Our HOA $ at work

So this happened on September 24th.

Screen Shot 2018-09-25 at 11.33.30 PM.png

We were told to expect window washers, but it still astonished me to look out our bedroom window and see a man dangling twenty-nine floors above the ground.

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 9.41.49 AM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-25 at 11.32.35 PM.png

Eeek, right?  They missed a few spots on our kitchen windows.  We’ll have to live with it for six months. They’ll be back again in March.

Condo living provides entertainment.

 

 

What’s the point?

It’s 3:11 a.m.  I just woke from a dream.  My experience with dreams is they pretty much evaporate with the light.  Even a nightlight will zap a dream.   Poof, gone.

Here clear as day one minute. Then (zap) gone.

What I do recall is the gist of the dream was “purpose”.  My purpose.  As I age I have become entrenched in the notion we were all made for a reason.  I don’t know my reason.  I don’t need to know.  I just need to trust and (blindly) move forward when I hear/see/sense the whisper.

A power–God/Universe/Spirit in the Sky/Giant Cosmos Smarty Pants is in charge.

Just dug up the song playing at the edge of my mind.

When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that’s the best
When I lay me down to die
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky
That’s where I’m gonna go when I die
When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that’s the best

Prepare yourself you know it’s a must
Gotta have a friend in Jesus
So you know that when you die
He’s gonna recommend you
To the spirit in the sky
Gonna recommend you
To the spirit in the sky
That’s where you’re gonna go when you die
When you die and they lay you to rest
You’re gonna go to the place that’s the best

Never been a sinner I never sinned
I got a friend in Jesus
So you know that when I die
He’s gonna set me up with
The spirit in the sky
Oh set me up with the spirit in the sky
That’s where I’m gonna go when I die
When I die and they lay me to rest
I’m gonna go to the place that’s the best
Go to the place that’s the best

I can, as if through a giant time machine microscope, remember Robbie Jones dancing to this song.  Thanks, Universe, for that delightful memory.  Robbie was the U of D drum major.  We dated for a year or so. I was smitten.  He, I later learned, was gay.  What a delight he was. God/Universe/Spirit in the Sky/Giant Cosmos Smarty Pants created marvelous  Robbie.  He was a brilliant light in the world for a short time.  Died of AIDS.  I love to imagine he is dancing on the other side.

Robbie was here for a reason.  I dunno’ that reason.  Maybe to enlighten me? ( Golly, is it all about you, Alice?)

I plan to toddle back to bed.  I hope the evasive “what’s my purpose” dream comes back to me. I’d like to see the ending.

But the ending doesn’t matter.  I know I was created for a reason by a power as strong as God/Universe/Spirit in the Sky/Giant Cosmos Smarty Pants.  Delicious to fall back on that and simply trust. Yay!  Let me give up the steering wheel. I’m a dreadful driver.

God/Universe/Spirit in the Sky/Giant Cosmos Smarty Pants….go for it.  I am in your hands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our most recent field trip

Our aggressively white interior had to go so we picked a color, hired a painter, and went to buy the paint.

Going to the paint store meant getting into the car–something we rarely do these days.  While we were out we chose to have lunch at one of our favorite places.  Harvey’s 4th Street Grill.

I always intend to take a photo of my food before I dig in, but since hunger overtakes reason, I never remember.  Here’s my lunch.  Partially eaten blackened salmon.

Screen Shot 2018-09-22 at 1.13.41 PM.png

The very best thing we saw today was this–

Screen Shot 2018-09-22 at 1.13.28 PM.png

Could we (please) have a functioning adult in the Oval come 2020? These shirts can be purchased at Amazon.  The sentiment is also available as a bumper sticker.  This lady said she was driving her car when someone flagged her down. She was afraid it was a road rage thing–we do, after all, live in Florida. Trump territory.

Turned out the person stopping her simply wanted to know where they could get the same bumper sticker.  Maybe the tide is turning?  Fingers crossed.

