Monday, December 29, 2014

Sunshine on my shoulders for Christmas

My sons and I had a wonderful time in Florida visiting with my husband’s parents. The weather was spring-like and the temps were in the 70’s and it was fantastic feeling the warmth of the sun. And it was very different (and interesting) being somewhere warm for the holidays, a first for me.

They live in a lovely little retirement community and have a sweet little house right on a canal that leads to the sea. Just being there gives such a feeling of peace and contentment. And one morning I woke up and the lawn was covered in all sorts of birds, some of which you’ll see below.

But I’ll start with a few beach pictures because one of my sisters texted me today and asked where the hell the Florida pictures were on my blog and how long were they going to have to wait. Nah, I’m kidding. She said it much nicer than that . . .


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These were all taken along Casey Key.


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I love the pinks of the sunset here.


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And how cool these palm fronds look in this sunset shot.


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Taken Christmas evening at the Venice Inlet.


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It was great to see flowers blooming, too.

But it was the birds that I spent the most time photographing.


These were all taken along the canal at my in-law’s house.

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I believe this is a Great Egret.


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A Yellow-Crowned Night Heron.

He came right up to the porch, the little devil.


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I’m not sure what kind of hawk this was, but he was screeching and performing all kinds of antics up there.


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I am pretty sure this is a Snowy Egret.


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And this was quite the exciting find for me. Taken from afar of what I first thought was a flamingo because of the pink coloring, this is actually a Roseate Spoonbill.

I caught this image and the alligator below at Myakka River State Park.


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My sons had never seen an alligator before, so this was interesting.


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And I took this while driving through Sarasota near The Ringling Circus Museum.


I know this isn’t much, but I’m not feeling all that wonderful right now. I’ve done something to my back and have been in bed or on the couch since yesterday afternoon. It’s getting better, but I just am not feeling all that great. At least I’m on winter break from school so I don’t feel bad about having to call in sick.

I’ll be posting more as the week wears on. Hope this little bit of sunshine makes you smile ~

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Until next time, then . . .

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Images from my cell phone, among other things

It’s Sunday morning as I write and I have a list of errands and chores to do today, culminated by a cookie exchange late this afternoon. All of the husbands will be watching the game out in the refurbished garage/game room and all of us womenfolk will be partying it up in the house. I still have to pack for Florida (we leave early Tuesday morning) and tomorrow will be dropping George off to stay with my good friends, Jeff & Karen, over in NJ. I’m also picking up my son, who is back from Stockholm, at the train station in Philadelphia.

I am moving kind of slow this morning. I had one glass of wine too many last night (did I just say that out loud?) and truth be told, I really don’t drink much anymore. But it’s the holiday season and all, you know, and the wine seems to help in the creativity department because last night I wrapped all the little gifts I have for people and when I woke up this morning, they look pretty beautiful. Ha! Oh, the things I am saying out loud this morning . . .

The images you see below were all taken this week with my cell phone. Because I always have it with me.


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Heading out to the car on a cold and foggy morning.


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Same scene the next day, only it was much colder that morning.

I will say it again – I love this property where I live.


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The sky on the way to work. My husband told me once that he thought he might want to be buried in this cemetery and here’s why: So that when I drove to work, I would always think of him. The cemetery is right around the corner from the school.

First of all, I think of him all the time. And secondly, I really don’t like this cemetery. He is in a much better place.


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As I was leaving work one day, the sun had come out and was shining on the cupola on the top of the building. I thought it looked beautiful. I was pretty far away though, and the photo is pretty grainy but still – pretty.


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My favorite day of the year at our school is not the first day or the last day. It’s the day before Christmas Break when we all gather in the lobby to sing carols around the tree. The school has doubled in size since I started working there 16 years ago and we have to sing in two shifts and are thinking of going to three. This is the first shift – the lower school. Parents join in, alumni return, and it’s a tradition that everyone loves. I took the photo using the night mode (no flash) on my cell phone.


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I took this photo just now from where I’m sitting in my living room and used night mode again.

It’s gray again this morning and this room has always been dark.



Photo by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman

I made these cookies yesterday and didn’t take a photo of them so I’m borrowing one from The Pioneer Woman’s site. Each year that I’ve been attending this cookie exchange, I’ve brought a different cookie and this year I wanted to try these. They are a chocolate round, dipped in melted almond bark and then sprinkled with crushed peppermint candies. They are a little time-consuming but are pretty yummy although my son and I thought the chocolate cookie part was a bit dry. Still good, though.

I won’t be taking my laptop with me to Florida so if you don’t hear from me for another week, this is why. I’ve never been anywhere other than the cold North during the holiday so this will sure be different. And it will be good to be with my sons and my husband’s parents and two other relatives who are coming on Christmas Day.

Hope you have a peaceful holiday. I’ll be back next week ~

Oh my gosh! The sun just came out!

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

I used only the good notes

The holiday season used to be so joyful when I was young. I couldn’t imagine ever being sad during Christmas and the New Year. But then I became older and it wasn’t until after the children were grown and my husband became sick that I truly understood why people can become depressed at this time of year.

