Posts Tagged ‘Winter in Florida’

FEBRUARY – OFF TO THE RACES


Whew – whirl-winding our way through a short month makes it go all the faster.

Painting Buckets All Ready to Go at the Art Center

Painting Buckets All Ready to Go at the Art Center

I know many people feel, and dislike, the warp speed of modern living – our days whipping by, our time not our own, our moments blurring one to the next with barely a breath to appreciate.

How did it get this way? I remember hearing my parent’s friend’s converse about how “fast time goes”.  Still a little girl myself, I was anxious for those days to come upon me.  As a child, life went so slooooowly, sitting on the curb, trying to think up something to do, waiting until I turned xteen to do whatever.  Everything took soooooo long. But I don’t think my parent’s and their friends were operating at the break-neck speed our time seems to require. Is it technology driven?  Despite having more options to communicate – most seem to do less, having no time for tea, a chat, an evening together, a phone conversation, a hand written note, letter, thank you.  We just keep speeding along.

Even here, in little Cedar Key, the pace of doing can create a slippery slope of too much.

Too Much Doing.  — Never thought I’d hear myself say that – because I love doing.

However, it has become very apparent the the right kind of doing is essential for balanced maintenance.

tree in balance

tree in balance

Take Yoga, for example.  A wonderful woman named Kathy conducts free yoga classes on the island. They are wonderful. They have a devoted following.  I wanted to be part of that following but the Festival work truly sucks up all my time.  I can’t seem to break away at 2 for 2 hours (yoga is an hour and 15 – but on CK – the pop-up conversations extend the time commitment.  The last time I went was in late January – I know because when I decided to pop in again last week, I discovered a folder in my yoga bag with some important papers that had gone missing. Fortunately it all worked out fine – but it was a good reminder to keep a balanced doing – and I’m happy to report we’ve “done” a few fun things over the past month.

SEAHORSE ISLAND TOUR

The first weekend of Feb we toured Seahorse Key = a gorgeous island off Cedar Key with a LightHouse. It only open 2x’s a year – because it is a bird rookery – where the sea birds nest undisturbed – and the cottonmouth snakes lie beneath their nests, feasting on the fish that gets dropped – while keeping away the rats and racoons who would raid those nests, if they had a chance.  They say there are nearly a 1000 snakes on that island. We saw not a one. (However, I did nearly step on one during our walk in the scrub one day — and I’m told I made quite a LEAP over it.  Both the snake and I were terrified)

Seahorse Island Light House

Seahorse Island Light House

Up the tower steps

Up the tower steps

One Way

One Way

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Classic

Classic

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cacti growing in the chiminey

cacti growing in the chiminey

Lemon Trees on the Island were FULL and we were welcome to pick

Lemon Trees on the Island were FULL and we were welcome to pick

Finally met up with Captain LLOYD at the Island!

Finally met up with Captain LLOYD at the Island!

Jeff's Happy at the Top

Jeff’s Happy at the Top

top view

top view

top view

ART OPENING – MOSAICS

That same day we also popped into the opening reception for the Art Center’s monthly exhibit – this time featuring  Mosaics . OH, WOW.  beautiful and  stunning work. I had no idea mosaics could be so painterly.  We scored the mosaic that is the FESTIVAL DESIGN selection at the art auction last month.  Now I see more work that makes my heart pitta-pat.

Winning Mosaic!

Winning Mosaic!

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SARAHS CLOTHING

Also on exhibit was Sarah’s Clothing Art. Sarah is a full time resident who loves to create with fabric.  She works part time at the consignment shop and has first pick of the cool stuff – that she then reworks into even more cooler stuff.  I felt MORE WOW! She epitomizes the spirit of “Gotta keep creating to have a happy life”.

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AIRPORT

While at SEAHORSE ISLAND, we met a couple who were oddly dressed for the island trip: big leather handbag, italian loafers, but we got to talking with them and discovered they had just flown in from the PALM COAST in their two-seater CHINESE WAR PLANE.  They were with 5 other planes and would be taking off on Sunday – flying in formation around the island before heading back for home.  Sunday morning, I suggested we go over to the airport and check out the planes and I’m glad I called it when I did because when we arrived, they were all getting ready to take off.  1950’s Chinese War Planes – 2 seaters – circa the Korean War – very interesting and they they took off, giving us a great air show as they fell into formation and circled around Cedar Key several times before flying off.

Our friend Martin told me he saw one of them earlier in the morning, who had left before the rest of the group, as he flew by his house.  But then the pilot circled back after he saw Martin’s HUGE American flag – the one he got from a battleship (sorry, I forget which one) he’d been stationed on. The flag, which Martin only flies on Sundays and Holidays – caused the pilot to swing back around, maneuvering his plane to cause the flag to “dip”.   A way of showing R-E-S-P-E-C-T  …. Tell you what it means to me …..

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TIKI BAR COCKTAILS

After nearly two months here, we finally got to the cool, funky, handbuilt out of lumber and old bottles TIKI BAR – which is attached to the Low Key Motel, where the best sunsets are caught.  They now have a full liquor license and made some nice martinis to go along with the sunset.

 

STARGAZING HAYRIDE

We also enjoyed a “Hayride” though the scrub for a star gazing tour.  There is an annual, weeklong event where serious stargazers gather in Cedar Key and part of their program includes a ride through the scrub with a star expert and a naturalist.  Although it was a cloudy night – and there was no hay (only molded plastic boxes), the clouds parted, we saw stars and had a good time.  Nice to get out into the wilds at night yet still feel safe.

We also went to the Valentines Dance on the 14th , followed by an impromtu dinner at our house  on Friday the 14th with Lonna & Martin and Linda and Chris Reynolds, followed by a date to the BLACK DOG CAFE for dancing at the 3rd year anniversary (John and Linda made a hit on the dance floor!) followed by a peek at model T fords from a group that came to town, followed by a big blow up between John and me – we were very raw and tired out from all and everything – but we worked it out – and it was a good stress relief!

“WAY DOWN UPON THE SUAWNEE RIVER, FAR FAR FROM HOME”

Getting out onto the water is what it’s all about here for us.  So when Bill Roberts suggested we cruise down the Suawnee River – having lunch in the town of Salt Creek at the mouth of the Suawnee – there was nothing to say or do but GO!

