Think about this ... "be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle"

Monday, December 29, 2008

It's been surreal ...

It's been such a weird series of events ... the way they've sort of all been connected.

Last week Rick and I were watching "The Bucket List".  Keep in mind I rarely watch movies ~ I can count on one hand the number of movies that have held my interest long enough to sit through about two hours of them!  I never did get to see the end of the Bucket List, but I thought it might make an interesting blog post - not from the morbid or depressing side, but as a "thought provoking" post - let's face it my posts aren't exactly thought provoking now are they!  Anyway, I'll get back to that train in a moment ... more important to me right now is this:

My dear friend Candy called me the other day to inform me that my former boss had passed away (our former boss in fact).  To say that it was distressing is putting it very mildly.  I have always referred to Jim as the best boss I ever had ~ and I mean that very sincerely.

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I worked for Jim ~ at the company he formed (Old Colony Marketing) for nine years.  He was one very special person.  He had shoulders the size of all of New England and an ear that was always willing to listen.  Part of the time I worked for him was probably the most distressing time in my life personally ~ I had lost a niece suddenly when she took her own life (Jim was there to listen and hand tissues), Jim was there when I was separated from my first husband, Jim was there when I had major surgery with complications, Jim was there when my oldest son went into the military and I was a crazy mom (that may not have changed) ... He was just always there.  Jim allowed my schedule to be as flexible as I needed it to be when I had two young sons - he didn't care if I came in at 10:00 PM and worked until 2:00 AM (and I often did), Jim didn't care if I brought my dog to work (and I often did) ~ in fact I dog napped Jim's dog Sam, who lived with my family for three or four years.  

Not only was Jim a great boss, he was a terrific person, who impacted many many lives.  Peace to you Jim, wherever you are!

Now, to the bucket list post ... if you had a bucket list what would be on it?  Think about it?  I couldn't come up with one thing to put on mine so I guess I just have to "think" harder about it ... but I'd love to read what your list would include.

Lastly, on the recent surreal events ... yesterday we were trying to find a place where Sir could just let loose and chase his soccer ball and act like a nut (read fenced field).  Well the Keys are not at all dog friendly - we have been unable to find a place where a dog is welcome that is fenced (or a corner of a public beach for that matter).  We came upon a place that we thought had potential in Key Largo ~ well it may have had potential but Sir wasn't welcome there!  While we were walking we came upon this place called the "Children's Memorial Tree Gardens Inc" an interesting place indeed.  Note ~ I did try to find a link but I couldn't find anything that was informative (also, I tried to upload a photo of a plague at the entry to the garden but had no luck with that either) so you'll have to trust me on this one ... it fits in quite well with the theme here.  Speaking of which I hope it wasn't a "down" post - it wasn't intended that way at all ... it was just a surreal series of events ....

Friday, December 26, 2008

With a cluck cluck here and a cluck cluck there ...

Yesterday Rick decided that we should spend Christmas day in Key West.  So around 11:00 we headed south.  Over the famous seven mile bridge we went ... (that is a great wikipedia post by the way - one of the better I've linked on the blog).  Above is a photo of the bridge and below is a photo of the original bridge which was built by Henry Flagler in 1910 (ish) as part of the railroad he was creating.  That tree in the photo below is really growing there - it is not a Christmas tree that someone put there!

As you can see from the photo below the bridge starts and stops (yup that is the Flagler bridge NOT the bridge we were on!!)  Now the original bridge is used for fishing and a bicycle path.  It is very active ~ even as we were returning around 9:00 last night in the dark, there were people out there fishing!
Below are two photos just outside Key West - probably mile marker 10 or so.  These were taken looking north (or is it east at that point? ~ okay, northeast) at what I always considered the Gulf of Mexico, but Chester pointed out to us last year it is actually the Straits of Florida!  Call it what you want, it is lovely.

When we left Tavernier yesterday it got pretty cloudy and about 15 miles down the road we ran into rain, then further we really ran into rain!  Key West however was hot and sunny.  

Because we are at mile marker 92.5 it is a 92 1/2 mile treck to Key West and we knew it would be probably two hours down, two hours back and at least two hours there so we took Sir with us.  Sir was on very very very best behavior, met lots of new "friends" and enjoyed the sights and smells of Key West.  

