If there's a heaven for me, I'm sure it has a beach attached to it.
You didn't think I could spend two weeks in Florida and only share that one photo I published in my last blog post, did you?
I did hope to finish editing all of my photos before I published this post about Florida, but that's not going to happen anytime soon. (Can you believe it's already August? Where did the summer go?)
My kids are actually in Florida now. They took a quick road trip together to visit their grandma, which, of course, makes my heart burst with pride and happiness. (It's the first time they've been there without me and Tom, so you can imagine how many times I've texted each of them a reminder to have someone take a photo of all of them with her.)
So, facing the end of summer, and being in a Florida state of mind, here we go...
My Summer Vacation
by Barbara Shallue
First, let me clarify this was a working vacation. Not so much for me, although I did check email and actually wrote a contract while I was there, but for my husband and a few of his brothers who also came to visit for their mom's birthday. They've had an ongoing project of painting all of the wood trim and kitchen cabinets in her house white for a few years now.
It looks awesome, doesn't it?
Being the mother of 9 boys, she knows how to keep them busy...
It's not always work, though. She enjoys beating them at cribbage and a rummy game called 3-13.
(Cribbage is more serious, as you can tell.)
Mom is a regular at Bingo, so we made it a girls' night out: mom, me, sisters-in-law Kim and Cathy, and niece Sheila. Mom and I actually won!
We planned our trip to be there for mom's birthday. While we didn't have the whole family there, we had enough Shallues in attendance to fill a room at a local Mexican food place to celebrate. Per tradition, the waiters made a fuss over her, a lá sombrero and singing.
We also celebrated a few days later at a cute little restaurant near the water in Milton with Tom's brother Rob and his wife Joanie, who was also celebrating a birthday.
We had fun hitting thrift stores with Rob and Joanie looking for bargains and eating at McGuires. They also let me crash a romantic evening on Pensacola beach. Tom had a migraine, poor guy. We had dinner, then settled into our beach chairs to watch the sunset and the moon rise.
Both were absolutely breathtaking. My i-photos don't do the evening justice.
I also hit a lot of thrift stores with my sister-in-law Erin, who lives in the area and knows the best ones.
Even though I've spent the past year sorting through my mom's things and tossing a lot of my own, I still brought home a lot of "treasures" like a Ziggy figurine (I can't resist a good Ziggy) and an antique child's rocking chair painted blue (I have a thing about small rocking chairs, too.)
But I also solved a mystery. In my grandmother's things, there was a strange metal music box. It's not particularly pretty, and I thought perhaps it was handmade, but then I came across this in one of the stores...
... and then I spotted more in other stores. It turns out they were powder boxes. One still had the powder puff inside.
The top of mine is decorated with a small blue insert and a single gemstone. I'd still like to know more about them, but at least I know it wasn't handmade from a piece of machinery! Although, actually, that would be pretty cool.
I also came across this plate that I knew was perfect for mom. She loved it!
Tom, his brother Randy, Erin, and I also played "old-fart tourists" one day, visiting historic forts and climbing to the top of the Pensacola lighthouse. I took about a zillion photos, because I'm a real nerd when it comes to old forts, history, architecture, etc. But I'll spare you and just share these...
First, Fort Pickens, where Geronimo and his family were held for a time...
I've visited Fort Pickens quite a few times over the past 25 years, but somehow I had never been to the Pensacola Lighthouse or Fort Barrancas, located inside the Pensacola Naval Air Station.
Fort Barrancas has an actual drawbridge over a dry moat, and a creepy corridor (if you have an imagination) that circles the fort. We arrived near closing time, and didn't want to be locked up inside, so we only walked a little bit of it.
Climbing a lighthouse has been on my bucket list, and the Pensacola Lighthouse is one of the tallest.
Heading up that metal stairway in bare feet was a tad painful on these old feet (no flip-flops allowed) but it was worth it for the view at the top.
Plus the intricate metal stairway was actually pretty cool, too.
I wasn't sure if I'd make it to the beach at all on this trip, between the rain and the work projects. But we managed a few quick trips. One of the best (besides the sunset/moonrise) was an early morning visit to Navarre Beach. We had it all to ourselves. I took my big camera and snapped some of my best birds-in-flight photos ever, and Tom had a turtle swim right past him.
The storms rolled in not long after we arrived, but it had been so fabulous, I didn't mind.
But of course, while the beaches, thrift shops, and sightseeing were awesome, and time with his brothers and sisters-in-law is priceless, this photo really sums up why we were there, and why we'll be back as soon as possible..
A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest.