Ten years ago we ran away from Illinois where we were born and raised, and started a new life in SW Florida. This blog is about me (an eccentric old artist), ROM (my Real Old Man), Isabella (our neurotic Standard Poodle) and Emmy (our crazy snake killing Jack Russell Terrier). Oh- and the neighborhood old people. Life is good in Florida!
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Monday, July 7, 2014

Letters, Free Lunch and Cremation..

A few of my Twitter friends and I were recently chatting about the lost art of letter writing. Before email, texting and unlimited cell phone plans, sending hand written letters through the mail was how we communicated. Long distance phone calls were expensive so we only called people on special occasions, holidays and in emergencies. Every few weeks, I'd sit down and write long letters with all my news and recent happenings. Of course now that we have email, news is shared instantly and long chatty letters are a thing of the past. But I still prefer writing over talking on the phone. I seldom actually use my phone to call anyone and use it mostly for Twitter. 

Now instead of finding letters from friends in my mailbox...

... I find bills and ads. Even the ads we get now have changed from the kind we used to get. Most of the ads that show up in our mailbox are geared toward seniors for things like scooters for the disabled, companies who remodel bathrooms for the old and frail, incontinence products, reverse mortgages, and prepaid burial plans. This arrived in our mailbox yesterday-
  
I can't think of a more miserable way to spend an afternoon than eating lunch with a bunch of old coots discussing our impending cremations. I'm all for being responsible and preplanning the disposal of one's body, but I sure as hell don't want to spend an afternoon discussing it over a free lunch. 

Until the day I take the big ride down the chute to the great cremation oven, I'll spend my free time with my toes in the sand as seagulls fly overhead and the Gulf waves lap against the shoreline. That beats a free lunch any day...

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Crazy Comes A-Knockin'..

I've become a bit of a recluse lately, spending my days alone in my studio doodling with watercolors and playing with clay. You'd think there would be no way I could get myself in trouble alone in my house, but you'd be wrong. For some reason that I can't figure out, I seem to be a magnet to crazy people. They seek me out. From the time I was a small child, I've attracted crazies. My mother used to tell the story about how when I was 3 or 4 years old she found me sitting on our back steps with my little terrier dog, sharing my sandwich with a crazy old hobo (that's what they called homeless people back then) who was sitting beside me. She said we were chatting away about lightning bugs like we had known each other forever. She was horrified that even though the poor old guy was clearly bat shit crazy, I was quite comfortable with him. 

After many years of encounters with "unusual people" I'm now more jaded and leery of crazies than I was when my path crossed with that old hobo. Now days if I see them coming I try to avoid them. Their drama is much too exhausting- and everybody knows crazies always bring drama with them. That's why Bravo TV hires so many of them. And lord knows, there is never a shortage of crazies. 

Even though I try to avoid interacting with crazies, they seek me out like I have a GPS for crazy attached to me. Even when I'm cocooned within my own home minding my own business and completely disengaged with the outside world. Like last week...

I was in my studio, doodling with watercolors when the dogs suddenly ran to the lanai door barking their heads off. I followed them to the door to find a strange woman standing there. After I quieted the dogs down, I went out on the lanai to see what she wanted. She was a middle aged woman, tall and heavy set, kind of frumpy looking. She seemed normal enough as we exchanged pleasantries. I was wanting to get back to work in the studio so I asked her what I could do for her and then she started into a sales pitch- ugh. She was selling meat from a freezer in the back of her pickup truck. I've seen this before, and am always amazed that anyone would buy meat from some stranger going house to house. About half way through her spiel, I stopped her and told her this was a private community and salespeople weren't allowed in. She continued to talk over me and acted like she didn't even hear me. So then I got pissed...

I told her she should be ashamed of herself for trying to scam these old people and sell them crappy meat out of a pickup truck. I added that she needed to leave right that minute because I was going to call management. Shit the bed, Fred- she went nuts! She started screaming and cursing at me while flailing her arms around and stomping her feet. As she shrieked "You fucking bitch" over and over again, I backed away and retreated into the house. After I locked the glass siding door, I did what any mature, sane and sensible woman would do... I stuck my tongue out at her and quickly pulled the drapes closed. I showed her... I can act crazy, too... behind a locked door. 

PS-
Strays find me, too. Look at this sweet guy who showed up at our door Sunday-
We're trying to find his owners and have notified all the area shelters, rescues and vets. He's such a great little dog with a wonderful personality, I already have a new home lined up for him if we can't find the owners. This is a good reminder to make sure our pets have tags on their collars and are microchipped. Even though we we think it can't happen to our pet, it can and it does... every day. Better safe than sorry!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Ebb and Flow of Life and A Day At The Beach

Too many time during my lifetime I've known emotional pain that has brought me to my knees and left me certain that my spirit was broken beyond repair. It wasn't and I survived them all.  And during my lifetime I have also experienced times of such incredible happiness and joy that I was sure it must be a once in a lifetime experience. It wasn't, I've had many times of spirit soaring happiness. What I've learned is that life is a continuous ebb and flow, always changing, a mixture of good and bad.  Never let the dark times trap you because there is moment of joy just waiting for you to find it. I'm as certain of that as I am that the sun will come up in the morning, set in the evening and the stars will come out at night. And with that in mind, it's time that I begin to work my way out of my grief.

