Thursday, September 10, 2015

My "Mayberry" ...

NOTE: Tuesday night I made a little speech to my mayor and city commission. I ran a little over the three minutes they allow for "public speaking," but, I think I got my point across. Here's what I said. You decide.

I moved into my home on April 12, 1987. My daughter was born five days later and she grew up in a neighborhood where we knew everyone on our street. She walked to elementary and high school and spent many hours at Hagen Park and Mickel Field.

I awoke in the wee hours this morning thinking about The Andy Griffith Show’s episode 10 from season one, “Stranger in Town.”  It was on cable TV last night. The citizens of Mayberry were suspicious of a young stranger who seemed to know everything about them. It turned out that his army buddy was from Mayberry and he had loved hearing his friend talk about home. After discharge, he began subscribing to the local newspaper and he had decided to come to Mayberry and make it his home. Thanks to the sensitivity and wisdom of the local sheriff, the folks of Mayberry came to see this man deserved to be welcomed because he loved their small town as much as they did.

So, there I am at three in the morning thinking about this, and I had a little epiphany.  I’m watching my “Mayberry” morph into something I don’t recognize and I can’t do anything about it.

My daughter is 28 years old now and, sadly, I don’t know everyone on my street any more. Of the ten houses that line my block, four of them are vacation rental businesses. Today, three are lined up in a row, across the street from where I live.

There are those who say these houses were blighted and their rehabbing has increased our property values. I don’t know if that’s true. I agree that they look pretty. But, the thing is, they’re not part of community life. There’s no one to know. They’re not residents. And, that makes me suspicious.

When this whole conversion thing started a few years ago, it took me a while, but, I came to accept the business across the street. After all, I didn’t have much choice.  Then, I discovered there were two other vacation rental businesses on our street, but, they were scattered in between my real neighbors, so, I worked at making peace with their presence, too. I knew the State Legislature had stripped municipalities of the ability to regulate vacation rentals in any meaningful way, so, I knew I had to be patient and give the cities time to find a way to rein them in.

Then, last month, an owner occupied house between two vacation rentals was sold and I’ve learned it is being converted to a vacation rental, making three vacation rental businesses in a row, across the street from where I live. So, I have come here to ask. Can you do anything about that? Is it okay for 40% or 50% of a residential neighborhood to be Stepford Wife vacation rental businesses?  Don’t we, homesteaded residents, have a say in this? And, if not, why not?

U.S. property laws guarantee me the “right of quiet enjoyment” of MY property. That’s pretty much gone from my life and, I admit, I’m mad about it. Please? Can you guys help save my “Mayberry?”

Thank you.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

august, however ...

Honest to God. I don't know where the month of July went.

My recovery from spinal surgery is going well. I'm incredibly grateful for modern medicine and for an amazing surgeon. I can walk without stumbling and I no longer need any kind of pain  medication to get through the day. Don't get me wrong; the recovery is a lengthy process, but, I'm so glad I did this. I suspect when my recovery is complete (about 6 months after surgery) I will continue to be grateful for the improvements in my quality of life!

Not being able to do simple things has had its challenges, though. I cannot lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk (which weighs 8 pounds, by the way), so, no big grocery shopping for me. (I can do desserts and cat food, though!) I also cannot vacuum or clean the cat's litter boxes and I can't schlep the laundry basket. I can, however, wash dishes and put groceries away and I'm excellent at folding socks and underwear! My darling husband hasn't complained once through all this, which is why he is my prince!

I've resumed working on the Island City Art Market at Art Gallery 21. Things languished during July. I have to admit to a week long bout with depression. It had been so long since I was depressed that, at first, I didn't recognize what was going on. It passed, though, and I'm most grateful for that.

I went with friends to see Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal in "Love Letters" at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and I'm so glad I did! They were lovely together! Even more so than when they made "Love Story." One of those friends works at the Broward Center and while he couldn't arrange a meet-and-greet with the actors, he was able to  procure autographed Playbills for each of us. I found this to be one of the most thoughtful gifts I've received in a long time. Thank you, Bill!

I put two dolls up on ebay and one sold. Ebay made $2.40, Paypal made 90 cents and I made 8 dollars. Needless to say, I didn't relist the second doll. It's just not worth the hassle. However, I have an idea for a doll show! (A new project!)

I visited Office Depot today and they are stocked with school supplies galore! Oh! How I love school supplies! New pens and pencils and notebooks and reams of paper and a new 3-ring binder! Those were the things that made going back to school worth doing! It's hard to believe that the kids will be back in the classroom in just a couple more weeks!

