Come in! It seems like ages since we've had a chat. I've got iced tea, strawberries and mint. Choose what you'd like to flavor your tea and let's settle in here on the porch. The weather is nice enough for April. I'll pass out fans to keep the gnats away.
I've been so busy I hadn't realized that I'd not had a chat since the start of May. There's so much I want to say, I hardly know where to start. So I guess I'll begin at the beginning and work my way forward to now.
First, did you notice? I did change up the blog again. No, I'm not back to my usual patterned backgrounds but I did change from the contemporary post format to a more traditional one. It's still clean and simple. I am now manually inserting a jump break in each post because I need to protect my work and it's just easier to do it at once rather than trying to remember to do it at the end of the week. Do you like this look any better? I know I'm a vintage sort of girl at heart, but I also like a mix of modern thrown in with it, otherwise it just seems kitschy and that's not me at all.
This format does let you have immediate access to the archive list and such that was harder to find on the contemporary format. I think you'll find it easier to navigate since it's the more familiar layout. So we'll give this a try for June and see how it suits us. I feel it's a bit like taking up the rugs and putting slipcovers the furniture to lighten things up for summer. I likely will change things up again with the seasonal changes come autumn if this lasts through the entire summer. Comments are welcome.
Charm school went through the whole month of May and it was lovely. I finished the last post last night and then looked through some saved files on my computer to see if there was anything else I'd post on just now but we seem to have covered it in full. I may find additional posts to add in later but I'll mark them as Charm School if I do.
With June here, I'm ready for a new theme. A few years ago I shared some summer nostalgia posts and really I'd like to do something of that sort this month. It would be a mix of vintage recipes and summer fashions and little things that trigger childhood memories. I think we all get a bit nostalgic in summer, wanting that carefree childhood summer all over again. At least every one I've spoken to of late seems to feel as I do.s
Part of this was triggered by the site of so many one piece suits on the beach this past week. And the first icy cold chunks of watermelon, because summer isn't summer without all those lovely fresh fruits and vegetables, is it? The local farm stand in the next county opened up yesterday with the first ears of sweet corn of the season. I rooted about in my freezer this week and noted I'm due a batch of cream corn, so I'll make my way down and buy a couple of bags of corn so I can put some up. Strawberries are still low in price and I want to put up some strawberry jam as well. I like the freezer recipe kind especially as it tastes so much like fresh berries and it is excellent over a scoop of ice cream or in a cup of homemade yogurt.
I made a blackberry cobbler. In the early days here, when mostly open fields surrounded the house, blackberry picking was done easily and we brought in gallons of them. Now, the trees have grown up in the fields and the blackberry bushes have gone away. The berries I used were some Mama had purchased and put up for me. They were big, heavy things. They didn't taste like the wild berries taste but it was nice to have a blackberry cobbler.
I do get nostalgic for the sort of country cooking I grew up with in summer months: fried green tomatoes and fried okra, creamed corn and fresh green beans cooked with tiny new potatoes, lovely squash casserole. Green apple cobblers and fresh berry cobblers. And what is summer without a burger from the grill? Nothing says summer like the aroma of fresh mown grass and a sizzling charcoal grill.
Well I haven't shared about our trip out of town. We went back to our lovely St. Augustine. Each year when we return we're amazed to find that something has changed. It's never stagnant. Since our last visit, Hurricane Matthew poured four feet of water into Old Town. Everything was up and running again in just a few weeks with a few exceptions. As John pointed out last year, they are old pros at dealing with hurricanes and weather related to hurricanes in that city and it's actively stood since the 1500s without closing up yet.
There were a few casualties that did not manage to reopen. We'd driven down to Mantanza Inlet to have lunch one day and found that bar/restaurant closed and apparently closed for good. I guess it was damaged during the hurricane. Oh we were disappointed but we found a cute little restaurant practically next door to our hotel and it had excellent food, far more sophisticated than we'd get at the Inlet and very well priced. So that was a happy exchange.
There was lots of new building going on. We'd normally ride down the historic coastline but this time we did not. We visited the lighthouse and that was interesting. We went to the Pirate and Treasure museum the day after we arrived.