Surrendering to grief would be easy, the path of least resistance. I could settle into it with no effort at all. And that would be a damn shame, not just for me but also for those who love me. I need to ease myself back into the ebb and flow of life. And what better place to start than at the beach...

A day at one of Anna Maria Island beaches reminded me of several things I knew and had forgotten, such as...

The simple beauty of nature is always inspiring to me...




If no one will throw the ball to you, throw it yourself!

 And catch it yourself when the waves bring it back to you...

Building sandcastles in the sun with a friend is always better than hiding inside trying to go it alone. 

Sharing your little joys with a loved one is better than sharing your misery. 

Looking for the little treasures of life can lead to joyful discoveries. 

I know my grief won't magically disappear. The loss of my son is a pain I will carry with me the rest of my life. But there will also be times of happiness ahead for me and I will be ready to experience them. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Day On The Lanai With ROH & The Girls

Yesterday I chatted on Twitter with a woman who lost a sister to a drug overdose. After we spent some time commiserating over how awful it is to lose a loved one to drugs, we decided we needed to work harder at bringing some joy back into our lives. We made a pact to spend time every day finding at least one joyous thing to celebrate. I'm a simple gal, so I find my joy in simple things like my husband, my dogs, nature (BEACH!), my plants and my lanai. So today I spent the afternoon tending to my plants both inside and outside the lanai. 

Of course a day on the lanai is number 1 on the list of things the dogs enjoy. Isabella was showing off her cool and casual new summer hair-do. She must have been feeling really good about how she looks today because she posed like a cover girl for photos.




And Emmy? Oh hell no! She can't be bothered with such girly things like posing for photos. There were geckos to hunt and dragons to slay. I'd call her to me and as soon as I started to raise the camera to take her pic, she'd whirl around and race back to her guard post worried that a little anole may have snuck into her lanai. So I got a lot of photos of her ass. (While Bella continued to pose)




After cleaning my plants they looked pretty good. We had a mild winter this season, unlike the past few winters, and they came thru it with no damage. Can you spot the hidden treasures among the plants? 
 A mermaid


 A Yellow Gecko


A Seahorse




I bought this ponytail palm plant Dec. 1st and it has really grown. I have several out in the rock garden that are taller than me, hopefully this one will stay small and grow slowly in a container. But if it doesn't, it will move outside with the other plants that have outgrown the lanai.
Now

December

And this, my friends, is my dose of joy for the day. Life is good... now go find your moment of joy! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

If Only...

I thought this past weekend would never end. I was repeatedly reminded that it was Mother's Day weekend- commercials on TV, email ads, fliers in my snail mailbox and the numerous floral vans making deliveries in the neighborhood. I stayed away from Twitter to avoid seeing "Happy Mothers Day" tweets. Twitter isn't a good place to be when you're feeling raw and emotional.  Trust me, when your child has recently died the last thing you want to hear is Happy Mother's Day. There's not a damn thing happy about it. I just wanted to dig a hole, climb in it and die. (No, I'm not suicidal. I would never do that to my husband. It's just a feeling but I would never act on it.)

It's horrid enough to lose a child in an accident or to an illness, it's even more complicated if your child died due to his own preventable actions. Not only is there grief, but also an abundance of guilt, regrets, and anger. If only he had gotten off of drugs, if only he had stayed on a treatment plan for his mental illness and addictions, if only he hadn't hooked up with other drug users, if only I had been a better mother, if only his father hadn't abandoned him at the age of 3, if only I hadn't sent him away the last time he was here- all those if onlys played over and over again in my mind all weekend. Yes, I know it's futile to indulge in if onlys but sometimes you just can't stop your brain from wallowing in thoughts and memories. 

I can't go back and undo anything, there are no do overs when it comes to parenting. All I can do now is try to keep my demons at bay and not wallow in my grief and regrets. So I need to spend my time doing things that bring me peace of mind- like playing in my studio, observing nature and being grateful for my husband who loves me no matter what. I have so much to be grateful for, even when my sadness prevents me from seeing it. I need to learn to enjoy and love what I have in my life, instead of drowning in grief for what I no longer have. 

I spent some time last night watching the moon. A strong breeze made the palm trees sing as the moon peeked in and out from behind their fronds. If you've never listened to a tree sing as a breeze blows through the leaves, you must. Each tree has its own melody, and our Florida palm trees sing a much different tune than the oak and hickory trees that surrounded our home when we lived in IL. 

I'll close this post with some photos I took of the moon last night...








Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Signs Of Our Impending Dotage...

I like to think we are growing old gracefully and still somewhat cool people, but clear signs of our dotage are becoming impossible to ignore. 

One of the omens of our impending senility is our struggle to keep up with technology. It's becoming harder and harder with each new gadget we acquire. We recently shit canned our hated Blackberries and got new phones. ROM went with the iPhone and I chose the Galaxy Mega.  



