I finished packing, put the kids in the pasture with extra food and treats, got into the toy and headed back to my college town. Yes, in case I have never mentioned it before, I graduated from THE University of Florida. Kim had gotten us a room at the Cabot Lodge. She got there before me and was waiting in the lobby when I finally made it to the hotel. I settled in and then we headed over to Bonefish for dinner. We each choose appetizers and then split a strawberry shortcake. We talked and sipped our tea, closed our eyes and savored the flavors of each bite. It was a lovely meal, nice atmosphere, even though all the restaurants were packed, and on a Tuesday evening. The service was balanced nicely, the food plated lovely and just the right amount. Everything was delicious. We headed back to the hotel and talked until we fell asleep.
Wednesday morning we had breakfast downstairs then drove over to the Museum. It is just around the corner from the hotel. We walked into the museum, both of us already smiling from ear to ear. This is such a lovely facility. There is the Harn Art Museum, the Museum of Natural History and the Performing Arts Center. I have had the opportunity to watch my Annie in the Little Match Girl at the Performing Arts Center. Today we were focusing mostly on the butterfly garden.
We bought our tickets and walked past the mastodon skeleton and right to the Exhibition, Cruising the Fossil Freeway. It was as much an art exhibition as it is a story about a paleontologist and an artist who drove across the west, travelling 5000 miles collecting fossils and making wonderful funky art. Here is a link to Ray Troll's art at the SOHO COHO Gallery in Ketchikan, AK . We loved the exhibition and took our time walking through looking at the dinosaur skeletons and the art work. I loved his map of where they went he even has a trilo bike on it instead of a trilobite. Hee hee. He is funny and witty and makes such wonderfully imaginative art. I think you would enjoy looking. And the Exhibition will be at the museum until September 3, 2012. I had misunderstood and thought that it was closing this week, but it is not. If you can get to Gainesville to the Museum of Natural History before September 3, I strongly recommend that you go see this fun, interesting, entertaining and imaginative exhibition. Children and adults will love this show. I mean they have dinosaur skeletons, who doesn't love that?
After the trip down the Fossil Freeway, Kim and I decided to go to the butterfly garden next, before it got too hot later that day. It is magical. It is beautiful. It is wondrous. Walking around this grand sweeping screen enclosed garden, filled with butterflies from all over the world. Big iridescent blue morphos and delicate zebra longwings floating past your face, tiny finches and painted quail scurrying under feet. A small red eared slider, just hatched and dug out from the sand scampered up the walk in front of Kim and I. One of the docents came by and gently set it down where it could find the water. The plants and flowers, levels and levels of colors with birds and butterflies filling the air. Butterflies hung from leaves like brilliant gems. The sounds of twittering and chirping, calling back and forth and the song and the sound swirls through the air as the butterflies flutter in time with the music. The temperature was perfect, not too hot, but very comfortable and still warm enough for the butterflies to take flight and play. We lingered in the beauty, the joy of two entomologists pointing out plants and Latin names of butterflies. Okay, I was naming the plants and Kim the butterflies. But we both so childlike with sparkling eyes and excited voices and enjoying this special magical moment.
A delicious lunch at the cafe between the art gallery and the museum where we sat and talked about what we had seen. The room decorated with photos of camellias, red, pink and white. Big bright windows looking out on the manicured gardens. We relaxed our feet while we ate and talked and then headed back to the museum. We walked through a few more exhibits and then did one final pass through the butterfly garden. We shopped in the gift store, filled with books and t-shirts, posters and memorabilia from each exhibit.
As we drove home our heads and eyes were still in the garden with colors floating past, happy and relaxed. We took a quiet time then headed over to The Olive Garden, but there was quite a wait so we turned back to the hotel and ate at the McAllister's Gourmet Deli. Again, delicious food. Maybe all the meals were wonderful. Maybe it was the moment, the time with a dear precious friend, visions of jewels lifting up into the sky. Maybe it is Kim's sweet melodic voice. Maybe it was getting away for a day or two and seeing new things. I think maybe all of the above. But it was a dear lovely time. We talked until we fell asleep once again, dreaming of colors and flowers, wings like gems and songs like angels.
Hogtown. I stopped by and visited my friend Other Bob. He had had a cold, but was feeling better. We took a walk around the pond. Again, a beautiful magical place and it felt good to stretch my back and legs after the drive up. Then back on the road to get home and go to rehearsal.
We are coming along on the play. Melanie has cast an amazing group of actors. Such talent and joy these people share. Fun, it is so much fun at rehearsal listening to the other actors talk and laugh. Listening to their voices rise up across the stage and out into the audience. I perform my dance moving across the platforms, darting here and there. Carrying props, moving set pieces, skipping and weaving through the story, the glorious story of youth and love. This show could sell out, I suggest that you check for tickets now. We only have two weekends and six performances. You can look Here to check out the Opera House coming attractions.
