Monday, June 29, 2015

Best Shot Monday: Friends and Strangers Project, Meet Omar

When I started my new role at the Florida College System Activities Association, the person who manages our building told me that if the black man who played his harmonica near the front of our building during the lunch hour bothered me, let him know. My office is right at the front of the building, with a nice big window, so I hear a lot of street noise.  That was seven months ago, and I'm still enjoying the harmonica music outside my window at lunch time thanks to that sweet older black man, so last week, I took the time to sit down and talk with him.

Meet Omar (his stage name). Street musicians have never bothered me. On the contrary, I've always rather enjoyed them. They've always been one of my favorite things about visiting New York City. I think it takes a lot of courage to sit there along the street and share your music. Heck, I'm incredibly shy about playing in front of someone in my own house! Omar has been a musician for more than 40 years but has only been playing harmonica for about 10 years. He's currently trying to learn some of the oldies, "you know, like Barbra Streisand!" so he can expand his repertoire. He shared with me that back in the 80's, he used to play his saxophone over on Tennessee Street. I may have seen him there while I was in college! He's also from Jacksonville, and graduated from Raines High School. When I told him I went to Orange Park, he said he remembered going over to Orange Park for sports events. Based on his email address, I'm guessing he's only a couple years older than my husband, so having also grown up on the Northside in the Raines school district, Benny wants to chat with him the next time he's in Tallahassee with me to see who they both know!

Omar shared with me that he shares his music because, to him, sharing music is akin to sharing love, and his goal is to simply spread as much love as he can. He believes the world definitely needs more love right now, all the love it can get. I certainly agree with him on that. While I've always smiled at Omar when I've walked by, I've never sat and talked with him before last week. Now I'm so glad I did!

See more of my Friends and Strangers Project posts here.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Best Shot Monday: The Best Spot on the Boat

Sarah on boat 
Happy Monday! While we were in Boca Grande, I shared with Sarah what's always been my favorite spot to ride on the boat: sitting cross-legged on the bow, holding on to either the anchor rope or a bow rope. She loved it just as much as I always have! I took this picture with Sarah's camera because slippery-fingered me managed to drop my phone in the Gulf the day before. I was amazed at how little I panicked and how great it felt to be without a phone all week.  All I missed was being able to snap a quick photo!  Sadly, though, the phone was completely dead so that meant I lost all my photos. I've been skimming back through Facebook trying to recover Daily Dose of Awesomeness pictures ever since we got home.

We are in Tallahassee this week moving some things into our Tallahassee house, primarily setting up the girls' bedrooms. The girls are in volleyball camp for the week at the school they'll be attending here. This living in two places is going to be an interesting adventure, but we are bound and determined to make it work! Thanks for stopping in, and I hope you have a great week.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Best Shot Monday: Beauties in Boca

Boca Faces 2015 
We had a wonderful week in Boca Grande this past week and, as tradition calls for, did a little photo shoot on the beach our last night there. Here's my favorite of the "pretty smiles" shots. These girls are starting to look so grown up.  I just want to stop time!  As tradition follows, we also got quite a few goofy shots, which I'll share later this week once I have a little more time to edit. I didn't get a chance to write my Sunday Gratitude post last night, so I'll do that later this week with more pictures! Thanks for stopping in! 

Saturday, June 6, 2015


Boca Grande Seashore 
For the next week, I will be here ... on the sandy shores of Gasparilla Island and Boca Grande. This year's trip comes at a time when it's been needed far more than weeks in the past! This will be our last respite of peace before we start the big move this summer. We are ready to be settled again.

I'm looking forward to cutting back on the constant driving back and forth. I'm looking forward to having more time in my art studio again. I'm looking forward to getting back to blogging more. And I'm looking forward to tucking my girls in every night again. But first, I'm looking forward to plopping my butt on this beach, sticking my toes in this sand, and doing nothing much more than picking up some shells and gazing at the horizon for a week. Enjoy your week!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Week in the Life: Sunday Gratitude

This week took me back down to Howey-in-the-Hills and the Mission Inn for the Council for Athletic Affairs meeting. This group is composed of the athletic directors from all the state colleges, and let me tell ya, they are a hoot. Great bunch of people, and I know I'll enjoy working with them. They get a lot of work done in a two day meeting, but they definitely don't take themselves too seriously!