 The Galaxy Mega must have been made just for me. For years I've bitched about the tiny size of phones- the tiny screens and even tinier keypad. The Mega is my kind of phone! A screen I can actually see and a keypad my clumsy fingers can use. Here is a photo of it in comparison to my laptop. 

But we have had our problems with the new phones. I figured out how to tweet from my new Mega but had a helluva time figuring out how to turn off notifications when I was mentioned in a tweet. Throughout the day and night my phone would make chirping bird sounds- not only did it annoy me, it drove Emmy crazy. Every time the phone would chirp she would run to it and bark like a maniac. And she has one of those high pitched ear piercing barks- like someone stabbing you in the ear drums with an ice pick. Finally I figured out how to turn off notifications... just before I either killed Emmy or threw the phone outside. 

After resolving that issue, there was still one major problem... I couldn't figure out how to answer the damn phone when someone called me! When a call would come in a screen would pop up showing a green receiver on the left side and a red receiver on the right side. I assumed tapping the green receiver image would connect me to the caller and tapping the red receiver would terminate the call. So I'd tap the green icon and say hello- but nothing. So I'd frantically tap again and yell Hello Hello Hello??? Like screaming and pounding on the green image would make it work- ha! 

I even had ROM call me while he was sitting right beside me so I could show him that my phone didn't work. Like two simple minded idgiots we took turns tapping the green receiver image trying to make it work. I finally said fuck it and clicked the home button while it was still ringing because I was tired of dealing with it. And what do you know- the ringing stopped and I was connected to the call. Who knew someday I would be so thrilled just to be able to figure out how to answer a phone? 

Another sign that we're sinking into old age is the retelling of stories and arguing over whose version is right. Have you noticed that with old couples? Takes them forever to tell a story because they argue over every little detail. ROM's parents were masters at this- constantly correcting each other over story details and then arguing whose recollection was right. ROM and I swore we would never get like that. And we have tried, truly we have, especially in front of other people. But when we're alone in the privacy of our own home? Not always. 

The other day ROM was explaining to me where a certain business was located in a strip mall. I commented that was the strip mall where we met the couple for drinks and she spit out her dentures and flashed her bare tatas at us (story here). As he has insisted before, he said he was sure it happened at the Elks Club.  Why he thinks that I haven't a clue and I usually don't argue that point with him but on this day it rubbed me the wrong way. I jumped up from my chair and screamed "Stop saying that! It was a gawd damn bar in a strip mall. Every time you say it was at the Elks I want to slap you! Think whatever you gawd damn want but don't ever say that to me again!" After a moment of silence he started to mention the Elks again and I cut him off with "Do not say the Elks to me again!!!". After another minute of dead silence, he grinned at me and said "Okay". But I betcha' the next time he tells the story he will say it was at the Elks... because that's what old people do.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Shopping, Dinner and a Sunset...

Since spring break was over for most people and Easter had come and gone, we headed out Saturday in hopes that many of the tourists and snowbirds had returned home. No such luck...

We had to park many blocks away from St. Armands Circle because of the hordes of people. We spent the afternoon browsing through the shops and I spent way too much money at the Cotton Club. Love, love, love their clothes- such vivid colors and perfect clothes for our hot humid summers. I have one complaint about the shops on the Circle... they keep their doors wide open and don't run their air conditioning- even in the dead of summer. It was uncomfortably warm and humid last Saturday- close to 90 and muggy. When out on the street at least there was a breeze, but in the shops it was just dead warm air. I would have bought more if I wasn't in a hurry to get out of each shop because it was so freaking hot. 

There was an art festival going on but by the time we were done shopping many of the booths were starting to close up for the evening.





I love this statue of Neptune in the Circle. I was going to take photos of all the statues but carrying Bertha around all day as I shopped wore me out. I snapped this photo as we waddled to the Columbia Restaurant for dinner before we drove to Anna Maria Island for the sunset. Bertha pouted when we ordered only a salad. I tried explaining to the chubby bitch that we had to get in shape to wear all those pretty summer clothes we had just bought, but she still felt sorry for herself and sulked. 


I love the ride from St. Armands Circle to Anna Maria Island along the Gulf of Mexico Drive. Beautiful views of the Gulf, gorgeous homes of the rich folks partially hidden behind landscaping so lush it takes your breath away- truly paradise.  And then we crossed the bridge from Long Boat Key to Anna Maria Island and suddenly we were in bumper to bumper traffic inching along at barely 5 mph. Locals on the Island have been bitching for several years that they are over saturated with tourists and visitors... and they're right. The laid back atmosphere that has drawn people to it for so many years is rapidly disappearing. Anna Maria Island is no longer Florida's best kept secret. I feel bad for the locals who have called the Island home for generations- it must be heartbreaking to watch their way of life disappear.

The sunset was kind of blah compared to the masterpieces we usually see. No clouds to intensify the colors and give it contrast, but still a thing of beauty to watch at the end of the day.  It was hard to get any photos without the crowds of people on the beach in the frame but I caught a few...