Monday, March 29, 2010

Pat---Characters #1

Our country neighborhood recently got a new Olive Garden.  Now if you live in the city you are thinking...yeah, big deal?  But out here where every restaurant is fast food or fried something, this chain ups the bar on interesting food.  The place is huge and had been opened about three weeks already.  Last week we decided to stop by and eat (on a Friday night) and when we got there the parking lot was filled.  The lobby was full of patiently waiting people and the host told us there was an 80 to 95 minute wait!  We did not want to spend that much time waiting for our dinner and went somewhere else.

OK.  So on a Wednesday two weeks later, and over a month after it had been opened in this very rural area, we decided to try again.  This time there was only a 30 to 40 minute wait!  Geesh.  Someone has a gold mine here!  We went to the bar and actually ended up ordering dinner there.  I don't usually like eating at a bar but the atmosphere was cozy, the bar staff were wonderful and very charming and the food was delish and arrived much sooner than it would have otherwise.

While sipping my wine and waiting for our salad there was a young person sitting at the end stool next to me.  I turned and smiled at him/her.  Perhaps you are wondering what I am getting at here.  If you ever saw Saturday Night Live and saw Julia Sweeney's terrific rendition of the character 'Pat' you will understand what I am talking about.  Pat was a sexually vague character and each skit was a set-up where someone tried to figure out if he/she was a man or a woman.  Sweeney is perhaps one of the most underrated comedians and played this character memorably.

Well, this person looked like a 19 (could have even passed for 16) year-old.  He/She, whom I will now call Pat was drinking a coke and waiting for his/her takeout.  Pat was so much nicer looking (handsome, pretty) than TV Pat.  Dressed in a T-shirt and slacks and wearing a baseball cap with a man's haircut that covered orange-died curls in the front, made it impossible for me to resist making small talk.  

I learned that 'Pat' was 29!  I commented that while he/she probably did not like looking so young, they would welcome this in later years.  'Pat's' voice did not provide a clue as to the sex.  'Pat' was very nice and I found out that he/she did technical/mechanical work on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for the Navy!  Pat loved this work and had been shipped all over the world at times because of his/her exceptional skills.

Pat had served in the military in Iraq and liked it there but now worked for a contractor and was able to die 'their' hair orange just to drive the old command officer nuts.  I also learned that 'Pat' had an estranged relationship with his/her father who had left when he/she was only four and hated that the father now knew where he/she was living because of a regular security check that the contractor has to run every time there was a promotion.  (I obviously have a trusting face as we had an intimate conversation on all this while Pat waited for take-out and I waited for breadsticks.)

Pat made a very good salary because of his/her skills and told me that he/she owned a town home and 4 vehicles but was unhappy to be living so far from the maddening crowd of the city.  Pat was a really interesting person with a great sense of humor and made me confident that our defense pilots were in good hands and I thanked Pat for his/her service to this great country.

And, of course, just in case, I did not ask and Pat did not tell about... whatever.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Why I am Fat...well, Chubby.

A long time ago in a land far, far away a Queen without servants would now and again feel the need for some celebration organization such as the birthdays of the Prince and Princess and sometimes friends of theirs.  And so she took it on herself to spend many hours into the wee morning hours before those big days to decorate special birthday cakes.  When you live where there are no bakeries, one must take on the challenges oneself.  (In this modern world, my daughter orders her cakes so I no longer do this, and yes, I have been scanning slides once again!)

Somewhere among my paper photos is a picture of a dinosaur cake...the most difficult construction and decoration that I did for my budding paleontologist son who now is a wannabe rock star, but I do not know where that photo is.  Click on photos unless you are on a diet.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


It can be a perfectly new and untarnished spring morning with so much potential. You can be blissfully sipping coffee and innocently checking quickly for emails and totally unprepared for that hard sucker punch in the gut from someone you love more than life itself. You are suddenly feeling so small and bewildered, and then the day becomes very different and the coffee very acidic.

(This has nothing to do with my prior post.)