So Jeff and Suzanne Krieble joined us on that wide, wild river.  We saw one small alligator.  That kind of put a damper on it for me — all that wonderful water but no swimming??!!  Someone later said the alligators don’t bother you but I’m not sure I want to find out, personally. We were also told that GIANT STURGEON is the real hazard in the Suawnee.  They pop up and out and have caused many a boating accident and even death – because they are huge and come flying out of the water, knocking people out.  Didn’t see any but would love to catch one.  Have you ever heard John Matson’s story on catching a sturgeon in the Canadian wilds? That’s a good one – ask him!

Captain Bill Roberts

Captain Bill Roberts

Suzanne

Suzanne

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Suawnee Area

Suawnee Area

sights along the water

sights along the water

SLIDE into Alligator water

SLIDE into Alligator water

Suawnee Man

Suawnee Man

TENT TIME

Last year we were given a great pop up tent by my brother John and sister-in-law, Lisa. While my John resisted it for a while, once it was up, he was delighted having a tent over his outdoor office table.  But it got crushed in a pop up storm (remember that from last year’s blog? The very night of a big party we were deluged by sudden rain and wind – ripping apart our backyard set up and then disappearing just as quickly – leaving us to reset up and enjoy the evening)

Anywho … so we (I) researched tents whenever I could squeeze it in – finally settling on one that balanced cost and strength.

Now my husband is the most brilliant strategist and thinker I’ve ever met. But as an engineer – not so much.  So I was delighted when Jeff volunteered to help.  Whew – a good way to avoid marital squabbles. The Kernel (as I call him – completely spelling it wrong on purpose), came over with his ever-present cigar and took charge – in such a nice way – and up the new tent went – taller than last years, with screens and RED!  The Kernel likes to call it the party whore house.  But I want to tell you all the ladies love the color, so there you have it.  We are up and ready for the month of March when three sets of friends are swooping in for a CK visit.

Jeff and John (Kernel & Thatch)

Jeff and John (Kernel & Thatch)

Kernel Jeff

Kernel Jeff

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My Hammock

My Hammock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOAT BUILDING

The Kernel likes to call John “Thatch” …. short for “Mr. Thatcher” as he is always having to accommodate his life to my work schedule.  One of the things he is doing is actually building a model of a boat he admires.  Billy Mac gave him that model kit year ago and I gave John grief for bringing it down, sure it would sit around here as it had in New Hope. But he is proving me wrong – albeit cursing the directions at the same time – an building this thing.  It may be tossed in the ocean at the end – but I’m proud his is “getting it “done”

Da Boat!

Da Boat!

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taking a break

taking a break

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“YOU SAY ITS YOUR BIRTHDAY”

Feb 19 is my day to reflect – and on this year, my 58th, I feel a bit sanguine.  Due to some shows we’ve been watching and some books I’ve been reading,  it is front and center how my personal if isn’t what one would call “significant”  That’s the term a woman on HOUSE OF CARDS used to describe her ambition.

Don’t take me wrong – I don’t feel my life has been insignificant.  I can feel its value, created by caring about life, people and an authentic journey that still has me feeling whole and true. A far, far better feeling than I witness in those (on TV and real life) who squander their own integrity to “get ahead” to become “significant” or “powerful” or rich at any cost.

In the world I live in, I am not a “player” – by choice.  Somehow, I recognized that many of the superior things one can achieve in life come at a cost to one’s very soul – and that was not my goal this time around.  I have never been one who strives to be a politician or kingpin who use power OVER others, to gain control.  Yet that is what seems necessary to get celebrated in life.  Those people — who hoist power over others, to have their own way,  rather than sharing power with others for mutual benefit — seem to get all the attention.  While all around I see many more people who live life true and quietly and honestly – and uncelebrated.  I’ve never wanted fame – but I do hope I will yet have the opportunity to bring attention to the heart-centered life, rather than the head-centered ego-busting-BS that gets passed off as “success”. That is my wish for this Birthday.

We celebrated quietly – starting off with a lovely painted sign waiting for me when I opened the back door. Sweet Johnny.

And a nice coconut cake, my favorite

And a shopping trip to Gainesville where John kept getting me to try on clothes (which I hate to do) but he is so good at picking them out!

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WOK THIS WAY

One of the downsides of WORKING the Art Festival is the inability to enjoy our Cowboy Cooker. Making a fire to cook dinner outside is just too time consuming in the schedule right now – but the other day, I stopped by the local RV and picked up some wood so I could make dinner in the new WOK that Larry had made for me.   It felt so good to build the fire and prep the food and wok it into deliciousness.  It was what I was missing in our Cedar Key life and it felt so good to be back at it.

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Cocktails and Dinner continue to be a very important part of our day – and we make delicious ones nearly every night.  But it is the reason why I get up so early to get things done …. so when the day’s done, John and I can settle in with each other over drinks and a good meal.

Hamsteak dressed up with Blue Moon Acres Micro Greens!!

Hamsteak dressed up with Blue Moon Acres Micro Greens!!

SUDDEN STORM

On Tuesday morning (feb 26) I heard rumbling around 6am and rose – to increasing winds sheers that eventually burst into a drenching storm – cracking off tree limbs and crushing a dock and generally reeking havoc.  I watched our tent sway – but fortunately it was not in the path of the crushing whip of very bad weather that cruised past the front of our house.  The tent stayed strong as the puddles piled up.

drenching!

drenching!

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Afterwards, I walked Daisy and took some shotsGEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

— glad to share with you the Osprey fledglings who are making such a noise these last few days as they test out their prowess in the sky.

split cedar (smelled so nice)

split cedar (smelled so nice)

Also a shot of the WIKI boat around the corner from us.  I just love the look of this boat – a cross between the African Queen and My Little Tug Boat.GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s off to March now — MARCH FORTH! – where we will have John Pascoe and Cindy Matossian & George Saunders and son-in-law Scott stopping by for a visit … as the days speed toward the April Festival!

Hope spring tickles you all soon.  Happy to have you in our lives.

xo  Laura & John & Daisy.

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A MONTH OF MONDAYS


MUSINGS

Sunrise at the Beach

Sunrise at the Beach

“Monday-Monday, Can’t Trust That Day” Mamas and Papas.

A song representing the weekly grind to me.

January was a month of Mondays for me – and John was stoic through it all.

