Monday, January 26, 2009

Shaking in My Sneakers

I just couldn't believe that the woman from Focus magazine here wanted to interview me about my art. She cancelled and rescheduled twice and finally on Saturday evening she came to my house because she wanted to see more of my work.

Now I'm still a bit sick to my stomach because I have no idea what I told her. She asked questions for two hours and we talked and I was so comfortable with her. She said it would be a small article about my paintings. We got on the subject of how I started painting and I told her that after my son died, I dreamed over and over again that I could paint him. Recreate him on canvas. I saw every hair on his head as I painted in my dream. It was cathartic and a real gift to be able to see him in that way after he died. Anyway, that is what we talked about mostly after that. She took photos of me with my five brother's charcoals that I did and then she did one of me and the painting I did of Brian and then we went onto the front porch and she took a bazillion it seemed of me with different paintings on the porch. Sigh I wish I had had a recorder so I'd know what I said exactly. When I get on the subject of my son, well, I don't know anything else. I want in all ways to honor Brian when I talk to people about him. I feel it is a gift I am giving if I talk about my son but if I talk to someone who isn't really interested, I feel terrible, like I dishonored my son in some way by talking to someone who really wasn't interested or didn't care. She seemed like she really cared and I went off at the mouth. LOL Of course (DUH) it's her job to care or appear to. She has a son and she got tears in her eyes several times during the interview. I hope she treats it honorably in the paper though. I don't know what that means but I hope I don't feel sick to my stomach after I read it like I do now. I planned to keep the subject on my paintings and in truth I didn't talk as much about my paintings as I did about my son.

I want a playback but I won't be getting it. I didn't ask any questions. I don't know when the article will come out. Bill is right. If someone meets me they know my life within an hour. Two hours, well, it's probably amazing what I can do in two hours. LOL I will let you know when I see it how she treated this piece of my life that is my soul. Jeni is my heart and Brian my soul. I never want to do them harm.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Strawberry Fields

I live in Plant City, Florida. The Winter Strawberry Capital of the World. Riding along the roads here I spot strawberry fields one after another. Pickers picking in some but mostly, the sun is bearing down on the leaves and sweet red fruit and the smell is intoxicating.

I have a poetry blog as well (I'd Like To Say )and here's what I wrote as I thought about Plant City, Strawberries, and how I got here.

Strawberry Fields Forever

The Winter Strawberry Capital of the world
home of the annual Strawberry Festival
strawberry shortcake sold at corner stands
the smell of the berries warmed under the
Florida sun, fresh from the field, taste
of the sweet juicy pulp on my tongue.

I didn't plan on living here, too country for
this country raised - professed city girl but here
I am, loving it all, looking out across our densely
treed front yard, to the comforting sight of cows
and cattle egrets where the orange trees used to thrive.

Home isn't always where you plan to be
some times you end up in a place that
sings to a rhythm you already have and beckons
to you with outstretched arms when you are gone.

Judy Roney

I often write something about this time of year because the last of the oranges are being picked, and Strawberry season is in full swing, Gasparilla events begin, the weather is beautiful, and it all feels a bit like spring fever in the winter.

The Strawberry Festival begins the end of next month (February 26 through March 8, 2009). The festival is quite a big deal for such a small country town and we do enjoy it. Bill and I have a car lot across from the Strawberry Festival and we rarely do any business the days of the festival and that's ok too. We close up the lot (I don't work there but I meet him) and we walk to the parade. They have a lot of really good country singers that we can see for $10 or $15 dollars if we want assigned seats or for nothing if we just sit in the bleachers. Randy Travis, Taylor Swift, George Jones, Brenda Lee, Jeff Foxworthy, Jessica Sympson, Kellie Pickler, The Gatlin Brothers to name some of the talent this year. We always have the huge strawberry shortcakes that Parkesdale Farms offers, along with their strawberry cookies, cakes, pies, etc. and fresh produce and flowers. They make the best if you have the patience to wait your turn.

The festivities surrounding Gasparilla have begun and the actual invasion of Tampa Bay ( on Feb. 7) by those ghastly pirates. The festivities for that begin this week..parties, parades and events that lead up to the grand event on the 7th. Bill and I have deemed ourselves too old for the raucous events and leave it to the young ones now but its still fun hearing about what is happening and living vicariously through those with good knees and the ability to party hardy. We always took the kids when they were growing up and we have wonderful memories of the past invasions. (We, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, invite you to step lively ‘n’ join us as we once again invade the City of Tampa to share our trinkets ‘n’ treasures – a tradition we’ve honored since 1904.
Our band of marauding buccaneers will be settin’ our sails to descend on the City of Tampa in the wee mornin’ hours of Saturday the 7th of February … and we’ll be looking fer you!
Come celebrate the Gasparilla Invasion as we enter Hillsborough Bay in the tall-masted Jose Gasparilla pirate ship (she’s a beauty), with cannons a-boomin’ and flags unfurled.)

