Sunday, August 23, 2009

Beach Vacation

We got to Rosemary Beach yesterday about 5 PM, tired but happy. Our condo is gorgeous, with a deck that looks out onto the ocean. I brought Zoie, and I'll post some of her photos later, but I'm using Jim's laptop, and it doesn't have PhotoShop on it, and I'm pretty much lost, photo-wise, without PS. So, I've cheated today, and I'll post a photo borrowed from the rental site.

Remember the movie "What About Bob?", where Bill Murray carried his gold fish with him in a jar on a cord around his neck? Well, you'll laugh your arse off at this, but we have one little blue Betta fish in a small aquarium at home, and I put him on the desk that Jim uses, and they've become friends. Who'd a thunk it? Anyway, Jim said it would cruel to leave "Finley" alone for 8 days, and that we should bring him, which we did. Right now, Finley is in a big iced tea jug, looking out onto the ocean waves. He doesn't seem that impressed, but then who's to say what will impress a fish?

We watched dolphins from the deck this morning, and I walked along the beach looking for sea glass and shells. Jim isn't a water & sand kinda guy; he's just here for me. I told him that I'll be on the beach in the mornings and evenings, and that during the day, we can explore the surrounding areas, so I think he's ready to go.........................

Thursday, August 20, 2009

One Woman's Treasure.......

My Aunt Tiny never learned to talk, not so most of us could understand her. She was born with a speech handicap that today would probably be reversible but which kept her at home forever with my grandparents. My grandmother was very protective of her and treated her as if she were an invalid, but she could learn as well as anybody and loved to quilt and garden. We all loved her very much, but what do you get for someone's birthday or Christmas when she already has everything she wants or needs? She loved pretty trinkets and figurines, and so that's what the family gave her.

When my sister Nan I and were little, Aunt Tiny's room was off-limits because it was filled to overflowing with her delicate glass menagerie, but sometimes we'd be allowed to walk carefully into the room and sit on the foot of the bed for a few minutes and gaze at the glittering display of ceramic, crystal, and blown glass figures crowded together on dresser tops, on shelves and in glass front cabinets. We held our breaths in reverence, speaking to each other in whispers as we pointed out pieces that caught our eye. Aunt Tiny, who wasn't the one who made the rule that kept us out, would be standing at the door, smiling and eyes twinkling as she enjoyed our delight over her collection. She was so loving and generous and would have given us anything we wanted, but we knew better than to ask because we'd have been scolded later.

You know how, when you're a child, everything seems larger? Well, my favorite piece among the hundreds was a delicate glass reindeer, with red antlers and a silver body. I remember it as being graceful and tall, maybe 18 inches high. It was always the first thing I looked for in Aunt Tiny's room.

My grandparents died, both nearing 100, in a nursing home, and Aunt Tiny went to live with my mother. When she, too, passed away, and my mother was selling her own home, I went up to help with the moving sale. As I browsed around through furniture, table scarves and bric-a-brac that brought back childhood memories, I stopped short and drew in my breath! There, tossed onto a box of junk was the glass deer! (But it was no longer 18 inches tall. It's actually about 6 inches in height.)I know my hands were shaking as I picked it up, certain that such treatment had resulted in broken legs or antlers. No breaks or chips, only a little of his silver had deteriorated, but I would have loved him in any condition. I turned to my mom and asked softly, "Can I have this?" She said of course, take anything I wanted, but I had the treasure I wanted in my hands and quickly took it to my car, wrapped in a towel.

I've since found out that the mercury blown glass deer are antiques from Germany. There are 2 (not half so pretty as mine) on Ebay right now, "as is", for $75 + $10 shipping. My glass reindeer lives quietly in my bedroom, in a glass box that holds beautiful memories of my darling Aunt Tiny, but I'm sure he misses his friends and the days when excited little girls crept into the room to admire them.

Monday, August 17, 2009


This month, I'm answering reader questions for Corel Painter magazine, Issue 35, and the editor was kind enough to send me the commission early so I'll be through (knock wood) before we leave for Florida. One question was on how to make mosaics in Painter.

