Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


Happy Valentine’s Day

floatondowntheriverI love the water.  Always have.  There’s something healing, something soothing, something so peaceful about it.  It makes me feel at one with nature and the universe.  That’s about as spiritual as it gets for me.

For Valentine’s Day, instead of swapping cheesy cards and overpriced flowers, TheBrit and I decided to have an experience.  We finally got to go on a kayaking trip a couple of weekends ago.

It was the perfect day for it, too.  It was breezy and sunny.  Not too hot.

As we paddled along the seven-mile course sounds of the kayaks and the oars gliding through the water ran through me and I felt so relaxed, so mellow, so at ease. It is truly medicinal.

Turtles were on nearly every log and every rock we passed by, stretching their necks and their legs as far as possible to soak up the warm sun.

fishingsunningturtlesGoing on down the river a bit we saw a hawk soaring overhead.  I turned my kayak to try to get a shot of this magnificent creature as he lit and perched on a branch nearby.

hawkhawk2Later, as I dangled my feet over the sides to do as the turtles had done, stretching myself to soak up the warmth of the sun, this damsel fly hitched a ride on my foot.

damselHe rode for quite a ways.  Then a green-eyed dragon fly decided to join the cruise.


A damsel in distress!

The dragon fly decided it was lunch time and made a meal of the damsel. I watched with intrigue as the dragon fly started with the head and ate the whole thing.  Then he eyed me!

dragonfly2dragonfly3I wasn’t entirely sure the damsel wasn’t just an appetizer and he was sizing me up for the main course.  I guess he decided he couldn’t take me and eventually buzzed away.

We completed the journey by docking at a crystal clear natural spring filled with children splashing and laughing.


427I love the water.  Always have.  Happy Valentine’s Day, MyBrit.


She Sips Stella by the Sea


DSCF1391Last week I took a couple of days off to spend with The Tour Guide.  On his suggestion we got up Tuesday morning and struck out for Jacksonville Beach.  Also on his suggestion we took the girls.

They slept most of the two-hour drive there and when we arrived at around 11 a.m. just about all the shops and restaurants were closed.  It’s the off season, I guess, though it’s still fairly warm here.

Though I had read online that Jacksonville Beach is dog-friendly there were signs posted everywhere saying no dogs between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.  What to do?

We strolled down the sidewalk near the shops and restaurants and found one that was open.  Well, it wasn’t open yet, but the man who was sweeping the alfresco dining area invited us in – dogs, too.  I was pleasantly surprised at how accommodating they were.

With a thick accent I didn’t recognize he said we could sit anywhere we wanted in their outdoor dining area and then he disappeared. There was no one else there.  We were their only patrons.

A few minutes later he resurfaced carrying a metal bowl filled with ice water for the girls.  Moments later a server appeared and took our order.  We ordered what we wanted and then I asked for a hamburger to split between Dottie and Miss Sara.  “Sure, no problem,”  she said.  Our meal came out complete with two doggie boxes for them to eat out of.  Dottie and Miss Sara scarfed down their burger, which had been prepared sans bun, while we sipped on our pitcher of Stella and ate our Gyros.

When we asked our server about a place on the beach we could carry our dogs she said we should just ignore the signs.  “Nobody pays attention to that.  There are always dogs on the beach,” we were assured. With that advice we paid our bill, gave her a nice tip, left caution to the wind, and headed over the boardwalk to the sugar white sand.

It was the girls’ first trip to the beach and they didn’t quite know what to make of it at first. They were confused as to why they were chasing the water one minute and the next the water was chasing them.  Miss Sara recoiled from the chasing waves.  Dottie pawed at them for a bit. Then I took their leads and we ran out as the waves retreated into the ocean and ran back to the shore when the waves chased us back.


I think they had a pretty good time.  I know The Tour Guide and I did!

DSCF1374We could see the rain coming in from the ocean so we headed back to the car.  The deluge came just as we fastened our seatbelts.  Great timing!  And the cute cuddly dogs slept all the way home.


Another Day Older

DSCF1288I woke up yesterday morning and made the sleepy descent from my bed to the living room where I found this lovely vase with those strangely died mums(?) on the kitchen counter and a card propped up next to it.  TheBrit can be so sappy.  I love that man.  I would’ve taken a picture of them there, on the counter, but…well…I live in my house.

