In The Middle

Life, Family, Yoga, Stuff


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The Best Chai Tea Ever

I made it through the week.  An entire week of teaching classes and getting back to some sort of normalcy here around the house.  This was after being away for 24 days.  I even made it to the pool to do laps twice and I didn’t feel like I’d taken any time off.  Bonus.  I did wake up one night around 1:30 a.m.  Frank was awake watching TV in the other room.  I remember walking down the hall and saying out loud that I felt like I was walking down my own hallway.  Duh.  I was.  I am glad that a nice, long vacation can mess with ones brain in this way.  Instead of complaining, I shall be thankful.  For sure.

I flew home last Friday only to leave again the following Friday, but only for the weekend.  Thank goodness.  I was just getting adjusted.  We headed to Bolivar, Missouri – Frank, Jordan and I to spend the weekend at a hotel for a family reunion.  I missed this shin dig last year because I was in Florida retrieving my kid.  This reunion of course is for Frank’s family.  We stay at a hotel for two nights.  The only hotel with a pool if I might add.  In Bolivar.  We spend our Saturday at the 4-H building eating and talking and eating some more.

This year the hotel has changed hands.  The previous owners knew all of us.  They had a lobby full of snacks and drinks for next to nothing.  You could microwave a bag of popcorn at midnight and drink a beer by the pool.  Not anymore.  The new owners are Indians.  As in India.  A lot of folks were frustrated because when they checked in, they couldn’t communicate.  Which in turn created an us against them attitude.  I’m sure this poor couple, in their mid 60’s,  felt like they were being squashed every time one of us blew in for a cup of coffee.  That was still free and so were the tiny little donuts.

Saturday morning I practiced yoga on a sidewalk that was sort of out of the way.  I had a nice little view of a garden, full of Indian herbs, beans and other things.  I wondered, did these people practice yoga?  But I would probably never ask.  Enter Frank.  If you know Frank, well, you know that he knows no strangers.  At times I find his friendliness to be a bit annoying actually.  Not this time.  This time I thanked him.

Fast forward to Saturday evening.  It rained a monsoon on that night.  The Indian owners had their vehicle stowed under the guest check in awning and again, some of the folks in our party were a bit peeved.  Me?  I told them I liked the sticker of Ganesha on the hood of their van.  They smiled at me.  Frank started a conversation with the Indian man as we were all enjoying some adult beverages in the lobby.  In the next few minutes Frank had the OK to take their barbeque grill out of the trash out back.  They were throwing it away.  They were regetarians.   This is when Frank asks him to taste this great sweet tea lemonade with vodka in it (Frank wasn’t drinking it, he rarely drinks anything ever) and the Indian guy says no.  He is a vegetarian, he consumes no coffee and no alcohol.  This is when Frank asks him if he practices yoga and he says yes, every morning at 5:30 a.m.  Uh oh.

I get invited to drink tea and practice yoga with the Indian guy and his wife the next morning at 5:30 a.m.  “I unlock the door early for you, OK?”  Don’t worry, it’s only 11:30 p.m. and I’m on my third glass of red wine.  No problem.   I can hardly sleep because I am excited and I’m a bit buzzed at the same time.  What if I don’t wake up in time?  Me?  Unheard of.  But this would be that one time that I would over sleep, I just knew it!   I got up at 4:45 a.m. and showered and seriously scrubbed my dirty feet.  I arrived on time in my pajama pants and the only t-shirt that I brought.  Ironically the only t-shirt that I packed, had an OM symbol on it.  The other tops I had with me were tanks and I wanted to cover my shoulders. 

He greets me as I remove my shoes.  He wore glasses and white, which is the only color I’ve seen him wear since I arrived.  His wife had long, pretty hair loosely tied back and she wore gray.  She also wore a red gem on her forehead.  The space we were in was small.  A tiny room behind the front desk area it was.  In the corner sat a full sized bed, neatly made with lots of blankets folded on it.  On the floor a big blanket was folded in a long rectangle about one foot wide.  This is where we sat.  We sat and were quiet for a few moments and were also interrupted a few times by the ring of the desk bell.  They turned on their television and told me that this is an Indian broadcast station.  Cool.  But the yoga class is not on on Sundays.  Not cool.  Instead a program on Auyervedics is on.  I’m all for that.  We watch some of these programs together which are in Indian and subtitled in English.  Some of them are actually in Indian and then spoken again in English.  We take part in some of the ideas or exercises that they are talking about.  His wife leaves to go put on the tea as he sees to a customer.  It is now 6:30 a.m. 

