I usually don't go through my old things at the home I grew up in Florida. I pretty much took everything of significance when I moved away in the 70's. But there is one closet that has not yet been cleaned out and a few items remain. It's like going back through time. My dad's 35 mm camera from the 50's; a telescope; my brother's Lionel train set. My grandson has a hobby collecting vinyl records and I remembered I still had a box of 45's in a red box with a red plastic handle. Unfortunately I never kept the dust jacket covers, but they are all in pretty good shape. They were even "catalogued" and numbered. We listened to them at slumber parties, parties at home, and before going to bed. Most of them are classics and a few I don't really remember why I got them - I couldn't tell which side was the main title! Our larger collection of LP's - which included all the Monkees and Beatles tunes - were just dumped within the last year. So at least I can surprise our grandson with Grandma's old record collection. It certainly will give him an idea about the kind of music we listened to. It feels just like yesterday.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
We are spending our last day in Florida. We're visiting with my parents who are both in their 90's. Since August we have been dealing with health and elder care issues, and running errands to find out what can and cannot be done. Everyone goes through it. It was hardly a vacation. But on this last day, I wanted to capture all the things that I remember growing up here as a youngster. There is plenty of blue sky, sunshine, and water. We only saw the Tampa Bay side this time. We just didn't get out to the Gulf. Palm trees are everywhere, hibiscus populate just about every garden, Tropicana Field is home to the Rays baseball team... Did I mention the boats? Christmas time was always a little strange, but there are lots of decorations. The food portions are huge and cheap. Due to our house configuration, my husband stays at the Watergarden Inn At the Bay. This must be at least the fifth or sixth time. Bill and Wilder are the most charming hosts, but my husband is a very unique guest. Not every house has it's own orange tree and the streets are wide and straight. These are the things I miss the most when we are back in DC. I think the older one gets the more appealing it becomes. I just wish I knew it then.
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Aside from being known as the Sunshine State, Florida also has citrus - and a lot of it. We used to have both grapefruit and orange trees in our back yard. Now there is a single orange tree left and it is a lot bigger than I can remember. So we went out there this afternoon so my husband could pick a few. Of course, he wanted the ones on the higher branches. There are so many oranges on this tree that a lot of them have ready already fallen off. So he found a long branch on the side of the house and started whacking at them - but no luck. We then heard a voice come from over the fence. The backyard neighbor was asking us if we wanted an orange picker. He must have seen and heard our plight. So the pole came sliding across the top of the fence. We snatched four oranges from the higher branches and returned the handy tool to the owner. Now my husband has a few to keep him busy in the next day or two. He just needs a big bottle of salt. The oranges are really heavy and juicy - just the way he likes them. We'll probably try to get a few more before leave. It's a great reminder of where I grew up and so different from where I live now. Oh - and did I mention the sunshine?
Monday, December 15, 2014
It's a great pick me up. And I could use one right now. We are in Florida searching around for a lot of things elder care related - VA, dementia unit expenses, and all things painful for every family member. It's tough getting old and the more I learn it doesn't always pay to be responsible your entire life. Living a modest life style, sending all your children through college, and being good all around average folks doesn't seem to help much now. So as a diversion I am trying to keep up with my digital art - specifically Christmas pet portrait orders. Oftentimes the customer will leave a review and so far I've received all five star ratings on all 53 responses. It's a fun hobby, and at this time of the year there are a lot of requests. So much so that now when I receive an inquiry, I can only offer prelim sketches with IOU's to complete when I am able. Each portrait needs time to produce to everyone's satisfaction and I would not be happy rushing it. This is only my second Christmas season. I may have to raise the prices because I can't keep up with the demand. That is a nice thing after all - even though now it is only a diversion.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
It's very different from Washington, DC. No, I'm not talking about the Midwest. I'm talking about Florida. Every thing about it is different. We are here visiting my family - it's not really a vacation any more. It's about tending to health care needs. Being a nurse and having a physician husband helps logically, but not emotionally. It's been an up and down roller coaster the last three months. Aside from that, you know you reach the sunshine state when the big orange and grapefruit signs pop up and gator gazing becomes routine. The construction around Tampa seems to be never ending, but I do like the Lois Avenue exit. Once you hit the very long Howard Franklin bridge you know you are just about to reach St. Pete. It's bright and sunny, warm, and feels like home. The streets are straight, it's a much slower pace, and so much cheaper. Someone made some snow and ice to make it feel like winter. I thought I was seeing things when we went out for dinner last night. That's just not anything I want to see here! Any way, it's nice to be back where I grew up, but nostalgic at the same time. My husband likes the hustle and bustle of the city - I prefer the heat and the sun. It's a trying time for any family at this time in life. And living far away makes it all the more difficult - no matter how sunny it is.
Saturday, December 13, 2014
When we moved to Florida in 1960, we took many summer road trips all over the state and up and down the east coast. We escaped the cold harsh winters of New England. Now we are traveling to Florida from Washington. Rather than fly, we sometimes prefer the drive. Approaching South Carolina about 17 miles away from Pedro's, there are signs after signs about South of the Border - a landmark tourist attraction that even has gators. I have never been there, but it reminds me of the old days when the billboards were among the few diversions on road trips those days. Now it all seems so old, but charming at the same time. Gator land, Six Gun Territory, Silver Spring glass bottom boats, Sunken Gardens....that was before Disney World and Universal Studios. So Pedro is still going - wonder for how much longer?