Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Out my back door....

These days, when I go out my back door, this is what I see. Rows and rows of black plastic covered mounds sprouting strawberry plants. With their delicate blossoms and juicy red fruit, they make an appealing tableau stretching out in the distance. Days like today, they look quite beautiful, still damp from the rain we had briefly.


I don't find it quite so picturesque on days when the field is a hive of bustling activity. At those times, I am somewhat nonplussed by the sight of farm workers dressed warmly against the cold. They hustle up and down the rows, almost running in their quest to pick as many berries as they can. They straddle the row and bend deeply, hands flying through the bushes looking for the ripe berries. It's not hard work, just hard on you work. I know, I've picked a few strawberries.The stories you read about the conditions for farm workers who pick strawberries are pretty horrendous. According to the statistics, the average farm worker makes about $6 an hour, 33% are undocumented workers, most are married and women account for 25% of the workers. Seems like a lot of hard work so I can have fresh berries at the local market. Yet, truthfully, the quart of strawberries pictured in the blog post below, cost $4 so I didn't buy any. Last year, they left the berries to rot in the field because the owners said it cost more to pick them than they could get at market. Liability issues keep them from opening U-pick fields. So acres of strawberries rotted and farm workers didn't even earn anything. It was hard not the step through the barbed wire fencing and help myself to all I could pick. But, they're not my berries.

This is the heart of the illegal immigrant debate. It's complex, like most moral issues.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Finding a hidden gem....

 Driving home from Miami on Friday, I-75 starts to look like a parking lot and we're hungry. Time to pull off? Sure looked like it. The sign on the Interstate said there was a Perkins and that looked good to Brad. (I wasn't so sure but when you're a vegetarian, chances are anyplace has a decent salad. At worst, a grilled cheese sandwich.) Along the way to the Perkins we drive by THIS sign and can see this produce. It only took a second for both of us to say "Wanna eat there?" Sure thing!


 The food was very down-home and the dessert looked just like my grandmom's house at Christmas time. I couldn't resist a peanut butter and jelly on HOMEMADE white bread. With a mound of potato chips on the side, I felt just like a kid. We shared a piece of strawberry rhubarb pie that was oh-so-good. We meant to look for the number of the exit but forgot! I think it was Bonita Springs but not so sure. I plan to look next time I'm heading south.





Coconut cream pie, lemon meringue, red velvet cupcakes and homemade cookies.











The view out the window while we ate our lunch.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Longing

“The Portuguese call it saudade: a longing for something so indefinite as to be indefinable. Love affairs, miseries of life, the way things were, people already dead, those who left and the ocean that tossed them on the shores of a different land – all things born of the soul that can only be felt.” - Anthony De Sa (Barnacle Love)

Who or what are you longing for today?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Love

Love really is all you need.
Lots of Valentine's goodies out in the stores. I love Valentine's Day. Maybe because red is my favorite color and hearts are my chosen icon. I draw them all the time, especially when I'm doodling! It's such a neat reminder in the middle of winter of what it really takes to keep us warm. The presence of those we love..... ones right beside us, those far away, but never far from our thoughts and those we'll see again on the other side.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Deja Vu


I had a moment of deja vu today. I missed a call from Dan and he left a message. It went something like this: "Hey beautiful. I'm sitting outside the Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company having a cup of the best coffee in the world. It's a crisp 50 degrees and the sky is California blue without a cloud to be seen.There's a wisp of fog in the hills and the valley is beautiful. The only thing missing is YOU!" Wow! Did that take me back 8+ years to phone calls like that almost every day. At the time, it seemed like we spent our days yearning.....for time to pass so we could be together, for days that we were together to slow down so we could make them last, for extra money and vacation time to make the whole long-distance thing work. This time, while I'm jealous and want to be in Napa, too, I also know that Dan will be home again in just a few days.

We spent a lot of time while we were dating reminding each other that "some day" this would all be behind us and hoping we would never forget to be grateful every day we were together. We've been married for 6 years now. We still remind each other how lonely we were and how lucky we are to be together. It's something we don't take for granted and I know that it was a difficult decision to make. There are some lines I read in A Thousand Splendid Suns that have always seemed to sum up Dan's decision to move to Florida "But it is not an easy happiness. It is not a happiness that is without cost."






