Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Tree Is Up

and it went a little something like this........

Rolls of deco mesh (a.k.a. geo mesh). I usually use them straight off the spool without cutting them but out tree is hard to attach them to so I used strips ranging from 3 ft to 6 ft.

The tree with the mesh only

Next was the wired ribbon which looks a bit like web (a.k.a. fish net)

Close up of the tree with the mesh and ribbon

Mesh & ribbon on the tree with white lights

Mesh and ribbon with the tree in colored lights (you can switch between white and color with the touch of a button on our tree)

Next are ball type ornaments then followed by individual ornaments

It's up! Because it's a beach theme I used a straw beach hat instead of a star and a beach towel instead of a tree skirt - I later rethink them.

Close up showing my Margaret Furlong bisque seashell angels and Swarovski snow flakes. I have a collection of each. 

Close up of some of the beachier ornaments.  

I found, on sale, a star made of driftwood so I replaced the hat. I think when the season is over I will white wash it a bit to look more like that grey faded driftwood and I will add some sparkle to it. It's a bit dark for my taste.

I also changed out the beach towel to a lighter colored one but am still going to look through my fabric stash for something that will pass as sand.

So, that's Christmas tree 2017 for home! Next post I will share the office tree that I decorated.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Thanksgiving and It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Thanksgiving dinner at my mom's with family and friends.

On Saturday, I put up the office tree. It's a woodlands theme using burlap and red deco mesh.

The tree at home is beach chic. I used a beach hat as a tree topper with success (looks better in person) but the idea of a beach towels for the tree skirt wasn't as successful. Will come up with a different idea soon.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Caribbean Cruise on the MS Oosterdam, again

Yup, we did it again. Boarded the MS Oosterdam (again) for a Caribbean cruise. We enjoyed the ship so much last spring that we chose it for our last cruise of the year. We really enjoy the Lincoln Center Stage and BB King Blues Club but not so interested in the main stage productions. I also watched a movie in the theatre and attended a class on digital cameras in the digital workshop on the last day. I discovered I missed out - should have attended more of them!

So, I booked this cruise because I really wanted to go to Puerto Rico; however, hurricane Irma came a long and devastated lives and property there. We were rerouted to Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic. Another stop, St Thomas in the US Virgin Island, was also removed from the itinerary and replaced with St Croix; however, just before the cruise left St Thomas was back! I have to say, as the first American cruise ship back in St. Thomas, they were sooooo happy to see us and went all out.

Part 1:

Part 2:


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Last Christmas

I just realize that I didn't post our annual Christmas doggie portrait last year. That's probably because I was almost finished crocheting Christmas scarves for the annual photo when I learned Declan was coming back to us - I had to make one more at the last minute. So, better late than never.

2017 has been a tough year for so many people that I know. We had to make the ultimate decision for both Declan and Diamond this year. We are hoping that 2018 is a kinder, gentler year.

Cuba Videos



Monday, October 23, 2017


We went on a cruise shortly after Irma. It was a 5 day to Havana from Tampa. Anyone with the slightest knowledge of the Caribbean is probably wondering how it would take 5 days to get to Cuba from Florida! Well, it was an overnight stay in Havana. Our first time having two days in a port and our first time to only have one port of call. Here's a the cruise portraits I used to practice editing. A cruise blog will follow one of these days.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


The more observant of you may have noticed that in my last post (Hurricane Irma) I mentioned our two dogs. Yes, we have one less dog these days. Diamond crossed the rainbow bridge last Saturday, September 2nd. If was a merciful death because her quality was life was not good and we were concerned she was starting to suffer. She was generally healthy but 17 years takes its toll. She was deaf, blind, and had difficulty walking on our floors. She also shook with pain which we managed with medication. The saddest part was seeing her confused, stuck in a corner or against the wall, or the endless circling.

Diamond first came to Ratbone Rescues at the age of two and heartworm positive. She was cured and adopted out to a single woman who kept her for 10 years but returned her once her babies came. She was 12 when I fostered her. Because we learned she had nipped a child (the previous owner said it was the child's fault, not Diamond's) she was deemed unadoptable. Eventually we adopted her and had her for 5 years.

While it was a somber day and we absolutely hated making that decision for her, we know it was right. We miss her but am happy that she is no longer suffering.

Hurricane Irma

Let me start by saying all is well with us and we feel extremely lucky. We are all safe (hubby, me, and mom) and our homes are intact. That's all we really prayed for.

Was it scary, uncomfortable, and inconvenient? Yes, definitely. But that's overshadowed by the relief we are feeling.

I should share that we live in Florida in the Tampa Bay area (more on that in a moment).

My employer closed our building on Friday so hubby and I spent both Friday and Saturday preparing the house. We shuttered the house, videotaped all of our belongings, moved about 75 plants (some in very large and heavy pots), moved patio furniture and yard art and bird feeders, bought nonperishables and lots of water, caught up laundry, filled up gas tanks, packed up clothing, valuables, and important documents to evacuate, got dog shots and records, etc. We were exaughsted as was a coworker that helped us.

