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Archive for the ‘Florida’ Category

sherylmeI’m in the “air lock” room, waiting for everyone to get in and fill the elevator-size space. Even in dim light, I know it’s untidy, well used. A fat electrical cord stretches across the black floor.
“When I open the door,” the Director says, “follow me, watch for cords.” The next room was dark, too, but opened to a stage flooded with blue lights. In the ninety-four-year-old theater, constant current activity apparently cloaked the expected smell of antiquity. We followed the director across the stage to the opposite wings.
“You will wait here until time to enter. Remember if you can see the audience, they can see you.”
How did I end up here? My friend Sheryl, a mystery writer, and I came to see Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution. Out of my program fell a jury summons? I, along with five other audience members, would spend most of the play on stage as jurors. “These are NOT speaking parts,” the director emphasized with a smile. We would sit in the jury box the rest of the play except for a fade out when the scene would be briefly switched. We had watched the first act from comfy theater seats.
The Wayne Densch Performing Arts Theater is in downtown Sanford, Florida, a small town on Lake Monroe, and north of Orlando. Charming, cozy, comfortable and small-town friendly, it is a jewel in the historic town. We walked by art galleries, quaint shops, cozy restaurants and an open farmer’s market on the way to the theater.
My fellow jurors were great fun, improvising “non-speaking” ways to relate to the audience, but in the end, we followed the rules. We were older except for one young, high school student with a spiked, blond hairstyle. He takes acting classes, so backstage was probably not new to him. He volunteered to run back for the water bottle I left in the lobby during recess and offered me his chair backstage, winning big points for the younger generation.
Another in the young generation was the actor who played court clerk. After the play was over, bows were taken and curtains closed we exited the jury box. The clerk was there to take the hands of ladies and help us down. Perhaps he’s a method actor who really gets into his parts, but I think he was just a well-bred young gentleman.
The actors were lined on both sides as we left the theater, happy to shake our hands and talk.
Did I forget the play? Not intentionally. It’s just that my “role” added such a dimension to the experience. The actors were all local and amazing, so much so that it was easy to forget they weren’t real as they pleaded with the jurors.
The Director asked us after the play if we figured the murderer out. I did. But I missed one clever clue Miss Christi slipped in. He also told us she added to the ending of the play because she thought the murderer got off too lightly in her story.
Some days are absolutely magical. This was one of them.

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How many highs and lows can you cram in one week? I don’t know, but last week fate did its best to break a record.

 

 

 

Riverwalk, Sanford, FL

Riverwalk, Sanford, FL

 

 

Hannah in Antique Shop

Hannah in Antique Shop

 

Haley & The Dragon

Haley & The Dragon

Saturday, I prowled the nooks and crannies of antique shops in Sanford, FL with my granddaughters and daughter-in-law and let the cool breezes blow on us on the Riverwalk on Lake Monroe. Downtown Sanford is right on the water. Its beautiful old main street has been gussied up with charming restaurants and shops and is a great place to spend the day. What history lessons the “antiques” provide! Try it sometime with your grands. They’ll meet the first I Pod (78 rpm record player), manual cash register with pop-up numbers, embroidered tea towels grandmas made and put in a hope chest for their trousseau, and school desks with ink wells. You picture them in fifty or sixty years showing their grands antique stores with unrecognizable items such as flat screen TV’s, I Pods, I Phones, ear buds, and select furniture from Rooms to Go.

 

Two mornings later I’m on the phone to 911 before 7 a.m. Why do they try to keep you hanging on the line until six strapling EMTs are in the middle of your bedroom? Does anybody know? I finally told the lady I had to hang up and get some clothes on, and I did – just in time. I guess they are used to staying in contact when the caller is in the closet and Freddie Kruger is gassing up his chainsaw. But I had more important things to do than chat. The guys and girls got my husband breathing in seconds. We were totally impressed with them. We spent the better part of the day in ER, but were allowed to go home with promises to return immediately if the pneumonia worsened. I’ve been afraid to take my clothes off all week, but Jerry is better. My friend Abbe says the blonde medicine is working. 🙂

 

Highs and lows pretty much pinged around like a piston election night. Without anyone to really support, you would think some of the thrill would go out of the election, but no. It’s in our blood. I would like to nominate John McCain for best concession speech EVER. I had forgotten how gracious politics could be in the old days. Thanks for bringing that back, John, if only for a few minutes.

 

 

Mountain to Mole Hill --Someday

Mountain to Mole Hill --Someday

Cooler weather today was my cue to begin making a mole hill out of the mountain of wood chips the tree people dumped in our side yard for free. So I started this morning. I soon began to glisten and my muscles hinted at how they will feel tomorrow. I stepped back to see what must be a greatly reduced pile, and hoped I had enough. Take a look at the picture. Perspective. It’s all in the perspective. Up close it seemed I had chiseled away the size of the Grand Canyon.  At least I don’t have to do my yoga today for exercise.

 

To cap the week off, I checked our 401K. Am I ready for next week? I don’t know. Perhaps I’ll adopt the phlosophy of my friend Bob Buckman: The lower our accounts go, the less we have to lose. 

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Florida Snow Day

The Old Warming Jack Knife
I’ll just lie here in the fetal position until the election is over.

Okay, it’s not a snow day in Florida, but many fellow bloggers were posting their first snow of the year. The best I could do is to show you how very chilly it is in Florida, highs in the 60’s! In lieu of the flakes I’m showing you how Luther manages to keep warm. This will have to do. It’s all I’ve got.

