Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

Once my husband started ordering from infomercials there was no stopping. To his credit, he watched many more—to the bitter end—than he responded to. My shelves, though, are testament to the fact that he did respond on more than one occasion. On many birthdays and Christmases I’d unwrap a gift I knew well from hearing the excited users on TV. So I would be excited and reluctant all at the same time. After all, Jerry had pictured me using these marvels of science, and I had to follow through.

I’m not sure which was the gateway drug, but probably the “storage system” complete with containers and a turntable. Never search for the right container for your leftovers again, nor the lids. Just spin and you would find them. Ha! So I put them to the test. That was years ago. They are still up there making each day easier exactly as advertised.

Surely the GTX-press Jerry ordered next would not live up to its billing: quick, perfect eggs, leftovers wrapped in a tortilla and made into a healthful dinner, angel food cake with fruit in the middle, etc. all in about three to seven minutes. Come on! How often would I drag out an appliance to do one of these things anyway? A lot! Again, except for the propensity for the Teflon to peel a bit, it was perfect and is indispensable in my kitchen.

Jerry also responded to fantastic promises in catalogs. We all know flower catalogs should be sued for false advertising, but after years of restraining himself, Jerry ordered a “carpet of flowers.” When it arrived he cut a small portion to test and followed directions to the T. Did we have a carpet of flowers? Yes and no. A few varieties came up, but most vigorous was the verbena. It eventually made a verbena carpet and we loved it. Verbena was my mother’s favorite flower, so we always knew she had orchestrated its insidious march through our garden.

Walk though my house and you’ll see item after item you’ve seen in catalogs: Galileo’s temperature gauge, little German boy and girl that pop out and foretell the weather, elegant, domed barometer, solar waterfalls, gargoyle cats, and the list goes on and on. I treasure them all.

Did I ever call a halt to a purchase? Yes, yes I did. Twice. For a Lifestyle neck lift and a “slimmer” undergarment. Jerry was genuinely puzzled with my attitude—and I did have an attitude. Those are the two times I said, “BUT WAIT!”

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A house unchanged , a house totally changed. I have time, lots of time to sort through a lifetime of possessions and I move at the speed of one with a long, lazy road before her. There is no hurry to eradicate the past, to decide what is important and not. No hurry, yet it begins to happen naturally, and what is important surprises. Of all the items piled in the corner of the table the largest is the size of a saltine cracker.  





The worry stone  Hannah slipped quietly into my hand as the memorial service began. “Hold this, Ahmaw, ” my granddaughter said, “It will keep you calm.”



His wallet. You have to open these things that have always been  a place you do not go. But you are there–a tiny picture from long ago.







His wedding ring. So it was the third in a line of replacements, the others lost who knows where.






The ubiquitous golf balls. 





Oh yeah, and the Mile High Club pin.

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It was entirely appropriate to celebrate fifty-one years of marriage with a leisurely trip to our favorite city, St. Augustine, while a possible Cat 1 hurricane was bearing down on Florida.  Marriages are like that. In times of greatest joy, there are usually winds of disturbance swirling at your feet. In fifty-one years you learn a lot about surprises, undercurrents and threatening winds, and if you are paying attention, you learn they are not unexpected and surprises at all. They are just part of the natural current. So you pack your bags and head to St. Francis Inn www.stfrancisinn.com , the oldest bed and breakfast in the oldest continuously operating city in America, St. Augustine, Florida.


The 217-year-old inn’s pleasantries were kicked up a notch this year by the congenial group of fellow guests. Breakfast, happy hour and dessert time brought us together during the days. We talked across the dining room and got to know each other. The crowd even endured my husband’s famously bad joke telling. Happy hours stretched on and dessert time (or any time during the day) the sitting room filled with guests kicking back and talking. Much of the talk naturally gravitated to the weather. Dull? I think not. Not with Fay doing the two-step around our state and some of our homes in its path, others wondering if the plane would fly or cruise ship take off. We would all be safest, no doubt, in our 217 year old building. It surely had weathered other storms. Also, St. Augustine has not been hit directly by a hurricane since the cross at Nombre de Dios was erected in 1965. Coincidence? the citizens ask.


Most guests lived in other parts of Florida, though one couple was from New Hampshire, another Alabama, and still others from Ohio and South Carolina. Those of us calling Florida home were, of course, overwhelmingly from another state originally. There was the young couple who had come to look for a home in St. Augustine. He grew up there and longed to come back. We all understood why.


The St. Francis Inn offers a Seniors Inn Love special in August, so it was no surprise several anniversaries were being celebrated. They spanned the years: 38, 41, 51 and 10. The couple married the shortest time had been married at the St. Francis Inn. They got extra points for that.


