Friday, July 31, 2009

My New "Bling"

I am not much of a gardener. The fact that the soil around my home is a first cousin to the lunar surface doesn't help either. I love pretty flowers and envy (in a good way) those who can create and maintain a gorgeous yard.

With that being said...last weekend I decided to weed around some trees and put down some mulch...

Not bad for the "Green-Thumb" challenged eh?

The next day, the index and middle fingers of my left hand became numb. After dragging my heels for four days, I finally went into the doc's.

He ran some tests...sending electric currents through my arms, hands and fingers...and announced that I have a borderline case of carpal tunnel syndrome and must wear a wrist splint for four weeks, 24/7. My new "bling" for a while.

The doc wants to see me again after the four weeks. If my fingers are no better, I may have to have surgery, keep your fingers crossed for me that I don't (I would cross mine, but I can't feel them).

Perhaps God is saying, "Leave the gardening to those who have the innate talent and just enjoy their handiwork." Maybe I can just stick to container plants...less weeds to pick. These plants are thriving thus far (and I bypass the lunar surface soil too).

In the near future my blog posts may be shorter and less frequent for a while, but hopefully no less enjoyable. So, please bear with me.

(8-27-09 doctor appointment shows I will have to have endoscopic release of my median nerve, as the wrist brace has not made the numbness any better)

Friday, July 24, 2009

The 18 Year Old Birthday Present

Since my daughter was at Disney World on her birthday, and we picked her up from her aunt's the day after her birthday, and got home late that night, we had her open her gifts today.

She got cards with money inside from family. Her brother gave her an i-Tunes card. My husband and I gave her a gift card so she can go shopping for whatever she needs/wants for college and a beaded key chain in the shape of a cute crab for her dorm keys (her birth sign is Cancer, the crab). There was one gift my husband alone gave her. It was an envelope of items he had put together and sealed in South Korea on the day she was born...A Birthday Time capsule.

When I was 3 months pregnant my husband got orders and left for a one year remote tour to South Korea. I stayed behind in the States. Korea was 16 hours ahead of us and over 6,000 miles away...

Inside the birthday time capsule was a pink birth announcement with the Korean date and time of her birth. Instead of July 22nd at 1:17 p.m., it read, July 23, 5:17 a.m. There was also a letter written by my husband. He wrote, "hard to describe how proud I am of you and your mother" and "can't wait to come home and hold you", as well as, "I love you very much and can't wait to see you". Just some of the highlights. When my daughter read the letter she got misty-eyed. She handed me the letter, I too teared up (what a guy, am I lucky or what?). He had placed some Korean money with the letter...all dated 1991. My daughter likes to collect money from around the world (her Dad would always bring some home from his tours), so it was perfect that he had sealed the Korean money for her 18 years ago.

My husband had gone out and gotten two papers, the Osan Air Base paper called the MIG Alley Flyer and the Stars and Stripes and put them in the capsule. The television schedule was listed in the base paper...Growing Pains, Perfect Strangers and Doogie Howser, M.D. were some of the shows playing. The base theater was showing City Slickers, Dances with Wolves and Terminator 2. Two headlines in the Stars and Stripes read, "England Crop Circles Mystifying" and "Genetic Mapping Raises Ethical Questions". Some things never change.

This picture of a Mickey Mouse hot air balloon in Moscow's Red Square was also in the Stars and Stripes. The hot air balloon was there to advertise Euro Disney's open in Paris in the spring of 1992.

What are the odds that 18 years later my daughter would open her Birthday Time capsule after her return from Disney World and read about Mickey Mouse in Moscow? Turns out, pretty darn good.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Read All About It!

July 20th was not only the 40th anniversary of the lunar landing of Apollo 11, it was also the release date for my hero's co-authored book, Images of America PUNTA GORDA. It is an Arcadia Publishing book. Arcadia has local history books on many places across the nation. My hero's book can be found at on-line bookstores such as and Books-A-Million.

I am extremely proud of his accomplishment. He will not see any proceeds from the sale of this book line his pockets; the proceeds will be donated to the Blanchard House Museum of African-American History and Culture of Charlotte County. We both are volunteers and board members of the museum.

My daughter and I are named in the Acknowledgments at the book's beginning. I, for my input and thorough review and my daughter for her editing. It is a thrill to see your name in a book, but I am sure it pales in comparison to seeing your name on the cover as an author or co-author.

July 20th was also my Father-in-Law's birthday.