What I was most grateful for this week was the opportunity to hang out with the people in these pictures. Lisa, one of my fellow shelter volunteers, hosted a Memorial Day Weekend mixer for shelter volunteers at her house. We had a great time with lots of food and drink, and even managed to make quite a few dog beds for the shelter dogs in the process. Thanks to Lisa for hosting us, and thanks to Kristen for suggesting it, and thanks to all these folks for enriching my life! There were others there that I didn't get chance to snap!  I have been truly blessed by my involvement with Animal Care and Protective Services

Vicki, Ron, Mike, Kathy and Ashley
Building Dog Beds

Nik, Jamie and Cathie

Angie, Mary Ellen and me

Deb and Lisa, our host

The kids got in on the action too!

And speaking of action!

Lynn, Manda Jo, Kristen and Hank

Mike "The Dogfather" and me

The dog beds we made

A little note on the dog bed we made

Monday, May 18, 2015

Best Shot Monday: Meet Marie!

Meet Marie! I photographed her at the shelter this morning during playgroup, and she demanded a feature. :-) Normally I don't try to photograph a dog during playgroup because it's really difficult to photograph just one dog in there, much less keep the attention of one dog. I was trying to photograph a couple other dogs this morning, and Marie demanded center spotlight every time. I have about 30 shots of Marie and, oh, just one or two of the dogs I actually went in there to photograph. She seemed to be saying, "I'm here! I'm here! You can take my picture! Here, take it again! And again! Here, try this side! I think it's my best side!" What a sweet love bug of a girl. Loves people, loves other dogs.

Marie is available for adoption at Jacksonville's Animal Care and Protective Services, 2020 Forest Street in Jacksonville's Riverside area.  Her ID number is A924276. She is listed as a seven-month old Labrador Retriever mix, and today she is in one of the featured pet rooms.  She's been at the shelter since April 22.  The shelter is open Tuesday-Sunday this week, 10am-6pm Tuesday-Saturday, and Noon-4pm Sunday. Because we are at capacity, adoptions are free this week!  Just pay the cost of the $20 city license fee (and even some of those are sponsored)!  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Week in the Life: Sunday Gratitude

Sarah and Pete 
Time for a little Sunday Gratitude. This week brought a little less travel, thankfully nothing more than my regular trip to Tallahassee. On these weeks, I work from home in Jacksonville on Monday and Friday, and then head to Tallahassee after I get the girls on the bus Tuesday morning. I try to get back home by 7:30pm or 8pm Thursday evening. Even though these weeks aren't as hectic, they are a bit lonely when I'm in our Tallahassee house by myself.

Monday I had hoped to get into the shelter, but the man upstairs had other plans. The girls' bus was very late, so late that we finally gave up and I drove them to school. Then when I tried to zip through McDonald's for my morning sweet tea fix (half cut, extra ice), the visit was far from zippy as things were backed up in the kitchen. By the time I got through there and stopped to get gas, I realized it was going to be after 10am by the time I got to the shelter, with playgroup in full swing. I love playgroup, but it's hard to get the dogs to focus on me for their glamour shot when they'd much rather be playing with their pals! I ended up spending a couple hours with Benny working on things for his dad's house renovation before getting back to the emails awaiting me for work.

An average day in Tallahassee Tuesday ended with a very sweet call from my Sarah, shown here with my handsome Spartacus Pete. Sarah called to tell me about the anti-bullying project she and her friend Debi are starting. They have a friend who is being bullied and decided it was time to do something about it. Some of the flyers they've created say "Don't just stand there! Help out and stop bullying!," "Life is made of choices. Bullying isn't one of them," and "Love others, try harder in school. Don't be a bully; it will come back to you!"

Wednesday night was just as sweet when Olivia called me to ask for help with an essay she was writing. When I asked her what the topic was, she said she was writing about her hero. And her hero was me. :-) I am so blessed by these sweet girls of mine. I had a ton of work to finish up Thursday before I could head home so it was a late night before I finally got home.

Friday Benny hit the road to pick up some furniture for our Tallahassee house, so the girls and I had the weekend to ourselves.  I had a major report to write, so I tried the "Maybe if I'm doing 'homework,' the girls will be more interested in doing their homework," method, and it worked! We took breaks here and there to play and run errands, but it was a very productive weekend hanging out with my girls.  And I finished my report!  That's gratitude!  How about you? What has you feeling grateful this week?