Travel Florida: The End of My Stay

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Time to secure our lodgings and go home to Kentucky for the summer, although I always hate to leave Pine Island. I will have to admit I can see why some people leave by April 30. It’s pretty hot here now, 92 degrees; very humid, and they’ve started using a helicopter to spray for mosquitoes right over my head. It’s even getting hard for the A/C that cools our domicile to carry the load. When that happens, you know it’s hot! So we are trying to get ready to leave which may happen Friday; if not, then Saturday.

Tonight, I went down to the pier to see the beautiful ocean once more before I leave it for a few months, but I’ll be back to our island in the sun this coming winter. I also wanted to see our new friends, Billy and Otto. It was important to me to say goodbye to them before departing for the “north.” As you go through the world, you never know where you are going to make friends. A fishing pier, I suppose, for a girl like me is an odd place. I went out on the pier to take pictures of the sunset. I came back with pictures of the sunsets, the nightbirds, and new friends. A pretty good deal! I look so forward to seeing them both when the “season” starts in the fall of this year. Continue reading

Happy Birthday!

WordPress sent me a little note this morning wishing this site a Happy Birthday! I can hardly believe I have been blogging here for one year, but I guess it has been a year. It has been a most enjoyable year and I have learned a lot and honed my writing skills.

I want to thank all my followers and readers! Without you, I wouldn’t be here. So, in honor of you, here is a gift!

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The Sanatorium

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Mabel and Anne sat at Table 19, waiting for their families, in their long, white, day gowns. It was visiting day and the two twenty-something girls were anxious to see their parents and others who would perhaps come with them. They were residents of the East Lake Tuberculosis Sanatorium in a town in Virginia. It was 1906.

Both girls had been diagnosed with a medium level tuberculosis. They expected to die in the sanatorium.

Visits from family were allowed only one day per month. The first Wednesday of every month and were limited to 15 minutes. Family members had to wear some sort of gauze over their mouths as tuberculosis was thought to be quite contagious.

There they were! They couldn’t hug and it was so hard, but at least they could talk for a few minutes.

Being a tuberculosis patient in the early 1900s  was like being an inmate in a prison. Mabel and Anne were lucky. They got better and got out. Most patients did not.

 

Travel Florida: An Ordinary Life

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Last night, we went to eat dinner at a new place (for us). The Old Island Seafood Market. A working seafood market that is also a restaurant. You can see the pictures above. It is in Matlacha, Florida, the island adjacent to Pine Island and one of my favorite places in the world. As you walk in, they have a sign that advertises themselves as a taste of “Old Florida.”

If you don’t know about “Old Florida,” it’s just the Florida that existed before the tourists came. The casual Florida lifestyle. The real Florida. Don’t get me wrong. Florida loves its tourists. They support its economy. But, if you can find one of these pockets of “Old Florida,” take advantage of it.

Back to Matlacha and the Old Island Seafood Market. Behind the market and restaurant is the marina where fisherman pull in with their catch and unload. It is a true, working fish market. As for the restaurant, you can eat outside or you can eat sort of inside. Let’s just call it open air. We ate in the open air part where you look over into the water of the marina. There were manatees everywhere. There was an osprey sitting on a high post just waiting for a good fish to pass by. South Florida’s wildlife fascinates me.

The menu. Yum. All the good fish of the area. Grouper. Snapper. Oysters. Great salads. Shrimp. But, they don’t stop there. They have the rough and tumble stuff. Alligator, mullet, frog legs. A seafood chowder I am sure is delicious and I plan to eat it soon.

The reason we ended up at the Old Island Seafood Market is because I became ill a few days ago. Nothing serious and it will pass but I didn’t feel like cooking for myself.  That’s why you haven’t heard much from me for the last few days and may not for a few days to come.

Enjoy the photos! This is a wonderful place to eat!

