Sunday, July 24, 2005

EEEEEEEE, UUUUUUUUU, KKKKKKRRRRR

For the record, I'd like to say: I HATE DIAL-UP INTERNET! Guess I'll have to change that.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Things That Can Bump You in the Dark...

Eastern Pipistrelle Bat
Eastern Pipistrelle Bat,
originally uploaded by QuirkyKitschGirl.
...or get caught in your hair. Stay tuned, posting coming soon!

Stalactites Hang Down...

Stay tuned, posting to come along soon!

Friday, July 22, 2005

UPDATED Nov. 6, 2005: Bogging Through Apalachicola National Forest

Knee-deep in the watery bog of Apalachicola National Forest, I took a step back to comfort myself against a cypress tree. "Do you know what you did not do? My tall, lanky photography instructor asked. "ou did not look for water moccasins, he scolded.

Not only had I had gotten up at o-dark-thirty on a precious Sunday morning, I was now in the middle of a venomous snake-invested bog somewhere in Florida's wilderness and could be left for dead because I did not listen to what I was instructed. I squeaked out an, "Oops! Thanks for the reminder,"and allowed instructor Dr. Thomas Eads, of Apalachecology Photo Tours, to lead the way to the next Kodak moment.

Cameras dangled from our necks and tripods doubled as walking sticks as we slowly trudged through the tea-colored water. Dutifully, I remembered to always make sure my back foot was anchored before shifting my weight to my front foot, in case I stepped into a sink hole. "How many snakes have you seen here?" I hesitantly asked.

"Well, just one so far. It swam into my buddy's leg, bounced off and kept on swimming,"he casually replied.

This was good news for me and I reasoned that my odds of surviving this trip were pretty good. The chances seemed minimal of being bitten, let alone, seeing one of these dark creatures.

Having lived in Tallahassee just under a month, I was trying to take in as much as I could. Clyde Butcher is a landscape photographer whom I admire and have always heard of his photography classes through the Everglades' waters. Tallahassee-photographer Tom Eads offers a similar program.

Not only did I get to see a whole new world through the camera lense, Dr. Tom introduced me to his. With a background in biology (a doctorate, to be exact) and passion for the environment, this was no ordinary photography trip. As we cautiously walked through the bogs of the forest, he pointed out the small critters in the big ecosystem around us. He said, "it's not about saving the fuzzy, white squirel. When the fuzzy, white squirel is doing well, the surrounding environment is doing well," which indicates a healthy situation for humans.

We had briefly stopped to photograph some pitcher plants when I looked down to see a small, brown frog. Minnows swam by the frog and a half-dozen different plants surrounded the frog. All in a square-foot of land. Our photography also included capturing the colors of various Florida wildflowers and tall, stoic trees. The experience changed the phrase, "see the forest for the trees."

Friday Night and I'm Behind a Computer

Yes, I know it's Friday night and I'm behind a computer. And for now, that's OK with me. I think my college years did me in on Friday nights. Way back when, my Friday's began with 5 o'clock Happy Hour (for the free "meal") and went until the bars closed at 2 a.m. (Sometimes the weekends began on Thursdays).

These days, I'm very much a content introvert, which is ironic, considering I have a job in sales. People who know me find it hard to believe when I tell them this, but every time I interact with people, especially new people, I'm doing it out of my comfort zone. I like being around people and have a good network of friends, I just like to be the one "choosing" the interaction. With that said...

Tomorrow me and one of the gals from work are going to Florida Caverns State Park. First, I'm just amazed that Florida HAS caves!! CAVES in Florida!! With a background in geology, you know I'm just in Heaven. There is so much to discover in this state and I consider everything I'm doing as research for my online guidebook (which I should be working on now; along with some stories which are due to the editor at the end of the week *sigh* procrastination).

Second, when I told the office what I did last weekend (which I still need to post) they thought it was so cool. When asked who I went with and I replied, "just me." Everyone said "awwww." One person said she felt sorry for me! I asked, "why? I can definitely keep myself entertained." But, almost everyone decided that they need to ask me about the cool stuff to do in the area and tag along.