I added a number to the times I’m holding onto thirty-nine.  I’m not saying how many numbers I’ve added.  It doesn’t really bother me, though.  When we were out to a fabulous dinner with friends and family last night one of them asked if this made thirty-seven. Ha!  Somewhere slightly north of there.

My brother-in-law, who knows very well many this makes, told my six-year-old nephew to ask me.  As if that were a dig.  I proudly announced how many this makes.  Bring ’em on, I say!  Bring ’em on!  If I stop having them it’s gonna mean I had a really bad day.  Really.Bad. So keep ’em comin’!

I’ve really had a month-long celebration.  ‘Cause that’s just how I roll! Seriously, TheBrit had a fantastic idea for a birthday present.  I couldn’t be happier with what I got.  So we went together to pick it out.



Give me food because I’m cute!


Meet Miss Sara.  We went to the local animal shelter to find her. She was listed as a Boxer/Beagle mix and was only a few days away from her limit at the shelter.  Isn’t she the cutest thing?  And she’s the perfect companion to Dottie.


I haven’t had my coffee yet – don’t eff with me!

Dottie had been with other dogs, best as I can tell, her whole life.  Her foster family had other dogs and she missed having a companion.  She was kind of sad.  So I had to get a dog for my…dog.  Having another dog around has helped Dottie to come out of her shell some, too.  It’s obvious her first owner either abused her or allowed her to be abused.  She’s still a tiny bit skittish if we walk directly toward her head-on, but other than that she’s golden.  Dottie has mellowed out so much and I don’t think she’s done.  She loves TheBrit to pieces now, which we were unsure about her coming around to.  She got a bit jealous of the new girl and decided to join in on the lovefest! 🙂

Happy Birthday to me!  Four legged friends make me happy.

I can’t leave you without a song, though.  Here’s my birthday theme song for this year:





How to Handle a Snake

oak.snakeYesterday, as Dottie was giving me my afternoon walk, we came upon one of these. It’s an Oak snake – not poisonous.  I saw it before she did – when we were a good fifteen feet away from it – so I proceeded to guide her to the other side of the street.  About the time I started to pull her that way the snake saw us.  It raise it’s head up and coiled a bit.  Dottie staged a sit in and began to whine when the snake slithered away and I didn’t let her follow.

“Come on, Dottie,” I called to her.  Hesitatingly, she did, stopping every few seconds to turn around and get another look.

I don’t like snakes.  There a various and sundry theories of how to tell a poisonous[scary] snake from a non-poisonous[good] snake.  Most of them involve getting close enough to see the size and shape of it’s head.  I’m not interested unless I have some killing tool in my hand.  I didn’t have any such tool at my disposal at the time.

TheBrit likes the live and let live approach.  He’d get close enough to see whether he thinks it’s poisonous or not.  Either way he wouldn’t kill it unless he felt threatened.  My feelings on the matter are that the only good snake is a dead one, but I haven’t had to kill many.

“If it’s not hurting me I’m not going to kill it,” he says.

“That snake might not hurt me, but it will damn sure make me hurt myself!” I say.

That wasn’t the first snake of the day.  Dottie and I encountered a much smaller one on our morning walk.  It’s hot here and the snakes are on the move.

So are the alligators.  We live in a neighborhood situated between several large lakes and they move from one to another.  Dottie would be a small snack for one of those things.   A neighbor down the street has lost two dogs to alligators.  Her house backs up to the lake.  Mine doesn’t. I’m good with that.  Thankfully I haven’t seen one and hopefully I won’t.

I’m reticent about letting Dottie just go trudging into the shrubbery because of the aforementioned snakes and alligators but last night on our night-time walk she poked her head into the shrubs and flushed out a baby opossum. Adult opossums are kind of…unattractive. But the baby ones are sort of cute(ish).

baby possumDottie was ready to play.  She hopped over to the baby opossum and started to bark.  The baby opossum did what baby opossums do.  It played dead. Didn’t move a muscle.  Dottie barked, and growled, and howled. Still no movement. Yawn.  It’s not much fun to play with something that won’t play back.


