Almost every Friday, Best Husband creates a homemade pizza for us. Watch the slide show to see the creation.
Great job Honey!
© Huffygirl 2012
A trip to the Florida Everglades a while back yielded some nice wildlife photos, one of which I shared last week for the weekly photo challenge theme of “close.” A shot I snapped of an alligator who had slipped to the edge of the river, ready to crawl up the bank towards the path, made a great subject for the theme. It turns out that people really like to see pictures of alligators, so I’m sharing some more today.
We walked along a paved path along the river and got some great views of lots and lots of gators: gators sulking in the grass; gators swimming; and the iconic gators floating silently along the river resembling a floating log. I took all the photos with my zoom lens, but in many cases, the gators were only 20 feet away. Despite their proximity, it felt fairly safe, as the gators made no attempts to approach the humans, and the humans (at least while I was there) wisely made no attempts to approach the gators. There were many birds, fish and other small wildlife in the river and surrounding area, so I think the gators had plenty of food and decided they didn’t need to eat the tourists. But not so for this recent Florida tour guide, who certainly ought to have known better than to hand-feed a gator.
I plunge my trowel into the moist soil and wrangle out a clump of pansies. These happy yellow-faced flowers are starting to look a little long in the tooth, but still have some life left in them. I can’t bear to throw them out, so they’ll be getting new life in a pot with other misfit transplants that will be perfect on the shaded patio in back. This is the happiest time of my day – tending the garden. I would gladly neglect inside chores, work, and even writing to spend the rest of my summer, and perhaps the rest of my days, tending flowers. I ponder why this is so, but deep down I already know the answer.
From the time I was old enough to walk I spent my early days following Daddy around the yard. Each summer evening after supper, he’d leave the inside work behind and tend the flowers and garden. Never mind that he’d just spent all day working in someone else’s greenhouse – this was the work he loved. We’d putter in the yard together. I’d follow along while he carried buckets of water, sifted composted soil and scattered pink fertilizer around the stems of young tomato plants. I learned the names of every kind of petunia, marigold and tomato. Big Boy, Early Girl, beefsteak, and cherry tomatoes, which sadly tasted nothing like cherries, all went into the garden behind our greenhouse. Tiny tomato sprigs that Daddy had painstakingly started in our cellar from seeds back in March, were now brave little plants that grew into bushes under our care. At the end of our gardening, there would always be time for a wheelbarrow ride, then sitting in Daddy’s lap in the cool darkness of the porch until bedtime.
Today, I no longer grow tomatoes, but I have flowers. Perennial gardens of Black-Eyed Susan, Sedum and Euonymus edge the house and yard, and pots and boxes of colorful annuals brighten the porch and patio. I have never mastered the art of growing geraniums the way Daddy did, but I’ve learned the art of growing my new favorites. Bright orange Gerber daisies shade deep blue petunias, and blue lobelia rings delicate Maiden Hair ferns. Yellow tuberous begonias kiss red verbena in a giant coffee cup, while pairs of Purple Fountain Grass reach for the sky in matching pots. My gardens are more varied than Daddy’s were, but just as loved.
Every time I sprinkle handfuls of fertilizer around my plants, and dig into the dark moist soil with my favorite trowel, I remember those days we spent together. Every time I enter a greenhouse and smell the deep sweet smell of moist earth, I feel the hard packed dirt of our greenhouse floor beneath my feet, and once again see the rows of tiny seedlings awaiting our care.
Thanks Daddy, for teaching me to tend.
© Huffygirl 2012
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Lately I’ve had a plague of door to door salespersons – banging on my glass door, despite the very obvious, lighted door bell. I know that times are hard and people are trying to make a living the best they can, but REALLY? In the world of 24/7 online shopping, it’s hard to believe that anyone can still make a living as a door to door salesperson.
