Saturday, November 21, 2009

Giving Thanks

Chance and I went to the beach today. I didn't stay as long as's becoming that time of year when life speeds up and the next 6 weeks will fly by, and in reality, it should be quite the opposite. It should be a time of introspection, reflection, and observation--a time to kick back and just breathe, to slow down. Yet, I suddenly see my time speeding up fast. So, unfortunately, I let that nag me while I was at the beach with Chance, and it won--I came home.

Good thing, though. I have a clean house and part of my Operations Management homework done. Still 2 more questions til I've completed that course. And there's lots to do for Organizational Behavior, but I enjoy it.

Anyhoo, yesterday, I had Thanksgiving potluck at work. Oh my, there was so much good food. I know every person in there had to eat until they were stuffed. So, I have to be thankful for that. I am thankful that I am one of those people who is fortunate enough to be able to eat at all.

I'm thankful for all of my friends who inspire me. It's amazing that I have friends all over the U.S., that still affect me somehow. You've all been part of what's made me who I am. I'm thankful for all of the opportunities I've had to meet so many different people throughout life.

Oh, and it seems petty, but I am thankful to have moved to Florida. I walked on the beach in shorts and my bikini today, and was hot. I sat outside and drank my coffee this morning in shorts and a t-shirt and was pleasant, no chill, not hot, not humid. It was perfect. And it's late November.

What I am not thankful for, is that I have to travel to Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio in December. Along with a week long vacation to home, finals coming up, and a trip to New Year will be here before I know it. And I am thankful for that. I think 2010 is going to be a great year!

Well, my friends and family: I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, whether you are here or on the West Coast, or up the East Coast, or in the Caribbean (lucky sucker), and I hope I bump into you in the next 10 weeks.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hoot Owl Outside my Window

I arrived home last night at 10:30--nothing unusual. What was unusual is that Brian was already asleep on the couch. I woke him and sent him to bed. What sucks about being a night student but an early bird is that I am not sleepy when I come home. I am tired, but not ready to sink into sleep. You see, my day has been going since 5 am or earlier and didn't stop until I got home at 10:30. I need to do something relaxing. To most people, DH included, that's watch TV. I can waste hours on mindless TV but it's not what I consider relaxing. It's noise to me. So, my relaxation, as some of you might guess, is to go hang outside with the super excited furball who is now ready to play. Well, I don't call playing at nearly midnight relaxing, but the outdoors part is.

So, tonight, being like any other night, I walked outside on the lanai. The first thing I noticed was a hoot owl hooting. Now, if I were still in FtB, this would not surprise me, or still on my hill in Knoxville. But living in suburbia, this is strange. I looked (stupidly) around for the bird. Ok, dummy, it's nighttime, there are two trees around you and you can't see in them. Why are you looking for an owl?

Oddly enough, Chance looked up and put his sniffer in the air; so I looked up, and there was my owl, perched on the light pole, right above the light, making him very hard to see and well hidden, but giving him a keen view of everything around. I was ecstatic. One, this is surprising in suburbia. Two, I expected him to leave with mine and Chance's presence. But he stayed. The trees were quiet as ever, every vermin that occupied them surely was not moving. I sat on the end of the porch smiling every time I heard the familiar "hooooo, hoo, hoo, hhoooo-ooo-ooo, hoo". Such sweet sound to a girl from the country. And that means perhaps, the friendly owl will return and take away that pestering possum that's stealing my veggies from the garden.

Finally, I decided I was going to bed. As I stood up and turned my back to the owl, I walked across the porch and heard nothing more than a squeal, a tiny one. I turned and looked and my owl was gone. And so the life cycle goes, Chance and I crawled in the bed and drifted off to dreamland, while our feathery night watcher enjoyed a snack...hope it was the possum.

Bicycle Tires

Monday evening, I made it home in time to take Chance for his evening bike ride before the sun set. This was fantastic. First of all, it's rare that I get home that early's usually 10:30-11 at night before I arrive to my furball thanks to my pursuit of another higher degree. Second, it was a nice warm evening, mid 70s with a breeze blowing. There are two fountains in the large lake in our neighborhood, and they were both lit up, with a nice red sunset behind them. What a sight. And, where else in the US would I be out in mid-November with flip flops on and light yoga pants without being chilled or cold or playing tough like I'm not cold? Nowhere but south Florida.