In time with the Strawberry Festival I will have my friends from an online writing group, the Skywriters, here with me. This is the group that put out the two poetry anthologies and they are very good and inspirational writers. We encourage and support each others writings and most are published authors now. Well, including our chapbooks, we all are published. We will have our second annual retreat here and I'm looking forward to that. We will spend about five days working hard on writing but we will have a day before and a day afterwards to look around town and check out the Festival before they are on their way to homes across the states.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Bill and I go to the YMCA each day to work out. We entered a contest "Campaign to Maintain" our weight through the holidays. We won third place and received a YMCA towel. The towel isn't important but the fact that we two (old farts) would win third prize. We are still high fiving each other on that accomplishment. They have a sign up now listing the winners on a cork board. Makes me smile. You win by attending (and not gaining weight) and working out for so long when you go. I think these little contests are helpful and spur us on to do better. I wish there were something that would spur us on to eat better now but I don't see that happening. One step at a time I suppose.

My little sister and I are on the newsletter and promotion for the Big Brother/Sister program. I can't wait to show Hanna when I pick her up on Friday. I take her to the YMCA with me when she's not in school and the Y is putting the newsletter up so she will see it when I take her again. She learned how to swim there last summer and that was a real joy to see her learn and the pride she felt when she did. Click here: Big Brothers Big Sisters

My brothers and their wives, and Bill and I are preparing for our trip to Costa Rica. I am only preparing mentally because I don't have a thing packed. There always seems like so much to do. I'll pack this weekend. That's big on my mind though I'm running around like a chicken with its head cut off right now trying to get everything done. This is such a great thing we are doing, traveling together like this I think. We had such a great time in Key West last year and it's a great opportunity to bond and kind of put the world aside while we explore and spend time together in different places. I'm so glad we are doing this. There's so much going on around here right now though, I'm going to need to focus.

We have some sad news. Mike's girlfriend's, mom just passed away and they are up North for the funeral. If you see our Thanksgiving blog, you can see her, Cecelia, in those photos. She had Alzheimer's and was in her 90s but she was so healthy and fit otherwise. She was a card and we enjoyed her so much. I'm so glad she was able to come for Thanksgiving. We had looked forward to getting to know her better and this was sad news for all of us who knew her.

Photo of Cecelia and June in Nov. 2008...

I go to the dentist tomorrow which is something I'm dreading but it will be nice to get my permanent bridge before I go to Costa Rica or somewhere and have the temporary fall out. So, I'll be happy that I'm going. (YIKES)

Now for the good news (I hope). The local news magazine called me this morning and asked if they could do an article on me and my paintings. They will meet me on Friday at the library. I have a painting of Lexi hanging in the library and I guess that is how they decided to do the article. I'm nervous but very excited about that. We'll see how that goes. I had to cancel my lunch with Jeni to go to the library on Friday so they better make it worth my time! LOL

A Love Story

Bill's sister, Linda, dated a man, Ray, for many years when they were young. Everyone thought they would get married. They broke up though and went about their separate lives. Ray married and had children. His wife passed away. This is a movie script written a dozen times so I know you already know the ending. J A couple of years ago, Linda and Ray reunited and it's just a beautiful love story. I wish I had a photo of the two of them together those many years ago when they were childhood sweethearts.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Family Time in Texas

B&W Photo: Pat, Ann, Linda, Theresa, Bill, Susie (missing is Mike) Color: Bill, Susie, Pat, Linda, Ann, and Mike. (missing is Theresa)

Bill's family lives in Texas. We were determined to get home to see his family at least once a year after his sister and my brother passed away. It really made it clear to us how fragile life is. My family is easy enough to see. They live either around here in Florida or close to our place in NC so we are able to see them often.

We failed to keep our pact to see Bill's family this past year and realized that we let life get in the way of what is important. We tried to make up the deficit this past week. This month is my SIL Linda and my BIL Charles' birthday. All the family was gathering to celebrate their birthdays (they really ARE getting old! LOL) and we thought that would be the perfect time to surprise them.

We arrived an hour after the time for all to arrive and we pulled it off. Oh my. I think I'll always remember the looks on their faces and their embraces as they gathered round us there. What a joy it was to see every one. I miss them so much and to see them after a year brings tears to my eyes still.

