Gracious where are my manners? Come in! Have some tea and cookies? Never mind that silly John in that photo above. I like to get our annual 'We're on vacation' photo. He was cutting up something terrible and I was laughing so hard I could barely stand up!
We did plan ahead enough to make reservations. There is where my anxiety threatened to overflow. The place where we planned to stay has sometimes upgraded us...not anything like moving from coach to first class, but more of substitution of equal value but not always equal quality.
I reserved the room I wanted based on several criteria: smoke free, pet free (due to allergies), full ocean view. And then I got picky. I prefer balcony seating that is not flimsy plastic chairs. I had to like the colors in the room. Not for me the room done in red and green, nor all dark browns. That is fine for home. I don't care about high end furnishings, but I did not want to be in a space with some one's cast offs either, and sad to say some do furnish their rentals with those.
The room I had chosen was done in white, varying shades of sea blue, and sand. It was furnished with a mixture of hand painted thrift finds and inexpensive but comfortable seating. There were good quality wood chairs for the balcony. It was perfect. There were more expensive rooms, and larger ones, but this one had personality, charm, serenity and life. When I experienced that first anxiety pre-trip, I said to myself that I would not allow myself to feel vacation was spoiled if we were put in another room. I just wanted to enjoy myself.
Well we did. John and I left one Tuesday morning and arrived outside St. Augustine about 3pm. He had the brilliant idea of stopping at a Publix some 20 miles away from our hotel, which sits in the middle of nowhere in a place called Mill Creek, but is right on our path. We picked up all our grocery needs there, choosing some nice things for our meals, like Campari tomatoes, Boars Head deli meats, apricots and our personal choices of adult beverages. We're not big on indulging in alcohol but we do like an icy cold drink on the balcony come evening. Typically we skip these luxury sorts of foods and drinks but it was nice to splurge. Then as we were checking out, I spied cold sodas. It was hot and humid and I was soaking wet. I discovered Fanta Pineapple drink in the cold drink case and tried something new. Golly but that was good!
We were able to make one easy trip upstairs to our room and I was so grateful for that, too. Confession time: this is usually a time when a little spat starts up between John and I. For some reason, he is determined to make one trip to the room and loads himself and me like pack mules with just one chance to get across the mountain ridge before the shooting starts. One or the other of us will generally drop something, creating an avalanche of things. The new bigger suitcase which rolls beautifully was one help and the French shopping cart was another big help. We were fully loaded but the bulk of goods were portable in the cart or atop the big suitcase. John had a bungee cord which he used to strap a large bag to the top of the suitcase and another bag had a shoulder strap. In the end it worked out just fine, one trip, no spillage and no spillage of words! Ta da! It's only been 20 years of travel and lugging stuff about to reach this point! Miracles do happen.
The room was lovely, truly lovely and just the one I'd reserved. The ocean was blue and the sand white and the sun shining....We sat on the balcony and had a drink and had a bit of fun snapping photos once we'd cooled off.
The trip overall was very low key. We didn't do big things. We did little things that we thought we'd enjoy. Wednesday morning we went into Old Town. We'd debated trolley tickets but after seeing the price hike on those we decided it was not for a one day visit in town. Perhaps if we were staying longer, but not for the one day we'd set aside for town.
We walked a few blocks into old town, admiring the goods in shops windows. I accepted a lotion sample from a nice looking young man with a lovely accent, who seriously thought I meant I was from Georgia, USSR when I said we were from Georgia, lol. I've been mistaken for Greek and Italian and even Hispanic but never for a Russian before.
We went into the Flagler legacy shop where they sell clothing and such with the Flagler college logo on them. Katie never attended Flagler but ever since we've been visiting St. Augustine, she has insisted that she would someday attend that college. She's acquired any number of the hoodies from the store and generally asks for a new one every three years. We stopped in this time and bought one for her baby girl in the smallest size they had. We thought she'd get a kick out of that. John sent her a photo of it and she was pleased as punch.