Monday, March 22, 2010

I Should Be Relieved

I should be happy and relieved today since millions of Americans will soon be able to get the same or similar health care to mine.  Americans today who get a tragic chronic illness can feel more hopeful about getting the care they need.

But I am depressed.  I saw too much ignorance and ugliness in the debate leading up to this bill.  I saw a video of a small man in a wheel chair with Parkinson's carrying a sign in support of the bill and being surrounded and yelled at by 6-10 white men who told him to go out and get a job!  They threw money at him as if he was some beggar rather than a citizen with a right to an opinion and a right to give that opinion.  He was very brave sitting their with these ugly souls towering over him.

I drove out of the city on Saturday and was delayed by a long cadre of police motorcycles and cars going into the city and learned later that it was because of anti-health care bill protesters angrily surrounding several black Congressmen calling them racial names and spitting on them.  They also shouted homophobic epithets to Rep. Barney Frank the next day.  Who are these dangerous people?

Some Tea Party protesters carried signs saying that if the bill passed they would incite violence.  My sister who is an attorney said last year that her Republican legal colleagues have actually purchased guns to be prepared...for what I do not know.  Where are their critical thinking skills?

This was not a bill about sending our men and women to war.  This was not a bill about rescinding the constitution.  This was a bill about caring for our citizens who through no fault of their own need a hand.  These are not welfare junkies but people who have lost jobs or lost fights with the death panels of the insurance agencies.  We need to stand by them.  This is about the numerous hospitals that are closing their doors because they can not continue to provide health care for those who have no insurance and still balance their books. 

Conservative Congressmen were far from conservative in their rhetoric.  There were far from statesmanlike in their incitement of the part of the  crowd that was protesting the bill.  The difference between a democracy and other forms of government is that you have the right make your argument peacefully and without threat of violence.

OK, I am done.  I do not like writing like this  because this is not what my blog is about and because I cannot change the minds of others.  But I am glad I got it off MY chest.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Virtual World

I wrote this post a week or so before I started reading Danah Boyd's PhD dissertation titled Taken Out of Context:  American Teen Society in Networked Publics.  (I am not really as geeky as this sounds but a friend of my son's linked to this on FB...AND I have not made it through all the the 390 pages and perhaps may never make it to the middle even as I am also in the middle of a Hemingway book and a book of poetry, but some of the  ideas discussed seems to go with this I do add some of it here.)

I have become established on Facebook (FB) in spite of my initial resistance and the fact that the person who originally asked me to join, and whom I befriended, almost immediately left this virtual space and disappeared because of issues with their family!   I am still struggling to understand why those who have hundreds of friends rarely post, and I, of course, have so few friends and post fairly often, and that has become a bit of an embarrassment.  This insecurity is all mine, because no one really cares how many 'friends' I have or clearly how often I post, and sadly, no one really cares what I have to say when I do post!  I disagree with the following conclusion:  "people are no longer shaped just by their dwellings but by their networks (Mitchell 1995: 49)."   Young people perhaps, but not those of us who are old hermits.  We don't care.  I hope I am not being shaped by my 'virtual' networks.  My real networks exist because of who I am...I don't think I am being shaped greatly by them.

(Yet this is perhaps why I find blogging more enjoyable, because of the greater interaction and shaping of thought.)

The interesting aspect of this virtual community (FB) that I have joined is I have found old, old friends that I knew decades ago and had lost contact with over time.  Sometimes these friendships are renewed with energy but most times we no longer have that much in common and this technology doesn't really make it easy to tell our tales and share our commonalities.  It is not exactly like meeting up at the local bar or coffee shop where alcohol or caffeine stimulate reduction in inhibitions and eye contact opens the conversation...something I would do more often if the few friends I have lived anywhere near me!  The exchanges that take place on FB are pretty much superficial.  We congratulate each other on posted accomplishments or send condolences when life is not perking along too well or the younger members post embarrassing pictures from last night's party.  Members also post the results of various virtual games that they play or their daily horoscope or other time-sinks that I have absolute no interest in.

