Monday, February 27, 2006

road report: part I

It’s day four of our road trip, and what a wonderful time we are having! Friday we arrived in St. Petersburg, FL in time to join Kip, Woody, Kath and Bob for dinner. We had a great evening together, and continued the fun and conversation far past my bedtime!

Saturday morning Kip picked up Kath and me and we headed to Ruban Rouge, a scrapping store where scrapping product diva Heidi Swapp was leading a workshop that featured some of her new products. We rendezvoused there with Jules, Janet and Teri. Heidi’s trademark color is pink, so we all decked ourselves suitably (which seemed to please her), and after arriving at the store settled into the back row where we could cause as little distraction as possible to others when we got carried away amongst ourselves. It was a good class, and what a fabulous store! I exercised great restraint and bought only a handful of things, along with—brace yourselves—only one sheet of paper! From there we went to lunch at a great place in Dunedin, where we enjoyed more laughs, a funky waiter, and very good food. We returned to our respective hostels late in the afternoon with some breathing room before gathering at Kip’s for a little winethirty celebration, then swung by a local hotel to fetch Janet’s husband, Bob, before all going to dinner. We enjoyed more good food at a Spanish/Cuban restaurant out at the end of the St. Petersburg Pier. Though too dark to enjoy much of a view, it was still a treat to be out by the water, and to walk out on the fifth floor deck afterward and enjoy the view of the city (there's a photo for next time--blogger and dial-up aren't good friends and I'm having trouble loading this last picture). Best of all, however, was the company, and it was a wonderful celebration of friendship.

I’ll save further reporting for the next blog entry so that I can spread out the inclusion of pictures. Next stop, Ft. Myers, our visit with Jules and Gene, and more food!

watch this space!

I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, just headed south for some R&R! Hard to find time at the computer in these circumstances and to post pics of our adventures, but I WILL try to do that tonight. For my handful of regular visitors, I thought I would at least let you know that something will be in this space soon! Miss having the chance to be in touch. More later!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

phasing into transition

I am very excited to be moving, and soon. When I think about having adequate space, a real kitchen, a yard with grass (instead of dirt), and a chance to garden again, my heart simply leaps with joy. And yet, when I look out the windows of the cabin where I live now, watch the chickens scratching through the leaves for bugs and such, listen to the hooves of the goats as they land on the overturned metal hull of the boat that serves as their “pinnacle,” and revel in the brilliance of the night sky out here away from city lights, I feel a certain sadness. This is certainly not the best place for me to live, but aspects of this life have also fed my soul.

Is it possible to have it all? To have spaciousness and also a neighborhood? To enjoy the solitude of living in the woods and still have access to a decent grocery store? There probably is (I think of Danville, VT, where Gail lives, though she also knows about the paucity of shopping!). Maybe it’s just been a case of bad timing for me, in this place. I love my immediate neighbors, who also wear hats as landlords, and my doctor. It’s a treat to get fresh eggs, fresh tomatoes, and other spoils from their garden. It was a stitch to learn how to milk a goat, and to share laughs over the antics of our animals, as well as our various human shenanigans and exploits. It’s been fun to watch Maggie grow toward adulthood while still running barefoot through the yard, and to bring Elizabeth dirt from assorted destinations on our travels (yes, dirt—she collects dirt).

All the same, it is time to move on. I will treasure these memories, these friendships, the knowledge that I can milk a goat and feel safe out here in the remote, dark woods. They have satisfied a part of my soul that I didn’t know had a longing, and perhaps they will shape the journey I take further on down the road. It is the nature of change for the experience to be bittersweet.

I will savor these last days, and when it comes time to take my leave it will be with gratitude for the opportunity to lay my head in this place, to watch the leaves fall and listen to the early morning call of the roosters, to have a place to call home and feel that is has been just that.

