Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Rush of the Season is Winding Down

Now the rush of the season has died down, holiday lights are being removed from roof tops and the eaves of houses. Christmas trees, stripped of their ornaments and twinkling strands of multi colored lights, have been rejected and are tossed outside to await that special day when they will be collected and turned into mounds of rich sweet scented pine mulch. Meanwhile the year continues to wind its way to the very end, counting down the hours and the minutes until the New Year.

For us December has always been especially hectic as we have my birthday and our anniversary to celebrate along with all the typical hoopla that this month is famous for...the shopping, the wrapping, cards, letters, decorating, parties, dinners. A very hectic time indeed for most of us.

This year my dearest hubby bought me a lovely orchid plant for my birthday. I had seen it in the florist section and commented on how lovely it was but then thought nothing more about it. Later John went out and bought it, brought it home and surprised me with it. I just hope that I will be able to keep it alive and thriving as it is truly spectacular. If anyone has any suggestions or advice on its care and feeding please feel free to comment as I will certainly appreciate any help I can get to keep this beautiful plant alive and healthy.

Photos below...My Birthday Orchid !

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Correspondence

Though I haven't been blogging the last couple of days, I have been writing cards, notes and letters. Correspondence seems to be a dieing art, especially with email and text messaging the very idea of setting pen to paper might seem archaic.

Photos above and below...Getting down to business. Cards, pens, Rolodex, stamps and note paper.

Photo below...I require lots of space, lots and lots of space.

There are some people we met in our life's journey that we become attached to, usually distance prevents us from seeing them and more often than not they are not inclined to do email. I know several that are actually afraid of computers and refuse to own one, so though we seldom hear from one another, we think about each other often and it becomes a labor of love to reach out at this time of year to say hello and wish them well.
But next year I intend to start my cards and letters in November...I promise...yeah I know, I said that last year also.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gifts Show and a Taco Mojado at Cinco de Mayo

Photo above...Found: cozy, intimate, charming little eatery; "Cinco de Mayo".

Last Saturday my calendar had two events marked that I wanted to attend, both were gift shows and both had friends of mine participating. Artist and crafters in general tend to support one another and try to make an appearance at an other's show, exhibition or gallery opening. Perhaps it is an unwritten law but I prefer to think of it as moral support.

Photo above...Another find, stain glass trinket/keepsake box by stain glass artist Sandra French. This photo was taken in my home, as this little treasure now sits atop my dresser.

Unfortunately Saturday was not a very pretty day, though it was decidedly better than it's predecessor Friday with it's dark storm clouds, gale force winds and torrential downpours. Saturday insisted on remaining gray and dismal, but the gale winds had lessened to brisk breezes and the torrential rains lightened to a constant misty drizzle. This would have prevented many from venturing out to join in the reverie of a gift show, however it wasn't sufficient to thwart me. I even managed to cajole my reluctant hubby into going by saying that we could start out at the event closest to home, then head way across town to the other show and either before or after that show we could scout out a nice little downtown restaurant and enjoy a bite of lunch. It was definitely this last part that interested John. He is not a big fan of the arts but he does enjoy food and eating is always high on his list of priorities.

Turned out that the show closest to home didn't start until 12:30 p.m. Rather late it seemed, but no matter, the other show started at 10:00 a.m. and it was an easy enough process to reverse the course of our route.

With camera in tow I had every intention of taking lots of photos at the two events, but was unable to so as both events were held in tight quarters with not enough room to capture a good clean shot. While the first event was not only held in a confined space and in a fairly dark location, it was the variety of the merchandise that was the biggest disappointment. I had anticipated an assortment of handcrafted gifts and art but was met with a plethora of commercially produced merchandise. I could just have easily gone into a local department store and shot photos of in-store displays...this was not what I wanted.

Photos above...Different perspectives...Stain Glass Trinket box with lid closed

The second show was crammed into a space far too small, with tables much too large. It impeded the flow of people browsing and made it difficult to traverse from one side of the room to the other, much like being a sardine in a tin and wanting to move from the bottom of the tin to the middle or the top, not easily done. I did manage to find a lovely Stain Glass Trinket box that Sandra French, a stain glass artist friend of mine had made. Simple yet elegant and something I had long wanted, the trinket box was quite reasonably priced and beautifully made.

