Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Blind Date at Blind Pass

Karen, The Essential Beachcomber, and I met for the first time at Blind Pass yesterday morning.
I was excited to meet her, a blogging friend who lives just 20 miles away.
"I'll be driving a white Honda Pilot," she said. "Look for a tall blonde!"
And there she was as we drove up, tall and blonde,
seated on the opened end of her vehicle, ready and waiting.

I arrived with my family Christmas guests, happily anticipating the hunt.
 Karen had offered to mentor Blake (10) and Hunter (11)
 in the art of hunting fossilized sharks' teeth in the best place she knew~~
 Blind Pass on Manasota Key.

A shark shovel for sifting sand, shells, and~~hopefully~~a shark's tooth.

There are several methods for searching the sand and the sea, she said.
One is to scoop directly from the sea, digging into the sand.
Another is to walk along the sand at low tide, hoping that the waves have brought some to the surface and that you spot them before others do!
I heard Hunter ask Karen why this beach is so good for hunting
 and she said, "Because there's no one here!"

Blake is making good progress...
note the plastic bag of collected sharks' teeth.

Karen taught the boys a third method: Dig a trough in the sand and wait for a wave
 to fill it with water~~and possibly bring in a tooth. It happened!

They also learned about The Boneyard~~an area between the Service Club Park and the jetty of Venice, Florida filled with fossilized bones. Besides sharks' teeth, fossils of other marine creatures are found in this area. You can see the boats and divers out on the water, searching for big treasures. Because millions of years ago most of Florida was under water, many fossils are also found inland.
However, state law prohibits digging without a permit.
Blake and Hunter's fossil finds are small by comparison
 but they're thrilled by the hunt. So is their dad...but that's another story.

It takes concentration and sharp eyes to discern the differences between sharks' teeth
 and the black debris in the shell/sand crush.

At one point, a proud shark's tooth hunter came along and showed the boys his big find...
he actually found it several years ago but enjoys taking it out of his carpenter's apron and showing it off every year as he walks the beach looking for more great finds.

Last shot at the beach as a storm kicked up and sent us running for our vehicles.

Note to Karen: THANK YOU for a marvelous morning! It added so much meaning, history, and appreciation to Blake and Hunter's Florida experiences...also for the rest of the family. 
 And, check out this hilarious picture of everyone in
 the Sharks' Tooth Squat!
I look forward to seeing you again soon!
Hugs and Happy Hunting,


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Walking on Water, Part II

And the Pied Piper said, "We're making water!!!"
And there was water.
Clear, flowing water.

"Retrospect" pedestal sink: American Standard. "Boardwalk" brushed nickel sink fixture: Moen.

Valentin, the tile guy, asked us not to get the walls wet
for 10 days so the grout boost would cure properly.
What? No showering for ten days?
I guess we'll just admire the new showerhead
while we bathe in the tub.

Subway tile: American Olean. "Boardwalk" showerhead: Moen.
 "Hotel" extra-long shower curtain liner, curtain rod, rings: Bed, Bath & Beyond.

"Boardwalk" brushed nickel fixtures: Moen.

Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine.
~~St. Thomas Aquinas

"Memoirs" toilet: Kohler.

The vintage terrazzo, circa 1970, provides seamless flooring throughout the house~~
 we'll never interrupt it with tile or carpet.
 And we love the automatic close on the lid of the stool!

The easy-breezy vintage jalousie window with etched glass
 means no privacy curtains are necessary.

Tray, dispenser: TJMaxx. Soap dish, sponge: Pier 1. Water jar: Pottery Barn.

And check this out~
I found a place for my proppy water jar on top of the tank. :)

Martha Stewart Living "Placid" mirror: Martha Stewart. Towels and hooks: IKEA.
"Sterling Blue" paint: Sherwin-Williams. "Retrospective" pedestal sink: American Standard.

Storage cabinet, towels: IKEA

It's difficult to photograph in this 5' x 7' room,
especially with reflective surfaces playing havoc with my automatic camera... 
However, smooth, shiny surfaces always dance light around the room,
 making a small space an airy place.
I could have waited for daylight for better photography
 but I wanted to post this before Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Walking on Water, Part I

Okay, we're not seeing the water-world miracle quite yet...
furniture in the bathroom is scheduled for installation today.

A water vessel I've had for years might fit in...

The Pied Piper (our plumber) went out on emergency this morning,
leaving me alone long enough to open a can of wall color.
A pale blue I call "oxygen" will give this small room an illusion of fresh air and open space.
Yesterday, the tile man filled in the empty slot left by the removal of the old medicine chest
 and the owies on the damaged walls disappeared behind his orange peel finish.

Aiming for a classic, clean and serene style. 

As William Morris says,
"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful
or believe to be beautiful."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Hour of the Soul

It's 4 a.m., the hour of the soul,
the time I often return from the land of sleep
to feed my spirit with an hour or two of solitude.

It's a mystery...awakening. Is it done in a fleeting second or does it take minutes?
 As I rouse from my drowse, I'm conscious of consciousness, of memory, and thoughts.