For whatever reason I just was not in the least thrilled at the thought of heading out yesterday.  For one thing I had planned  to create a turkey dinner.  On top of that I've been fighting this damned cold for over two weeks and I am just flippin exhausted (yes this weight gain I'm sure is contributing to that) but I just basically feel like crap.  Well, once we got there and we got off the "main street" (Duval Street) I was alright with it all.  For some reason I just don't have a need to go back to many of the places I've been before - there are lots of other Keys along the way that we haven't explored, but, being Christmas day and all, there was not going to be a lot open and we knew at least a couple places would be in KW.  Well it was pretty "mobbed" down there, but like I said, we got off the "main drag" and had a great day.

We did do a couple tourist photo ops for Sir's "scrapbook" (god are we crazy or what!).  I had a photo of him at the marker for the "southern most point" (don't know if he was looking out over the water for Fidel or not) but for some reason ~ not intentionally ~ I deleted it on this post and have no patience to try to upload it again so you've gotta "take my word " for it.  Anyway, below are Rick and Sir in front of Rick's name sake joint in KW.
And here we have Sir posing (Auntie Mary this was taken with you in mind as Sir acts like a what?!?!?........ stay tuned for a later post that will clearly show you he fits right in down here) outside the "famous" Hog's Breath Saloon in KW ~ yet another tourist photo op we took advantage of there!  Last time Rick and I were here together ~ a few years ago, one of the bar tenders here was from Hanson, MA - a neighboring town to Whitman where we lived!  Small world once again!
Another of the many things Key West is "famous" for is the chickens!  Here are a couple shots of the chickens!  The first one is inside Hog's Breath and the second one is on a side street down near the harbor.  Ya gotta (well maybe not) love the KW chickens and roosters, not to mention the cats!!!!

And finally, just a random shot of the harbor area in KW.  Pretty darned crowded huh!
I suspect that we will probably be back in Key West before we leave here in five more weeks.

For now, Rick is out on his bike, Arlo is laying on the floor trying to recover from his busy busy day yesterday and I am blogging, sort of (but not really) watching a movie ("How to Make an American Quilt"), doing laundry and cooking a turkey dinner!

Hope y'all had a great Christmas spent with loved ones or whatever puts a warm and sniggly  feeling in your heart.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

T'was the 24th of December ...and all through the Keys

"T'was the night before Christmas and all through the town,
no noses were frozen, no snow fluttered down,
no children in flannels were tucked into bed,
they all wore shorty pajamas instead.

To find wreaths of holly, t'was not very hard,
for holly trees grew in every back yard.
In front of the houses, Dads and Moms were 
adorning the bushes and coconut palms.

The sleeping kiddies were dreaming in glee,
hoping to find water skis under the tree. 
They all knew that Santa was well on his way,
in a Mercedes-Benz, instead of a sleigh.

And soon he arrived and started to work,
he hadn't a second to linger or shirk.
He whizzed up the highways and zoomed up the road,
in a S-L 300, delivering his loads.

The tropical moon gave the city a glow,
and lighted the way for old Santa below.
As he jumped from the auto he gave a wee chuckle,
he was dressed in Bermudas with an Ivy league buckle,

There weren't any chimneys, but that caused no gloom
for Santa came in through the Florida room.
He stopped at each house....stayed only a minute,
emptying his sack of stuff that was in it.

Before he departed, he treated himself
to a glass of papaya juice upon the shelf.
He turned with a jerk and bounced to the car,
remembering he still had to go very far.

He shifted the gears and stepped on the gas
and up Highway 1 he went like a flash.
And I heard him exclaim as he went on his way,

* I wish I knew who to give credit to but I don't know who wrote it ~ sure wasn't me!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


So yesterday we left La Belle and traveled 148 miles to Taverneir, FL (aka the Keys).  About 75 miles of our travel was through very very flat farm land - (photos above and below).  I had wanted to go into Fort Meyers to see the Red Sox spring training camp but we got caught up in cleaning and maintenance tasks with the coach and we definitely didn't want to stay long at the "rv resort" we were at in La Belle.  I'm always so curious how an rv park (or the likes of) determine they should be referred to as a "resort" but I guess that's a subject for a different post (read rant), but suffice it to say that often times beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.
After the 75 miles or so of farm land we traveled through the Everglades for 50 or so miles (I think).  That's what the next six photos are.  I know there is a way to post photos side by side but it requires editing the HTML which really scares me ~ there is a very "simple" program to do it but it isn't Mac compatible ... maybe a goal for our time here should be for me to understand HTML and overcome my fear of editing!  yeah maybe..... 

