Friday, 1 January 2016

Oh, the sunny south

One of my long-time friends — since grade nine  invited Greg and me to spend a week with him at Longboat Key in Florida over Christmas. Greg had prior church commitments, but said why don't you go? So I did. 

I have always wondered why people go to Florida. Now I know: Sunny  days ... sunny, sunny days, unending stretches of white sand and ... warmth.  In fact, it hit the mid-80s F while we were there. I was swimming and jumping over the waves in the Gulf of Mexico on Christmas Day. My goodness, that beat the cold and lowering skies of SW Ontario. 

When I got back home, I realized I had not made up a daily to-do list the entire week. The most major decision was which to do first: lounge and read on a recliner chair or walk along the beach. 

I kept Greg up to date via email.  So I am posting my emails to him of my adventures for the first part of the week. 

To: Greg Little
Hi there,
I just got to the hotel. Had a good trip to Detroit where we went via the tunnel. The US customs people have an x-ray machine indoors there; otherwise, at the bridge, they look through  your suitcase contents outdoors in whatever weather is churning around. The actual border crossing was uneventful, although the guy did ask when was I last in the States. Apparently I gave the correct answer.

I am heading over to Bob Evans.  It's cold! So I won't dawdle! The hotel is on the fight path to the airport. The planes fly over in a very determined low way. None has crashed into the hotel yet, however.

I'll email you once I get back!

Fri, Dec 18, 2015 at 7:35 PM,
Hi again, 
Re Bob Evans: yes, I think you could say, the meal experience surpassed my expectations. I didn't realize potatoes and gravy were a side and you only get one side in the price for the dinner. So I also ordered green beans  at least I think that is what they were  very soft and an odd shade of green with what might have been bacon chunks!!  

Pumpkin bread I saved for tomorrow since what I sampled was tastier than what might be on offer here at the newly refurbished La Quinta.  I drank too much coke (it gets replenished automatically), so I likely will be awake all night.

The food one eats when it is so cold out! However, it was actually a pretty good meal all things considered... turkey had been slow roasted for six — count 'em  six hours, and it did seem done.  I treated myself to a chocolate sundae for dessert and feel I really don't need to eat another thing for a couple of days!!

No radio in the room so I have set my alarm on the cell phone. I think I'll also phone for a wake-up call.

Glad you enjoyed the movie and that the spiritual direction went well.

BTW, I am in room 209. So far the planes have managed to stay aloft.

To: Greg Little
Re the winter wonderland/manna from heaven in Parkhill: There were a few flurries on the way to Detroit and then a wee bit of snow in the air this morning when we took off.

The flight, once we got in the air, was actually rather enjoyable. I was trying to identify the rivers we flew over. (Maybe your prayers worked, although landing and taking off were not fun — very routine, according to John, however)

Sarasota is nice  extensively  developed and neatly manicured especially over here at Longboat Key. It was fun riding the trolley as we saw a lot of Sarasota, and it only cost 60 cents!

The apartment is a bit generic as you would expect of a “time share”(although it is not exactly a time-share) but very tasteful. There is a great overhead heater-fan in my shower.

John and I walked over to the grocery store and got provisions and gin. It reminds me a lot of the area T and C moved to after their first apartment was broken into: lovely but almost too perfect.  All the municipal buildings are heavily landscaped with palm trees and other tropical foliage, which is all new to me and rather startling at first because it is so different from what I am used to.

There is very little (and small) signage so you don’t realize you are in a commercial area. There is a bank, library, Episcopalian church, synagogue, shopping plaza, and post office.

Once on the beach, we saw a dolphin and several pelicans.

The light in Florida is so different from up north despite the fact sun sets about the same time in Florida as further north. 

It went down about 10 minutes ago. But until it did, it did not seem as if night was gradually falling as it does from about 3:00 on this time of year up north.  But now it is DARK. 

What is especially odd is that at 5:00, it is so dark and yet so warm! I associate warmth with 9:00 at night in July, not 5:00 in December.

I noticed they have the New York Times over at the grocery store.

Anyhow, do enjoy that manna from heaven! 

Tomorrow I am off to church and then likely John and I will spend time on the beach; the sand is nice but not as fine-grained as PEI's.

On Sun, Dec 20, 2015 at 12:54 PM,
To: Greg Little
Hi there,
Just got back from church and going to the grocery store for stuff to BBQ later today. NO NY Times!! They sell out by 9:30 on Sundays...

On the walk to church I thought I noticed odd movements on the sidewalk. Finally I stopped altogether and just watched. Then I saw exceedingly tiny newts. I suppose they were warned by my footfall to scurry into the grass.

I enjoyed church. It was a bit like other Episcopalian services we have attended: sort of well-heeled and bland. About 70-80  rather elderly folk were there. Good hymns well sung.  A dedicated choir. Very pretty sanctuary painted white: quite broad and open with lovely round stained glass window over the altar. 

People were a bit formal at the start, but got friendlier. I was greeted and given a bulletin, but the deacon ignored me while he greeted the people he knew. The people sitting next to me and in front and behind said hello, however. 