Photo below...Same trinket box with lip open, notice the chain ? A nice touch and keeps the lid from getting bent or broken .

However the day was not total loss, photographically speaking that is, John and I found a charming little restaurant tucked into the rows of shops along Old Main Street in downtown Sarasota. The cool drizzly day whet our appetites for warm and spicy and Cinco de Mayo filled our craving perfectly. Small and intimate, saturated in warm colors of red and maize, with splashes of South of the Border pottery, Cinco de Mayo was undoubtedly an enchanting little eatery.

Photo above...Just inside Cinco de Mayo. Though the restaurant has a cozy warm feeling that one could say makes you feel all fuzzy, the fuzziness of this photo is due to the photographer. LOL

Both John and I ended up ordering a taco mojado with John ordering the steak version and I having the chicken. Not only were the meals a delight to the taste buds but the presentation was delightful as well. Two healthy tacos mojado filled each oval platter, moist with a rich creamy sauce and topped with grilled slices of succulent red and green bell peppers and sweet white onion, a temptation to the eye as well as the palate. Accompanying the wet tacos were a tasty side of refried beans, Spanish rice and a spicy, picante, pico de gallo.

Photo above...My platter of tacos mojado con pollo...and it was muy sabroso!

We had a most memorable lunch and are already looking forward to a return visit.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Lolley's Blog is Having a Giveaway...

It's the holidays and who wouldn't love a pretty piece of sparkling jewelry to either wear during the festivities or give as a really special gift? I just visited lolley's Blog and you've got to check out Lolly's giveaway, it is for a beautiful SWAROVSKI CRYSTAL pendant necklace. I know I'd love to own it, how about you? :)

Just click the links in this post to go to Lolley's blog to see the prize and enter the giveaway.

A Modern Christmas Tree...Beautifully Artistic

Received this in an email today, could only imagine how lovely it must look in real life with the light glowing through the Murano glass tubes.

Venice 's Murano Island renowned throughout the world for its quality glasswork is home to the tallest glass tree in the world. Sculpted by master glass blower Simone Cenedese, the artistic Christmas tree is a modern reflection of the holiday season.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Human Ghost...Part II

At the inception of my blog there were many thoughts that coursed through my mind, I wanted to have a true journal of my feelings, to pen things from my heart and my soul, to let the writer that I had always dreamed of being emerge. Funny, that thought, why should I triumph now ? In years gone by I had submitted many a short story or manuscript for perusal and approval ...all returned with that dreaded rejection slip. Nothing personal, we' re just not interested.
A blog is somehow different, no editor to please, no specific subject that must be or not be covered. In the beginning I had no followers and even though I attempted to gain some interest from my family and friends, the truth was; they just weren't interested. Somehow I did manage to collect a small following, a mere handful of people, and like always I checked out their blogs, if they had one, and I followed them in turn.

One blog in particular stands out in my memory. It was a dark blog both in thought and in mood and atmosphere. Gray on black, dark upon dark, somber, sad, depressing. The blog was titled Death Unrequested, and from the first post it was apparent that the person behind the blog was writing from a very dark place in their life. Perhaps they had just lost someone very dear to them, perhaps they had been diagnosed with an incurable disease, or maybe a tragedy had befallen them, love lost, broken hearts, countless reasons to suffer from depression.

Time went by and every now and again I'd swing by to check out this blogger, most of the time it was the same post with little change, at other times it taxed my imagination as what or how to comment.

Recently I made a return visit and was pleasantly surprised to find that the mysterious blogger showed signs of brightening. No, the decor of the blog is still dark on dark, still keeps that somber tone and the eulogy on death still remains. But lately the posts have been text from authors who had written about ways to improve one's outlook, how to generate positive energies or forces that could change one's life. Seems possible that my dark and moody blogger was trying to find the light, become free of the ever consuming darkness of depression and was searching out articles on self help. It's a very good sign and I pray that they succeed.