So, back to the Everglades ... when we left here in January we went on part of the same way we came down yesterday which brought us through about ten miles of produce stands and palm tree farms/stores.  Not to mention about half a dozen gas stations selling diesel fuel for $2.19 a gallon!  Seriously, $2.19.  When we left MA 14 months ago we paid $2.89 and Rick was thoroughly incensed at that ... little did he know (or anyone else of course) that at some point we'd pay as much as $4.89/gallon.  It was delightful to get such a "deal" yesterday ~ whether we needed fuel or not (and we didn't but we did anyway!!).  Oh dear I think I digressed .... when we left last January after we got back to the "mainland" we headed west on the Tamiami Trail which is south of "alligator alley" but we saw hundreds and hundreds of alligators (well I did, Rick was driving and noticed very few of them!).  Coming through the Everglades we saw none but it was very interesting travel.  I think it would be fun to take an Everglades airboat tour ~ a few years ago Rick, Chester and I did an airboat tour in Georgia somewhere - didn't see any gators then but years later we sure are still talking about it!  Gosh that was a fun one huh Chester!!

Okay Candy, is this an owl (who who) or a hawk?  I know for sure it isn't a bluebird!  This guy was in the Everglades (on the lookout for gators?  I doubt it!)

Finally we got south of Homestead, FL onto the "Overseas Highway".  Below is a photo looking east to the ocean side ... at the very northern end of the Keys.
and below is a shot (hopefully it can be "blown up") of the bridge "onto" the Keys.  When we were here last December/January this bridge was still under construction.  Jonathan you would have been very proud of Rick - he did drive over this bridge (there was no one there to do it for us!!).  Rick and I both are not big fans of heights, Rick has made great strides at overcoming that fear since we've been on the road. 
Three and a half hours after we left La Belle we arrived in Taverneir.  Below is the view from our coach.
Sir is so glad to be able to play with Wilson in the Gulf of Mexico (Straits of Florida?) many times a day.  Hopefully he will lose some of that sausage profile Chester referred to when he saw Arlo after nine months! (Chester is so tactful that he didn't acknowledge Tracey's sausage profile these days!!)
And finally below .... a shot from the water front here at the Lodge looking north - see how "colorful" the Keys are and this is quite north in the Keys ... Key West is even more "colorful" ... we just love the laid back 'tude here.......
Last night was the Christmas party here the Lodge - Rick took a couple photos with his phone that I might post in the future .... a fun time was had by all (even with no alcohol for yours truly) ... yup it's good to be back here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

a quickie ...

We left the Elks in Brandon today and are now in La Belle, FL (148 miles or so we traveled today).  The Elks was a great, warm, welcoming Lodge - the downside was the trains 24/7 ... and the construction next door that started at 7:00 AM with vehicles beep beep beeping ... We would return there for a few days tho because it was such a friendly group.  It is so interesting, as Rick says, each Lodge has their own personality .. so very true.

We thought we'd be at this campground for four nights as we are scheduled to be in the Keys on Monday.  After we arrived here we decided two nights would probably be adequate and I've checked with the campground hosts in the Keys and we can arrive two days early so that we shall do ... I need to settle in there, although both Rick and I are concerned about being in one place for six weeks.  I will definitely have to find something to do with my time other than eating and drinking.  There is a hospital just down the street (bicycle riding distance) that perhaps could use a volunteer a few hours a week.  We shall see.

So that's the quickie update ... 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More cows

Oh what a great day we had yesterday.  

Someone had told us last week about a manatee viewing area in Apollo Beach ~ about 20 miles away.  Well I think manatees are just the coolest animals ~ also referred to as sea cows.  The are so interesting to watch.  They move so very slowly and seem to not have a care in the world.  Many many of them are killed or injured by boats because of  this.


So yesterday we headed down to Apollo Beach.  Sir had to stay home, as dogs aren't allowed at the Manatee Viewing area and it was too hot to leave him in the car.

Here is a shot of Mama and two calves ~ love those snouts on the surface!

Here is a different Mama and calf.  The water looks dirty and gross doesn't it~ it isn't tho and it is warm which is what they like.

This viewing area was created by Tampa Electric.  Their discharge water is warm and they have created this area for the manatees.  It is barricaded at the ocean end but only so boats can't get in ~ the manatees are free to come and go as they please.  The link above has so much information about this viewing area and manatees ... it is worth looking at (well I guess it's worth it if you're interested in manatees!)