Everything seems to take place in 160 characters or less.  It is a Gen-X world and not at all reflective of  the Jane Austin school of correspondence.  I would call it the IM update school of self-indulgence.  It gives everyone a chance to be a brief stand-out comedian or to rally support for a cause.  One wonders what innocuous post will come back to haunt the poster in decades to come?  Those love affairs that are so pookie cute and then long since dissolved?  Remarks on recent job changes that seemed so innocent at the time?  I am at a stage in my life where anything I say would be miraculous if it actually made an impact on the rest of my life.  But these profiles for the younger generation do continually evolve as its users evolve.. (Danah Michelle Boyd Taken Out of Context  --"Kranzberg’s First Law: “Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral”  (Kranzberg 1986: 454-548). A technology’s value is shaped by its social construction—how designers create it and how people use it, interpret it, and reconfigure it. It is not an outcome of the technology alone or its potential.)

I do post photos and it seems that the historic scanning has put me in touch with friends of my children as they remember the 'good old days.'  Their lives are so busy that they rarely look back and I think that my photos help them put some perspective on their journey(s) forward.  They see themselves in that ancient innocent and enthusiastic period of their lives before responsibilities cluttered their peace.  At least, I like to think that may be true.

But,  as I have often heard and firmly believe, do not put anything on the Internet that you would not want to read the following day on the front pages of a major newspaper.

What do you think of the FB and are you on?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Leaving Florida with a Few Questions

This is the view from the window of the condo where we stayed.  We did not get the (more) expensive ocean view side, but the view of the marina was nice.  The problem here is that for miles and miles and miles...what used to be marsh or scrub or wild land is now houses, all the way to the freeway inland!  With this kind of growth, what is to become of this state?  

After we unpacked we saw this sign on the back of the condo door.  We were scratching our heads because in the photo below THIS is where the sprinkler heads were....

What on earth does this mean?  Clearly they have some very tall tourists or some amazing rock star parties.

Well, Florida, you did not give us warm weather, but we will visit again soon with our grandchildren and I expect you to be on better behavior.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Eye of the Camera

(Brief interruption of my tedious Florida travel can leave and go to the bathroom.)

I like to think that my love of photography is my new hobby due to having more time now that I am retired.  I also like to think that the digital technology has made this another reason I take pictures so generously and spend so much time looking for new things to take pictures of.

But, in truth, I have taken pictures my whole life.  I saved my allowance for my first camera when I was about 11.  It was a Kodak Brownie box camera.  It was just exactly that, a small black plastic box with a tiny lens to preview your shot.  I could barely afford the film and had to send it out for development to some address I discovered on the back of one of my well perused comic books each time I saved enough money.  I had the camera for about a year, when one hot summer day I forgot and left it in the back window of our Chevrolet and it warped in the heat.  My mother was totally unsympathetic and hoped I had learned a lesson.  (I always suspected she saw it there and left it to prove a point although with her odd punishment theories, who knew.)  I was devastated.

There were later cameras to follow that I purchased as a teenager.  After I married my husband, I was free to use his expensive Nikon with the underwater housing, a camera that became my best pal when I was learning to SCUBA dive in the South Pacific and beginning to discover the beauty beneath the surface of the ocean. 

While we traveled overseas to many countries there were only two times when I was very uncomfortable taking pictures as a tourist and realized how much contrast there was in freedom in American.  One time I was traveling in Taiwan.  I was approached by a policeman who made it quite clear that I would not be allowed to continue to take pictures on one of the outlying islands close to Mainland China that we visited.  I was also told to keep my camera in my lap during the short plane ride to the island. (I think I remember that I cheated a little.)  While living in  Egypt for a short time one summer, I was approached by a police officer in Cairo and told I could not take photos down a certain street.  I was also approached later that week in Port Said, Egypt, and told I could not take photos after approaching a bridge area that was leading to the Suez Canal.  These Egyptian uniformed and weapon-carrying men were stern and serious and I did not question their authority, both because I could still see the damage to buildings from a recent war, and I did not want to lose my camera or film.

