birds, Florida wildlife, memories, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, nesting, photography, Uncategorized

Philippe Park…

I am a New England gal who may not have lived there in almost 50 years, but if you ask me where I’m from that’s still my answer.  And this gal is still a sucker for stone walls.  But when I say that I picture meandering little stone walls that look as if they somehow grew in place.  As natural as the trees and fields they define. They were everywhere back home in Massachusetts, and I knew I loved them, but what I didn’t realize was that they aren’t found everywhere.  I wish they were.

While I was photographing the owls I was also noticing the park itself.  The winding  path at Philippe Park, the path that curved up the hill along side the stone wall really appealed to me.  It certainly doesn’t look random, or like it grew there by itself, but it still did my heart good to see it.  This park will be a place to return to, and I think I’d feel that way even without the owls.2-9philippe62-8Philipe Park2-9philippe5

On my way home from seeing the owls at Philippe Park I stopped to check out the ‘action’ that I heard was going on a lot closer to home in New Port Richey.  I didn’t know what I’d find but what I saw was shrubbery, which was obscuring a chain link fence.  But there was a break in the greenery, and a locked gate with a bit of a gap, and this is what was going on beyond the fence.  I had to shoot photos through the gap in the gate, and that’s when I remembered the suggestion to stick a step ladder in the car.  My friend meant that seriously since the chain link fence is tall.2-9BOMfeature

The birds were rather subdued when I was there, but the day before I heard that there was a lot of mating happening.  And nesting in that very unimpressive shubbery in the water.  It’s hard to imagine what made this such an attractive spot both to Great Egrets and Woodstorks.  I looked up Woodstorks because I wondered why they have such odd, naked heads, and that wasn’t addressed, but I did read that they nest ‘communally’.  So I suppose I now know what that means.  Perhaps there will be new generations of birds here in the not too distant future.  Something to look forward to.2-8woodstork2-8showysnowy

coping, death, dogs, finding my way, grief, healing, life goes on, loneliness, marriage, memories, photography

U R Making me Comfortable…

That Charley wasn’t always a dog lover would come as a surprise to most people who knew him when I knew him, but not to the people who knew him before he met me.  They knew he was a cat lover.  That I had a cockapoo was something to be tolerated, but I can’t say that he was enthused about having a dog in the house.  But Barney grew on him enough that when it was time that Barney had to be put down he initially refused to go with me, saying that he didn’t want to go down forever in family history as the guy who took the kids’s dog to be put to sleep. He must have felt sorry for me though, because he did go with me, and he stopped and bought Barney an ice cream cone on the way.

But while Barney was still with us Charley instigated that we acquire Nugget, saying, “My mother never let me have a puppy”.  He had bought me a necklace shortly before that, gold nuggets on a chain which I still wear every day.  He would say to me, very dramatically and with his eyebrows going up and down like Groucho Marx, “Hey Neem, how’s your Nuggets?”, which the kids found hilarious.  The innuendo wasn’t lost on them.  Neem was a pet hame, if I stop to explain this post will be a mile long.  So we were at the Mall and in the pet shop window was a litter of mixed breed puppies, and upon seen a golden one Heather declared, “Hey Neemie, it’s another Nugget!”  We had her 18 years, I could measure the length of my marriage in the ages of the dogs which populated it.

Last week or so I talked about Charley, memories which had come to me because of this ropeysaliva

picture.  I took this when I first got my iPhone 7+, practicing using portrait mode and capturing Ozzie’s drool.  But happening upon that picture reminded me of when I first met Charley when he joined the dental office where I was working as a hygienist.  He was a brand new dentist on his first job, but even though we were the same age my schooling was so much less that I had 10 years experience in dentistry and he would sometimes ask me my opinion on things.  That anyone would ask me my opinion on anything was quite flattering, but especially a dentist asking me my opinion concerning dentistry made me feel important.  He asked if I had a pet peeve in dentistry, and I did actually.  I told him that what drove me the most nuts was… ropey saliva!  It would wrap itself around the prophy cup when you were polishing teeth and go flying!  That cracked him right up.  He loved that answer.  I wonder if he married me because of ropey saliva.