We had a fancy coffee from our favorite coffee shop. I took photos but the silly camera refuses to release them. Anyway, we had our coffee in the courtyard below St. George Inn. There is a fountain there and it's a fun place to people watch. Fresh off my own clothing posts, I paid particular attention to how women were dressed. I saw some really chic looking women in their middle and senior years. I appreciated those who wore neat, well fitting capris, usually with light cotton blouses, either button down or peasant style and nice walking sandals. I saw many of the long maxi dresses in jersey knit and simple cotton dresses. I felt quite comfortable in my own clothing of white t-shirt and jeans with silver and blue jewelry. I did get quite hot walking but I held up well.
After we'd walked about town, we headed out to the island and went down to a little restaurant on the Mantanzas Inlet. I had a blackened Mahi Mahi and John got a Cheeseburger. We sat indoors (thankfully, lol) where it was air conditioned but near the windows overlooking the Inlet and took our time with our meal. The last time we visited two years ago we were the only customers. We noted that the parking lot was nicely filled and there were several customers.
The sun and sand and heat just made us feel tired, so we went back to our room. My favorite thing to do at the beach is to sit on the balcony and look. I look at everything. I look at natural surroundings. We saw a large tortoise sitting in the shade of a bush. A fat brown rabbit hopped routinely about the trails. A blackbird sat on the piling of the pier and sang sweet songs to us. Blanket flowers bloomed in the dunes.
I love watching the people, too. Children and parents, people with pets, couples, young parents with grandparents and children...What I find most striking is that the beach seems to have it's own hours of operation. It begins to get populated around 7am but every day by 5pm it is empty as can be. A few folks come out about 7p to walk dogs or walk together.
And then there's the water. The surf's constant movement and sound, the tides, the occasional flash of a dolphin fishing off shore, sail boats, kayaks, shrimp boats, surfers...There's just so much to see. When it was too hot to sit on the balcony (and it was hot and heavily humid Tuesday and Wednesday), I sat indoors with the curtains open and the air conditioning on full blast and watched. We were outdoors for some portion of each day from sunrise until sunset, though.
Thursday morning we were leisurely about things. It was foggy outdoors. You could hear the surf pounding and see the sunlight coming through the upper layers of fog, but you couldn't see the water for the first three hours we were up. John looked at me mid-morning and said "Why don't you pack a picnic?" That's my man. I didn't ask what we were going to do, just did what he asked and packed a nice lunch.
We drove off down the coast to Ormond by the Sea. Grace Lutheran Church plays a carillon at noon each day. Their parking lot is open to the public six days of the week, mostly beach parking, but several people show up each day to hear the bells. That's where we had our picnic. John stopped for sodas and chips. He bought me another Pineapple Fanta. Yum! On our way home he stopped and bought us ice cream.
It's such a lovely drive down A1A, past state park beaches and old motor courts which are still up and running, and even camp grounds on the ocean side of the road. I don't think I've ever really wanted an RV/Camper until I saw those little campgrounds inside white picket fences overlooking the Atlantic ocean...I tell John it is the only glimpse of old Florida I shall ever have, that little stretch of highway between our condo and Ormond by the Sea. There are condos and private homes and all kinds of little towns.
Thursday evening was packing up time, sigh. We had plenty of time to see sunrise and slowly get ready to go home. We do try to leave early, but we also try to squeeze what we can out of the stay, too. There's never half so much to take home as we took up to the room somehow, lol. John got it all downstairs alone in one trip except for the insulated bag and a bag in which I packed sandwiches for a picnic on the way home.
The ride home was uneventful. We stopped a time or two to stretch our legs and have a bite of food. By the time we're about 60 miles from home we've had enough of the interstate. We always head home on country back roads which soothes us and relaxes us and at the same time revives us after hours on the Interstate. There's plenty of country views on the interstate but all that traffic just wears you down after a bit, even if there are fields of squash and tomatoes and beans to be seen along the way.