Perhaps my little blog with its meager handful of faithful visitors can direct one new follower, hopefully more, to this blog that lurks in shadows, the hidden soul that no one sees. Could a new follower or two brighten their day, give them cause to move forward, bring meaning to just being ? Who can say? Could this blog encourage just one person to step forward and visit another lonely soul. I wish it could, I pray that it could. But then...perhaps it's wishful thinking on my behalf. How many other human ghosts are there, just like Death Unrequested, just like me, unseen,unnoticed, unheard? They walk past us every day, human ghosts, invisible faces that no one sees. They sit at home alone, sharing their tiny world with the cold, impersonal glare of a PC monitor, or the TV, no cards, no letters, no phone calls. Hearts filled with untold sorrow, despair, losses too great to bear, thoughts left unspoken as no one has time to listen, too consumed in our own affairs, nobody truly cares.

This season let us take a moment from our hectic, far too crammed packed schedule to look around and actually see these ghostly apparitions. The elderly man who's wife is no longer alive and who's children live a great distance away. The elderly woman recently widowed or young mother recently divorced trying to raise her children with no time to spare and no social life. All it takes is a genuine; "Hi, how are you. Is there anything I can do to help?" A plate of fresh baked cookies. A simple little card. An invitation to come over and join you for a cup of coffee and a slice of cake. Are these things too much for any of us to do ?

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Human Ghost...Part I

The invisible...the human ghost...that's me. Oh I exist, I'm flesh and bone but no one hardly ever sees me, even when I'm standing in front of them. Like being a "Who", in "Horton Hears a Who". Horton knew they were there but no one else did.

So who knows, or even cares, if I'm alive, if I draw breath ? If I hurt? If I cry ? If I live or if I die? It is said that more suicides occur during the Christmas holidays than at any time of year. For some reason this time of year, a time we equate with joy and happiness, finds many alone and depressed. Overlooked, forgotten. A sense of foreboding, loneliness. That tree in the forest, falling silently, no one around to hear the crash of its fall.

How many will actually take the time to read this ? How many to leave a comment? One? Two? No one ?

I have yet to met the person who longs to be a nobody, a person of no importance. Even though we may not admit, we all have a desire, a hope or aspiration to achieve or become "Alpha". We have our dreams of stardom, fame, fortune but in reality we know that very few are those who truly attain these goals, and of those that do some have labored long and hard for their rewards while others seem to have the prize fall into their laps. So what is the formula, the magic incantation that will transform us from run of the mill to top of the hill ?

We've all heard it said that anything is possible if we only work hard enough, plan long enough, dream big enough, and all we have to be is positive, that a positive attitude will get you positive results. True to some extent, but how many have gone out faithfully each week to purchase lottery tickets, positive that one ticket (perhaps it will be "this" ticket) will make them a mega millionaire ? Just how many have won those fatted lotteries, or for that matter the Publisher's Clearing House's sweepstakes ?

To be continued...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Red and Green

December...again...another year almost over. The older I become the faster the clock spins. Well, I guess that's life and yet I recall the days of my childhood when December had to be the longest slowest month of the year. Christmas took forever to arrive and the hours and days crept by like huge, lumbering tortoises.

photo above...The mother poinsettia plant, she's had such a hard time of it.

Now everywhere I look I see the lights of Christmas bedecking homes, stores and malls. Fresh green pines are stacked on every corner tree lot, in front of grocery stores and in the nursery section of every home improvement center. And the poinsettias are red and green and everywhere.

My own little poinsettia bush has had a harrowing time of it. When it was first purchased I thought I had inspected it carefully but once I got it home I realized that a couple of stems seemed to droop. Even after a drenching of water they still remained limp and visually pathetic. I removed it from the bright red foil that decorated its common plastic pot and noticed that the wilted stems were broken. Being the frugal nut that I can sometimes be, I placed the stems into a small vase of water, it seemed wasteful to throw out the pretty red and green foliage. With access to water the wilted stems soon revived and lasted well through the holidays. After several weeks I noticed that they actually had swollen nodes and promises of future roots.