We evacuated to my mom's house on Saturday night with our two rat terriers. It was hard leaving our home not knowing it if would be there when we returned. Although mom only lives about 17 miles away, she's much higher above sea level than us; more importantly, she is in what's called a non-evacuation zone. Our house is in level C (A to E rating scale).

Our next door neighbors were going to stay at our house because they didn't have shutters for their windows and got scared watching all the coverage (more about that later). On Saturday night, late, we got a call from them saying change of plans - they were on their way to Georgia to get away from the storm. But, there was a problem. They couldn't find a gas station open with gas and they needed gas to make it. We invited them, and the two cats, to come stay at my mom's condo which is a block building (neighbor and us both live in timber houses covered with stucco). They agreed ad came over on Sunday by noon (public officials said to get where you are going by noon Sunday). I should mention they have two cats and we have two dogs - dogs with a high prey drive.

We actually enjoyed our sequestered time by playing dominos, scattergories, eating, talking, etc. We looked outside a lot and at one point I decided to film the wind and caught a transformer blowing up! Needless to say, the power went out shortly after that. Until then we watched the hurricane coverage on just about every channel available!

The wind howled and shook glass but luckily mom had her windows replaced somewhat recently so they are hurricane rated. The scary one was her sliding glass door which was original to the 1979 building. We had lots of flashlights and candles so we were good without lights but the air conditioning was greatly missed. We had a little episode when one of our group had a asthma issue due to the heat and stuffiness)  and went to the hospital more to use their electric than receive treatment. I understand the drive there was also very scary with fallen tree branches and complete darkness. The good news is that my mother's house is about a block and a half from the emergency room. When they returned she slept in the air-conditioned car while we opened windows and cooled down the house.

We got antsy and when we started to see cars out we made a trip to our neighborhood to see how we faired. After passing fallen trees, damaged houses, and crashed fences, we were very relieved to find our homes standing unscathed. The only real damage was a section of fence between our houses had fallen. We joked about no more skinny dipping! There was a lot to be cleaned up but we were both happy to do that. 

We went back to my mom's and before dark the neighbors decided to head home - their cats weren't too happy in the strange environment. Jerry and I stayed another night not wanting to leave my mom alone too long when there was no electric for charging cell phones. So, today we got home and there was electricity! Apparently it came on while we were on our way home. Now mom is with us!

Things I noticed....very few things, or more correctly said very few areas, had open stores. Those that did were busy. Fast food restaurants had lines at the drive up you would not believe. Same with gas stations. At one station there was a police directing traffic because the road was being blocked by folks trying to get gas.

Second, the media had us scared to death. Worse, they had our friends and family scared. I kept getting phone calls and messages urging me to leave Florida because of what they were seeing. Apparently CNN believed we were really in deep do-do because they sent Anderson Cooper. It got almost comical as the hurricane moved away from Tampa and the news folks had to find something hurricane related to talk about.

Third, while I really do appreciate the concern, all the text messages caused my phone to run out of charge and no way to charge it.

Finally, I discovered that people don't understand how a hurricane works. People were asking if we had wind, etc. days before it actually happened. They start reporting it well before we have any effects.

My office is open tomorrow; however, anyone without power or anyone who hasn't returned home from evacuating can take a vacation day instead of coming in. I'm going in with great dread because what I do revolves around a master schedule that has been disrupted by the loss of 3 business days.

In closing, we are supposed to be going n a cruise to Cuba 6 days. Currently out ship is being used for humanitarian purposes. The trip is not canceled but the destination may be changed if Cuba received too much damage.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Between quasi shopping for a new house and/or RV, we did manage a Monday - Friday trip to Cleveland. I've never been to Ohio before and we were pleasantly surprised with the city. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Looking Around

Jerry and I spent yesterday north of our area - specifically, Inverness. Just a thought that perhaps we might enjoy an after-retirement home near the lakes in the area AND the property could be a weekend place until my retirement. Additionally, we might find a place to park an RV if we purchase one.

When you don't have children and grandchildren to consider, you truly can live anywhere and in any situation. This has made our house and lifestyle hunt very confusing. We really have too many choices. It's like going to eat in a restaurant with a huge and daunting menu. I'm not complaining, because I feel fortunate to have so many choices, but it can be overwhelming and confusing.

A realtor showed us a house on a lake (technically a canal but it's where the canal empties into the larger lake) which I loved. The view, the dock with screen porch, the deck, the screen porch attached to the house, fish cleaning station, wide lot for parking a motorhome, etc. However, it was a two story with bedrooms on top floor. The stairway was a homemade type and I would guess not up to current codes. I cannot see us maneuvering it well today much less as we grow older. Plus, it would be a nightmare with the dogs.

Next we looked around another lake. We found a small cottage which would be a great weekend house, the price was good, the inside of the house very clean. Lots going for it but it was definitely not a house that could become a permanent residence for the 3 of us - it's just too small.