I think my favorite views are all the little old farm houses. The footprint of each lot is about the same. A farm house, a barn or three, a pump house, a propane tank, crowded together on a quarter or half acre. There's almost always a little garden area and shade trees. What varies for the most part is whether the house faces east or south or west, the color of the house, and the flowers in the yard. I always wonder about the families raised in those houses and the homemaker and farmer husband. Whether the children married up with the children on the next farm or whether the sons are farmers like dad and did the daughters practice the home economies they learned from mom?
We were glad to be home. We are always glad to come home once we're here, but it's such a wrench from the beach...We were tired enough to go right to bed, but John wanted to get laundry done and there was Shabat at sunset to look forward to. We unpacked and put things away and had our Shabat evening and from there we sort of wilted away, lol.
We got up early on Saturday morning. We attended our youngest grandson's first pre-birthday party. His parents will be packing and moving by the time his birthday comes around next month. We had a grand time. What a blessed child he is...Great grandparents, more than the usual quota of grandparents, cousins, great aunts and uncles, uncles and aunts. We weren't a large group but we were a noisy group and ages ranged from 6 months to almost 90, I think.
We started our day outdoors which was surprisingly comfortable with a nice steady breeze. Bess had the party at her grandmother's assisted living center, hence the plastic cloth on the brick flooring. Josh was not at all sure he liked that cake but it was absolutely delicious to us adults.
I was so tired when we returned from that party. Sunshine, breezes, heat, do their work on good days and I was still not quite rested from our return trip. I went to bed early Saturday night with the intention of reading my latest book from Blogging for Books, but I didn't get very far. I woke up at 5am yesterday morning and got up and sat in the kitchen writing in my journal and awaiting sunrise. I started to pray and realized I was cold, so I got the coverlet from the living room chair and wrapped up in it...and of course, I went to sleep. John was up about 6:30. I woke up and went right back to bed and slept until after 9am.
Here's where my wardrobe helped me out a lot. We have to leave no later than 9:45 if we're going to make it to service at the church we attend, some 35 miles away. Well I made it and I lay that victory down right at my prepared outfits hanging in the closet. I had four to choose from. I just reached in and picked one. I managed to load the dishwasher, shower, do my hair, dress, and put on makeup within the 40 minutes I allotted myself. I am convinced that keeping outfits set up and ready to go will only make my life more streamlined!
On our way home John stopped to pick up a rotisserie chicken for lunch. I gave him a very short list of things to get as well. No real need to shop for groceries but I knew he'd want bananas and we needed bread. When we got home and had dinner, I announced my intention to take the rest of the day off. And I mean I did, too! I was just a little tired from our busy week and weekend. I felt a little bit guilty that here we were home nearly 48 hours and I hadn't yet cooked a meal. I could see that I needed to be back in routines, because much as I love vacation it can't go on forever, can it?
Well I must have been excited at the idea of getting back to work because I lay awake Sunday night planning all I'd do Monday morning! I was up and ready for work early, too. I got quite a lot done that day. Even made John a homemade meal. You know he was glad of it, too, lol.
Tuesday, I just wanted to write. Of course, it didn't work out quite that way. There seemed to be a number of jobs in the kitchen. I got hot and tired and irritable and resentful. I don't like to be resentful about my work but it wasn't the work I wanted to do. I sighed and set things down a bit harder than was necessary and sighed some more. I have no idea why I do that. John seldom takes notice. Truth told, if he does notice, he just leaves me to sort myself out once more rather than fuss or inquire why so angst filled. It's his way of keeping peace as much as he can. I finally stopped grousing in my mind and just settled down to do the work that was needed.
I pushed myself and made two meals while I was working. That meant I had a meal ahead for yesterday which was great because that was meat market day. After dinner I washed dishes and did a bit more sighing but I finally settled down to writing and completely enjoyed my time at the computer. I moved my laptop to the desk in the kitchen, which is where I used to write. I do believe my shoulder hurt less than when I stoop over the keyboard. And you know, I recall I used to get quite a lot done in short bursts of energy when I wrote in the kitchen. I think it's a habit worth renewing.