Destination Mazzaro’s

We get together with Steve and Diane monthly for “Game Night”  We play QwirkleMexican Train, or maybe cards.  Once we played Clue but decided it took too much thinking.  It is, after all, designed for eight-year-olds. When we play our mentality shifts to six or under.

My favorite is Mexican Train.  Steve and Diane’s version is better than ours. Theirs has a button to press when you are down to one tile and a “WHOOOO WHOOOOO” train sound plays.  In our house, the down-to-one-tile person has to do the Whooo Whooo aloud.

Screen Shot 2018-09-18 at 2.06.35 PM.png

Steve and Diane put together the most beautiful charcuterie platters.  Fancy word, that.  I think it means Cheese and Meat and other random snacks.  I don’t know how to pronounce it, or how to duplicate their marvelous rendition.  BUT, now that we live in Saint Petersburg we have a secret charcuterie platter weapon.

Mazzaro’s Italian Market!

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 11.57.22 AM.png

Prior to moving here, I’d heard of Mazzaro’s.  So, shortly after we got settled we took a field trip to the huge ethnic market.  I was overwhelmed.  The place was packed with shoppers and loaded with foods I didn’t understand.  Philadelphia cream cheese is about as exotic as I get.

That visit we left with a biscotti.  One.  For Jim.

Yesterday we decided to take the plunge again.  We were determined to go slow and enjoy the process.

About Mazzaro’s—I found the following description online:

Enter the always lively St. Petersburg food emporium known as Mazzaro Italian Market and you can easily mistake the scene for a bustling, European street lined with butcher shops, bakeries, produce stands and displays of freshly caught fish and fragrant cheeses.

Mazzaro’s Old World ambiance may even trigger a childhood memory of a long-ago visit to a neighborhood grocery with a loved one.

“We are selling time travel,” says Kurt Cuccaro, whose family founded the local landmark. “Shopping at Mazzaro may transfer you to a time when growing up, there was a place you used to go to with your grandparents. Or it may remind you of somewhere you once lived, a store you used to shop at or a market in Europe.”

From its humble beginnings as a boutique coffee roasting operation, Mazzaro grew to become a beloved, robust retail destination that is among the Tampa Bay area’s most enduring –and endearing – businesses.

That metamorphosis from a modest mom-and-pop shop into a sprawling, 25,000-square-foot market makes Mazzaro the ultimate convenience store. With just one stop, shoppers can fill their baskets with foods from around the world, as well as locally sourced items from around the block. They can select from vast arrays of fresh meats and seafood, freshly made bread, pastries and pasta, signature soups and sandwiches, and well-stocked shelves displaying whatever is needed to make gourmet meals from scratch.

I wandered around with my phone taking photos.  Who knew there were so many versions of balsamic vinegar?

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 4.37.10 PM.png

And sausages?  We were in way over our heads.  I grabbed a small salami of some sort.  Cut it up earlier today.  It’s hard as a rock but delicious.  The one I picked came out of the little basket to the left of the “Please take a number” thing.  That guy to the right of the numbers saw me taking the photo and wanted to know if he was “lookin’ good”.  I assured him he was.

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 4.40.59 PM.png

Look at all the amazing prepared foods!

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 4.44.06 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-09-19 at 4.36.26 PM.png

The walls inside and out have been handpainted with scenes of Italy, and pictures of famous Italians.

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 4.36.52 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-09-19 at 11.57.02 AM.png

Also offered a butcher, handmade pasta and pastries!  Oh my.  Those pastries look sinfully delicious. Fortunately, not a single pastry was gluten free which saved me from me.

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 4.56.11 PM.png.

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 5.00.22 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 5.02.06 PM.png

I have a sneaking suspicion Mazzaro’s owners might be Catholic.  Your thoughts?

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 5.03.25 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-09-19 at 5.03.35 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 5.03.49 PM.png

Here is the assortment of delights we lugged home.  I will NOT be getting on the scale in the morning.  To all this, we will be adding crackers and fruit.  Now I have to display it in an appetizing looking way.  I should do that and add a photo.  But won’t.  Want this blog post published.

