I’ve whipped up a little time waster for lady travellers…It’s called fifty shades of greyport

Need a little something to stifle the boredom of sitting around at the airport while you wait and wait and wait to board your flight?

You’re welcome. 🙂

oiW6wsCA Brief Encounter

The airport. I sit hunched on a stiff plastic bench, chin on fist, wedged between strangers, listening for the boarding announcement.

Swinging one crossed leg, I peer at the sea of faces. All shapes, all sizes. Some snoring, some animated, some as bored as I. Ready to rise and stretch my limbs when…

Whoa, Nellie! Jackpot bells a-clanging! Lights a-flashing!
The faces and bodies around me dissolve faster than watercolours on a freshly painted canvas caught in the rain.

All but one.

He lounges against a vacant ticket counter, one thumb hooked through a belt loop on his well-worn blue jeans, the subtle outline of taut thigh muscles apparent beneath. Other thumb hooked at the collar of a battered brown leather aviator jacket slung loosely over one broad shoulder.

His glance catches mine and he holds my gaze as he pushes languidly away from the ticket booth. He ambles toward me like a cat stalking its prey.

I try to swallow, to breathe. The earth squeaks to a stop in mid spin as he halts before me. His stance is insolent and like steel drawn to magnet, I rise slowly until we are eye to eye.

I feel his warm breath on my cheek. No words are exchanged as he lifts a fingertip to trace the barest path along my jaw and over my lips, then brushes gently at a stray curl of hair fallen over one of my eyes. I am disappearing, disappearing into dark-fringed indigo depths.

He cups my face in his large, smooth hands and draws my lips ever so slowly toward his.

My eyelids are heavy, drowsy, and my breath is shallow as he draws me closer, closer still…until…

“Honey! C’mon! They’ve called our seat numbers!”

Poof. Adonis is gone. In his place stands my husband, squinting at me over a mound of golf clubs and carry-on luggage.

“Daydreaming again, huh? What’s that mind of yours spinning now?”

“That’s my secret.” I grin and wink at the lady beside me but she doesn’t notice.

She is lost in a daydream of her own.
woman2

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Y’all check out my new crocheted shawl!

shawl1

I found the pattern at the awesome Elk Studio site http://www.elkstudiohandcraftedcrochetdesigns.com/2014/06/23/dixie-charm-a-free-summer-crochet-shawl-pattern/, where they share a ton of beautiful free patterns for crocheters. This shawl is called “Dixie Charm” and it was an easy pattern to follow, fun to work on, with great results.

I found the yarn at Hobby Lobby when I was in Florida. It’s appropriately called “I Love This Yarn!” in Autumn Stripe. The shawl used two 252-yard balls. It’s a soft easy-to-work-with yarn that’s reasonably priced. I sure wish we had Hobby Lobby stores here in Ontario. I love that store!

The shawl looks really great paired with an olive-green sweater.
shawl2

Did you know that a place exists where you can borrow tons of stuff for FREE—any time you want, all year round?

This place I speak of welcomes everyone with open arms. There’s one in every community and it’s never far from home. Despite the many riches that this place has to offer, I can’t imagine a resource that’s more under-utilized by just about every adult I know.

This place is your local public library. It’s quite an amazing place, where anyone can walk in and borrow all types of books, magazines, movies, music and more…AT NO CHARGE. Where in the world can you get anything 100% free anymore, much less a massive assortment of stuff that feeds your brain and entertains you?

You only read electronic books? Well guess what—your local library offers thousands of eBooks, electronic magazines and other periodicals that you can download without leaving your house. And did I mention that it’s all FREE?! These days I download all my books and magazines electronically to my KOBO eReader simply by logging onto my library’s database and clicking on whatever I feel like reading. You can borrow electronic books from your library no matter where in the world you happen to be; all you need is access to a computer and your library card number. It’s insane!

What’s even more insane is that I know so many people who don’t bother to explore the goldmine of resources in these taxpayer-funded facilities. (So technically, it’s not truly free. You ARE paying for it whether you want to or not. So why not use it?!)

My community library has always been my favourite place in the world—my deepest gratitude to the Mesopotamians who developed the first libraries back in 2600 BC. And to my dad, who introduced me to the joys of library membership when I was knee high to a grasshopper. Here’s my story.

8100213145_05426826aa

The Library

My earliest memories of my father include the tower of books that he had stacked neatly beside his chair, one always resting open on his lap.