When I was asked what I was going to do tomorrow, I got the "cool" responses again and invited anyone who wanted to come along. So tomorrow, another adventure awaits as I go spelunking.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Blue in Tallahassee? Unheard of!

Stick or Insect?
Stick or Insect?,
originally uploaded by QuirkyKitschGirl.
Sports fans know that the two major Florida colleges are rivals: Florida State University(Tallahassee; colors: garnet and gold) and University of Florida (Gainesville; colors: blue and orange). That being understood, one knows that blue is not a popular color here in Tallahassee...

I went blueberry picking today - it was very cool! Well, it was actually very hot, but I'm so glad I went out and did this. Drove about 20 miles outside of town to a little blueberry farm. It's an honor system where the farmer has one-gallon buckets and bags available for picking. When done, you drop your money in a wooden bird house. At $8 per gallon, I couldn't go wrong!

I'm now faced with the dilemma of what to do with two gallons of blueberries. I had fantasies of making jam but that's not going to happen until my first paycheck. My friend ZeldaMae suggested blueberry pancakes or muffins. Pancakes I can handle, through them in the Bisquick mix. But muffins, that's a little too adventurous for me right now.

I am freezing them (yes, I know to freeze them on a pan then into a bag) for the day I get my canning supplies. Guess what everyone's getting for Christmas????

Separated in the Creative Department

I don't know what prompted me to think of this but out of the blue one day, I decided that the logo for Hardee's Restaurant is very similar to the US Army logo. Granted, the Army logo doesn't have a smiling face and a star is a star is a star. Despite this, I'm convinced it's some sort of intentional coincidence - the US Army recruiters conspired with Hardee's marketing executives to create similar logos. Then, children growing up and eating at Hardee's will subliminally make the connection with the military when they grow older and be drawn to serve. Take a look at the logos by following the links:

Hardee's
US Army

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Houseguests

100_3084
100_3084,
originally uploaded by QuirkyKitschGirl.
Here I am with Matt-A and Kathy, my first visitors in Tallahassee.

40's Coming Down the Pike

I'm barely getting over the fact that I turned 35 this past May so you can imagine my shock when my school friend Annette suggested last weekend that we plan a trip to Italy in celebration of our 40th birthdays.

Let me take you back a couple of years. I was on a sales mission with some members of the tourism industry up in Toronto. At midnight, the "young kids" (some mid-twenty-somethings) invited me to go dancing with them. I looked (and felt) like a slob but went any way. (I know they really wanted a DD).

The drinking age in Canada is 19 - it was 19 when I was 19 and there were many times when friends and I crossed the border for some adult beverages. I digress...

We found a club in downtown Toronto, paid our $10 US to park, coat checked our outer wear and I have never felt so old in my life. Here I was, 33 years old surrounded by barely 19 year olds. But, I decided to dance with my friends. After being on the dance floor for about 15 minutes, I hear some "kid" yell, "oh my god! There's a 40-year-old on the floor!" Imagine my horror that my insecurities were realized. Fight and flight mode kicked in and I replied, "oh, my dear, you're too kind. I'm actually 50."

And so Annette wants to go to Italy in 2008. It's a place I really haven't considered, but Pompeii is there, it would be cool to have a viewing with the Pope and MAYBE I'll get a chance to utilize my three years of Latin. Let the planning begin!

Thoughts for a Thursday

Ugh! I feel so bloated! I think last weekend's binge of eating has caught up with me. In 3 days, I think I've regained the 40 pounds I've lost over the past few years. Physical activity is on this weekend's agenda.

Received an email from my mom, she's concerned she and my family are included as the "innocent" I mentioned in my previous post. Sorry, you and Dad aren't, but give me some time. She also wrote that my grandma one-upped me on my Buffalo Airport experience. She and my mom had to evacuate the building in order for bomb sniffing dogs could investigate a suspicious package. When all was clear, everyone lost their line in security and it was more of a nightmare than Monday's line. Alas, Grandma made it back to Florida.

Had my first official overnight visitors yesterday. My friend Kathy and her husband Matt were passing through on their way home from a visit to Denver. It was good to see the two of them. As always, the visit was too short.

