Saturday, January 31, 2009

Deep & Weighty Question

My hair goes up and down in length. This current haircut is bordering on the long side - for me.

I use to have long hair but the truth is that I am lazy and would just pull it back into a ponytail so that I looked like a camp counselor. The next stab at femininity and style was to get a bob. I hate hair in my eyes so I was constantly pulling at the bangs until I looked like Spanky from Our Gang.

So I finally took the plunge about 8 years ago and just got it all cut off. Less is more, although in my case, less is still a damn lot. My hair is VERY thick & course. If I don't tame it with "product" (I find that term hilarious. It means anything that you put into your hair, yet everyone knows what you are talking about) it would stick straight up like a porcupine. But it beats messing with brushes, combs, hairdryers, curling irons, etc. Some gunk, my fingers and 1/2 minute of time and I am good to go.

The length goes up and down depending on my mood. Sometimes I think I look too masculine and I grow it out a little. Sometimes I feel like being hard edged and city- sophisticated and I get it cut short. My boyfriend actually prefers it super short. He must be the only man in the world who doesn't prefer flowing tresses on the pillow case.

But, for the life of me, I can't figure out if this haircut is good or if it makes me look like a Q-tip. I am allowing you to help me decide with the help of a poll to the right.

Although you must understand that my solution to looking like a Q-tip is to cut it all off so that it is super short. Maybe I am just talking degrees of Q-tippiness here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

More Painting With Words

This is an amended post. No point in doing another when I am only expanding a thought. 1/23/2009

  • I saw 4 Sandhill Cranes this morning hanging out at a street corner, like they were waiting for a bus. It was pretty exciting as I haven't really seen that many since I lived in New Mexico. Even funnier- they were waiting to take their turn at a bird feeder in someones backyard. They are very polite eaters. They look like they are wearing a bustle with their flight and tail feathers all bunched up in the back. It must be difficult to look so noble and goofy at once.
  • It is a little disconcerting to be walking through a landscape, no matter how domesticated, where there are giant lizards who would like to eat you.
  • Saw a Moorhen (Gallinule) this morning. Yesterday I saw a Wood Stork, Bald Eagle and Osprey with a fish in its talons. And I might have seen a flock of White Ibis, but I am not sure. Apparently they are common here, quite social (thus a flock) and have black tipped wings. They were flying over head and gave me a good look at their black tips. Such flirts!
  • Spent a little time on a small bridge over the canal system here, watching the waders feed. A Little Blue Heron was patiently fishing in the reeds and muck. It slowly lifts its legs and slowly places them back down. Its head craned forward away from its legs, going side to side to better see movement. With a quick dart of its beak it snapped up a shrimp. A Snowy Egret nearby splashed over to check out the action. It moved too quickly and followed the Heron everywhere until the Heron finally gave up and went someplace else to fish. It reminded me of doing something that requires patience with a three year old- impossible!
  • Pelicans are not so much birds as aircraft. They seem too unbalanced to ever get in the air, but once they are up, they are imposing. They fly in formation, wing tip to wing tip like a military squadron. Then they peel off to make a dive at a fish. The seagulls come around to harry them. Hoping to make them drop the fish. They go so far as to land on the backs of the Pelicans. I love to watch them.

All these birds- I miss my dog!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Florida Flora and Fauna

Well here I am in Florida but with no equipment to edit photos... so I will have to paint a picture with my words. Enjoy, especially if you are any of my friends stuck in the arctic cold and snow of the Northeast.

For the past three winters I have come to Florida to visit my boyfriend who has the wherewithal and inclination to escape the worst of the Northeast winters for a couple of months. He returns in March to set up grow lights throughout our house to nurse along his many seedlings. They are the stopgap till the gardening season truly arrives in May. While Florida does not top the list of my dream vacation spots, it does have something to offer a winter weary soul.

Anytime I go someplace new I like to get acclimated by walking. I like to look at people's homes, greet the other walkers, see how they dress, decipher their dialect, look for birds and scope out local gardens. Here are a few vignettes from my walks for your delectation:
  • The first day I discovered the Charlotte County Library- lovely on many levels. It has a large interior courtyard with reading benches. They are shaded by towering palms and bamboo. Such a nice reading hideaway in such a large library. I have been back several times and am impressed with the usership of the library... it is packed! Like most buildings here it some shade of dirt color (sand, terracotta). The front of this building has the most stunning trees... I think. Some sort of Palm with glaucous limey green swords at the top of fibrous trunks. They are grouped in a line of 4, which I normally wouldn't approve of, but they make such imposing sentinels for the entrance.
  • We stopped at History Garden in Punta Gorda yesterday. There are a couple of historical buildings- small cottages really. One was the original Post Office from the 1880's and the other was a home for a cigar factory workers from around 1905. Homesteading didn't occur until the 1880's and it all but came to a halt by the Great Depression. Walt Disney opened his resort in 1971- a time when it was still considered a scam to buy or sell land in Florida. Those were big boom years, so the landscape and architecture are defined by these last 4 decades. And even then many communities were destroyed and redefined by hurricanes. So many towns lack town centers, as I recognize them, and are commercial strips with endless big box stores. But tucked in between these big boxes are smaller strip malls filled with the sort of independent stores that my fair city of Concord, NH can only dream of.... ethnic food stores devoted to spices, a German butcher who makes his own sausage, liverwurst (mmmmm, my favorite!) & smoked roast beef, a very unprepossessing woman at a wine shop who put just about any wine expert I have met or read to shame. I told her what I liked and she recommended a bottle that was PERFECT! There is a bait shop non pareil- well, I'll take the boyfriend's word for it because I don't fish... and the list goes on.
  • The homes are funny here-all packed close together and painted shades of dirt or mother-in-law bridal dress colors. They don't seem to value having a large plot. That might also be because just about everything needs to be brought above sea level & the flood factor with back fill. Canals run everywhere to deal with any excess of moisture. I am sure this makes building expensive. Also- everything seems to be built in the last 20 years. I am not sure what my objection is here..... maybe lacking continuity? Perhaps because the houses seem to take their architectural cues from the big box stores because they lack their own vernacular?
  • The landscaping makes me laugh. I have to remember that the average age here is probably 60 and that many residents have transplanted (pardon the pun) their gardening ideas to this new environment. They still use god awful orange mulch around plantings here! They also insist on foundation plantings which were to cover up ugly foundations- of which they have none. But there is also a surfeit of white rock tutus for trees- the Southeastern analogy to the hosta tutus of the Northeast. What is it about people that they insist on encircling everything? Maybe this is where crop circles originated? But I love the monumental aloes/yuccas and the exotic coloring of the crotons and bougainvilleas. I don't think there is enough stuff for me to fuss over but maybe I could love a garden here. Especially the Spanish Moss- like ever so much tatty linen on a clothesline blowing in the wind.
  • The birds just slay me here. There are Osprey galore because we are located so close to the ocean. The Great Herons are as plentiful as lawn ornaments. They have also learned to overcome their shyness as long as a fisherman's bait bucket is near. I came within 4 feet of one. They have a fearsome gaze and much more subtle coloring than you might expect. I am at a bit of a disadvantage as I forgot my bird book, so a bluish bittern creature remains unnamed. I think I have seen a Bald Eagle.... but I know I have heard and seen many wintering Cardinals.