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 4.53.56 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-09-19 at 4.55.14 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-09-19 at 4.54.28 PM.png

Steve and Diane should be here soon.  I always lose at these games.  I have no knack for “strategery.”  But it’s all about the laughs.  And the food.

 

 

 

Jolly Trolley. Our adventure with public transportation.

Moving to Saint Petersburg was in part driven by a desire for a one-car lifestyle.  I wanted to walk to everything available.  If not walk, then take a bus.

Therefore, yesterday Jim and I decided to take the St. Petersburg Central Trolley from downtown St. Pete, where we live, all the way to Pass-a-Grille Beach at the Southern edge of St. Pete Beach.  The ride was expected to last about an hour.

We toted along two umbrellas, one water bottle, and Bronson’s phony service dog vest. Our little family walked four blocks to the trolley stop.  We boarded the bus, paying $1.10 per person senior fare.  I asked the driver if she needed to verify my senior status by seeing my ID.  She looked me up and down, peered directly into my face then laughed out loud.  So much for my “I certainly do not look my age” fantasy.

She inquired if Bronson was a pet.  I stated, “No, Service Animal.  Do you want him in his vest?”  She replied, “Nope, just need to ask.”

Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 9.53.48 AM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 11.48.52 AM.png

 

Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 11.48.15 AM.png
Our Trolley Dog.

 

The trolley stops every couple of blocks in downtown St. Petersburg.  Most riders are dressed for the heat.  Tank tops, flip flops, shorts.  At 7th Avenue North we picked up a woman clothed unlike the other passengers.  She had on a broad black sunhat with a gold chain around the crown, lovely sheath dress, large gold beaded necklace, and heels.

I assumed it was her church outfit.  She held up the line attempting to swipe her card. The machine kept rejecting her pass.  A rider behind her recommended just paying the fare.

That’s when Church Lady went Linda Blair.  She screeched, “I’ll be damned if I’m paying again!  I paid too much for this damn card in the first place.” As she careened down the aisle her rant continued.  She plopped down in the back row, howled a few more choice words, then settled back in her seat.

Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 11.48.39 AM.png

When she was behind us I pretended to take a selfie.  Florida is a concealed carry state.  I didn’t intend to get myself shot by a demented trolley passenger for taking her photo.

Titters all around, surreptitious glances at other riders, and off we went.  For some reason, CL decided to move a row forward.  She sat in the seat opposite Jim’s.  I considered another photo but could picture her reaching into that big green bag and pulling out a Colt 45.  Left my phone on my lap.

About five stops later a somewhat stoned but harmless looking young man boarded.  He snoozed a few blocks, then climbed off the bus.  I watched as he began to walk away. Suddenly he turned, chased the bus and pounded on the windows.  Everyone was alarmed until it became apparent he was stopping the trolley for two bikers who would otherwise have missed it.

As they loaded their bikes to the front of the bus, Church Lady yelled, “Illegal!” She then held up her left hand, fingers outstretched in the universal, “Stop!” gesture.  I was amazed that several fellow passengers took her on, demanding she put her arm down and shut up.

Didn’t they know about the pistol in her tote?

Thereupon she marched herself to the front seat, glaring at anyone who made eye contact.

Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 11.47.56 AM.png

A short while later she exploded again.  “I’m calling 911!  I’m having you locked up!  Arrested. Thrown behind bars. Put in jail.”  That guy in the yellow and blue shirt was nuts enough to demand she dummy up.  Several passengers behind me hollered at her. I hoped I didn’t get caught in the cross-fire.

Fortunately, she disembarked several blocks down the road.  The drama behind us.

We began watching for the “Pass-a-Grill Way” trolley stop.  Through Trip Advisor I’d identified The Brass Monkey on Pass-a-Grill as someplace to have lunch.  When the driver announced “Pass-a-Grill Way and 31st Street” I turned to Jim and said, “Do I pull the stop wire now?”

“Sure, why not.” he replied.

Here’s why not.  The Monkey Bar is at Pass-a-Grill Way and 8th Street.