When she returns she hands me the best cup of Chai Tea I’ve ever had in my lifetime.  I am in heaven.  I ask them about their children, their life here and their life in India.  We talk about yoga, about holistic medicine and about God.  She says more than one time to me, “God is great.  He is called many different things, but there is only one God.”  I like this lady and I want to hug her.  We have some trouble communicating but as we get comfortable the trouble lessens.  We are laughing, we are smiling, we are crossing cultures.  We watch a Satsang and it’s beautiful.  They showed me a couple of traditional and modern Indian music videos as well. 

They offered to fix me breakfast but our group was meeting for food at eight.  Believe me, I’d rather have eaten with these people.  Not to knock our crowd, not at all.  It’s just that after that great cup of chai, I was wanting more.  I left shortly after seven thinking to myself –  I’m in Bolivar.  Missouri.  I just sat on the floor with some authentic Indian people.  I just watched Indian programming with them and drank chai.  In Bolivar. Missouri.  When I turned in our room keys, they smiled so big.  It was nice to see them this way.  They invited me back again and I left there thinking.  It would totally be worth the drive and the loot to head back down on a weekday to practice yoga with them.  Maybe I’ll just do that.

I guess if you really want to go to India and cannot go at the moment.  Perhaps India will come to you. 

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We Made It Home

Delayed.  Again.  There’s that word you hate to hear at the airport.  On our way out of town, we suffered with this issue.  On the way back into town, we suffered yet again.  This time they put us on the plane, right on time.  Then we taxied and taxied and taxied on the runway in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Forever.  I told Mady, who was flying home with me, that something was wrong.  I was right.

We turned around and headed back to the terminal.  We were informed that the back door of the plane wasn’t secure.  Duh oh.  Nothing like sucking a few folks out the back eh?  Anyways, it turned out it was secure, but there was a sensor that said otherwise.  When this stuff happens it takes time.  The pilot came on the speaker and said that aerodynamics don’t make planes fly, but FAA paperwork does.  Then he said that this paperwork was going to take a little while.  One hour and fifteen minutes to be exact.  We sat on the hot airplane and listened to people complain and waste their energy fanning themselves with the emergency flyers.  Mady whipped out her notebook and pencils and started drawing.  I entertained myself by watching her talented hands glide.

We arrived in Springfield, late of course, and our descent was a bit scary.  Apparently there was some serious weather on the ground in town and we had to cruise through the clouds.  It was an extremely bumpy ride coming in, but we made it.  The sky looked real creepy at the airport and everything was very calm.  We got our luggage in the car just as it started to sprinkle.  Frank had called me and said a mini tornado had ripped through our hood and there had been flash flooding.  We still have lots of tree limbs to pick up, maybe we’ll do that today.

When we pulled into our driveway, I had a new front porch.  We also had no electricity from 6 at night until 11:30.  We sat on the new front porch awhile, then went in and lit some candles.

 

Frank started on this deck on Sunday evening.  He worked until one or two in the morning every night to have it finished this far by Friday when I returned.  He still has to build the little steps and curve the ends of the arbor boards.  I was so surprised.  I’ve wanted this for like 5 years.  I’d also wanted it to go across that concrete step, but he said he spent a long time with a jackhammer and that the step is solid concrete.  I’m thinking about having him build a small bench, or some square planters to help it blend in a little better.

It’s good to be home, but I am missing walking the beach already.  I am slowly getting back on schedule and I think that today, after I teach a class and swim this evening, I’ll be totally back on track.  I’m hoping anyways.


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Morning At Stump Pass

Today is the last full day of my vacation.   Not just my vacation, Mady’s as well.   Tomorrow is a serious travel day of driving to the airport, returning the rental car and flying home.    

The weather didn’t look too hot this morning but we decided to take the kids out on the boat none the less.  That’s Lauren on the left and Mady on the right.  We took off in the intracoastal and headed south to Stump Pass State Park.  There’s a nice sand bar with a small waterway on one side and the Gulf water on the other.    

We beached the boat on the channel side.  Here’s mom and dad hanging out onboard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we hopped off the boat, we found the beach was littered with sea urchins.  They’d washed up and bit the dust.  Some of them were still alive so we tossed them back in the water. 

 

The girls loved handling the urchins and observing how they camoflauged themselves with leaves and shells. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just beyond this little sand grade, was the Gulf water.  We had to dodge this turtle nest though.  This whole area is really loaded with them this year, that’s for sure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was excited to get a few shots of this Osprey.  What a beautiful bird, he hung out high on this branch for quite awhile.  This was on the channel side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also got a photo of this guy on the Gulf side.  It was a nice beach, the girls found a lot of shells, but not too good for finding sharks teeth.

