Goodbye Betty

Last weekend Betty and I went to Briny’s Pub in Ft Lauderdale. 

The place was not her first choice.  She had no idea what an Irish Pub was, and at her Golden Girl status, I don’t think she had ever gone to one.  That fixed it for me, we had to go.  Being an Italian Woman, she kept coming up with Italian restaurants and the BBQ joints up near her place in Century Village… sorry, Do Not Want!

So once we got to Briny’s she had sat down and took the place in.  I could actually see her relax and her eyes get larger from all the wonderful collection of junk up on the ceiling.  The place is right next to the Riverwalk, the boats sail by within 50 feet of where we were sitting, and we got to see the traffic on the bridge the entire time to add more to the whole experience.

She didn’t know what she would want at a place like that and when I described the Cod Fish slabs you get in their Fish and Chips, she came around.  After all, take a dinner plate, plop down two expertly fried in beer batter fish slabs and a pile of french fries and you’re in for a treat.  Too bad they aren’t serving “Pub Fries” any more, and went to the more American “shoestring fries”.  Not traditional and not as good.

Today I went to visit Betty for what I think is the last time.  We celebrated my birthday that is coming up over the weekend and had a massive meal at a Chinese Buffet.  Not the same food, and I won’t tell you what she had to drink at Briny’s either since she really did enjoy both places.

Betty is selling the condo, moving back to NY and will be near her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.  She’s also moving 1400 miles away from me.   Assuming I get my life in gear to be able to go up to visit, it won’t be before a year before I can.  At 91, who knows.  I hope that I can get back for her 100th birthday, I missed her 90th here in South Florida while she celebrated it in Lawn Guy Lant.  The Condo Closes today, April 30th.  She leaves for NY on May 1.

I will miss her, I hope she’s up to coming back next year as a snowbird.  If so I’ll get a chance to have more Fish and Chips with her at Briny’s, tell people she had a Gin and Tonic under the awning there even if she didn’t, and experience another chance to spend time with one of my favourite people even if she is a relative.

Betty I’ll miss you.  Come back soon.

One Step Closer

 one step closer

After hearing the presentation by WMMS last commission meeting and all the local residents and business owners, the commission appears to agree that the WMMS approach to narrow the drive to two lanes has merit.

The current feeling by the Commission seems to be that the WMMS approach is plausible,  Plausible does not mean that it is absolutely going to happen, it means in this context that the City needs to look further into the plan.  The questions arise about the financials and the numbers that WMMS had presented.  The Commission has directed the city manager to contact the engineers, Chen and Assoc. to look at the numbers produced by WMMS and verify the estimates.

This step by the Commission can be considered ‘due diligence’, and needs to happen in order for all the Commissioners to make a knowledgeable decision.

The drawback is that there seems to be a feeling that the plan be put on the ballot as a straw vote.  The biggest problem is that the law states that the question only state the cost only and not the net profit that we will receive after the first year.  This is unfortunate since in a down market, many if not most will vote against the plan due to the cost.

This is quite one sided and if the profit is not listed, and it therefore fails, the Commission will shrug and that will be the end of the narrowing of the drive.

If that happens, you can watch for the business district to begin to fail as it is in its current form and things stagnate until the energy goes somewhere else in South FL.

Yes, parking and narrowing the drive is THAT important.

Mayonnaise Jar & Two Beers

You may recognise this one, I got it as a cut and paste “spam” from a good friend.  I liked it so I’m putting it here.

Now, where is that beer?

 – – –

Mayonnaise Jar & Two Beers…

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 Beers.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.

When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full.

They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly.

The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full.

They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.

Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He asked once more if the jar was full.

The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand..

The students laughed..

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the important things—your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car..

The sand is everything else—the small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.

The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.  

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children.

Spend time with your parents.

Visit with grandparents.

Take your spouse out to dinner.

Play another 18.

There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.

Take care of the golf balls first—the things that really matter.

Set your priorities.

The rest is just sand.
 
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented.

The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’

The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend..

Rough Seas in a Pool

Monday Morning we had a line of storms come through the county. 

Starting at 8am until it passed there were a series of warnings sounded on the weather radio for Broward County.  This all struck me as somewhat on the dramatic side.  I come from an area where a big deal was when a line of thunderstorms would come through and you may have a bit of a need to go indoors until it passed.   Say what you will about the Philadelphia Area Weather, but it was much more gentle.

As I am sitting here going through the job boards and all the postings for Business Analyst, Sr Business Analyst, Project Manager, IT Manager, and anything else that my very broad resume may fit, I’m also hearing first a Tornado Warning, then a Marine Warning, and a Severe Thunderstorm Warning sound in the span of an hour and a half.

