Saturday, April 20, 2024

A Week in the Life Of

close-up of Magnolia next-door

It's been an engrossing week here, but in the process I managed to collect snapshots, "blog fodder," as I like to call them. I'll begin with nature because when it involves flowers, the words flow out of my fingertips easily.

our neighbor's Magnolia tree

The Magnolia's have read the memo, "It's time to bloom!" and they are, all over our community! From a distance the flowers look to me like popcorn on nearly every branch but up close, the milky blooms are large and graceful. They don't last long at all, but even as they are fading, the petals become a pleasing shade of goldy-brown.

Vanity plate at a car show

Not to be outdone by the Magnolia trees, purple-pink field flowers grow wild alongside our North Central Florida highways. They make a carpet of deep blush that softens the reality of our increased traffic. It seems everybody wants to move to Florida! Or I should say, Floridahhh! (I have no picture of them from our moving vehicle.)

glass-topped table on our lanai
overlooking the red Hibiscus bush

We spend some time almost every day on the lanai with our books, puzzles, sometimes music, and just enjoying the peace of this retreat. As I type this afternoon, I am sitting at the table with a fan blowing toward me. We're at just about 90 degrees this afternoon.

car show in Dunnellon

Both last Saturday and again today, we've gone to car shows. These have been our first since trading in the 2002 Ford Thunderbird for a small pick-up truck (2023 Ford Maverick). 

2002 Ford Thunderbird with only 16,000 miles
photo by Terri D of Your Friend From Florida

The truck has been more practical for our needs, but the T-Bird was like a special jewel in our garage. Those who know our story will remember that Gary acquired the car and me the same week, so wonderful memories are wrapped up with that. He likes to say, "I had to get the car to get the girl," which is absolutely not true, but the car did add some fun magic!

brand new Ford Maverick 2023

Yes, we've seen the news story on TV that our truck has yet another recall by Ford. It's the 3rd one since we bought it last fall, so we're not happy about that. 

Gary bought this shirt for me as an early Mother's Day gift. We spent several hours at the Ford dealership getting a recall matter fixed, along with a routine tire rotation and an oil change.

As they say, "I digress." Getting back to the car shows, there's a lot of crazy stuff at these events. But admission is usually free and on a pleasant day, it's good entertainment with plenty of sunshine and free Vitamin D on the skin. Here are some of the wild things we saw today:

Gary knows the makes and years of the majority of what we see, being quite the car buff himself. Me, I just like to tag along and enjoy the time with my fella!

This last vehicle is an Econoline truck similar to what Gary drove in his USAF Air Police days. The ones he drove were dark blue with a red light on top that the fellas dubbed "the bubble gum machine." 

By the way, once a security cop, always a security cop. This man knows the rules and he follows them!

sign is a recent purchase from 
Hobby Lobby with a birthday gift card 😊

Moving to other events of this past week, our kitchen has demanded unplanned attention with a water puddle on the tile floor. To condense the story, the water line to the refrigerator was fine, but something deep inside the inner workings of the 17-year old unit was awry.

out with the old (a Kenmore Elite)

We agreed it was time to shop for a new one. As my late husband liked to say, "Money -- there's more where that went!"

new refrigerator just unpacked from the truck

Gary, who is excellent at product research (he takes a lot of clues from Consumer Reports magazine), narrowed the choices down and we made our final decision with a purchase at Lowe's. 

in with the new! (Whirlpool)

Features I love about this new appliance:
-- the easy-clean stainless steel that accepts refrigerator magnets
-- ice bucket inside the freezer drawer
-- water dispenser inside the refrigerator 
-- deep door pockets
-- freezer drawer below refrigerator

Since it's been my lot in life to move many times, I have definite opinions on refrigerators. When I began cooking in Gary's kitchen I recognized that the refrigerator was not what I would have chosen, but it came with the house when he bought it and at the time it was operating well. Now we have a model we both like and I've added just a few magnets to the door:

Colorado Columbines
skyline of Boise, Idaho
Denver's skyline
Old Faithful
reminder magnet

We don't use ice much, so the ice bucket inside the freezer instead of outside on the door is my preference. I bought a scoop at Walmart and keep it in the bucket. I've done it this way before in a previous house and liked it just fine. There is also an easy-access inside water dispenser.

Gary's decorating style is less "busy" than mine, and that's okay. I've got a box of many more magnets, but these 5 will suffice, representing history from each of us.

my homemade cookbook binder
sits on the counter full-time

Before we leave the subject of the kitchen, we ended up making one more purchase this week -- another refrigerator! Gary's habit is to keep batteries in the fridge so they last longer. Also, when we combined our households, we both had a lot of ice bags of useful sizes that we wanted to keep. Of course all these non-food items take up valuable space! 

retrieving refrigerator 
at Best Buy

An "Insignia" brand, this little cutie fits perfectly at the end of the kitchen counter for easy access AND a little more counter surface when I need it.

Yes, we have two microwaves and they serve us well. 'Nuff said.

Our week also included some medical matters (all routine, all good), calls and an appointment regarding financial matters, walking in our neighborhood as time and weather allowed, and most fun of all, a drive one hour north of here to visit Pam and John. 

Gary met these wonderful people about 18 months ago when their kids accepted into their consignment shop many of the knick-knacks and some furniture from when I was selling my house. Last week Gary told me he wanted us to go see them again, so the four of us met at a small country cafe for a wonderful lunch. 

John and Gary have been employed by the government in law enforcement, so they have that in common. And of course, many of my readers know Pam and I met through our blogs in about 2017. 