Additionally, if you can blow up this photo you will see all these bumps on the otherwise calm water ~ those bumps are manatees.

We went to a state park in, I believe, Homasasa Springs, FL where they had a manatee show - yesterday was much much better - far more manatees.  We weren't as up close to them yesterday but I like it much better.

This sign cracked me up!

And this was a "tidal walkway" at the center.  There is also a butterfly garden there!  Tampa Electric has done a great job with this area.

And this is a mangrove forest.  There is much much information on the tidal walkway and the mangrove forests on the link above.

This is what the temperature's been for the last several days in these parts.

We are suppose to be moving on tomorrow morning ~ probably to the Fort Meyer's area - which really ought to drive me crazy with all the traffic, but it will only be for a couple days ~ we are due in the Keys on Monday.

Rick and I both have sore throats and seem to be battling colds coming on ~ hopefully we'll still be moving on in the morning.

Monday, December 15, 2008

we haven't done this in years

But today we got a "Christmas Tree" ... nope it isn't real - it's one of those pre lit plastic jobs.  I always said I'd never ever have a plastic tree but ....... never say never!  For the last several years in Whitman we used our huge tropical plant aka "Mr. Plant" who had great sentimental value to us but he was much too large to travel so he's no longer with us.  Mr. Plant would get all prettied up for the holidays - with lights and gold beads ... Last year we put an ornament someone had given us on the lighted palm tree that used to be our dashboard but the palm tree finally burnt out all its lights ... so here we are this year ... it's a beauty isn't it!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

isn't it wonderfull

That we can share hugs, stories and a pasta dinner!  

It was so nice to see you three.  Additionally, it was so nice that Sir Arlo behaved when he saw his Uncle Brad.

It's been a great weekend here in Brandon.  I did a little volunteering at the Lodge last night.  We did shopping for the community Christmas .... and wrapped up the rest of the Christmas to get to the post office tomorrow ... in fact I think it was a very productive weekend.  

And my bike came out yesterday ~ we headed east about 25 miles ... but there wasn't much there except tomato fields (not a bad thing for sure), strawberry fields (gee we should write a song about that ~ forever ~ am I dating myself here ... probably huh!) and the pick up truck that passed us, that was loaded to the very max of its side panels, with peppers ... red and green, how seasonally appropriately!  

And my bicycle got a couple miles on it this morning ..  shouldn't Rick have a bicycle too so he can get some miles behind the pedals .... we can "suffer" together?!?!?!? 

Not surprisingly, it looks like we'll be extending here until the end of the week ... most likely, at this point, we'll be heading south from here on Friday ... yup all subject to change.

Amanda, Marti and Brad how wonderful to break bread, share hugs, stories and memories with you .  I'm so glad you were here with us.   

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rain rain rain

Today it is pouring ~ so much for getting the bikes out!  

Our day yesterday wasn't quite what I'd planned (story to follow).  Arlo got to have a tubbie - yup he just had one last week but he needed another one as soon as possible.  For some reason he was scratching and scratching after the one last week ... don't know if he wasn't rinsed properly, if he had a reaction to the shampoo they used or a reaction to the flea and tick medicine we use after he has a tubbie.  At any rate we needed to stop the constant scratching so off to Petco we went for a do it yourself dog wash!  Yup, he's better.
We did the Arlo tubbie while Rick's bike was at the dealer getting its noise taken care of.  Check out these cattle at the dealership!  I have no clue what cattle have to do with a Harley dealer but at any rate I was pretty impressed by the racks on these guys!  Hopefully the pictures can be enlarged and ya get the "full effect"!  It is a huge dealership with a very large inventory.
Okay, now for the story part ... I had intended to do some shopping, hair etc. yesterday.  I went to pay for the dog wash and the credit card was declined.  Well Capitol One has done that to us three times this year - they don't quite get the concept that we travel and therefore the card will be used everywhere not just in one geographical area.  In order to get it squared away, once again, Rick has to call and deal with trying to speak with someone who actually speaks English and has the ability to comprehend spoken English ... always a challenge in these days of outsourcing.  

Well come to find out it wasn't the use in a different area this time.  It was huge amounts of on line purchases ~ made by ???? who the hell knows!  So we are now waiting for our new cards to arrive .... great time of year for this.  We do everything on that account - all fuel, all food, all shopping, all campgrounds ~ everything.  Talk about frustrating, angry, feeling violated UGH do you think?  What the hell is wrong with people that someone would really and truly do that?  People will never cease to amaze me ~ thankfully I am amazed more often by the good in people not crap like this!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What do you think?