There was a run of bad weather during our stay. Nothing more than what we've had here at home all spring long with a lot of tornado warnings and heavy rain and thunder and lightning. We spent that whole day in the condo reading. I cooked meals and cleaned up the place and it felt a lot like a rainy day at home, really, yet somehow it's hard to feel put upon when the ocean view is just outside the big sliding doors.
Once the bad weather cleared out the temperatures dropped into the 70f range and that made for a lovely cool day in Old Town wandering the streets and touring the town. We stopped often and talked to complete strangers. It was lovely. People are always surprised when we say that we've been coming down for 15 years now. It's never the same city twice. There are landmarks obviously but the tours change, the venues change, buildings are taken down and new ones put up. I walked blocks and never so much as glistened the whole while. That's how nice it was. It made for a pretty nice last day which was also our 23rd wedding anniversary.
John asked me several times if I'd do it again, this marriage thing, with him. Yep, I would, sticky patches, hard stuff and all. I'll say one thing for this man of mine, I always knew he was right beside me when there was real trouble which I rate pretty high on my list of admirable qualities. I'd been left to stand alone too many times in my life. Besides he's funny and honest and creative, boyish at times, and good looking.
We took a new to us route down...or at least that was how we started out. We got lost. Of course we did. We always seem to get lost somehow. This time it was clearly not our fault. The road simply ended. I mean it. Across from us was a winding single lane. There were no road signs to indicate where we should go. The only signage was for the road that ran east to west in front of us and it was not even on our set of directions at all. John said he'd juts turn east and we'd see what happened. It was a safe enough move, since we knew were meant to go to the east coast. Within two blocks we saw a familiar highway number and turned down that road. Was it a road we were meant to be on? Nope. Not on that particular set of directions at all. However, it was familiar, so we got on it and stuck to it and we ended up going along the way we'd normally have gone after a bit of a scenic detour. The time we were meant to save going the other route was lost. We got in about dark.
On our way home we took another route home. This one was completely new to us. It wasn't a bad way to travel. It was not as short as the directions claimed however. It said we'd be home in 6 hours. After driving 5 1/2 hours we reached Sam and Bess' town. John had called ahead to insure we were welcome to stop overnight. That was a nice little detour and most welcome. I held the baby and played with Josh and talked with Bess and slept like a rock all night long. Which was much needed because our bed at the condo was not a good one!
We got up early the next morning and drove the 3 1/2 hours home which seemed a breeze after our travels the day before.
I personally loved that last route, not just because it took us to our son's home. It ran along an old Florida highway with loads of little motor courts at roadside. Fruit stands were filled with fresh vegetables and supposedly peaches, but I confess I didn't see peach number one at any of them. I saw citrus and watermelons and corn and squash and tomatoes but no peaches. There were lots of little towns along the way, some larger than others, some nice, some not. So yes, it was an interesting, if very long, drive.
Saturday was Taylor's birthday. Much as I'd wanted to be with her for her second birthday I was too far away to make it. There are things to love about technology today for all we decry modern conveniences at times. I was able to call Taylor and wish her a happy birthday. Katie sent us a video of her sitting before her cake, eyes shining and a lovely happy smile on her face as they sang to her. I got pictures of her eating her bowl of cake and ice cream and saw her as she went out to play in the yard. It wasn't the same as being there but it was better than missing it entirely.
Sunday marked the second anniversary of my long hospital stay two years ago with pulmonary embolisms. John accused me of being somber that day and I was. I feel very much that the date is one of those new year moments when one should stop and access where you are and whether or not you are who you should be, if life has been used wisely and well. I had determined that certain changes had to take place in my life and some of them were hard emotional changes. Some of those changes generated more than a change in attitude. Things were loosed, and there's really no better way of putting it than that. I had to distance myself from people who were repeatedly hurtful. I had to re-determine my priorities. Had I do to it all over again, I'd do the same as I did then. If I could change one thing now it would be to make good on my desire to spend more time with my family. I am hindered in part by John.
John is a lovely caring man. He is also very protective and sheltering. This is lovely in some ways. It's very frustrating to me in others. He doesn't have the physical time or energy to visit our children frequently. He refuses to consider that I might drive the distance to visit with them myself. We butt heads on this all of the time. I do give in to his wishes because frankly he is a nervous wreck until I am again home safely. I am not a careless driver. He is not concerned that I will do myself harm. But he is convinced somehow that only he can keep me safe. This is not a new concern on his part. He used to insist that one of the children go with me everywhere I went. It didn't matter if they didn't want to go somebody had to travel with me, even into town. He has this theory that there is safety in numbers.
