Sunday, March 28, 2010

This and That

Just a little update on what we've been doing the past week. Evenings you'll find us sitting outside under the awning enjoying the beautiful weather. I do "work" on the computer when we can't be outside.

On Wednesday, we spent the day gallivanting with Beth and Gary.

We packed a picnic lunch and drove down Manasota Key to Stump Pass Beach State Park.  The park doesn't have a very beautiful name, but it certainly has a beautiful beach! We hiked to the end of the key and after we ate lunch, we enjoyed the beach. We lost Paul for awhile. He hits a shoreline and disappears, walking without the slightest idea of time.

When we did find him, we headed further south to Boca Grande, located on Gasparilla Island. It is a quaint, affluent community.

We poked around the small town area and looked at a few shops.

People tool around Boca Grande in golf carts and electric cars, some of which were expensively customized. We didn't take a picture of any of the fancy ones, but we did get one of a Gem Car for my brother, Al.

We headed back to Manasota Key and enjoyed a beverage at The White Elephant Pub, right on the water. It was a beautiful afternoon.

After dinner, we headed to Englewood Beach to watch the sunset.

It was a beautiful ending to a very fun day.

Back to reality, we have been working on our taxes. This is never one of our favorite activities.

One of us entered a comma instead of a decimal point into a column for state taxes paid, but I'm not naming any names. Turbo Tax then told us we were going to get a refund of almost $13,000 from the state of Minnesota. Even if we knew it was an error, there was that one little moment when I thought, "Gosh, money does grow on trees!" Unfortunately, there is no refund for Paul and Barb this year.

To make us feel better, we grilled peppers

and pork tenderloin

while our friend, Arnie, snuffled around at our feet.

Paul says this every day as we head to the beach:

We may not be rich, but it doesn't seem to bother us too much!  Four more days and then we start our journey home. I'll talk to you soon.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Match Day

After we had planned our winter escape to Florida, our daughter informed us we would not be home to attend her Match Day. "It is more important than graduation!" We did not know what the event was or meant to a medical student. Well, you learn something every day!

The 58-year-old Match Day program is designed as a fair way to assign medical school seniors to their residencies, which can last from three to seven years. Seniors pick their specialties, interview at programs and make lists of where they would like to train. The programs scrutinize applicants and make their picks to fill openings. A computer matches program with applicant after evaluating the preferences of each.

The students receive a simple note the first day of Match Week indicating whether they have been matched with a program. However, the most anxiety filled day is on the third Thursday in the month of March. At the same moment across the United States, senior medical students learn where they will spend the next three to six years of their life. 

That is why I jumped on an airplane and flew home to Minnesota last week. I would not miss being there for Suzanne.  

Each school has their own traditions for the big envelope opening experience. The University of Minnesota hosts a breakfast for the students and their guests. 

Suzanne's good friend, Stacey, took a day off of work to be there with her too.

About 30 minutes before the letters are given to the students, several speeches were given. Some were more appreciated than others. This young lady, a member of their class, presented a clear perspective of what they all had endured to reach this day.  140 exams...4500 hours in hospitals...3 hours of sleep....

And, then, FINALLY as close to 11 a.m. as possible, the students were given their envelopes. As they were opened, you could hear screams across the room.  Some opened their letters in silence. Our daughter was one of them. It is just her way of doing things. She matched with her top choice!!!  That is a huge accomplishment. She will be a psychiatry resident at the University of Minnesota.

I had called Paul when she was opening her envelope so he could share in the moment. Her parents were pretty emotional at this moment.

And then they started to share their news with their classmates. Some were happier than others. It was a pretty amazing experience to observe.

Match Day is a life stage ceremony they will never forget.

It wasn't until that evening when Suzanne and I met my niece, Lisa, for a glass of wine that she seemed to relax. We had such a good visit. These two young women both have worked hard and have achieved so much in their young lives.

Not letting any dust settle, our daughter was off on a plane 48 hours later, headed for 6 weeks in South America. She chose to do her final medical school rotation in Ecuador. She has had a life long dream of visiting the Galapagos Islands, so she is there right now. She has earned a break and a time to connect with nature.

I am back in Florida. We leave Venice next week. Paul is tapping his foot waiting for me to finish this post so we can walk the beach. I'll talk to you soon.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Full of activity

It's a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Paul is working on our

and I am taking the opportunity to update this blog.

We have been absent from the internet for awhile. I'd say we've been busy, but to me busy describes when one works.  Saying our life is full of activity would be more accurate.

