Monthly Archives: January 2014

Car Trip Part 2 – On the road to Gibsland

imageLaura and I have somewhat of a love affair going on with the south.

I’ve never lived down here, but Laura has, much earlier in her life. I know the south only from trips, so far. I would be reluctant to relocate here for a number of reasons, but I always feel more comfortable here than anywhere else I’ve been.

The first focus of this trip was to get back to Florida to see Laura’s father Bob and his wife Marion. The trip from Southern California to central Florida took about 4 1/2 days. We took very little time to look around on the way. We spent about 4 1/2 days in The Villages, where Bob and Marion live. This is a very nice “golf cart” community for seniors that covers three counties. It’s the largest community of it’s type in America.

Central Florida is nice. It’s the south, but if feels more like California to me. That could be because Florida, like California, is a giant melting pot. People from all over the country make a decision to leave their colder climates behind and move south to Florida or west to California. You know you are in the south, because of the spanish moss hanging from the tree branches, blowing in the gentle wind. The humidity is another tip off. Even when the temperatures aren’t that high, there is a softness to the air, and doing even small tasks tends to make you work up a sweat.

Perhaps the biggest difference between Florida and the rest of the South is the people. There are people from New England, the Mid Atlantic, and the Upper Midwest in large numbers. You can tell by the accents, and also by the behavior, which is not always like the “southern hospitality” that you find in Georgia or Louisiana or Mississippi or South Carolina.  I won’t go into that issue here, as Laura has already covered it.

Laura and I had a nice time in the Central Florida area, all things considered. It was great to see Bob and Marion. We got a pretty good tour of the area, and also got to tour a foundry that Bob has been doing business with for quite a few years. He is a contractor, and has been building out their facilities. I sensed a lot of love and respect between Bob and the people who run this business, and they were very nice to Laura and I, giving us one of the best factory tours I’ve ever been on (and I’ve been on a lot while working at Boeing).

Now we are back on the road, heading to Northern Louisiana. Why? Old and new Americana. We will go through West Monroe, which should ring a bell with all of you Duck Dynasty fans out there. Then it’s on to Gibsland, to visit the Bonnie and Clyde Museum. The spot where they met their end is on Hwy 154, about 8 miles south of the town. There is a marker at the spot which, from the look of the pictures I’ve seen, is about as shot up as Bonnie and Clyde were. Trip Advisor has a lot of good forum posts on this area….apparently the roads up there, especially Hwy 154, are very much like they were in the 1930s, making the area somewhat of a time capsule. I’ll let you know if it’s as interesting and charming as it sounds.

Today we are in Vicksburg, Mississippi. We decided to stay here a couple of days, and will be exploring some historic Civil War areas. We will also spend some time in the old downtown area, and in the casino.

More to come……

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Epiphanies, Big and Little


Our wedding anniversary was last Monday, January 6.

We got married on the very first Friday in the new year 2006 which just so happened to be the 6th. Why then?

Bob said he wanted to marry me as soon as we were able to (which would have been months earlier) but we went to his accountant (who has since become our accountant) who said we had to wait or Bob would get hit with a big tax bill for selling his house before owning it for two years. It was better to take the hit as a single person, not as a married man. So after waiting many months for his divorce to be finalized and then selling his existing house and buying our house, we had to wait some more.

Which was okay. It wasn’t like a first wedding with a big poufy white dress and a massive bill at the end of the day. I bought some really good champagne (as it turned out, not enough! I don’t think I got more than a small taste of it on my own wedding day), organized a luncheon at a local Italian restaurant, and we got our marriage license a few months before the actual date.

I even made an appointment at the courthouse.

So imagine my surprise when, with family present, the courthouse didn’t have our appointment. Which had been made weeks earlier. I was faced with “I might not be able to get married today after all!” and I reacted as I often do with some anger tempered by fear.

Thank the goddess for Bob. He calmed me down and went to talk with the clerk and a few minutes later, we were ushered in to a small chapel and a nice Commissioner performed the very quick ceremony. I still cried a little bit.

And we were married. Off to lunch and celebration!

My friends Nick and Athena who are Greek Orthodox came to the luncheon and reminded me of something that I had forgotten about. January 6 is epiphany which in the Catholic and Orthodox Christian faiths is the final day in the Christmas cycle which includes the waiting time before the birth, the birth, and then the epiphany.

Now, eight years later, I’m so glad we are married. It was a long time coming and yes, there have been epiphanies (those a ha! moments) along the way about many things. But I have never wavered in the decision to be married to Bob and he says the same about me.

Happy Anniversary, sweetheart!

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Hi There . . .

Just Relaxing at The Residence Inn, Pensacola, Florida

Just Relaxing at The Residence Inn, Pensacola, Florida

Just about to leave Pensacola, Florida and head to Vicksburg, Mississippi. More to come.

But in the meantime, here’s Izzy doing what she does best. Being cute.

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The Friendliest Place?

the villages
We’ve just spent a week in The Villages, Florida visiting my dad and his wife, Marian.  They bill themselves as “Florida’s Friendliest Retirement Hometown” and with the disclaimer that they only refer to their fine state and not the other 49, I give you these items:

  • After patiently waiting for a handicapped space to open up, a woman cut off my dad and grabbed it.  My dad walks slowly with a cane and the woman who blithely cut him off moved pretty quickly with no assistance;
  • A very cranky old guy with a distinct New Jersey accent told my husband, “Hey pal, why don’t you walk your dog on your own street?”.  This was said a few mornings ago and might I add, there are plenty of dogs around The Villages;
  • When Marian used a handicapped space in a restroom she was chastised by a woman with a cane and told “you’re not handicapped – I’m going to report you.”  Marian has pretty severe arthritis and qualifies for a handicapped placard, but no, she doesn’t need a cane.

Friendly, huh?

Okay, before you jump on me that there are sour folks everywhere, I know.  And elderly folks are not more sour than younger folks.  But there is something that my dad alluded to and that is a fair number of folks in retirement communities have switched from a “we” orientation to a “me” orientation.

It makes sense – all of their lives they’ve been doing a lot for others – their own parents, their children and spouses and now they are living primarily for themselves.  We went to a financial seminar/luncheon and the presenter said that many more of his clients are deciding to not leave money to their kids, reasoning that they paid for college, grad school and the purchase of a first home and this is . . . enough.

Again, it makes logical sense.  Nobody should be expecting an inheritance to get to the next step in their own lives.  I know people who have done that, and one in particular used to fight with the trustee’s of her dad’s trust for money just to pay her rent.  What?  C’mon, girl, get and keep a job.

But the Me orientation often ends up as a “Me FIRST” orientation and is on display there at The Villages.

One of the cutesy symbols of The Villages is the golf cart – I think to be fair, they should also have a symbol showing a poor shnook being run over by a golf cart – just to put everybody on notice.

Yep – the Friendliest Hometown.

golfcart man

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