Travel Florida: Weather and Hello, Mr. President

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Yea, I know. What in the world does my trip to my home in Florida and the Florida weather, in March, have to do with President Donald Trump? Having a home in Florida makes Donald Trump and his budget, recently sent to Congress, even more personal to me than it already was.

So when I got here, I was greeted with a chorus of, “Have you heard about the weather?” Well, no. I guess I hadn’t been paying attention. Seems there was something called a subtropical low sitting off the coast of South Carolina that could give us some trouble on my island in the sun. A little bit of a storm if it came our way. I’m, frankly, still not clear if it is coming our way or not, but the weather in Ft. Myers has been awfully hot and the Gulf is awfully warm. My answer was that tropical storms/hurricanes don’t happen in March, do they? The answer is, “Not usually.”

This wouldn’t be a tropical storm, but a subtropical storm, something I’m not very well versed in as a newcomer to this Land of the Tropics, but it would involve rain, wind, and even a storm surge. The words “storm surge” are not something a person living near the coast ever wants to hear.

This all makes me furious with our President. Being a finance person at heart (well, with part of my heart), I have studied every line of Trump’s budget. As you probably know, he wants to slash the budgets of many federal agencies and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is one of them. The agency that studies and predicts hurricanes and other tropical weather systems among many other things.

He wants to DO WHAT??? Cut its budget? You have got to be kidding me. Those were some phrases I uttered, among others, when I realized how personally this particular budgetary line item affected me all of a sudden. We simply can’t let him do that……that was my first thought. My second thought was not fit for human consumption.

NOAA’s budget hasn’t been cut yet and, hopefully, those of us on the coast will be warned in the usual manner if and when it is necessary. But, what if Congress passes Trump’s “heavy on defense spending” budget with its cuts to these vital federal agencies including, but not limited to, NOAA? What, someone tell me, is there going to be left to defend?

Certainly a rhetorical question.

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Travel Florida: The Trip to my Margaretaville


It is a trip that should take three days when you are dragging a UHaul and have a cat and dog with you. For the latter reason, it took us a little over two days. We didn’t want to stress the cat and dog. It turns out that it didn’t – stress the cat and dog, that is. It did stress us. Almost 1200 miles under those conditions is daunting. When you have a portion of your worldly goods with you and the welfare of two little creatures on your mind, it’s more daunting. When you spend the trip wondering if you’re doing the right thing, it’s stress on top of stress. Such were the conditions under which I traveled from Kentucky to South Florida to move into my new little home, to live there part time. I arrived earlier this afternoon. Tonight, I’m still so ramped up that, as usual, I can’t sleep.

On the plus side, the farther we drove down the Florida peninsula, the happier I got. I love South Florida. The more tropical it looks, the better I like it. This from a girl with a Swedish background. It got hotter and hotter until, by the time we reached St. James City, Florida, our destination, it was truly hot. Around 89 degrees today with humidity to match, though not as humid as at the height of summer here. I call this place Margaretaville. Let me explain.

I stopped at a convenience store on the road leading to the bridge that goes off to my island and, before I left the store, I was giggling out loud at the cast of characters in the store. An older, very jolly guy, in an orange tank top and white short shorts, strumming Beach Boy songs on his guitar….inside the store. No, not Jimmy Buffet, but close. The girl behind the counter recognized me from my last visit only a month and a half ago. She asked me what I was doing back and when I told her we’d bought a place there, she came out from behind the counter hugged me and told me how much fun we’d have. She was decades my junior. A large sign was posted over the counter saying, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!” Believe me, I was more than ready for five o’clock and everything that went with it! Everyone in the store was talking about the manatees and their babies hanging out at the docks and how many nesting pairs of bald eagles had been spotted this season. The latest gossip was that Justin Timberlake, and stretch limo, had been spotted at the local Winn-Dixie. 

Each of you who knows me personally and well, already knows what a kick I got out of all this! 