We decided a walk would do us all good.  I pulled out my SPF 50+ umbrella and off we went.  After 4 blocks we realized walking in 90-degree heat was doing us no good at all.  At 26th Street we located a red and yellow Central Trolley stop sign.

Bronson and I hunkered down in a patch of shade while Jim patiently watched for the next bus.  The stench from Red Tide was sickening.  Few cars passed. And no trolleys trundled by for an half hour.

 

Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 11.49.09 AM.png
Patient Jim, watching for the bus.

Eventually, we got a coach.  We were required to pay another $1.10 each.  But we wound up half a block from our destination.  The red tide smell was even worse so close to the sand so Jim requested a table indoors.  Many people were wearing masks.

Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 11.49.21 AM.png

The place was busy with enthusiastic Buccaneers fans eager to see their team defeat the Eagles.

Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 11.48.29 AM.png

We each ordered an adult beverage and food.  I love eating a very late lunch–at that point, it was 3:30.  It’s a trick allowing me to escape cooking dinner.  Following our meal, it was back on the trolley for home.  This time we didn’t make the mistake of pulling the “stop the bus” cord early.

Tonight we are headed to “Six on Seven” the regular Monday night gathering at six p.m. on the seventh floor.  I’ve got my mother’s meatloaf recipe prepared and ready to tuck into the oven as we walk out the door.  I’ve been making it for years.  It has two healthy tablespoons of horseradish mixed in.  Delicious.  And enough for leftovers tomorrow night.

So, good news for me, no cooking again tomorrow!

 

The dust has​ finally settled.

This summer has been a whirlwind.  We made an offer on The Perch (formerly know as Cloud Condo) on Memorial Day weekend.  It’s now Labor Day weekend and our lives have taken a marvelous 180-degree turn.

We still have some artwork to hang, a small chest of drawers to paint and then we need to hire someone to roll over these blindingly white walls.  But once that’s all done we will be totally MOVED!

From my seat, I can see The Central Avenue Trolley making it’s way South.  It will be my carriage to writing classes.  Because I no longer have a car.

We sold Gracie the Mini-Van.  We relocated to Saint Petersburg in large part to take advantage of the many places within walking distance.

A short list:  The Dali Museum.  The Holocaust Museum.  James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.  The new Imagine Museum.  We visited there yesterday. It’s all art glass.  Our neighbor works at Imagine and gave us a private tour.  Fascinating.  If you visit St. Pete, do yourselves the favor of–visit the Imagine Museum.

Not within walking distance, but on my bucket list, Deadly Rival Roller Derby!  I’ve only gone to Roller Derby one time.  It was a crazy blast.  Fans crowd the rink, screaming and cheering.  Look at the website.  There is a “Bruises Gallery.”  I’d post photos, but it’s not for the faint of heart.  Jim isn’t too eager to go to Roller Derby, but Brookie will.  She’s always up for a weird time.

In other news, I recently visited Bainbridge Island Washington.  Neice Katie is divorcing, moving from the marital home to a cute guest cottage on a friends property.  My sister, Marilyn and BIL Rob flew from Colorado to help her.  Since I’m so good at moving, having just done it myself, I offered my assistance.

 

Screen Shot 2018-08-31 at 4.17.48 PM.png
Katie with Marilyn and Rob.

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-09-01 at 11.02.51 AM.png
This place will soon have a fresh coat of paint.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-09-01 at 11.02.38 AM.png
That’s me, unpacking the stuff Katie’s kids helped me wrap that morning.  They identified all the items they see mom using regularly.  My sister and I had a tricky time figuring out where to house everything in Katie’s new tiny kitchen.  Her nest is going to be darling.  Sort of a doll-house.

 

My flight from Tampa to Seattle was delayed for three hours due to lack of visibility at Seattle airport.  Forest fire smoke.  The wait was good because I read my book club novel–Lincoln in the Bardo.  Strange book.  Writer George Saunders imagination is massive. The novel is creepily creative and in parts hilarious.