The Art Festival Job has been super demanding – we had to Jury the Artists for the show, Run the Annual Fundraiser, Secure Sponsors, Line Up Press, Design a Marketing Plan and Map out the streets for booths plus, plus, plus.  Believe me, many of those jobs will be spread out over many more months next year but for now, much loss of sleep = good progress and I think I’ve hit the crest of the rollercoaster – not for a wheeee ride down, but at least not quite the grueling slog up.

Along the way we had a bit of fun …. An Art Retrospective Opening – A Parade – A Boat Trip to the Islands

More Important – were the connection to people places and things.

There is magic to this town.

John spreading Pine straw over the back yard

John spreading Pine straw over the back yard

My dear Bud Larry - the cowboy cooker creator.

My dear Bud Larry – the cowboy cooker creator.

This is who some roll!

This is who some roll!

Sunrise at the Beach

Sunrise at the Beach

Daisy Mud Bath

Daisy Mud Bath

Although much smaller than New Hope – it is busier – buzzier – and much more friendly.

There is time for conversation – real, face to face talk.

First Draft of the Cracker House.

First Draft of the Cracker House.

Donna Leeward Paints for her contribution to the Art Festival Fundraiser

Donna Leeward Paints for her contribution to the Art Festival Fundraiser

There is place to pause, experiencing the beauty, the elements, the oddities.

There is heart and soul evident in every person we meet – without the northeast barriers to friendship.

We wave to each other as we pass in cars, on bikes, walking, in a golf cart.  (Lets call them Gulf Carts!)

Linda Seyfert cuddling with Daisy on the Couch.

Linda Seyfert cuddling with Daisy on the Couch.

Spirit Day at the HS - were the Senior Cross Dress for a Pagent show.

Spirit Day at the HS – were the Senior Cross Dress for a Pagent show.

We finally got the NYT’s delivered on Sunday – and I really didn’t care.  The style section, which was my go-to-first – bored me.

Who cares what style hats they are wearing in New York City – especially when most looked like vintage Annie Hall and some were hats I wore in the 1980’s?  Who cares about the self proclaimed and self anointed fashionistas?  I’m too busy seeing what SARAH created out of consignment store finds.  Beautiful clothes she creates and wears – talk about Self-Actualization!

Then we experienced the intrusion of the superbowl  …. oooph – the commercials and the pushy pageantry felt like an overwhelming assault.

We really are on a foreign island – connected by a bridge that we don’t long to cross. (OK, except for Trader Joes in Gainesville –  that exception I do make.)

During the month I watched the TV Series “WORLD WITHOUT END”, set in the 1300’s I believe – where the church and royalty were corrupt and selfishly driven.  I saw a lot of parallels to modern day society and wondered just how much progress have we actually made as the human species.  If our TV programs are the harbinger, then we seem to have made precious little progress over the last 2000 years – excepting our sanitation and transportation system. Everything else is “wash, rinse, repeat”

As Humans, our social structures echo the Feudal Lords, Roman Gladiators and Controlling Religious Entities.

It begs the question: WHAT ARE WE DOING WITH OUR TIME HERE ON EARTH?”

Our answer to that question for the month of January is: CONNECTING AND CREATING

John has made good progress on the model Chris-Craft boat Billy gave him so many years ago.

He’s also begun several other art projects.  Thank god he can keep himself entertained.

When I can get out of the “office” (second bedroom with a table and all my files spread out on the bed”) I connect at the free yoga class twice a week and an hour-long morning walks in the scrub and on my bike, riding to town to fulfill errands and on the streets and park – there is always someone to meet and greet on the streets and everyday in the park, where daisy entertains by doing what she loves, chasing the ball.

That’s where I take a breath – looking at a big sky and placid gulf.  Soothing, soothing, soothing.

ACTIVITIES

Jan 18 – The Art Retrospective of Chick Schwartz was amazing.  Ocala FL is about half way across the state. Appleton Museum is swanky.  Chick’s Art is amazing (Chick is our neighbor – an un-repressed creative soul who makes amazing 3-d paintings, bronze sculptures, found object sculptures and is always tinkering…. we hear his shuffling feet each day as he continues to work in his “shop” which is the open air space beneath his house (13 feet in the air) .  The gathering at the Appleton was delicious – many Cedar Key folks attended – all dressed in their finery.  It was exciting and felt …. well, when I asked John what it felt like to him, he said: PARIS SOCIETY, 1920.  YES!  That is what it felt like and it does apply to Cedar Key — Accomplished and emerging and wanna be artists of all disciplines gathering to feed their creative souls –

Here’s what we saw at the Opening Night:

Chris Reynolds, his gorgeous wife Linda Seyfert and My hub John

Chris Reynolds, his gorgeous wife Linda Seyfert and My hub John

On our way to Ocala Art Show -passing through Marion County BIG HORSE COUNTRY

On our way to Ocala Art Show -passing through Marion County BIG HORSE COUNTRY

Artist Examining his Work

Artist Examining his Work

Chick Schwartz and Laura Matson Hahn by his work: Angles on the Head of a Pin

Chick Schwartz and Laura Matson Hahn by his work: Angles on the Head of a Pin

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Is everyone avoiding the Big Fish in the center of the room?

Is everyone avoiding the Big Fish in the center of the room?

Salute!

Salute!

Jockey Ho!

Jockey Ho!

There's a light in the back!

There’s a light in the back!

Kathy Fotterall and Chick conspire to look natural

Kathy Fotterall and Chick conspire to look natural

Carol and Chick's Lovely Wife Marsha! (Gertrude to us)

Carol and Chick’s Lovely Wife Marsha! (Gertrude to us)

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Martin and Lonna Dickenson - all dressed up!! my my

Martin and Lonna Dickenson – all dressed up!! my my

Marsha Schwarts - proud wife of the celebrated artist.  And a fantastic artist herself.

Marsha Schwarts – proud wife of the celebrated artist. And a fantastic artist herself.

Bev and Stanley

Bev and Stanley

Ze Artist Celeb - Chick Schwartz

Ze Artist Celeb – Chick Schwartz

Jan 24: The Parade for the Homecoming Week at the school is an annual event and they year,  Council Woman Sue Collins wanted everyone IN the parade “like one long conga line”. So the OFCA (Old Florida Celebration of the Arts Festival) joined in – making BIG RED our float.  Linda Seyfert came over – squeezing in some time – to do the art for our Frame – and Suzanne and Lauren Krieble found decorations at the Dollar Store (we knew Suzanne could pull this off from her many years in sorority life)  During the Parade, John used the loud speaker system (thank you Frank Deluca) to play “76 Trombones” all through the route. Four of us marched in front of the truck with dogs,  and John noticed people kept looking for the band.  WE were the Band.  It was Fun!