On we went the few remaining miles to our little place in the sun. No critters were lodged inside to be chased out! But since the sellers had left, it had been locked up and the inside was hotter than the gates of hell. The A/C is still roaring full steam ahead. You see, when you leave your place in far South Florida in the summer and you are as close to the coast as I am, you normally don’t leave on the power. Why? If a hurricane comes your way and you get wind damage, you don’t want your place to burn down as well, so everyone cuts off the electricity when they leave. Who am I to question the wisdom of that?

As the neighbors spotted the UHaul, some of them started appearing in the yard. Some with a bottle of wine. Others with a mixed drink to stick into our hands. Some with the latest news. So many people on this island are from somewhere else and everyone gets along famously. Gives me renewed faith in the human race. 

As we went to work on the beginning phases of unloading our stuff from the UHaul, I found myself smiling. I love this place! I’m so glad to be back! Stay tuned for the Adventures in Margaretaville…..uh…….Pine Island yet to come!

Travel Florida: A Second Home


Tomorrow is the day. If you had told me a year ago that I would have a second home in Florida, in a spot in Florida that I love, I would have told you that you had lost your mind. Now I do have a little second home in that special spot in Florida and plan to spend six months a year there and six months a year at my home in Kentucky. Wow. I never thought I’d say that. It could be that, some day, I will live on my island in the sun full-time. That is down the road a bit.

I leave tomorrow for the long journey to Ft. Myers, Florida and it will be long since we are taking a UHaul with us. It has been quite a few weeks around the homeplace in Kentucky. Sorting and packing. Thinking. Wondering. Talking to friends near and far. This having two homes thing is no easy task. Two of everything? Not quite!

Our home in Florida is tiny. I’m not interested in having a large home there. I don’t want “stuff.” I’m over “stuff.” I’ve become a minimalist. So we are taking personal stuff, household stuff, my writing stuff, and that’s about it. Oh yes, the dog and cat, of course. I don’t want to dust. I only want to cook small, healthy meals. Then I want to walk out the door and go to the beach. Or walk my dog. Or ride my bike. Or go to Matlacha, the coolest little town on the planet and an artist’s colony at that. The home of the famous Bert’s Bar and Grill, written up in Southern Living as the place to get the best grouper sandwich in the world and they knew what they were talking about. I wonder if that old, respected Southern publication knew that the front room of Bert’s Bar is filled with pool tables and bikers? That makes me smile every time I walk in!

So tomorrow we head toward my island in the sun and start the moving in process. Having lived in Kentucky all my life, living on the Gulf Coast of Florida is going to be a really new experience. This isn’t just the Gulf coast. It’s an island off the Gulf Coast and about 3/4 way down the peninsula. It’s tropical. Below the frost line. It has alligators! And hurricanes! Believe me, that isn’t all. It also has the most beautiful, big birds you’ve ever seen. Dolphins to swim with. Plants I’ve never seen before. The wetlands. Incredibly nice people from all over the world. The best part? I feel free there and I’ve always wanted to feel free.

I’ve traveled a lot in my life. Florida wasn’t my favorite place,, but I’d only been to the most commercialized parts of Florida. Finding this island was like finding a jewel in a box of rocks. It’s a little bit of Old Florida and not much of Old Florida remains. The only other places I’ve ever had any interest in living were overseas. Portugal, which I love. Ecuador. Maybe Panama. My island in the sun is the best.

Another thing that is close by is this small airport with one flight a day to Lexington, KY. Better yet, a cheap flight. When I want or need to, I can fly back to Kentucky to see my family and friends. But, for the time being, I’ll still be in Kentucky six months a year – in the summer.

I’ll be writing about my experiences right here on this blog so check back. I’d love to do this with all of you!

Protecting the Environment


I’ve always been an environmentalist. I will soon be living, at least part of each year, in an area where protecting wetlands, and the plants and animals that live within them, is of vital importance. This may be difficult since there is a movement in the nation’s capitol to abandon environmental regulations and concerns. 

