It seems very fitting to be coming back/starting back into my writing on the first day of the first month of the New Year. Yes, it really has been since 1 December 2010 that I last wrote. I really wanted to write yesterday. It was warm enough in the lanai, after a bit of a lie-in, to do my quiet time outside for the first time in a month. Florida, the “Sunshine State”, has been rather stubborn in following last winter’s cold trend. Actually the whole country has been ridiculously frigid for the month of December, with crazy storms and blizzards throwing themselves all over the States.
But, joy of joy, when I came outside at about 9am yesterday the temperature was already at almost 60F degrees. So I put on my new purple, fleecy house- jacket that “Santa Richard” brought me and enjoyed my first quiet time in the lanai for a month. The air was tepid, but warmed up by the minute and I was pulled in so many different directions all at once.
I wanted to just sit and savor the glory of the Lord, breathe in His precious air and all the various perfumes of the outside. I wanted to do my meditational readings and engage in my intimate time with God. I also wanted to write and get out the words that had been hiding in my heart and mind over the past few weeks. And I also wanted to let the world know why I had not written during this period – or at least give them my version, which may or may not be the “reason” but perhaps an “excuse”. Who knows what goes on at subliminal levels in my brain!
I did do my readings and spent some quiet time with God. I did enjoy just sitting there and breathing and watching the myriad tiny birds fluttering round the feeders and hopping through the grass below. I even saw a couple of butterflies and I surely heard at least two, although I think there were more, hawks screeching loudly as they swooped back and forth through the pine wood out back. A blue jay was also jump-dropping from branch to branch in one of the pine trees (I’m not sure how else to describe the strange way Blue Jays have of starting on an upper branch and then dropping-jumping-flying-flopping down from one level to another until they drop out of sight behind the fence line).
I did not get my lap-top out to the lanai however, because Richard and I had a planned date/appointment to go and have brunch together and then do some post-Christmas bargain shopping. Part of me was a little irritated because this was the first time I had felt driven to write in so long. But I enjoy my dates with Richard when we can manage them so the irritation was minimal and quickly disappeared as we enjoyed some time together, and we did find some good bargains. What was even better was that it wasn’t just “acquiring more stuff”. We found some things that we needed or had been looking for and we saved some big bucks.
So, why haven’t I been writing? It’s rather a mish-mash of things, so here goes. The day after Thanksgiving, while we were still enjoying our week in Orlando, Rich and I went bowling at the Boardwalk near Sanford. At some point I was getting ready to unleash a strike (I like to think it would have been a strike!!). I made my run up to the line, planted my left foot to bowl and as I did that something just “torqued” in my upper outer left thigh. I dropped the ball as I gasped in pain then, in a moment, it suddenly didn’t seem so bad. However, it was. A few steps later a flash pain ran up my thigh. And so it went on and off over the next day as we prepared to return home. Thank God for Tylenol Extra Strength!!
When we got home I was able to treat it with different things that I had on hand. I also had a massage booked with Michael and he worked his usual skillful magic and, fortunately, within eight to ten days it was healed. Unfortunately, about 6 days later I noticed my right knee was sore and within 24 hours I was limping quite badly. I did all the things I had done with my thigh two weeks earlier hoping for the same results. Alas, a week later the situation had not improved so I went to the doctor. Happily, after testing it in every direction, he informed me that “the knee was not compromised” and sprained right tendons were diagnosed and I was sent home to “rice” (rest, ice, compress, and elevate) and given an anti-inflammatory to take for 3 weeks.
Now we’re talking about the two weeks leading up to Christmas here. With all there was to prepare for (I had seven people coming on Christmas Day) I was supposed to “rest and elevate”? Well, the anti-inflammatory partly took care of that because it rendered me pretty useless within half an hour of taking the dose (thank God I was taking it in the evening), and although I was not left with “hangover” symptoms the following morning, after a few days I noticed that the overall effect was one of “sludge-in-my-veins”. Add to this the fact that our normally mild Florida temperatures were dipping dangerously close to freezing several nights in a row and not getting much higher in the day time, and I was ready for total hibernation!!
The whole pace of my life slowed to a snail’s pace. What does this have to do with not writing, you may ask? Well, what little useful time I had available (read – time that I was really awake and one hundred percent brain alive!) needed to be dedicated to the things that were necessary to be done to get through each day and handle the plans that were in place. The freezing cold saps me of all energy and desire to do just about anything other than curl up on the couch and stay warm, plus it tends to numb any inspiration and seems to send the Muse running to warmer climates. Every once in a while a small creative idea would do its utmost to bubble to the surface and I would even find myself thinking that my lap-top must be feeling totally abandoned. But the anti-inflammatory and the couch won that battle every time
My knee is still bothering me. In fact I went back to the doctor last Monday and I have an order to get a CAT scan this coming week and I’m also waiting for a call from the physiotherapist. Because I have a little arthritis in some of my fingers and the physical feeling in my knee joint is similar to that in my finger joints, I personally think arthritis is the culprit and not sprained tendons. But we’ll see.