I saw a car mechanic riding his bike yesterday morning. Is it a bad sign when the car mechanic rides a bike? I can only imagine that his car wouldn't start for his morning shift and he had to peddle it to work.

One more day for both Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and Harry Potter!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Quarters, Dimes, Nickels & Pennies: Change is Good

As I was rummaging through my car this evening to find enough quarters for laundry, I realized how I am able adapt to different situations. Having been aware of my financial debts and having a goal of being debt-free within the next couple of years, I'm being more financially responsible, so to say. I'm excited about 50% off Mondays at Goodwill, packing a PB&J to lunch each day vs. going out (like I used to) and finally listening to my father when he said, "turn off the lights."

I'm not giving up on all of my vices and luxuries, but I want to treat them as that. We've become such an indispensable society. I don't know of any other society that has so much "stuff" for consumers to buy and people have so much "stuff." I'm guilty of having "stuff" and purged a lot of it during a garage sale a few months back. Rummaging through flea markets I see people's "stuff" for sale and think, "what ever possessed them to purchase that to begin with?" I think about when I die, I'm going to be leaving "stuff" behind and what is going to happen to it? Will some one care for it and admire it as I had? Probably not.

Today was the first full-day of my new job. I love it and can't believe that I've been so lucky to land a position with this company. Everyone smiles around the office and are genuinely happy - I don't think any Koolaid has been involved.

Tonight was the second belly dance class and my two left feet caught up with me. Oh, well. It's all in the moves.

Monday, July 11, 2005

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been

It's been a while since my last post and so you're going to have to deal with me going off on all sorts of tangents.

Let's begin here:

Road Warrior: I don't know why my intended quick trips home to Buffalo become extra long weekends. I've been home twice in the past 7 months and twice, I had extremely delayed flights up and flights cancelled on the way back. What made it worse this time is that I was scheduled to start my new job today! But, due to Hurricane Dennis, my flights were cancelled Sunday. Luckily, my new employer was very understanding. My day began at 4:30 a.m. and I eventually made it into the office around 3 p.m. My flight to Atlanta was diverted to Columbia, SC. I hope the airline will give me miles for that extra segment...I never have bad travel juju when I travel for business, only when I go home to Buffalo. What does it mean? That I need to schedule more time at home?

Homecoming: I always have mixed emotions about going home and leaving it. I'm 35, when does the feeling of being 12 ever go away? It's always great to see everyone; see how my siblings, my niece and nephew and childhood friends have grown up; see how the landscaping has matured - especially all those trees my father had planted in the back yard. It was nice to see my parents, too, along with all of my aunts and uncles on my mother's side. And, can't forget Grandma who keeps the whole lot in line! Of course, whenever the family gets together, "it's all about the food." One of my uncles said he fasted all week, knowing what was in store over the weekend. My contribution to Saturday's pig roast included: laying out the tent; inflating air mattresses; filling water balloons; test riding the hay ride and "other duties as assigned." There are stories to share and I have to figure out how to craft them in order to "protect the innocent."

Urban Archeologist: I should have been an archeologist. I spent a few hours digging in the woods, hunting for whatever remnants from the 1940's - 1960's. I found a few cool things including a little tin bowl, fully intact. A treasure I found when growing up in our garden was a ceramic bottle cap from the early 1900's. I love piecing history with "regular" stuff.

Newbie: A few weeks back I had a dream about my first day of work. It went something like those dreams in school where you walk into class and forgot to study for a major exam. My dream went something like not dressing properly, not combing my hair, not having a clue what to do. My nightmare was somewhat realized when I couldn't make it in at 8:00 a.m. today because of my flight! But again, they were very understanding, being road warriors themselves. I felt so welcomed today and really felt that people truly enjoy their jobs with this company. I'm very excited about the road ahead.