We are very happy here.

We have the time to get together with family and friends.

Beth arranged a paella dinner party with their friends, Dorothy and Lee. We had fun getting to know them while we cooked together. It doesn't get much better than that!

We made a variation of our favorite paella recipe.

Thanks, Beth and Gary! Let's do that again!!!

We were able to spend last Monday and Tuesday with our good friends, Bob and Peggy. They were traveling through Florida and took the time to visit us. They love the outdoors as much as we do, so we always have fun when the four of us are together.

We did some exploring at Myakka River State Park.

We stopped visiting long enough to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

We also canoed South Creek in Oscar Scherer State Park.

It was one of those days when you are having such a good time you can't believe it. We are lucky people!

Thanks for visiting us!  Come back!!!

 And, then I flew home Wednesday to attend Match Day with Suzanne. It was a great week! I will follow up with that event shortly.  Talk to you soon.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fish with Strawberry Avocado Salsa

It is strawberry season in Florida!

While in Tampa last week, we visited their downtown library. Paul found this recipe in a magazine there, so I copied it down and we made it the other night with some beautiful strawberries we bought that day. Excellent. I ate the rest of the salsa the next day for my lunch.

Visiting produce markets is one of my favorite things to do. I hope I don't get an allergic reaction to strawberries. That would be depressing. Talk to you soon.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Alone Time

We left home two months ago. Since then, our home has been a 25 foot travel trailer. Despite the small quarters, we are very comfortable. However, living like this does require we find some personal space. So,  we seem to have fallen into a bit of a routine.

Most days will find us spending several hours at Caspersen Beach. Sometimes we walk the beach together. But, when we need some space, Paul heads out on his own. He would have no problem walking a shoreline 365 days of the year.

In the weeks before we left home, I built up a supply of the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzles. I have found escape in these for years. I knew that I would appreciate having a supply of them when I was on this trip. So, I have been working my way through them while I am at the beach. Sequentially, of course. I am up to January 3rd. And, I must use a certain type of pen.  I can block out anything while working on one of these puzzles.

Except maybe a Caspian tern who stops by for a visit.

Or a Great Blue Heron contemplating his future.

Paul will stop back about once an hour to share what he has found on his walk. He searches for fossils that wash up on the beach. Yesterday was a good day for him. He found BIG shark teeth. See the one in the center of his hand? That's the biggest one he has found this year. We'll talk more about this subject in a future post.

Before you know it,  it is time for everyone to head home for the day.

We all feel renewed when allowed some time to ourselves. It is the small, simple things in life that bring one comfort.

Last night we tried a new recipe we want to share. I'll talk to you soon.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Road Trip to Tampa

Paul and I took a little trip up to Tampa/St. Petersburg yesterday.

Our first destination was the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg.

This museum has been open since 1982. What started as a personal collection in Cleveland, Ohio in the 1940's has grown to the largest collection of his works outside of Europe.

There are over 80 pieces of his work on display chosen from a huge vault. Some of his earlier pieces caught my eye, like this early oil painting using his sister as his model.

He designed jewelry in the 40's and 50's and the museum exhibits many of the pieces so beautifully.

This painting is "The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory" which was his representation of the consequences of the atomic bomb. The more famous "Persistence of Memory" is not included in this museum's collection. What an eccentric, prolific artist. If only I could show you a picture of his hologram of Alice Cooper's brain!

The museum is located on the harbor adjacent to the campus of the University of South Florida. What a beautiful spot to study! I suppose the banks of the coulee in Grand Forks, North Dakota were picturesque in their own way!

Next on our agenda was the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts located on the Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa. Despite the chilly weather, we enjoyed the river walk in front of the performance center.

The performing arts complex consists of five theaters, a performing arts Conservatory, a rehearsal hall, boutiques, and three on-site restaurants. In warmer weather, it would have been a great place to have dinner before a show.

We were there to see "Little House On The Prairie, The Musical" currently on a national tour starring Melissa Gilbert as "Ma." Ms. Gilbert may be the main draw for the larger audience, and does a beautiful job in her role, but we were there to see Caroline Innerbichler, a former student, who is a member of the company.  It was so fun to see her perform and to be able to give her a hug! She is all grown up!

If this delightful show comes your way, you must take your family. Good work, Caroline!! 

We are back in Venice and looking forward to warmer days!  I am not complaining, mind you, but the orchids are not happy. Talk to you soon.