Spring Break has come and gone. We didn’t go anywhere, and truth be told, I didn’t do anything productive. Well, I did write a paper for one of my grad school classes, but that had to be done anyway. I’m just trying to get through this semester. I wanted to quit after that awful February, but like Joel says, just get keep plugging on. We did binge both seasons of A Discovery of Witches, but I don’t think that counts as productive. I don’t know, I’m just tired all of the time. Aren’t we all though? Anyway, here are some photos from the last few weeks.
I simultaneously love this photo and hate this photo. I love this photo because it is a photo of friends who are puppy raisers and it was also the cover photo for a local magazine. I hate this photo because the shoot took place the day before my mom died and in my brain, it marks “before”. Rationally, one doesn’t have anything to do with the other, but my psyche has tied this photoshoot with me not being in Louisiana when my mom died, which is ridiculous, because with the information that I had at the time, I don’t think I would have done things any differently.
A little backstory. My mom was diagnosed in April 2019 (I forget the exact date, but for some reason I want to say the 4th.) with pancreatic cancer. At the time of diagnosis, she was 66 years old. After various scans, and tests, we discovered that it stage 4 and it had spread to her liver and her lung. I had planned to spend all summer with her, and skip TSA Nationals. (I’m one of three advisors for out TSA Chapter at my school. Our National competition is at the end of June every year.)
The plan was for me to drive to Louisiana around June 7th and stay until I had to return to Florida for the 2019-20 school year. Mom ended up in the hospital for blood clots in late May. She called and asked if I could come home earlier and I said sure, I’d be there the 28th as she was feeling better, was scheduled to go home as she didn’t want to be in the hospital any more and she was going to forego treatment. Wednesday, May 22nd, she was discharged home to hospice care. At that time she was stable and was having friends come over to see her on Friday like it wasn’t a big deal. I had the photoshoot scheduled on Sunday, I would pick up the rental car on Monday the 27th, spend the night about half way and drive the rest of the way on Tuesday. There was no indication that anything was imminent, or if it was, it wasn’t information that I had.
Sunday afternoon, as I was leaving Chip and Chris’s, I got a call from my sister asking me if I could manage to get there on Monday, as Mom had taken a turn and she was afraid she would be unconscious by the time I got there. I called the rental car company to see if I could pick the car up early, and on Sunday evening, picked up the rental, hurriedly packed some clothes, called my principal to let her know that I had to leave and give instructions on how to give my final exam, (we still had a week of school left) and around 4 am on Monday, started driving from my home home in Manatee County Florida to Dry Prong, La, a solid fourteen to fifteen hour drive. Detours for road construction on I-75 and a delay near Mobile due to heavy Memorial Day traffic, made the drive all the more nerve wracking and anxiety inducing. Somewhere on Hwy 190 in Louisiana, northwest of Baton Rouge, I got a phone call from my brother. Mom was having trouble. He tried to reassure me that I would make it, but I was still about two hours, maybe less, away. I hung up, started sobbing, and then about ten minutes later, called my brother back told him to take the phone to Mom. I told her that I loved her and that if she was ready to go, she could, she didn’t have to wait for me, but I was on my way. She was unconscious at that point, and on morphine, but I was at least able to tell her I loved her. For the next hour and a half, I drove and sobbed. At some point, my husband called me and started talking to me about nothing and everything. At the time I thought he was just trying to keep my mind off the rest of the drive.
I finally drove into the driveway around 7pm, I think. It’s all a blur. My youngest brother was waiting for me in the driveway, and I took one look at him and knew. Mom was gone, and I didn’t make it. She passed away about 15 minutes after I had called. That hour and a half that Joel kept me on the phone? He and Amanda knew that Mom had passed as Kevin (my other brother) called them. They made the decision to not tell me as I was still driving. At the time I was so mad at them for not telling me, but looking back it was the right decision.
Meanwhile, the week after the funeral, I edited this session in order to have it ready for the deadline that the magazine needed. No biggie, I didn’t have a lot to do as my sister and one brother had returned to work, and my other brother andI were hanging out with my dad and writing thank you notes , and tying up loose sends from the funeral. I ended up staying two weeks before driving back to Florida.
I was home about a week then turned around and took 30 kids and adults to Washington DC for that National Conference that I planned on skipping.
Two days after we returned home from the conference, I photographed my best friend’s wedding on July 4, 2019 and then basically put down my cameras except for a handful of times.
Over the last 22 months, my love for photography and anything creative has taken a nose dive. Prior to May 27, 2019, in addition to my regular job, I also did photo shoots, and was a volunteer photographer for Southeastern Guide Dogs. I have had little to no desire to photograph anything beyond the occasional shots on my phone. I have photographed maybe two families and then a handful of puppy raiser days and in-for training days for SEGD, but beyond that, I have no desire. Of course, 2020 and the pandemic was it’s own thing, and unlike a lot people, took away my creativity instead of stoking it.