What a day full of great things.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Phase Two Pour

Phase Two of the Sidewalk Pour is complete. On Tuesday morning at 10:10 (not O-Dark-Thirty this time) the same concrete truck driver/operator arrived.

This pour went quicker and was easier than Phase One. The concrete was just soupy enough to make it nice to work with and we had formed up the area so that it was very level.

I do not know how many wheelbarrows of concrete it took to fill the sidewalk form; my husband was in charge of the wheelbarrow and my son and I were in charge of moving the concrete once it was poured into the form.

With the concrete man paid and gone, it was time to smooth the concrete...

We continued with the palm frond design on this sidewalk as well...

There are no cat prints on this sidewalk. I do not know why they refrained from walking/running on the wet concrete this time, but I am glad they did.

We were finished with the concrete work in roughly 2 hours. The wooden forms will be removed in a day or two and then we will stain our new sidewalks in about a month.

It is nice to be able to walk to and from the house, garage and cottage without having to have your feet touch the grass.

My husband is currently in the planning stages for some sort of construction project for Phase stay tuned...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Happy Birthday to My Baby Girl!

Eighteen years ago today, I became a mother for the first time. My daughter was born at 1:17 p.m. She weighed 8 pounds, 7 ounces and was 21 1/4 inches long.

My daughter is not home with us for her birthday today. She is celebrating at Disney World with her Aunt.

I was looking through old photos to scan for this blog and noticed that many of her childhood birthdays had a bit of Disney to them...

My daughter has always loved Disney in all its forms (she still does). She had a pair of Ariel pajamas before she could walk. One of her first dolls was an Ariel doll; a little rubber doll just the right size for her little hands to hold. She took it with her everywhere. She wore her out (chewed on her) so we had to get her a new one. She loved Disney movies and still does (who doesn't?).

Notice the Ariel wrapping paper and tablecloth...

An Ariel fish tank as a birthday gift. The fish did not live long, so we bought some more, they did not live long either. We finally gave up and decided the plastic the tank was made of was non-compatible to marine life. My daughter liked playing with the Ariel figurine that came with the tank and did not seem to miss the fish at all.

More Ariel wrapping paper a couple of years later and notice the Pocahontas pajamas. I should have bought some stock in Disney.

My daughter shares her birth date with some other special people in my life. She was born the same day and year as my cousin's youngest daughter (my daughter is on the right).

She shares her birth date with the daughter of a dear friend from my high school days.

And she shares it with another dear friend from my Air Force days.

I wish them all a Happy Birthday too!

I think it is fitting that my daughter is turning 18 and celebrating at Disney World, not only because of her love for anything Disney, but also because she is leaving childhood and entering adulthood. Disney World is the ultimate trip for any child, yet also an awesome place to go as an adult. My daughter is legally an adult as of today...but she will always be my baby girl.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sister, Sister

Two of my four sisters came for a little visit...we had a great time...

Cindy and Kit came to Florida to visit our Uncle and Aunt (who are only a couple years older than Cindy) and to visit me and my family. They were going to be here for a quick two days, then head back to our Uncle and Aunt's, but we packed a lot into those two days.

It was their first time here. After the grand tour of my home and putting their things inside Tarpon Cottage (the guest quarters), we decided to hit the local bookstore to see if we could find anything to maybe take with us to the beach the next day. We came back home with arms full of new books and to a delicious dinner cooked by my Hero. Dinner eaten and the kitchen cleaned, we headed out the door again to take a little trip to Ponce de Leon Park in town, for sunset photo ops. We got a couple of nice shots...

Next day's beach destination was near Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island. On our way there we passed through a little rain, but once we got to the beach it was sunny and beautiful. The lighthouse was closed for tours, but we still walked around it and the lighthouse keeper's house, peeking in the windows. We walked up and down the beach near the lighthouse looking for pretty seashells.

All that walking made us hungry, so we drove to a nearby beach side restaurant. After lunch we walked out onto the beach, set up the umbrella and chairs and raced into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. We never once thought about the old "wait-one-hour-after-eating-before-you-swim" rule. Is that even remotely based on sound science?

We had so much fun in the water. It was warm as bathwater. We jumped over waves, bobbed on top of waves, body surfed the waves and laughed as we were pushed by the tide and had to swim our way back to the little section of beach we staked with the umbrella and chairs. My sisters did a little beach combing as we took a break from the wiles of the Gulf of Mexico.

We played in the gulf again before it was time to head back home. On our way home we had some delicious ice cream from the Loose Caboose and did some shopping at Fisherman's Village.

