in my office, unless I'm there..." I
I'm concerned about care for Gracie - my girls are here, but, they have their young and wild lifestyles, and Gracie is accustomed to my boring homey style. Of course I worry that she'll be well cared for.
Tomorrow's my older daughter's birthday - 22! I bought her some great gifts, and am taking her and her boyfriend, and other daughter and boyfriend out for dinner. Both daughters were born in June - always been a good balance of june birthdays and december christmas - made gift-giving pretty even.
I expected my brother to call tonight, but perhaps his plans changed. I am over-due on laundry, have been eating processed foods and feel perpetually sleep-deprived.
Things must change...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Donde esta?

My daughter created a CD for me of classical pieces and gave it to me forChristmas. It's high on my list of favorites, and I'm listening to it tonight. It begins with Chopin, then Haydn. The third track is one I most enjoy: Pachelbel's Canon in D major, by Bach. Of the 15 cuts on this CD, it's interesting that she chose to add an opera, Turandot - Nessun dorma by Puccini. In addition to Chopin, Haydn and Bach, the mix contains Mozart, Beethoven and Palestrina.
It's a beautiful evening. I rounded it out with some deep cleaning. After repairing the front door from Gracie's claws scratching at it - which involved wood putty, sanding and painting, the door looks great. I did some deep-clean vacuuming etc. Dishes are done, bathroom's clean, fresh bed sheets. I watered the plants in my garden, pruned the rose bushes and brought in a dozen blooms. A solitary red bloom is here on the kithchen table in a tall blue vase. Three of the velvety red blooms are just newly beginning buds, in a short vase on the coffee table. Three long, fragrant white blooms are perched on the credenaza in a tall, sleek "carnival glass" vase. A solitare pink bloom stands out of a bud vase in the hall. I love roses.
Not only did the house get a cleaning, but I took an indulgent shower. I shampooed, conditioned, scrubbed and rinsed, moisturized and pampered all the areas of my body. I draped myself in my fine Turkish cotton robe. I used lavender oil mixed with moisturizer to coat my entire body. I have a crisp, tall martini alongside a plate of sushi.
Clasical music, sushi, roses and a martini. Oh... and the seductive scent of lavender.
The only thing missing is you.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Tropics

Ah, Friday night. What a fast and painful week. I received a "Heat Advisory" from the national Weather Service through our county EOC from noon today to 7PM tomorrow, record heat. With the temperature and the humidity it'll feel like 105 to 110.
I came home from work last evening, and the thermostat on the A/C was set at 70 and registered about 82. The fan was set to 'on' instead of 'auto'. Last year it froze up, and the landlord had his guy give it more freon. I put my hand under the various vents, and it was blowing, but didn't feel real cold. Lauren was at work, my guess it was hot in the house in the afternoon before work, and she dropped the A/C down to get cool. And it couldn't catch up.
I turned off the unit, and walked out back and looked at it to see whether it appeared to be iced over. It started sprinkling, and the Northeastern sky was stormy dark. The wind was picking up and a thunderstorm was iminent. I went back inside and opened all the windows, pulled back the drapes and ran the ceiling fans on high. The sound of thunder and the cracks of lightning harmonized with wind-whipped palms in the balmy sweet evening air.
I woke this morning just after dawn and was first surprised at how good I had slept and how good it felt to have the fresh air. The moist humidity is very soothing to my irritated sinuses and lungs.
When I came home for lunch today, Lauren had closed up and put the A/C on. It was struggling, still, but with such high heat, it was hard to judge its working order. I came home this evening, and still wonder if it's failing. Right now it's quite comfortable at 78. The weather forcast, other than the heat advisory, predicts thunderstorms daily for the next week.I guess the Summer Storms have come.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hot Tea in a Bright Yellow Mug