So, the feature photo.  Charley had been in the hospital a week, and he had become so dependent on the oxygen mask that he was reluctant to take it off to talk, so he was writing messages on the clip board I brought for him.  He had been moved to the ICU the day before, and I had been told that visitors had to wait until 8 AM and that’s when I got there. The nurse told me that he was upset that I wasn’t there at my usual 6 AM or so, but when I did get there he wrote “U R Making me Comfortable”.  He really liked the Arnold Palmer iced tea/lemonade that I had been buying him at Duncan Donuts.  But when he wanted some he wrote Jack Palmer, I assume he was thinking of Jack Nicklas, when he wrote that and I was looking forward to teasing him about that when he felt better.  I never got the chance to do that.

So dogs and ropey saliva, Ozzie has it in spades.  Gleason could drool, but I think Ozzie has him beat.  I may not be cleaning teeth anymore, but I’m still dealing with ropey saliva.

bulldogfaceCruisin' DudesCharleyandOznuggetandnorts

connections, grief, growing old, life, life goes on, live and learn, loneliness, marriage, memories, old dogs new tricks, on closer examination, photography, the big picture

It’s just a number…

Nothing fits anymore. Not my clothes, although I’m not really complaining about that. I’ve taken tons of clothes to donate, and now I need to find out where I can donate all this extra skin. But that’s really not what I’m talking about either. ‘I’ don’t fit. All my life I seemed to know where I stood in relationship to the rest of the people around me. But now that I’m really, seriously, old, I can’t see it. Older yes, wiser no. Is it because Charley is gone? When I was going through life with him and I saw him getting older, is that what made me recognize my own age? Because he isn’t here anymore to provide that link, and I seem to be stumbling around a bit.

It started with a chance encounter with a man when I was photographing the sunset one night. He said that I ought to be dating, that there are a lot of lonely men out there. I responded, “I’m not”, lonely I meant. I told him that I have nice conversations with people every day, and then I go home, and that I like my privacy. And I meant that 100%. What I didn’t expect was that after few more conversations with him over the next several days that wasn’t altogether true anymore. He left to go back home and took my 100% conviction that I was 100% happy with him, and I haven’t been able to resurrect it. So now my chance encounters with people have a different sort of edge to them. The last time I was a single adult I was 20 years old, and I see now that I wasn’t as much of an adult as I thought I was at the time. In a lot of ways I have reverted back to that person, in my own mind anyhow. Maybe this explains something that Charley said about working at Publix at age 63, after having worked at the A&P right after high school and all through college. He said that he felt like he was 18 again, which might have been a good thing, but the problem was that he acted it too. He kept getting sent to the office, in trouble for a remark made to another employee, never to a customer. Not reported by the person he was talking to, but reported by a busy-body employee who overheard him. I told Charley that he wasn’t hired for the comic effect, but he couldn’t seem to resist making a wise-aleck remark when the opportunity presented itself. But you know what? I think I get it now, I get that he would momentarily actually be that 18 year old again.

So you happen to have a nice conversation with the guy who sits next to you in a photography class. Nice class, nice company, feels good. In the moment you are just yourself, a generic ‘self’, just enjoying the conversation. Later on you figure out that he is 13 years younger than you are, and get taken aback. Why couldn’t I ‘see’ that when I looked at him? That he was closer to my kids’s ages than he is to mine I mean. ‘Act your age’, they say. How exactly do I do that? Will I wake up one day and not be able to resist sticking a tissue up my sleeve? Or maybe I’ll buy support hose and start rolling them into little donuts around my ankles. Probably not the best look with capri pants and flip flops. I don’t recognize myself anymore. I’ve lost my place. Age is just a number, or so I’ve been told. Step on the scale why don’t you, then tell me that ‘just a number’ doesn’t matter. I’m going to have to try not to embarrass myself while I figure this all out…