Sue Collins shark-fitted her gulf cart!

Sue Collins shark-fitted her gulf cart!

Masks are fun

Masks are fun

76 Trombones is blasting out the loud speakers

76 Trombones is blasting out the loud speakers

Well Done, Suzanne

Well Done, Suzanne

Viola! We Heart Art and Sharks (mascot)

Viola! We Heart Art and Sharks (mascot)

Lauren Kieble adds some touches

Lauren Kieble adds some touches

Suzanne Kreible leads John in the decoration

Suzanne Kreible leads John in the decoration

Linda creating the frame for the Truck Float.  Suzanne appreciating her finesse

Linda creating the frame for the Truck Float. Suzanne appreciating her finesse

Jan 26: Bev Ringenberg – my go to girl for all things art festival – invited John and I to join them in a boat cruise she’d put together for her family – son, daughter-in-law, cousin Joe (who would be playing at the fundraiser) his wife and sister.  SOOOO nice to get onto the water cruising the bay – stopping on North Key – Touring Atsena Otie – where a graveyard from the 1800’s still exists… it was once THE inhabited Island – until a horrible storm nearly swept everyone away. That’s when they moved buildings to the main island we now call Cedar Key.

It's been battered but still here!

It’s been battered but still here!

Backside of North Key

Backside of North Key

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J-A-N-U-A-R-Y (hehe)

J-A-N-U-A-R-Y (hehe)

Gnarly Sea Monsters

Gnarly Sea Monsters

Visceral Serenity

Visceral Serenity

Sea Horse Key

Sea Horse Key

Dog gone day. Too bad Daisy didn't come too.

Dog gone day. Too bad Daisy didn’t come too.

whoop whoop

whoop whoop

Cormorant

Cormorant

Dock to Atsena Otie Key

Dock to Atsena Otie Key

Grave site on Atsena Otie

Grave site on Atsena Otie

Fenced Grave site

Fenced Grave site

Searching for the birds

Searching for the birds

Jan 27: The Fundraiser was a great community success.  We incorporated Storytellers along with the music afternoon and it was a big hit! Bill Roberts is a beloved “cracker cowboy”, fishing guide and artist – he told some of his cowboy stories, rounding up wild cattle in Florida. Russ Weaver, another artist sketched faces throughout the day. Toni Collins, historian storyteller, shared knowledge of the lighthouse occupants on Seahorse Key – when it was operational in the 1800’s.  And musician Joe Peters played beautifully!  Good fun. Great Fundraiser. and Good silent art auction – to which we heavily contributed.

sketches of the crowd

sketches of the crowd

Tony - the husband of the Mosaic Artist Valerie (who's piece I won in the silent auction)

Tony – the husband of the Mosaic Artist Valerie (who’s piece I won in the silent auction)

Love Bill's leg sticking out here

Love Bill’s leg sticking out here

Ton Collins as the LADY OF THE LIGHTHOUSE

Ton Collins as the LADY OF THE LIGHTHOUSE

Joe Peter's soothing music

Joe Peter’s soothing music

Shannon and MANDY - my coordinator predecessor (what a help she has been)

Shannon and MANDY – my coordinator predecessor (what a help she has been)

My Festival Team!

My Festival Team!

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There is nothing boring or retiring about this little island.

We treasure our days – even our sleepless ones – and can’t wait to see what comes up next!

Happiness to you.

Love, Laura, John and Daisy

HEY – one more note – it takes a lot of effort to put this blog together – especially when I’m to the wall with my job.  So please, take a moment and respond – at least push a LIKE Button!  Merci.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Oh, Hello!

Oh, Hello!

Stone Crab Supper at Home

Stone Crab Supper at Home

Snuggling with Daisy in my new Cedar Key skull cap!  It was cold!!!

Snuggling with Daisy in my new Cedar Key skull cap! It was cold!!!

DEEELICIOUS homemade cheesecake from Linda and Chris

DEEELICIOUS homemade cheesecake from Linda and Chris

Happy Daisy

Happy Daisy

First Fire - the season has begun!

First Fire – the season has begun!

CHRISTMAS IN CEDAR KEY

We have ourselves some treats and received some too … stone crab supper … funny gifts to each other … cheesecake from Linda Seyfert and her hubby Chris Reynolds (OMG Deelish) and enjoyed getting used to our new surroundings, again.
Then Came John’s Birthday. Dec 28th

After a LOOOOONG day shopping in Gainesville – we stopped to get gas b/f heading home. Daisy needed a stretch so I walked her toward the Waffle House (classic – no?) and then saw the Japanese Steak house up the hill – Would John like to go there? Have a martini and some steak. We were both pretty fried from the day.

YES! He said and we entered another surprise.

John's BD Dinner - Japanese Steak House and Sushi

John’s BD Dinner – Japanese Steak House and Sushi

Sushi for Me - Steak for U

Sushi for Me – Steak for U

John got a FREE Meal b/c it was his actual BD

John got a FREE Meal b/c it was his actual BD

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Terrific Martinis - but olives and a twist?  Unusual

Terrific Martinis – but olives and a twist? Unusual

Saw this waffle house when we stopped to get gas in Gainesville

Saw this waffle house when we stopped to get gas in Gainesville

Then Came New Years Eve – which we don’t care about at all. Had a home meal with Suzanne and Jeff and then went to bed early – to start 2013 fresh!

But NEW YEARS DAY became a better tradition!

Linda Seyfert and her wonderful Hubby Chris Reynolds – transplanted Long Islanders in the Clam Business – hosted a New Years Day Supper in their beautiful home overlooking the sea bay.

What a spread of food!  All Fish for good luck.

Met their friends Paul and Diana – Christine Ford – and their Kids Chloe and Ridley zipped in and out and we brought along Jeff and Suzanne!

Talk, Eat, Drinks, Jenga, Laugh and feel good was a great way to begin this year.  We are getting a homey, community feeling on day one!

Happy New Year to each of you! Sorry these pics are all spread out. I don’t know how to control the layout on this blog!  Any pointers welcome!

Love to all – Laura & John & Daisy whooping it up in Cedar Key!