Not too much you can do about that, I’m indoors, the Satellite radio is playing Haydn and other classical favourites, and the power is still on so I can make coffee if I should want. 

The second warning, that Marine Warning got me to thinking.   I haven’t been on a boat in a very long time, so I’m not terribly knowledgeable about what that would do to a person out in it.  I’ll stay on Terra Semi Firma and try to keep my feet dry.  As that rain started to fall and the dog got very unnerved I was thinking about when I was a kid in South Jersey.  My sister and I had a pool in the back yard.  Four Feet Deep so nobody would get in over their head, smooth vinyl bottom so your feet wouldn’t be sanded down by rough concrete, we would have many hours floating about like children would.   I remember one day we got silly though.   My sister Pat and I were having a particularly good time of it in the pool and I had a large two man raft in there with us.  We learned that if we filled that raft up with water, it would still float but get warm and comfortable but very heavy.   Once in a while we’d do that because it takes a lot of time with children’s hands to fill up that volume. 

On the other hand just moving in the raft even a little bit would mean it would rock in the pool.  We thought that was particularly fun one day and after we got through jumping in the pool very close to the raft when the other was in it, we hit upon “Rough Seas”.  My sister liked to sit in the raft and get me to do Rough Seas once in a while which consisted of my pushing down on one side of the raft so that she’d be leaning to one side, but not so much as to flip her and then letting go.  All the while chanting in a bizarre voice “Rough Seas…. Rough Seas…”.  After a few pushes we could let the pool do it’s work because it would set up waves and she’d be rocking.   Since I was quite a bit larger, I didn’t get much of a chance to be in the boat rocking about, but I did get it enough to find out what it was like. 

Somehow I think that it wouldn’t be quite as fun if you were stuck out off the coast in this slop that is falling from the sky Monday morning, but I can hope that all will be well for those out there.

May your Rough Seas only be on a float in the pool and a safe harbour is only as far as standing up in the shallow end.

A Tree Blooms on Wilton Drive

Sunday morning, right after the sun finally came up, I made it out to the Drive. 
 
I was near the tail end of the dog walk for the day and I saw a massive pile of yellow flowers on the sidewalk.  I found it amusing that in this little city, the rubbish on the sidewalk was flowers.  Other cities it might not be so pleasant a pile but that is neither here nor there. 

When I got to the trunk of the tree, my dog decided that she needed to sniff the thing.  She did it for a very long time, so I looked up and got this view.   Beautiful tree that had the sky almost completely blotted out with yellow blooms.  

The blooms have all been fertilized on my citrus trees, the Mangos are starting to form on the tree near the house.  This tree and the others like it have their time right now.  For the meantime, I’ll just enjoy them along the drive.

Iguanas are back

Afraid so.  It wasn’t forever, merely a break from the inevitable.

Yesterday we were out driving around looking for a strawberry pot.  My neighbors had given me three little heather plants and they’re doing very nicely in a large irrigated pot.  In the middle of that pot is a smaller pot with a strawberry plant.   While all four plants are happy together, we thought we should move the strawberry into its own pot and let the heather grow in. 

That set us on the chase!

You can find strawberry pots fairly easily, however since all the pots in the back yard are maroon, we didn’t want the run of the mill terracotta pot.  We ended up at the nursery just East of Andrews on Oakland Park called Green Thumb Pottery.  Nice place that is tucked into a triangular plot of land against the North Branch of the New River.   They have some beautiful plants in some rather interesting self watering pots and a collection of glazed pots that would look well in just about any setting.   There is also a room there that was set aside just for orchids.   These plants were all very happy, display quality, and would make for a fine display in any home.  It certainly is worth a visit to the shop and the area behind the building that is under the awnings is quite a nice view of the New River and the homes on the water.

Being where it is, you can see quite a distance down the river.  That river is not a very quick moving one, nor is it very deep.  I’d be hard pressed to say that that spot is navigable since the bridge over it is at the same level as any other road around here, which is almost invariably flat.  You can see in this picture where the place is, and our car was parked on the far left where the white car is under the tree.

After shopping and finding that they can get the perfect strawberry pot for the yard, we went back to the car.  That was where I saw the creature, a five foot iguana in stripes.  This is the first critter I have seen since the first cold snap back in winter more than 3 months ago.  

So they’re back.  I can only hope that this one doesn’t find a mate so we don’t end up with them sooner rather than later.   If there is one, there will be more.   My best guess is that those things will be back in my yard by November or so and I’ll be back to chasing them out of my bougainvillea.

I’m hoping for another series of cold snaps next winter.  Iguanas are too much work and Iguana Rid does not work.