The current budget, presented to the U.S. Congress by President Donald Trump, abandons most, if not all, environmental regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency has essentially been defunded. The Keystone XL Pipeline has been approved. The waste water of coal mine operations is going to be allowed to pollute the water around the coal mines of West Virginia and Kentucky. This is not an exhaustive list of the effect of the proposed federal budget on our environment. 

My area wetlands in Southwest Florida support a large variety of tropical plants, birds, and animals. Part of the area has recently been rehabilitated and the wetlands restored. Wetlands only exist if there is symbiosis between the species of plants and animals within them. The Florida Everglades are an example of wetlands where the symbiosis of the area is not only being disturbed, but destroyed.  Snakes that people have kept as pets and that have gotten too large have been dumped into the Everglades. Pythons, boa constrictors, and others. They are not native to the area and are upsetting the symbiotic balance in this very important wetland area in the United States.

Another environmental issue that is particularly important to me is in the state of Kentucky and its coal mining operations. I, of course, want the people of the state that I have called home for many years to have jobs. Many people in the eastern part of the state work in mining. They blame federal regulations for the loss of their jobs. To increase his popularity, President Trump has dropped the regulatory requirement that coal waste water not be dumped into local waterways. In reality, federal regulations are a small part of the coal miners’ problems. They will simply end up with polluted water and jobs that won’t last very long, if they are rehired at all. 

The Keystone XL Pipeline will run the width of the United States. The chances of a disaster of epic proportions regarding oil spills is high. That is one reason that environmental groups have protested against the construction of this pipeline.

Perhaps the most troubling action against the environment is the dismantling of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in this President’s budget. When we think about the advances in cleaning up our air and water since the federal government established the EPA, it is shocking to think of what dismantling it might mean. The symbiosis between species of plants and animals within the environment will disappear as environmental regulations are dropped. Entire species will vanish as well. We don’t know what effect that will have on our environment and, ultimately, on the human population.

#SoCS – 03/25/2017

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What is it about eccentric personalities? I’ve known my share and liked most of them. When I met a person once who was to become one of my best friends, he didn’t immediately strike me as an eccentric. It was only over time that I found he marched to the beat of a different drummer. I admire people who can do that and get away with it, but having known many people with eccentric personalities, I’ve found most don’t really get away with it. They may march to that different drummer, but they pay a price for it. They get to maintain their marching beat, out of time with the drum major, but they are looked at with skepticism by their community at large. Whatever that community may be. They seem vaguely suspicious to everyone who values marching in step. You might even say they can be the outcasts of society.

Some professions welcome eccentric personalities. Why? They tend to be original thinkers and come up with inventive ideas. Academia is one such profession. Original research is required in academia. Inventive ideas are a necessity in order to excel and even to keep one’s job in all but the smallest of colleges. Even there, inventive teaching ideas are welcomed. That slightly (or not so slightly) out of step marcher is welcomed. Think Stephen Hawking to call upon an extreme example.

Some industries, at least those that actually invent products which are rare in the U.S. these days, welcome eccentric personalities as they tend to think big and develop the products that are cutting edge. Think Steve Jobs and Apple Computer. Steve Jobs was certainly an eccentric and imagine someone never having conceived of Apple products.

I haven’t seen that churches particularly welcome eccentrics. Church goers seem to enjoy like-minded people. There hasn’t ever been much room for different ideas or ways of looking at things in my experiences. Or for people who march a bit out of step.

Artist’s colonies. Eccentrics with tendencies toward the arts – writing, painting, sculpting, theatre – are often comfortable in artist’s colonies. There are some artist’s retreats to be found and even some permanent artist’s colonies. Fewer and fewer that I see.

There are Stephen Hawking’s and Steve Job’s everywhere you look. Many people just don’t give those who march to the beat of a different drummer a chance. They laugh at them. Pretend to look down on them when they may actually envy them for going their own way. Even try to make them throwaway members of society for not fitting into the cliques, clubs, and gossip circles. All because their marching speed or steps are a little different than theirs. Think of what others may be missing by not knowing them. Think of what the world may be missing. Shameful really.