I love doing mosaics in real life as well as in Painter; they're both relaxing and seriously therapeutic. This day has been long, though; my brain is tired, and my blog will be short this time. I think I'll go try to find a good movie on NetFlix. You can bet good money there's nothing on Dish.
See ya later.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wine Holders

I'm not a true wine connoisseur. Well, let's be perfectly honest, I wouldn't know fine wine from Kool Aid. The wines that are expensive, the ones that our friends Mike & Jenny say are the best and that they keep in their special wine refrigerator, taste simply yucky to me. When I've been given a glass of the precious, rare liquid, I've sat and smiled and taken tiny sips and wondered how in the world can they love this wicked tasting stuff so passionately? I do like the taste of a few sweet wines, like Wiederkehr Niagara (made in Altus, Arkansas) and some blackberry wine that my friend Sybil brought over, but I'm not a fun wine drinker, either. Most people can sip wine all evening and get funnier and cuter with each glass. One glass is my absolute limit, and it doesn't make me funny or cute, just sleepy and wanting to go off in a corner and take a nap. And after one glass, forget about it, I just might as well go to the bathroom and drape my arms around the toilet, with a 75% chance of a major migraine the next day. So, all in all, wine (make that all alcohol) really isn't big on my agenda.

Wine holders and wine carriers are another thing, though. I've always been drawn to them, and have sewn some gorgeous little sparkly wine stockings to carry bottles to friends' homes on special occasions. The carriers can work really well for other purposes than holding wine. Here are a few that wouldn't listen when I told them that I wasn't going to buy them:

The moment I saw the one that now has guest towels in it, I thought how perfect for the guest bath! Nobody has ever used a towel from it. Maybe I should put a sign on it that says, "These are for using." But they look pretty cool, anyway.

The long one that I've hung in my walk-in closet works well for holding the little beaded and velvet purses that I carry when all I want with me are keys, license, credit card and some cash. It actually looks better than it does here, but it's in my closet, so unless I drag someone in there to look, nobody sees it but me.

The two basket carriers were supposed to hang on the shepherd's hook in a flower bed, which darlin' hubby is currently using to hold his hummingbird feeders. Eventually, I think they'll look really good with tall planters or vases in them.

And then there are those paper board ones. They're all so pretty I've had to draw the line at 3, and they're on top of my kitchen cabinets.

I think there are more; these are just the ones I thought of when I grabbed my camera. They're fun, even if wine isn't............

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Some Photos

I'm obviously attention deficit disordered, easily distracted by sparkly things and whatever floats in on the current, and so this blog may never have a permanent focus. Today I got out my Canon Rebel camera and plan to take it, along with my little buddy the Canon PowerShot, to Florida, so I need to practice up on using it. Isn't it cool how patient cameras are? I discovered some pics from last winter just sitting in there, waiting for me to do something (anything) with them. Poor things. So, I'll post a couple of them today to make amends.

I discovered this photo of my computer room, taken before the new PC and new monitor. It looks neater than usual, and darker, must have been a dreary winter day. This is my sanctuary, and it's off-limits for remarks or nagging by my perfectionist hubby. I'm a pile maker, and I'll always have my piles of magazines that I will get back to eventually, stacks of papers, books, etc., and I try to confine them to this room...............mostly. At the moment, there are 2 computers and 3 monitors. Sometimes I can't bear to let go of things..........I work on the Dell with dual monitors. I LOVE that Deck lighted keyboard, even though I'm a fast touch typist (thank you Ms. Johnson in high school). It's shorter (no number pad) so it fits on my tray beside the Intuos.

There were photos of the little ice storm we had, just looking at them here in early August makes me feel cooler.

And the red Gerbera daisy pic was taken this morning. I can never capture the dew as well as I'd like, just another of my life goals. I have so many goals, but then that's what keeps us ticking, isn't it?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Belly Fat after "a certain age"

About a week ago, I joined a site called SparkPeople (strange name but awesome resources and support). I started a blog there, and I've decided to share some of it here:

This is something I never had to worry about much when I was younger. If I kept my weight within a healthy range, my figure looked grrrreat! But here at "a certain age", I find that fat likes to collect around my mid-section, whether I'm up or down 10-20 pounds (the same 10-20 pounds I've played around with for a lifetime). And it's more than just wanting to look good in my clothes (which I do want with all my heart). Waist to hip ratio is an indicator of how likely we are to stay healthy and has been related to catastrophic diseases like cancer and heart disease. This ratio can signal problems, even if your BMI is in the healthy range. (OMG!) After menopause, women are much more likely to gain fat around their mid-sections. There are lots of "waist-to-hip" ratio calculators online. Just Google them to find one you like to work with and bookmark it.