I remind him frequently that these days of being able to visit are fleeting. They are fleeting because the grandchildren will grow and go to school. They will get involved with sports and clubs and friends and schedules will clash. I remind him of this but it doesn't make a dint. So yes, there are things I'd change if I could.
I was amused when we returned home. I stood in the living room Monday morning and looked about it and looked long at the kitchen, then I smiled. I love the colors I've used in decorating our home. They make me feel calm and soothed and Monday I realized why. They are beach colors. I might not have set out to decorate our home in a beach-y theme, but I managed to get all the colors we see at Anastasia Island tied into my home: greyed browns, blues, greens, aqua, white and browns. No wonder I feel so at home here. I've unwittingly turned it into my dream beach home!
Coming home was hard in a way. I think partly because we never really get to stay long enough in St. Augustine to actually get homesick, at least I don't. John gets anxious to get home and insure that all is well but I don't worry over that sort of thing. And it wasn't the dread of routine. I finally realized mid-week why I wasn't looking forward to coming home. Community. We have no sense of community here. We've lived in this place now for 21 years and we are no more a part of the community than when we first moved here. It's partly due to the face we've always attended church elsewhere and work has always been elsewhere, too. We can count on two hands the number of people we've known in all these years and sad to say, they were just acquaintances.
It doesn't help that my brother is well known in our community. He's liked by some and tolerated by others. To a person when someone realizes I am his sister the first comment is always "I never knew he had a sister!" And lest you think it's just him, I get the same thing about my mom. "I never knew she had a daughter!" Considering how small a town we live in it's a little hard to swallow at times. Then again, I suppose it's a good thing to be so low on the social radar!
We did have that sense of community in our previous home. I was known in the community, in local churches, in businesses, in the schools. People knew us, they knew our exes and our children and who our friends were. No matter how involved I've been in this place, there's a strong sense of being outside looking in. I was thinking about this as we drove home Memorial Day from the next town. I could still name the folks Granny knew in the houses along the highway, though many of them must now be dead. Names I'd grown up hearing and knew as well as hers and my own. I know the past of this community but I do not know the present.
I don't have any real desire to go back to the county we moved from. It's a dying community, not vital and strong as it was when we left. But I do long for a somewhere that will feel like we belong. No clue where that might be. I'm not going to allow myself to get depressed and whiny over it because here is where God placed us. We were looking for one acre, and we have nine. We were looking for a place where we could be near family and for a season we were physically nearer. That they are all now dead, or moved, and that the emotional distance was never covered is another story.
That's not to say I dislike my home. I loved this land as a little girl and I've loved it as a woman. I was glad to raise my children here. I love our home and am intent on making it a haven that embodies all the things I love best. So you see I'm not completely dissatisfied but I do at times feel...trapped. I don't know how else to put it. I realize that is not a very happy thing to say. John was shocked when I shared it with him the other day as we discussed this. I assured him I was not unhappy. I mean it in the sense that I am unable to move from here. It's not financial. It's just that we haven't been called to go anywhere else. I would never have said I was the restless sort, but I do feel restless. Yes, I know that for now, we're halfway between Katie and Sam and that part is ideal. Not exactly near to either one. It's 2 1/2 hours to Katie and 3 1/2 hours to Sam but nearer than we are to any of the others.
All that said, I am determined to continue work on this house. So I've been mentally planning how I want the front yard to look. I have PLANS and then I have a real plan which looks more like the budget I'll be working within. Isn't that about the way things work?
I realized long ago that while I love the idea of a cottage garden, my eyes see it as a visual mess. I like old fashioned flowers but I like trim lines and open space in my flowerbeds. I've done well with that in the areas I've worked with thus far. I just need to move ahead and do the same with the rest of the areas about the house.
Well, it's time for me to finish this up. I set the date for my Jamberry party. It will be June 19 - 23. Karla has said she'd like to join in and if anyone else would like to do so I will be happy to add you to my list of people to be invited. Talk to you all later!