Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits

The Existing in BFE Book Sweepstakes is now history.  But before I announce the winners let me make a couple comments. First, the number of applicants was small, very small.  I had anticipated a higher number if only because we were giving away a free top-rated book.  I recall a couple around Emerald City, now long gone, who went to all the local visitations to eat, even if they did not know the decedents.  They even stuffed food in her purse as a kind of doggie bag.   Spouses and friends of friends, I wrongly assumed, would be throwing their hats in the ring.  Unfortunately, I discovered this blog either has readers who can't read, or don't, or no readers at all.  

But I'm a plucky little pirate and am thrilled at those who did take the time to send me their emails for the chance to win.  Thank you to those who joined in the sweepstakes.  

As a thank you to those who have followed the blog all three applicants will receive a copy of A Gentleman In Moscow.  Thank you Mses. B., H., and M!  Thanks again.  I'll be getting those to you as soon as I can.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.     


The Wombie has been golfing lately.  It is the end of the season and they are like Mayflies:  doing as much as they can before the end.  I even spent a few hours out at the Club having a cold beer with him and a couple buddies, Danny, Mike and Ed.  I must be out of form, however.  Woke up with a headache.  Just goes to show you can't expect to be good at anything if your don't practice.


The tree in the Wombie's back yard is a nice big majestic thing.  While looking for cicada shells  (Norah's coming up here in a week!) I spotted this tree pearl.  Never seen anything like it.

Explanation:  it's not an egg or a pearl, but seems to be some sort of fungi that sprang/sprung from a previous one.     


Soprano's fan?



I saw this somewhere and thought it perfect for exes, lost relationships, brief encounters and just about anyone who has grown distant from another.  

“Growing apart doesn't change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. I'm glad for that.”

Ally Condie


Did you all enjoy the eclipse?  It was fun to see all the supply-and-demand increase in prices around the affected areas.  Rooms, car rentals just to name a couple all went way way up.  While trying to get a $5 pair of eclipse glasses I noticed they went up to $58.00.  By the way, its only gouging if it is a national emergency.  All others are considered capitalism, and legal. 


Disgusted by your $25-35 gas bill fill-up?  Not as bad as the guy who gassed up before me.


Remember my talking a bit about barn finds.  This is one found in some unknown spot, maybe even Europe.  My heart would stop.  Right there.


Watched a clip last night of Frank Reynolds telling us on ABC news 38 years ago that the next solar eclipse would be on August 21, 2017.  Even more amazing, to me anyway, is the astronomical math responsible to determine that.  How could they have known, even with the computer technology of  1979? 


Walked by this car somewhere and noticed a very safety conscious kid protecting her friend.


You simply can't beat a sunrise in Northlandia. 


Gone a couple weeks and my clients are falling apart.  Well, Papa's gone fishin'.


A Trumpian moment, captured by White House pool reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian:
  • "At approximately 2:39, the President initially gesticulated to the crowd below and pointed at the sky. As he did so, one of the White House aides standing beneath the Blue Room Balcony shouted 'Don't look.'"
He looked. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Last Day for Summer Session at Papa's Daycare

All good things end, at least temporarily.  Today was the last day for summer daycare before my trip up North and Norah going to school.  I wanted to make it a fun day so I went to extra lengths to make it memorable.  Not included are the pool pics but you'll get your crack at those eventually.  

An enthusiastic thumbs-up for the frostingless lemon cake we made.  Powdered sugar is always a worthy substitute.  It was a throwback tot he days when we were in a cake baking phase when Norah was about three.  She was a good helper then and she was just as helpful today.  Alfred, not so much. 

Plenty of time to catch one of our favorite movies and a sis-to-sis snuggle.

Play-doh time.  I include this picture because I though Norah's creative artistry was worth mentioning.  A rather nice job I think.  Unusually adult-like.  Good job.  

Meanwhile, Alfred decided to be creative in another way.  Sticking bits of dough under the coffee table.  

Alfred loves to mug for the camera. 

And remember our motto at Papa's Daycare:  It's a madhouse!

And so, when I return to Kitschland, the Daycare will resume with one client.  I have signed on to sit until she begins school in a couple years.  Many more days yet.  Many projects...many messes...many long days.  But I love it.  Stockholm Syndrome in reverse.  

Friday, August 18, 2017

Flashback Friday

Yes, well.  Longtime readers will recognize this Flashback from about 8 years ago.  While on Sunset Beach in Treasure Island I filmed this guy beachcomber.  Apparently is a well-liked local who likes to skirt the law and good taste with his strolls.  I didn't have the guts to film him from the front.  And I've never regretted that decision.