I'm aware of my body renewed by rest, the quiet of the night, and the intimacy of darkness. I thank heaven and its sparkling stars for the physical pleasures and privileges of owning a bed, something so many in this world can't enjoy. Slipping away on cat's feet, I leave my sleeping companion behind and glide away to my solitary world before reality comes up with the sun.

 It's like the early morning call to worship in the chapel of an ancient abbey where scriptures are read by candlelight and hymns are sung in one-voice a capella, except this is a call to gather at Our Lady of Perpetual Blogging, Twittering, and Facebooking where words and pictures are read by the light of the computer screen. Where I go to hear a choir of voices...and to sing in response. To commune with creative spirits and offer prayers for virtual friends.

I'm not alone in my early morning romp. I have a sisterhood. Carmen, my neighbor on the left, doesn't sleep well now that Jack is gone so she roams her house in the early hours of the morning. Silhouetted in the unlit window of Jack's old room, she keeps his spirit close to her while she gazes at the moon. On the other side of my house, Barbara, another insomniac, brews coffee at 4 a.m. while she catches up on email. She says she often sees lights on at my house while she's wandering through her rooms. With a wink, she says, "We should get together for coffee as long as we're up!" But we never do.

We love our solitude, our time alone.
In virtuality.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Little Orange Tree That Couldn't

When we first moved to Florida, I planted a little orange tree.
It was a happy little tree, growing where it was, but my neighbor advised me to move it.
The tree, he said, would grow into the electric wires overhead.

So I moved the little orange tree to the other side of the house
 and waited for it to grow and bloom.
Nothing. Nada. For four years.
Surely, I'd stunted its growth by moving it.
Then one glorious day we spotted a flower, a promise of fruit.
We were going to have oranges!

When we returned from the summer in Iowa, yellow orbs hung on the little tree.
We watched them ripen. By the time they turned orange, the peels carried spots.
When opened, the fruit was wrinkled, lacking in juice, and bitter.
We decided we'd damaged the fruit by trimming the tree, feeding, or not feeding it.
 Each year we picked up the fallen fruit and put it in the garbage and
decided we'd be happy with the tree as a decorative asset in our garden.

This year, we were stunned by the beauty of the tree.
It had grown substantially in our summer's absence,
its limbs now draped heavily with yellow and green fruit.

Carmen, our neighbor on the other side, commented on the new garden beauty.
I don't know what happened while you were gone, she said, but your lemon tree is gorgeous!!

Lemon tree?
Turns out, if we pick the fruit at the yellow stage,
we have marvelous lemonade, honey/lemon tea, and lemon waters.

Who knew!?

Wish you were here to pick a few!

lemon tree very pretty
and the lemon flower is sweet
but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.
~~Peter, Paul and Mary

when life gives you lemons, make lemonade

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lighting the Fire

My bucket list has a special item on it:
Not a fireplace lit by gas but one that burns with wood.

For now, I photograph artful stacks of firewood that promise flickering fires
and collect quotes that inspire warming my feet by the fire...

Though you live near a forest,
do not waste firewood.
~~Chinese Proverb

To poke a wood fire is more solid enjoyment
than almost anything else in the world.
~~Charles Dudley Warner

One can enjoy a wood fire worthily only
when he warms his thoughts by it as well as his hands and feet.
~~Odell Shepherd

Once upon a time threre was piece of wood. It was not an expensive piece of wood. Far from it. Just a common block of firewood, one of those thick, solid logs that are put on the fire in winter to make cold rooms cozy and warm...
~~Carlo Collodi

Even in a time of elephantine vanity and greed,
one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people.
~~Garrison Keillor

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Today's the Feast of St. Francis...

While you are proclaiming peace with your lips,
be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.
~~St. Francis of Assisi

One of our views while walking in Assisi, Italy, 2005

St. Francis~~mystic, confessor, and founder of the Franciscans~~
 is revered and honored in his hometown of Assisi, Italy.
October 4 is his name day.
An eye-opening stop for walking tourists,
Assisi will greet you with festive flags, medieval arches, and generous gelatos.

Sculpture by Johann Baptist Moroder-Lusenberg.

Painting by Jusepe de Ribera

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

S is for Summer...

...sweet sunshine and sandbars,
sunlight shifting through the trees,
and silver chardonnay...

sipping the last of the summer wine...
so sorry to see the season slip away.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hands to Work

Years ago, a friend told me that one day I'd have to find a happy identity without that of my work. Her words rose like gray shadows over my colorful and vibrant world of fabric, furniture, and fittings. Huh? I said at the time, flinging her words out the car window as I drove away from our decorating session.

Turns out, losing my beloved-and-always-fascinating editorial work this summer is a kind of grief,
something that leaves me with hours to fill...
...empty hands, what-nows, and self-absorption.
It's not a pretty picture.

