Why I Love Entrepreneurs……

I posted about Joe’s Famous Hamburgers a couple of years ago. He makes a great burger and his decision to branch out into something brand new after being downsized from a company was the kind of story I enjoy. We would stop by occasionally and a few months ago we noticed his bright red food truck was no longer in the familiar spot. I was sorry to see that, but there are lots of reasons for a food truck to disappear just as there are for any other restaurant to close.

Surprise, surprise – last week I was passing the newly opened K&G Cycles store and there was Joe’s truck in their parking lot. I didn’t have time to stop, but really slowed down to make sure it was him. Yes! I told Hubby and he agreed we would have to pop by soon. I had a bit of an odd schedule yesterday and it was right at 11:30 when I was practically next door to K&G Cycles (more about that in a future post). I pulled into the parking lot and saw the Open light on in Joe’s truck. I walked up to tell him I was glad to see him and immediately called Hubby to see if he was making lunch yet. I knew he probably wasn’t and sure enough, he was on his usual schedule. I told him I was bringing burgers home. Joe and I chatted briefly about how the other location had become too pricey in rent and he hadn’t been able to get a permit to re-open until K&G Cycles had their Occupancy Certificate. The only drawback to Joe’s is there are only two picnic tables, both uncovered. But if you’re doing take-out, you’re all set. He’s definitely not fast food, so don’t be in a hurry. It’s worth the extra time though. He has other sandwiches and hot dogs and some day I might go for something other than the burger.

You can find Joe on Krome Ave in Florida City near the Cracker Barrel. He’s on Facebook, too.

Of All The Silly Things……

Finished Hearts For Amelia Quilt with Sam, My Daughter-in-law

When I decided it was indeed time to take up quilting, I had already made the decision to stick with smaller quilts which could be crib quilts or lap quilts. The reason for this was threefold. Space was the primary issue as we do not have the room for a large dining table that makes for an excellent quilt layout spot. We also don’t have room for a large sewing machine which comes in very handy as you’re trying to work anything from twin bed size on up. The third reason was I am not, in general, in a hurry to get any particular project completed and so the definitely slower element of hand quilting was not going to be an issue. Since the first quilt was to be the one for Amelia, there was a bit of a deadline and with all my other obligations, plus the relative complexity of the quilt (which was a great way to learn), I did have to push a little to make it. The one rule about the quilt was that it was fully intended to be dragged about and eventually no doubt torn up rather than treated as something special. I’ll make quilts for her at different stages of her life, so trying to preserve the first one wasn’t necessary.

Anyway, one of the things I’ve discovered is I cannot seem to find a thimble I can comfortably use. None of the other quilters appear to have this problem and haven’t noticed I don’t use one. At this point, I’m too embarrassed to bring it up. I did discuss it with a friend who agreed it was an unnatural feeling and a little awkward. I will keep searching about and see if I can work through it, then eventually ask for help I imagine. If anyone out there has an idea, I’m open to suggestions.

Amelia and Quilt (Bright sunshine making her squint)

Watching an Orchid Unfold….

I have been quite clear in my posts that Hubby is the plant person. A rock garden is the only type genuinely safe around me although I have gotten better with succulents. I’ve also posted before about our experiences with orchids and sure as the world, the two we thought were thriving may not be after all. The large one in front affixed to one of the palms is fine and in almost constant bloom. The two small ones in the back yard are the ones we may lose/may have already lost. Which brings me to the fourth one.

Thanks to our environment, orchids plants are a frequent table decoration at events. Last September when we attended the Chamber of Commerce Installation Dinner at the beautiful Schnebley Winery, we happened to be the ones from our table who won the lovely orchid as a door prize. It was in full bloom and kept the blossoms for quite some time. The leaves looked healthy enough even though we weren’t sure what was going to happen in the longer term. About a week ago, we realized there were not only buds on it, there were even more than when we first brought it home. Over the past three days, the first bud opened slightly, then about half-way, and fully late yesterday. I took a photo at each stage, but unfortunately for the second time lately, me emailing myself photos from my phone isn’t working. I’ll have to ask Hubby to see if he can “unblock” them. If so, I’ll edit the post and insert them

A Delightful Concert…..

Followers of the blog know I ‘ve been part of Homestead Center for the Arts (http://homesteadcenterforthearts.com) for quite some time now. There are almost two dozen Affiliate members within HCA – those are the structured groups devoted to arts and culture. Those are groups like Homestead Community Concerts, The Children’s Art Gallery and Center, etc. We also have two committees within HCA; one for the Bea Peskoe Lunchtime Lecture Series and the other for the Music Series (MuSe). In general, we have four lectures per season (Oct-April) and 3 MuSe events. Last night we had three wonderfully talented students from the Frost School of Music down from Miami. Miclen LaiPang was on violin, William Locke, cello, and Jonny Cruz, piano. I do not profess to “know” classical so I can’t speak knowledgeably about their selections other than to say it was a terrific concert. Bach, Beethoven, Paganini, Liszt, and Saint-Saens were featured.