Of course, these salespersons are NOT selling anything. NO, of course not. That is the opening line. “Hello, I’m ________, and I’m not here to sell you anything.” Then, if I continue listening, they go on to ask if I’m concerned about: energy prices, home security, roofing and siding, water purity, and so on. Next, they tell me they’re shocked, SHOCKED, about the travesty of: high energy prices, poor home security, shoddy roofing and siding, or lack of water purity. Then they implore me to: put a sign in my yard, sign a petition, join my neighbors in decrying ______. Then, wait for it, here comes the kicker. The not-selling-anything sales person tries to sell me: better energy options, a home security system, roofing or siding, or a water purifier.
By now, readers are shaking their heads and saying to themselves “Huffygirl, why do you stand there and let them go through the dog and pony show? Just slam the door and be done with it.” Well, first I’m too kind to slam the door, and second they go through it all so fast I’m always caught off guard.
But now, I’m ready. I’m on to the door to door nonsales-sales ploy, and I’ll be ready the next time the perky young man comes to my door NOT selling energy efficiency, replacement windows, or home security. But by then, it will be time for the sweet-faced kids Little League kids selling candy bars.
© Huffygirl 2012
On this trip, we saw Chicago from two great vantage points: by water and pavement.
We started our water tour at Wendella’s Boats, a Chicago fixture since 1935. We chose the Chicago River Architecture tour for around $25 plus the usual exorbitant Chicago taxes. We bought our tickets ahead online, which spared us from standing in the confusing queue at the dock. Be sure to go to the Wendella site, and not a ticket broker, which adds at least $10 to the price, then tells you you’re getting a “discount” by buying online.We took the 4:30 PM tour, which seemed less crowded than the one that took off before us.
The tour guide gave an informative discourse of the surroundings and buildings, as well as some interesting Chicago history. Even if you don’t care one whit about architecture, you get a nice tour of the second city all the way up to the locks to Lake Michigan. (Who knew Chicago had locks?) This was a great way to see a lot of Chicago in a short time (about 70 minutes, plus queue time), and get a fun boat ride.
The next day we ventured out by bike shortly after 5 AM. The streets were deserted except for a few other bikers and police, as we biked the two miles or so to Grant Park. There we joined thousands of other cyclists to “Bike the Drive,” the once a year event when fifteen miles of Lake Shore Drive is closed to traffic and open to cyclists only. There are two 15-mile loops: north from Grant Park to Bryn Mawr and back, and south from Grant Park to 57th and back. The north loop has excellent views of Lake Michigan, Navy Pier, and the amazing LSD skyline, including the famed Drake Hotel. The south loop passes the picturesque museum campus, the formerly beautiful Soldier’s Field, now marred by the giant spaceship that landed in its center, and famous McCormick Place. The north loop has a few smallish hills, but nothing that an average biker couldn’t master; south loop is mostly flat.
Starting at 5:30 AM ensures a less-congested ride, and more room to stop and snap photos. Folks of all ages participate, including many who have no idea how to ride a bike safely. Watch out for hammerhead cyclists on your left, whizzing by at 20-25 mph, and little kids who’ve biked out of reach of their parents, and have no idea they shouldn’t be weaving back and forth right in front of you. You’ll get the best experience if you are fit enough for a long ride and stay alert for hapless riders around you. The north route tends to be the most crowded, but both routes get crowded after 7 AM.
This year we ventured south first and enjoyed seeing the Museum of Science and Industry grounds relatively crowd-free. We had great views of the lake and skyline on the north route, and for the first time ever stopped on the bridge to get some amazing shots of the river.
After finishing our 30 miles in record time, we added an extra half-loop going south again. This allowed us to snap some over the road shots of the cyclists below from the bridge turn-around.
We finished up at Grant Park to collect our T-shirts and enjoy music and pancakes among the thousands of others sprawled on the grass and benches in the near-90 degree heat.