The USS Independence is one of the Navy's new-look fighting ships.  It was stationed in St. Pete harbor for a weekend about 5 years ago.  An awesome looking ship.  I was happy to make the effort to find her - like I always say - most good things happen by just showing up.

The Vinoy is a park in St. Pete that is home to all kinds of activities and people.  In this video there was a Bongo Martial Arts training, rehearsal or show going on.  Fascinating stuff.  You will never see this in downtown BFE.

And finally, I don't know which is more frightening, the spider or my dirty tub.  My scullery maid had the week off.  For a about a week we had to battle two Huntsman spiders at Shawshank.  One I got with my show after it migrated from the upstairs to the downstairs living room.  I was attempting to save not only my life but Norah's, too as I had just started to babysit.  In a nice long arcing toss clear across the room I let loose the hounds of war - my size 14 sneaker  and nailed him.  As for this guy, who was taunting me with his brazen "catch me if you can", he was captured by the current Mrs. Blythe, who seems to have a relatively fearless comportment around these things as well as snakes.  I call it "alt-weird".    

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

More Pool Fun

As promised, either to your delight or chagrin, here are more pictures of pool fun this summer at the Waterboard Apartments in Largo, home to your humble blogger.  My daily guests and business clients, Norah and Alfred, loved the hour or so we spent at the Palm Tree pool.  Norah has this thing where she has to name everything of importance to her, from the pool on down )or up) to the her favorite stuffed animals.  Linda and Felicity are the newest additions.  The Palm Tree pool is named because if you get there early enough, say 10:00 to 10:30 it will still be shadowed by a couple nice palm trees to the east.

Norah is quite the lover of water and has grown so much in pool play.  We have races from one end to the other (I cheat by grabbing her ankles, she cheats by pinching me) and she almost always wins.     

These were made by the sweetest little find I snagged while walking on the early morning hours a few months ago.  Don't know the story of this camera, but there it was lying on the sidewalk.  A couple scratches probably from falling off the car.  Who knows.  Its in good hands now, however.  Between pennies and cameras lying around on the sidewalks,  I might get rich financially.  I already am in the rest of the areas.  

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits

BFE Sweepstakes is coming to a close.  If you don't know about it you are not paying attention.  Look on past Tuesday blog entries to find out about the free book giveaway! Or email me at bfereporter@yahoo.com for details.

Winner or winners will be announced next week.  


Adventures in Babysitting

One of my favorite lines is in Zulu when Sergeant-Major Bourke utters the stoic British upper-lip remark, "Steady lads" as thousands of pissed off Zulus line up for attack. 

I use that line with my clients at Papa's Daycare when they start to flip out or any number of things that get the quiet in a disturbance.  I do the whole routine, puffed out chest, chin tucked in with proper English solemnity and unruffleness.  Do you know what the oldest one has started doing?   That unruly miscreant has started to mimic me.  She'll see that glower in my eye that means I'm about to settle things down and she'll stand there, chest out, chin in and mutter "Steady, lads."      


One of my favorite (and oldest) jokes ever.  

A sadist and a masochist are walking down the street.  

The sadist says to the masochist, "Hit me."

The masochist says, "No."


I'm no Colin Kaepernick fan, but...

I like how he exercises his rights as an American to be free and yet when he chooses a freedom we don't like we take his job away and trash him.  Full on Ox-Bow, America.


Here is an Emerald City firefighter using tanker truck to water the trees of the firehouse, full emergency lights flashing.  


Found my first penny in Northlandia this trip on Thursday.  


My friend in Knoxville, Pat, filmed this deer feeding outside her home.  And that reminds me I love deer burgers.


I don't know if they have these anywhere else in the U.S. but it seems to be a singularly small town Midwestern thing.  This is a grab-your-own honor system roadside veggie stand.  A box is there for you to pay.  No one is around to assist.  Note the "Mushmelon" spelling. 


The Charlottesville incident this weekend is proof positive that bigotry prejudice and hate is a cancer on the American soul.  We have made progress in the courts but maybe not so much for many everyday people.  

Donald Trump's father never rented any of his apartments to black people, and it looks like his son learned that lesson well, too.  The President can strip the State Department and the EPA in his quest to 'deconstruct' Washington D.C. per Bannon's nationalist manifesto.  He can embarrass our country with the world and bully like a 12 year old.  These are the spoils of political victory.  But when he cannot bring himself to denounce white supremacists, neo-Nazi's and the KKK, this is why I will never be able to support him.  Consider me fully in the resistance movement.  I tried, I really did try (not very hard, tho) to put aside my doubts and skepticism thinking he could grow into the job.  But you can't ignore the deficiencies.  A not-so-bright bullying racist in bed with the Russians.  We're #1!  We're fucked.