Misc:

  • I received the perfect writing lead for me today, "Rack: Women Write About Their Breasts." It's an anthology being published early next year and not intended to be sexual in nature. Every mammal has 'em! Apparently, the editor boasts a 36-D; I think she's met her match!
  • And, one of my favorite artists, Jules Burt, is hosting the perfect hike for divas this September, it's the High Heel Hike, benefiting National Music Foundation. I'm gonna have to clear my calendar and see if I can round up some other girls to partake in this "hike."

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Zill-y Me

OK, anyone who knows me knows I don't have any musical rhythm about me. I can't carry a tune and I can't dance. This fact doesn't prevent me from doing them, I just know I do them really bad.

So tonight, I participated in a Middle Eastern dance class and loved it! I was pretty much able to keep in rhythm with what was going on and didn't look too weird doing so. The instructor definitely made it a fun and educational class, I will be joining next week's class.

In the meantime, I picked up a pair of zills (finger symbols) to practice with, maybe I'll take them to this weekend's reunion, hmmm....

Monday, July 04, 2005

Definition of Independence

Today would have been my 7th wedding anniversary and it's the first anniversary in a long time that I'm truly an independent person again. Yes, I chose to get married on 4th of July; I always wanted a guarantee that there would be fireworks on my anniversary. Actually, I wanted to run off to Las Vegas and get married, since at the time of our engagement, we lived less than a 2-hour drive from there.

Peter isn't a bad person, we just weren't right together. Unfortunately, I got married for the wrong reasons and for other people, and not for myself. That reality hurt everyone involved.

At this point of my life, I don't know if I want to get married again; I would like at least a long-term relationship. Right now, I'm enjoying my space and my independence. Sometimes I think I'm incapable of love - of receiving it or giving it.

I don't remember much about the wedding except that I was running around a lot, playing wedding planner, making sure everything was going OK. Thought I'd share what I do remember:
  • A dog was the best man - fully donned in a tuxedo.
  • It rained and rained and rained - people tell you "oh, it's good luck to rain on your wedding, means you will be wealthy." I think that's something people tell you to try and make you feel better, especially when you have an outdoor wedding. I also think it was one of many signs.
  • The photographer hitting on my wedding party.
  • Trying to use the outhouse with my dress on (OK, I was allowed to use the bathroom in the house and did it as a joke to see if I could do it).
  • Dancing and having my husband say, "I think the bartender is cute, I'm going to ask her to dance." At this point, I knew it was time to leave...
  • My husband passed out on my bed and I flipped out. I was pissed and threatened to have the wedding annulled and spend the night in the hotel room by myself. I remember my mom saying something like, "well, at least you've lived together."
  • Sleeping on my bedroom floor.

Oh, the memories! There were some positive memories made by the people that attended. It was almost like, "this is your life" with people from high school, college, Yellowstone, Death Valley and family were all brought together.

This Independence Day I'm also thinking about the "War on Terror" and the people who are giving so much to secure our liberties. Whether you support the President or not, you need to support the people who are making sacrifices. For those of us on the outside, things seem like a mess. But to those soldiers (literal and figurative), they are seeing the situation from the inside and have committed their lives to protecting our independence.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

How I Didn't Burn My Toe With a Potato

OK, I burnt my big toe on a potato yesterday, here are ways I DID NOT do it:

1. Trying to impress my new neighbors, I used it as a hacky sack to play with the kids.
2. Out of boredom, drop-kicked it to see if I could score 2 points.
3. Always wanting to be part of the circus, I thought juggling potatoes with my feet would get my foot in the door.
4. Preparing for the worse, I was practicing cooking with my feet in case my arms were ever amputated (thanks, Zelda Mae for that one).

In reality, I was cooking with barefeet, went to cut a potato on my plate, the plate slipped and the potato dropped on my foot (although within the 10 second rule, I threw it away, after cursing at it). Moral of the story, always wear closed-toed shoes in the kitchen. OSHA would approve.

The Lay of the Land

There are so many things I SHOULD be doing right now - unpacking, putting things away, (formal) writing, but I'm not. Thought I'd share what I've done over the past couple of days, other than get frustrated with "service providers."

I went to the downtown farmer's market yesterday and signed up for a photo walk through the Apalachicola National Forest. Thought this would be a good way to meet people and get out and do something productive. The hike is two weeks from day. Downside is that the group meets at 6 am and I am not a morning person. I just need to find my camera.