New Zealand and the Clown

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Casey was finally able to visit New Zealand when she graduated from college. Her mother was a native New Zealander, but she died when Casey was only seven years old.

There was a tour she wanted to take in Christchurch. The sights she would see were the result of the earthquakes Christchurch had experienced. It was called the graffiti tour.  Christchurch graffiti was special. It was beautiful paintings, painted on the backs of buildings, that were the way Christchurch residents dealt with the pain and devastation of the recent earthquakes.

The tour was fascinating. The graffiti artists had poured all the city’s pain into their work. They rounded the corner of the last building on the tour and Casey turned toward it and screamed. It was a painting of a clown. She had been holding her toy clown when she found out her mother had died.

 

Burned

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Russ and Mary stood looking at the smoldering ruin of their home. The fire had started last night in the chimney. There wasn’t much left. It had just been a small frame house. They were in shock and didn’t quite know what to do.

They heard a vehicle on the road and turned around. It was the wood man pulling a cart full of wood. He stopped in front of the burned house and walked up to them.

Russ asked him where he got his wood and he told him. He asked him if he could get better wood to help him rebuild his house. The wood man said that he could.

The wood man asked, “Do you need help rebuilding?” The man whose house burned answered that he did.

The wood man haltingly said that he used to be in construction but there had been no jobs recently and he would be glad to help.

Russ and Mary looked at him and each other. Everything would be fine.

 

A Way Out

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She sat at the table, looking at the bottle of poison left for her there. Her friend, Colin, supplied it. She had been so miserable. Her husband had tormented her for years. Years of subtle, and not so subtle, mental and emotional abuse. She had always confided in Colin. He knew she was about to crack, that she could not take it anymore. That she had come to this place. That she was really considering poisoning her husband, shocked her. She couldn’t wait to do it.

Her mind wandered back to all the years before. She had been ambitious at one time. He had nipped that in the bud. He wanted her home, where he watched her. Monitor every phone call. Every visitor. He had broken her spirit. She hated him.

Now, she had to figure out how to do this. Colin said the poison was tasteless and colorless. Undetectable to the police. Tonight, she would make vegetable soup. She would put just enough in his bowl. That thought made her heart beat fast. She was shaking.

She started to get up from the table. Thoughts poured through her head. She turned, picked up the bottle, and drank it herself.

Travel Florida: Food, Fun, and Friends

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Beautiful home near Pineland Marina

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Hideaway Grill and Sushi Bar

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Sunset on Windy Night from Bokeelia Pier

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Sunset on Cloudy Night from Bokeelia Pier

It’s been a week or so since my last installment of “Travel Florida.” I think that’s been because we’ve just been living the life here on this island in the sun. We’ve also been exhausted from moving our belongings into  the little place where we are living until we buy a permanent place! I guess I’ve also been resting up! I feel better now!

It’s Easter Sunday today. Something springs to mind. I’ve been amazed at how at home I feel here. I don’t consider myself a religious person. A spiritual person, yes. I thought of this quote, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” from Matthew. That’s how I feel about the people I’ve met from Pine Island. I’ve met a lot of people and I’ve felt very welcomed.

We’ve had such fun here! Moving even a portion of your household is very hard work, but it’s been just as much fun as work. We’ve taken days off to explore some of the different places on Pine Island. We’ve done some house hunting. In our case, that may be condo hunting as I’m not anxious to take on a house again. We have explored the natural environment as well as the man-made environment. We’ve eaten in some day; eaten out other days. The food available here never ceases to amaze me.

Let me give you some examples. First, food. We’ve eaten brunch several times at A Perfect Cup in Matlacha, one of the five communities on/near Pine Island. Matlacha is actually the neighboring island. I’ve taken some time out to go to A Perfect Cup in the mornings and do some writing. That would not be possible at the height of the tourist season as it would be Standing Room Only (if that). We have also gone to A Perfect Cup for brunch and they simply must have the best omelets in the world.

