Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

April 21, 2016

Long Overdue

Filed under: Travel — Karma @ 9:26 am
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The title of this post has dual meaning. I am long overdue to write a blog post. It has been a wonderful spring with so many enjoyable moments! As I’ve looked around and enjoyed posts from Robin, Dawn, Kathy (welcome back!), Mike, Amy, Gerry and Carol, I get so very inspired to write and then something else takes my attention and I don’t do it. I decided to change that this morning and actually do it, so I started scrolling through the photos on my phone, looking back at the moments I wanted to remember for one reason or another. (Sorry Rebel camera, I have been very bad about picking you up and making use of you lately. I promise to change that soon!) My plan was to write another post similar to the last one I did – a journalish kind of post updating what’s been going on so that I had words to go with my photos. As I scrolled, I realized I had more than enough photos to focus on one very special event, one that was indeed long overdue.

Long time readers will know that my sister Jennifer, our best friend Renae and I have been like the three muskateers for most of our lives – literally we have been friends for 40 years! Since we were 4, 5 and 6 years old respectively. Even though Renae does not live as close to us as we would like any more (she was just down the street as we grew up), we make the time to see each other throughout the year. We have taken girls getaway weekends together. In 2014, we were planning another little trip together to a seaside town in New Hampshire. Then horrific news struck. I think Renae will be okay with me sharing this at this point, as she has gone public with what she has been through on her Facebook page, Renae was diagnosed with breast cancer and discovered she carries the breast cancer gene. A double mastectomy followed, then chemo and radiation. A year from hell. Strong, amazing woman that she is, Renae is doing well and feeling healthy these days and is a strong advocate for research into Stage 4 cancer – the constant fear in the back of any cancer survivor’s mind.

Back when Renae was diagnosed and we had to cancel our girls’ weekend, we promised ourselves that when she was well and ready, we would do a BIG celebratory trip – not somewhere within driving distance, somewhere we would have to get on an airplane together to reach – something we’d never done before. And we finally did it. Just about 3 weeks ago, the three of us boarded a plane to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

After a very late arrival Friday night due to a long delay and rerouting of our flight due to strong thunderstorms happening in parts of the south, we woke up Saturday morning to a beautiful day.
First Ft Lauderdale morning
view from hotel room balcony

I could feel my entire body just relax into being present in where I was – a warm, tropical climate with my best friends in the world with no agenda other than to plop ourselves on the beach and enjoy each others’ company.
On Ft Lauderdale beach
Ahhhhh!

Since we did not rent a car – just about everything you might want or need is in walking distance in Ft. Lauderdale – cocktails from the poolside tiki bar at the hotel were indulged in just about anytime we felt like it!
Beach cocktails!
Something melon-y. I don’t remember the name, but it was good!

Our hotel
This is the hotel from the beach. That thatched roof you see to the right side of the photo is the tiki bar. Very convenient!

Just because
This is a great picture representing how we spent our days. Lounge on the beach, go for a walk, go for a swim – whatever we wanted. I went for an invigorating swim in the ocean in amazingly warm water with some wild crashing waves. It made me feel so very alive and thankful and conscious of appreciating the present moment.

Each night we walked to dinner at a local restaurant and we were not disappointed with any of our choices. How wonderful to walk the sidewalks and see tropical flowers in bloom as we went!
Hibiscus

Tropical flowers

I think the three of us would agree our favorite meal was at Greek Islands Taverna. We had a wonderful Greek waiter who recommended this delicious Greek wine.
Wonderful Greek wine
We would love to be able to find this wine for sale back home somewhere!

We shared a Greek salad as an appetizer – Renae took this shot of me with it.
Me, with Greek salad

And I had a delicious moussaka for my entree.
Fabulous dinner

We were super full from a great meal that night, but we couldn’t resist taking some dessert to share to go – baklava AND baklava cheesecake!