While at airport gates I usually find myself glancing around and figuring out who I hope is seated next to me.  I noticed an obese woman in a wheelchair.  She had all sorts of flotsam and jetsom hanging from her seat, a bright green frog travel pillow draped around her neck and a small white “service” dog on her lap.  The dog’s vest read, “I am an emotional support dog.”

 

Screen Shot 2018-09-01 at 11.02.04 AM.png
Pixie is sharing the neck pillow. She is laying atop a wee teeny dog bed.

 

I thought, “Not her, please.”  Well, guess who my seatmates were?

Shirley.  And her small white dog, Pixie.  And her curly headed adult son.

I was on the aisle, Shirley and Pixie in the window seat.  Son boarded late, hauling along his guitar which he stowed in First Class.  It was decided he wanted the window seat.  There was a grand commotion as they shifted places.  Then, as Shirley stood bent over double, Son fished through her carry on and pulled out the following:

A small white blanket.  A tiny green plastic bowl.  A beige sit-upon that looked rather like bubble wrap. A black blindfold. A spoon.  That was used to feed Pixie Thai food Son had brought on board.  (I have an aversion to stinky food being brought onto airplanes.  I suppose I could write a letter.  Right after I write to the commissioner of baseball and demand games be reduced to five innings.  We recently went to a Ray’s game.  Four innings too long.  But I digress.)

Once Shirley, Son, and Pixie were finally settled she turned to me and said, “May I please have some water for the dog?  I forgot to buy a bottle.”  I filled the small green bowl from my $4.99 bottle of Smartie Pants water and Pixie drank happily.

Did I mention Shirley was big?  Really big. She spilled over into my seat whereupon I wedged myself into the far corner, and attempted to read.  But every time Shirley made a move her very large shadow cast my book into darkness.  Ultimately she wrapped her neck in the green frog, put on the blindfold and, using both armrests, went happily to sleep.

As we landed Shirley fished a tiny comb out of her Vera Bradley purse and proceeded to groom Pixie.

Once in a lifetime, right?

Not so much.  Guess who was across the aisle from me on my flight home?  Shirley, Pixie, and Son!

Once again there was a bustle of activity as Shirley got organized.  She piled Son’s lap with a mound of detritus from her carry on.  Then had to juggle Pixie as she attempted to put her bubble wrap pillow in her seat.

I offered to hold Pixie.  As I was attempting to take a selfie with the dog, the man seated in my window seat went NUTS.

 

Screen Shot 2018-09-01 at 11.02.18 AM.png
Failed selfie.  

 

Screen Shot 2018-09-01 at 11.03.02 AM.png
Crazy guy.

 

 

He ranted, “I know the rules!  I did the work!  You can’t hold that animal. No one can touch a service dog but the owner.”  The commotion brought a flight attendant running.  The flight attendant was unable to calm Mr. Chucklehead down.  So he called the purser.

Meanwhile, I stood with Pixie balanced in my arms and tried to sort through, “What now?”  Shirley quickly relieved me of the 2-pound burden.

Then, at Chuck’s feet, I noticed a black blanket.  The blanket moved.  Underneath was a full-size white poodle. The dog’s fur was groomed into the Mohawk atop its head.  I assumed it was also wearing a service dog vest, but the owner kept hiding the poor animal beneath the blanket.

At one point I made eye contact with the dog.  Chucklehead reached down to cover the animal’s eyes, turning it’s face away from me.  Clearly, no one is to interact with his service dog. He spent the entire flight watching home movies of the animal on his telephone.  Odd.

Now, on to exercise.  I’ve been taking the elevator down four flights and hiking back up the stairs.  I’m working my way up to get in shape for a November visit to Galena, Illinois.  Friend Jane lives atop a steep hill.  We walk everywhere.  If I survive the hill I will have to mount a perpendicular driveway followed by a long set of stairs.  Sandy, the showoff, climbs mountains, rides her bike, teaches Pilates and maintains she’s going to leave me in the street to die rather than lug me along.

So, off I go!