What a marvelous time we had. The party was at Pat (Bill's sister) and Charles' brand new house that they just moved into last month. It is gorgeous. Pat is an incredible artist and her home is filled with her paintings. Being there is like going through a museum of masterpieces and stopping to absorb each one could take a long time. I promised myself that seeing her paintings and her talent this time would inspire me and not affect my painting negatively. My last visit brought on a six month hiatus from painting because I knew I'd never be that good. Every one has their own style and their own gift though and I don't want to go there again. I'm much more mature this year. LOL Pat made chili and cornbread and we had a German Chocolate cake, plus drinks and appetizers beforehand. Yum! Every one in Bill's family is a good cook. (That includes the guys, so we really luck out there)

I can't express how wonderful it was to see this family that we love so much and see so little of. Bill and I talk about emotional bank accounts and how we and others can put in deposits or withdrawals and you just hope it will equal out. I forgot where we read that. Anyway, we got a huge deposit in our emotional accounts this past weekend. I'm so thankful for them and our time together.

One sad note was the absence of Bill's sister, Theresa. This is the first time we have been at a gathering without her and she leaves a hole in all of us. As I sat and listened to the chatter going on about me I realized that she was there though, just as Mother (Bill's) was; in spirit. Theresa's absence was as huge as every one present and I felt that was Theresa being present. She'll live through each of them as they go on living such a good life each day. I just realized that we did get together one Christmas after Theresa passed away. Oh, well, I'm getting old and I forget. That was the saddest though so it does feel a little more doable now in comparison.

A little about Bill's family so you'll know whose in the pictures, or try to guess. LOL Ann is his oldest sister, married to Bill M. Pat is married to Charles (birthday guy), Al is Theresa's husband, and Linda (birthday girl) is with her boyfriend, Ray. Then Bill R (he's mine), Susie is married to Dan, and Mike is with his LONG time girlfriend, Denise. They all have children and grandchildren that they all adore and the family is getting huge. It's a joy just to see them with their grandchildren. They all have a lot to be proud about.

Al, Charles, Pat, and Bill and I went with Linda to mass that night. It's the first time I have been to mass since Brian died and it was nice going with the family like this. The whole family came over to Linda's afterwards. We had pizza and drinks and lots of catching up and talking about their pasts as well. They are all so funny you get tired cheeks from laughing so much.

We had a wonderful time and we will cherish it until we see them again.

Pictures will be added just as soon as I get them. I forgot my camera this trip and had to get a disposable. I know you other bloggers will find this impossible to believe. It's like leaving my arm or leg behind. I still can't believe I did it but we managed just the same. Then I forgot to get them developed today. (I am noticing a pattern here!) Check back though, they will appear. J

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I had a few rewarding days. Yesterday I spent time with my two friends that were in separate freak accidents that left them at this point going through really rough times just doing simple things. They find themselves in wheelchair and/or walkers and it's quite an adjustment and will take a long time to get back to where they were before their accidents. They live fairly close together so I was able to visit, fix lunch, and straighten up a bit for them. I feel so bad for them both and realize we never know when something might happen to incapacitate us. I'm very thankful for the simple things in life like being able to go to the grocery without having to depend on others. One friend is doing much better than the other and I'm hoping the best for both.

Today I spent most of the day with Hanna, my Little Sister. She actually finished her butterfly painting. It will have this week to completely dry and we will take it to be framed when I pick her up next week. She was happy with her accomplish last week when she came back and she added another butterfly. I always have a problem knowing when I am finished with a painting. I keep going back and making changes. Not Hanna. She said, "I'm finished", washed her hands and that was that. LOL

I also finished my window scene. I will be doing three of windows we saw in Italy and this is the first. We were both pretty proud of ourselves and very happy to sign our names to our work today.

Friday, January 9, 2009

From The Gator Nation

We Won!!! OMG What a game. Final score 24 to 14 against an incredible team, Oklahoma University. What a game!!! Love when this happens. :)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sunday 1-4-09 An Ordinary Day

This has been the longest weekend because it seems like it started on New Year's Eve day and it continues. Bill and I have had more together time than we have had in the last year. LOL Today Sunday, I told him that we could make an ordinary day wonderful in a blog by taking photos. He went along with that (for a while) when we went to a hamburger place we had heard of in Lakeland, Five Guys. The burgers were like home grilled to me and Bill said the fries were wonderful.

Then we walked around Lakeland a bit, hand in hand, like a couple without a worry in the world. We laughed at our ordinary day and how special it was.

Lakeland is known for their (surprise!) Lakes but also their swans on the lakes downtown. They are such fun to watch and they have bike and walk paths around the lake. Sometimes on Bill's birthday when we ask him what he wants, he will say, "I want you to walk around Lake Morton with me".