The next night’s dinner was at Aruba Beach Cafe. Another wonderful choice. Our bartender took this picture of the three of us while we waited for our table:
"Ussie"
That was one delicious margarita! Well, I think it was actually two delicious margaritas…

Appetizer and dinner that night:
Conch fritters
Conch fritters

Seafood quesadilla
Seafood quesadilla

Our final dinner together was at 101 Ocean.
Appetizer:
Crab, artichoke and spinach dip
Crab, artichoke and spinach dip

Dinner:
Lobster paella
Lobster Paella

Both the Aruba Cafe and 101 Ocean are located in the quaint neighborhood of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, a cute little touristy area with shops and restaurants and ice cream. We decided that last night to enjoy one last walk on the beach – walked from the restaurant to the hotel. On the approach to our hotel, I noticed the palm trees there were decorated with lights and had to take a quick picture:
Lit palm trees

We had an early flight home on Tuesday morning, so on Monday morning I took an opportunity to enjoy an early morning solo walk on the beach.
Morning walk

I was so very appreciative that we made the time to take this trip. It is one I will remember forever, and something that I hope we make a tradition – perhaps an annual one. Thank you Jennifer and Renae for this wonderful experience!
Last day on the beach

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February 2, 2015

Another Snowstorm, More Musing

I’m starting to think I should make “Snow Day Musings” a regular feature around here. Snow days from school seem to be the days lately that I find the time to blog and share what’s been happening in my little part of the world.

The last time I posted, a snow day started off what was my last week as the long term sub for 6th grade math. I’m back to working as paraprofessional again, and let me tell you it takes some getting used to. I’m so very appreciative for the experience that I had as a teacher and now I think it is going to push me in the direction I think I need to take. I’ve been practicing and studying to get ready to take the teacher’s test for middle school math. If I can pass this test,(that’s a big “IF” at this point: the test has trigonometry and calculus on it!! Ay yi yi!) I can add being able to teach 5th through 9th grade math to my teaching license. I’m currently certified to teach 5th through 12th grade social studies. Those of you familiar with the Common Core are surely aware of the dismal view of the future of social studies classes. Opportunities for social studies teachers will become fewer in the future, I’m sure, as social studies blends into English Language Arts classes. That is the way social studies is treated by the Common Core.
Thinking of the future

In that last post, I also mentioned thinking about a new lens and trying to get back into photography this year. All the white I’m surrounded by lately has me less than inspired, but I have been researching the lens. The more I read, the more I want it. I’ve decided that if I make the investment, I will definitely go with the Canon lens. The Canon is the only one in this price category (85mm portrait lens) that has autofocus. Tack sharp focus is something I’d really like to work on in my photography and I don’t think buying a manual-focus-only lens to save some money will help me reach that goal. So I’m researching and scheming and watching a few places to try to get the Canon lens for the best possible price.

My area did not receive the worst of the snow from that last storm, but just 45 minutes away in Worcester where Meghan goes to school, they did. Worcester received 34.5 inches of snow from that storm. We have been lucky that the snow has been light and fluffy rather than wet and heavy. Meghan sent me a few pictures from around campus after the storm.
Snow drift
A snow drift taller than she is

On campus at Clark
Those piles will be getting taller today!

While I am talking about college, happy news came for Sarah this weekend:
Acceptance for Sarah
Wentworth Institute of Technology is the school we went to visit last summer that I told you about in this post. It turned out to be Sarah’s first choice of all of the schools she applied to. We have not heard back from the other schools yet, but I have a feeling that unless we are unable to work with this school financially, this is where she will be enrolling for the fall. It has been a great few days for Sarah. In addition to this wonderful news, she just came home yesterday from a wonderful trip to Florida. Sarah participated in her high school’s technology department trip to Disney World. They spent 3 days taking “behind the scenes” classes with the Disney Y.E.S. program as well as having free time to explore the parks. She brought me home this adorable Mickey pendant because, in her words, she thought I deserved something nice. 🙂
Mickey pendant

Before all this snow arrived, we did have a peek at the sun yesterday. (Thank goodness Sarah’s return flight was yesterday and not today!) Daphne seemed to be enjoying it.
Enjoying a spot of sunshine
She is my solar-powered golden non-retriever after all! (Yes, I say non-retriever. Daphne has never been much of a retriever. She fetched a few balls in her puppyhood days but quickly decided that game wasn’t really her style.)