I hope my readers are having a wonderful August! Carpe diem!

Friday, July 17, 2015

around here ...

The last twenty-two days have been a tumultous ride.

Among other things, I have been ...

experiencing an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. There is a long recovery time.

discovering a plethora of technical papers written by physicians, nurses and physical therapists, about spinal fusion, but little from the patient perspective.

recalling the pre-op experience like a trip on LSD, sort of like "A Family Affair." 

feeling extremely naked and vulnerable. And, scared.

extremely grateful for the outpouring of love and support.

aware that I am truly blessed to be married to my darling husband.

watching cable TV where I saw five Meryl Streep movies in five days. "The French Lieutenant's Woman;" "Falling in Love;" "The Devil Wears Prada," twice; "Julie and Julia;" and my most favorite of all her movies, "The Bridges of Madison County."

laughing and crying through the first season of Netflix's new series starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, "Grace and Frankie." It's simply wonderful and incredibly real!

learning to walk normal again. For several years now, I have literally stumbled through life. Today, I can walk a straight line. The danger of falling has been reduced significantly, and THAT is a really big deal.

enjoying just being still.

walking with my dh every morning just after sunrise, while the air is cool.

counting my blessings.

Friday, June 5, 2015

a little Friday reminiscing ...

I saw this picture on Pinterest and saved it to my phone. It reminded me of an earlier time in my life, when I was still figuring out who I was going to be.

I lived in Key West, Florida from April 1975 until October 1982, before the Navy sold Truman Annex and the cruise ships arrived. For most of those years I drove a 1958 Nash Metropolitan just like this one. It was a hardtop with bench seats and the gear stick on the column. It was "Caribbean Green!"

I bought it for $260 from an older woman named Shirley who lived on the Gulf side of Big Pine Key. She purchased it "new" in Miami and drove it into the Keys and it had never been further north than Miami in its life. It had 5,800 miles on it when I bought it and it had been sitting in her garage for a few years. With the help of a friend, we put a new battery in it, and it started right up. The body was made of galvanized steel making it resistant to the rust that permeates vehicles in the subtropics and it was a very sturdy little car! It was an awful lot of fun to drive!

During the years I owned this car I was involved with the local community theatre group at the Waterfront Playhouse. One of the directors, Ruth Newton, brought guest artists into town for one or two shows at the theatre to raise money. One day, she asked me if I could pick up a man at the Key West airport. His name was Kevin McCarthy and he was doing his one man show, "Give 'em hell, Harry." I was to take him to the Pier House so he could check in to his hotel room, then bring him to the theatre.

When Mr. McCarthy (I never could call him Kevin) approached my car in front of the airport that day with his leather valise in hand, he laughed at my car, then told me he had done TV commercials for Nash-Rambler in the 1950s for the Metropolitan. He said there were less than 14,000 of them produced, which seemed like a lot to me, but, I would learn it really wasn't much. He seemed quite delighted to be escorted around Key West in my little car and it was certainly fun for me. He was an absolute gentleman the entire time and actually talked of his wife and son with much fondness. I took him back to the airport when it was his time to depart and he gave me his address and phone number and told me to call when I finally made it to New York City. I never made it and now he's gone. But, I've got this lovely memory!

I also had the privilege of schlepping Academy Award winning actress Estelle Parsons around in 1979 when she came to do her one woman show, "Miss Margarida's Way." My girlfriend and I were her "handlers." They didn't call it that back then, but, that's what we did. We took her shopping, out to eat, drinking, and, I'm telling you, she was a wild woman! She called us on stage during her performances and I do believe Kristy and I held our own during the improvisations! It was a dynamite experience to be that close to that kind of talent and I prayed some of it would rub off on me!

Superman's love interest, Lois Lane, drove a custom Metropolitan on the 1950s TV show, and that did as much to make it famous as any of the television commercials. Mine was the only Metropolitan in the Lower Keys and for those few formative years I was someone special because I drove that car.

