I’m sitting at the dining room table in our house in Fort Meyers, FL. It’s probably 90 something outside. We were here before, about two streets over, back in November, 2014 to January 1, 20015. We were pulling a small RV back in those days. This time we own a small cottage which will be used to escape the brutal winters of the Adirondacks. Not much has changed here. The WiFi still is not strong but the pool is refreshingly warm (I don’t do cold water).
I admit that those winters drove us away. If you’re one of my many friends from FB, I agree. I should have moved south years ago. We took the car/train from Washington, DC to Orlando. It cut hundreds of miles off our driving time. Each hour that ticked towards darkness, swallowed us further into the heart of the south.
[The south drifts by at sundown.]
We got a good price for this place and the past several days we’ve Walmarted and Costcoed our own imprint into the place. All the posters of sand dollars and conch shells, Flamingos and periwinkle shells were everywhere.
Now we’re going to put our own shell posters and shadow boxes with shells wherever we choose.
And here is something I haven’t said in several years:
The purpose of this short but sweet blog is two-fold. The first is to let you know that we are on our way to our house in Fort Meyers, Florida. It was just as the snow was nearly melted at Rainbow Lake when we decided to see what it was that we bought. It’s going to be hot and it’s going to be humid, much like we needed it.
The flowers shown above are from the rear of the parking lot behind Starbucks which is located just beyond the car lot at our Marriott Residence Inn. I thought you’d like to see the colors unlike the small patch of green outside our lot at the Residence in Scranton.
We’re taking the car/train from Lorton, VA to Orlando.
The tree colors are better than snow and patches of green.
The second reason for this blog is to try out my new iPad. This my first blog attempt at this…while the fish bakes.
The mega international company, IBM, was born in 1911. It was first called Computing-Tabulation-Record Co. Someone, most likely Thomas Watson, after some corporate maneuvers, changed the name to IBM.
My father was hired at the flagship company in Endicott, NY in 1936. He always told his sons that if he took the offer of employee stock options back in the day, our family would have been worth millions by the 1990’s.
The joke was on us.
His kids used to joke with dad.
“Where do you work, dad?” “IBM”, he’d answer.
“You mean ‘Itsy Bitsy Machines.’
Here is a very brief history of how objects that were so big got to be so small (and then big again).
The first attempt to store information was done on an ‘IBM’ card:
Information storage then went to the great invention, the Transistor:
Today, computers are now ‘Main Frame’, like a lot of little units working together.
I wouldn’t be typing on my laptop, and in 1969 we never would have landed on the moon if big, bulky electronics hadn’t gotten so small (and this is just the beginning.
There once was a time when one could look down at my hometown of Owego. NY and see nothing but the green leaves of summer.
No more. Now you see red brick and white roofs.
It’s like a snapshot of the moment the instant the last leaves are gone but weeks remain between those last leaves and the first buds of spring. The Autumnal Equinox is a month away…not to mention the Winter Solstice.
It’s a long wait until the Begonias, and Tulips begin to appear.
Slowly falling snow, gently descending leaves and small buds waiting to yield a flower. The warmth of an august afternoon…with a kayak beneath your seat beats naked trees anytime.
See the guy? Not the one standing center stage…but the one just beyond him with a microphone and black guitar case at his his feet. Yellow flowers are behind him.
To me, he’s the Busker of the Square. He has secured a spot in the plaza in front of the University of Porto. Prime location indeed!
He knows his music. He has a great voice (he can echo the nuances of Dylan’s:
“No, No, No. It ain’t me Babe.
He stands out there at least three of seven days. Always on weekends. He has mastered Simon & Garfunkel. I heard “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” at least three times a day. He does a wonderful rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. Three times a day?
His repertoire includes:
John Lennon’s “Imagine”, “Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and others we’ve forgotten. But, he’s always there and sometimes he sings me to sleep in the mid-afternoon.
I always drop a few Euros in his guitar box. I appreciate his love of music and his desire to share his talent.
I’m in Porto, Portugal. It’s not Florida and it’s not northern Dorset, and I’m not shoveling 4′ of snow in the Adirondacks.
But there is an interesting church across the square facing our apartment. Actually it’s two churches. On the right is the Igerja do Carmo, used by the monks of the Carmo. On the left is the das Carmelitas for nuns of that order. The interior walls are a mix of faux gold decoration and beeswax candles.