Friday morning I woke up and fed the animals, checked on the chickens and once again loaded my suitcase in the trunk of the toy and this time headed southwest. I drove to Jan's place, Rainbow's End, in Crawfordville. The ladies were waiting and looked like they were having a fine visit together. We loaded up in the toy, top up unfortunately because the sky was thick with wet gray fog. We headed towards St. George and Apalachicola. Our plan had been to go to the state park on St. George and then drive over to Apalachicola and look through the shops and have lunch. As we slipped through the mist and fog skimming the coast of the warm Gulf of Mexico we did not see the sky clearing and so skipped the walk on the beach and headed directly to downtown Apalachicola. We parked the car and walked through galleries and gift shops, The River Lily, The bookstore. I bought earrings in River Lily and alpaca yarn at the book store from the sale trunk. We had a delicious lunch in the cool purple table cloths and purple flowered wall paper over looking the water at Caroline's. Jan, Kim and I talked easily and laughed. Our hearts beating in rhythm as we smiled into each other's faces. A peaceful and joyfulness wrapped around us as we marvelled at how happy we were to be so close to such precious dear friends. We spent a wonderful day walking around familiar shops together, the weather held so that we did not get rained on, but by the time we were all loaded into the toy the fog was rolling in. The trunk filled with books, jewels, yarn and plants. Such a wonderful little garden center. We brought home succulents and free chive and lavender plants. The car again slipped quietly along the coast line, cutting through the thick gray cotton candy that had taken the place of space and air. We drove through Sopchoppy following the bossy voice of the GPS. Other Bob had shown me how to use my GPS when I left Lake Parks. It took a bit to get it to work, but Jan and I pushed buttons and tried and tried until the loud bossy voice, sounding as OB had described, as a voice of a museum docent told us she was ready and what we should do.
We wasted very little time getting into our jammies once we got home. Kim had volunteered to give foot rubs to Jan and I. I had to decline because I have been told by many massage therapist that only someone trained in cancer massages should give me a massage. We talked and nibbled at this and that. We talked until our eyes heavy lidded and glazing over, our minds foggy and tired from a wonderful day and we each staggered off to our dear beds. The one Jan had give me was a fold up bed that Pete had designed. It was such a clever idea. So clever. I slept fitful as I have lately. I think the crazy meds are working in that I have not had an anxiety attack in a couple of weeks now, but I do not sleep well. I keep hoping that will pass and I will get back to my dreams and restful time at night.
This morning I awoke hearing Kim moving around her room next door to mine. I got up and said good morning. We were just sitting down to breakfast when Jan wandered out. Each of us tired from a very full few days. Each of us happy and content from a sweet few days. We talked and watched the weather. We saw the devastation. We saw the numbers adding up of those lost from the storms as they marched over the land moving south and east. Wind and tornadoes, houses not just sticks strewn across the screen, people looking shocked. We watched with sad eyes, but even this did not darken our time together. Kim headed back towards her Jim in Tampa. I headed back to Labrun and my precious animals. Looking forward to wrapping my arms around my pets and snuggling all of us safe and warm in the house. Safe as we watched the weather blow and bluster, spin and tear across the land and water here.
And I sat and rested, made a batch of granola and a pot of minestrone soup. Perfect food for a rainy day. I had stopped on my way home and picked up animal food and fresh fruit and veggies for me. I still have not managed to remember to pick up my bird seed. I need to get some soon. I can't wait to see my back yard filled with butterflies and birds. The new green is sprouting up through the deep dark soil. Lilies of every color and variety, irises and phlox, all pushing through and budding out fat with the promise of flowers bright with color and scent. It is spring. It is raining. The weather is harsh, but it is passing. A cold front pushing the warm moist weather in front of it. Tomorrow it will snow on Vicki. It will be cool but spring like here. I have a friend coming to breakfast and then I will spend the rest of the day at rehearsal.
Tomorrow night, I hope like tonight, will be early and I will sleep and dream. I will rest, relaxed from my week with my girlfriends. I flip through the pages of the book written by Ray Troll and Kirk Johnson. I look at the art, the photos of fossils, I smile. I close my eyes and see the wings of every color flutter past my face, I hear the song of birds and the laughter of beloved ones. I sigh with sweetness from time with my friends.
This week will be busy getting ready for my sister, Sioux and her daughters and grand daughters coming up for a girl's camping trip. We will miss Susan and Annie, Linda, Marilyn and Whitney, Jayma and Laura, Bonnie and Corie. We still miss Sarah and Hannah. But we are getting together. Maybe next year we can get a few more of the mothers and daughters here. Maybe I can set it up so JongAe and Jessica can come. But that is next weekend. The week after that, Dad with Rob, JongAe and Jessica will come to visit.
Lots to do before then.
Rehearsals, magic, cleaning and prepping.
I am ready.
I am happy and I think I shall go to bed early and ready until I fall asleep.
joy and happiness
what a wonderful life