I boiled water for tea and lingered over the steamy pot inhaling the warm moisture into my nasal passages and lungs. My mug of choice for my morning tea is a souvenir from my '05 trip to Santa Monica - It's sunny yellow in color, purple inside the cup, with a red band around the rim and a bright red heart above the word, california. It's one of my favorites.
It has been a long, difficult work week. Monday eve was a council meeting and that usually sets the pace for the week - a pace that mimicks 'catch up' which is what I spend the balance of the week doing. We're in "budget hell" or as my finance director calls it, "Silly Season" Our offices are next to each other, such a close proximity that we fall into the habit of talking to each other from our desks. She is incredibly talented in her work and a kind, pleasant person. She frequently gives me sound advice in everything from personnel matters to dealing with the politics of a small town. We have a very good working relationship, so I spent a good deal of time over the past couple of days helping her with minor work details that fall under my "expertise". Document retrieval, imaging, reproducing, binding, etc. Our office doors meet at a 90 degree angle, so that anyone standing in her doorway, is practically standing in mine, as well, and vice versa. Sometimes - (most times) it makes me so crazy I can't even think. Because of "silly season' she has a great deal of traffic in and out of her office. I find myself sinking further and further behind. When the whistle blows at 4:30 (Yabba Dabba Do!) I can finally manage to do some of the tasks that require concentration. Finally, yesterday, at 6:00, I decided to call it a day.
Last night I did most of the chores that I occupy my saturday mornings with - dishes, laundry, cleaning. So this Saturday morning, I'm free to pursue leisure activities, yet my head feels like it's under water and this hot tea is just so comforting.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Adventures in Dreamland

WOW! What an awesome adventure in dreamland! My journey began at the start of a bridge across an expanse of sea water. The bridge was no more than a catwalk, with 2, 2x4's for footing held up by ropes that extended up to weave into handrails. I had crossed this bridge once before and I knew it was defective: the last third of the bridge deteriorated into only one plank and one hand rail - on the right side. I approached at first realizing that I was wearing flip flops, which would impede my footing, and I chanced losing a sandal into the drink. In my left hand I carried a bouquet of Lillies - orange, so probably Tiger Lillies. Because of the twists and turns of my travels, the lillies became repeatedly torn and bruised. One gust of weather caught the bouquet clear out of my hand.
I was at the boat ramp, aboard the boat I'd reserved. Lauren was with me, although never appeared. I was sailing a small sailboat, but not very successfully. Twice, the boat nearly tipped onto the left side, with me holding the sails just enough that we didn't capsize. After awhile, our destination was insight, and with great difficulty, I steared the boat to the dock. Just before reaching the dock, I jumped out and was swimming/pushing the boat to the dock. I pulled myself out of the water onto the dock. Immediately I realized my cell phone was in my pocket and I'd been in the water! I pulled it out, and dried it off. A man who worked there came up and said he knew justwhat to do, and set the phone out in the sunshine.
I mingled with other (more experienced_) sailors. We cooked hamburgers and hot dogs, talked the weather. My dream's eye saw a view of the penninsula of Florida - from the perspective of a jet airplane. I saw the southern tip, the keys, and the Dry Tortugas - although in my dream, the Tortugas were in the geographic location of Cuba and Haiti. I saw a ship streaming through the water.
The dream filtered into other images, culminating in my parents' dining room at the 63 Fairview in the Poconos.. my eldest brother and his wife were there showing me framed photos of my mother that we were assembling as a gift. While we chatted, my dad came up and hugged me and kissed me. It was nice to see him. Dad died in 1997. June 10 is his birthday. What a nice treat.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


It has been some days since I last wrote an entry. I find inspiration at times such as 4:00 AM, standing in the vacant lot looking up at the sky, watching the patches of midnite drift over a waxing moon. These are times that cause me to yearn for a fenced yard for Gracie. I am sure I must be quite a sight in my bathrobe, being tugged around in the dew-ladened yard. What is it that makes the perfect place to poop?
I have been "under the weather" for several weeks, now. In April a flu bug had me down for the count. Now, I seem to have a residual effect in my lungs. My co-workers are tired of hearing me cough, I'm sure. I finally went to the drug store and bought an over the counter expectorant. I sat outside yesterday in the sun, reading, ...and hacking. This morning after a hot, steamy shower, I took a walk with Gracie to check out the "Shark Fest" going on down under the bridge. I guess Gracie was out of shape, as she sat down in the shade panting profusely - and we hadn't even gotten to our destination. It's been all week since she's been out, and it guilts me big time, but it has been all I can do to get up and go to work. When ones airways are so constricted, energy levels are so depleted. This morning's walk was cut short, and she's snoozing in the cool A/C.
I have a few options of how to spend my afternoon: some involve chores, while others involve leisure activities. I'll probably find a balance between the two. I just finished a hot steamy bowl of seafood soup - chinese delivery from LIn's Garden. It made for a tasty lunch.