I inherited his great love for books before I could do much more than “read” the pictures. It wasn’t long before he began taking me with him on Saturday morning outings to a place that felt as warm and welcoming as home—a place where I could see row upon row of books no matter which direction I faced.

Dad’s eyes sparkled the first time he explained that this was our community library and I was allowed to borrow as many books as I fancied. He couldn’t have made me any happier had he handed me a bag loaded with sweets. The library was my candy store.

After leading me to the children’s section, dad would wander off to search for treasures of his own. The books with the most colourful spines would be first to attract my attention. Selecting one at a time, I’d page through, reading each word aloud while my mind soaked up the vibrant images. So many stories captured my imagination and lured me into dazzling worlds—where forest animals shared afternoon tea in jewel-toned dresses and feathered caps, where wizards hurled thunderbolts from magic wands and evil trolls always got their comeuppance, where handsome princes on white stallions rescued beautiful princesses in glittering ball gowns. And of course, where everyone lived happily ever after.

It always seemed to me that we’d only just arrived when dad would reappear from behind a shelf, cradling an armload of his own selections and announcing that it was time for us to go home. How difficult it was to decide which books to take with me when there were so many to choose from! I wanted to read them all.

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Decades later, books are still my eye in the hurricane of life. The love of reading that my dad instilled in me as a little girl is the most precious gift I have ever received, one that I will be able to treasure long after he’s gone.

No matter how the world changes around me, the library remains a significant part of my life. Where else can one go and be surrounded by volume after volume on every topic imaginable, to enjoy armchair journeys into worlds so different from our own and that we may never otherwise have a chance to experience? Aside from the air we breathe, not much worth having today is still free—except at the library. And it’s been that way for as far back as libraries have existed in our communities.

As a child the public library was a magical place and it still feels that way to me today.

How wonderful that some things never change.

When on vacay … crochet!

Is there anything better than spending a beautiful, not-a-cloud-in-the-sky, sunny vacation day outdoors working on a zen-inspiring craft project? Nope. That’s about as good as it gets.

hat_lavender & lilac1

While I was away on vacation, I felt like playing with the lovely purple shades of yarn that I’d packed in my suitcase (Does a crocheter go anywhere without yarn? Does a pelican eat fish?), so I just started crocheting in the round until my efforts morphed into a really cute winter cap to wear back at home.

It was quick and easy and a perfect project for beginners.

In case you want to try it, the instructions are below. It’s easy enough to finish in an hour. Try experimenting with different colours!

Easy Adult Hat, Lavender and Lilac Stripes

Materials:
Worsted weight yarn in two contrasting colours. I used dark lavender (A) and lighter lilac (B); 8 mm crochet hook

Round 1: With (A), chain 2; work 9 double crochet (dc) into 2nd chain from hook. Slip stitch to close round. (9 dc)

Round 2: Chain 3 (counts as dc from here on), dc into same space. 2 dc into each stitch around. Slip stitch to close.

Round 3: Chain 3, dc into same space. 2 dc into each stitch around. Slip stitch to close.

Round 4: Chain 3, dc into same space. *1 dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch; continue from * around. Slip stitch to close.

Round 5: Dc in each stitch around. Fasten off and switch to (B).

Round 6: With (B), hdc in each stitch around. Slip stitch to close.

Round 7: Dc in each stitch around. Slip stitch to close.

Round 8: Hdc in each stitch around. Fasten off and switch back to (A).

Round 9: With (A), dc in each stitch around. Slip stitch to close.

Round 10: Dc in each stitch around. Slip stitch to close.

Round 11: Dc in each stitch around. Fasten off and switch to (B).

Round 12: Hdc in each stitch around. Slip stitch to close.

Round 13: Dc in each stitch around. Slip stitch to close.

Round 14: Hdc in each stitch around. Fasten off and switch to (A).

Round 15: Single crochet in each stitch around. Fasten off and weave in ends.

hat_lavender & lilac3

Alas! All good things must come to an end

Holiday’s over.

I’m back home now and let me tell you, Toronto, Ontario is no Naples, Florida! The warm talcum powder sand that my bare feet became accustomed to has now been replaced with snow, snow and more snow. From flip flops to thermal socks and fuzzy slippers!

Ugh. Whaa whaa. Woe is me. Boo hoo. Suck it up, Donna.