A few weeks ago I received the following link in an email newsletter on photography.  If you take pictures I suggest you watch it carefully because it says a lot about how fragile our freedoms can be.  It also reminds us that we need to know our countries laws and rights and to be aware of how silly irrational fears can make us lose important freedoms in an instant.  Freedoms that when taken away do NOT make us any safer.

Of course one should always ask permission before taking someone's photo, because sometimes they can be very shy and intimidated.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Florida Part

As I mentioned in the prior post our drive into Florida was challenging.  It seemed that the cold wet front followed us all the way to central Florida where we stopped to visit friends.  Our friends own one of the deepest (if not the deepest) spring in Florida and they live hidden down a dirt road.  Such a nice respite to be someplace that is 'almost' original Florida.  Lets hope that the powers that be (and they are strong powers) do not take away this spring.

A Deep Freshwater Spring.

We drove further south to visit the Naples botanical garden, but discovered that it was brand new and did not have much to offer. So what we really accomplished was donating funds so that it could grow to be more interesting in years to come.

The children's garden was fun and mostly complete and a good place to bring grandchildren some day...maybe.  Maybe I will meet Beverly or Onewoman with their lovely grandchildren running through this garden on a Florida afternoon.  It seems to be designed to fit all ages and includes a tree house, climbing nets, a water place and a large sand play area.

We also stopped at the Edison/Ford summer homes-museum and spent an afternoon walking around.  It is full of industrial inventions and shows the history of much of the industrialization in our country, so we could have spent all day except hubby had to stop and talk to Mrs. Edison.  She was quite an imposing woman, but then she would have to be, to be married to Thomas, wouldn't she?. (Hubby loved this trip since everywhere we stopped, he got to do most of the talking.)

I have just a few photos of the place where we stayed down south to follow and all my outdoor stuff on Florida gets posted 'you know where."

Monday, March 08, 2010

Twelve Tribes Ship

While in Savannah the "Peacemaker Ship" was in the harbor. I know very little about this religious group that calls themselves the Twelve Tribes and assume they have some controversy since they are so different but if you click on the blog title you can learn more from their web site.  The ship itself was very interesting and a tour of most of the ship was available free to the pubic.  It was spotless and almost looked as though it had never seen a voyage.  This group has plans to dock at various ports throughout the U.S.  They sell pottery and other items and accept donations to raise funds.

I took most of these pictures just for Maggie at Postcards who is intrigued by ships and recently posted a very nice photo of one.  You may also enjoy this post if you also like old style ships and rigging.

The old phrase to "show them the ropes" certainly comes to mind when looking at this photo.  I cannot begin to imagine how complicated sailing this ship would be and how everyone would have to 'dance' together when needed.  This is called a barquentine rig and I know nothing about it, but it sounds so romantic.  Hubby has just finished reading the entire Master and Commander series by Patrick O'Brian (which I gave him one birthday) and was into this self guided tour big time.

Looks like they may need a rope weaver for this important rope above.

Above is the command center, of course.

Clearly every detail was carefully preserved including keeping several stained glass doors near the former bar.  This ship was built by Italian craftsmen in Brazil and launched in 1989 by a Brazilian industrialist before it was sold to this group.  It is quite beautiful. Feel free to click on photos for a closer look.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Gardens and Nightlife

Even though the wind was bitterly cold in both Charleston and Savannah, we did peek into some of the traditional courtyard gardens that were next to the historic homes and mansions and found that camellias were in abundant bloom. Spring was certainly on its way here.  These photos of tuck-away gardens reminded me of  Annie in Austen  and Kerri in New York among many of the other bloggers that love flowers and post blossoms throughout the year to chase the winter blues.

Yes, this garden gate has a real estate lockbox on the latch.  There were a number of homes for sale throughout the city of Savannah.  I just love the decorative concrete posts and arched gate and arched tree and had to capture the photo and maybe I will photoshop the lockbox out next time.