I guess it’s just been one thing after another since 2019 and finally I feel like the creativity has started to creep back in. The desire to knit has slowly returned, as has the desire to write. I am also slowly beginning to think about a photo challenge that DOESN’T use my phone to force me to take Big and Little Mama (my cameras) out for a spin.
It took me a while to figure out why I had this block, and I think it’s been just sheer overload of everything. Work, mom’s diagnosis and death, starting grad school, my dad’s illness, and his passing last month, pandemic, the crazy election, serving on a Board of Directors (I’ve since resigned to give myself my breathing room) and just daily life. I am hoping that I am finally chipping away at that block and maybe some of my creative self returns. I have missed her.
Now more than ever it is important to get your annual flu shot. CVS (and other places) offer free flu shots and often gives you a shopping reward. Publix gives you a $10 gift card with your flu shot. I was in and out in less than 20 minute. I was picking up a prescription anyway so I just got mine while I was there anyway.
It was a rainy Saturday here in Florida, the results of a tropical depression on the other side of the Gulf. With all the craziness going on I think we have forgotten that we are still in the middle of hurricane season. Idunn kept me company while I worked on an assignment that I have due on Monday. It’s supposed to rain all day tomorrow and most of the week. The upside is that it should be cooler.
I love taking sunrise photos over our stadium. Most of the time they are pink and orange but this has been a favorite recently. I took this the morning after an overnight rainstorm.
On March 13, I left school for Spring Break. While I fully expected to not return to school for a week afterwards, I never expected to finish the school year online. It’s been…..challenging, but that’s a post for another day. I go to the grocery store once a week, and Amanda and I will go out once a week to pick up a coffee or lunch at a local restaurant that offers contactless pickup. I lucked up and had my hair colored (purple is makes the gray really noticeable!) during Spring Break before we had a stay at home order and things started shutting down. Like many women, one of the things that has been put on hold are regular manicures. I’ve been getting gel manicures for years, but these days I’m on my own. My nails are very short and tend to peel, so I’m trying to strengthen them. Every night before bed, I use three of my favorite things. Two are from L’Occitane and one is from CND. I swipe on the CND Rescue Rxx with keratin to add strength and then add the L’Occitane Nail and Cuticle Oil and once that dries, slather on the L’Occitane Shea Hand Cream. I’m also learning to to give myself a proper manicure. YouTube is an invaluable source. My nails are still short, but I’ve managed to stop them from peeling as much.Maybe the next step is to figure out the whole gel thing as I can’t manage to make regular polish last more than a day or two, no matter what I do. I guess that’s one thing I’ve managed to accomplish during quarantine! Hope everyone is staying safe and social distancing!
Well that wasn’t planned. This week turned into the week where I had something every day in the evening. Tuesday, both JV and Varsity Boys Basketball had their first games against our cross county rivals, Palmetto High School. I teach two boys on the JV team and they kept dropping hints that they wanted me to come, so finally I asked them if that is what they wanted and they both said YES. I ran home, changed clothes and drove back to school for the six o’clock game. Michel saw me and came running up to me and said “Thank you for coming!” So sweet! My former paraprofessional is now the coach and I got to see him too. He was so nervous but the team did great! They got out too hot and got up 20 points, but then struggled in the second half. With two seconds to go, we were up up by just a point, and Michel had to make two free throws! He made both of them to secure our win! Afterwards, I saw him and he told him how proud I was of him and he said “I was so scared!
I told him that no one could tell and that he must have nerves of steel and that seemed to make him feel better. Poor guy. Here’a few photo from that night. One is during the warm up and the other two are my boys.
Tonight is a game with our big rival, Bayshore and I’m going to go because my varsity player asked me if I was going, which is code for “I’d really like you to come.”
Wednesday night was an open house for perspective students so that meant that I had to be here with my TSA chapter, so that was another long day, and last night I had my haircolor refreshed. I’ll post a photo of that later. This weekend is pretty low-key. I have a photoshoot on Sunday, but tomorrow will be spent editing two sessions and maybe doing a little Christmas shopping. I also will remake the Heavenly Hash and maybe some pralines. Stay tuned.
We finally had a beautiful day here on the west coast of Florida yesterday. Amanda and I took advantage and went to the local Dia de los Muertos Festival in the Village of the Arts. Their huge shrine this year was dedicated to the the 2000 tons of sea life that has died along our coast due to red tide this year. We also took a little tour of the galleries and in one area got mother/daughter henna, picked up some local honey from Myakka Gold Apiary (ooh, and sampled and purchased some creamed honey…so good!).