I had to force myself to put up the little tree this year but I’m glad I did now. I kept putting it off all morning and then finally, it clicked and it began to feel right. “Snap out of it,” I told myself in my best Cher impersonation. (Name that movie). And later in the day, I popped in one of my favorite Christmas movies, and I really began to feel better.

The Holiday, starring Kate Winslet, Jack Black, Jude Law, and Cameron Diaz is what I watched this evening. One of my favorite parts is the one with Jack Black, who writes musical scores for films, and Kate Winslet who is listening to one he’s just written for their new friend, 90-year old Arthur Abbott (played by Eli Wallach) . He’s also written one for her and he tells her that he’s used only the good notes. It’s very sweet.

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My tiny tree in the windowsill of the living room. Some day I’ll have a regular sized tree again. But for now, this one suits me just fine.

This year, my sons and I are doing something quite different for Christmas. We’re taking a trip to Florida to spend it with my in-laws in their new house down on the Gulf Coast. I am really looking forward to it.

And now, a question . . .

What are your favorite holiday movies?

See you in the comments ~

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Thoughts on a Monday night

It’s Monday night and I’m having a cup of chocolate peppermint tea and watching An Affair to Remember on TCM which has just begun. George is resting at my feet because earlier this evening we played tug of war with his rope toy and I guess he’s all tuckered out.

It’s cold outside and the thermometer reads 32 degrees but it sure feels colder. We may have a little weather coming tonight but it could miss us and keep to the west of us.


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This was taken yesterday evening. I stayed home this weekend and got a lot of things crossed off on my to-do list although I just couldn’t get into decorating for the holidays. But it will come, I guess.


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I took this one yesterday too and you can tell it was a bit warmer than today. It also looks weird – like I’m riding the dog. He was standing at the door waiting for me to come inside. I didn’t realize I was in the reflection until I checked to see if the photo came out.

George is doing really well with the medication he’s on for both the seborrhea and the ehrlichia. He has to be bathed twice a week with a special medicated shampoo which then has to soak in for 10-15 minutes. I’ve been taking him to the pet wash to do it because it is a major chore to do it at home in the tub. Plus, there’s a special dryer there.


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He gets bored waiting to be rinsed off.

Silly dog.


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My chocolate peppermint tea in my new teacup, a birthday present from my friend, Daryl. It is beautiful and I love it ~

I highly recommend The Republic of Tea. It makes a great gift for the tea lovers on your Christmas list. They have beautiful sipware and lovely teas. And no – they aren’t compensating me for saying nice things about them. I just like their products.

And speaking of compensating . . . after four years of having advertisements on my site, I decided to call it quits. I never made much money on them, and I always thought they junked up the blog. Maybe you never even noticed but it was time to say goodbye ~

Well, the movie is playing, and I’d like to get back to it. Until tomorrow, then . . .

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014


The flight home from Stockholm on Sunday was an uneventful one, which is always a good thing when it comes to air travel. I watched three movies on the plane: Jersey Boys, The Other Woman, and Million Dollar Arm. Liked all of them, too. During the drive home, traffic was horrible as I neared the Delaware Memorial Bridge on 295 and it was a slow crawl over it and on towards 95. I couldn’t wait to see my dog and was having trouble keeping my eyes open.

All of these images were taken using my phone and I’m posting them here because I can’t write and not have photos to share, you know.


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This was taken on one of my last nights there. I didn’t feel like lugging the big camera with me but when I came across this scene, I wished I had brought it. I took this and the image below using the ‘night portrait’ mode on my Samsung Galaxy S4 but I know my camera would have done it so much more justice.


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They were taken from Skeppsholmen, looking toward Gamla stan. We’d walked there from the city to visit Moderna Museet (Modern Museum) before dinner.

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When I got home, a very excited pup ran to greet me. Oh my gosh – he was so happy I think he was crying. After much cuddling and then dragging the bags upstairs and unpacking, I took a good hard look at my beautiful dog and realized that he looked horrible.

His coat had been looking kind of dull to me lately and I upgraded his feed about 2-3 months ago because of it. I noticed little difference but something I began to notice shortly before I left was flaking skin in his fur. It was nothing too disconcerting, but when I got home, his fur was covered in flaking skin. So I called the vet the next day. I asked for blood work while there, thinking that maybe it was thyroid-related and I’m glad I did. George was diagnosed with seborrhea, which is easily fixed. But the blood work caught a disease called Ehrlichia canis, which is tick-borne. I had never heard of it but it was caught very early and the prognosis is very good.


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George at the vet.

He loves it there because everyone always makes such a big fuss over him.


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I nearly started crying when the bill was presented to me. He was due for a Lyme’s booster and his heartworm, but it was the medications that cost the most. I read on the internet after getting home that the pills George were given had risen in price over 6,000% since the year 2010. They cost $2 per pill, bring the price for those pills alone to nearly $250.

Christmas will definitely not be about presents this year. I’m just glad that my dog will be healthy. And that I asked for blood work.


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On another note,

I think I am ruined for coffee after drinking all the deliciousness that Sweden had to offer.

But I will live ~

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ps – Thank you for all of your wonderful comments on my posts while I was away. I have yet to read most of them, which is why you haven’t heard back from me personally yet. Until next time . . .