I then took a ride to Havana, Fla. Quaint little downtown area made up of antique shops. Had lunch at a "girly" cafe called Tomato-something and after drinking my sweet tea, took a slice of red velvet cake with me. I've never had red velvet cake and it won't be my choice of desserts again. It's very pretty, though.

Being so close to the Georgia border, I ventured over the line for cheaper gas ($2.11 per gallon) and rode Hwy. 27 north for a while. I should have held out for the $2.06 gas! It was nice to be driving hilly landscape again. The skies opened up to rain and I returned home for more unpacking and laundry.

Tuesday night I plan to take a beginner Middle Eastern Dance class at the Y (yes, belly dancing). Should be fun...

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Service Junkie

Why is that companies feel they should have my business without earning it? Unfortunately, "service" providers (ironic, isn't it?) have little to no regulation which permits them to treat customers as they wish. I'm a customer service, or I prefer to call it guest service, snob. It's the least expensive thing a company can do and goes a long way, especially with big-named companies. For instance, if you stay at a chain hotel in Anytown, USA and have a bad experience, you'll associate that chain hotel with bad experiences anywhere in the country (or world, for that matter).

I specifically don't eat in certain chain restaurants, rent from specific car rental companies or utilize particular banks because of past bad experiences. These companies lost my trust and didn't do anything to correct the situation, nor, did they acknowledge their wrong doing. I don't necessarily believe in "the customer is always right," but I believe in integrity and doing the right thing. At places where I have had a bad experience and it was acknowledged and/or corrected, I do return, because that business regained my trust.

This rant's ignited by my recent dealings with two "service" providers. (Note: The company names have been changed to protect anonymity). The phone company "Spirit" was supposed to hook my phone line to a high speed line. Bottom line, this did not happen how or when they said it would so I decided I could live with AOL dial-up (plus Barnes & Noble is around the corner) and asked the representative to cancel the high speed service. Mind you, I never had the service, I received the modem yesterday and they could not correct the situation within a week. I had to give my reason as to why I wanted to discontinue the service I never had to FIVE "customer service" representatives before they finally said "OK."

Yesterday it was waiting five hours for the "Comthrow" cable guy to show up. After calling "customer service" I learned that he was never scheduled. How can I get back five hours? Maybe I'll invoice them for my time...

Friday, July 01, 2005

Nesting

100_2955
100_2955,
originally uploaded by QuirkyKitschGirl.
Today was my first full day in my new home alone. The cable guy was supposed to be here between 9 - 1 today. I unpacked and put things away and found things to do in order to avoid unpacking. At 12:45 there came a knock on the door and a GORGEOUS basket of house plants were delivered. A "welcome to my new home" from Zelda Mae. So, here is a picture of the plants and a glimpse into the progress I'm making in decorating my new home. Thank you, Zelda!

I ended up calling the cable company at 2 p.m. and seems as though they had no record of a service tech coming out to my place! They allege that someone will be out on Wednesday - maybe I'll just pull a Kramer (from Seinfeld). I had to go to the UPS office, too, to pick up my modem for high speed internet because for some reason when UPS delivered it, they didn't think anyone lived here. After spending a frustrating hour trying to get it to work I finally gave in and called the tech support line (I'm like a guy that way, I don't like reading the instructions and hate asking for directions and help).

Turns out, the phone company hadn't connected the high speed access for the phone line and it should be done by tomorrow afternoon.

I also ventured to WalMart, with intentions of picking up one thing but came out with a basket full of things I didn't realize I needed until I saw them. I did restrain myself when I saw posters from Napoleon Dynomite and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Selfishly, I really love WalMart. Where else can you go to get your car oil changed, hair cut, eye exam, grocery shop, family pictures taken, film developed and shop for those cheap things you didn't realize you needed? Only in America, only in America.

Trionyx ferox

100_2950
100_2950,
originally uploaded by QuirkyKitschGirl.
Just wanted to share this image of a Florida soft-shell turtle, taken in Sarasota the day of the move.