PS… I wrote this a while ago as an ’emergency’ post in case I’m stuck.  And since I was hanging onto the post it gave me a chance to retake the photo if I saw a lower number on the scale.  This is at least the 4th incarnation of the photo.  So there I was at the pool the other day and an 80-something year old guy told me, “Just making it back and forth across the pool is a good thing for people our age.”  Evidently I’m the only one having trouble realizing how old I am…

blessings, childhood, connections, coping, death, family, finding my way, grief, healing, life, life goes on, marriage, memories

Lost and found…

I’ve been up since 2 AM, thinking. About a lot of things, but mostly about Charley. Thinking back to when I met him. I was talking with my aunt and uncle the other day and I told them that when I met Charley I had the most overwhelming sense of re-connecting to someone I already knew, someone I treasured and had lost track of. I had found someone who had been missing. And what popped out of my mouth next was something that hadn’t occurred to me in the entire 34 years we were married. That person was… me!

It was the Italian thing. Funny since Charley wasn’t Italian, but he may as well have been. His mother had been raised in an Italian neighborhood in Baltimore, and his step-father was Italian. The first place that we went together was an Italian deli in Baltimore, Trinacria’s, and when he opened the door and I walked in I was stopped in my tracks by the smell of the place. I had just walked into my grandmother’s kitchen, or so you’d think by the smell. That he ripped off the end of the loaf of Italian bread and handed it to me was such a familiar gesture. Something lost was found. I was whole again.

Thank you Charley…

family, humor, kids, life, memories, moments, photography

Sweet memories…

I once saw a Smith Family cartoon in the Sunday paper that was just perfect, I so wish I had saved it. It showed the little boy hurting his knee while out playing, and then you see all the places he stopped and played on his way home. But once he hit the door and saw his Mom he clutched his knee and started crying. This cartoon came to mind when my son burst through the door one day, and fell on the floor outside the kitchen door and rolled around clutching his knee. I was amused, he was too old for such dramatics, and I was thinking about how to react when he got up and stomped his way upstairs. Evidently his knee wasn’t that bad, I thought, so that was good. I continued with whatever I had been doing, and after a little bit I was surprised, and more than a little amused, when I heard him stomp his way back down again. He was still mad, obviously. He stood in the doorway, hands on his hips, and as indignantly as a 9 year old could manage he said, “If I joined the Army… and I got shot… and I called you up and told you about it… you’d probably tell me to rub it and it will feel better!”
When he got to the part where he called me I couldn’t help it, I started laughing, and he got madder, which made me laugh even more, and finally he couldn’t stand it and started laughing also. I wonder if he remembers that favorite moment of mine.  If I ever get dementia I hope that’s the last memory I lose. He was a fun kid to raise.
In the year that I knew her I told my raising-the-kids stories to Mary Ann, my friend and former nun, and she enjoyed a little glimpse into family life. Some of the stories I told her caused her to be glad she had never married, “So that’s what I missed”, she’d say. Talking with her brought back memories of things I hadn’t thought of in years, wonderful memories, and I wonder if they might have been lost forever if not for her. I told her that our becoming friends had done as much for me as it had for her, maybe more…

1-3in1972

blessings, finding my way, healing, life goes on, loneliness, memories, photography, sunrise

Happy New Year…

… from The Lucky Dill.  A friend threw me a curve ball yesterday.  She didn’t mean to, she just mentioned that her grandmother had a superstition concerning New Years Eve.  Be careful what you do that day, she said, because whatever you do on New Year’s Eve you are destined to do all through the new year.  That gave me pause.

So I went out for photo ops all day, and it makes me happy to think that I’ll be doing that all this coming year.  But except for the sunrise the rest of my photos aren’t keepers, none of them.  Let’s hope that that isn’t a sign of what’s to come.

And Charley has been on my mind lately, nice memories.  So I decided to buy him a corned beef sandwich from the Lucky Dill.  I asked for it fatty, just like he liked it from Harry Atman’s in Baltimore.  Nothing ever was quite as good as Atman’s, but this is the best in the area.  It’s not the corned beef sandwiches that I want to keep coming in 2018, I don’t actually like them all that much.  No, I need to be thankful for all the love I’ve given and received in my life, and for the memories that will keep me warm in the new year…

2017finalsunrise