Friday, December 30, 2011

Resolutions Resolutely

My daughter's SO, father of Norah, and all around great guy, Drew is a personal trainer.  He hates this time of year because every Tom Dick and Harry has been given a gift card for a workout session, or every Tom Dick And Harry has made a New Year's resolution to lose weight and look buff for the beach.  So, in essence, he has to work harder for a few weeks until Tom Dick and Harry lose motivation and drop out.  

Like I said in the last entry I see a value in making resolutions, New Year's day marks my 11th anniversary for smoking cessation.  Except for a cigar now and again, I have not puffed one cigarette since that day.  It's something I'm proud of and the impetus was born from a resolution.  I believe people can change, but it starts from goal setting, a recognition of one's flaws and a desire to correct it.

One of my new joys is a blog by my friend Jeff Sutor called Bodine-DILLIGAF.  I don't know if he wants me to discuss it here or not, but I would recommend all of you check it out:
If he doesn't want me to discuss his blog, why, then, D-I-L-L-I-G-A-F?

He talks about resolutions and how they are generally crap.  He is right about that because we as individuals sometimes lack the will to continue with difficult assignments.  He says all we have is "today" so why focus on tomorrow.  He's right about that as well.  We never have tomorrows, now do we.  They are always like the song says, ..."a day away".  But what we do have is the ability to prepare.  One of my favorite mantras is "Preparation Is Everything".   Before new Year's Day 11 years ago, I was prepared.  I had seen my doctor and he gave me a prescription for Wellbutrin, which at that time was considered a successful way to stop smoking.  I had a glass jar with old butts sitting in water, as a visual of what my lungs might look like.  I had a memory of my pal Mike Johnson whose smoking had contributed to his early death, and I had a bank account that suffered under the weight of increasing price hikes for tobacco products.  It worked.  I used swizzle sticks as pacifiers and since that day I have sat back and watched as Holly, Marvin, Mark, Nancy and others have stopped the habit as well.

I believe as fervently as Scrooge that all it takes is an awakening to change ourselves into a new, improved version.  With that, this is what I intend to accomplish this new year.

A.  Paint more.  I used to paint fairly often, and did it more for my pleasure than for any commercial recognition.  I have set up a painting nook in the Lanai room and have replaced old tubes with new and have plenty of canvas.  I hope to complete 12 - 15 paintings this year.

B.  Lose weight.  Yeah, yeah, but I mean it this time.  My feet are getting farther away.

C.  I hope to become less retired or less unemployed.  I'm not quite ready for the rocking chair and I discovered bagging groceries was not my field.  There's some out there that will give me a little pocket money and at the same time personal satisfaction.    

D.  It has been (in March) three years since Missy died.  I have missed my old friend and she would want me to find another, so sometime this year I will have a new pooch.

E.  Continue blogging.  Perhaps the Monday through Friday will have to be revamped at some point, but until then, keep blogging on.  One of the new features will be an occasional treatise on certain philosophical precepts.  I studied this area in college and graduate school and I am rusty.  In re-educating myself I hope to boil down different philosophies so that it is no longer the inaccessible.  Hey, if I can understand it, you can too.  You'll see.

So, go on over and read what is on Jeff's mind, and then sit down and come up with a couple of things to make you better for 2012.  I wish us all joy, prosperity and health.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Enjoy The Season

January rolls around quickly and with it, resolutions, diets, exercise, frugality and other forms of personal denial.  Until then finish up the pumpkin pie, the rice crispy treats, the puppy chow, peanut clusters, and cherry pie.

Along with a New Year comes hope of continued health, and general contentment.  For me friends and happy family are the greatest gift.  This past year we welcomed Norah Grace  and dang if she hasn't swept through our lives like Sherman's March.  Just a note of thanks for the people in BFE, Galesburg, Aledo, Peoria, Bushnell, Seaton, Port Byron, Rio, Knoxville, and Saint Petersburg who inhabit my mind and heart.

My resolutions for the New Year shall remain, at this time, hidden.   I concede not all have been successful, but New Years Day marks the 11th year of no cigarettes, so successful projects are possible.

So with hope for the future I predict 2012 will be one of the best yet for Team Blythe.  We are going to tackle nagging problems with fervor and resoluteness.  Many people don't have goals or resolutions for a new year and to that I say "Humbug!"  Always strive for 'better'.

Here's hoping your goals are met with success in the New Year, too.   

