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!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

contradiction #352

I was listening to NPR on the way home from work the other day. There was a story about Paul Rand and his declaration as a candidate for President.

At the Florida Turnpike interchange with I-595 I heard Rand say, "How many people here have a cellphone?" There was a little pause.  "How many people think it's none of the government's damn business what you do on your cell phone?"

Whoa! Mule!

What did he say?

Did I hear that correctly?

If the government doesn't have any business telling me what to do with my cell phone, where do they get off telling me what to do with my body?

When I got to the office, I Googled Paul Rand. Who the eff is this guy? He's a supporter of the Tea Party Movement. (I know what that is.) A libertarian. (I don't know what that is.)

So, I Googled Libertarianism.

It came up on Wikipedia as (Latin: liber, "free") is a political philosophy that upholds liberty as its principal objective. Libertarians seek to maximize autonomy and freedom of choice, emphasizing political freedom, voluntary association and the primacy of individual judgement.

Libertarian socialists have been strong advocates and activists of civil liberties, including free love and free thought.

This didn't sound like the Paul Rand I heard about on NPR. Where was that word? "Conservative." How could he be a libertarian AND conservative at the same time?

Talk about being confused ...

Going back to his original statement and my question ... my cell phone, my body? Are they not BOTH my personal PRIVATE property? 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

colored flowers for the rabbit to eat, that it may lay colored eggs

Easter is a funny Christian holiday. You never know where it's going to fall on the calendar. Could be March. Could be April. I've wondered about this for ever so long, so, today I Googled it and found answers. Yes. That is plural. There's not just one answer.

For those readers who may not know, Easter is when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, who rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion and ascended into heaven where he is seated at the right hand of God. These events are recorded in the New Testament of the Holy Bible.

However. What does that word mean?

  1. restore (a dead person) to life.
    "he was dead, but he was resurrected"
    synonyms:raise from the dead, restore to life, revive
    "we believe that Jesus was resurrected"

Given the literal implications of resurrection, it makes sense that Easter should be celebrated at the beginning of Spring, when everything is new again.

So, it appears that some folks decided that Easter would be celebrated on the first Sunday after (but, never on) the Paschal full moon. Theoretically, the Paschal full moon is the first full moon occurring on or after the spring equinox.

On the two equinoxes every year, Spring and Autumn, the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night is nearly equal – but not quite. (Which is a whole other conversation for another day.)

In 325 AD the Council of Nicaea (the first Christian advisors, of sorts) established that Easter would be held on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox. From that point forward, the Easter date depended on the ecclesiastical approximation of March 21 (the first day of Spring) for the vernal equinox.

Easter is delayed by one week if the full moon is on Sunday, which decreases the chances of it falling on the same day as the Jewish Passover. Got that?

According to the New Testament, Jesus celebrated Passover before he was crucified, so, clearly Passover is linked to the Christian holiday of Easter.

BUT!!! Easter and Passover are based on two different calendars. Easter is based on the solar calendar, the calendar commonly used today. In Western churches, Easter is dated as the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring which means it will occur somewhere between March 22 and April 25. Eastern Orthodox churches have a different approach based on the lunar calendar.

Passover, on the other hand, is based on the Jewish calendar, a lunar calendar that has twelve 28-day months. (Oh, the moon!) The Book of Leviticus, chapter 23, verses 4-8, puts the emphasis on the first and seventh days of Passover, calling for "gathering of a sacred assembly and abstaining from regular work." I have attended a Jewish Seder and the message appears to me to be similar ... many of the aspects of communion seem to have been taken from the Passover tradition. Renewal. Restoration. Or, as the Baptists say, "Born Again."

When I was a girl, Easter meant a new dress and new patent leather shoes, which I think was my favorite part of all the Easter brouhaha. There was always this atmosphere of newness in my mother's family (she had six sisters as nutty as she was!) and my mother prided herself on being a fashion conscious and modern woman. We always looked good!

As a child, Easter also meant dying eggs beautiful shades of red and blue and green that would be hidden for us to find and chocolates filled our colorful Easter baskets. For kids, Easter was a party with lots of cousins and ham and potato salad and lots of pretty new clothes. I don't know how we comprehended what Easter really was, but, somehow the message got through.

The way I think about my religion is more spiritual these days. Like the New Year, I'm eager for renewal and a new opportunity to get it right, if such a thing is even possible, that is.

I suspect there was a Jesus, and, after reading those New Testament stories so many times, I imagine that he was a radical, preaching love and kindness, which seems to have been unheard of at that time. We have different methods in the twenty-first century for crucifying people, but in Jesus' time, love and kindness were not qualities associated with conquering new worlds, so they treated him really bad. They made an example of him. I guess that Sanhedrin council thought they should just nip it in the bud. Clearly, that didn't work very well!

I watch daily the religious wars in the Middle East and it breaks my heart. If it were my world, everyone would start fresh come Easter Sunday, whether Christian or Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist or Agnostic. A fresh start for everyone would be good for the planet! I wish that each of us is renewed, restored and find a chocolate rabbit waiting for us!
Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

baby in the cradle

How odd.
I've discovered something that's NOT on Wikipedia.

Do you remember CB radios? They were popular with truck drivers before there were cell phones, allowing truckers to talk to each other while they were driving. They'd share weather and traffic info, alert their fellow drivers where the cops were set up with their speed traps, and if someone had trouble, a CB radio call brought help. When Burt Reynolds' movie, "Smokey and The Bandit" hit movie theatres across the country in 1977, CB radios became popular with mainstream America and the CB culture was born! Got that, good buddy?

