Friday, August 31, 2012

The Sea, the Sea

Little Bindi and I went out this morning to check out a couple of yard/tag/garage sales.  On the way, we stopped at Pet Paradise, the dog grooming/boarding facility with the bone-shaped swimming pool for the pooches, to get Bindi's nails trimmed.  We've been there many times, and they remember her, so it gets easier and easier.  I saw a gorgeous greyhound running around the pool, chasing some unknown breed dog.  What a sleek, fast animal a greyhound is.

Nothing at either of the yard sales interested me.  But the second place we visited, south of Crescent Beach, awarded us with a visit to an absolutely stunning house on the Matanzas river.  People leaving the sale were amazed that the owner of the house, which was for sale, would leave such an incredibly beautiful spot, which clearly was loved with an artistic hand.  I asked the owner why they were leaving; he said at first, "We don't know."  Then he continued, "We need to be in a smaller place.  Lower taxes."  Because of the economic situation in the US,  the "for sale" sign was embellished with yet another sign which read, "Reduced."  I walked to the back of the property, to the boat house on the intercoastal, and discovered the most exquisite manatee with baby sculpture.  Enormous.  And a neatly landscaped and furnished fire pit, with probably eight Adirondock chairs surrounding the fire place.  In its day, the home must have been teaming with children and friends, as much of the stuff for sale was children's things.  And there was a precisely designed playground on site.  One of the reasons I go to these yard sales is that it takes me to parts of the area I would not otherwise visit.  And I get to see some tantalizing homes and gardens. 

Did you know that manatee babies nurse from a nipple underneath the mama's front flipper?  Curious, but just one aspect of why I love these gentle, slow-moving creatures.  Also, did you know that manatees are often identified by conservationists by the boat propeller scars that they have on their backs?  Ack.  Brutal.  I hate speed boats, and especially boats that ignore the "Slow - Manatee Area" signs that are everywhere in the Florida waters.

It was a hot day, so I decided to take Bindi and me to the beach which was close by.  She loves the water, although won't go in very deeply.  There were a couple of dog lovers sitting by the water, and they eagerly agreed to hold onto Bindi while I dashed into the water for a dip.  The woman ran with Bindi for a bit, which I cannot do, with my double knee replacement.  The water was so warm and calm; I could have stayed there for a long time.  But alas, I had nowhere/place to park Bindi for a while as I frolicked in the water.

On the way home, hungry and thirsty, I stopped at Stir It Up, a funky window-only cafe on A1A, and had a tasty turkey/avocado/lettuce sandwich while sitting outside.  These sandwiches always come with too much meat, so I gladly fed Bindi some of my food, for which she was grateful.  Stir It Up?  The Bob Marley song.  "Stir it up, little darlin', stir it up . . ."  They also serve a mean rice and beans bowl.  Always fresh; always friendly.  Bindi barked once and the other patrons were astounded that a small dog could have such a loud voice.

We came home, and both of us got in the shower.  Bindi is so good with her baths.  I swear she was a whole shade lighter after the shampoo!

And finally, on this day of the Blue Moon, a full moon that occurs twice in one month, we headed out to Vilano Beach to watch luna rise.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Kids and Cats

Went to read to the 3-4 year old pre-schoolers this morning, after a month long hiatus.  I have such a hard time remembering their names.  They always want me to read "Metal Mutz," the robot story of a tinman who builds himself a dog from the trash he finds.  The book "barks" at the end and they love that.  So afterwards, I went to Barnes & Noble to see what kind of sound/pop-up books they had.  Found a couple, came home and ordered them online from Amazon, at a decent discount.  I haven't wanted to buy any books for this volunteer gig, but the kids so obviously love Metal Mutz, that it makes sense for me to have more on hand for their entertainment.  I love those little faces.  "Miss Linda, Miss Linda," they cry.  So sweet.  They say they missed me; they say they love me.

I browsed the magazine section at B & N, and could have bought a dozen mags that I'd never seen before.  I have such a hard time reading a book; but give me an article in a magazine and I can absorb it easily.   But each issue is 5-10 bucks each;  I always thought that would be a good gift for someone:  a pile of magazines in the field of interest of the giftee.  Hint.

As I was driving home, I passed my cats' vet office;  had a brainstorm, made a u-turn, and caught my vet just as she was going out to lunch.  I asked her if she needed any volunteers, and she said yes.  Even if it's just to hang out and socialize with some of the critters.  It lifted my spirits, as I need to be alone less, to hang out with people more, and I so like the staff there.  I might end up just cleaning litter pans for a while, but what's the diff? i do it at home anyway.  Maybe just a couple of mornings to start.

Came home and stopped on a street near me to get a cutting from what turned out to be a yellow mandevilla vine that was growing in a kind of undefined space between two houses.  Had seen this flower for several weeks.  T. drove by in his truck, stopped and said, "Great minds think alike."  He had been coveting this same vine for quite a while and had the same idea as I.  He can grow anything from a cutting.  Hope I can get it to root.