No more whining. Instead, I’m going to warm up with a pictorial walk down vacay memory lane by sharing some of the photos I took in beautiful Naples.

What I love most about travel is the opportunity I get to experience an entirely different view of nature in all its glory: birds, animals, and vegetation unique to the area I’m visiting—daily portraits of a lifestyle that so contrasts with my home in northern climes.

There truly is nothing more exciting than leaving behind the everyday familiar and breaking out of the ordinary to give yourself the gift of a change of scenery. Travel is the tonic I crave. I wish I could do it more often.

In Naples we stayed at a house that backed onto a river. From the deck, we watched all sorts of turtles, fish and birds as they swam, foraged and played. Here are my backyard bird pictures:

Anhingas: These birds are such fun to watch. They swim in the river—body submerged, long neck bobbing above the water’s surface (at first glimpse, you think you’re seeing a snake rising from the water). Then they dry off by perching in a tree or sitting on land with their wings spread open in the sun. Every evening at around 6:pm, one by one they fly in to find their perch for the night in the trees on the other side of the river. Most of them have beautiful turquoise eyes.
Anhingas

 

 

 

 

 


Great Blue Heron and Little Blue Heron
: I only saw the Great Blue a couple of times but a Little Blue could be seen foraging along the river at some point every day. I guessed he was gobbling the tiny minnows in there.
Herons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossy Ibis and White Ibises: Also seen foraging along the river were both types of Ibises. The Glossy is a rich burgundy colour and the White Ibises seem to travel mainly in pairs or groups. You’ll see them roaming around just about everywhere—in parking lots, on lawns, at the seaside. Their beaks remind me of tweezers!
ibises

 

 

 


Little Egret
: I think that’s what this bird is. Though I’m not positive.egret

 

 

 


Muscovy Ducks
: These ducks are everywhere. They’re quite tame and can even be pesky if you feed them. But they’re pretty, especially the black ones whose feathers shine like a metallic rainbow in the sunshine.

ducks & sunset on the river

 

 

 

 

 

 
Sunset on the river was always such a peaceful time, a perfect ending to every day.

Home of the Gator: The Florida Everglades is home to LOTS of alligators. We saw this handsome guy in a pond at the Big Cypress National Preserve, where we went for a hike.
alligator

 

 

 

 

Gorgeous trees and plants: I love tropical vegetation, particularly the palm tree, of which there are over 2,500 varieties, believe it or not! My absolute favourites are the Bismarck Palm with its silver fan-shaped leaves and the Royal Palm with a trunk that appears as solid as concrete and fronds that look as soft as Ostrich feathers. I discovered one called the Pandanus Palm, with round fruit that looks like small pineapples. I’m not sure if the fruit is edible but it is pretty.

vegetation1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, being in Florida we passed a number of farms with orange groves when we went for a drive inland. We also saw orange trees growing in a few neighborhood yards.

I saw an interesting tree at Big Cypress, as well as at the Naples Zoo and at Lowdermilk Park called the Strangler Fig. This tree seems to wrap itself around another tree as it grows, while still allowing the other tree to grow as well.
vegetation 2

 

 

 

 
Yards in Naples are beautifully landscaped (fortunate for them, it’s summer all year round) and there are so many gorgeous varieties of flowers and shrubs to plant. My favourite has always been the Bougainvillea but there are so many splendid blooms; if I owned a home down there, I know there would be an explosion of colour in every corner of my yard!
vegetation3

 

 

 

Beaches, beaches and more beaches: With Naples right on the Gulf of Mexico, there are endless miles of beaches to enjoy. My favourite is Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, though they’re all pretty breathtaking. The draw for me at Delnor-Wiggins is that it is a seashell-collector’s paradise. Is there such a thing as Seashells Anonymous? If so I need rehab because I have a serious addiction!!! It doesn’t matter that I have a cupboard loaded with shells I’ve collected from past beach trips, I simply could not walk past a beautiful shell without scooping it up. Of course I am back at home with yet ANOTHER carton filled with shells. Looks like I have some more shell art projects ahead to work on. 🙂
beach and birds1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aside from collecting shells there was no end of entertainment in the form of wildlife antics. I often felt as if I were watching a live documentary unfold—big pelicans and snowy egrets hanging around all day in the sand beside the fishermen, waiting patiently for a morsel of bait to fall off someone’s hook. It’s pretty funny to watch the fisherman who forgets to tighten the lid of his bait pail because the minute his back is turned, one of these birds will sneak up and attempt to steal the contents.

