Saturday, February 06, 2016

Chance encounters or serendipity strikes again

Chance encounters.

It's 8 am, give or take a few. I'm still in my pajamas, (been up since 0530)sipping coffee, listening to music and perusing Facebook. Di asks, " are we going to the farmer's market this morning?"
I think, has something changed since we discussed this last night? But I say, yes. It's Thursday isn't it? Sometimes, too often for my liking, I forget what day it is, especially when on vacation.

The Englewood, Fl. Farmers market on Dearborn St. is open from 9 am 'til 2 pm on Thursdays.

At 9 am we slide into our '96 Buick Regal (<58,000 miles) and merge into the bumper to bumper traffic on rt. 776 (south McCall Rd,) and drive the 5 miles to Dearborn St., hoping to find a parking spot in the Vino Loco parking lot; since we will lunch here after they open at 1100. We park at Vino Loco, grab our canvas carry bags and stroll a few blocks to the area where the venders are arrayed. It's 78 degrees, the sky is clear and the sun is deepening the tan on my face and bald head. The crowd is like a carnival midway as we wind our way to our first stop; one of the three fresh baked bread stalls, and our favorite. Then it's a bumble-bee line, past the guitar player,to the end of the main thoroughfare to grab a small bag of grapefruit. Next we retrace our disjointed path, trying to avoid bumping into other oblivious shoppers, and make a left turn at the guitar man's corner to find the line, waiting at our second favorite stop; the cheese vender. We meander around checking out the other stalls, make one last stop to fill our bag with fresh veggies ending back on Dearborn St.. A glance at my new Garmin watch, while depositing our purchases in the car, informs me we have over an hour before our lunch venue opens it's doors. Making our way west on Dearborn toward the Gulf of Mexico, Diane spies the magnet lure of an antique shop. "Go on,"I say, "I'll saunter down the street, a couple of blocks, and check out the cigar shop your cousin Dale mentioned." After our usual delectable lunch at Vino Loco,, we amble a short block down the street, enjoying the, now, 80 degree sunshine with a slight breeze to make it comfortable, to sit in front of a newly opened coffee shop/espresso bar. I flick my bic, suck the flame to the tip of my recently purchased Tatiana rum flavored cigar 'til it's burning on it's own. Ahhh, indulging in a few drags on my, allotted, one a week cigar, just enough to get a good nicotine hit, I suggest we go in and sample the coffee.

"Hi,"Diane says to the man sitting 2 stools over to our left, "are you from Englewood?"
During the winter months the population of Englewood, if not the whole of Florida, must easily double from the influx of snowbirds like ourselves. Most of whom, at least the 672 folks we've met in the last month, are retirees or close to it. Conversation is the highlight of chance encounters and usually start up with some semblance of the questions; where are you from? How long are you here for? And so it was....
Meaning; do you live here year round?
"Yes." He replies.
"Do you know where the Buddhist monks are building their monastery?" She asks. "We've heard it's somewhere here near Dearborn."
" yes I do, he offers, they haven't built anything yet, but here, let me show you." He takes takes out his Samsung phone and brings up a map and points to a wooded area not far, he points out, from right here where we are." With his finger, he traces the route, street by street, to give us a Google eye view of where the monastery will be, and says; "it'll be a couple of years before they get it done. They've cleared a few trees, but that's it."
Diane explains, "we met 3 of them 2 weeks ago walking toward us right here on Dearborn."
"Yes, he says, they have a route they walk every day. If you Google the forest monks of Sarasota, you can go to their web site and it will show you the route they take. Amazing isn't it, he adds, doing this everyday to get your daily food?"
"What do you mean, we ask, blurting out our ignorance. They weren't begging when we saw them."
"Oh no, he says, they don't beg. People offer them food, and when their alms bowl is full they return to where they live. The food must be ready to eat, not raw or needing cooking; like say if you wanted to give them some fish, or rice and such, it must be cooked."
"If they haven't built their place yet, where do they live?" Diane asks.
"They stay in a private home." He explains where the home is located, but I'm still unsure exactly where it's located. It's nearby,I know that.

"Where do you live?" He asks.
"Upstate New York."
"Where abouts?"
"On the St. Lawrence River, the Canadian border."
"Where abouts?
"Thousand islands area."
"Where abouts?"
"Morristown, New York."
"Is that near Watertown?"
"Yes, 50 miles north east of Watertown," we say.