If you look closely, you will see a slender building with white window frames. That building is slightly over 1 meter wide. According my guidebook, it’s the narrowest building in Portugal.
So why is this tiny building there? At some point in history, a law was passed that stated that two churches could not share the same wall.
It may sound witty, but I find it heartbreaking. The narrow building was, perhaps built to separate nuns from the monks. This seems to be the prevailing theory.
Requited love? Unrequited love? Lust? Desire? A moral struggle? Legendary liaisons?
Only the interior walls, the statues of saints, and the God they believed in can judge those generations of souls.
I’m snug beneath the blankets, in a cozy room of a six hundred year-old inn. The pub below us is crowded with men and women filled with ale, mulled wine and good cheer. I’m listening to laughter…I’m hearing Silver Bells On the sound system. I’m not disturbed by the sounds; they will lull me to sleep.
As I drift into slumber, I’m recalling some of the little kindnesses that we have been given during our first week in England:
No one has honked their horns at me when I stalled out in the middle of a roundabout…something that would never happen on the Cross Bronx Expressway.
The Sat-Nav (GPS) that came with the Ford Focus actually works!
Seeing the smile on my wife’s face as she enjoys her first Pantomime in Swindon. [“Look out, she’s behind you!”]
The opportunity to have lunch and enjoy part of Boxing Day with our longtime friends and hosts, the Ovenden’s. And we get to do our laundry at their house.
We are the only guests here at The White Lion. The co-owner graciously offered to open the kitchen on Christmas morning to cook breakfast just for the two of us. I don’t think a Motel 6 would have made the same offer.
Being greeted like family at a local pub called The Buffalo. Kate, the owner kindly invited us to Christmas Eve dinner with her family and friends. Every other pub was fully booked or closed.
The pleasure of being given a Christmas pudding by the staff of The Griffin Inn in Bath where we spent one night.
So, peace and joy to all our UK friends and those back home in America.
[Elias has to choose. It’s very important what to consider.]
[DEDICATED TO ELIAS MUIR GOLDSTEIN, MY GRANDSON]
It’s not an easy life being a child. No, the easy part of life is being a grown-up. They can go to bed when they want, they can watch any TV show on the cable…like The Bachelor in Paradise or Hoarders, take a bath when they choose and even get to drive a car.
All is not perfect in child land at certain times of the year.
Like October. This is when the difficult choices begin to manifest themselves. The major issue at this time of the year happens to be pumpkins. Every year a child (except those that are home schooled and believe that Halloween is a satanic practice) has to choose the perfect pumpkin to display on the front steps of his or her house. This is not an easy matter. There are endless considerations to be made. To make a very long story somewhat shorter, I will use bullet points to illustrate my…points.
The usual first step for the parents is to take the child to a Pumpkin Farm. At such places, many choices come into play. Shall the child have a cup of cider? A candy apple? Or, perhaps a doughnut?
But then, reality begins. Choosing the absolutely perfect pumpkin. And this is the most difficult process of all. A child has to consider a number of factors in selecting the correct pumpkin. if I remember correctly from my childhood, this is what the youngster needs to consider:
How does the pumpkin heft? How do two pumpkins feel when held in each hand? Is there a proper equilibrium?
How does the weight (or mass) compare with others with the same volume? This can be determined, in large part by the heft, but it is not based on solid scientific empirical data.
What is the carvability factor? How easy would the knife cut through the orange skin?
The size. Will the size support a proper face carving?
Is there enough surface area to support a carved face? Should it be scary or funny?
The specific gravity. How does the pumpkin relate to it’s volume in a bucket of water?
Does it have enough internal space (post-carving) to support a stub of a old dinner candle?
What is the Curb Appeal? Can this be seen easily from the street? Will it scare away trick or treaters or will it signal that goodies are to be had in the house that sits behind this special pumpkin?
What is the life span? How long can the child keep the pumpkin on the front porch before it becomes a moldy mass of yellow pulp that needs to be shoveled from the steps? Can it last into December?
So many things to consider when you’re a child. But the one thing that will not be a worry is that you will have a loving Mommy and Daddy that will tuck you into bed and tell you that the spooks and goblins are not real and that the candy will have to wait.