The meat market ride was so pleasant and nice. It's all rural country about here anyway, with just short little pieces through small towns but John cut across country and missed even the small towns. I really enjoyed the ride. It seemed I saw more things I hadn't seen before, which is more typical in winter than in months when the leaves are fully out on the trees.
I'll save my purchases for another post, but while I stood in the store awaiting the young men to pack my meat in ice in my insulated bags, I happened to glance up at the wall and saw some tin signs above the produce. Let me tell you inspiration hit hard at that moment. I'd been longing to do something fresh to my front porch for the past year, besides painting it which it desperately needs. Seeing those tin signs made me think of one Mama has for Sunbeam bread. I mean to find three or four and hang them on the porch wall were the red window frame is now. Or so I think...I'll have to look hard. I've seen the signs for as little as $10 for replicas but some are three or ten times that on eBay. I'll keep my eyes open. I've even got a sort of color theme in mind and plants and such will just dress up that porch some kinda cute!
I couldn't help but be inspired again here at home. I was digging about in the chiffarobe for something and came across an old expandable coat/coffee mug rack. I'd used mine for coffee mugs until I took it down and placed the Coffee 5cents sign above the coffee maker instead. I had seen the cutest little nook in a closet where the homeowner had organized all her scarves and jewelry and such...and of course, I have an odd little niche in my closet that is 17 inches wide and 19 inches deep. I'm looking for a narrow little chest of drawers to put there and then will have John hang a mirror and the cup rack and perhaps a picture frame fixed up to hold earrings (chicken wire works nicely. It would mean I'd have a better visual of my costume pieces than I have with them in the drawer at present. I'm reluctant to expose room to the clutter of the jewelry but wouldn't mind it in the closet. I could even put in a small lamp for extra lighting since a receptacle is conveniently located just outside the closet door on the same wall.
And of course, I've been inspired for my laundry area, too. I found the cutest tray at Tuesday Morning that makes me ready to complete my vision for that laundry closet. I'd like to paint the walls and put up real shelving, removing the wire shelves that are so awkwardly placed just now. Ideas, ideas, ideas....some days they do flow and I've no clue how they come, but I've noted that the busier I am in other areas, the more easily ideas tend to come for writing or decorating or wardrobe or cooking.
Do you know where I wish inspiration would strike just now? In the food department. I've gone the easy route and tend to mostly make foods that John enjoys. Now John rarely ever complains (only twice in 23 years) about a meal other than worrying I'm going to too much trouble. But what he like really well is a limited number (exactly ten) which he lists as his favorites. I am and always have been more adventuresome in my cooking and I tend to cook seasonally as well because let's face it, pot roast is grand on a cold winter's day but it's deadly heavy on a 100F summer day. I need to make good on my promise to scan the cookbooks for 'new' recipes or forgotten ones that are economical and delicious and lighter for summer.
I've been very busy reading. I have started a book by Jentezen Franklin, The Spirit of Python. This book was suggested to me by a pastor friend and I ordered it and another he recommended for the Kindle before we left on vacation. I am also reading a book I got from Blogging for Books which I hope to be reviewing by the first of next week. It is very interesting but I take it in small doses.
I seem to be reading more for study and blogging than for personal satisfaction but I have truly enjoyed the two books I've gotten from Blogging for Books, albeit they are not my usual genres.
I read mostly right now to take my mind off the impending birth of Katie's baby. I have never bee in labor, nor have I ever had a natural delivery. My oldest daughter and my youngest daughter in law have been and they came out of it like pros. But I confess my nerves are wracked each time one of them has gone into delivery...and so I worry. I don't mean to worry, truly I don't. But this is an unknown place where I've never been and I can't seem to quite get away from it. I have prayed and prayed over this pregnancy, this baby, this birth and I am sure all will go well...but every now and then I have to remind myself of my faith!
Well loves, it's time to call it an afternoon and move on. I really ought to tag a few items for my booth. We're running errands tomorrow and it would just suit me to stop and restock the booth while we're going through town anyway. John's ready for his supper...Away to the home things. Talk to you later!