Went to the chiropractor this afternoon.  It was "progress exam" day, and she did the exam with the thermal imaging which shows where the inflammation still is.  It was she who discovered the deteriorating discs in my neck, and has been doing treatments to stave off further damage.  My sister has the same thing, only with great pain.  I had no pain, but in x-rays the situation is clear.  Ran into J. and her mom there; her mom is 87 years old.  I always give her a big, deep hug and today she said, "You give the best hugs."  She just relaxes in my arms and kind of purrs, and I rub her back.  After years of J. & S. taking care of S's mom before she passed, they are now taking care of J's mom.  It is a lovely feeling to have someone appreciate my hugs.  I don't know why so many people are afraid of close, long hugs.  It is one of the joys of being human.  J. is very active with the Democratic Women's Club, and I told her I wanted to come over and talk to her about politics.  She said, "I'll let you."  Ha!

Went to the supermarket to get my favorite potstickers, and on the way out saw a young man with his jeans hanging way low down on his butt.  I asked him, politely, why that style was so popular.  He surprised me with his answer:  "I find it more comfortable," he said.  "I don't like the feel of the jeans on my bones."  Huh.  Whatever.

At last at home;  called JG to see how his trip to Boston went.  He was tired from travelling too, even though he had a good time.  Air travel used to be kind of fun; now it's just a pain in the ass.  But I'm still putting out feelers to find a place to stay in the SF Bay area for the month of August next year.

In my mailbox was a letter addressed to someone at this address;  I opened it.  It was a birthday card from what appeared to be the sibling of a guy who apparently once lived here.  Since I have had occupancy for three years now, it was curious that whomever sent this card, to their brother it indicated, did not know his current address.  I had never heard of him.  I will send a postcard to the return address and let them know that "no one by this name . . ."

No rain today.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Old Age Ain't for Sissies

Went to a new eye doctor this morning.  The one I saw last year was just awful.  His technicians did all the work, and he was with me maybe ten minutes or less, and spoke to me almost not at all.

This new guy was appealing because he does vision therapy, and his primary practice is in Jacksonville.  He did the bulk of the examination and was personable.  He said I have "complicated" eyes, and was going to make him late for his other appointments, but I appreciated his attention and thoroughness.  I opted for a newish digital photo test, which showed me my own optic nerve, the "floaters," and the macula.  Very interesting.  Because of my history of eye surgery and previous vision therapy as an adult, he said that I could still benefit from more vision therapy, but Medicare does not cover this.  And when I told them I don't do "homework," they said that the vision therapy would then have to be twice a week, at $120 a pop.  Discounts negotiable.  He does a lot of work with children who have learning challenges; a kid can have 20/20 vision, but still not be able to "see," which can affect their/our ability to process and comprehend information.  I think it is still something many people don't know about and/or don't understand.  I don't know if I will do the vision therapy or not.  He did validate that my eyes have to work extra hard when reading or doing close work;  I am a painfully slow reader which made school really difficult for me.

I also have the beginnings of cataracts, which he said would make it hard for me to have absolutely clear vision, although it can be improved with a prescription change.  Old age ain't for sissies.

Leaving his office, I felt somewhat bummed out, and exhausted by the exam.  But still I went to Planet Fitness and signed up for a year, for $99.  I hope I can get myself to go there at least once a week.  The muscles in my arms are weak; heck, the muscles in my whole body are weak.  It's a newish facility, and the staff is really nice.  And you can't beat the price.  I cannot walk outside in this summer heat, so at least having a place I can go to walk on a treadmill in ac seemed like a good thing to have.  Wish I could bring Bindi.

Stopped to get gas, at $4 for medium grade.  Fortunately, I don't have to commute anywhere, so a tank of gas lasts me quite a while.  I used to like Shell gas, but recently learned that they are one of the very worst of the oil companies, so will try not to buy there anymore.  They are all bad; one can only hope to choose the lesser of the evils.

Then the supermarket.  I am so uninterested in food; I don't know what I want to eat.  Been eating a lot of chicken noodle/chicken with rice soups, and frozen potstickers.  Stir fry veggies with brown rice.  I'm getting more and more grossed out by meat.  I'm completely off beef.  Cannot bear how the cows are treated in big factory slaughter houses; they are magnificant animals.  I still eat chicken and turkey, almost no pork although I love it.  The closer I get to animals the more I cannot bear to eat them.  I like the bumper sticker that reads, "If slaughter houses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian."  The autistic professor and writer, Temple Grandin, made some inroads into the inhumane slaughter of animals.  Still.