Aside from their sheer talent, their stage presence was impressive. When we have classical music, we try to hold the events at City Church because the acoustics are so well-suited and the three young men agreed. We will see about having them again in the not too distant future. Hubby couldn’t attend last night so we don’t have cool photos. I took a couple with my phone and for whatever reason, the email I sent myself hasn’t worked. (Yet again, frustration with my lack of tech ability.) Anyway, I know how hard these guys must have worked to achieve what they have and their parents (and perhaps siblings) have no doubt made sacrifices of money/time to help them. I also know how proud they must feel when they watch them perform.

A Pleasant Show…..

Not everyone enjoys home improvement shows although they have certainly gained in popularity over the years. A friend got me started on Fixer Upper (HGTV). Joanna and Chip Gaines are a couple in Waco, TX who live on a farm with their four children. Farm as in animals and acreage, not crops. Cows, chickens, goats, dogs and cats around and I’m not sure what else.

They do all different size projects and unlike some shows there is no attempt to create drama. The backstory piece is their own family life which is filled with such a strong sense of family. In some cases, the clients’ story has extra meaning as in one episode I recently watched. An older couple had spent a lot of time in either missionary or just humanitarian work in some remote places. As is common with people who do these things, they were not wealthy and their house budget was limited. They wanted a small place they could settle in and picked what was not much more than a cottage with a detached garage. They were headed back out for however many months to Uganda where they lived in less than 200 square feet as they helped the village residents. They left the coordination and most decisions for the remodel in the hands of their adult children. The work was progressing well with the decision made to convert the detached garage into a separate sitting/reading room. The completely heart-warming part was a number of their friends came together when they heard of the plan and donated money and materials to add a nice master to the cottage. They were able to keep this and the conversion of the garage as a surprise and instead of the one-bedroom home the couple expected, it was a charming two-bedroom with the additional bonus space. Needless to say, they were overwhelmed with the generosity.

 

Little Weird Things in Life…….

Those of us who live in warm climates quickly adapt to wearing sandals pretty much all the time. In my case, it has a dual benefit because I wear a 4.5 in closed toe shoes. I’ve posted before about how difficult it is to find shoes and with sandals, I can often wear a 5. Not that the selection in that size is extensive, but it’s certainly better than with the 4.5. Anyway, several weeks ago, I managed to somehow smack my uncovered big toe against a door jam. The momentary pain got my attention and then I realized the little sucker was bleeding a fair amount. I took care of that and as expected, it was mildly sore for a couple of days. Not too surprisingly considering the amount of blood involved, the nail then turned that blue-black color although it was no longer sore.

I didn’t think much about it and as it was healing, there was a bit of extra thickness to the nail. Again, it wasn’t drastic and I wasn’t paying much notice to it. A couple of days ago, I slid my feet into sandals and felt something odd – not pain – just odd. That was because my old toe nail popped off. It was very much like something molting and I have to admit I was startled. I gently pressed the new nail, but if felt fine. At least the half of it that had grown. I looked closer. Apparently, the nail grew to a certain length and the skin that isn’t currently covered toughened as well. I guess the rest of the toenail will grow eventually. I suppose this is all normal since I’ve never had anything like this happen before.

The Scientific Method….

Serious content alert. If I had been good at math (an interesting aspect of my youth I will perhaps address in a future post), I would probably not have followed my sister’s fascination with science and leaned more toward engineering. However, because she not only fixed on science at a young age and had a wonderful female mentor (rather unusual at the time) and she married a scientist, and I went into the military where science and engineering are more prominent than people often realize, I’ve been exposed to quite a bit of science during my life. Generally speaking, in the scientific method, you develop a hypothesis, determine how to test the hypothesis, conduct the tests, gather results, analyze results, either prove or disprove your hypothesis, or determine your testing wasn’t adequate and you “go back to the drawing board”. Another important element is the ability to duplicate results by independent means. If you, as a scientist, “prove” something, any other scientist following what you did should arrive at the same or very similar results. When you have credentialed scientists who give opposite expert opinion about the same matter, a very large “Huh?” should be raised.

Hubby with his background of applied physics and nuclear engineering and I have a standing joke about cold fusion which made quite a splash a number of years ago. It was such an appealing idea, it was written into numerous novels and movie scripts. Since as the TV show “Mythbusters” often demonstrated, “Hollywood physics” are not required to hold up to reality. The cold fusion “success” did not hold up to replication and the joke between Hubby and I is, “Just because it wasn’t true doesn’t mean it can’t ever be true. After all, the laws of physics as we know them might have other secrets waiting to be discovered. (My point, not his).