And oh yeah, there was a big game of some sort yesterday too, right? Yes, of course, the Super Bowl was yesterday and our local boys, the New England Patriots, are the champs. I am not a big football person at all but I’m very happy for the hometown team. After the dismal performance of my Red Sox last year, it is very nice to have the local team to be proud of. I don’t get invited to Super Bowl parties or have a big celebration, but I do use it as an excuse to have not-so-good-for-you food. For sitting in front of the t.v. yesterday I made Queso Fundido, chicken tenders (buffalo style for me, honey mustard for Sarah) and the Pioneer Woman’s Pizza Potato Skins
Super Bowl treat
They were delicious! I may have spoiled myself against eating frozen potato skins any more these were so good. Did you know they made little tiny pepperoni slices like that? I just discovered them yesterday when I went grocery shopping and they were perfect.

And now here we are, back to today and more snow. Here’s what I found this morning at my “squirrel proof” bird feeder:
"Squirrel proof" bird feeder

A fish eye view of the backyard:
Fisheye view of snowstorm

Well, that was a lot of musing! But who knows when you’ll hear from me next – maybe the next snow day! 😉

February 3, 2013

Just Winging It!

Hey there! It’s been a while! My last post was almost 2 weeks ago now, and the blogging muse in my mind has had enough silence. So what’s been going on you may ask? Life, the universe and everything has sent me on a bit of a roller-coaster ride.

Meghan actually did get to go on several rollercoaster rides! Last Saturday morning I dropped dear daughter at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, CT for a school computer and technology department field trip to Disney World! She was gone for three nights and came home Tuesday. They got to stay at the Disney Port Orleans Resorts

participate in two Disney Y.E.S. programs

and visit all four of the major parks.

While she was in Florida, the temperatures were in the mid-70’s. Around here we were in the middle of that nasty cold snap when the daytime temps struggled to get out of the teens. Needless to say I was just a tiny bit envious!

After I dropped Meghan at the airport that morning, I travelled north on Interstate 91 back into Massachusetts and stopped to visit with my sister for a while. The previous day she had pretty much the same surgery that A-Rod, reviled NYY player, had recently. She’s been couch bound for over a week now, and this, I believe, is a rather regular daily view for her:

That’s Ozzie, her faithful cavachon, which is a mixture of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Bichon Frise.

While Meghan had a wonderful time in Disney World, life continued here. I made some more progress on Sarah’s birthday quilt:
quilt progress
Um, yeah, Sarah’s birthday is in August, and, uh, yes, that was supposed to be a 15th birthday gift for her. So far I’m only 6 months behind schedule…got something to say about that? 😉

When Meghan got home from Florida, New England weather was showing its weird side again. We went from bitter cold to strangely warm temperatures, had rain and thunder and wind, and even lost the power in the middle of the night during the windstorm. I got up and went to work the next morning, hairdryer in tow! It hadn’t come back on by the time I had to leave so I went to work with a wet head. Thank goodness the bitter cold hadn’t returned just yet.

I don’t think all the wild swings in weather did Meghan much good. She had been fighting a cold before she left, but seemed to be getting better. Upon her return she didn’t sound good to me. Off to the doctor’s office: upper respiratory infection. I felt bad for her one evening and on a whim made her a cup of hot peppermint tea. We’re not really tea-drinkers in this house, but on this occasion it seemed like the thing to do. And what do you know? She gratefully took the cup and seems to have taken a liking to it.
daughter's discovery

The cold has returned, and so have the birds to my feeders. I’ve been practicing some more with my heavy new lens, and I’ve been doing okay. I have to shoot in manual focus on this lens because autofocus doesn’t allow the focus ring to be manually adjusted – one definite downside to this lens – and that adds a bit to the challenge of quick moving birds!
dark-eyed junco
Dark-eyed junco

white-breasted nuthatch
White-breasted nuthatch

sparrows
Sparrows

A birdy conversation?
Male house finch and sparrow

Male House Finch
Male house finch
That finch looks like a friendly chap, doesn’t he? It almost seems like he could strike up a conversation. How about you? Strike up a conversation in the comments section if you’d like!