Backyard Finally Done…..

In a follow-up to last year’s post, the landscaper and her team arrived about 8:00 yesterday morning and when I returned from my meeting around 2:00, they were already done. It’s amazing the way they rolled in; only four of them and she is right in there with them. For anyone not familiar with the soil here, digging is very difficult due to lots of coral rock embedded. It was also a day of 95 degrees. The last time we refreshed the yard, we had her work around the existing plants, many of which were in containers for two reasons. First was the difficulty in digging and second is we have some really nice containers. Some of the wooden planters though were in bad shape – it’s a tough outdoor environment and we weren’t doing the digging, so those were all replaced with in-ground plants.

They were among almost forty new plants and all of them were pruned, trimmed, etc,. We are set for when more butterflies and allegedly finches will soon appear, not to mention possibly buntings and hummingbirds. She had of course rattled off the names of all the plants when she came to do the survey and I couldn’t follow them all. Milkweed, I know of course and the lemon tree to replace the poor one battered by Hurricane Irma. There are already eggs on the milkweed and I’ll be patience as biology works its way through the stages. Now, we’ve always had butterflies;  simply not the mass of plants as now. In having also previously explained my lack of gardening skill, I have committed to keeping three of the container plants trimmed so they don’t become root-bound again. Hubby has the tougher job of pruning the numerous palms and the Pygmy date does have thorns. The landscaper claims that by transplanting the banana plant from the container into a new spot, it will eventually bear fruit. Not that I like bananas, but Hubby does so maybe with only one tree we won’t be overwhelmed.

Photos will follow occasionally as things settle in.

Summer Showers…..

The line of, “April showers bring May flowers”, is true in certain climates. Here is South Florida, however, the summer months are the rainy season which not surprisingly, coincides with the five-month hurricane season. In general, the clouds  build in the afternoon and send drenching rain for a relatively short burst. The sun then comes out and you have the steam room effect. Of course, the pattern can change. The surest way of this occurring is to make plans based on the normal pattern. Or to have a requirement to head out that you can’t possibly reschedule. Last week, I was caught three times. Granted, we all have umbrellas in our cars and periodically buy new umbrellas to replace the ones we’ve left in various restaurants, etc. The thing is, though, when there is a driving rain, you really can’t open the umbrella in the car. You have to open the door a little way, thrust the umbrella out to open it and try to position it to where you can almost stay dry. The rain has now come into the car and soaked the part of your arm holding the umbrella. The odds are water is totally pooled in a certain number of spots, plus the umbrella is probably not large enough to protect your feet anyway. That means wet legs and feet. If you manage to catch rain going back into the car, the same applies as you can’t get inside with an open umbrella. The simple fact is, you’re going to get wet to some degree and it’s another aspect of living in South Florida you might as well adapt to. From what I have been told, living in Seattle is similar except it’s rainy for much of the year. I did also experience that in London when I was initially puzzled as to why there were umbrella sales on the sidewalk when it was sunny. It only took a few hours to understand and appreciate their presence.

My Poor Fusion…..

In what has been an even more crowded week than was planned, the annoyance of my right blinker burned out hasn’t helped. The Fusion was in for almost ten days between finally taking it in for the airbag recall repair and a couple of body issues to be dealt with. Somehow in that mix, the fact my right blinker wasn’t working didn’t get put as an item to be repaired. I actually wasn’t certain it was faulty until day before yesterday when I took the time to check it. Sigh! And here I am a faithful user of blinkers, which of course anyone driving behind me since whenever it went out no doubt lumped me in with all those other  careless drivers. There is a saying in NASCAR of “no right turns” and in a somewhat humorous mode, I have tried to use routes that indeed either have no right turns or have dedicated right turn lanes. While I’ve been pretty successful, it definitely hasn’t been 100 percent. Hubby has been working everyday, but it does stay light longer and he has been on morning boat rather than both boats a couple of days this week. I, however, haven’t been here with the car. So, today was to be the day. I said I would get the part and he would put it in this afternoon. There was in fact one bulb at the dealership. This is also the afternoon that rain, then more rain, occurred. It looks as if it may be passing. Anyway, the other aspect is Ford has decided they will no longer make Fusions so I guess when the time comes for a replacement, it will be another model of whatever. Unlike my sister who repeatedly buys a Camry, I’ve never bought the same type of car back-to-back. On the other hand, I really do like this car. Ah well, I wasn’t planning to make a change for a while yet anyway. Who knows what they’ll have out in another year or so.

How Bureaucrats Sneak Up on You…..