My ratio right now is .87, which they say makes me an "avocado" and is healthier than an "apple" but not as healthy as a "pear". I'm over 50, and I don't smoke; I may have a glass of wine or a light beer once or twice a week, and my jeans are a size 4, 6, or 8, depending on the brand and where I am with the 10-20 pounds. I lead a sedentary life, working a good deal at my computer at home.

Soooo, I decided to share my progress in beating the battle of the midriff bulge. I've been researching online, but of course that's complicated by all the ads that want to sell me magic pills and magical 3 minute workouts that will solve the problem. I've been around the block a time or two, and I've learned that there's not a quick and dirty way to lose any type of weight. I've looked into how the Glycemic Index and Estrogen Dominance affect belly fat, along with some other studies I'll be sharing. I'm getting back into water aerobics and cardio floor classes at the fitness center near my home. I'm also walking on my treadmill and using my Ab Cruncher for 100 daily crunches, even though studies show that ab crunching is not the way to get rid of tummy fat. I figure it can't hurt to firm things up a bit, anyway. I've also ordered a book and some nutrients that I will share here once I've had a chance to check them out. I'm enjoying the SparkPeople site immensely. I've got almost every nutrient listed in my nutrition page so I can check them daily against my food intake. I eat very, very healthy, but I'm a carbo-holic, and I fall off the wagon sometimes. Wish me luck in my latest quest!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Counting Sheep

O sleep, O gentle sleep,
Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down
And steep my sense in forgetfulness?
~William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I

Mattresses should have an expiration date on them, or at least a pop-out thingy that says, this one's done! We spend 1/3 of our lives in bed, and how well we sleep affects the other 2/3 of the day. We flip them regularly (well sort of), and still they become defunct. I knew before DH did that ours had passed away. He can sleep like a baby, sitting up in his recliner, holding his laptop and remote control with the TV blaring. 'Nuff said.

I finished the Painter magazine article, and we've been shopping for a new king-size mattress, mind-boggling stuff. For mattresses that look identical on the outside, the prices can range from $300 to $5000. That's a lot of range. Of course I've researched online till I'm blue in the face, but then when I walk into a mattress store, and the clerk starts spouting jargon relating to his particular brand, my eyes tend to cross! And no longer is it only a matter of choosing the best box springs (actually, Leggett and Platt make 76% of all mattress coil springs and sell them to the mattress companies), these days there's also latex (lots of kinds of latex) and memory foam, and choosing mattress covers can be as involved as choosing the fabric for your living room furniture. I was seriously interested in a foam mattress because of their hypo-allergenic qualities, but I wasn't in love with memory foam. Probably just me, but it seems sort of claustrophobic.

Ever notice that a lot of mattress companies' names begin with "S"? Like Serta, Sterns & Foster, Simmons, Sealy, ( the Big Four) Select Comfort, Spring Air, Strobel, and Symbol........maybe it's because it sounds like ssssleep or sssssnore, I dunno. I'm a firm believer that you get what you pay for, but I don't like paying for the labels, either.

An added complication is that I want something soft and plush (I remember my grandmother's feather bed), and DH wants firm, I'm talking seriously firm. We used to spend the night occasionally with his aunt, who graciously vacated her bed for us, and sleeping on her floor would have been softer. Yeah, that kind of firm. And they do make beds half-and-half, but DH wasn't ready for such technology, so we pressed on, looking for that happy medium, sorta firm but sorta plush mattress. One salesman suggested twin beds pushed together. I thought bed-making would be a nightmare, and DH had visions of beds skittering all over the floor, with us taking nose-dives in the middle of the night. Not good.

We narrowed down the brands to Symbol, considered one of the best out there, well respected company, competitive pricing, dependable after the sale, and there happened to be a dealer in our town. One bit of wisdom that I garnered online is to take your own pillow to the mattress showroom and spend 15-20 minutes lying on each prospective mattress in your normal sleep positions. DH thought that was plain silly, but the second trip to the Symbol store, I took my contour pillow with it's pale blue satin case. Yes, people smiled, but I was on a mission! By now, DH was tired of this game, and was saying, "I don't care. Whatever you choose is ok with me". (I'm not fooled. He cares.)

So, I snuggled down into the mattress that had "spoken" to me, other customers milling around me, and made my choice. I love the mattress; DH loves the price (about mid-range). It should be in sometime next week, the one that's natural latex foam all the way through. Mission accomplished. Next.