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Make A Memory This Christmas

This picture has one of Marj's flocked trees.   She would hoist them by rope over one of the rafters in the garage and use several cans of spray flock to get just the right look.  Green and blue balls with blue lights. Everything in this picture is well remembered,  even the items on the mantel.  It wouldn't be too much later the the parents would put a gas fireplace in and the shutters would be a thing of the past.

Looks like I was in mid-wrestle with Phil while Mark looks too angelic.  My guess is he did something to instigate things or he is about to.   

I remember one Christmas morning being awakened by bells. Mark and I went out to the living room and saw 2 new Schwinn bikes that had push-button bells. Red bigger Schwinns and Grandpa Dick and Herb were pushing the bells to wake us up.

I remember one Christmas after a show at the church we toddlers put on and getting a stuffed bear.

I remember many Christmas where I'd count all the packages everyone got.  Sometimes more than once.

I remember Decembers going to bed and seeing the multi-colored lights shining through the bedroom windows onto the ceiling.

I remember Christmas mornings when Marj would fix French toast and sausage for breakfast.

I remember Herb and I working on a few Christmas scotch and waters to get in the festive spirit(s). This was after I'd turned of age, of course.

I remember a couple of Christmases when it was difficult for people to get to the Seaton homestead from wherever that were due to weather.

I remember one Christmas we boys got a reel-to-reel tape player. We thought that was the neatest thing. Sure wish we still had the recordings we made through the years with that.

I remember on more than one Christmas we got that cool football game that moved the players electrically.

I remember the tin foil tree with the color light that went around.

I remember going over to the Levine's every New Years for egg nog.

I remember the laughs, the food, the presents, and the joy of family.

I hope that you had the same experiences and that you will add to them this season.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Might be the best 9 minutes you spend today. In honor of my friend Jeff Sutor.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bike Trip To Homosassa

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I decided to take a bold step, get out and do something different so I arose at 6:30 and went down the interstate to Gandy Boulevard and met up with the Bayside Biker's Club who, on their website, invite bikers to join them for trips around the area.  A nice long led bike ride was just the thing to put me into a better frame of mind than the one I have dipped into for a few weeks (months?).  I got off the bike at Barney's of St. Petersburg (a dealership, who also happen to sell Yamahas) and was immediately greeted by a couple of guys who shook my hand and welcomed me.  So far so good.  Nice guys, even if a lot of them were riding Goldwings.  I guess technically they're cycles, too.

A few more bikes pulled in and before not too long a row of bikes numbering 12 or 13 were lined up.  After we received our trip briefing, riding instructions, and a 50/50 we all took off.  The bikes were mostly touring Goldwing types, a BMW, a little Honda maybe 750, a Valkyrie, a Kawasaki Concours, and my new Stratoliner.  No Suzukis and no Harleys.  No, these were bikes built strictly for comfort and ease, with GPS, Sirius, and gadgets and do-hinkies of every kind (Steve even has remote control air gauge).

We were off to Homosassa Seafood Festival.  It was supposed to be a 110 miles trip one-way but ended up being 130.  Lot of busy in-town street driving, but when we got far enough North we ended up in some boonie type roads.      

Here we are at our first pit stop on the way to Homosassa.

This was our second stop.  These guys stop fairly frequently which is OK, since it is hot and a cool beverage is always welcome.  

At Homosassa, we all parked at the $5.00 parking area but they gave us a break and it only cost $3.  At this point we are all on our own getting home.  Yikes!

The next pictures are not of the festival, which all look alike, but rather, an old sugar mill in Homosassa which used to be right next to the road.   
I'm not entirely certain of the process but there were cooling vats and large tubs they put something in.  I was too anxious about finding my way back to St. Pete to take the time to investigate for a full report.   

Cooling vats.

Storage pits.

This is where the sugar comes out after having been crushed by the giant rollers. 

Gears used to crush the sugar cane.

Another shot of the giant gears that crushed the cane.

Remnants of an old engine.   

Side view of Mill.

This was a mid 19th century mill.

I didn't win the 50/50 and everyone started to drift away to explore the festival.  Exploring festivals alone is no fun so I decided to just get back on the bike and head on down the road.  I procured directions (89 to 19 all the way) which astonished me since we took so many turns, loops and routes I was certain I'd never make my way without a compass, sextant and either Louis or Clark.  I did, however, follow those directions and 5 miles out of Homosassa I hit 19 and from there on that turns into 34 which is only a block away from Shawshank, where I live.

It was great to be on a bike again.  Great to be riding with people again, although there was no blue Harley behind and to the right.  And there was no yellow Suzuki behind.  It would have been great to ride with my old NH homies, Tim, Rick, Christopher, Ole, and Rod, but these guys will have to do for now.