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Jeff is Jangled by Jenga

Jeff is Jangled by Jenga

Chris is a cunning strategist in Jenga

Chris is a cunning strategist in Jenga

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Turns out, Suzanne is quite the Jenga Player, too!

Turns out, Suzanne is quite the Jenga Player, too!

Paul really dug John's virgin bloody mary!

Paul really dug John’s virgin bloody mary!

Linda Seyfert - once a model, always a model!

Linda Seyfert – once a model, always a model!

Linda's awesome clam chowder - I need lessons

Linda’s awesome clam chowder – I need lessons

John's awesome bloody marys!

John’s awesome bloody marys!

Linda puts out a spread to beat the band!

Linda puts out a spread to beat the band!

More Cheese Cake

More Cheese Cake

Porch overlooking the water in Rye Key

Porch overlooking the water in Rye Key

My rice-veggy salad echoed the fish theme on New Years Day

My rice-veggy salad echoed the fish theme on New Years Day

SunSet Rye Key - Linda & Chris's wonderful home

SunSet Rye Key – Linda & Chris’s wonderful home

WELCOME, AGAIN: Cedar Key– 2 Point – OH!


HELLO, HELLO – CEDAR KEY 2.0!

BACKGROUND: For five years, John and I flew over the NW section of FL on our way home from Sarasota, FL. Soon after wheels up in Tampa,  the land below would become a vast, empty space with nothing but wiggly roads.  It inexplicably beckoned me. Pressing my face to the airplane window, studying that empty space, I felt a longing, a tugging to explore that territory. Finally, happenstance brought us there –  to Cedar Key – in the middle of a seemingly empty coastline. My longing did not get us here. My longing gave me a direction and a dream. How it all came to fruition was the surprise … and the surprise continues to unfold.

After a glorious three months in Cedar Key last year, during which I felt I’d found my tribe, I was then offered the Job as Event Coordinator for the April Annual Arts Festival. So our stay upped to a 5 month stay.

Art Festival Post Card

Art Festival Post Card

Like last year, we don’t know how we will feel about Cedar Key after 5 months of being very in the mix with every group in town. Nor do we know how the town will feel about us after the festival. It works both ways. So once again we dive into the unknown … with our eyes and hearts wide open.

DEPARTURE DAY: Our departure from New Hope to Cedar Key was late due to an unexpected trip John made to his daughter (Laura in VA) who  had a horrific car accident (miraculously unscathed). Then we had a great renter for the house pop up – (another Laura) – the day before we were supposed to leave. All good luck.

Driving straight down 95 was a relatively easy ride, (note the passing sights)

Piggly Wiggly - how did they come up with that supermarket name?

Piggly Wiggly – how did they come up with that supermarket name?

 What is holding them in??

What is holding them in??
I'm not moving from this bed!

I’m not moving from this bed!

until we stopped for the night in Lumberton NC – just north of the SC border – and were sorry for it.

Anynight USA

Anynight USA

I chose Motel 6 for the price and dog – never again. Besides being too spare, the location was scarey –  just off the highway, warning signs PARK AT YOUR OWN RISK and plexiglass covering the local convenience store worker. Locked behind our room door, with BIG RED just outside, we were grateful Daisy has such a BIG bark – used 4 times before we  settled and slept through the night.

The saddest thing about that area was the “HISTORIC LUMBERTON”.   As “Video Killed the Radio Store”,  Big Box and Chain Stores have certainly slaughtered small town America.  Driving into the town, off the “chain slathered highway” we saw gorgeous houses leading to a substantial 8 block downtown with terrific, turn of the century buildings – all mostly empty. Geez, it was so sad to see. It was so easy to imagine it full of citizens and society. When will the muckty-mucks of commerce wake up to the fact that COMMUNITY is the only way to build a safe, productive society – take away the center and the work = community stumbles.  Any  ideas as to how we take our Country back?

At first light we zipped out, stopping at an I-HOP in Florence SC where John got ticked off by bad service – like I rarely see. 

"We've been waiting a half hour already! Where is our Breakfast?"

“We’ve been waiting a half hour already! Where is our Breakfast?”

After that, it was an easy cruise to Jacksonville, FL, where we spent a delightful afternoon and evening with ELLEN, a dear friend of the family – who was her joyous, warm, delicious self.

Ellens Screened Porch

Ellens Screened Porch

Ellen Emerson & Laura in Pontra Vedre

Ellen Emerson & Laura in Pontra Vedre

On Sunday, we cruised toward Cedar Key, driving through St. Augustine (busy, busy, busy), stopping to ride the carousel.

St Augustine Carousel

St Augustine Carousel

Wheee

Wheee

Found the tiny, old town called Micanopy (mick-ah-nope-ee), claimed to be the oldest towns in Florida. Dripping with spanish moss covered old trees, old buildings and lots of antiques. An old-timer told us about the town’s history and art festival and …. well, ya know … ya just get to jawboning down here about one thing and a tuther. 

Micanopy

Micanopy

Micanopy Old House Antique Shop

Micanopy Old House Antique Shop

More old Micanopy Homes

More old Micanopy Homes

Love these whimsical fences!

Love these whimsical fences!

Cedar Key View from Bridge 4 As you Enter

Cedar Key View from Bridge 4 As you Enter

ARRIVAL:  As the sun was aming to set, we crossed Bridge Four into Cedar Key and we were flushed by the  island’s beautiful wilderness We were also welcomed by friends as we rolled up our street: Lonna and Martin, 

Lonna and Martin Dickenson our neighbors

Lonna and Martin Dickenson our neighbors

Neighbor Marsha Schwartz came with welcome flowers. But the abundant tangerines on the tree in the backyard had been picked clean by the former renters who now rented the place on the water across the street. Hmmmm. I was looking forward to our Tangerine Juice.

SETTLING IN: 

7 DAYS LATER: A week after our arrival – we can barely believe all we’d done.

Cedar Key Beach - Park

Cedar Key Beach – Park

Monday the 17th  and the next three days, I zipped around town – meeting festival committee( great group),  getting introductions, making and distributing posters for the January festival FUNDRAISERBev and Kathy selling tickets to the January Fundraiser

Bev and Kathy selling tickets to the January Fundraiser

and dealing with a computer hacking that took me 6 hours and tears to get fixed. 

Six Hours trying to get UNHACKED

Six Hours trying to get UNHACKED

Having a job – a highly interactive one – is going to make for a very different year. But, we sincerely feel, it will lead to exactly where we are supposed to go – even though we don’t know where that is, yet.