As far as dinner is concerned, there are so many good places to eat, I couldn’t pick one if I tried, so I won’t. I’ll just tell you where I’ve been. This past week, we opted for sushi and went to Ms. Kay’s sushi place on the road to Bokeelia, Hideaway Grill and Sushi Bar. We’ve also eaten dinner at our old stand-by place, Woody’s, in St. James City, where I always have conch fritters and a great salad. Having conch reminds me of Key West. Woody’s conch is just as good.

Next, fun. Everything is fun! House hunting is great fun. We’re drawn toward Bokeelia as a community because we do want a condo and there are a lot of nice condos there. We are still trying to get our bearings so we’re only looking from the outside right now. There is never a lot of property for sale on Pine Island. People don’t seem to leave! We will take our time and hope the right thing pops up at the right time.

I’m enjoying running around taking pictures. I love to photograph the wildlife. The exotic vegetation….well….exotic to me. The ocean and the sunrises and sunsets. One thing we find to be great fun is going to the Bokeelia Fishing Pier at sunset and joining others there to watch the sun go down. There is nothing like a sunset from that pier. In fact, there is nothing like that pier. We’ve met fine people who we hope will become great friends.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Travel Florida! Watch this space.

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An Egret at the edge of the lake at our house

#SoCS – 04/15/2017

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Memories and Dreams

When I lean over the railing of the pier and look into the Gulf of Mexico, the surface is ultrasmooth. What I see is the reflection of my memories and the mirage of my dreams. They overlap as the water moves and it becomes hard for me to tell what is a memory and what is a dream. I think some may be the same. I hope not. It’s time to unpack my baggage, as a friend of mine would say, and move past the memories. Try to make my dreams happen.

I have to ask myself if it’s too late. Is it too late for me emotionally? Are the emotions that support those dreams used up now? Maybe it’s just too late physically. Maybe I’m too old to have the dreams of a younger woman. I’ve never thought that before. It’s not like me to think that. I seem to be feeling my age recently, whatever that means. That’s also not like me. It’s worrisome.

There are always people in your life who are small-minded, petty, and jealous. I spent many years of my life avoiding those people. In the last few years, I forgot what I knew to be true. I cannot deal with such people and I let them back into my life. I have learned my lesson.

I still have dreams. Big dreams, in fact. I also have memories and, often, they get in the way. My memories that get in the way really have nothing to do with my dreams. My memories are of emotional things. People, places. Failed relationships. My dreams for the future are not about people, places, or relationships. They are dreams just for me. Successes professionally are my primary dreams. How can my memories of people and failed relationships possibly get in the way of professional successes?

I’m sure I don’t have to explain that to most of you. Repeated emotional failures can break down self-esteem and self-esteem affects every facet of your life, including your professional life. I have always had the ability to put emotional failures away in a box in my head and heart and go on with my life, including my professional life. As I get older, that ability seems to be escaping me. I find that very distressing. Exposing myself to small-minded people did not help me, but I have fixed that problem now.

Memories and dreams. Where do memories stop and dreams start? Is there really a clear-cut, definitive line?

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Hassan

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Hassan watched the soldiers as they went through their drills near the house in which he and his mother were staying. He remembered another house. He was with his mother, father, and baby sister in that house. Now his father was a soldier and seldom came home. As for his baby sister, she was just gone. When Hassan asked where she was, his mother just cried. Hassan was seven years old. He lived in Aleppo, Syria.

All Hassan knew was that his ears hurt. He wished for quiet. It was never quiet where he lived. Hassan was also hungry, but he tried not to cry.

One day his father came home and told them to get ready. They were going to escape. They left the house and ran into the country, hiding all the way. His father said they had to get to the border. Hassan was so tired, so his father carried him. Suddenly, there were bright lights and men with guns. When Hassan woke up, he was on a cot with his mother smiling over him. They were safe now, she said.

Hassan knew she was right. It was quiet now.