I have been itching to get to my ‘local’ yarn store, A Good Yarn, and by local, meaning a nearly 40 minutes drive in Sunday traffic.I did buy some pretty yarn for a scarf for my mother in law, but I’m not showing the yarn or the color, even though she knows I’m knitting her one, some yarn that reminded me of fall. NO clue when or if I will get to knit it, but I liked it, so it came home with me.I then spent some time browsing Barnes and Noble, but shocker, didn’t buy a single thing! I did get some new ideas for magazines that I’d like to try. I should have purchased them while I was there, but maybe that is the excuse I need to go back. My nearest bookstore is a Books a Million and it just doesn’t have the same feel as a Barnes and Noble. Is that weird? Does anyone else feel that way? Of course, my preferred bookstore would be an independent one, but those are few and far between here, which is just shocking to me. I could go to Tampa, but that is just as far as driving into Sarasota! While on my way home, I took a detour to St. Armands Circle and picked up hubby some macarons. He loves them and it’s been months since I’ve picked him up any as I don’t get to our local mall to get any. I’ve noticed that if I can’t get it delivered or I can just pick it up, I don’t get out much. There are some benefits to that, but I think that I would risk missing out on some lovely local shops if I continue to do that
Oh! I’m knitting on the Weigh it Yowza 4 by Susan B. Anderson. I’ve been knitting on this for over a year…well, actually, NOT knitting, but I’ve picked it back up and am determined to finish it up so I can wear it next month when we do get some cooler weather and I can wear it. Tomorrow is back to work, but I also have a board meeting to attend in Orlando on Friday and puppy raiser day to photograph on Saturday. Good thing we have the following Monday off in honor of Veteran’s Day.
How was your weekend?
It has been a running joke in my house that when my husband doesn’t know what to get me for Christmas, he defaults to a kitchen gadget…usually one that he wants me to use to cook him something specific. Case in point, the Anova Sous Vide machine. (This is not sponsored, btw, however, if they want to reach out, I probably wouldn’t say no) . Anyway, he had been talking about this sous vide thing for a while, and knowing what was coming, I specifically told him to not buy me any kitchen gadget that he really wanted for himself. He didn’t listen. What shows up under the tree three years ago…yep that sous vide machine. I got pissed, he got mad, and he had to do some super last minute Christmas shopping that included a trip to the Apple store and the jewelry store. (We had opened these presents early as Amanda had to work over Christmas and we were headed to Atlanta.) Anyway, after that apology, we began to use it and it really does make a great steak. What we have been doing is using ziplock bags, the water displacement method and a stock pot. Last week, after our latest sous vide, he began to ‘wonder how a blow torch would work on the steaks.” I knew what was coming, but didn’t say anything because I really didn’t want to think about what might be showing up on my doorstep.
Two days later (thanks Amazon Prime) a stack of packages show up. Want to guess what was in those packages? A FoodSaver vacuum sealer, a specialized container for the water, a rack for the bags of meat, and…a flamethrower. Overboard much? I told him that I would pick up the steaks, but he was on his own. After thirty minute, reading the instructions three times, and watching two YouTube videos, we finally figured out the vacuum sealer, popped the meat in the bags and then in the water, and we were off to the races. Once they were done, Joel took great pleasure in playing with fire. Dinner was delicious. The steaks were perfect and tender, Joel did a great job with the flamethrower, and the baked potatoes were a great side. So ladies, and gentlemen, if you want your significant other to cook dinner, just buy a a flame thrower.
1)Sometimes I have too much to do and then I freeze and procrastinate and then panic to get everything done. I think maybe it has something to do with working under a deadline for so many years.
2) I used to hold my tongue and not speak up when I thought people were being ridiculous. I’ve gotten over that.
3) Most of the time, I like my dogs better than people.
4) I’d love to experience a real Fall and a real winter so I don’t feel like me knitting stuff is an exercise in futility.
5) I would love to take a month off, go to the mountains with books, knitting, my camera and my writing. (alone, well, maybe I’ll take Bacchus…Amanda wouldn’t let me take Idunn)
6) Maybe for #5, I’ll go to Scotland instead.
7) Bacchus would need a sweater. I’d have to knit him one or five.
8) And booties.
9) I miss my family in Louisiana. All the time.
10) I watch too much Bravo Tv.
11) I wish I was still writing as much as I used to.
12) I’m really not liking my job this year. I loved it last year, and this year I feel so out of my element that I hate going to work some days.
13) The only thing getting me through this year is working with my TSA kids.
14) I’ll be 45 on my next birthday, and for some reason, that is starting to bother me.
15) I drink too much tea. (well, how much is too much, really?)
16) I’m in desperate need of a manicure.
17) Mariah Carey is annoying.
18) I really need to more organized. I think it would help my feeling of always barely treading water.
19) I need to learn to say NO
20) My favorite meal is my mom’s roast, rice and gravy, blackeye peas and cornbread.
This was all train of thought, and that is a tad scary. lol Feel free to share 20 random things in your post.