This is one of those situations that when intense frustration ends, it comes close to being funny. Here’s how it went. We decided to invest the very large sum of money to have the whole-house, standby generator installed. In this area, that means the propane tank will be underground. Naturally, we intended everything to go behind the fence. So, it turns out our yard is not actually the dimensions we think. Once measured by the people who make the rules, we were a few feet off the clearance required between the generator and something like the electrical panel it had to wire into. That meant placement in front of the fence. Next, the tank has to be buried a certain number of feet from that so now the word is that won’t fit on the same side as the generator. (Our yards aren’t very big). The tank will have to be buried on the opposite side of the yard on the other side of the driveway and walk. So, tear up 3-4 rows of pavers and a section of the walk to dig trench to lay in the fuel line.As if all this isn’t enough frustration, there are quite frankly inexcusable delays that equal into months behind schedule.

Okay, the tank gets installed and the gentleman who handled this part was a subcontractor. He was quite professional, explained everything going on and then as he finished, he mentioned in order to pass inspection, we had to have these yellow “cones” placed in front of the tank. This is in case anyone should happen to drive onto our yard and on top of the tank. When I looked at him in disbelief, he said after the inspection, we could remove them because probably no one would come back to check again. Except, and this is a big except – when I arrived home I found three bright yellow 16 inch high, 3 inch round posts in the ground with concrete to secure them. While there is no question that will provide a warning, there was definitely no moving them. Let us just say that when it comes to colors, the air surrounding me was blue as I vented my anger. Of course that was to several geckos as the guys who installed these had wisely not stayed around.

This also meant we were now in indisputable violation of Homeowner Association rules for what we can and can’t have in a front yard. Receiving notification of that violation did take a couple of months. We’d discussed a couple of options and Hubby decided planting hibiscus in front of each post and painting the posts green would work the best. We went through the approval process with the HOA and despite now being in violation of code because the posts are no longer yellow, I did insist at least one of the hibiscus should be yellow. I can’t imagine an inspector will ever come by again, but if so, I’ll argue the point.

Days Zipping Past….

It’s obviously been hectic or I would have posted. It’s a combination of things as it often is. There’s no actual let-up until Friday which will make it approximately two months of pretty much non-stop activity. Not that I will have spare time, but rather tasks will be spread out a bit more. Anyway, in the course of having a friend visit, I took her to Everglades City. We hadn’t been for quite some time and unfortunately our favorite place for lunch was closed since it was a Sunday and the other place was closed apparently for good. It looks as if it sustained some damage and was perhaps not re-opened. The assumption is back during Hurricane Irma, but who knows. We popped into the Island Cafe, an old-fashioned kind of place with an ice cream shop in the back part, which is separate from the main dining room. There was a lot of fried food, to include gator nuggets that we passed on. The food was good though, the service friendly, and the ice cream was excellent. We did stop at the famous Clyde Butcher Gallery on the way back and alligators were bellowing even though there weren’t any in the parking lot this time.

The fence is finally finished and if the freezer repair guy has ordered the correct parts, that will be taken care of Friday. Fortunately, it still functions well enough to not impact the refrigerator and we got everything moved to the one in the garage. It’s a filter issue apparently designed so it takes a repairman to get to it. He pulled all the drawers out and in truth, they did need to be cleaned, so I suppose that’s a good thing. That task simply hasn’t been at the top of my priority list. Ah well, so it goes.

A “We’ll See” Idea…

In taking a friend for surgery yesterday, there was a lengthy delay and as we were in the Pre-Op area, we were able to observe what was a professional group with what seemed to be an excellent dynamic. It was quite busy as patients were prepped and there was not much spare space, yet the nurses and technicians flowed around each other with smiles and friendly bedside manners.

There were some tasks involving what they called Enhanced Recovery Protocol and after about the third thing, I asked about it. The protocol has been in place for not quite two years and includes some different medication combinations and placement of pads on a patient’s feet and another portion of the body to cushion contact during prolonged surgery to help avoid bed sores. The medication was to reduce the possibility of nausea from anesthesia and I don’t recall now the purpose of the other one. There was also a different way to measure baseline breathing capacity to ensure it was as good post-surgery. The explanation for the protocol was to shorten the recovery time, especially for patients who would be going home alone. This was for outpatient surgery and while everything was supported by studies and research, it would make sense that it will depend on the individual as well. In this particular case, the delay in surgery meant being late in the evening when everything was completed and an overnight stay was ordered as a precaution. There was no complication from the surgery, but it had been nearly a fourteen hour day when travel time to and from the hospital was included. Since this particular patient has had other out-patient procedures, it will be interesting to see if any measurable difference in recovery is noted. I hope so, of course, because shorter recovery is always a good thing.

Amazing Talent….

I’ve mentioned last week and this are extra busy and I’m not going to get into everything added in for next week. One of the events was/is attending Aida, the first summer production of our community theater, The Seminole Players. Other than “A Christmas Carol” in December, the performances have all been musicals. This year, the Director decided to go with something less well-known – the Broadway musical version of Aida, done by Elton John and Tim Rice. Most of us were puzzled and much of the community was unclear as to what it was about. The theatre PR folks sent out clips to look at/listen to and snippets from rehearsals. Our regular group split up a bit as to which performances to attend. Two went to opening night last Friday and when we saw them at another event on Saturday, they gave it rave reviews. With a cast of around 30, the range of talent was from very good to great. At almost two-and-a-half hours (a short intermission), there was a level of energy though to keep it from dragging.