I go to lunch with lovely friends who have ideas for What Now.
Write a book, they say, teach English as a second language, volunteer for the Red Cross.
I consider staging homes for sellers and grouse around the house.about the real estate market.
I order Netflix movies, escaping to other worlds. I read books~~just one or two.
I blog, scanning the landscape with my camera in search of simple, beautiful, or uplifting things to post while absorbing the mind-bending works of creative bloggers.
Hoping for increased energy, I walk, logging miles on the pedometer my sister gave me. 
I spend outdoor days with bright-eyed grandsons who outrun me.
I plan trips we can't yet afford, cook meals instead of dining out, and collect coupons.

Still,  I look for the spark to re-light the fire...
materials to burn away this quiet desperation
and the longing to create beauty and order in meaningful ways.

Side-tripping down the quote lane, I find words like these:

I've learned that you shouldn't go through life
with a catcher's mitt on both hands;
you need to be able to throw something back.
                                               ~~Maya Angelou

As you grow older,
 you will discover that you have two hands,
one for helping yourself,
the other for helping others.
                                                 ~~Audrey Hepburn

What does love look like?
It has the hands to help others.
It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.
It has the eyes to see misery and want.
It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.
That's what love looks like.
                                             ~~Saint Augustine

Ah, a small spark in the dark~~
for the love thing.
Like cutting fabric into quilt blocks
and stitching them up
for Lutheran World Relief.

I still have useful hands, I'm still breathing.
Alive and healthy in this wierd and wonderful world,
 I'm still free and walking about.
And, on Monday mornings, there's much laughter going on 
when the Dorcas Quilting Mission
meets to do their hands-to-work, hearts-to-God thing.

I'm in.
I could use a good laugh.

Perhaps I'll find a new little commitment after another.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cathedral Lights

Light, a transformative element of design, gives life, mystery, and magic to a space.

Enchantments~~for me~~include cathedral lights in all their glory.
 I can't help but notice the lighting and how it affects the mood of the interior.

Ancient crystals circle the chandelier in the side chapel
of the old Spanish mission in Carmel, California. Reflecting the light from the window nearby,
the crystals dance above the lighted votives below.

Lovely crystal chandeliers line the length of the light walls of the sanctuary in this German church,
 lending sparkle and elegance to the gold and white space.

A table filled with votive candles that worshippers can light themselves creates a corner
of intimacy and tenderness in the Spanish Cloisters of North Miami, Florida.

Michelangelo's genius shines in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City
 where the light of the sky comes through the windows of the dome,
 connecting worshippers to heaven itself.

Along the Italian Cinque-Terre, ancient chandeliers hang in the town church of Monterosso.
In scale with the interior, its series of chandeliers gives the sanctuary the intimacy and warmth of home.

Sun shines through the leaded glass windows that open the Sheffield Cathedral
 to the outside world in England.
Photo: Courtesy of my blog friend, Linda at Seven Hills.

Sir Christopher Wren lit St. Paul's Cathedral in London
with a massive dome of heaven-sent light.

At St. Stephan's Cathedral in Mainz, Germany,
Marc Chagall stained the windows behind the altar with color.

Are you still with me?
Thanks for indulging me in this little reverie...:)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Water, water...

Water, thou hast no taste, no color, no odor;

canst not be defined,
art relished while ever mysterious.

Not necessary to life, but rather life itself,

...thou fillest us with a gratification that exceeds the
delight of the senses.
~~Antoine de Saint-Exupery,
Wind, Sand, and Stars, 1939

Monday, July 11, 2011


a place
 where everything is lovely,
even if it isn't,
 and everyone is charming and supportive
 and has written a little poem.

A bit of truth and humor written by Mise over at

Makes me smile every time I read it.

Does anyone know the name of these flowers?
I photographed them in a Florida tree last spring
so they're, no doubt, something tropical.

JoJo says these are blooms on a HongKong orchid tree, a lovely southern Florida tree. :)
Thanks, JoJo!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Words To Live By

After my 60th birthday, one of the party trays now serves as my kitchen sink backsplash.

In a pinch, I can measure by metric standards 
and tell the difference between salt and pepper shakers.

An antique butter crock stashes my loose cash...

... and a magnetic push-pin board (used as the range backsplash) holds everyday cooking herbs.

Not-so-everyday herbs stand like sentinels on a high shelf above the range,
awaiting the day they'll be used. Mostly, it's the handscript
 on the containers that appeals to me, adding charm to my kitchen decor.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In the Company of Angels

Our newest cherub with his "kiy-cat".
The lilting sounds of  THE PRIESTS
soothe the mood in the room.
As I hum along with Be Still My Soul,
Landon's eyelids lower and close
and he drifts away to a peaceful place.

Click HERE for a youtube video of The Priests singing Be Still My Soul.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lisianthus & Limeade

Trader Joe has eluded me for years.
Yes, I've been a TJ virgin all my life...until yesterday.
He popped up in a mall in the newest West Des Moines development
and I couldn't wait to put a shiny red shopping cart in motion.

I came out with California peaches,
the dark chocolate lover's chocolate bar,
Jasmine green tea,
and Trader Joe's French Market sparkling limeade
(LOVE the labels).

Perfect for an afternoon on the balcony
overlooking the waterway below.

Have you been to Trader Joe's?