I enjoy my bike rides with Chance. While the same route gets boring from time to time, I still can enjoy and smile and breathe in a deep breath of forest air (and CO from the nearby interstate). the path we ride on is blacktop pavement, but not the smooth kind--it's more like the kind that looks like rocks that are melting together.

So, near the end of our ride, I was coasting (as by 2 miles of running a 108 pound furball, he's finally tired and slows down). I put my legs down straight, you know where they are parallel to the pavement but not touching it. I looked down, and what I saw were my toes sticking out of my flip flops, and the wheels of the bike turning round and round, going over these pebbles like lightspeed. From the perspective of an insect, these pebbles are life size, and the wheels are even larger--larger than life, and regardless of what pebble the tires hit, they keep on rolling, slowing down and speeding up with the rises and falls in the terrain.

Then the wheels in my head started to turn. I think that's why I love my animals so much. They force me to get out in nature, to stop and just be, to forget the daily stress--the person who pissed you off at work, the looming deadline, the bills you have to pay, the household chores you need to do, your nagging spouse, or your animals have always made me see the world through their eyes, or at least slow down and just smell like they do. It's these bike rides, walks, trips to the beach, that my worries go away, and my creative mind and philosophic mind awakens.

As the tires turned and I watched as my feet flew over the pebbles that flew by so fast, they looked as if they were melting together, like the days that run together when you are busy. And I thought: I wake up every Monday and wish for Friday, so I can just slow down and enjoy the great outdoors, wake up when I want, take Chancey out before the world wakes, and come home to a nice cup of coffee on the lanai and enjoy the silence. I am the big wheel, and the days that I have to overcome are just pebbles. They seem big when my tire hits one, but after it rolls over the rock, it's just another rock. And it's behind me, and my tires keep plodding on to get me to the end destination--which is and has always been HOME.

Home is where you make it. I've said this a lot. I was always told that and never realized it until I left home. I love my home. It's where I long to be--there with my family. Well, if I'm the bicycle, and today is a pebble, let me see if I can get my bike home...and enjoy some smells along the way. Smells, well, I guess those are your daily encounters, some are good, and some just plain old stink. But like smells, they pass.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The past month

Well, it’s been awhile, feels like all summer. What’s new? Let’s see, 20 bamboo plants, common species name Graceful, of the Bambusa genera, 2 cattelyas, a beautiful oncidium, a colorful and fun purple vanda, a rescued phaleanopsis and 4 dendrobiums. Wow, now that I’ve written that, I feel like I’ve collected a few orchids this summer—9, is that bad? From my already existing collection, I was able to get 4 phalaenopsis to rebloom, along with my Miltonia (and I split it with a friend). Oh, and I also acquired 8 ground orchids which are absolutely beautiful, and they have grown far more than I ever expected. Speaking of growing, when I bought the bamboo, August 9th to be exact, the kind lady told me that my 8-10’ tall plants (boy was that a sight to see—me hauling home 20 8’ tall bamboo plants in my 4runner—it was interesting to say the least), she told me by the end of October, I could expect them to be 12’ tall. I thought, yeah, right. Ok, they are now all at least 12’ tall, and some are rapidly approaching 16’! I literally have seen them grow over a period of 4 hours. Absolutely magnificent!

I have now completed 16 hours of my 48 hour MBA requirements.

Chance and I enjoy the beach every chance (no pun intended) we get—which is not often enough. Perhaps when I get that great new job, we can move to the beach and that will become a mandatory daily trip! That’s not a dream, mind you, it’s a goal. Brian and I bought a boat; he’s the only one enjoying it, and for now, that’s ok. I’m busy with my career goals and Chance, and he’s busy with his career goals—his being becoming a fishing guide; mine being becoming a greenie.

Life is good; work sucks, but then again, I’m not doing what I love. We have done absolutely no travelling, but we are spending Thanksgiving with Mickey Mouse. And in February, I’m spending Valentine’s Day with Plastic in Grenada. So, while I’m bogged down and have no time to play, I am enjoying life and taking Phila’s advice: judge no one and taking all I can from everyone. I’m blessed with taking all I can take in from so many wonderful people. Thanks Phila.

Oh, one last thing, I celebrated my one-year anniversary with Metrohm last week , and no one noticed. New things are on the horizon for me, though. And that’s always been the case. The future holds so much excitement and mystery.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Attempted Return

I've been absent from blogging for AWHILE! I am making another attempt (though I hope not futile) to return to blogging. I made a promise to myself that when I finished summer school I would update the layout of the blog becuase even I now notice that it's an eyesore to read. I also wanted to add more photos. And stop rambling so much. The first two I will do and promise to. Brian left when I got out of summer school, and he took my laptop. I have been forced to stay in his mancave to use the computer and much as I love the outdoors, I couldn't bring myself to sit in the mancave unless I needed to balance the checking account. So, no new layout yet.