Those of us who went to the Sunday matinee were still not quite prepared for the incredible voices, the excellent choreography and the smoothness of the flow. The songs were good and I suspect the bits of humor thrown in might not have been in the original opera. The tragic theme remained, however, and played true to the love triangle caught up in dynamics beyond their control.

Facebook has been filled with photos and compliments which I hope will translate into full audiences for this weekend. Attendance has been good, but not quite what the staff was looking for. On the other hand, when you try something new, reluctance to embrace it is not uncommon. Word is spreading and we’ll see what the final count turns out to be.

No doubt the August show, “The Little Mermaid”, will be a sell-out as was “Annie” last year.

Busy Week Again and Other…

As I’ve mentioned lately, it was almost a year ago when my sister and I put together the extended time we would spend together in June. The week-long stay in Paris had to include two more days for Transatlantic travel time, then another 2-3 for Sis to get back and forth from Texas. Only a couple of other events were scheduled when we made these plans. As each successive one was added in, the calendar filled with back-to-backs in the ironic manner that can happen. The “irony” comes in because people constantly say, “Nothing happens in the summer here”. While it is true a number of organizations take July and August off, that only applies to a few things I am involved with. At any rate, getting through to about mid-July will continue to be interesting.

The long awaited fence repair is also bogged down and will require approximately double the number of days we thought. The ground here is extremely difficult to dig into because it’s very rocky (includes a lot of old coral) and the way the utilities are run prevent the guys from coming in with a machine to make things move faster. Hand digging dozens of holes, even with a power auger, in 90+ degrees is slow going. Then there is the stack of old fencing which we didn’t really discuss the removal of and as it turns out, the regular pick-up apparently doesn’t handle. We’ll get it all sorted out of course, but it is one more thing to deal with. I did put notes of apology into the mailboxes of the two neighbors most affected by the mess. Fortunately we all get along well enough so I don’t think this will have an adverse impact. It also means extra debris getting into the pool, so I won’t be using it for several more days. The important point though is progress is being made and we will get finished.

Catching Up and Photos….

Back when we planned the Paris trip, several events which are now jammed into June were not on the calendar. That does make it a bit tricky to try and fit everything in whether in prep before departing or for the rest of the month. And of course, the repair of our fence which was supposed to occurred the end of March is just getting started today. What a mess that will be. However, since we haven’t been able to do anything about re-landscaping the back yard, once this is done it should last a very long time. Yes, that comes with an assumption that Mother Nature doesn’t tear through and we all know that possibility very much exists.

I do finally have some photos to post. I’m skipping the Eiffel Tower one as everyone knows it. The “Thinker” at the Rodin Museum is almost as well known, but the roses are lovely. The dome of the Galleries Lafayette is truly breath-taking and the Water Lily Garden at Giverny is wonderful. You may have already seen these on Facebook.

It is a trip we will both long remember. Who knows if we’ll take grandchildren some day? And if we do, who knows what all will have changed?

One angle The Water Lily Pond in Monet Gardens

Outside the Rodin Museum

Partial View of the Dome Galleries Lafayette

That Jeopardy Game…..

Yesterday completely got away from me as I am trying to take care of a number of things before I leave on my trip. We always watch Jeopardy and before the show started, Hubby said a rumor was going around that the reigning, record-breaking champ would be beaten. I’m not sure who leaked the news, but it validates the concept of, “Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead”. There are things that are difficult to keep to oneself.

Anyway, if there happens to be someone who didn’t know, the guy as champ had won for 30+ days, racking up more than $2 million. He was short of beating the highest winning record by $60,000; however, he achieved his amount in half the time of the record holder and he broke the record at least once of the highest single day amount. The guy created quite a controversy because he is a professional sports gambler. He also has an incredible body of knowledge and made few errors. He knew some really obscure things. He bet aggressively and often hit all the “doubles”. That was his actual undoing last night as he got the first “double” so early in the game, he couldn’t bet much extra. His female opponent got both in Double Jeopardy and answered them correctly. Both opponents basically matched his pattern of going after the high dollar clues first and in the entire game, there was only one wrong answer. That is not something you see often.

Quite simply, he usually outplayed his opponents by a factor of about 10:1. You had to feel a bit sorry for people who finally get their shot at Jeopardy and came up against someone like him. One of his habits was to bet odd numbers for final jeopardy, and Alex of course asked about that after several days. Each number he bet was done to add to his total to give an ending number that had some personal significance to him. It will be interesting to see if the new champ continues to play in this pattern or if she will follow the more traditional method of going through the clues without deliberately seeking out the “doubles”.