P.S.  Hey The Donald - if you come out against hate groups three days after a hate crime, and then only because of national uproar, that doesn't make you a leader, it makes you a sniveling racist who watches the news.


Who cares?


Another typical Kitschland driver.


Saw this last week at Tarpon Springs.  Think about it.


Finally, I leave for one week.  One measly week.  Not even that, really.  And what has happened in the lovely heat box that is Kitschland?  My Norah has obtained a cat.  Yes, a felinus obnoximus.  

 First, the sheer audacity of it all.  While I am away and unable to provide my omniscient truths and reasoning, they go and get a cat.  Don't come running to me when Alfred can't catch her breath because this thing is sucking it away.  Don't look at me when they start developing rashes, allergies and emotional phobias.  Coming down with the flu or cold?  Don't look at me, you're the ones that got it.  You, and I refer to the female majority of this clan, have provided no less than another circle of Hell.  And it is a Hell that  lives forever, it seems.  Somehow, I suspect we'll (present author excluded) be searching for someone to care for the damnable thing while we (again, count me out) traipse to Texas to attend the wedding of Norah and some cattle baron's son after meeting each other over a Facebook sub-group video page showing cats either falling off sofas or trying to get on them.  Funny funny stuff.  My sides are hurting but then the cattle baron's dad promises to send me 20 ribeye steaks for being the patriarch of the family, and my laughter turns to joy.  But I digress.       

Miss Norah does look happy, though, doesn't she?  And I applaud any effort to make her the happiest little girl in Kitschland.  But did it have to be a cat?  What's wrong with turtles?

Monday, August 14, 2017

My Conversation WIth John

As I was riding the Pinellas trail bike path near Waterboard, I noticed this gentleman sitting on the bench reading, two days in a row,  Somewhat intrigued, I stopped on the pretense of needing to rest.  This is, more or less, the conversation we had.

Me:  Mind if I have a seat and rest?

John:  (moving his cellphone closer to him) No.

Me:  What are you reading?

John:  (without saying anything showed me the book.  It was The Air That I Breathe, an autobiographical book about a neurosurgeon dying of cancer.

Me:  Ah.  I read it.  It's pretty heavy.

Me.  (Thinking I'd recommend A Gentleman In Moscow) Do you read fiction?

John:  No, not often.  (At this point I thought he had some kind of speech disorder, but discovered he had an English accent.)  I've been reading Eastern Theology lately.  Mysticism, Bhagavad-Gita, Eastern Spiritualism.  The Hierarchy of Heaven.  It is all so simple and easy, you know?  Not at all like Western theology.

Me:  No, Christianity has a lot of inconsistencies.  

John:  Do that!  Don't do that!  That's how you train a dog!

Me:  (Laughing)  I've seen you sitting here reading.  It's a nice place to read.  Nice and quiet.

John:  I live over there at Pinecrest.  It's a nice place and the staff are friendly.  But the people!  They are like the Walking Dead.  They stopped learning when they were 60.  I take a book with me to the dining room.

Me:  It serves as a wall?

John:  Yes.  

Me:  Very effective.

John:  It's like they stopped wanting to know things, they got old and stopped being curious.  I'm 96.
Me:  How long have you been here in the U.S.?

John:  26 years.  I lived for a while in Tennessee.  The people there were more curious than here. 

Me:  Oh, that wouldn't be my impression. (I said it low so he couldn't hear me.)  

Me:  You look good.  Was it the genes or did you exercise?

John:  I played a lot of tennis and football (soccer).   I played it in my eighties.  I tried to keep fit.  

Me:  Well, keep reading John and hope to see you again.

John: Humph. ( The humph was kind of dismissive like I'd wasted enough of his time.  No further looks, just back to the book.  I wonder if he thought I was more Floridian or Tennessean?  I'm going to try to find him again when I go back.  Then again he may try to find a different, more quiet bench.)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Flashback Friday

We know that autumn does not begin with the turning of the leaves, but earlier, on some forgotten afternoon, when a shadow passed over the fields and it was no longer summer.

First posted on August 16, 2008


I intentionally hunted for this post.  It was one of my first blogs on this new site designed to let my family know what I was doing as they were in Florida and Missy and I were in BFE.  After almost 10 years I recall the picture and the few words which accompanied it.  It is a haunting phrase - I have remembered it all this time.  It is disarming for a couple reasons.