Well not to go on and on, let me just say I tried planting all of the poinsettias out in our garden, they were doing fairly well and the odds that they would all become healthy plants would have been high. Would have been ! Nature never counted on such things as a careless window washer or a couple of clumsy gentleman who came to fix our flowerbed sprinkler system. Small woody shrubs do not take kindly to being stepped upon, especially stepped upon repeatedly.

Eventually we lost the 3 new cuttings and the mother plant was close to mortally damaged. For the last 2 years I've cared for her and nurtured her through drought and freezing weather. This Christmas she has thanked me with a burst of red foliage. What a lovely way to say thank you.

Photo above...close up of "Poor Petuna" my poinsettia that was always in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Yes I am aware that I've already posted twice today, but those don't truly count as they were merely information regarding my past blog giveaway. This post is for all those wonderful blog readers that drop by to visit and aren't really interested in games or giveaways.

Recently my area, the area in southeast Manatee county Florida, got its very first Kohl's store along with an absolutely marvelous Fresh Market. Fresh Markets are not at all like our mega grocery stores, they're smaller and more intimate even the lighting is subdued and not glaringly brilliant.

I'm sure I could have found a dozen things in Fresh Market to photo, and buy, but I lost my heart in the candy section. Large apothecary jars filled with myriad assortments of candies. For some reason it reminded me of an old fashion store with its penny a candy jars...well these candies weren't a penny a piece but then a penny doesn't buy much of anything now a days.

As people passed by I'm sure they wondered why I was taking pictures of the candy section, well you must admit it is bright and colorful. True eye candy.

Wish I could have gotten a better shot of the produce section as all the fruits and vegetables were incredibly fresh, much like a Farmer's Market. Even the cut Christmas trees on display outside the store were the freshest and greenest I've seen in many years.

Photos below...part of the fresh produce section

More than photo worthy was The Fresh Market's unbelievable bakery. Tortes, tarts, cakes and pies looked like they were straight out of the pages of Epicurean or Gourmet magazine. Matter-of -fact, they were too perfect and too pretty, there was indeed the chance that some would have thought them not to be real. Guess I could use that as an excuse for not having photographed it, but the truth was that there were so many people standing in front of the bakery display that I could not get a shot of it. Hm, can't say as I blame them.

The Prize is Claimed...

Great News ! I have just received word from our winner Bridget she has chosen the green and gold pair of dangles. Congratulations Bridget ! As I mentioned in my post below Bridget is very busy preparing for an upcoming arts and crafts show, if you're in her area you might wish to check it out, maybe swing by and say hi A Little Piece of B...

Congratulations to Cindy also, you will be receiving the pretty pink and burgundy pair. And once again I thank all of you who took the time to visit my blog and enter this giveaway, I also thank you for bearing with me as I learn the ropes of doing giveaways.
May today be sunny and bright and may all things go well for you.

Will the First Draw Please Step Forward ?

Giveaway Update...It has come to my attention that there are occasions when a winner does not come forth to claim their prize and I've noticed that other blog giveaways have a stipulation that should the prize go unclaimed for a certain amount of time (usually 5 to 7 days) that a second winner will be chosen.
So now I am adding this stipulation to my past earring giveaway. If the first draw is not claimed by December 6th the choice of earrings will go to our second place winner, Cindy and another entry will be drawn for the remaining pair of earrings. And in any future giveaways there will be this time of grace in which the winner has up to a week to claim their prize and let me know where it should be sent.
As of this posting I have not had a response from the first draw winner to my notifications of their having won. I realize that sometimes life can be extremely hectic and I know that Bridget is very involved at the moment with an upcoming arts and crafts show (you can read about it in her blog A Little Bit of B... ) I also realize that we all have many jobs to do, many hats to wear and very seldom enough time to do it all, therefore I am giving our first place winner until this coming Sunday to reply to my emails. Until then I hope she has a very successful show and have my fingers crossed that I will be hearing from her soon.
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