beach and birds2Very often between about 4:pm and sunset, we would catch sight of dolphins playing in the surf. It feels like magic, watching these amazing creatures leaping and rolling like little kids right there before your eyes. At times they were only a few yards away from shore. It was a spectacular sight to behold. I got a picture of a fin but was too mesmerized watching them to capture any more than that.

dolphin fin

At the end of every day spent at the beach listening to the waves washing up on the sand; collecting shells in the sunshine; observing the birds and sea life; watching the sun dip behind the horizon, turning the sky into a plein-air canvas awash in hot pink and fiery orange, soft violet and glowing ruby; I would return to the house with the deepest sense of calm and well-being. Who needs a spa? The seashore is the most rejuvenating place on earth.

end of day

 

 

 

 

 
My last set of pictures were taken while sitting on the backyard deck. This little lizard, which I think is called a Brown Anole, is the size of my little finger. He would pop out from under the deck every once in a while to soak up the sun.
lizard

 

 

 

 

lizard 5.so long

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So long, Naples.

High drama alert: Fight on the beach!

During a stroll along the beach while vacationing in Naples, Florida, I stumbled upon a melodramatic scene of what appeared to be intense marital strife.

A group of terns were gathered quietly on the sand while one tern proceeded to “rant” at another poor tern for a good fifteen minutes straight. Whenever the recipient attempted to turn away, the noisy one would follow and get right up in its face. The other terns just sort of sidled away and kept their distance. It was hilarious. So hilarious, in fact, that several other beachgoers ambled over to watch.

It was a no-brainer that the one ranting just had to be the wife and the one being ranted at was the husband, who had obviously done something heinous enough to warrant the degree of beak-lashing that ensued.

So here’s how it all went down:

10.terns_angry wife in middle

 

 

That’s tern-wife in the middle of the group, screaming at the back of tern-husband’s head.

 

11.tern wife

 

 

Tern-wife: “You old crow! How DARE you look at HER that way in front of all of our tern-friends?”

 

12.wife gives hubby crap

 

 

 

Tern-wife: “I demand an apology right now, you old buzzard!”

 

13.wife waits for apology

 

 


A heavy silence looms between the crashing of 
the waves as she waits for a response. No response is forthcoming.

14.no apology forthcoming

 

 

Tern-wife: “You yellow-bellied sapsucker! Did you not hear what I just chirped? YOU OWE ME AN APOLOGY!”

15.hubby looks for escape

 

 

 


Dead silence. Tern-husband looks around for an escape route.

16.there is no escape

 

 

 


There is no escape! Tern-husband
 prays for the tide to roll in and wash his tern-wife out to sea.

17.wife pissed off

 

 
Tern-wife: “Have you no thoughts whatsoever in that birdbrain of yours? You look me in the eye when I’m talking to you…you SCUMSUCKING SEAGULL!”

18.hubby has audacity to leave

 

 

 


Hubby takes a deep breath and makes a run for it.

 

19.hubby gets an earful

 

 

Tern-wife: “WTF! You CHICKENSHIT! You DARE to tern away from meIsn’t it just like you to run from our problems!” (Notice the tern-friend nearby covering his ears with his wings.)

 

20.ripping hubby a new one

 

 

Tern-wife: “You get your tailfeathers back here and face the birdsong!”

 

21.wife is on a roll

 

 

 

Tern-wife: “I am at the end of my pier with you. You are nothing but a lame duck!”

22.hubby turns away again

 

 

Tern-husband peers out to sea longingly. He wonders if he has the strength left to hold his body underwater long enough to get the job done.

23.uh oh

 

 

 

 

 

Tern-wife: “I have a mind to rope you to a conch shell and toss you out to sea!”

 

24.someones still in the birdhouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tern-wife: “No response to that either, huh? Ok. I’ve had enough! I’m done! We’re over!”

25.wife waits for apology

 

 

 

 
Tern-wife: “You’ll be hearing from my tern-lawyer by sundown.”

 

It was at this point that I “reterned” to my lounge chair with the full realization that all men have an innate aptitude for tuning out their women, no matter what species they belong to.

Going to the beach can be such an educational experience.

 

 

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