The road work is encroaching on my property a bit more each day.  Today I had to tell the supervisor that I could barely get into my driveway because of stuff so close on either side.  Guess how much longer they think it will take?  TWO WEEKS!  Ha!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Got up today. Had coffee. Went back to bed. Even though I don't necessarily sleep, I lay there under the covers, cuddling whatever critter chooses to be close to me at that moment, meditating. Dozing. Letting the unconscious swerve and drift, percolate and condense. Retirement allows that. More rain. The tropical storm/hurricane Isaac is headed towards New Orleans again; so unfair. The 7th anniversary of Katrina. Hopefully the levees will hold and the damage will be minimal. Landfall tomorrow. The rain here keeps the lawns beautifully green, and the plants love it. Warm and wet. Hopefully it will let up a bit, and I can plant my fall crops. I adore the hummingbirds that visit my flowers. Went to the produce stand to get my vegetable supply. The woman there said that if I put my peaches in a bag with a ripe banana, the peaches will ripen very quickly. The bread was fresh baked, and I got my pickling cukes, which I so love. Cannot make a salad without them. The road construction people were not working today nor yesterday. The rain is slowing them down severely. I can only hope that when they are finished I will have a newly paved street outside my house. This neighborhood is like 1960s Dexter, Missouri. Many of the houses remind me of my grandma Effie's place. Perhaps that's why I feel at home here. I did not like my mother's family. But I have fond memories of Grandma and Grandpa Anderson. Had a good conversation with my niece R. this afternoon. She is so smart, creative, insightful, loving, funny, and motivated. I might become a foster parent to some puppies. The group I sometimes work with, Wags & Whiskers, needs some temporary homes for some "hound" puppies, and I have an art studio that I cannot make myself use, so why not nurture these little critters until they find a forever home? Calhoun, aka "Kitten," was outside all night, so he was content to stay in today. He's such a sweet little guy, still suckling on his fleece blanket in my bed. I would have 50 cats if I could. The Saint Augustine housing commission passed a LGBT non-discrimination ordinance yesterday. This is a big deal. It sets the stage for me to "get into trouble." I want to start an LGBT elders group at the senior center, or at least a PFLAG group somewhere else in the city. I have nothing to lose, and there is no visible LGBT organization here at all. Although, since this is a very conservative part of the country, I think I will install a home security system at my house. Eggs thrown at the door are one thing; but I am in a working-class, "marginalized" part of town, so I do need to be realistic and protect myself. I don't know why people are so threated by us; I don't know why the LGBT identity is considered to be a sin. Love is love. Over and out.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Second Anniversary

Tomorrow is the second anniversary of my moving to Saint Augustine. And in four days there will be a "blue moon," known as the second full moon in any given month. I've been very contemplative recently, trying to figure out my next move. The two weeks I spent in the SF Bay area of California were eye opening and spectacular. I was grateful to have two beautiful places to stay in at no charge, and blown away again by the beauty of the area. I am already trying to figure out a way to stay out there for a month next August. The culture and environmental ethos in the Bay area are so much more in keeping with who I am than being in Florida. I like small town living, but cannot find all that I need here. Have never wanted to live in a big city, but that is the compromise one makes to find kindred spirits. Ah, if I only had the resources to be a "snowbird," the residents who live in Florida for the winter, and then go to the left coast for the summer. But that is not possible, as far as I can see. Lots of rain here for the past two weeks. So good for the lawns and plants, and bad for the wildfires we usually have this time of year. Soon the humidity will decrease and the wonderful northeast Florida fall and winter will begin; warm days, cool nights, and more crops can be planted starting in September. The two planting seasons are so delicious. My mandala garden will once again sprout lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, kale, carrots, and a couple rows of flowers. I have so enjoyed learning the "native" plants of Florida and planting as many of them as I can; they resist heat and drought, so don't require the careful watering that so many homeowners insist on indulging in so that they might have a smooth green lawn or tempermental exotics that use too much water in order to thrive. My thyrallis is an example of a beautiful shrub that has stayed in bloom for months. And the plumbago. And the native hibiscus called Haight Ashbury, so resplendent in its maroon cloak and deep red blooms. And its pot-leaf-shaped leaves, hence the name. Both T. and S. blew me off for the beach yesterday morning. J. is out of town, or he would have gone. It is our church. The sea, the air, the feel of the water, the sun, the sand, the waves, the salt bouyancy of the ocean. There is no place more close to the Divine. I am often my happiest floating in the sea. Am exploring more volunteer opportunities and might even some pursue some paid part-time jobs, but only something I really would find fun. Something in the arts or with animals. My oil painting class starts again in October. The watercolor class I began taking at River House, St. Augustine's senior center, was very inhibiting and I quit after three sessions. I learned a few things, but felt blocked by the group and the instructors sternness. Why, if I have 150+ "friends" on Facebook, do only the same few keep commenting? I can see this trend slipping away. It's only useful if a significant number of "friends" reply. Gosh, it's hard enough to get people to call you up on the phone to go get a coffee; it also seems too hard to comment on FB. I don't get these people who have 600-1000+ "friends." I doubt it. If you use facebook for the education of your friends, then comments are really necessary. But if you are single, and have a lot of time on your hands, comments are really important. Oh well.