So, when there are opposing scientific views, the old adage of, “Follow the money”, may very well be appropriate. If sizeable sums from either government or corporate sources are involved in a particular desired outcome, well, how one interprets data may not be entirely objective. As for “soft science”, that is indeed another subject.

The Thing About Scuba…..

Like many adventure sports, scuba is not for everyone. From a physical perspective, there are few conditions that prevent one from diving. Since Hubby entered into working with “adaptive” scuba for those with situations such as paraplegic, amputees, etc., he has in fact gained an even greater understanding of the physiological aspect of scuba in addition to already understanding the physics. An example of something that had never occurred to either of us if is you have an individual who is paraplegic, there may be the associated inability of the individual to assess hydration. When you are on the water in the heat, hydrating is quite important. Therefore, in a situation such as this, you have to keep watch and perhaps remind the individual to consume water or other appropriate beverages. In actuality there are only a few physical barriers such as someone who has ear issues and therefore can’t manage the pressure involved with diving. Exercise-induced asthma is another one that in general isĀ  risky to try to manage. Severe claustrophobia is another because the mask causes too much of an issue.

Aside from physical, however, there are individuals who have either had a bad experience or a high level of anxiety for whatever reason. Interestingly, when Hubby started teaching younger students (they lowered the minimum age from twelve to ten), he discovered there were times when he had to approach training from a slightly different angle. In some cases, the student was quite open about a particular fear and in others, it would come out in conversation. By more or less coincidence, Hubby adapted this technique to adults who seemed to be extra anxious about diving. Mostly, these individuals fall into the broad categories of a) doing this for the sake of a diving companion or b) was always intrigued, but couldn’t define actual anxiety. While there may be similarities, every individual is different and often quietly working through the anxiety enables the individual to identify the root cause. Although it isn’t always successful, he has had mostly success.

When people who have never been diving ask me, I suggest the one-day “Discover” course (it’s called different names) as the best approach. It does add an extra layer of cost if the individual goes on through full certification, but it also adds an extra layer of confidence because one of the most difficult aspects of learning to dive has already been accomplished. That, by the way, is taking the first breath underwater. Intellectually, our brains might cognitively understand it’s okay, but another part says, “Whoa, what do you think you’re doing?” It happened to me and it was the strangest sensation. It’s a very common reaction and instructors are fully prepared for it with a new student. And as much as I love to dive, I realize not everyone feels the same way. For some people, snorkeling is the answer as a means to enjoy beautiful reefs and fascinating marine life. For others, going to a nice aquarium is the answer.

 

 

Writing Musing….

As I have mentioned, other projects have delayed me in getting a new novel out, but there will be one in early summer, although very different from anything I have done before. I am also returning to Verde Key and Detective Bev Henderson for those who have missed her. The other day was a great example of how shifts in plots can occur. There are some tricky twists in this one – Shades of Deception by the way – and in trying to set up a particular plot point, I suddenly realized I could branch along a slightly different path and solve two problems. All my fans know I strive to keep my characters “in character” and not leave the reader thinking, “Why did that happen?” I was having difficulty in getting Bev from “Point A to Point B” in a logical fashion. Also, my antagonist – rather creepy I might add – was setting up not quite as I wanted. Now that I have both situations in hand, things are flowing more smoothly.

Most of the time I have all the major plot points laid out early in the process, but not always. Georgina’s Grief is a good example. I literally had to come up with an extra character, or two as it turned out, to kill off in order to make things work. They weren’t particularly likable though, which I did because their only function was to get killed anyway. I try not to do away with “nice” people, although it is sometimes necessary. In a few cases, I admit, I’ll be sitting at the computer weeping as I “do the deed”. Such is the life of both authors and characters. Shades of Deception should be out in the fall.

De-cluttering…..

I know people (okay, mostly women) who are immaculate housekeepers and I certainly was raised doing chores that included dusting and vacuuming almost every day. We also didn’t live in a huge house and with five people, it did get rather messy just with everyday life. I look around now at the clutter I’ve allowed to accumulate and am torn between trying to set aside time to deal with it and the idea of, “When does clutter become comfortable?” Now, as I have posted previously, Hubby and I have very different definitions of clutter and we’re going with mine. Part of the issue in and around my study is I have to keep a certain number of books on hand for ready inventory. And since I have published quite a few over the years, that inventory begins to add up from a space perspective. The other thing is we still have quite a few cold weather clothes. Once upon a time when we thought we would be leaving South Florida, it made sense to keep them. After we made the decision not to relocate, we could easily give away two-thirds of them and still have an adequate wardrobe for visiting cold places. The problem here of course is no one in the area needs clothes this warm. Each year I consider driving up to see the kids so we can haul a bunch of stuff north, but it is a long, long drive and it always seems easier to fly.

Anyway, the point is I seem to be dwelling on the idea more which probably means I should do something about it. Or, who knows, perhaps the old theme of, “Spring Cleaning”, is simply resurfacing from the days of my youth.