A Soaring Memory From Childhood

Sometimes surfing brings up the most interesting memories. 

I was going through the morning web pages, and there was a link to building your own water bottle rocket.  I remember seeing these things in the stores when I was a kid.  You used to be able to get them for a couple of dollars a piece and they’d consist of a pump that is about 9 inches long, a funnel, and a plastic rocket that looked something distantly like a V2 Rocket.  You would fill the funnel with clear water, fill the rocket with it to a pre-measured level, then attach it to the pump end.  The pump would be clamped onto the bottom of the rocket and you would pump it an arbitrary amount of times until you couldn’t any more.  Then you would turn the rocket upright and pull the lever to launch your rocket.

The Wikipedia Page for Water Rockets has some general info on them but my little store bought rocket was much more modest than some of these monsters. 

I could launch these things probably 100 times each rocket until either I was bored with it, or the rocket ended up in a tree, then it was a trip to the toy store and get another.   They were commonplace and I had even seen one lately when I was in a store here within the last year so they’re still made. 

One time I was sitting on the front porch and had been launching this thing and wanted to see how far it could go so I started aiming it lower to the ground instead of straight up into the air.  I figured I could manage to fly it across the street, and if it was one of those Hot New Jersey Summer Days, the added benefit was a cold blast of pressurized water and air all over me to cool me off. 

When ever I think of those little red domed, white rockets, I would think of aiming it toward the street and firing.  You see once I did that just as a car was coming by and it managed to go in one of the open windows, and out the other side.   The driver of the car was just as surprised as I was to have this projectile fly through the car like something out of a Warner Brothers’ cartoon.

Years later, I remembered this scene and started talking to my sister and her then school-age son about it and decided he needed this memory.   Off to the toy store I went and finally found one.  I filled it up with water with Jonathan on the porch next to me, pumped it up, and launched.   We got a couple shots out of it before I turned it over to Jon.   He had some fun that day launching it and we went inside. 

The next visit we tried it again only first shot it went up on the roof.   Seeing that that house was two full stories high and we had no ladder that would get to the high roof, it was done. 

Somehow, I doubt he thinks of it as fondly as I did.

The website that had it, make.com, has a video and a web page about how to build a rather complex rocket if you want to see them… They’re fun but this rocket is really involved… I’d stick to the little store bought thing if I went to do it again.

The Morning Concert of Tire on Pavement

I find that it never is quite “quiet” here. 

I got up to walk the dog around my wonderfully quirky city at 6AM and expect it to be almost silent.  At this time of year and this time of day, I am up before the birds.  I have to be up that early, I have a furry alarm clock that insists that no matter what day of the week, whether holiday or not, I am up and walking her.

However it isn’t so.   We’ve got this state owned thoroughfare running straight through the middle of Wilton Manors that is four lanes wide plus a bike lane and parking lane on each side of the road.   While a city has to have full access for people to come and go, visit, spend, enjoy, and then return from whence they came, we have been for a while too accommodating.

At 6 AM when I am out front of my house preparing for my morning mile walk, I can hear the cars passing on Wilton Drive, two blocks or almost a quarter mile away.  It isn’t exactly pure silence I expect since this isn’t the Jersey Pine Barrens and even there you have the music of the winds whispering through the pines.  On the other hand, I should not expect to hear tire on pavement and know that when they are going through there, they aren’t exactly observing the speed limit since they’re trying to get to work or coming home from “play”.

It is rare that people drive appropriately when nobody is around.  It is an unwritten law, an understanding, that if nobody is about you can stretch the speed a little bit and get home a bit quicker.  In the area around Philly we call it the “Five Plus Rule”.  You are breaking the law but an extra five won’t be bothered unless you’re in one of those ticketing towns.

I’ve changed my usual morning ramble with the dog.  I try not to cross that drive, whether at light or not, at all.  It flatly isn’t safe.   In the amount of time it takes to press the button to cross at the lit cross walk until it stops traffic for you to cross, you can actually drive “almost the entire drive” from the Dairy Queen to Five Points at a legal speed. 

90 seconds at 30 MPH is 3/4 of a mile which according to Google Earth is the distance in question.

Clearly that timing is too generous and needs to be adjusted.

So an hour and a half later, I sit in my chair listening to the pool pump, the parrots outside, the wind up clocks and other equipment in the house.   All the windows are open, the coffee has been roasted and the scent of Guatemalan Peaberry is on the breeze, there’s a pigeon cooing.  Underneath all that and the Tchaikovsky playing on the radio, I can hear a car accelerating up to speed out on the drive hitting the pavers in the intersection with a “Frrrt Frrrt” sound.

