Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A change in the winds: Seeing old friends, getting new schedules, feeling cooler climates

October has brought so many good things to Jay and I. 


We've been lucky enough to be able to have visits with friends last weekend AND this weekend coming up. And we'll have family coming in just a few weeks after that. We're far from home, and though we've started to make new connections here, there's nothing like seeing the people who know you the best. 


The heat is finally breaking. We've finally reached the tipping point here in central Florida where I am able to wear jeans and long sleeves in the evening. I'm even able to get through most of the day in my office without turning on the air conditioner.

Even though we went through fall last year, I guess it's because this was our first full summer that it seems like we waited even longer for the cool temperatures to arrive. I have to admit I'm kind of jealous of the kids who will be coming around later this week for trick-or-treating. They'll be able to wear their costumes just as they are. For many years at home in New Jersey, we had to either wear bulky layers UNDER our outfits, or put an coat on OVER our costumes. Alternately, we'd bring our coat, but then not wear it, and freeze. Not great options, any of them, really. 

One of the best bits of news we got over the summer was that Jay would start getting Sundays and Mondays off, so that we'd have a weekend day together. This was the first weekend we had it and it was so nice to have a full day off with Jay - I got to go to a fundraising event at the Jazzercise studio in the afternoon and then we still had plenty of time to do something together that night.

Shimmy and Shake party at Jazzercize Mills 50 Orlando

We were going to go play video games at DisneyQuest, but we decided it was just too beautiful to stay trapped inside, so we headed to to EPCOT for the Food and Wine Festival - and it was, to our delight, pretty empty. We had been to one side several weeks ago, but not to the other, and we're going with some other friends later this weekend, but you can just never get to everything.
Illuminations finale from the bridge near the U.K.
It was just nice to be together. We even stayed to see Illuminations: Reflections of Earth..


We're so looking forward to more fun in coming weeks - we've got tickets to some great events, and the holidays will soon be here. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Reflecting on images

When we go to a new place, we want to remember our journeys. We capture them with our photographs - they are the least inexpensive souvenirs of any trip, and can often be the most valuable.

But in judging the quality of a picture, what makes it "good?" There are award-winning photojournalists that capture a person's spirit or a moment in time. There is a technicality that must be present to capture the right light, use the right aperture setting and snap the shutter at the perfect instant.

But sometimes, when we look back at our family photos or the snaps we've taken from vacations, its just great to see the faces of our friends and family. Most of us are never without our phones now, so taking photos and documenting everyday life with our phones and on Facebook has really become our new collective journaling. Instead of going back to newspaper clippings or microfilm, our ancestors will just look through our old posts.

I love taking pictures of the scenes that we see, but sometimes the details from our trip spark a memory just as easily.

For instance: this isn't a particularly great photo - It's just a parking lot, shortly after sunrise, as tons of people walk to the starting line for the start of Jay's race near the Pentagon. But looking at it, I can hear the swoop of the blades of the helicopter, because they  came up so loud and so suddenly. It just captured that moment.

In the same way, this picture is just of our poor, poor patch of grass surrounding our our mailbox. But I planted tulip bulbs there the first winter we were there, and every spring after then, we would watch them come up. And now I see this and wonder if the new owners were surprised and delighted when they appeared.
 Finally, this is a very grainy photo of one of the manatees at The Living Seas at Epcot. It might be Lou. It might not be. I'm not sure. But here's the thing. He represents everything good, quiet, peaceful and calming about the world to me. I'm usually there visiting with Jay, it's at a place we love, it's in the water and well, he's a manatee. It takes me back to our kayak trip on the Space Coast when we saw them in the wild. It reminds me that I like to explore new things (like when I wanted to study oceanography). And it reminds me that I should eat a salad.

I've got way prettier photos - but sometimes the ones I keep are the ones that bring me back to my happiest memories.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Me on a stick

Because my husband is smarter than I am, when he started his new job, he negotiated more vacation time off as part of his starting package. He was able to use a couple of those extra days this week to go back to North Carolina to see family and friends.

I'm so happy for him that he got to make the trip, but it's also been a little bittersweet to see some of the pictures of the gatherings and to hear all the stories without being there.

But before he left, I put a picture of myself in his suitcase that I taped to a straw, so that I could be a part of the gatherings.

Photo: Awesome get-together tonight. So much funIt was very meta to get a picture back of a mini-me with my friends. My tiny little head looks like it's been to the witch doctor.

Also, that pizza from Elizabeth's looks pretty good. I hope he brings me some home.

Friday, October 4, 2013

"Let's go get some glowy things"

It's not often you hear someone say something like that. So Jay and I were amused when we heard this comment behind us last night. We were even more delighted when we looked over and saw that it was a couple in their late 50s, and he was donning a spectacular Hawaiian shirt. Good for you, sir. Good for you.

I think that's a good idea for all of us, really.

In the middle of a government shutdown, on a day when a mentally-ill woman was involved in a car chase/shooting situation at the Capitol and more people than ever are taking one pharmaceutical or another, I can 't think of better advice than walking into the entrance of EPCOT after work and buying some "glowy things."

Earlier that night, I saw a Facebook post from a friend of mine who had just checked in a few miles away to the "Not So Scary Halloween Party" at the Magic Kingdom to go trick or treating.

And again, I thought to myself, why do grown ups not do this more often. Have you been trick or treating lately? (We went to this party a couple of weeks ago, and it's really very satisfying. At the end, you can still trade your candy with your friends or family).

I also wished a happy birthday online to one of my fabulous Jazzercise instructors, who was wearing a sparkly tiara on her head for the occasion, and she was lamenting the fact that she couldn't wear one every day. Well why not, I say?

Maybe what Congress needs right now is some trick-or-treating - and a good ol' fashioned candy swap. Almond Joy for a Butterfinger? OK, but only if you through in an M&M too.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Embracing our community

One of the exciting things about living in our new neighborhood is all of the local businesses that are nearby. We've got a bar that offers free video games, a great Vietnamese sandwich joint, the best taco place ever (it's tacos with an asian twist!) and, of course, a place that I'm now frequenting twice a week - Jazzercise on Mills Ave.
The women there are fantastic, the workout is fun, and now, I've even gotten sucked in to a group performance at half time at a Miami Dolphin's game later this month. (What was I thinking?)
It's great to be in a place with history, old trees and brick streets that is only minutes from downtown and Target - as well as just steps away from Leu Gardens.
We're so happy we moved to Colonialtown North!

Monday, September 30, 2013

View from Lake Highland

One of the things that struck us the most when we moved to central Florida was the sheer number of lakes. I remember driving around looking for our apartment and there were people paddle boarding - and I was struck by such a "We're not in Kansas anymore" moment.
What's so strange about that is when we first moved here, our address was on a road called Lake Shadow. Now we're near Lake Highland. It seems we can't escape it. But now that we're in Orlando instead of Maitland, we feel like we're so much more a part of the heartbeat and the landscape of the city. 
We can walk to restaurants and exercise classes. We can be almost anywhere in the city in about 10 minutes drive.
It's not QUITE as good as living on Bay Lake. 
But it's close.