Another day of perfect weather, a call from our nephew saying he was coming from California to spend some time with us next month. We miss him terribly, so that will be a special treat. This is Kevin, Bill's nephew, who spent a year with us a couple years ago. We enjoyed having him here with us but what we didn't think about is that it made a connection between us that is for life I think. He calls once a week or we call him and it's a great feeling to have that connection. So, that's my ordinary day and here are photos of Five Guys to make it extra special. LOL

Here is a photo of Jeni, me and Kevin at Jeni's house when Kevin lived with us. Bill had us laughing about something here. Kevin got on the phone the other day and was talking about some things he thinks about now that we did and he will start laughing. He and Bill rode motorcycles and I don't want to hear about some of it. They were like two boys seeing what they could find to get into next. They build a repelling wire where they could slide down from a tree and into another for instance. Anyway, it will be fun seeing him again.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Lasts and Firsts

Poetically speaking: I did manage to get two submissions of my poems off before the old year ended. I sent a chapbook submission to Writer's Digest poet, Robert Brewer and some of my poetry with no theme to a publication in North Carolina. I did not set submissions as a goal for last year but I just had such a good feeling to rush those two works off to the powers that be before the year ended. Now looking forward. Still no goals writing wise but I think I should make a belated one that I should at least send some work in to publishers. Getting work ready to send it harder and more time consuming than writing!

Artistically speaking: I did not do anything with my art and this past year and only painted three oils I think. Not a good thing. I wish to do more this year and show more. Bill and I just dropped off four of my paintings at the Medical Arts Center in Walden Lakes and they look pretty darn good if I do say so. I love seeing them displayed like that. I will be showing my art from now until May at different places throughout the city. I like the idea of having my art work there at the Medical Arts center but I hope that they don't make anyone sick. LOL Monday I take one (Lexi) to the Library and it will be there with other art from other artists this month. They get a lot of attention there through the two newspapers and flyers etc so that is a good thing.

SO, I'm trying to be more diligent in this aspect of my work..getting it out there.

Happy 2009

I picked Hanna up (my Little Sister) and took her to the Y with me. She plays there while Bill and I do our work out. We had breakfast at Hanna's favorite place, McDonalds and undid that work on the treadmill that I did! LOL This is where we went our separate ways, Bill to work at the car lot and Hanna and I to work at the house. Hanna wants to enter a new painting in the Strawberry Festival this year so she is working towards that. I was amazed at how pretty her sky and clouds are. She's going to put another butterfly, larger, and then we will find a frame. She put in a lot of work on her project but was unhappy with it. I told her everyone was unhappy with it at first but she is learning so much, like perspective, the small butterfly then a large one and that if she left it along for a week and went back to her she might just be proud of what she did.

I worked a bit more on my painting of one of the windows in Italy and I will hopefully be entering it in the contest as well.

2008 wasn't great but it was good. I'm thankful for that. Now we look forward to 2009 being fine and that is something more doable. J

New Year's Eve Bill and I went to Outback to drink at toast to the coming year and gave 2008 a fine burial. We talked about the high points and then went on to goals for 2009 which we put in writing. We haven't met the New Year head on at midnight in many years and this year was no exception. We went home and were in bed before the festivities even started. We decided to just wake up blissfully into 2009.

New Years day started out with sunshine and cool breezes. We went out to breakfast and then to the new mall in north Tampa, Wiregrass. It's an outdoor mall, more like a Norman Rockwell outdoor scene, and we were correct in thinking it would be a good place to walk around and just hang out on this first day of the year. Bill even accomplished a good dead with a little serendipity there at the mall. While I searched out a 75% off bargain, Bill ran into the fire chief and was able to put in a good plug for a young man who has been trying to get on the fire department for years. It so hard to get on for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is they do very little hiring. Anyway, the young man is really excited about the opportunity and Bill is already feeling good about being able to give him a little help in a very hard system to crack.

We came home to chores around the house and went out once more to the coffee shop to talk some more about life. We are both all talked out. LOL Now all we have to do is put our thoughts into action in 2009.

One very interesting thing is we made contact with an old neighbor and friend, Ed Slingbaum and his daughter, Roci. It was wonderful catching up on the last 10 years or so and reconnecting. They are living in PA around the area that we used to have a place in the Poconos. They said they would visit here and we might go there this summer to check out our old stomping grounds and see them, Eddie's new wife, Roci's husband and two sons. We watched our children grow up together across the street from each other and we often spent holidays together. We celebrated our successes and whined over our rough times and it all brought back some wonderful memories of friendship and people we let slip from our lives.

Happy New Year to each of you who read this. I wish many blessings to you and yours in 2009.