Kathy of the CK Emporium and Peter, President of the Arts Center

Kathy of the CK Emporium and Peter, President of the Arts Center

Chief Virgil and Miss Frances at the City Hall

Chief Virgil and Miss Frances at the City Hall

Getting settled was not as easy as last year. The owners, Boyd and Tom, had not been back in 8 months – so the place lacked  their spit and polish. It had a moldy odor and was not as clean as we’d found it or left it last year. After a phone call, Boyd agreed to replace a BR carpet – the mold source – and we got it done quickly then  scrubbed down of the place.

Johnny Clean

Johnny Clean

As my cousin Dee says: “I like to start fresh, so I live in my own germs”  Our full day cleaning frenzy was fueled with a robust bloody mary and capped with a G&T –

We slept well that night.

John found the cement paint - freshened the steps and painted the back platform!

John found the cement paint – freshened the steps and painted the back platform!

Backyard set up with Dee Lights and the Cowboy cooker and new work table

Backyard set up with Dee Lights and the Cowboy cooker and new work table

DEC 23rd  We joined a real southern Christmas feast, up the street at Miss Wilmas – with her sons Kenny, Kevin and Keith and their families.

Southern Feast

Southern Feast

Grits and Greens, Black Eyed Peas, Fried Mullet (fish), Casseroles of Squash, Lasagna, Mac & Cheese and Sweet Meatballs and Pork and …. oh, well, it was mighty fine … right down to the Peach Cake and Chocolate, Chocolate Cake. Sitting outside, we listened and inquired and got to know each other: Making Strangers into Friends. I’ve noticed a certain way Locals inspect us with a jaundiced eye and locked jaw, until we show some interest in them.  Then they open up like a dried jasmine flowerbud in hot water – unfolding petal by petal – revealing their own brand of exotic beauty.

Alex serving the sweets

Alex serving the sweets

We also supped on fresh and steamed oysters with Lonna and Martin and their most gentlemanly son, Owen and his sweetheart Tatiana and her sister Alex and Tatiana’s three rambunctious boys who could shuck oysters like I’ve never seen!  Tatiania and Alex are Serbian born and raised, but followed their father to the US in their later years.  Lovely people, all.

In between those two events, we drove over to SHELLMOUND, a preserve by the Suwannee River – to walk the paths. What sublime beauty.

Daisy loves shellmound almost as much as ball

Daisy loves shellmound almost as much as ball

Shellmound  it was chilly!

Shellmound it was chilly!

The Nature of Florida’s Nature Coast is spectacular. And SHELLMOUND  is the inspiration behind the Mosaic Tile selected as the design motif for the Art Festival, representing the indians who populated the area for millennium and who created the mounds (hills) of shells. A Must See Spot!

Dec 25th we joined 5 other couples at a brunch – what a fun, diverse group – and stories, stories, stories.  Interesting people with sophisticated background populate this island along with the long-time families and shellfish industry and artists.

We also established our routines – bicycling to the park behind the cemetery, doing the fitness routine set up among the trees. I remember seeing it the first year and wondered “who does that?” Now it’s me!  All the while shooting the ball for Daisy to chase.

Then Jeff and Suzanne showed upJeff and Suzanne Krieble

Jeff and Suzanne Krieble

so we made a reservation at the ISLAND HOUSE restaurant upon their arrival.  OK, that’s enough for now.  More to follow soon with lots of pics!.

It has been very busy with this new job but I’m working hard to keep a blog too.  Thank you for your patience.

Lots of Love from Laura & John  & Daisy – in Cedar Key Florida, where all is right.

Painted Bunting


After clearing the backyard concrete slab of the table and chairs,

Bucks took up a respite. Spying him through the kitchen window, I thought he deserved a snap.

Cleared Back Yard -- Cool slab for Bucks to rest

But as I shot, suddenly I noticed the PAINTED BUNTING Bird arrived on the feeder –

Painted Bunting on left side of Feeder

and with a window between us, I could shoot as fast as my camera allowed.

There is a pair of these PAINTED BUNTINGS in our area.

The most colorful male has been with us for a month, slipping into the feeder when the other birds had finished,

But never when I had a camera near.

Gorgeous Creatures. Lucky Shots.

Glad I followed the whisper to shoot Bucks on his cement block repose.

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PAINTED BUNTING:

ROYAL HEAD OF BLUE

WITH REGAL BREAST OF RED

AND LIME GREEN CAPE,

PECKS NERVOUSLY AT THE FEEDER,

ALONE,

WHILE IN THE BRANCHES OVERHEAD

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS SING AND CACKLE:

HAIL TO THE KING!

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Departing Moon Shots from our Neighbors Deck.

I must say I love a sunrise view …. because it also includes the moon rise.

WRAPPING UP – PREPPING TO GO


It is our last week in Cedar Key.

Our house is a mess with piles of this and that, collected to be packed.

Will we need to ship things home? We are not yet sure. 

But it didn’t stop us from going FISHING on a PONTOON boat on Tuesday.

Check out my goofy Sunglasses -a gift from John on a Caribbean vacation

Off we go, for our last day of fishing at CK

The pontoon is better for John’s back and it was quite comfortable.  But the fishing – not as auspicious as the day – clear, bright, windless – but the fishing was not HOT!  We brought along our friend Lonna (her hubby, Martin, has to work). We fished around North Key most of the time — some fun action in the first spot – but no keepers….

Trout, catfish, pinfish (good for bait), blowfish, stingray  and Lady Fish – who always seem to flip themselves off before they reach the boat (good thing b/c they are reported to defecate and flip all over the boat, making it a mess. ) John had a little mackerel action (but it got away) and Lonna has some big flash on the hook for a minute but . . . .

Lonna's first catch. All our fish were just UNDER the legal limit - drat!

Pin Fish - good bait, we are told

Blown Up Blow Fish - with TEETH

Lady Fish - but she's no lady!

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Shooing the Stingray back into the sea

Maybe no fish - but he caught some rays

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Back of the Boat fishing Mates

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Cloud Tower over Cedar Key

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Nice Shot Near Shore....

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One thing our guide yesterday said perked our ears — “The best fishermen in the area fish with jigs – not bait.” Those were music to John’s ears. He hates the bobber/live bait sitting on the bottom, waiting for a bite – which really leads to the small, unkeepable fish.  Any bigger fish trolling through is not going to stop at that small shrimp and say “Oh, Hey, What a Surprise!” No, those desired fish are going to grab at an unexpected  flash of a jig – jigging by – and snatch it.  But we haven’t found that guide yet. Next Trip? 