The Watchmaker's Daughter
another recent purchase from 
Hobby Lobby with a birthday gift card 😊

As time allowed, I have been entranced with this book on the life of Corrie ten Boom. The movie of her story came out in the mid 1970's but I am only now reading the book. It is hard to put down and full of lessons on good character in the worst of times. I'm not done with it yet but I can sum it up this way:


Lawrence Jones, far left on
Fox & Friends
Another public figure I've come to appreciate of late is Lawrence Jones. In looking him up regarding his faith, I found this quote that spoke well of him, also illustrating feelings many of us have had:

"You start getting tested... For me, the faith walk became real when life became real, and when you're alone and you don't have that support system being with you every single day.

Part of the Gospel itself is understanding that Christ paid it all because I'm imperfect. Anytime that we try to project ourselves as these perfect beings, I think we take His glory away, because .. if we have it all together, then He wouldn't need to pay it all on the cross for our sins."

morning flowers on our golf course

This past week has been full with mostly the requirements of keeping up with life. I thank the Lord for His provisions, protection, and personal relationship with His people. I hope you can say the same.

Until next time, grace and peace.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Snapshots of Goodness and Mercy

 The days come and go, all of them full of graces I recognize and many that I don't even notice. Surely many of my readers will agree this is true of them, too. Yes, there are bumps along the way, but when we trust in the Lord, He helps with that.

daughter-in-law's Peregrina
(also known as Spicy Jatropha)

I'm sharing recent snapshots and resulting observations that design a diary of God's hand upon me with those I love.

Michael, me, and Gary

Since Gary has come into my life, I have more "children." I've gained a couple of sons and their wives, more grandchildren, and in the past 18 months I've become a "step great-grandma" -- three times!!

We have not yet been able to visit the great-grands in person, but one of our sons flew in from Minnesota to see us this past weekend.  It had been a year since the last visit; but the real impetus was so he could check on his dad, post surgery. He came to see for himself that Dad was doing well, and indeed, he is!


We took him to Barberville Yard Art Emporium. It's an interesting destination for out-of-town guests located about an hour's drive east from us. 

Reminiscent of the 1988 movie, Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss, this place sells giant animals, the Statue of Liberty, the Shoney's Big Boy statue, many other animal statues both life-size and smaller, as well as lots of pottery (most with a south-of-the-border theme), benches, fountains, heavy rustic furniture, and more. With that said, we bought nothing but enjoyed the scene and then headed for lunch.

us by the Hwy 40 draw bridge over 
the St Johns River 

Lunch was at Drifters, which is a very casual biker-bar type of place sitting alongside the St. Johns River, just to the side of a draw bridge. 

I've lost count of how many burgers I've had there with visiting family. One of my very favorite things to do in all the world is to eat within view of water. When there is the added attraction of boats and a draw bridge, you'll find me claiming a window seat.

Gary and his son Michael

On another day of his visit, we braved the I-75 and Turnpike traffic into Orlando for a post-op visit for Gary. Michael came away assured that ol' Dad had weathered surgery just fine and is recovering well. 

While the traffic to Orlando was not bad, returning home through Leesburg was a stop 'n go test of patience until we got to our lunch destination at Longhorn Steak House. This was a hearty meal that the re-routing of Gary's digestive system handled very well. That was a true indication of the success of his surgery!

Tony, Gary, Mary, and Bailey

After depositing Michael at the curb at the Tampa airport, we traveled deeper into the metro area to find the home of another son and his wife. Neither of us had been to their house before and what a treat that was!

fountain in back yard corner

As Mary gave us the tour of their back yard, the first topic of conversation was this fountain. Stunning!! And then she flattered me with a question of what I thought she should plant behind the highest point of the rocks, to help obscure the view beyond the fence. While I know much less about such things than she does, I think it was generally agreed that Bamboo would grow fast, fill out, and provide some privacy.

sign at one of the seating areas

Their yard is essentially a long rectangle that parallels the back of the house. The fountain is in one corner and on the opposite end is a covered seating area where, had there been more time, I would have, for sure, "kicked off my shoes."

Their yard is like something out of a "feel good" movie. I loved every detail and the resourceful use of space. I could have spent hours there, had it been practical that day. Mary says she likes to read and pray in the serenity they've created.


Beside the pool and spa we took several snapshots. In this one Gary was giving me his mock frownie face when I told him I didn't want his sun glasses in the pictures.

us again

Although he likes to tease me, I always get his cooperation and this was one of those times.

view of the guys from an upstairs window

The photo session was followed with a tour of the house, which I loved, and then the kids took us to a wonderful diner for brunch. Gary had a traditional pancake and eggs plate while I enjoyed the veggie omelette with sausage and rye toast. All too soon we needed to get back on the road for the 2-hour drive back to our town.

Gary on our back patio

Of course the big news the following day was the eclipse. We didn't get excited about it since our area expected to see only 50 to 60% of the event through some high, thin clouds. I turned on the TV to watch it.

me on the back patio

But then Gary remembered that he had some of the required eclipse glasses tucked away in his office from years ago. He surprised me with them and that's what took us outside to watch. While it was not the stunning event those in the Midwest witnessed (Sister was in Indianapolis!!), it was a marvel to observe even a partial eclipse.

As I close out this post, thoughts about a "blended family" are once again speaking to me. I never thought life would take a turn for me like this, putting me in a place where I get to enjoy not only my own birth children, but also those brought to me in a second marriage. I am blessed with good people in my life. 

Until next time, grace and peace.

Anniversary Celebration on Jekyll Island

Our two-year anniversary celebration took us to Jekyll Island this week. Here is my album of memories. cover of free visitor guide If you do...