I’m a lucky girl.

blurry days

Some days just seem to run together, and in this case the combination of a head cold and yucky cough, along with those ever-present taxes, has meant that my head has been down with nose to the grindstone (or into the kleenex) for the duration. The good news is that the taxes are done!!! Their completion has been hindered a bit by the need to fine-tune my record keeping in order to report to the state what I own in terms of worldly-business possessions. May as well get it right the first time. As time consuming as that has been, it has been a satisfying endeavor in its own, strange way. Not much else of note happening here, and this doesn't provide much interesting reading, but it's been life the last few days!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

drowning in paperwork!

The good news is that the end is in sight in terms of my taxes. Phew! This has been one of those experiences of learning the hard way what is required when starting a business. There are things that were never mentioned in the seminars I took, and I didn't know enough at the time to know to ask the right questions. I still have lots to do to get a system in place to make all of this accounting easy, but at least I think I've got all the necessary data pulled together for the accountant. Thank goodness for her!

As if that weren’t enough, however, I’ve got another form to fill out, wanting all sorts of depreciated values for things that I had decided not to depreciate. The state has adopted this new means of assessing tangible personal property used in my business, and frankly, I don’t know how I can possibly give them the info they want by the deadline that is printed boldly in red, capitalized, underlined, and highlighted in every other conceivable way throughout the documentation they sent! If it’s not one thing, it’s another!

BUT! The good news is that in less than a week this will all be behind me, because on Friday we leave for Florida and a reunion with some of the Cabana Crew and a visit for several days with Jules and ‘e.’ Hip-hip, hurray! I’m picturing sunshine (better than the freezing rain we’ve had today), drinks in the hot tub, strolls on the beach, and lots of laughter and good times.

Taxes, schmaxes…

Thursday, February 16, 2006

who wouldn't be proud?

I took this picture of Ken, Jr, to include in the card he made for his girlfriend. So often pictures of guys in uniform are so serious, it was nice to get him to crack a bit of a smile. Time for this picture to go in a frame for us, too! He's got a couple more medals coming from his last tour, and I told him that I thought it was a good time to switch to bars so that the weight of them didn't challenge his posture! In the meantime, we're just proud.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

this is just too cute!

This just goes to show that tough guys CAN have a soft side! Ken's ds, who is a Ranger in the army, is on leave at the moment, and wanted to make a valentine for his girlfriend. He had in mind what he wanted to do, wrote his own message, and set about rooting through papers and stamps to make his creation. He was very sweet to ask what I thought about his idea, how he could accomplish what he wanted, and so on, so together we set about getting it done. He did the work and I was available for consult. I'm so proud of him! Here are some pics of the completed task. He stamped the heart on the front, along with the letters. On the inside he wrote his message on the left, and on the right put the picture of him that "popped out" from isndie another heart that he stamped and embossed (okay, I did the embossing...) He was so excited about the popping part, LOL. I'll also include a pic that we took of him to use in the card in another post shortly. It came out so well I printed an enlargement for us to frame. Watch out, world, this army of one has hidden talent!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

happy valentine's day!

To celebrate this day of love and affection I’ll post a few pictures of some things that bring joy to my heart! First is a picture of Katie playing with Portner, the family dog (I love them both!). They love to lay and snuggle together. I won’t say that Katie has no fear, but Portner’s head IS bigger than hers!

Next is a picture of “the street where I live” after a recent snowfall. It’s not exactly a street, since it’s paved with gravel, and there are all of four homes on it. I do have affection for where I live, but the snow is the reason I’m posting the pic!

Finally, flowers. I love flowers! Since her diagnosis Kathy has been the recipient of many lovely bouquets, and they continue to arrive at unexpected moments. This is a close-up of one of the arrangements that she received recently.