Let Me Tell You a Secret

I’m fairly introverted.  Most people don’t hear a lot about my personal life.  I can easily connect with people on a superficial level, talk about the weather, and I love to hear their stories.  I want to know what makes a person who they are. On the other hand, I don’t give that information out so readily in person.  I’ve written a fair amount about the personal, intimate details of my life here somewhat anonymously.  Things that are difficult for me to say out loud I’m far more comfortable putting down on paper.

My best friend knows I’m quirky, all my deep, dark secrets, that I’m a morning person and he’s not, that I’m grouchy and stupid when I’m tired, that I’m stubborn as a mule, that I can be annoying when he’s tired. I want to talk when he wants to be quiet.  I want to be quiet when he wants to talk. I really can be kind of a pain in the ass.  He knows what I look like with morning hair and no make-up and that I dress like a hobo when I’m bumming around on Saturday.

He works hard, long hours but he also knows how to let his hair down and have a good time.  He’s genuine and real.  He has flaws and quirks of his own and doesn’t mind saying so.  He’s smart, he’s funny, he’s handsome, and he’s sexy as hell.  He’s strong and he’s weak. He’s gentle and rough. He teaches me things about myself and challenges my thinking.  He’s changed me in ways he can’t possibly know without even trying to.  He has no idea that when he took that tiny spider outside instead of squashing it, like I would have, it made me love him more. I watch him when he’s concentrating really hard and he purses his lips and has to hold his mouth just right.  It’s unconscious  to him and adorable to me.  He lifts me up and supports me in everything I do, always encouraging along the way.

There’s a saying that the only three things a man should want to change about a woman is her last name, address, and her viewpoint on men.  Two out of three ain’t bad.  You see, I get to be married to my best friend.  He knows all my faults and foibles and loves me anyway.  To be fully known and loved anyway is to be fully loved.  I’m not one who believes people are born to be together.  For me it’s better to be wanted than needed.  I’ll take that any day of the week.  I choose him and he chooses me.




ImageI do prefer playing in the dirt to just about any girly kind of thing.  Spending two hours in a chair getting my hair did and paying upwards of a hundred dollars to do it seems like a total waste to me – of time and money.  I can find a lot of more fun and productive ways to spend those resources.  But I do like to get a pedicure.  I’m not worried about a manicure.  It never lasts very long, I can’t stand chipped nail polish, and I use my fingernails like tools.  But a pedicure; that’s a different story.  It’s not even about the toenail polish.  Keep it.  Just let me soak my tired old dogs in that hot water and give me that massage and wrap my legs in those moist, steamy, towels.  That’s what I’m paying for. It’s so relaxing.  I don’t let my stress out of my body.  I hold it all in so I’ll take a massage any day of the week.

I only do this every once in a while as a treat and I usually do this with a friend because we can engage in some girl talk while we drink our wine and get our tootsies all pampered up.  It’s a whole thing – the experience.  So a few weeks ago when my friend called me up and asked me to go I said, “What time?”  It had been a while since I’d indulged myself in this kind of luxury so I was all in.

We’d gotten our pedicures and sat in the drying chairs and because we hadn’t gotten together in quite a long time we got lost in conversation.  We talked about everything from the kids she’s fostering to our jobs to our husbands to our daydreams of giving up the ball and chain of the timeclock in favor of some ridiculous form of self-employment that allows us to simultaneously earn loads of money while laying on a beach sipping Mai Tais brought to us on silver platters.

My phone rang and as I looked down at the number I could feel the panic rising. My heart was pounding and I could feel the perspiration creeping up my back.  My mind raced.  Trying to maintain my composure and hide my panic from my friend, I answer the phone.  “Hey, whatcha doin’? Are you on your way home?”, came the voice of Lanky Brit on the other end.  “No, we got caught up talkin’.  I’ll be home in about thirty minutes, though.”  In his usually pleasant cheery voice he says, “No worries, just don’t forget about the cat food.  See ya soon.”

My friend and I wrap up our conversation and I head into the grocery store next door.  Still panicked I practically run through the grocery store to grab what I need. Scanning all the checkouts I pick the shortest line.  Yes!  It only has one person in it.  Price check!  I stand there as patiently impatient as possible, now sweating.  What kind of greeting will I get when I get home?  Will I get a greeting at all?  Am I going to get yelled at for being an hour later than I said I might be?  Will I get the silent treatment for three days? Will I say the wrong thing?  Will I look the wrong way?  Will this get ugly?