Well, this is a rather long post, and chockful of stuff. I'll save the rest for another day.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Culinary Magic

My niece Lily discovering chocolate for the first time.

I had my annual Mexican Fiesta/Feast this past weekend. There were so many people and so many plates of food it was hard to know who brought what. Tamales, Mofongo (I'll never make that again), Beet Salad, Spicy Corn Soup, Beet Salad, Chicken Mole, Nachos, Guacamole, Mango Salsa, Chile Rellenos, Flan and the list goes on.

I never had a chance to try everything. I tried to make as many goody bags as possible for people to cart away the buckets of extra food. People were more than happy to have extras for their own fridge.

The next morning my clean up continued. I froze as much extra food as I could as I knew I was leaving for an extended vacation in a couple of days. As I washed dishes and put away the party utensils, I worked up an appetite..... I ate tamales with my brother Arlon's fabuloso green chile sauce. Later in the afternoon I craved something sweet. I had stupidly told my friend, Lynn, to take her devil Flan away from my home and hips.

But I spied an innocuous red box on my counter. I had seen it the night before with its lid half open to seductively display some dark chocolate... but it lacked the power to tempt a belly full from a buffet to make the Romans blush. There were still a few pieces of hand dipped chocolate in it. They were clearly an amateur production as the chocolate pooled up too heavily at the edges of the filling. I thought..."in a pinch, I guess this will do."

The first bite was a shocker. For some reason I was expecting a creme, but the chocolate burst open with a squirt. I quickly popped it into my mouth expecting the rest of the filling to ooze out. When you have no idea what you have put in your mouth, it can be a real guessing game to identify it- especially with the handicap of little to no sense of smell.Eventually I realized it was a very juicy slice of Clementine wrapped in chocolate.

I ate another, and then another. Truthfully- I ate all five pieces. It was such a perfect combination of flavors. This could have been my dirty little secret- that I ate 5 pieces of chocolate, but now it is out there for the world to see. I am really hoping the manufacturer will step forward....

Check out Michelle's similar experience with this magical red box.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different

A dog owner I know refers to those intimate names you call your pet when nobody is listening as "bedroom names." I have a whole list of names that I call Henry, which would be embarrassing except I am so crazy-in-love with him that I don't care what people think.

Here they are:
Fluffy Muffins
Mr Fluffy Muffins
Senor Fluffy Muffins
Fluffy Muffoon
Flurfily Murfles
Little Man
Big Guy
Baby Dog

I hope this admission has not lowered me in the eyes of any of my readers. Really- look at those eyes and the rakish insouciance of his ears- how could you resist?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Conflict......... Resolution?

One of my niecelets trying to escape her father.

My life seemed to be going along swimmingly and then all of a sudden- BAM!! There were conflicts in my life..... with an artist, with an employee, with my dry cleaner. I hate that. Why do people have to upset the apple cart? I would really just rather get along.

The funny thing about conflict is that people (me included) move directly to the worst case scenario- You don't like me, I'm leaving, nothing has ever been any good between us.


I had a small epiphany after this exchange with an employee. "You think all my work is bad, I have been unhappy for a long time, and blah, blah, blah, and it is time to look for a new job I guess." Sighhh....... the epiphany was that he was giving me no way to talk to him when things weren't right when he immediately jumped to the "You hate everything I do" stance. What is it about conflict that makes every body's force shields go into hyper drive?

Ironically I picked up a new book at my library yesterday (I know, I know- reading my life away) by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor called Stroke of Insight (do take the time to watch this whole video). She describes the two halves of the brain that all human beings have in common. She also describes the circuitry that connects those two halves which make us the individuals we are. Because that circuitry is not part of our DNA it is unique to each person. She also describes the role of each half of our brain and why it is that individuals will often display conflicting personality traits- dictated by the separate lobes.

It makes me wonder that as human beings we share such common materials, yet that small tidbit of unique material causes such disparate personalities. And thus conflict arises. How do we maintain that connection to others and our common genetic materials? I suspect that is a lifetime of work.