Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Small Talk

“What did you say?
I can’t understand you. You’re mumbling again.
Oh, you want breakfast. Why didn’t you say so, instead of pacing back and forth like that.
OK, you don’t have to get all pouty about it. I wish someone would wait on me like I wait on you. I’m really getting tired of it.
Yeah, I know you can’t cook. Every day you remind me of it. And another thing, could you please stop making those noises when you eat. It’s irritating.
Yes, I know about your condition. Just eat already, while I finish the laundry.
OK, once again I can’t hear you. I’m in the laundry room. What? Yes, I fluff dried your precious pillow. You know, the next time you decide to get sick, just maybe be near the toilet like everyone else. This stain is just not coming out.
No, I’m certainly not making light of your condition. I’m just saying….
Now wait a minute, what’s my mother got to do with this? Well, how could she know you’re allergic to tuna?
Why are you looking at me like that?
Oh, so now it’s the silent treatment. Look, I’ve just about had it with you. I’m getting out of here for a while.
All right, I thought that would get your attention. Where am I going? Where do I always go Tuesday afternoon? The grocery store of course.
Oh, don’t start on that again. I did not forget you last week or the week before. OK, smart aleck, here’s the grocery list. What’s the very first item? That’s right, Kibbles! I rest my case!"

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Island Beauty

“Beauty before me. Beauty behind me. Beauty above me. Beauty below me. Beauty to the left of me. Beauty to the right of me. Everywhere I walk, I am surrounded by beauty.” -Navaho wisdom-

Sixteen minutes from my front door lies a jewel of an island and a bit of Florida little changed since the Timucuan Native American people fished there. A sudden midday wanderlust took me across the Intracoastal Waterway to Honeymoon Island, one of many barrier islands coughed up by the restless comings and goings of the Gulf of Mexico.
My destination was out past the causeway restaurants and kayak rentals, beyond the beach with its gaggle of Canadians working on their tans. At the north end of the Island, I headed into the interior, a two-mile nature trail and home to an amazing assortment of critters.

There be Armadillos here and this trip I saw two of these prehistoric-looking beasties snuffling in the leaf litter for beetles and grubs. One even came out to have its picture taken.

Honeymoon Island might as well be named Osprey Island, for these big fish-hawks were everywhere – sitting nests too numerous to count, standing guard in nearby trees, or circling over the inlet, looking for lunch.

With my awkward point and shoot camera method, I was able to nab a few photos, but missed the highlight of the trip – a protective Osprey dive-bombing a Bald Eagle that flew too near its nest.
On the watery edge of Florida’s most densely populated county, I saw Swallow-tail Kites, White Ibis, Read-headed Woodpeckers, Brown Pelicans, Red-winged Blackbirds, Cardinals, Sea Gulls of course, and one lonely Gopher Tortoise.

I was not the love it was looking for, so I left.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Is Pinellas County Still In The Bush League?

Pinellas, the breakaway county formerly known as West Hillsborough, is 100 years old this year. In 1912, tired of being under-represented and marginalized by Hillsborough County’s government, located in Tampa, Pinellas residents successfully seceded from Hillsborough.
Compared to older cities like St. Augustine, Pinellas County is still a young pretender. There are probably Live Oak trees somewhere around here that are older than the county.
Since there isn’t a whole lot of history associated with the county, you would think every effort would be made to hang on to our treasures from the past. That, sadly, doesn’t seem to be the case.
Two of those treasures, the Belleview-Biltmore Hotel and the Fenway Hotel, popped up again in separate stories in the Tampa Bay Times. Developers, local governments, and citizens have been dithering for years over the fate of these two historic buildings.
The Belleview-Biltmore in Belleair was built by railroad tycoon Henry Plant in 1897 as a lure to get more folks to ride in his trains. Hugely popular to a newly mobile middle class, the resort offered golf, tennis, fishing and sailing in the nearby Gulf of Mexico. The 850,000 square foot building is said to be the largest all wood structure in the world.
The Fenway Hotel in Dunedin was constructed in 1925, during Florida’s first economic boom. The Mediterranean Revival architectural gem has had its share of famous guests, including Clarence Darrow, Carl Sandburg, and Babe Ruth. Since closing as a hotel, the Fenway has been a bible college and later an international business school. The building, across from the Intracoastal Waterway, now stands empty.
At this point, it seems unlikely that either hotel will survive in their present forms. There does not appear to be enough money, power, or interest to pull it off.  A sense of sadness becomes all the more so when one realizes that Tampa Bay is home to more millionaires than other areas of the state. Perhaps what we need are more billionaires.
Money, of course, is not the sole answer to the hotels’ survival. There is also the shared commitment of all interested parties and a few people of vision with enough persuasive power and determination to make it happen.
In the past, Pinellas County was home to the International Golfing Association (IGA), the nascent Florida Aquarium, and more recently, Florida Gulf Coast Museum of Art, Wikipedia, and the Pinellas County Arts Council.
All either no longer exist or have moved on to greener pastures.

The “bush leagues” is a baseball term, but it is an appropriate name when considering the overall quality of life of an area.

Historic preservation is certainly an important component in any quality of life assessment. To some, the fate of the Belleview-Biltmore and Fenway Hotels will determine if Pinellas County finally rises out of the bush leagues.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Twelve Things We Did Not Learn In School

Here are 12 aspects of creative thinking I learned in 6 minutes. Putting them into action will take a bit longer.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Fear Of Flying Book-Signings

Last summer and fall, I designed and had published Fear of Flying, a small book of my prose and line drawings. Now two other authors and I will be having discussions and book-signings in St. Petersburg, Gulfport and Tampa. Hope you can make one of these events. With the proper libations, I can talk on and on and on.

Denis Gaston, presenting his book “Fear of Flying” Prose and Drawings.
Diane Gugliotta, Presenting her Bag-Book “Told on the Atoll.”
Herman Thorbecke, Presenting his book, “So-Long Europe Hello South Africa-Tall Tales and Adventures.” A Fictional Memoir.

1. On Saturday, February 18th, from 3 to 5pm. At the private residence of Kadie and David Gruenewald, 5671 42nd. Ave. N. St. Petersburg, FL, Tel: 727 544-8775. Light refreshments will be served. R.S.V.P.

2. On Sunday, February 19th, noon to Tangelo’s restaurant, located at 3121 Beach Boulevard S., Gulfport, FL Tel: 727 894-1695

3.The main event will be held on Thursday February 23rd, , 7pm. At The Weinberg Village, 13005 Community Campus Drive, Tampa. Tel: (813) 969-1818