So, the hunt and decisions continue.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Boat Club

Our Bayliner Trophy in Kodiak with my Seattle friend Jane

Today we met with a boat club to learn information about this type of boat nonownerhsip. For those who are unfamiliar with this, you pay a $3,500 entry fee and then a monthly fee of $250 to have unlimited use of the boat inventory owned by the club. Additionally, you have to pay $150 for a half-day safety class where you can have up to 4 people attend for the price.

Since the ratio of boats to members is 10:1, there is the possibility that a particular boat may not be available on a particular day although the odds are pretty good.. You can make online reservations, up to 4 at a time, for up to 6 months in advance of use. In addition, you can call the marina and get a boat on same day, if available, and it doesn't count as a reservation. Today someone did just that and got a skiff while we were there.

The club has boats at 3 marinas in our area. One in our immediate area and two within 45 minutes. If we join, these 3 would all be considered our "home" marinas and we could reserve and use an unlimited amount of boats from any three. Each marina has a slightly different inventory of boats.

What caught my attention is that the national organization has boats on both coasts as well as the gulf of Mexico. Sadly, I learned that you can only use boats from the other locations up to 5 times a year. I say sadly because we were thinking this would be a great if we decided travel extensively by RV. (In fact, we are going to an RV show in Tampa tomorrow.)

I noticed a similarity of locations between this boat club and Thousand Trails. That's where my mindset was - we could rent boats near many of the TT campsites. So, we'll keep looking to see what other types of clubs are available.

We have owned boats before and having access without ownership sounds divine. In Aniak we had a 18' Hewscraft sled with a Yamaha jet engine and fished the Kuskokwim river. In Kodiak we had 3 boats:  a 24" Bayliner Trophy with the Alaska package (closed cabin) and Volvo Penta inboard/outboard motor, an 18'  "Alaskan" Lund with a outboard, and a 10' Achilles with outboard.

One nice thing about the boat club is that there are different types of boats available. Just like we've found with RV window shopping, one boat doesn't have it all. The Hewscraft was great for rivers and the Lund and Achilles were perfect for gillnetting. To really move away from shore and fish for halibut, the Bayliner was perfect.

Tomorrow we go to the RV show, and like boat shopping, we will probably leave even more confused. If we purchase a class C or A we will not have a vehicle available. If we choose a travel trailer or 5th wheel we would have a vehicle available but we have to tow it. We would likely have to buy a new vehicle to tow it. And, the length of the truck and RV together is daunting to us. This is especially true since we are looking for an RV that will accommodate both us and my mom.

So, for now we will try to enjoy the process of shopping and learning.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

I Wrote A Book!

Well, that might be overstated. I have written a story and not a published book. However, I am posting it chapter by chapter on WordPress to motivate me to finish it so I can move on to "book" #2. Story #2 is dying to be written and wants released from my head, lol!

I started the writing process in 2008/09 and kinda dropped it in 2010 when my Dad passed away. I remember writing like crazy when my dad was in the hospital - he was watching football on the television as I was writing on my laptop.

I've picked it up a few times over the last seven years and added to it but I have to tell you it's a bit like starting over each time. I have to remind myself of where the characters are, who they are, the time frame and season, etc. Writing a story where you want to carry the characters forward is a lot of work! And, I'm picky as I try to avoid inaccuracies.

This story is just an easy read - I cannot imagine the work that novelist who create real literature must do. The one thing I do have in common with real writers is an understanding that writing is a process and not just something where you sit down one day and create a finished product. It's editing (a.k.a. write/rewrite/write/rewrite, etc.). I'm somewhat organized having created cards for characters to keep up with them but even that is work.

So, with the "book" 95% finished, I am thinking that publishing it online chapter by chapter (hopefully one each day)  will cause me to finally create the ending. I'm not too good at WordPress yet so this link to my story takes you to chapter four. You can scroll to other chapters if you are interested.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Last of the Vinoy Photos

The view from our room - the waterfront of St Pete and the pool area

From the historical wall

Fred's - where we ate. It has a speakeasy atmosphere.

Me Madre

The courtyard patio from the restaurant French doors - notice the waterfall from the pool area.

Crab and Asparagus fritters on Kim Chee and some green puree

My Chilean sea bass over saffron couscous with miso and sugar snap peas

Mom's beef tenderloin with pancetta risotto and pureed leaks

A strawberry dessert - forgot the name

Mom doesn't do breakfast and I wasn't interested in the big mother's day brunch so I opted for the simple buffet.

On our way to checkout and the spa this morning. My mom's purse and luggage match, lol.

Da spa and da end!

Vinoy Art and Grounds

Just some shots from around the grounds and in the building. Lots of hidden art pieces.

From the mezzanine

 Gorgeous Chihuly glass display

 There was a snack station and a station with water and punch.
 A mermaid of wire and seashels

Sitting areas

 Most of the tile was covered with beautiful rugs but this is what the tile floors really look like.

Waterfall from pool area down to the patio area outside the restaurant where we ate.

Neighborhood Muscovy

Broke Wing So, back in March a mama Muscovy showed up with 14 ducklings in the pond across the street. These ponds are retention pond...