We enjoyed some sun and some clouds.  We ate our lunch of tuna sandwiches, chips and watermelon on the boat front.  We also fed some bread to a bunch of little fish.  They were super hungry and kept nibbling on my feet and toes after the frenzy.  It was really starting to freak me out, so I got out of the water for awhile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mady, me and Lauren at Stump Pass, Gulf side.   If I ever get any elective surgery, it will be to straighten out my legs.  Maybe I can call Kathy Bates up, she did a pretty good job in that film Misery. 

I am grateful to have the opportunity to take such a long trip and I’m grateful to have a family that decided to move to such a nice place to visit.  Tomorrow, it’s back to my house, my family, my yoga classes and basic reality tomorrow.  It’s going to be quite the adjustment.  I’m glad I don’t have to work until Monday.  I’ll need the weekend to get used to driving my car and many other things.  Thanks for taking this journey with us, see you soon!


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Yoga On Venice Beach

My folks took the girls camping up north yesterday to be exact.  They’re up at Rainbow River Campground.  It’s a state park with crystal clear rivers and springs.  I think they might retrieve water for bottling from Zephryhills Springs or something like that nearby.  Today they floated the river for two hours in brightly colored inner tubes.  The water was a cool 72 degrees.  I would imagine that they all looked like fruit loops cruising down the river.  I can’t wait to see some photos from their journey.

I on the other hand am holding down the fort and the cats and the beach and the pool here.  I walked the beach yesterday morning and then floated in the pool with a great book.  I’m reading Freedom by Malika Oufkir.  I got it before I left town for $3 at the Dollar Store.  It’s a hard back book and I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of this woman.  I think she was on Oprah once and maybe I’d just forgotten about her.  Anyways her first book is called Stolen Lives and I tried to find it here, but can’t.  I’ll order it from Amazon when I return.  She’ s a good writer with a story worth reading that’s for certain.

Awhile back I gave up on paying $35 for a hair cut.  I’m keeping my hair short and frankly, I can’t really tell the difference between an expensive cut and a cheap one.  I got a great trim at Great Clips back home a few months ago.  My hair is pretty fried on the ends with all the swimming I’ve been doing.  Not just here, but from the massive doses of chlorine in the pool at the YMCA.  My hair actually looks OK with these bleached highlights.  Oddly enough, I’ve had several people ask me where I got my hair colored.  I just say it’s Loreal Ash Brown with YMCA chlorine, because it’s true.  Anyhow, with the beach wind, the salt from the sea and the chlorine here at the pool, my ends were almost completely white.  I found a Great Clips up the road.  When I got there I saw this funky grandma and I was hoping she would cut my hair.  And she did.  She used a razor for texture (thank god) and used words like chunky and piecey.  Thank you Great Clips for a $13 cut.  But the best part was this.  She informed me that every day on Venice Beach they offer free yoga.  Say Whaat?  Yep.  I went today and it was great.   There were around 25 people there.  An equal number of chicks and dudes and most were my age or older.

That’s our teacher in the sand.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Man.  I wish I would’ve got a haircut the first day I arrived so I could’ve found out about this class much sooner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Venice is a quaint little town.  On the way out, I took a few beach shots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After I left the beach, I stopped under the bridge. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s an old train station there that now serves as a fully, functional bus stop. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bridge goes over the intracoastal waterway.  This is also the same location where we stopped to take shelter from the rain in the boat the day we got stranded. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think these condos are so pretty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I arrived back home and went hunting for sharks teeth at the beach.  I kicked my shoes off at the beach entrance just like you would in a yoga room.  I guess you could say the beach is God’s yoga room.  We have done our shoes this way for 20 years.  Not just us, but others do it as well.  Anyways, two hours later I returned to get my shoes and they were gone.  No way.  Are you serious?  Totally.  I wouldn’t have been that bummed except I just purchased them last week.  Jeanine took me to DSW Shoe Store in Ft. Myers to check out their Tevas.  I bought two pair and of course, I was wearing the prettiest pair yesterday.  No place has my size in the entire state of Florida.  After a massive search, I found the last pair of Teva Mush size 7’s in Oriental Electric Lime in the entire world. 

I hope the person that borrowed my shoes really needed them.  Or perhaps, someone thought they were abandoned.  I suppose they looked pretty lonely sitting there with no other shoes to party with.  Tonight when I go to the beach, I’m going barefoot.  I hate to carry my shoes and walk the beach, don’t you?