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Casa Monica

Casa Monica

Lookout Hole just my size (5')

 
My favorite in the Lightner Museum

My favorite in the Lightner Museum

From rustic to pure opulence at Lightner Museum

From rustic to pure opulence at Lightner Museum

Be sure to look up at the Lightner

Be sure to look up at the Lightner

Beauty at the Lightner

Beauty at the Lightner

If you don’t know the meaning of coquina you have not been to St. Augustine, Florida. Take a trolley and you will hear the word until you giggle (or maybe that’s just us) – but with good reason. Coquina, made from tiny shells and cement was the building material of choice for many of the historic buildings and structures. How creative and “green” was that? Castillo de San Marcos, the fort dominating the Ancient City, is made of coquina. The material is so strong, yet soft, that cannon balls just made dents, leaving the structure intact.

 

Walls around the Fountain of Youth were made from coquina, with razon-like oyster shells added to discourage climbing. Even our favorite inn, The St. Francis, was built of coquina in 1791. We would have felt safer there than at home had Hurricane Gustav hit before we left.

 

Other buildings, such as what is now Flagler College and the Casa Monica Hotel were built in horizontal strips, so to speak. Long boxes were stacked on the dried cement below, filled, and allowed to dry before the next layer went up.

 

I would think the city is a shrine for creative builders, but we ordinary folks are mostly engrossed in another time, with surprises around every corner. Travelers interested in a rich slice of our nation’s past will find it here, layered by inhabitants from England, France, Spain, and of course, Native Americans. Those with an artistic eye will find beauty in the architecture, views and beautiful collection in the Lightner Museum.  And tourists who just want to be treated like welcome guests where ever they go, will feel pampered almost everywhere in the city.

 

I will post a few pictures over the next few weeks of objects and buildings that caught my eye on our recent trip. We did the rather frenetic MTV version that we tend to do on vacation, but you may savor tastes of the Ancient City in leisure. Enjoy.

 (Below I caught a boat sailing by the lookout hole at an opportune moment.)

 

 

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Note: Please excuse technical difficulties below. I’m working on the gaps.)
8-21-08

8-21-08

Tropical Storm Fay dropped rain in our area for five days pretty much without pause. Rain counts were measured in feet. All around our county and adjoining counties, homes were flooded. The remark heard over and over was, “They had no flood insurance because they were not in a flood zone.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8-22-08

8-22-08

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our acre-plus plot of land includes a portion of a pond. Drainage flows into it from the street and the adjoining lake, then through a culvert on to another small lake. Thunderstorms sometimes take the water over the bank several feet, but it always recedes before rising the seventy feet more it would have to flow in order to flood our home. In thirty-two years and three hurricanes, flooding has not been a problem. Why do I mention this? Because we have flood insurance. We didn’t want it, didn’t think we needed it, but FEMA thought we did. How did they determine this? They flew over the county in a small plane pointed out areas near any type of water and said, “Let’s designate this an X zone.” Apparently there was no consideration for the fact that our area is built out, so no new constructions has gone on to change flood patterns. This is the case in many of the uninsured homes where owners are now sloshing around in their living rooms.

 

The result was that homeowners whom FEMA deemed in a flyover were at risk of flooding were required to purchase flood insurance – and at the highest rates. Why? Because no study had been done to determine base flood elevation, so FEMA policy is to assume the worst. Each of the little creatures they saw milling about below would be required to have a survey done. The purpose of the survey is usually to compare to base flood elevation. Aha, but base flood elevation had not been determined. Would they use surveys purchased by us to determine one? Who knows? There was no fighting FEMA. They say you are going to flood and you say “how high.” We all had to have flood insurance.

 

The good news is all on our street with property on the pond are high and dry. The bad news is we have collectively spent thousands on unnecessary insurance and surveys. Of course, a storm of the millennium could drop torrential rains on us in the future. Anything is possible, but we have taken steady downpours for five days and our little water way managed very well. Better than FEMA, I would say.

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A local news story stuck in my craw the other day. That phrase from my Texas upbringing came to mind, and perhaps appropriately. The TV news reported a real stink in a neighborhood pond in the Orlando, FL area. Dead fish had floated to the surface and almost covered the pond. The resident interviewed was very upset. She could not open her doors or windows because of the smell. (Like we do that in Florida in August, anyway.) She pointed out that adding to the terrible situation were flocks of ugly, horrid, black birds all around the water’s edge.

 

I am, of course, yelling at the TV screen. “You *&#@. They are vultures, the clean up crew!”

 

Next day there was a follow-up report. Amazingly all the fish were gone. So were the vultures after filling their bellies. The lady was much calmer and surprised that BOTH her problems were taken care of. I will accept an apology on behalf of the vultures!

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Perhaps this photo deserves a note. The yellow African iris was a gift from a friend (thank you, Abbe) from her yard. She has several plants growing since the 40’s or 50’s, planted by original owners. If they are not heirloon, they seem to be. Others have seen my yellow iris and asked where I found it. Apparently most out there are white. I know, you can’t tell after my manipulation of the photo. There is a reason for it. The feature that thrills me most about this flower is its proud self-esteem. If it had a chest it would be swelled as it stands as tall as possible and reaches toward the sun. I was trying to capture that effort, that movement. I hope it comes through. Enjoy.

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