After dinners and showers, I took my sisters to the top of the Wyvern Hotel for a girl's night out. We had drinks and lots of laughs over childhood memories and made more memories in the process.

To top the evening off my sisters and I hit the hot tub when we got back home. I slept like a baby...the day at the beach, the wine, the spa...better than any sleeping pill.

My sisters left for Miami the next day after lunch.

They want to come back and stay longer. I would like that...There is more we could do and more memories we could make.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Phase One Pour

Project Sidewalk Phase One is complete. Friday at O-Dark-Thirty, the cement truck pulled into the driveway. It was supposed to arrive around 6:30, but decided to show up a little earlier at 6:10. We turned on all of the outdoor lighting and still we were a bit light challenged for the task at hand.

Just as the cement truck is backing up I feel the first raindrop..."@#&*%" I think to myself...still the pour must go on. There are a few more raindrops as the first of the cement is off-loaded into the wheelbarrow. No turning back now...

Load after load of cement is poured into place; we work it with shovels and rakes to make sure it gets into each corner evenly. Mercifully the few raindrops begin to taper off. Thank You God! The pouring is done, now comes the real work...we have to take a screed board and level out the cement. With one person on each end of the board, we use a sawing back and forth action to work the slurry. You can see the screed board in the above picture. We also use trowels to smooth the we do this the cats decide it would be a good time to walk across the cement, then run across it and even lay on it.

We imprinted palm fronds onto the drying cement; a few cat prints just adds to the "nature trail" feel of the sidewalk.

We are done working the cement in just over two hours. We let the cement cure for one day before we took the form boards off. Once that was done we were able to finish putting down the river rock and stepping tiles. We are very pleased with the outcome of Phase One of Project Sidewalk.

Phase Two will start next permitting.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hardscaping Continued

The picture above is the beginning of phase one of the sidewalks we are putting in. Currently our sidewalks are made of crushed shell and we would like concrete ones. We are doing this ourselves (remember we like the satisfaction of doing it ourselves, as well as saving bucks in the process). The kids are in on it too (much to their chagrin at times) and are learning a few things that may come in handy when they become homeowners one day.

We started out with laying a string line to mark where we wanted the sidewalk to be, in relation to the original crushed shell one. It is in the same area, just a bit wider. We had to cut some of the sod away to widen the sidewalk (old pros at sod cutting) and dig down through the shell (not as difficult as we had anticipated) to get a level base for the concrete pour later.

Next we staked in the wooden forms...

We are hoping to have the concrete delivered via a ready mix truck by the end of this week. I hope the weather will cooperate. It will be nice to have the sidewalk done, especially before my two older sisters come for a visit this weekend. After their visit we will start on phase two of the sidewalk plan. The second sidewalk will come off of this one at and angle and go to the side door. When the sidewalks cure, they will be stained the same color as the steps and wall cap pieces.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Happy Birthday America!

I had a very nice 4th of July weekend. My sister-in-law was here. She arrived on Thursday around dinner time. It is always good to see her.

Friday morning we got up, had our breakfast and headed out the door for Manasota Key. It is an enchanting barrier island with no high rises, no traffic lights, just a two lane road, beautiful trees, lovely homes and pristine beaches. We combed the beach for shark teeth and shells.

Saturday we went into town to watch the start of the 18th annual Fourth of July Freedom Swim across the Peace River. This year several hundred people from as young as 6 to older than 70 swam the mile-and-a-half across the river. My husband and I would like to participate in this, perhaps next year. We saw people using kick boards, noodles and inner tubes to help them get across. They were followed by kayaks and boats. The swim is not a race and there are no prizes awarded for the first to reach the opposite shore. To complete the swim gives one a sense of accomplishment.

We then walked to the riverside park that had food vendors, musicians, arts, crafts and a new interactive fountain for all to enjoy.

After a delicious lunch we watched a K-9 demonstration. It was very interesting and informative. The dogs all came from overseas. The German Shepherds there are not over bred and do not suffer the same ailments (hip dysplasia) as they do here in the U.S. All the dogs were males too. Female dogs can develop too strong of a bond with their handlers and may not accept a new handler if a change is needed. The dogs sniffed out "bad guys" in boxes, tracked items the handlers dropped, climbed and jumped over things. They also showed how well they obeyed the commands to sit, stay, come, attack, etc.

To round off the 4th, we watched a very pretty fireworks show along the river's edge. My husband took these beautiful pictures (and the one at the beginning of this blog).

I thought this one looked like a palm tree.