I was getting hungry so I pulled hubby away from his new found friend discussing the acid inducing Dow and headed to the newly refurbished town center.  It is very modern and still under construction and a harsh contrast to the romance of the city.  At least the parking is now underground.

The restaurants were not filled with customers, either due to the recession or the time of year or both.  The food was always good if a little too rich in calories.  Late one evening after too much food and, perhaps, too much wine I decided to try my lampshade hat dance around the restaurant to liven the place up much to my husband's dismay!  He can be very patient.  (Actually, as we all know this is really Littleredhare trying out an arty pose.)

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


Savannah has managed to hang on to its wonderful charm in spite of the pressures to 'develop or die' that all historic cities face.  I love this city every time I visit and I see something new each time.  It is the size that a tourist can get their mind around.  It is filled with squares of green with benches on which to rest and historic statues to learn about the drama that Savannah played in the history of our country.  I looked throughout Charleston for Mark and Butler and Bagman, but saw them not in any windy corner.  You can imagine my surprise when I came across Butler and Bagman off in Savannah!  Mark must have kicked them out for the weekend so that he could think.

I was just getting ready to take a photo of Bagman leaning against this pole (click for all the gooey detail) covered in chewing gum outside the famous Savannah market place, and just as I lifted the camera, Bagman stuck a large wad of bubble gum next to the hundreds of others and dashed off after a twenty-something whose skirt had flown above her head in the strong winds. When he is on a mission it is impossible to keep up!  Just to let you know he was wearing tight black jeans and black cowboy boots, of all things.

Shortly after that we headed to the water and were sitting on a lovely bench swing beneath a shelter on the Savannah waterfront.  Butler had just completed putting up this wire barrier in the ceiling above to keep out the hundreds of pigeons and then gave us a stern look as he pointed at the sign behind the screen which he must have installed earlier.  You may need to click on the photo.  Scheduled swinging?  What happened to the leisurely South?  They should never let Butler run amok in the land of romance.  I neglected to take a picture, but beneath his winter London fog coat he appeared to be in a tuxedo?  Historically Savannah was the land of cotton and this area had been lined with warehouses for shipping out the bales.  There was very little time then for swinging, I am sure.

We ignored Butler's stern frown and headed back into town looking for some hot tea and nutrition past the houses that sometimes look like cake frosting.  Savannah, definitely one of my favorite cities, affords too many opportunities for photos.  Lots of fun architecture and too much wonderful history to put in this blog post.  The last photo is Savannah's famous Rainbow Row which has houses painted the colors of the Caribbean.

Before we leave Savannah there will be time for a little nightlife in my next post.

Monday, March 01, 2010


(Needless to say, my last post left my dozen readers curious...just mention s*x and the browsing becomes careful reading...well, maybe some day I will elaborate...)

My blogging over the years has created wonderful connections with so many interesting people that I would have not met otherwise, being somewhat the hermit that I am.  Thus, this trip to Florida brought to light a number of interesting references to my blogmates---whatever those are---and I will link to those bloggers who came to mind as I traveled.

We stopped first in Charleston and spent much of our cold and windy time there darting into various stores and restaurants.  We did pass this ancient bell near the time of  Barry's blog bell ringing celebration that filled the blog air around the globe with music.  It was a reminder of his last week of 'therapy' and certainly an omen as I do not know why I felt compelled to take the photo of this old bell. Later research revealed that years ago there were three bells that rang on all fire alarms until 1927, and then only on second and third alarms. These bells also alerted the city to hurricanes, severe temperature changes, and notable national events, such as Barry reaching his monumental goal. 

There are certain clues that let you know you are entering the authentic south and one of these was what awaited us when we checked into our hotel.  We had checked into a small hotel near town and found a lunch sack of goodies from the manager.  They included hard candies, a small bag of taco chips and this can of Yoohoo chocolate drink.  Only in the South can you get such healthy gifts!  Note that the can says it contains 7 vitamins and minerals in order to justify its existence!  There was only ONE can, so we had to share.  I have not drunk this in years and probably/hopefully never will again!

In the next post we actually run into Butler and Bagman in Savannah, of all places!