Firstly, its most obvious intonation is its mournful vigil for a time of year, perhaps the best one, as it makes way for yet another in the endless cycle of seasons.  I know a lot of people who prefer Fall - the cooler days and colorful ambiance.  But for me, Summer was the best.  It was all green with life, and long as a baseball game in extra innings.  It was no school and freedom and a beckoning of possibilities.  Of mischief and exploration.  Long rides in your own damn car that never ended. Of loves won and lost.  Of dark nights and stars that twinkled and stars that raced on evening skies that made you feel both insignificant and special at the same time.  Like a maestro conducting the heavens - you - alone against the background of the universe.

Secondly, the phrase suggests our own passing into another season.  Unseen was a shadow that passes us all and reminds us that summer is over.  Our personal autumns do not begin with a turning of the leaves but at some time we never recognized or realized until later.  I remember when I noticed the first time summer was passing for me.  I was driving to work and looked in the rear view mirror and saw lines I had never seen before.  I have since banned mirrors anywhere in my vicinity.  But banning mirrors will not end the changing of seasons and I am so afraid of winter.  But I have many moons, dark skies and children's hugs until the winter frost.  I am here now, and although another season has passed, I will bundle up, make my fire and take what may. 

August 10, 2017        

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The 4th In Largo

The crew attended 4th of July festivities in Largo Park instead of the Vinoy this year. While it was not as fun as the BFE show at the Community Center, it nevertheless was worth the trip.   The place was pretty crowded and we threw a blanket down.  We had lawn chairs and the kidlings were in a festive mood.   

Some guy was going from place to place to show off his magician tricks.  God, stay away from us, I whispered to myself and maybe not so much of a whisper.  I'm a people person (ask anyone) but sometimes you don't want the interactive experience from total strangers looking for a handout.

Tall Uncle Sam wobbling his way through the crowd.

The guy next to us inexplicably brought his two German Shepherds to a crowded public park with booming fireworks.  He also brought his gun as you can see (or maybe not see) on his belt.  What could possibly go wrong?

Our blanket neighbors to the south of us were very kind.  One of the boys in the group gave us several of those light up thingies that our kids enjoyed immensely.  Thanks again.  I tried to give them a buck but they said no.  I'm always so surprised when people are nice down here for no reason other than to be nice. 

Happy Birthday, America.  

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits

I have no idea where I'll be on August 21st, but I will be someplace close enough to participate in the great Eclipse, at least in the periphery.  Maybe I'll get adventurous and head south a few hours to Carbondale to witness its totality.  


This supposedly seaworthy vessel, the Clearwater Calypso was plying the straights when I bicycled to the causeway bridge one day a couple weeks ago.  Are those palm tress on the upper deck.  Perfect example of Florida Kitsch.


Don't forget about our Existing In BFE sweepstakes.  All you have to do is send me an email to bfereporter@yahoo.com to enter the chance to win a free hardback or digital copy of A Gentleman In Moscow.

I found this on YouTube. I don't know her but what she says goes for me too.


Adventures In Babysitting

Nap time at Papa's Daycare is non-negotiable.  It is not so little bodies can recharge - it is so this old body can rest.  Here is Norah in a photo (top) that she will be embarrassed by some day.  The lower pic is her enjoying a nap with sucker firmly in place and a stuffed friend.


I'm told that "FLY" in urban slang means "cool" or "studly".  Uncool is plastering it on a license plate.


In other words:  I don't know a thing.  Thanks Mom and Dad for the college education.


Decline In America


Political Content



Long time readers know that I have made a small fortune (very small) picking up pennies and other change Floridians so blithely toss away.  Coinage is everywhere down here.  The homeless would appear to be either near-sighted or simply careless for if they looked in the gutters they were lying they would become as rich as me.

I have decided to share my copper finding expertise with my daycare clients and their attention has been paying off.  Above is Norah who, as a ploy to keep her interested in a walk to Dunkin Donuts last week, found not one, not two, but three pennies on the sidewalk and curb.

And if that wasn't enough, little Alfred found a Penny at Waterboard as we were playing around.


And, yes, I gave it back when Mom arrived.


A little drama unfolded at Waterboard last week.  As we were playing outside and Alfred was finding her first penny, we saw a couple guys in blue with shields slink around the side and instructed us to get inside our apartment.    We all went to my bedroom and watched the action.  Don't know who this guy was getting arrested or what he did, but it was a nice diverting activity for my last day of babysitting for awhile.  


And finally...

On my early morning walk last Sunday I took this picture of the full moon playing hide and seek with the clouds.  It was taken with my scrubby iPhone but I kind of like it.