In the meantime, Mother Nature has decided to be kind to me and has served up some warmer temperatures. Today is as warm as yesterday. It is 3pm and I’m sitting in my lanai dressed in jeans and a tank top and I’m aware that my whole inside – heart, body, soul, and mind – is revved up on a different level. I feel lighter and happier than I have in the last month. Muse has been tapping on my door since yesterday and today my schedule is such that I can let her out to play.
I have already mentioned in another posting, Self Nurturing- GrillSmith Of Tampa, FL, that I really appreciate good food. I think the preparation of food is an art of its own. Good cooking is definitely a God-given talent. The skillful combination of the flavors, the colors, and the textures of different kinds of food along with the pleasing presentation to the client is as creative as painting a picture. So just imagine blending these two creative arts together!
In the past couple of months I’ve established a new routine for myself that brings me much joy. On the first Sunday of each month I go to St. Augustine, Florida to walk and meditate in the labyrinth that my friend Lorelei creates in the wet sand at low tide. It is a wonderful time of going inwards to my God-centered self. I shared that experience in a previous posting, Labyrinth Meditation At The Beach. What I didn’t mention in that posting is what I do before I get to the labyrinth.
Part of this new routine includes a stop at another location in St. Augustine to have brunch. It’s a restaurant called Zhanra’s which is just across the Bridge of Lions on Anastasia Island. Richard and I tried Zhanra’s about a year ago when we went to see Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman in concert at the St. Augustine Amphitheater. We had an excellent dinner and were very impressed by the menu choices, the presentation, and the good and friendly service. The prices were very reasonable too.
The restaurant itself is very welcoming and warm. The decor does not follow the usual pattern or design of most of the “chain” restaurants. It is very simple and unique. When you walk in there is a long serving counter on the wall immediately opposite the front door. To the right there is a very accommodating bar that has tall tables and stools where you can also dine, while to the left is the main dining area.
But what adds to the decor and makes Zhanra’s so special is the art work on the walls. It is bright and beautiful and very eclectic and showcases a great variety of artist’s work. These paintings are up for sale, so while you are eating you can also appreciate and even acquire a great piece of art. Because the art is sold, or because the artists choose to rotate their work out from time to time, new pieces appear from one visit to another.
An interesting feature connected to the art work is found in a corner of the main dining room. A small working space is set up and I believe that some of the artists come in from time to time to work on a piece while the diners are enjoying their meal.
When Richard and I made our first visit to Zhanra’s we knew we would be back again because it was very good and because it was different. So when we learned that they offered a Sunday brunch from 10am to 2pm we chose to make it a stop on one of our Harley rides. And we were hooked! We have been back twice as a couple and I have returned twice with friends and yet another time we both went back with a small group.
So let me walk you through the brunch process. You are seated by the host/hostess and a server takes your drink order immediately. Large and small plates are provided on the table and you can go to the buffet freely. However, we always wait so that we can put in our order with our server for waffles or French toast. I have never eaten the waffles because I am so addicted to their French toast which is, in my opinion, food of the gods!!
The long serving counter that I mentioned in a previous paragraph is laden down with all things scrumptious for the brunch. There is a chef at one end who will cook omelets to your specifications. As you proceed along the counter there are hot containers with quiche, grits, scrambled eggs, apple smoked bacon and sausages (my personal favorite!), fresh melt-in-your-mouth biscuits and gravy, and the best home-fried potatoes I have ever tasted. And just in case you need to start your brunch with a soup there are two offered, one of which is usually a great gumbo.
But it doesn’t stop there! As you turn the corner of the buffet counter there are several large trays. One is piled high with a mountain of freshly cut fruit in season. Another contains pre-cut bagels of every description, and beside that there is a tray full of different Danish pastries cut up into bite size chunks so that you can try the different types. Yet one more container holds muffins just to round out your choices.
All this for the princely sum of $9.99 plus drink. It has to be the best value and one of the best dining and creative art experiences that I have ever enjoyed. By the way, I forgot to mention that the art exhibits continue on into the bathrooms and Zhanra’s offers another creative art form too. Most nights there is different live music to enjoy. So go and satisfy the artist in your soul. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.