" Where are you from," we ask.
"Rochester, New York."
I tell him, "I work just an hour south of Rochester."

Somehow, as the conversation progresses, we start talking about kayaking, an activity dear to my heart.

" I've written a book about kayaking the waterways of New York", he says.
"Really, I say, impressed. Have you paddled the Adirondack 90 Miler."
"No, he says, I keep my focus on central to western New York. The Adirondacks have been well covered by other authors."

"What's the title of your book?" Diane asks.
"Actually I've written 13 books about western New York; on hiking, kayaking, bicycling, snowshoeing, anything that takes you on the hidden byways and their natural treasures."
"What's your name?" Diane asks.
"He says, "just Google Rick and Sue and we'll come up."

Later when we get back home, I did just that and it wasn't quite as easy as just searching "Rick and Sue" but eventually I was led to their books and their fascinating story. If you want to surf around the net, type in Rich and Sue Freeman, or follow this url:

Monday, January 18, 2016

El nino

El Niño

Your phone beeps
At midnight;
TORNADO watch/warning
Your area!
For the next 8 hours
The Lord giveth,
The Lord taketh away.

Sunshine, lolly-pops
And rainbows.
Raindrops tap-dancing
On a metal roof.
Storm clouds gather
Over the gulf;
El Niño coming for

Thunder, thunder, thunderation
It'The devil's incarnation.
His balls, made of brass,
Lightening shoots out his ass.

Close the windows
Pull the shades
Do not venture out-of-doors.
If in a trailer you reside
There's no safe place
For you to hide.

Hear the train acomin'
Roaring round the bend,
Twisting, turning, thrummin'
Warning off the end.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Tornado warning. January 17th, 2016

Tornado warning

I'm fixin' bacon, eggs and toast this morning; to celebrate surviving the storm and possible tornado, skirting to the north, our mobile home park here in Florida.
Diane called me in from the lanai, at 2 AM, where I was engrossed in Mary Karr's book, "the Liar's Club," saying "Bob, I want you to come in NOW; the watch is now a tornado warning" (a warning means conditions are ripe for a tornado to touch down in your immediate area.)
In my mind, it was a fruitless endeavor. We are in a double wide mobile home; near zero protection if hit by a tornado. We do not know where we are to go for a "safe" shelter. If a twister sets down, close by, we're most likely goners.
I'm filled with the feeling like being on patrol in the pitch-black night of South Vietnam-- so dark, ( no stars, no moon and in a dense jungle,) I held on to the web belt of the marine in front of me so as to not get disoriented, lost and left behind, waiting for an ambush we were sure was just ahead. We believed, I certainly did, the gooks could see in the dark, had sonar ears like bats and would know we were walking blind yards before we got near their hiding place; certain death lay ahead.
I didn't say any of my doubts to Diane. I put on the mask of brave indifference just like those dark days in Vietnam and went about the mechanizations of "saftifying " our flimsy home; we closed all the windows and doors, moved two chairs from the dining room into the central hallway farthest away from outside walls and windows. We each pocketed the new flashlights, bought 2 days earlier following two tornadoes that touched down an hour south of us, packed our get-away bags, and plugged our mobile phones in to charge. Diane turned the TV on to WINK weather where Mary Mays gave us minute to minute live updates as the tornado prone storm raced across the Gulf of Mexico toward us at 65 miles an hour. Our phone's tornado warning app. kept alerting us, at least a dozen times.
Calm, we'd done all we knew to do, no fear, just anticipation. I finished a poem started earlier out in the lanai, listened to the weather girl, and waited it out.
Within half an hour to 45 minutes the more dangerous part of the storm passes us by leaving threats of driving rain, strong winds and up to 80 lightening strikes every 15 minutes or so.
About 5 AM, with the worst passed, we settled in to our matching burgundy recliners in front of the tv, sighing relief, I fell asleep. (I slept through a fire fight one night in Vietnam, only waking when nudged by our radioman who whispered, "doc, it's your turn for radio watch.")
Waking an hour later, the house was dark, the tv off, and Diane not in her recliner, I think she must have gone back to bed. I took my coffee, book, and cigar out to the lanai. In the dark, I do a cursory perimeter check for damages; a section of the driveway was covered with mud, the tomato plant, drowned, was uprooted from it's pot, stake and all. The tree we bought yesterday and left out back in it's 10 gallon pot was laying on it's side. I'll go back and check it when daylight returns. Everything else looks no worse for the storm--
I light my cigar, sip my coffee and read another twenty pages in "the Liar's Club."