Sunday, January 2, 2011

Contemplation

I love to take pictures of angels. Cemeteries tend to be the places where angels (at least the ones you can see) gather, therefore I have lots of photos of cemeteries. This one was in New Orleans. I always wish I knew why the families chose a particular sculpture to adorn a grave. This angel looks tired, he can no longer keep his torch aloft and I wonder, why a tired angel? Did the deceased fight illness long and hard and see death as a welcome relief? Or did they fight "the good fight", busy and hurrying through life and now were waiting wearily to be ushered into rest? At first I wanted this person to have a victorious angel, one with fire in his eyes and the torch held exuberantly toward the heavens. That's the way I want to see death, not as something sad and beaten but as a victorious end to a life well lived. A celebration of my arrival Home. But there's something to be said for rest, for the welcome opportunity to sit and breathe, to contemplate your days accomplishments. Mostly, I think, life should be a wonderful balance of all those things.... hard work, bustle and activity and time to relax and savor the fruits of that labor. Then death can be a celebration, because I believe with everything I am, that we will see our loved ones again.

I'm really not feeling as morbid as this post might lead you to believe.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

More thoughts on the red boots......

Yep, these are the actual boots.
Dan asked "Why the Year of the Red Boots?" I've always wanted a pair of red cowboy boots. It's really not a Florida look, but  there it is....my wild desire for red boots. We found a pair yesterday....New Year's Eve....at International Mall...where I never go. It had to be auspicious, right? I thought so, too. So on reflection, I realized it means going where I've always wanted to go but felt held back, making a bit of a splash (even if I'm the only one who notices) and getting a little giddy when looking at the possibilities. THAT's what red boots are, at least to me. What are YOUR red boots?

Highlights of the Year of Jubilee - 2010

I turned 50 on December 18, 2009. Since my birthday is so close to New Year's, I always use that time to decide my theme for the next year. So 2010 became the Year of Jubilee. "In the Biblical Book of Leviticus, a Jubilee year is mentioned to occur every fifty years, in which slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven and the mercies of God would be particularly manifest." (Wikipedia, Jubilee) In hindsight, I could have called it The Year of Traveling.
  • Dan took me to Epcot on my birthday. We had sooooo much fun: ate lunch in a French restaurant (complete with Remy from Ratatouille), visited the terracotta soldiers in China, and belly-danced in Morocco (well, not really but we thought about it). Then we spent the night at the the Grand Bohemian hotel in downtown Orlando. It was like sleeping in an art museum! Yeah, I know...pretty cool.
  • Went a cruise to the Caribbean. Canyoned down a waterfall in Dominica (http://www.extremedominica.com/), swam with sea turtles and toured a sugar plantation in Barbados, learned the meaning of island life from Royston (ask me about jail time on St. Kitts) and how to bribe officials in St. Thomas (thanks Henry). We missed having Corey and Chase with us but Ashley added real-time entertainment.
  • The real deal...... a Mediterranean Cruise. For ALL the pictures and comments go here. My dream of a lifetime in one big gulp. Every place I have said I wanted to see was on this cruise. It was like getting the sampler platter. Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt and Sicily. We were gone for 17 days. It was heaven. There was literally nothing bad that happened on that trip! Every wonderful thing that Dan arranged came off brilliantly. We met Tod and Betsey Gorrell...our dinner partners for all 12 nights of the cruise. Just loved them and they made our trip even better.
  • Then back to Orlando for birthday 51....the Waldorf Astoria.
There were some sad days and disappointments (I lost some body parts!) but those days were few.  Mostly, I am blessed and mostly, I remember. Looking back is good, it reminds us where we have been and gives us roots.  
"Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever..."-- Isak Dinesen


But it's not the way I want to live my life.....so on to 2011. I've already dubbed it... The Year of the Red Boots!



2011 The Year of the Red Boots

This is it....Happy New Year! I can feel it....change is coming in 2011! It's definitely the Year of the Red Boots and I'm not entirely sure what that means. The fireworks are still going off but it's time to go to bed. I just wanted to get a head start on writing. Can't wait to discover what's around the bend........