Hopefully this will all change.  The drive will get reduced to one lane each way with a bike lane and “reverse angle parking” and the speed will reduce because people just won’t drive 50 on a road like that.  Our city deserves this gift to itself.  Short term inconvenience for Long term benefit to paraphrase Delaware DOT’s signs.  A gift to ourselves that we will have to pay for but will pay us back 10 times the initial investment in 3 years.  A gift to ourselves that will increase the safety of the drive and hopefully allow fewer people to actually die trying to go from point A to point B.  A gift to ourselves of a forward thinking plan approved by a forward thinking Commission and Mayor. 

I look forward to the opening of that gift, but for now, I’ll get that Guatemalan Peaberry Coffee off of the front porch so I can grind myself a second mug.

The great citrus bloom of 2010

In New Jersey where I grew up, we never really kept the windows open on the house.  It was a split level and had a horrible air flow.   Contrary to the typical view of the Garden State, I lived in an area that was packed with trees and flowers and natural beauty.   You’re probably thinking of Elizabeth or East Orange NJ. 

Behind that first link was a river and an area of trees that lead back to some high thickets of Raspberries, Blackberries, Frogs and other natural things.  I doubt that you’ll find much of that in the latter two.

You will also not find Citrus trees growing outdoors in NJ unless it is summer and they’re in a pot.

Here in Florida I have a house that has leaky Jalousie windows.  Basically I get about 90 percent, give or take a bit among friends, of air flow through here.  If there’s a breeze outside, there’s a breeze inside.  Being about 2 miles from the beach, there’s almost always a breeze.   I’m sitting in my bouncy Poang Chair with the windows cranked open, listening to A Fifth Of Beethoven on Sirius “The Strobe” and the only thing I smell is Orange.  My tree went nuts.   Orange blossoms all over the place, there must have been hundreds of them at the peak.  The scent is almost overpowering since my tree is about 20 feet from where I sit, and directly in the air flow to this chair.

I think that I may just have missed something by not keeping the windows open as a child.  The scents were different in NJ, Pine instead of Orange and Lemon, Coffee instead of the restaurants that occasionally waft over on the breeze here.  Not at all unpleasant, but certainly a wonder to behold.

Yes, Coffee in NJ.  Every so often the Melitta plant at the 295, Turnpike and Berlin Rd that roasted coffee for distribution here and everywhere else that it is sold in the US would catch on the breeze.  Very rare, but it would happen. 

And now I have to make my own.

CANA Has a big "AT"

Literally…

This morning was another one of those sleepless ones.  Perhaps I’ve been having too much of that home roasted coffee, maybe it was the chocolate I had last night at 7PM, but at 330 in the morning I awoke. 

I’m sure this means that mid afternoon in the Siesta Hour, I’ll be battling that as well.

After a solid hour and a half of tossing and turning and trying every trick I could think of to get back to sleep I crawled out of bed.  Five AM and I’m up.  The dog didn’t even stir until I had a good solid stare at myself in the mirror.   Sticking my tongue out at myself I got dressed and gave Mrs Dog her breakfast – crunchy sheep in a tennis ball and I inspected the house for anything that might be awry.

Luckily all was well, so I grabbed my iPod full of Jeeves and Wooster audio books, her gear and went out for a quiet walk.  Being half asleep, I mumbled hellos to the one person I spotted that I knew that was up at that time of the morning and walked over toward the old City Hall.  Still somewhat sleepy and mental, I noted that there were no stray tennis balls for my dog and the amazingly friendly pit bull across the street so I moved on toward the Drive.

There on the corner of Wilton Drive and NE 21 Ct, the City had placed our traffic sign with a banner.  No, it isn’t calling for a Zombie Attack although I think this is the model that can be easily hacked.  The sign said alternatingly:

CANA MEETING TONIGHT

Then

7 PM AT HAGEN PARK.

I chuckled to myself that that had to be the biggest “AT” I have seen in a very long time.  That does say a lot being on some of the volunteer boards and having dealt with the public ‘at’ the Historical Society’s sale at City Hall last month and moved on to the house.

It is so early that I had time to muse about my big “AT” while sitting in the chair at home after breakfast.  I got here, and switched on the Sirius radio to the Symphony Hall channel and with the windows open, sipping the last of the first mug of coffee that I think got me into being up this early, I noted that there was the scent of orange blossoms on the breeze.

Now as the sky turns from midnight to inky blue and the first birds of the morning wake up to shout hello outside my window I think I’ll toss my mug at them and have another.

I’m planning on being there tonight for CANA at 7pm, Hagen Park, 2020 Wilton Drive, FL, 33305 and visit the rest of us who are interested in seeing our friends from the Central Area Neighborhood Association.