Copyright Rosemary Carlson 2017

 

Journaling #1

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This is not my usual story, but just my thoughts this morning. It’s a nice morning in Kentucky. It’s 55F degrees at 8 a.m. It’s supposed to warm up to 70F degrees today which is going to be a wonderful change from two weeks of bitter cold. The cardinal, in the picture above, is a bird of spring in Kentucky. We love our cardinals!

I woke up thinking about writing as I do most mornings. I’m wondering about you – my blogging friends. Do you sell your writing? Do you want to? I did for years. If you write non-fiction, polish up some of your pieces, research the markets where you would like to place them, and query those markets. If you’re rejected, just keep on trying. You’ll break through. Some publications don’t even require a query letter. Don’t just automatically think you can’t do it. You can. It is hard work. Some of the Writer’s Digest publications can help you. No, I don’t work for them. Aim high! Don’t be ordinary.

Fiction is tougher to sell, but there are markets out there. Find them, query them, same process. Try short stories or flash fiction. Flash fiction, in my opinion, is an amazing tool to help you learn to write only what is necessary.

Can you make a living writing? Absolutely. I did for years at one time. I’m not trying to right now as I am semi-retired, but I may try it again. I don’t much like retirement. 🙂 I’m focusing on a book.

Writing a book? So am I. First research how to write a book! The elements that make a book good. It’s not as simple as telling a story.

Another topic. It’s busy around here this weekend. We’re getting ready to go to my favorite place in the sun in Florida where we have a little home. Two months this time.

I’m going to the city today for lunch. Looking forward to that. Writing is a solitary profession. You live inside your own head. Take breaks, get out, see your friends, have new experiences. You can’t write without new experiences. Our home in Florida is in an artist’s colony. I get inspired in many ways there.

Have a great day!

Rosemary

The Big House

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I still walk by the big house behind the fence every day. It’s empty now. My mother lived in that house with her parents and her brother. After I was born, I lived with her, but then I went to live with my dad and only visited the big house.

It’s been ten years since she called and asked me to come over. She said she was frightened. I rushed to the house but I couldn’t find her. She was behind the house. With a bullet in her head. Her brother was standing over her with a gun. Laughing.

I Can See for Miles…..Farther!

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My name is Liz and I told my story here last fall in a story called I Can See for Miles. I didn’t use my name then because I was so humiliated and embarrassed. I can use my name now. Yes, I let someone humiliate me. Hurt me terribly. Embarrass me. Shatter my heart. It’s six months later now and I can tell a little more of my story. Some of it is so personal I can’t tell it all, but I can talk more about what happened to me. Maybe it will help someone else.

To put it simply, I got involved in a relationship with the wrong man. I didn’t know he was the wrong man. I had known him for more years than I want to think about and we had been involved on some level a number of times before last fall. It wasn’t a traditional relationship. Quite the opposite. But, it was a relationship that was important to me and I had every reason to think it was also important to him, including both his words and his actions. He was the love of my life……..I thought.

The truth of the matter is that I made a terrible mistake and a terrifically bad decision to get involved with this man – ever. From the first time many years ago. Why? Because he is a sociopath. Sociopaths are dangerous people and I found that out – in spades. He has some other issues besides the fact that he is a sociopath, but that is the issue most relevant to what happened to me with him. Normal people don’t do what he did. Not only men can be sociopaths. Women can be too. In my case, it was a man. Let me tell you what makes a sociopath who he is and why he is dangerous.

1. Sociopaths are charming and smooth. Dating a sociopath can be wonderful. They sweep you off your feet. Believe me, I was swept totally off my feet.

2. They have no regard for societal rules or norms. But, they are good at faking it. They are big time risk-takers.

3. They are also good at faking relationships. In fact, I did not ever, over many years, have an actual relationship with this man. It was fake. It was all fake. Sociopaths cannot have real relationships because they have no empathy. Perhaps that’s the reason this man had been married more than five times. The relationship was real to me because he was able to make it feel real to me, but it was never real. There was something about our relationship that he needed, that he gained.

