In Plain Sight

As I wandered along the paved path at Bok Tower Gardens having just finished leading a garden tour, I slowed as I passed the Tea Olive bushes, sniffing the air to catch the beautiful scent I had enjoyed all winter. But the flowers were gone. I filed away this seasonal change in my plan to add it to my home landscape. Just ahead I saw two young women discussing the blossom on a Monstera deliciosa. Holes speckled the large leaves giving it the common name “Swiss Cheese Plant”. As I passed by I overheard a retired couple slightly ahead discussing the similarities of some of the semi-tropical plants to the temperate ground cover in the native forests near their northern home. They were deep in conversation and walking about the same pace as myself.

As usual, I was looking all around, on the ground, in the distance, down side paths and into the trees hoping to spot an unusual blossom, a butterfly or the source of a bird’s song. I was slightly startled to see a sizable black snake resting on top the bromeliads six inches off the trail just beyond the Monstera. His smooth black body coiled atop the light green plants was a study in contrast, hard to miss. Yet the two women and the older couple had walked right by without seeing him. I felt honored to share a few moments with this Florida native. His tongue was busy flicking in and out, testing for the possibility of prey. As I slowly walked past him to get a good look at his head, he became perfectly still. This lovely reptile appeared to be a black racer, hoping to find a tree frog feeding on mosquito larvae in the cups made by the leaves of the bromeliads. I snapped some photos and then thanked him for being such a great model before heading down the path toward a yummy ice cream cone at the Blue Palmetto Café.

How to Keep it Light

Are you wondering what subjects are acceptable in polite conversation? It seems there are so many pathways leading us into a swamp of quicksand. Here is a broad subject you can safely navigate. Ask about their worst times. Offer up some specifics; the worst meal they created or ate, the worst grade they received in school, the worst motel they stayed in, the worst movie they saw. Chances are time has turned these experiences into humorous events.

I remember my worst sewing mistake. My father was 5’ 11” with a wiry build. His arms belonged on a linebacker, requiring a 36” sleeve. It had become increasingly difficult to find his preferred Western style shirts in a Medium size with a 36” sleeve. I had successfully sewn many tailored shirts, even for my dad. For Christmas 2008, I purchased a bright red denim and found the well-worn pattern in my sewing box. I laid out the pieces, measuring the sleeve length of 36”. I sewed the top-stitching perfectly, aligned the Mother of Pearl snaps with care, added the stitching on the pocket for his ever-present pencil with the clip, and cut the shirttail long, just as he liked.

As I carefully wrapped my gift, I imagined his face brightening into a broad smile as he lifted the lid and unfolded the tissue paper, knowing he would have a shirt that ended at his wrist instead of pulling four inches up his forearm. As he lifted my gift up from the package, I thought the sleeves looked odd. Dad hurriedly removed his 32” sleeved shirt and tried on my gift. We all laughed long and hard. The end of the sleeves reached 2 inches below the tips of his fingers!

crazy sleevesWhat had happened? After some discussion with my mother, I realized I had forgotten men’s sleeves measured from the nape of the neck, not from the shoulder. I promised I would take it home and fix it, but try as I might, it was impossible. He never got another handmade shirt from me, but we still have the precious memory and the photo. I imagine he is laughing even now on the other side as he looks over my shoulder.

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Road Trip Technology

We were midway on the second day of our 4-day road trip from Colorado to Florida, successfully navigating the Dallas, Fort Worth interstate wormhole when the GPS in the car and the GPS on my iPhone seemed to be duking it out like two hussies at a backwoods bar.

It all began with my search for a bar-b-que restaurant near me as we headed south on I-45 toward Houston. As luck would have it, there was a restaurant coming up just south of Ennis, Texas that had a high customer rating. It sounded like a local hole-in-the-wall, which suited my husband, Wayne, and I just fine. I directed him to leave the interstate at the next exit. That’s when the problems began.

The car GPS immediately started her protest that we were off course while my iPhone Google Map tried to talk louder in an attempt to direct us to the restaurant, “Turn right on Main Street…”. The rest was unclear as I started the process to turn off the routing on the car GPS.

It seemed my iPhone wanted us to take a left, but I didn’t see the little local street we had already past. My attention was elsewhere. Google Maps seemed quite content for us to continue on FM 1183, as we drove past pastures and the occasional farmhouse. This didn’t seem right. I could have sworn the original search indicated it was right off I-45. There wasn’t an easy place to turn around, so we continued on FM 1183 as Google Maps directed. By the way, FM in Texas refers to “Farm to Market”. In times past, rural farmers taking their crops to town used these local roads roads. Sure enough, my phone directed us to make a left.

“This looks promising”, I said, thinking we were at least heading back the way we had come.

The paved apron quickly turned into a white clay road riddled with potholes. Wayne deftly avoided most of them while we waited for the next directions emanating from my phone. The scenery was enjoyable, mostly residential on 2-5 acres, well-maintained yards and the occasional cow grazing in a pasture. As we made the third and final turn, I saw FM 1183 coming up. It looked very familiar. We could see the I-45 overpass over to the right as we turned onto the blacktop.

Now we were both curious where this restaurant was! Sure enough, we turned onto the North Freeway Frontage Road, drove past the convenience store where we made our first erroneous turn and saw our destination just beyond, “Alma Smokehouse BBQ”. We both laughed at the absurdity of modern technology. If we had just followed our instinct, we would have found it 20 minutes earlier!

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