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Who we really want is our fisher friend John Pascoe –

John Pascoe - Fisherman Extra Ordinaire

who has the nose and adventure for finding the fishing holes.  We look forward to seeing him and fishing with him soon in New Hope.

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Over the past weeks we’ve had a few other wonderful adventures and events arise..

From airboating . . .

Brand New Airboat in the Area. A beaut

Laura, Capt Heath, Suzanne

Ready, Set, LET'S GO!

Johnny - With Wind in His Hair!

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"This IS FUN!" Suzanne w/Jeff right behind her

Driving Toward the Sunset

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Captain Heath sharing the story of the Battle at Fort Four

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Sunset over Bridge Four -- which got it's name from the Battle Heath told us about.

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.Then we had a second visit from Laura and Don

Don and Laura under the tent in the Backyard, sharing a meal.

Laura and her Birthday gift - a hand made neck scarf with her Great Aunt Bid's beads sewn to the ends.

and their Sarasota Friends Susan and Faru … who instantly took to the beauty of Cedar Key.

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I cooked a pork shoulder all day on Friday to create pulled pork.  Made a video of the process too but haven’t yet edited it.

Pork cooking in cast iron pot on the cowboy cooker! Last big feast - came out delicious.

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We tried to go boating on Sat. but the weather was awful.

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A brave face on a cold, wet boating attempt

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Capt Pat Bonish - "will someone call this thing off, please?!!"

It crushed our party (PREVIOUS POST: Rain Party).  But we hailed hearty and the night and Sunday worked out great – with a good boat tour with Pat Bonish – a terrific photographer and manager of the very cool LOW KEY MOTEL.

Sunny Day on the Boat with Susan and Faru

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Laura Loves Boats!

Susan got lost in the wilderness beauty

Pontoon Leisure at North Key

Susan is set free!

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Faru checks his GPS to see where he is at (!) as Don enjoys where he is at!

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Later in the week, we spent an afternoon at the WACCASSASA RIVER, where friends are building a home.

A natural wilderness still exists along the Waccassasa River

 

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John got up in the deerstand to snap this picture by the river

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Big Red by the Waccassasa River

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The home of our friends, under construction

Water Reflections

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Then there was a final dinner with Jeff and Suzanne at the ISLAND ROOM where we dined outside.  They have become very good friends – and it has been terrific to share Cedar Key with them and their daughter, Lauren, who lives in Gainsville. ….

John, Suzanne, Laura and Jeff - a final group picture!

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Suzanne and Jeff with Chef and Owner: Peter

They gave us CLAW LIGHTERS - as a going away gift. FUN!

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Day is done but the friendship goes on

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In the past week, we’ve been enjoying the Blooming Oleander trees at our neighbors…. and all over town.

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The Hibiscus has been blooming all winter

Oleander Lane!

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And a last supper with Lonna and Martin on their deck….

View from Martin and Lonna's deck

Wonderful Views....accompanied by Sand Gnats "Ouch" Slap, Rub! But soooo beautiful to look at.

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Me and Maaaatin!

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We had BUCKS Join the party, once it cooled off!

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A lovely table on the Deck

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…But most recently we’ve been consumed by three events.

1. A job that opened with the Cedar Key Arts Center and Festival – which I interviewed for, was offered, but turned down, because I realized, after the interview, I would be consumed with the job and thwart what I came to CK for in the first place: our own creative work.  They understood and have secured a terrific person for their plans.  Good all around.

My Job Interview Outfit --New Dress from the Mad Men Collection at ?? I don't know my stores....but it was in the MALL (yikes) Love the dress - with pockets!!

 

2.  Our dog Bucks, who had a new symptom arise – difficulty to get a breathe.  He has been drawing rough breaths in rapid succession.

Dr. Sammy, who gave Bucks an excellent exam.

Vet said it was the weakening of the muscles in his throat that close when he eats/drinks … and they are not fully opening.

Daisy Paw and Bucks Paw.....on night on the rug.

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..He put Bucks on Prednizone – which has calmed down the inflammation but increased the peeing — in the middle of the night – so not much sleeping going on.

We are  now focused on getting him home –

so he can RIP with his brother in our garden.  There have been a few blubberfests on this matter – and discord between John and I as to what was happening and how to deal with it …. until we found our mutual desire to have Bucks resting in New Hope – not any where else. So, despite the Easter Holiday, we may take off early to get him home. 

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.Last night, Shari (an Artist from NYC who is quite a character)

Shari - our hostess - and artist - I crave her flower stained Glass

cooked us a delicious meal of Shrimp Scampi and her friend Peter (a muscian, writer, activist soul) joined the party. 

The Flower Stained Glass I crave

Shari had been trying to connect Peter and us for a while now and I’m glad she did. He is a most interesting soul – following his heart code through and through – and had so many curious stories about his life,  which leads to a story about a WWII mission and the pilots involved, which leads to the investigation of what happened in the gulf and some chemical substance that was sprayed to sink the oil to the bottom – a substance that is illegal in 19 countries but not in the USA) – and how he was exposed to it heavily b/c he was sleeping out on the islands at that time and began bleeding from the lungs – and how many in CK got a respitory inflammation that hung on for months – and how the people in Louisiana were really doused by it and are dying, quickly.   That’s what he told us. 

Shari's Garden / Art Gallery

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Peter and John Mind Meld

.Along with the assertion that when new Oil Wells were approved recently – BP got the first one.   And how they won’t show the well head – and …the chemical they sprayed has circulated the earth through the currents and…the fish are coming out with lesions … and….every one has been bought off – in the Government … for the benefit of big oil.

It made me wonder: Where can one go?  Is our only option to chose a place or places that please us?….. And have a back up plan for getting off this planet when it gets untenable?  

Kurt Vonnegut wrote in SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE: “The secret of life is to forget the bad and concentrate on the good.”  

I agree.  Sometimes that feels like being Pollyanna.  But what other choice do we have?  Be consumed by anger?  Flailing Don Quixote-style at a monolith of corporations who control our lives? Perhaps Ignorance IS Bliss.

I don’t know what the answer is. But maybe the serenity prayer is the only one to go by: Grant me the serenity to change the things I can, accept the things I can’t and the wisdom to know the difference.