4. Sociopaths are control freaks but you often don’t realize it because they are so good at it. I certainly didn’t realize it. He chooses to date or marry you because you meet a need, not because he loves you or even likes you.

5.  Sociopaths will treat you like a queen, until they are finished with you. You may have a thousand wonderful times with a sociopath. I certainly did. But, they will eventually throw you away like yesterday’s garbage. You will feel like yesterday’s garbage. 

6. In relationships, sociopaths are self-serving. A relationship to them is a means to an end. They want something – money, power, sex, amusement, something you can give them. When you quit being able to give it to them, they are gone.

7. A sociopath has three phases to his relationship. First is the assessment of the victim. Will she meet his needs. Second is when he is in the relationship and getting what he needs. He will fake love and romance but he feels nothing. Third is the abandonment stage. He leaves the other person when he has gotten what he wants. He has a desire to hurt that person and goes about the business of doing that.

8. A sociopath is very good at determining his partner’s weaknesses and using them against her.

9. Can a sociopath love? In a word, no. They love themselves, power, and manipulation. They love in an unemotional, uncaring manner, but the partner does not know it. But, the true, complex emotion of love. Absolutely not.

10. Can you love a sociopath? On that, I am an expert and the answer is yes, absolutely. That’s because you aren’t loving the real person, but a persona. You are treated so well and so intensely, that you can love a sociopath very intensely.

I think what is so important to me about these ten points about sociopaths is that I did love this man who was a sociopath and wasted many, many years of my life loving him. The second thing is that I was hurt deeply when the relationship ended, before I figured out that I had been involved with a man who was a sociopath. Third and most important is that sociopaths have a desire to hurt their former partner and they very methodically go about doing it. That is what makes a sociopath dangerous.

So why is this post entitled, “I Can See for Miles….Farther?” I will never totally recover from the hurt from this relationship, but I have discovered a new relationship!  I have met a wonderful man who is good to me. I’m a different, eccentric kind of girl and our relationship isn’t traditional either, but it is good. In fact, it is very very good. I’m happy and fulfilled in this relationship. I never thought that would happen for me again.

 

 

 

Friends

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John decided to warm up while Carl and Scotty bought their train tickets. The train ran much later tonight, but they had to get their seats. They wanted to entertain the crowd and maybe make a little money while they waited. They had hours to play some of their music – classic British rock.

Carl’s fiancee was waiting on him at his Mum’s home in Scotland. The wedding was this weekend. John and Scotty were standing up with him. Carl was so excited he could hardly hold his guitar. A big party was planned after the wedding and John and Scotty were going to be the band.

Carl and Scotty came running out of the terminal.

“John,” they cried, “There are no tickets left for the train to Scotland. We’re on the waiting list.”

“Start playing,” John said. “We’ll make enough money to hire a car if we have to. Nothing will stop your wedding, Carl!”

 

Photo credit to Sunayana MoiPensieve

Label

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When I saw the prompt from the daily post today, I just had to write a short post about it because it is the word label. That word, in certain contexts, has always bothered me. Allow me to explain.

When children are growing up, they are often labeled. There are the cool kids. The poor kids. The rich kids. The label that other children attach to each other determines the way children are treated by other children. We all experience that in our first twelve years of school. Sometimes, those labels are painful and make for a hurtful experience for children in school. Labels may cause children to be bullied. In reality, these children may simply be introverts or extroverts. They may have problems at home. We, as parents, should teach our children not to label other children.

Attaching labels to people doesn’t stop when we grow up. For example, I’m told that I am eccentric, reserved, cool, conceited, a snob, and a few other labels. In reality, I’m just shy. An introvert who is probably a bit eccentric. The other labels that people have attached to me are hurtful and untrue. An introverted, shy person like myself is mistaken for an arrogant, conceited snob when only a few people really know me. Is that fair? I don’t think so.

Instead of attaching labels to people we don’t really know, we, in my opinion, should make an effort to get to know them. Then, there would be no need for labeling. We should teach our children to do the same. The world would be a kinder place.