© Huffygirl 2012
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My husband and I are seated on a plane, ready to head home after a family vacation. The plane is full. Everyone’s strapped in their seats, ready to go. Take-off begins. Wheels are up, we’re off the ground; as the plane banks left, we both feel cold liquid dripping on our heads. Certainly an ominous sign. Is the plane leaking? This can’t be good. We look up to see big cold drops of brown liquid, which appears to be soda, dripping out of the overhead compartment, splashing on my right side and his left. The plane levels and straightens out, and the drip stops. This wasn’t just a few drops, more of a soda rain shower. Then, the plane banks left again, and the downpour restarts. By now everyone around us is involved. With each new cloudburst of soda, we hear a chorus of “ohs, eews, and oohs.” Everyone is mobilized. Folks in front and behind us are passing us wadded up Kleenex, folded newspapers, anything to sop up the drips. By now there’s a puddle on the seat between us, my right arm and leg are soaked. With each turn to the left, the downpour restarts. The fasten seat belt sign remains lit. And no help in sight from the flight attendants. We’re only three rows up from the back where some of them are seated, and they’d have to be blind and deaf, to not have noticed the commotion.
And so it goes. With each left turn the soda shower restarts. Are we supposed to just sit here being doused with soda for who knows how long, until the seat belt sign goes off? I have no idea how much is up there – could be a big bottle, a cup, who knows? It’s not okay to bring a 4-ounce bottle of shampoo on the plane, but apparently a Big Gulp is okay. Finally, I unfasten my seat belt so I can reach up and hold the wad of newspapers that someone has handed us right up against the bottom of the compartment to staunch the downpour. This helps some but I can’t do this for long. Then the chimes sound, which I take as a sign that it’s okay to get up. (Turns out it wasn’t.) My soggy husband and I leap from our seats and open the compartment. I need a better look, so now I’m standing on my seat so I can see what’s going on up there. Turns out there is a huge puddle of cold soda sloshing around in the compartment – probably from a bottle that was up there on a previous flight, or from someone’s bag who is afraid to fess up. So here I am, despite the fasten seat belt sign still lit, standing on my seat and mopping up the soda with sections of newspaper that surrounding passengers are passing to us. Still no reaction or help from the flight attendants.
Finally, the flight attendants arise from their coma, or whatever was keeping them from helping, and begin their trip down the aisle. As the closest attendant comes upon us, does she help, or at least ask what’s going on? No. she just expresses her annoyance that we are out of our seats and blocking the aisle. She agrees to bring us some paper towels, if we’d just get out of her way, for God’s sake. We wad up the paper towels into the edges of the compartment to stop the remaining drips that have seeped in under the frame. Every single flight attendant who passes by for the rest of the flight expresses annoyance and asks why we have these towels shoved up in there. Not “are you okay?”, “do you need anything else?” or “I’m sorry you were doused with cold soda.”
Thank goodness the commotion was only about dripping soda, and not a serious malfunction with the plane, an illness or seizure, or worse yet, a terrorist scuffle. I’ve been seated with wacky people, crying babies and toddlers, kids kicking the back of my seat, and now this. What is your worst inflight experience, and how did you handle it?
(Addendum: I later shared my complaint about the above incident with the airline’s customer service. The agent acknowledged that the flight attendants should have been more attentive and helpful during this incident, and gave me a voucher for a miniscule discount on a future flight.)
The two stretched out on the sandy beach, tired from clambering across the rocky shore. Done with wading through water waist deep, done with searching through wave-washed stones . The heat beat up from the 100 degree sand. “It’s too hot and too bright to read,” she said. “It’s too hot to walk anymore,” he said. The two sat in companionable silence, appreciating every small whiff of breeze coming off of the water. “What can we do?” she said. “We never relax,” he said. “We’re always doing something.” “It’s true,” she said. “Even when we think we’re relaxing, we’re not. We pop up from watching TV to do ironing or dishes. We never sit still. We’re too busy seizing life, afraid to miss something and grow old.” “Why don’t we just relax? ” he said. “We hardly ever do.”
And so the two sat stretched out upon the sultry beach. They watched the distant storm clouds gather. They watched birds glide overhead. They savored the increasing wisps of breezes. And they relaxed.
© Huffygirl 2012
(Inspired by the works of Winsomebella Thanks Bella for your beautiful words and photos!)