Finally the person in front of me is finished and I step up to the cashier.  She’s pleasant and friendly.  Too friendly for a bag of cat food.  I’m pleasant in return but in my head I’m thinking, “yeah, yeah, just ring up the damn food, I  don’t have time for conversation”.  I’m acting like a crazy person. If he’s pissed he’s already pissed and making myself crazy isn’t going to change that. Still, I rush to my car and speed away.

I head down the highway speeding home to try to minimize the lateness as if that will make any difference whatsoever.  I go over what I’m going to say when I get home. “I’m sorry I’m late, I know I told you I’d be home around seven.  We haven’t seen each other for a while so we had a lot of catching up to do.  We didn’t realize it was already seven-thirty when the phone rang.”  My mind is going ninety-to-nothing.

I arrive home, take a few deep breaths, try to calm myself, and hurry in the door.  He meets me at the door, wraps his arms around me, and says, “Hey, I missed you today.  Let me see your toes. Ooh, red.  Those look great.  Tea’s ready, let’s eat.  I’m glad you’re home.”

Tears fill my eyes, I am undone, and he has absolutely no idea why.

Sometimes it’s hard to leave the past where it belongs.  When I don’t he reminds me why my present is so much better.




It’s been a while since I’ve been here.  Writing.  And I can’t stop long now.  I’ll be back though.  That picture up there pretty much tells the story.  That’s me with my hands up, screaming.

I came back to this blog and, to be honest, don’t like what I see.  Nah, it’s got nothing to do with page views or comments or stats of any kind.  Nope.  It’s more about the content.  Wow.  Really?  When did I get so whiny?  That’s not me.  I’m really not a whiner.  I’m more of a glass-half-full girl.  I like the silver lining.   Though, I think all that whining served a purpose though. I did have to work my way through a.lot.of.crap.

I’m sure I’ll still be exploring Christianity here.  But I think I’ve sort of detached from the aspects that made me so emotional about it to begin with.  That’s it!  I’m less emotional about it all.  That doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings about it, but I think I can be more rational.  Yes, I admit it.  I went through a stage where I was, well, less than rational.  Gah! I hate having to say that.

Anyway, for now I’m stuck on this roller coaster.  Not the bad kind.  The good, throw your hands in the air, close your eyes, and enjoy the ride kind.  I’m tired.  I’ll probably throw up when it stops.  Did that sound whiny?

Wheee!  It’s so much fun though!  See?  Silver lining.



Where Did it All Go?


“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?”   – Henry David Thoreau

The time, I mean.  I seriously have no idea where it went.  I came here on November 3 of 2012 to dish on my marriage to my Englishman thinking I’d get back a few days later with some serious topics and now it’s…well…now!

I’ve been rather busy with family, friends, and work.  Right after The Tour Guide got here I picked up a new client that provided a lot of work on top of my full time job and then I picked up another.  So that’s all going really well and I’ve gotten their books all caught up and I’m on top of that.

Oh, and friends!  TTG and I have met some really cool people through my sister and her fiance.  They don’t care about religious affiliations.  We just get together, have a few drinks, throw darts, play cornhole and frisbee and have a really great time.  Sometimes religion or politics comes up and there’s pretty diverse viewpoints on it.  But we can talk about it, live and let live, and walk away with nobody upset, angry or with their feelings hurt.  And the best part is I’ve gotten to hang out with my sister as my friend.  She’s pretty darned cool and so is her fiance.

Then Christmas rolled around and I decided that I’d make Christmas stockings and fill them with homemade goodies.  So I got busy making homemade hot chocolate mix, marshmallows, peppermint bark. I also made homemade breads, biscotti,pork and poultry rubs, and anything else I could find on Pinterest to give as gifts.

Whew!  There!  The holidays are over and things are finally getting back to normal around here, whatever that is.

Anyway I’ve got ideas and starts to several posts that I’ll be getting up in the next few days or weeks or whatever. I have gotten around to reading quite a few of your posts, though, so I’ve been keeping up with you guys.  I’ve missed blogging but I’ve been so busy having a life and enjoying it I haven’t had time to stop long enough to finish a post.

Here’s to living! Cheers!