A group was celebrating the birthday of one of the three ladies. This is no Holiday Inn; this is a place you go to celebrate. Carole Drost Lopez, an Ocala artist, was among that group. She seized whatever light penetrated our courtyard on mostly cloudy days. Just a glint of sun on the red rocking chairs resulted in a beautiful pastel. We will watch her website for the results of yet another pastel of a charming statue in the courtyard. You might want to check out her website at www.artdrost.com. 


I won’t even try to say all that needs saying in one blog, so keep coming back for the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey says. Those will highlight the ancient city and even ghost residents in St. Francis Inn. And yes, “Lily” just may have made contact with me. Stay tuned.

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Anyone interested in our Orlando Sentinel 50th anniversary article and pictures (way back then and now) may click on this link:   http://orlandosentinel.p2ionline.com/celebrations/ss/index.aspx

NOTE: This listing is no longer online. Sorry.

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Fifty Years

staugustine-0431.jpgstaugustine-0311.jpgstaugustine-0461.jpgAugust 16th was our 50th anniversary. We thought that happened only to old people, but we were obviously wrong. I kid. Of course, we are old and that’s a good thing. I will write more on that subject later. Today is for reveling in celebration of a milestone.

I’m experiencing jet lag, having just arrived back in the 21st century from the 17th.  That’s what spending a few days in St. Augustine, FL will do to you. Our bed and breakfast, St. Francis Inn, is the oldest inn (built in 1791) in the oldest city in America. We were a few houses down from the oldest house, occupied since the 1600’s. Quaint, charming, comfortable—it was all that with a staff of truly hospitable hosts. With breakfasts, happy hours and deserts all complimentary and rooms decorated like a home, I have to wonder why we ever stayed at hotels. Bikes were there for guests’ use, and the Inn even provides a beach house complete with towels and all you needed for a day on the ocean. With the trolley stop just up the street, Jerry and I had transportation all over the city without parking problems. Parking is severely lacking in a city built for another time, so that was the way to go. The St. Francis Inn is unique in that it has a parking lot, too. Oh, I can’t forget the Inn Cat, Zeke. How perfect was that? (Courtyard & St. Francis Inn pictured above)

On arrival the desk clerk slid a note across the desk. It said: Happy 50th Anniversary from your loving kids – We have paid for your room, breakfast in bed and a carriage ride. There was more—champagne, snacks and a big bouquet. We aren’t easily shocked, but that did it. The staff told us several times what wonderful children we have. Can’t argue with that.

We took the full trolley ride while waiting for our room to be prepared and learned a lot of history while choosing places to return. If you go, you’ll want the Old Town Trolley Tours (called Green trolley). You can get special prices online and print out your ticket ahead of time. You’ll really be glad you chose this one when others wait and wait for their pickup and yours arrives every twenty minutes at all locations. Seats are hard, of course, and entrances are rather slim, but this is still the way to go.

When we struck out the following day first stop was—what else?—The Fountain of Youth. After a lecture in the spring house I asked the whereabouts of the fountain. “Oh, would you like a cup?” the docent asked? Was she kidding? Jerry and I each got a cup, some I drank, poured some on me. “Anyone else?” she asked. Not a one. We were a little dumbstruck. Were we the only old people? Is this the same crowd that emptied the trolley at the winery the day before? Some questions don’t get answered.

St. George Street is the only place we had spent time before and we were very disappointed. It seemed more like a flea market with designer sunglass knockoffs and Hawaiian goods.

This trip we did get off at San Sebastian Winery. We learned quite a bit about wine and enjoyed the first tasting. Subsequent ones were too sweet for our palate. We had laughed when told we could dump what we didn’t like into the bucket in front of us, but made liberal use of it. Perhaps we just didn’t get to try the right wines, but it was a good experience nevertheless.

Our getting off stop was the oldest house, just doors down from our B&B and it was the highlight of the tour I would have to say. The docent was knowledgeable and interested in what she was saying. We could imagine the hard life they lived here, though the house was probably a place to covet during its time. There was still a rustic beauty inside and in the gardens. Not to be missed. (Middle photo above shows the painting-like quality of downstairs room.)

We waited till night for our carriage ride. It was far too hot to take horses out in the sun. Driving the carriage is a full time job with the added chore of entertaining guests. We could have done without our driver telling us as he pulled from the curb how dangerous it was and that passengers had been killed. We just put our trust in Benjamin the horse and enjoyed the ride.

Dinners at the A1A Ale House and Columbia were great, though we still want to try Raintree Restaurant next trip. And there will be a next trip.

Now if you aren’t my husband you may talk among yourselves while I end with just one private message. 

Jerry, you’re still the one.

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