And, my camera, alas, is dying. I am sad about this, because I paid a lot of money for it and have only had it for 2 years. But I am also happy. Being the scenery picture taker that I am, I always try and focus on things that my little camera won't focus on, and it doesn't work out so well. I want a Cannon EOS but I just have to hope and pray that Santa Claus (aka Brian) reads this and decides to buy me one. Frankly, the camera has never taken really great shots anyway, probably the user. Oh, by the way, don't tell Brian, the camera really isn't dying, the rechargeable batteries are, but it sounds good enough to get me a new camera so I'll try it. Therefore, no pictures yet.

Don't give up on me, Kristie (I think you are my only reader...unless Melissa still tunes in). I will make a comeback. Brian is due home tomorrow, and I am thrilled to see him, but even more thrilled to see my laptop...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hachland Hill Vineyard and What I Took

I had the privilege of meeting a kindred spirit a couple of weeks ago. As usual, I must digress…life is very busy for me. I am working full time, gardening part time, attend graduate school at night, and have a fully functional home, a husband to keep up with, and a VERY VERY VERY active VERY large golden retriever. See that little picture of cutie when he was around 6 months, well he’s now one year, and weighs in at 108 pounds…no, he’s not fat. He runs 4+ miles a day in this sweltery FL heat. Ok, all that said, when I departed FtB…I have not seen my dearest friend since then. And I have missed her. Thankful for her and all those surrounding her, she is going to have a precious little girl in a month. I went up to Nashville to see her and to attend her baby shower. It was so much fun.

We stayed at Hachland Hill Vineyard, under the care of Phila Hach. If you have never heard of the place, I strongly encourage you to put it at the top of your bucket list. I say the top because Phila is 83. She gets around better than a young person, and has all the wit of many old people combined. She loves people, her life has been filled with beautiful people to mold her. While the whole weekend is a story in and of itself, the one I am writing about today is my Sunday morning lesson. I’m not much of a churchgoer. You pretty much have to drag me there…not really, I just don’t attend unless someone invites me for a ceremony like Mother’s Day or homecoming, etc. not to say that I don’t believe in God, just don’t feel that I have to attend church to believe.

Ok, so Sunday morning, I stumbled downstairs to the smell of coffee. The house was still quiet. I encountered Phila and asked if she slept well, and got the response I’d grown used to in such a short time, “Honey, I always sleep well.” She asked me if I’d enjoyed my visit, and I told her I had. Somehow the comment about how fascinating it must be to meet so many people was thrown in, and she replied simply, “it is better to receive than to give.”

Here I am holding a cup of coffee, scratching cobwebs from my brain, trying to get my lungs to take in some oxygen, and I get this remarkable response! Immediately all cogs began to turn and turn faster, and my eyes came to life. I tilted my chin to the left and my head to the right, furrowed my brow, and looked up into the sky (as if someday it will give me the answer). She began to tell me the following story:

One day a pastor stopped in to stay. He and I were talking and he told me he was working on a sermon. He began to tell me about how it is better to give than to receive. I said to him, “No, no, it is better to receive than to give.” He stood there looking at me, and began telling me the Bible says it is better to give than to receive.

Finally, I told him that you can offer anything material to a person; you can give them advice, but that doesn’t mean they’ll take it. You can only offer. However, you can take whatever you want from someone. If I meet a person, I can take away from them whatever I want. I can take pieces of that person and learn from them. That person can offer me whatever they want to, but that doesn’t mean I have to take it. But, if I want to take a perspective from someone, they cannot stop me. And I take something from everyone I meet. That’s what has made me who I am.

The pastor told me he had a new outlook on that, and that he had, he was compelled to preach that sermon.

Phila had a profound effect on me. She went on to tell me she does not judge. Ok, I’ve met many, many people in my life, and a lot of them tell me that, and very few of them have convinced me that they don’t judge, in fact, perhaps no one, til now. I believe Phila doesn’t judge. Just to walk through the house and pick up the books and see all of the faces that have entered her life. She said she just takes what she wants from each person she meets, and lets them go on about their lives.