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Spectacular Sunset

I’m not going to write much.  The photos say it all.  This was earlier this evening.  Simply.  Beautiful.  And it’s my new header as well.  I shot all of these and feel free to borrow them if you like.

Manasota Beach.

My make-shift perch as I waited for the sun to descend.

I was seeing some serious spots after the photo session.

Love it.

Zoomed too tight, pink sky.

Beautiful.

Look to the left, or you’ll go blind.

If you don’t see me post, it’s because I lost my eyesight from taking these photos.

It’s amazing how quickly it goes down once it starts.


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Today’s Find

The parents took Mady and Lauren to Busch Gardens today.  Why didn’t I go?  I’ve been there, it costs $75 to get in and it’s not very relaxing, that’s why.

I hit the beach by 8 a.m. and after an hour and half, this is what I found.  The teeth were harder to find today.  The last couple of days the beach has presented huge bars of shells, which is where a lot of the teeth get caught up.  With a little raking you can find what I’ve got below in a short amount of time. 

Today was a different story.  The shell bars were mostly gone.  What remained was no wider than one foot.  So, I had to resort to standing at the water’s edge.  I like doing it that way.  But it can also make me rather dizzy.  And you have to be fast.  The ocean gives just as quickly as it takes.  You might see the coolest tooth ever and then watch it be taken away just as fast as you saw it.

 

I also found a ton of mouth plates that belonged to stingrays.  They are pictured on the left in the photo above.  They’re like a little rectangle with slats in it.  I like finding those.  I also found a nice barb from a stingray, but my kid took off with it.  I’m sure it will surface sometime soon.   My folks have prehistoric horse teeth, and bones from mastadons as well.  I found a big bone this evening, but I don’t know what it’s from. 

I pick up almost everything that is black.  You might find a vertabrae from something, or a drum fish tooth.  Both of those items are round.  I like the way that the fossils can be different colors.  Some are black, some are gray and some are more of a brownish or orange in coloring.  It all depends on what color of sand the fossil has spent its lifetime in.  This area here has the largest contintental, coastal shelf, so that’s why the fossils are in abundance.  I know some people have found teeth in the rivers of the Carolinas as well.  But mostly they are found right here, where I’m at, right now!


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The Nursery

Nope.  I’m not pregnant. 

My parents have always been pretty savy business people.  Even after the closing of thier livelihood they are still thinking of ways to rake in some cash, and have a good time while doing so.  The yard here is full of interesting plant life.  If I’m right, I think the people that owned the home before them actually owned a nursery.  My parents bought this house in 1990 and have since added interesting items to the yard as well.  I know that some of you guys from yoga have enjoyed the bionic fruit they’ve brought to Missouri.  They have Ponderosa Lemons and Plumello Grapefruit.  Both trees produce gigantic pieces of fruit.

One of the special trees in the yard is the Calomundin.  That’s the one that bears the tiny orange-like fruit that are a pain in the tail to process but very worth the effort.  My mom has made jars and jars of Calomundin marmalade.  She’s also been mixing strawberries with them and it’s really, really good.  They threw some jars of it in their garage sale and sold it like mad.  So much that my mom puts a sign out front at the end of the drive way (next to the Take Our  Country Back signs) I’m guessing.  Who could miss those?  There’s two of them out there as well as a gigantic flag flapping in the wind.

When you process Calomundins you end up with a lot of seeds.  So they tossed some in a pot and guess what?  They have a bunch of Calomundin trees started.  In the garage sale you can get a jar of marmalade and a tree to bear your own fruit.  Not only do they have Calomundin trees growing out back in their make-shift nursery, they also have a bunch of Lilies, Bromeliads, a wide variety of ferns, some palms and other assorted exotic flowers. 

Here’s my mom showing me around the nursery.  It’s by the pool.  Sorry mom.  I know that’s not a very flattering photo of you.  My dad built that table (and others) that the plants are on.  I think I had a photo of Lauren and Mady painting one posted earlier on in my blog. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are cool plants.  They get these tiny little leaves all over the edges.  Like little droplets.  They actually drop off and reproduce.  She’s brought me two, and both times, I didn’t dig the plant up and bring it in the house before it got too cold.  It basically disentegrated in Missouri.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I realize right now that this looks a little pathetic but it’s really hot here right now.  This is my dad’s hydroponic set up.  Tomatoes and peppers, good stuff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe they should just go for it and open a nursery.  But that would mean filing for a business license, paying rent, a dreaded 941, W-2 forms, payroll and employees.  Ugh!