Happy day to all of you, hope it’s a blessed one!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

quick note from the gateway city

I'm on dial-up here (how quickly we get spoiled!) so this is just a quick post to share this picture of me with Ella, who will be two months old tomorrow. She's a love, just like her sister, Katie! Will report back to you when I get home on Monday!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

an "aha" moment

Dooley is a snuggler (as evidenced in the picture with Junior below). If there’s space next to me on the couch, he’s in it, preferably wedged between me and a cushion or pillow. He also likes to plow under the covers at night and tuck in beside me, nestled into the curve of my body. I don’t ever mind—he’s small enough, and better than a hot water bottle when it’s cold!

The other morning I was listening to his contented breathing (under the covers) and got to wondering why it is that he is so keen on snuggling this way, when other dogs have never been interested in getting that close. It occurred to me that it’s about feeling safe.

Dooley came into my life because he almost died when he was a mere ten weeks old. He arrived at the vet’s with a broken elbow, ostensibly the result of having fallen off a table, an explanation that never made sense to me. The owners wouldn’t pay for the necessary surgery, and the only alternative was to put him down. The vet received permission from them to try to find him a home, and did the surgery at her own expense. The home he found was with me. At the time I met him he was a pathetic little thing in a funky cast that made it difficult for him to get around. I was weaning myself off a four-month relationship with crutches after shattering my heel, and concluded that we could be on the mend together.

Dooley’s first encounter with me was an extended period of time in my lap, where I just held him and stroked him and talked to him. When I picked him up to take him home, I carried him in my arms, and then again held him in my lap. Except for whatever love and care he received from his mother, his contact with me was the most devotion he had ever received. He was safe with me, and loved, and continues to be. Even when he does something that causes me to scold him, often as not I end up laughing because he’s such an expressive little critter, and the look on his face or the way his eyes plead make him so utterly forgivable.

I would think that after almost seven years together he would know he is always safe, but I don’t blame him for seeking the shelter and comfort of care. Most of us aren’t so assertive when it comes to snuggling, but like Dooley, we want to know that we are safe, and gravitate to those who make us feel that way. I think it’s why we, too, enjoy our own moments of extended time under the covers. It’s a place of safety and comfort, refuge from the demands of the day, and a time and place for rest and restoration.

Dooley may get a little more rest and restoration than he needs, but I don’t mind indulging him. His presence in my life has brought so much love that to refuse him would be a crime against humanity. And a wonderful thing about him is that he is an equal opportunity snuggler. Can’t you just feel the love?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

snow on the mountain!

I know this won't thrill anyone but me, but I love snow, and we haven't had any to speak of this winter at all. A few flakes have fallen a time or two, but such a "flurry" was always short lived, and never had a chance to accumulate on ground that was much too warm. But last night it actually snowed enough to stick and cover the ground. I'm so thrilled! This transplanted Yankee has a glad heart this morning, at least while it lasts! Here's the view out the back door of the cabin looking toward the back (and way down there in the corner is Juliet!--she's just like her mama, she loves the snow!) I’m off this morning for St. Louis to see Kathy, and meet Ella for the first time. Gracious, she’s almost two months old! I’ll try to keep in touch from the road, but in the meantime, best wishes to all for a great day!

Monday, February 06, 2006

we're dog people

Although I occasionally question Dooley's allegiance (it's all about him, after all), it's nice to know that when Junior comes home the little rascal (the dog, not Junior) is willing to share his affection. Junior arrived yesterday, on leave since his return from his tour in Afghanistan a few weeks ago. Dooley is a snuggler, and he really loves nothing better than the opportunity to join someone on the couch and get cozy. Here's proof. He was snoozing comfortably when I got up to get the camera, and perked up a bit to see what was going on, then began his descent back into slumber when it became apparent there wasn't any food coming his way. Junior is just happy to be home.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

new digs!

As many of you know, life on the mountain, charming as it can be at times, has its limitations. More specifically, the cozy cabin has outlived its usefulness as my need for space has outgrown what the cabin can possibly accommodate. The reality is that my business needs more room in order to operate, and I need my business in order to exist (in more ways than one!). Time for new space.