What do you think of when you think of Florida ~ if you think of Florida?  Do you think of Mickey and Minnie?  Do you think of beautiful sandy beaches?  Do you think of freshly picked oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes?  

Do you think of the beautiful country side in central Florida with all these horse farms?  Huge horse farms on many many acres?  Or vast open, undeveloped acres ~ thousand upon thousands upon thousands of open acres that developers haven't touched?

Just look at this countryside.  We really fell in love with this area - we were struck with the vast  amount of undeveloped land when we were here in January and struck again this time ~ I don't think either we ever thought of Florida as having quite this kind of beauty.  

So our 96.9 mile journey yesterday from Summerfield to Brandon was through much of this nice country side ~ it was a great travel day.

We arrived at the Brandon Elks Lodge where we will be for at least a week.  We thought probably five days or so but, as often happens, looks like we may extend our stay some.  

When we were in the Lodge last night there is a "community Christmas" board so Rick and I chose a nine year old girl to buy for.  The wrapping party is next Wednesday and I would kind of like to be here for that ... 

Also in the Lodge last night they had card night ~ all kinds of games etc. so we played "bar poker" ~ never heard of it before but it sure was fun ...

Especially if you WIN!

As we both did!

Rick keeps calling me a winner ~ yeah I'm a real winner HUH!

This seems to be a very active Lodge ~ and a very very friendly Lodge ... some are some aren't and this one sure is!

Oh, by the way ..... there is a train track right behind the Lodge ....

Thankfully they didn't run last night but started around 5 this morning ..... we sure can pick 'em can't we!!  I used to really like trains.... now, well not so much!

So today we are off to the Harley dealer ~ Rick's bike has developed some kind of noise that needs to be tended to.  I also saw there is a Krispy Kreme near the dealership (Krispy Kreme just another one of my not so good for me weaknesses!).  Then we need to shop for a vacuum to replace the one that burnt out/burnt up at Paul's house (along with the battery tender, the drill charger and Paul's vacuum!)  Then I think I'll do the community Christmas shopping as well as find a hairdresser - my roots are about 1 1/2 inches by now and I look like I have a skunk stripe ~ very attractive I'm sure!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The sights and sounds of Summerfield

Tomorrow we will be leaving the "campground" where we've been for the last week.  I use the term campground with caution as there aren't really campgrounds in these parts ~ here are rv parks and most don't allow tents or campfires or any of the other things I think constitute a campground.  We have enjoyed the park we've been at but Rick didn't want to extend our stay here by a few days so we are heading, I think, about 100 miles south to an Elks Lodge in Brandon, FL.

Anyway, today we went out to lunch with our friends Dana and Wendy (who are leaving on yet another cruise on Wednesday ~ have fun guys).  On the way to their house we came up next to this truck at a traffic light ~ tis the season for citrus harvests in these parts.  There are fresh citrus fruit stands everywhere.  It seemed odd to me to see Christmas decorations in the shopping center to the left but see a truck full of freshly picked oranges!

This is a photo of the beginning of their driveway ... just love those old oaks with the moss.  It is a very long driveway - maybe 1/2 mile and narrow, sandy with low trees and the turn to their property is a sharp narrow one with a gate on either side.  The first time we were down here a few years ago (on our way back from the Daytona Bike Week one October) we took the coach down this driveway!  OOOOPS.  Then last year we road our bikes down the sand driveway ... OOOOPS.  Ever since then we take the car in four wheel drive down their driveway! 

But look at this piece of property (and this is only part of their side yard!)  It is so worth the driveway in any vehicle to get to this beautiful, secluded property.  Just gorgeous and peaceful and quiet.

We went to lunch in "The Villages" ~ which is a huge planned community nearby.  I seriously can't imagine why anyone would want to live in a planned community but obviously thousands upon thousands of people do ... check out the statistics on that link ~ it blew me away.  The photo to the left is some of the thousands of golf carts parked in one of the "town centers" here.  The next photo is them parked amongst the cars at one of the shopping centers .... they have their own tunnels, their own overpasses and their own roads ... some of them however are street legal.  Keep in mind we are talking about a fairly geriatric community!  YIKES

And lastly for today is yet another old oak tree.  This one, however is dead - the green that you see is mistletoe!   Rick wouldn't even get out of the car and go out into the field to "get me under the mistletoe" ~ what's up with that guy anyway?