My cousin Dee said to me the other day – “You don’t yet know how much this trip has impacted you – and you won’t until you’ve gotten home for a while”   She is so right. And thus, I must now take my leave of this blog until we do return home….”for I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep …and miles to go before I sleep” (Robert Frost)

Be well and send me your thoughts on all this. Would really like to hear how YOU think about these issue – either as a comment on the blog or an email: http://www.lauramatsonhahn@gmail.com

Thanks for coming along on this ride.  And, CONVERSATION FARM will continue….as we continue to explore the adventure of our lives.

I leave you with a few, happy, parting shots.

Paddling the Back Bay of Cedar Key

xoxo  Laura

Like the true snowbirds, the White Pelicans have gathered and flown the Coop

Heading to our Bridge in New Hope, PA .... for some more Lovely Days!

RAIN PARTY


Sat Night – we’d planned a feast – our last one for this trip –

Johnny in the kitchen

It began with Laura and Don and Susan and Faru – all from Sarasota (COUNT 6) – and then it kept growing to include Jeff and Suzanne from Indiana (they are leaving Tuesday) and their daughter Lauren and her sweetheart Andrew,  (COUNT 10) and of course we had to invite our neighbors Lonna and Martin (COUNT 12) and Shari from NY and Jean, our other neighbor, and if Linda and Chris got back in time…. (COUNT 16!).

Well, What the Heck!  We certainly had enough food: We were going to serve oysters (Fresh Shucked, Steamed, Roasted) and Pulled Pork (which I cooked all day, outdoors on the cowboy cooker on Thursday) and Spare Ribs (marinated for two days) and Chicken (also marinated and baked)
And everyone was helping with Coleslaw(Lonna) Decorations (Lauren) Dessert (Suzanne) and Wine and Beer (Laura, Don, Jeff, Susan, Faru)

Everything was going nicely – the pork was pulled and seasoned, the garden looked lovely with extra tables and chairs and tablecloths and flowers and stations for shucking and drinks and yacking —

John shopped for candles and rope lighting to illuminate inside the shade tent and it looked lovely — Sure there had been some rain throughout the day but nothing major.  Thunder rumbles and a shower here and there….

And then it hit!  Hurricane Rain – just before 7 – when everyone was to arrive.

Hurricane Rain

Sheets and Sheets of it – obliterating the view, sweeping rivers down the street… and eventually the tent, too  = crumpled by wind and crushed by water.

As the rain began

CRUMPLED TENT

CRUSHED TENT

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It was a long, hard  rain with no break between the drops – just one long strand of unending water. GPS’s were refreshed minute by minute – how long would it last? would there be a break to dash to the car or the house? When was the next cell going to hit?

In the middle of it all, the guest arrived – sprinting across the flooding backyard with trays of tarts in one hand and the umbrella in the other.

Let me in, let me in!

Holy Cow!

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Daisy Greeting Suzanne

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Laughter reigned too, as each person pushed innto the small front porch, shaking off the water and entering the house.

What else was there to do?  Sure the  Coats, Shoes, Shirts were Soaked. But a mop of a towel and a refreshment in hand and some noshes on the table, and we were good to go.

Reconfigured DR Table opened up the room - chairs scattered against the wall

The Living & Dining area had already been re-arranged to accommodate the party indoors.  Not ideal, but doable.

Susan and Faru enjoy a nosh on a clam dip and a salsa dip

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Lauren and Mom Suzanne look Great! Despite the torrents.

Laura Pearson looking for wine "Oh stop wining!" "NO!"

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Lauren and sweetheart Andrew (such a great couple!)

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Then it ended. The curtain – the solid wall of water – moved past and left us cool, fresh air and a mess in the backyard.

Tent Uprighted - no one touch it or blow on it!

Maaaaah-tin - a great friend, neighbor, man

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Martin and I investigated the tent and began bailing water out of it, hoping it would stand erect when we pulled it back up.  It Did!  A bit wobbly and battered but standing!

John bravely plugged the lights in .  Viola!  Illumination.

What about a fire?  Could we get one going? Yes, again, thanks to Faru and Martin, – who went home, got a board and a vice grip, and attached the board over the cowboy cooker in event of future rain….which was forecasted by the GPS — another cell coming our way in about 20 minutes.  We paid no mind to that matter.

It Is FIRE!

Wipe Down and Re-set up! Let's do it!

John got out more towels (thank heavens Tom and Boyd have such a well stocked place) and wiped down the tables and chairs, lit the candles and we were in business!

All we needed were the oysters by the shed – which Don and Faru had to cross a river to get!.

The water sat on the sand like a pond and then – suddenly – disappeared.

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I began shucking oysters(which was supposed to be over and done with an hour previously) as the fire was gathering strength. to steam the oysters open.

Lauren – what a trooper – grabbed another knife and shucks away too. EEE GOD, we have a bushel of oysters!!!

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220 OYSTERS in a BUSHEL (now you know)

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.At a certain point, I suddenly felt pain in my haunches from standing, hunched over the oysters, and had to sit down.

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Laura P heating up the pulled pork! LifeSaver!

That was around 8:30, as John remembers, and Laura Pearson stepped in, pulling together the rest of the meal and getting all hands on deck to get it served – outside – the second rain had skirted us – under the tent – and it was done.

Laura, Don, Faru and Susan (sort of) Finally eating dinner!

We ate, drank, talked, shared, laughed, and appreciated the beautiful night around loaned tables and chairs, in glowing candlelight.

It was good. . . . . .

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Lonna - who made a delicious coleslaw - family recipe

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Mom and Daughter - extraordinary!

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Artist Shari! Delightful conversationalist

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Bucks keep an ear on the party just inside the back door.

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Dessert Time! Key Lime and Cherry Cream Tarts from the Island Girl Cake shop. YUMM!

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TARTS!

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Daisy gets a manicure (or would that be pedicure?)

Saited and Seated

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Lauren and Andrew

Jolly Jeffrey

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.We didn’t eat half the oyster … and I have a large casserole of pulled pork and half as much chicken still … but because everyone pitched in, the kitchen wasn’t a disaster and John and I silently worked to pull it together before we collapsed at midnight.

John always does more on the clean up than me, always. Bless him.

I’m glad we did it but just for the record: I’m never doing it again!  ; >

Ahhh - now to bed!

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