In the meantime, Ken is trying to get back to work after having been released from disability, and this is just not a locale where he can get sufficient work. Relocation is in order! After considering any number of choices over a period of several months about where to go, and doing some research about cost of living, housing, and so on, we decided to look in the greater Nashville area, near where I used to live. We can’t afford much, we need a certain space, and the pickin’s are slim! BUT!! We found something we like a great deal, an offer has been made and accepted, and we’re slated to move at the end of March. Wow! Hard to believe this has happened so fast, and that two months from now we’ll be settled in!

It’s a 3BR ranch on about half an acre, with a one-car garage that we will convert for other use. We’ll build a separate space for my studio (I’ll use one of the bedrooms in the meantime) with a two-car garage adjoining it.

Here are a few photos. Unfortunately the weather has been bleak on the two occasions we’ve been there and taken pictures, so the house doesn’t look its best, but I’m sure you’ll be seeing lots more in the future! I'm so excited!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

doing the hoki

So, Ken and I were out doing some errands this morning and stopped for lunch at Red Lobster. I'm on this bizarre diet (based on blood type) which limits pretty severely my choices for entrees: turkey or fish (but not shrimp, haddock, or flounder). It makes for a challenge when we eat out, since most menus are chock-a-block full of chicken, beef and shrimp choices. RL had salmon, tilapia and grouper on the menu, which was a relief, but then we were informed by the waiter that they had no fresh fish (i.e., the aforementioned choices), and they were waiting on the arrival of a delivery "any minute now." The fried fish sandwich was my only choice at that point, so I inquired as to which fish it was. I got a blank stare. "Well, it's, you know, fish!" Josh replied. I stared back. "I suspect it's got a more specific name," I suggested. "Would you mind finding out?" He grinned somewhat hesitantly (that look that says, "You're joking, right?"), but then nodded and said, "I'll be right back!"

Moments later he's back at the table, all smiles. "It's hoki!" he says. I've never heard of hoki, but that's okay, Josh and I were both learning new things. Ken starts laughing, and says, "Hey! You can report on your blog that you had hoki for lunch!" At which point, being particular about such things, I then had to inquire how to spell this delicacy! The three of us discussed the options for several minutes (there were multiple choices), and we all concurred that Josh could inquire about that, too. In the meantime I ordered the hoki (yes, that is how it's spelled), and we all settled back into our normal routines.

Lunch was fine. I only wish I'd had my camera so that you, my devoted readers, could also share fully in today's learning opportunity.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

blooms!

It's so nice to be able to include this picture in today's posting. A year ago when Ken and I met he brought me flowers at our lunch together. Yesterday at lunch time, the same bouquet was delivered to me! I love the combinations of color with these alstromeria and the golden plumes of the other (not sure what they are!). If they lasted forever I might decorate a room around them! When we'd been dating a month he brought me the same bouquet, but with a single rose in it to mark one month. Can you tell what's coming? We went out for dinner last night and there at the table was a bouquet of a dozen roses! I might sneak a picture of them in here later, but y'all know what a dozen roses looks like! And it's been dark since getting home from dinner so it's been impossible to take a picture in natural light. We'll see.

Today is definitely tax day. There’s nothing else pressing on the agenda, so I guess I’ll be clearing off the dining room table and spreading out the various records. I’m usually pretty organized with all this stuff through the year, but this past year has just been a little too frenetic to keep on top of that. At least all the papers are in one place, they just need to be sorted, organized, and tallied.

Off to the wars!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

just another day

It's been a while since I had a picture to share, so I'm including this one from Christmas. I always love the warm glow of candlelight, and this one makes me feel warm just looking at it!

It also seems appropriate to have a single candle flame for today, since today marks one year since Ken and I met. Happy Anniversary to us! We'll be going out to dinner tonight at the restaurant where we had our first date. Other than that, I've been trying to deal with some computer issues, which has helped me to be very successful at avoiding working on my taxes! Not much else going on! Hope it's a magical day for one and all.
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