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Powerball, 1 1/2 billion

     One and a half billion dollars; that was the Powerball jackpot.

Currently I'm spending a three month hiatus from my job at our home in Florida. When the
Powerball lottery reached such an astronomical amount, I followed the crowd and did what I rarely do; bought five quick pick numbers. It's a fun pastime to ponder what I'd do if I win.

     On Thursday morning I saw on Facebook one of the winning tickets was from Florida. My heart quickened.  I thought, holy shit, my chances of becoming a billionaire just increased. I felt a nervous excitement and thought, "damn, where will I deposit the check if I've won?"

     Dreaming is one thing, but dealing with the possibility of actually holding that check in my hand got my analytical mind a whirring, just as it does when contemplating a particularly challenging anesthetic case on a patient with serious co- morbidities.

No, I didn't check my ticket against the winning numbers immediately; I googled, "what to do with the money won in the lottery." The advice was mind boggling.

1. Sign your ticket immediately.
2. Don't deposit right away.
- [ ] a. And don't deposit in a bank
- [ ] b. FDIC doesn't insure such a large amount.
3. Contact an estate attorney, and a financial planner.
4. Stay quiet and leave town for awhile.
5. Set a budget; plan for taxes on investment earnings.
6. Contemplate charities
7. Get a therapist; to help handle emotional upheaval.
8. Deposit in a brokerage account.
9. Invest in a health savings account.
10. Write down a list of people you trust.
Make a copy of your ticket.
And the list of recommendations goes on.......

     When my wife got up, we immediately co-signed our ticket, and then we checked the numbers.

          We didn't win.

Unbelievably, I was overcome by a sense of relief -- "whew, now I can settle down and continue to enjoy my vacation.

I'm glad I played, and I'm glad I researched the steps to take if one wins. It's quite a learning experience.

     My daughter-in-law, Kristy, messaged me, "please tell me it's you!"

My reply;
     "I am the winner.
But not the powerball winner. In researching what to do if your a winner, I realized it would destroy my comfortable life as I know it and make me a slave to money management.  It would put, among others, my grandchildren in danger, and just providing physical security for them would change their lives forever.
     I have a great life and a wonderful family I love!!
Thank God someone else won the Powerball."

Monday, January 11, 2016



His birthday remembered
Niece Jody posted his poem
On his Facebook page.
Creeps to the fore as I
Thoughts I'd just as soon
Hanging over me,
Eats my soul like
Macerate a
I can't be myself
I write it down; unadulterated
"they" say.
"do it for
It's the only way----"
(Take these Chains from my heart and set me free)

Friday, January 08, 2016

Arrived in Florida

Good afternoon,
We arrived around 8 pm last night.  Our neighbor,Kathleen, did some shopping for us so we'd have some food; wine, cheese, baguette,homemade soup, eggs, oatmeal, coffee creamer, and a bouquet of flowers.  Good thing too, because just like last year, the car battery was dead. (It's off to the garage today for a charge.)
Unpacked the boxes Diane had sent down earlier, charged the water lines, made the bed and crawled in, exhausted. Temp was a comfortable 62.

Woke up at 0430 to a devine gentle rain which gave way to a bright sunny morning by 1000.  Current temp is 80+.

Cleaned the lanai, called the garage to come get the car, and we finished getting house settled.  When Diane tried to boil some eggs, the stove burners only achieved a lukewarm status.  After I set up and lit the Weber.  Then I checked the breaker box.  I didn't do that first because the stove lights were on and some heat was being produced.
Seems the "range" has 4 breaker switches, one of which was off.  Flipped that one to on position and voila; a fully functional stove.  :-)

After lunch I'll bicycle to Walgreens to augment our meager supplies, unless, of course, the garage calls to say the car is ready for pickup.  In that case, we'll bum a ride from Kathleen. Then it'll be off to the car wash and then to Super Walmart.

Love you,

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Good things January 4th

January 4th, 25,670th wake up;
Plethora of tasks accomplished:
Installed a 1/2 inch foam insulation cover to old window in root cellar.
Established online account with credit card company, and gave them travel dates.
Sliced Brazil-nut bread and packaged slices in individual baggies for storage in freezer. (One-a-day)
Repaired cellar door latch.
Replaced batteries in smoke alarms.