The Peace was passed — friendly but not overdone, thank goodness. A good sermon in which the priest mentioned the Holy Family being refugees. Not too much sign that the congregation was sponsoring a family; however, they did have other outreach. 

My kneeler came apart and fell off the chair in front, but aside from that, I did not do additional damage to the fixtures!

The announcements are at the end as at St. A of C. All guests were asked to stand. About eight or so did and five of us were from Canada, from Ontario actually: two from St. James Cathedral and two from somewhere else near Toronto and me.  Everyone laughed while I tried to explain where Parkhill was.

I went out to the parish hall for coffee hour, just to see what would happen and was besieged by friendly folk; several knew SW Ontario because they had lived in Michigan.

I was also given eggnog. 

Once a year they have the eggnog treat with added fixin's and I don't mean just the nutmeg. Mine was about half eggnog and the rest brandy. It was DELICIOUS! But I had to go to the washroom surreptitiously and pour the last quarter of it down the drain, it was so strong.  When I went reeling out of the church, I noticed I was swerving from one side of the side walk to the other in gentle drifts. By the time I got to the grocery store,I was sober enough to get this shot:

Anyhow that is the excitement so far today. 

John is out walking along the beach right now.  So he may soon return for lunch... It is much warmer today so I am no longer wearing four layers. I really wish I had shorts. I bought a proper brimmed sun-hat with a string tie when I was at the grocery store. Food here is much less expensive even with the exchange rate.

Hope all went well at St. JBTL.   Miss you!  More news as it arises.

On Mon, Dec 21, 2015 at 12:08 AM,
Hello again,
Just about to hit the hay. John introduced me to House of Cards after we watched Frances Ha (a somewhat disjointed movie he didn't like, and I found only tolerably amusing). 

By contrast,  House of Cards is mesmerizing! We watched three episodes. Kevin Spacey plays a scheming congressman ... and how. His wife would give Lady Macbeth a run for her money.

Anyhow, I am off to bed now. Tomorrow, more beach time in the morning  plus a high school friend and his wife arriving in the afternoon and staying for dinner.

On Tue, Dec 22, 2015 at 6:58 PM, 

A very quiet day today after yesterday's hospitality excitement.  John and I talked about a dream he had earlier in December. This took most of the morning, chiefly because there was nothing else we needed to do. We applied the six magic questions to two of  the symbols — something of an eye-opener for what looking at inanimate objects in dreams can do!

Then after lunch it was a walk on the beach, reading the NY Times on the beach (rather windy), and swimming in the pool (me), sitting immersed  in the hot tub (John). I have to be careful about really hot water because of my bp and meds. 

So we are now about to have dinner - then more House of Cards  you and I need to get Netflix!!

Well, time for pork chops, rice,  and salad in a bag...

On Tue, Dec 22, 2015 at 11:54 PM,

Just watched another marathon of House of Cards... So much intrigue, so little time... Only three more episodes in Season One.

On what I hope is not going to be different marathon, there may have been more than just salad in that bag, as I have just had a rather explosive time in the washroom. Took another probiotic. All I need is food poisoning; however, it may have been too much buttery creamy stuff in the form of the US version of Philadelphia cream cheese and another rich dip.

Hope you are eating well with no ill effects!  How are the rest of the sermons coming along?

On Wed, Dec 23, 2015 at 11:29 AM, 

Hello again, 
My innards are settling down. It is a bit overcast here today so John and I are heading in to Sarasota to see Star Wars... I will not be eating any popcorn.

Trumbo and Macbeth will be playing at the Hyland next week btw...

I have taken a few pictures, and I may post some from today's excursion later today.

On Wed, Dec 23, 2015
Hi there,
Star Wars was OK - I'd give it 7.5 out of 10 mainly because it was mostly shoot-ups at the OK corral but with the addition of a lot of engulfing flames. Also violence is used when a more subtle approach might have enriched the relationship of two of the characters.(I can say no more in case you want to see it at some point.)There are some poignant (i.e., girlie) bits, which are good and the scenery is dramatic in the last scenes. You can tell there will be sequels as it ends much the way the first LofTR ended... prompting me to say, "What? That’s it?”

You asked what character I would like to be if we had gone in costume to the theatre:  I would go as one of the droids, because they are sensible, caring and can be fixed if there are spare parts available. I actually got a lump in my throat when I saw poor little dusty R2-D2 languishing in storage.  It was a sort of Wilson-the-soccer-ball moment, because after all, R2-D2 is really just a piece of machinery. There are now three droids: I hope this is not a spoiler alert.

Downtown Sarasota was fun to see — lots of streets going every which way, but busy and full of interesting shops, including an Episcopalian thrift shop, which I would be tempted to go into if we should be back at any time.

Well, off to do a load of laundry. The apartment suite has a washer and dryer in the unit and detergent. It just lacks an apron to make dressing for the domestic kitchen chores complete.

John says hello and that he would be Han Solo because then he wouldn't have to wear a specific costume.

End of email string. 

(If I get ambitious, I'll report on the last couple of days and the flight home.)