I grew up in the Commonwealth of Virginia with a very bossy (some would say overbearing) mother, so driving around a tiny island at the southernmost point in the United States, far away from her, in my little Lois Lane car gave me the freedom to discover myself. I really needed that. I needed to be around other people, especially other women, who lived their lives on their own terms. It showed me the way I wanted to go. And, while it's not an easy path to travel, I think it's much of the reason I've been able to find joy in the face of despair. I had great role models and for that I am eternally grateful.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

around here ...

suffering from an Earth Day hangover! As an environmental educator, April and May are popular months for learning, so my calendar has been filled with events and school visits.

working on wrapping up the school year and the Everglades Eyes children's art exhibit at Old Davie School.

admiring all the new dolls revealed by Integrity Toys last weekend and wishing for some play time.

shopping for 1:6 scale white lace fabric for a wedding dress for my Jacey Birch Barbie doll, and, I'm here to tell you, it's easier said than done.

realizing what a remarkable young woman my granddaughter has become after witnessing her speech to a crowd of attorneys and judges at the Coral Ridge Yacht club recently.

ordering a new Danbo, two new Poppy Parker dolls from the 2015 collection, and Vanessa and Veronique from the Fashion Royalty line of dolls.

discovering that the new bathing suit I ordered from a catalog fits. Lookout, beach!

marveling at the Royal Poincianas that have begun blooming this week.

worrying about the planet. There are so many things we could be doing better if we could just get everyone to do what's right instead of what's profitable.

thinking about my dad this Memorial Day weekend.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happy Earth Day!

Since I took up photography, I have had some lucky accidents with my camera. I'm always impressed when the really good pictures are shots of plants, birds and flowers. We live in paradise here, and I'm just so tickled I have these images to remind me where I am! (As if I could forget!) The kingfisher catching a fish and the 'gator pics are two of my all time favorites!

Happy Earth Day, friends! Enjoy the ride!

 flowers and bees

 water lilies

 Everglades flowers

 a moseying  'gator

 kingfisher's lunch

 flowering trees

Friday, April 17, 2015

Jacey & Trent: a real life fairytale

One Saturday night last summer, my darling husband and I were watching the evening news on Channel 10, the Miami ABC affiliate, and Jacey Birch was the weekend anchor. When the weather guy, Trent Aric came on, there was some joking going on between the two of them, and we both commented on their chemistry! It was fun to watch!

I remembered seeing a picture on Facebook that they were "dating," and, then, for who knows what reason, it popped into my head ... Barbie and Ken!

I rooted around in the Barbie room for a redheaded Barbie (I have several in my collection) and found Suite Retreat™ Barbie®, one of the Silkstone dolls from 2005. Her hair seemed to be a very close match to Jacey's, so she was to become the chosen one. I had a beautiful hand knit red dress made by my doll friend, Vince Nowell, and it was exactly the same shade as her lips, so it seemed perfect for this little beauty! It was definitely something Jacey would wear!

Now, for that Ken doll! Where was he? I had purchased the first Silkstone Ken, but, I couldn't recall ever taking him out of the box. Hmmm ...

Sure enough! There he was! Still in the box at the top of the closet! The Fashion Insider™ Ken® Giftset from 2003!  His dark hair was like Trent's, and they both had that great athletic build. The suit and tie would definitely give him the air of a TV meteorologist, so ... it was done.

After dressing and combing and primping, (although I never did get that tie to look right!) I took a picture of the Trent & Jacey Barbie and Ken dolls with my camera phone and tweeted it, tagging Jacey & Trent. I hoped they wouldn't be insulted or think it weird.

They weren't insulted and they didn't think it was weird! As a matter of fact, Jacey tweeted this picture back!  These were my people, a couple with a great sense of humor! What fun!

It wasn't too long after that weekend watching them on the evening news that they went off together on an adventure to Thailand. They posted pictures of the places they visited, and it was clear from the photos they shared on Facebook that their relationship was something special ... it was clearly grounded in friendship and fun ... and, for all of us paying attention, we were so  hoping they would fall in love with each other. We would be rewarded!

Before Thanksgiving last year, Trent accomplished a feat of magic! He proposed to Jacey on television. Or, rather, in the television studio where it could be filmed for the whole world to see. You can watch the proposal here, and grab a tissue! You'll tear up!

Their fairytale romance took on new meaning for so many of us! We had a wedding to look forward to! We had our own "royal couple" to watch, and we knew these people. They had been in our living rooms and kitchens, talking to us about news and weather and traffic. They were part of our family.

 On April 12th, Jacey and Trent were married on an island in French Polynesia. It was just Jacey and Trent and their officiant and, to be perfectly honest, that seemed like the perfect way to do it. So much of their romance had been shared with us, their adoring fans, and it was only good and proper that the most intimate moments should be between just the two of them. I applaud their choice.

They will be headed home soon. It's been joyful to watch their antics as well as their romance. That Trent Aric is quite a jokester! And, Jacey? She's just sweet and lovely and a formidable animal advocate, which is why so many of us love her! She's a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves, and that's what makes her a noble princess to us.

Thank you Jacey and Trent for letting us in on the magic of love! We wish you happily ever after!