I had been living in Key West for nearly seven years when Reagan's recession hit in 1983 and I lost all three of my jobs, one at a time. It was a desperate time for me. I didn't want to leave Key West. I loved it there. I wasn't a world traveler, so, I didn't know where else I could go and find work. I'd been playing around with the idea of Fort Lauderdale; I'd been there a couple of time with my girlfriend and it had a good vibe. But, you don't just up and move when you have a child. You have to plan and prepare. I wasn't yet smart enough to understand this, so I drove to my mother's in Virginia and left my daughter with my mom while I figured out what I was going to do. We agreed it would only be for a few weeks.

It was on that return trip to Key West that I learned about "baby in the cradle."

I was driving a 1977 Toyota Celica, like the one in the picture. From Key West to my mother's home in Virginia was a 13 hour ride, and, back then, I could handle it, stopping only when one of us had to go to the bathroom. It was me, the kid and our dog, and we made it to our destination without incident.

I stayed over for two nights, leaving my mom's right after dinner on the third day for the return run, thinking I could get through the Carolinas and Georgia and well into Florida by morning. Traffic late at night was mostly tractor trailers hauling freight. There weren't that many tourists driving to Florida back in the early 1980s; nothing like it is today. Disney World and Spring Break were folks' main reasons for coming to Florida back then.

I thought I was making really good time when I hit South of the Border at the NC/SC state line just after midnight, so I pulled into a Burger King for a cup of coffee and a bathroom break for me and the dog. I also bought her a hamburger. And, no, she didn't get the bun or the pickle; just the burger! When we'd finished our break, I got back into my car to head out, but it wouldn't start. It was definitely a "what the fuck" moment. Here I was, a long way from home with a tiny amount of money and no idea what to do.

I sat on the curb next to my car, the hood up, talking to the dog, trying to figure out what my next move was. I was grateful that it was night and there weren't a lot of people around. I was able to have a good cry. I'd been sitting there for a while when two guys came out of the Burger King and asked me what the problem was. I told 'em my car wouldn't start. The taller of the two walked over to his big rig and brought out a tool box. The other one, puffing on his Marlboro, poked around in the engine. It took them just a few minutes to diagnose my problem. The tall one said, "Your alternator is shot."

When I asked what that meant, they explained to me that they could get my car started, but, the battery wouldn't charge and I wouldn't be able to run my headlights. They suggested I wait until morning and return to my mother's in Virginia. They were clear that trying to drive to Key West without headlights was a risky thing to do. (Yes. I was foolish enough to think I could do it.)

I remember quietly crying and thanking them for their help and watching as they packed up their tools. The tall guy walked over to his truck, and the Marlboro man walked around behind the Burger King.

I watched as the tall one pulled his rig out onto the highway; then, he pulled over onto the shoulder of the highway. At the same time, the Marlboro man came around from behind the Burger King in his rig and stopped right in front of me. I was still sitting on the curb with the dog on the leash. Mr. Marlboro jumped down from his cab and walked toward me.

He asked me if I was a fan of "Smokey and the Bandit."

Well, of course I was! Who wasn't?

Then he asked me if I had a CB radio in my car.

I did. My handle was "Lady Blue."

Then, he explained to me what they (he and the the tall guy) could do. He asked me if I knew what "baby in the cradle" was. I didn't. Then he explained it.  I could drive my car in between their trucks without my headlights. They were going to Jacksonville, planning to be there come morning, and if I could keep up, this was what they would do for me.

I don't know why they were willing to help me. To this day I cannot tell you why these two men would help a weepy woman with a dog. But, they did. And, I was very grateful.

I asked the Marlboro man if I could go pee and, before he could answer, I handed him the dog's leash. I didn't know how long it would be before they stopped, but, I had consumed a cup of coffee and I needed to tinkle before we hit the road. I was definitely in.

Driving your car between two big rigs is intimidating. Under normal circumstances, when you hit your brakes, your car stops within a few car lengths, based on the speed at which you're traveling. A tractor trailer needs a lot more of those 'car lengths' to come to a complete stop, so there's no messing around when you're riding in the "cradle." I spent the night listening and watching and maintaining 70 mph.

I will admit that the first hour or so was a bit harrowing. If you've ever driven through Georgia via I-95, there is one long stretch that's just forest on both sides of the road for as far as you can see. Somewhere in that stretch of road I began to feel comfortable. They chatted it up on the CB and every now and then they would call out to me. I was so overwhelmed by their kindness that I didn't know what to say most of the time.

We stopped at a truck stop around 5 AM, about 30 miles from the Florida state line. They started talking to me about stopping a good half hour before we ever exited the highway. It was the hardest part for me, maintaining speed and distance, slowing down slowly while watching behind and in front. But, I did it. Or, THEY did it!

They bought me breakfast, waited while I got gas and we got out on the road that one last time. As we crossed the Florida state line, the sun was coming up and they got chatty on the CB. They began explaining to me what was going to happen when we got to Jacksonville, that they would be exiting the highway and I would continue on my journey to Key West. I remember telling them I wished there was some way I could thank them. And, I remember the Marlboro man saying, "Get home safe. That'll be thanks enough."

It's been a really long time since I thought about that trip from Virginia to Key West. A single memory, frozen in my mind. So, when it surfaced recently, as old memories are prone to do, I Googled "baby in the cradle." I was truly surprised that there was nothing at all. Not a single entry.

Since that time, I have loved and respected truck drivers. I'm the one who slows to let them pull over in front of me on the highway when no one else will. And, I'm the one who gets mad (and, blows her horn) at people who cut in front of big rigs. Those idiots need to spend a night in the 'cradle' to teach them a lesson! Although, these days, you probably won't see that happening. Too many cars, too many people and way too many regulations. And, lots of highway patrol officers.

Wherever the tall guy and the Marlboro man went, whatever they did after that night, I'm sure their good karma followed. Lucky for me those angels were on duty that night. They kept me safe and helped me get home. Thank you, both.