I took so much from her and all those I spent time with that weekend. It was so refreshing. I have moved on since then with the mentality that I take something from someone every day. I sometimes have a bad outlook on life, the day, or whatever. But I have always been the kind of person who can meet a rotten scoundrel, and if given 15 minutes or longer, then I can find some qulity in that person that I admire, or can take some learning from. Talking to Phila was like talking to my guru (no, I don’t have one). But if I had one, I would want my guru to be like her (and definitely to COOK like her). She has a great outlook on life, and has a positive attitude about everything. She has been on this earth for a long time, and has seen both the good times and bad. She has walked among aristocrats and has known those not so fortunate. She has celebrated life and death, happiness and sadness, and she has nothing but good things to say.

My current frame of mind is to take something from someone every day and apply it to my life. I challenge you to try this. Here is why I challenge you. I usually see the same people day in and day out. I try not to judge, but either this is my excuse for my personality there’s some truth in it, but I have my own perceptions about everyone in my life. Some of them are good, and some are not so good. I interact with people I don’t like every day. I have, at some point, found something about them that I can take. But it is a challenge, when you see the same people every day, to take something. So, it is my personal challenge, and I challenge you. Tell me what you’ve taken. And celebrate your “goods” , your “pirate booty”.

I think Phila could write her own “Soup for the Soul” and it would sell millions of copies. Hallie, if you read this, tell her to write the book and forget the water!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Quick Updates

Been a long while again, so let me run down the past events to lead up to the new changes on the blog you will see this weekend:

1. Completed 2 semesters of grad school, 6 classes down, 16 to go.
2. I WON!!! Patio was completed July 3, and we had a firework celebration July 4 on it. I even almost blew us up!
3. Yard sale was a success...beginning to ponder having another.
4. Completed the herb and veggie garden and am enjoying fresh okra, peppers and a host of herbs.
5. Resodded front yard...which I did not want to do, but oh well.
6. Ripped out all of the bushes on the property and backfilled with flowering perennials...very nice, well, they don't all flower, some of them look very Floridian, which fits since we're in Florida.
7. Ok, that's all for now...look for changes soon.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Florida Locals

I've been living in Florida for a year now. I've come to know a few things
1. Go to the beach in the winter, there are no tourists.
2. Get your outside work done early, it will surely rain in the afternoon.
3. All of the little rundown looking restaurants are the best.
4. Crackers are the only true Floridians to know!

What are Crackers you ask? The first time I heard the term, my real estate agent used it. She told us about this house we pass out on Durant Rd (I think it's Durant) and how it used to be a cracker house. Now, I have heard cracker used in many different ways than to mean a Floridian, but she's a local, born and raised in this area, so she gave us a brief history lesson.

Long, long ago, when Florida was not overpopulated, and relied more heavily on agriculture and livestock than tourism, people would move their animals around rather than keeping them confined to a pasture. They travelled on horseback and in buggies and would crack their whips to herd the animals along. They became known as crackers when they travelled through towns.

Since then, I've had the pleasure to meet very few crackers. What I can say about each and every one of them, is that they just as friendly as anyone else in the South. They will open their home to you with a kind of hospitality as if you were family, and if you mention the word cracker, you'd better know the meaning.

I have since also made friends with a local cracker who lives not far from the house where I learned the meaning of the word. A great individual, who has a passion for fishing, cooking, all things plant, and is so super friendly and so much like a family member.

Friday, March 6, 2009

I'm Baa-ck

Good grief. I decided to look at MY blog today, and whew! Has it been this long? Well, I won't tell you I accomplished anything on the list:

*haven't exercised and have gained 6 pounds since I last posted--eat out fast food about three times a week no thanks to my MBA adventure
*didn't have a 4.0--but close, and even ended up dropping one class, what was I thinking taking 3 classes and working full time, well, I'm into cost accounting and macroeconomics with the current recession so I think I won't un-enjoy these so much...4.0 here I come!
*got the patio estimates--and we fought and fought over the patio and decided to wait, ok, now it's getting warm and I don't want to wait ANYMORE, I want the patio now!!
*did take Chance to the beach a LOT...and to doggy day care, that's our new Wednesday outing. It's a bit ridiculous, hilly billy girl takes dog to froo-froo day care, but he's exhausted when I pick him up and he loves it, and I get to watch him play on the doggy's warm again (yes, we did have some cold weather), and we are going to try and make a beach trip this weekend.
*garage still not finished, not my fault, but I am having a yard sale to eliminate much of the contents first of April--hubby has to do the rest
*we are not done with the flower bed, just getting started, but we did pressure wash the porch and it's looks 100X better, tomorrow, since hubby's flight is delayed...I get to seal it by myself, that should be fun!