So to Jack, David, Sue, Steve, Fred, Willy, Jayme,  and the rest I don't know, thanks for a nice ride.  Friendly and welcoming, they say i am officially a member of the Bayside Bikers Club.  No dues, I like that. My first impression is that this completely helmeted a bit older bunch of guys enjoy riding and going pretty good distances.  That's OK, I can keep up.  Oh, about that keeping up business, man these guys are also nuts.  Nuts as in fast.  These guys travel at least 70 mph and sometimes more on straightaways.  They are no slouches in city traffic either.  The bike performed marvelously for our first outing. Next week we travel to Lake Wales.  I 'll report on that when I return.        

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mugshot Monday

Once again, our criminal cavalcade of St. Pete mugshots. 

Wonder what this guy scored on his SAT's?

Failure to register as a sex offender.

Exposed his sexual organs.  Ewwww.

A black eye on a lady is so sexy.

Spread 'em.

The ayes have it.

                                  Oh, poor thing.  It'll be alright, really it will.

This angelic looking young man is up for murder.

Arrested for prostitution.  Gee, I'd rather put my money under my pillow.

Looks like that nose has been broken a few times.

Poor thing.  

Creepy Boris Karloff eyes.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Flashback Friday - Weather

We take weather for granted. It's always too cold, or too hot, or too wet, or too windy or any number of things that don't sit well with us. It's a lightening rod of conversation, a topic we all rally around when into chit-chat mode with anyone. Weather gets a bum rap. I am convinced of this since I am into my 2nd year in the blandest, serially chronic nothing weather capitol of the world. I may be exaggerating, but not by much.

Saint Petersburg suffers from a meteorological void that at one time, as I hear, this city suffered through 768 straight sunny days. Imagine that. Everyday for over 2 1/3 years it was blue sky and warm weather. Before you consign me to the padded room, look out your window, and imagine not having whatever you are having now and how it will change in 4 months. The following is a collection of shots taken when there was weather happening. I miss it. Now I am looking out my window and the sky is blue, and no rain is forecast for the at least the next 7 days. The temps will fluctuate between 68 and 75 all week. It never ends. It's always beautiful. God how I hate endless beautiful, weather less days.

 About the most tumultuous weather I have noticed is when it rains longer than 20 minutes and a breeze kicks up to 35 mph. That's news down here.  Here are some pictures of REAL weather, wintery ice in Galesburg a few years ago.

First we have a frozen rain that was one of my favorites for sheer beauty. Although a bitch to travel on, this was perhaps the most intriguing of all Midwest winter phenomena. Rather rare and pretty destructive, the ice storm remains one of my favorites.

And then we have the fresh snow.  Dear dear snow.  Nature's way of hiding your unfinished yard work like leaves and the mowing that should have been done one more time but you couldn't muster the will power to yank on that rope one...more...time.

I miss snow most of all.  The crunching of the snowflakes being meshed into your shoes, the hardening of shoelaces, the way it muffled sounds, the yelling of kids playing,  the sledding, angels and forts no longer made by a youthful you.

Snow storm at BFE.

So all my readers from up North: embrace the joy of snow.  Give thanks to finger-numbing cold,  the adrenaline inducing slip-sliding of ice and the once-a-month note from Ameren.    

Thursday, December 15, 2011

This And That

This is one of the culverts here at Shawshank.  The dark object in the center is a head, and that head belongs to a gator. 

Saw this in St. Pete.  Made me long for the World's Best pizza, Jerry's in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.   

Saw these nests or cocoons or whatever they are recently.  What the Hell are they? 

Norah chillin'.

Saw this on NatGeo; picture of a tree in India which was in a flooded area and the spiders went to the highest structures.  Yep, that's all spider webs in those trees.  

Spotted this lady at the library.  You can't read, but that tattoo says "Sweet'.  The other leg has on it "Heart".  I can tell you she certainly wasn't from what I could see. 

An absolutely massive man also spotted at the library.  He's the one on the far right.

Gearing up for Bear's Sunday (Drew, Michael and Mackenzie).  Norah, also present, had on her Bear's cheerleader outfit.

Saw the spires on this church heading south on 4th Street.  It turned out to be a Ukrainian church, and I'm guessing Greek orthodox. 

Beautiful and unique.  

Spotted these people at the local Wal-Mart.   Yes:  they just got married and apparently needed to soak up Wally World before their honeymoon.  Yes:  they were kind enough to pose.  No: chance of long happy life together if going to Wal-Mart is your first decision as a couple.