I went home the past weekend...traveled on Charlie's death day. One year. I was sad. There are a lot of changes going on at Ft Benning. Everything looks different, especially the pond we frequented every day, where some of him will always be. It's a good change, more pedestrian and kid friendly, and less for ramboisterous dogs off their leashes. Well, he loved people, so he'd love that, but it's almost like dog-dom at Ftb died when he did. I cried, and even though I didn't intend to listen to it that day, I listened to Marley and Me on CD that day. I still can't bring myself to go through his box of toys that's been taped up for a year. But, I can smile when I see his picture, and I fondly remember all that he taught me. I miss his licks, and his nose. I miss a lot more...

Chance is growing on me, but there will never again be that bond that I had with Charlie. He is my forever dog. I can now talk about him without choking up, but I still cringe when I hear his name, and it cuts like a knife for anyone to call Chance Charlie.

It also snowed while I was home, AGAIN this did this last year about this time while I was visiting...same way, treacherous storms preceding it, which while listening to Marley and Me helped further shed some light on the mystery of Charlie's death...followed by a blanket of snow that didn't last too long.

For my yard sale, I've started the great purge...old chemistry reference books...I'm taking to the bookstore by USF campus. Clothes have gone to Plato's Closet, that place is awesome for a shirt here and there and to purge freshly tossed clothes! Being in there put some more perspective on this recession. You see I really haven't seen it as a recession. I have a job, I pay my bills, I am sick to death of bailing other people out. But, I also need to save a lot more than I do, and don't need all the stuff I want. Being in school at night has robbed me of my time to shop for things I don't need. Now, when I do go in a store, I can't even find something I want, and if I do, I don't buy it right then, I mull it over. I'm stingy with money these days, and not because it's tight, but because I just don't need all this stuff I get rid of each and every spring. SO, yet again, I'm going to try and not stuff my life with so much stuff. Yeah, I take Chance to day care and that costs money, but he has fun and I don't mind. And I don't buy 15 Christmas ornaments and stuff them in a closet! The only good thing I'm looking for (hoping for) from this "recession" is that people go back to the for your future, spend less than you make, and do away with all these stores...but on the flip side, IKEA opens here in MAY.

KA, I won't be ready for our marathon in March, but I'm still coming to visit!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Year, New Obligations

Chance and I made our weekly pilgrimage to the beach today. I still cannot stress enough how wonderful it is to be in south Florida. It was 81!! The beach was packed with doggies and their owners (some of which I wish had stayed home and let their doggies come). We both enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. Now, Chance is curled up on the bed asleep, with some ferocious gas...

So, I am sitting here logging onto HGTV to win my dream home, though what I really want to win is Green Home 2009! It's in Port St Lucie too--retirement home!!! I logged into blackboard to check on my classes and print syllabi, and wow, I have like two days worth of homework. So, I was contemplating going to the beach again tomorrow and I still might, but I definitely have to do some homework.

Oh, did I mention how hard DH has worked around the house this week...we can now park both vehicles in our garage, and it's 1/3 organized...need more shelving and time and a couple of other things that are going to take time, but the big thing is that we can get both vehicles in the garage, close the door, and nothing is outside, except the way oversized garbage can. I'm so proud, I want to take a picture, but it's not finished, and that makes me want to wait and show off the final result.

I got two new projects at work on Friday. YAY! Can you feel the enthusiasm. I keep getting thrown into these projects that I have never had any experience with the equipment, and I embrace the challenge, but it's a little intimidating. Oh well, I'm excited about starting school again, and life will be so busy now.

Oh, forgot to mention that in DH's efforts to work around the house, he discovered that we have a major leak in the sprinklers under the AC unit, so we have to fix that, and the AC unit is not on a concrete slab...we wanted to build a patio and were only debating, we have decided that it is a must, along with concreting the AC unit base, whatever thingy. Oh, and the time has come to prep the herb garden/flower bed for spring planting.

So, obligations:

Win biggest loser contest (me, Brian, 2 neighbors--right now, I think I'm losing)
Titrotherm projects
3 Classes at USF, high gear, lasting only 8 weeks
Take Chance to the beach each weekend that the temp is over 75
Prep the new flower bed
Get patio estimates
Complete garage re-organization project

Time frame: End of february...that's 8 weeks. Busy, busy, busy...