Saint Petersburg Pier

We took ourselves on a Field Trip earlier this week. The Pier in Saint Petersburg has been under construction for three years. We’ve watched with interest from our home, The Perch. Fortunately, we recently had a couple of cool days, so we wandered over to see how the project turned out. The Pier project cost $92 million dollars and covers 26 acres.

One of the most high profile additions to the pier is Janet Echelman’s Bending Arc, an aerial net sculpture. The Clearwater Audubon Society had concerns that local birds would get caught in the netting, however that seems not to have happened. The large net is installed over a family play area. It billows in the breeze, it’s gradient shades of blue supposed to give the effect of gazing at clouds. At night, it’s a whole different experience when LED colored lights in a palette of magentas and violets transform the sculptures physical color.

Pretty dramatic, right? But during the day, in my never-to-be-humble opinion, the net doesn’t evoke a feeling of gazing at clouds so much as a feeling of gazing at odd litter in the sky.

It was an interesting wander. I found myself thinking, “Why didn’t the Saint Petersburg Pier planners consult Chicago’s Millenium Park designers prior to breaking ground?”

Other interesting art installations are Nathan Mabry’s monumental red metal origami pelican sculpture near the pier’s entrance. Two realistic red statues of pelicans are perched on top of the sculpture, as well in other places along the pier.

From the pier, we could look back at the city skyline and see our home! I’ve labeled in here, but I see now the words look like wee-teeny ant-droppings. The left-hand building is where we live. The condo is small, but happily, the views are vast.

We took ourselves out to a late lunch. This was our first restaurant experience since the shut-down in late March. Our favorite waterfront restaurant, Fresco’s, has beautiful outdoor dining. The place was deserted, so we felt safe removing the masks and enjoying the breeze as well as the ceviche.

This restaurant is just next to the Pier entrance. Step out the door, take a right, and you’ll be gazing at the red origami pelican. It was delightful to feel somewhat “normal” again. This pandemic shut down has been difficult. Floridians have been at odds as to wearing masks and socially distancing. Mixed messages from leadership have created the tension.

Sadly, yesterday there was rioting along Beach Drive. What started out as a peaceful protest following the Breonna Taylor grand jury announcement that no police officers were charged with her death, turned ugly as diners suddenly found protesters sitting at their table and refusing to leave. Further, some protestors blocked traffic, and jumped on top of a Mercedes as well as throwing a skateboard at the car. Damage was done, but no charges were pressed.

Racial tensions are heartbreaking. I naively believed that upon electing an African American to the Oval office our country had turned a corner. I was wrong. I wonder what it will take? What I do know for sure is I’ve enjoyed a lifetime of white privilege. I hope, eventually, we will all realize human beings are all God’s children, regardless of the color of their skin. Call me a crazy optimist, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Enjoy this last weekend of September 2020!


I’ve been sitting here at the second-hand kitchen table that doubles as my desk, fingers poised over the keyboard, trying to come up with some blog-worthy thoughts. My exhausted brain is just laying in my skull, whimpering, “Help me, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

Why is your brain fatigued, Alice?

This pan-damn-ic has it totally shut down. My mind is sad, miserable and out of sorts. I can’t seem to shake my intellect into action. I’m not alone in this ennui. My doctors tell me their practice has been treating more depression since March than ever before. Yes, they’ve seen a lot of people with the Covid19. However, lots more of their patients are visiting because extended isolation has left them feeling so low.

The practice, Doc’s Outside the Box, is a combo of Western and Eastern medicine. I love the care I get there and their unique approach. They don’t prescribe many pharmaceuticals. They do lean heavily on natural supplements.

For the many patients dealing with feeling so down, they are recommending plant-based magnesium called EZ Mg. I add it to my oh-so-delicious-nutritious (not) morning shakes.

The Docs also suggest magnesium capsules called Min-Chex. And they even offer magnesium IV drips. I’ve had two. They did lift my spirits temporarily.

Yum Yum. Yes, it looks like vomit.

I found this unique practice when Jim and I moved to Saint Petersburg.

Back Story:

I suffered from a skin rash for YEARS. I just perused my old posts and don’t see any mention of that. The Cliff Notes version: In about 2003 I got a rash. The rash got worse. And worse. Finally, it became so extensive I was covered head to toe and I was scratching until I bled. I ended up bouncing from Doctor to Doctor. I was seen at the University of Wisconsin Grand Rounds. About forty doctors (and a couple of random janitors), strolled past and gazed at me in my purple panties, took photos, shook their heads and ultimately they all concurred, “Bad Rash!” Their solution? Steroids.

I got a moon face. My hair fell out. It got so sparse I once decided to color my scalp with auburn colored markers. After I had finished my artwork I strolled across the street to show my friend Brookie my creative bald-head solution. She took one look, gasped, and asked, in horror, “Why do you have stitches off over your head?!” I had to admit, I did look a bit like an accident victim.

Shortly thereafter Brookie and I took a fine field trip to a wig shop. I ended up with a cute shaggy blond synthetic head of hair. My “stitches” no longer showed. But the miserable rash remained.

Next, it was recommended I see the dermatologists at the University of Chicago Hospital. I was told, “No steroids for a week before your visit.” By the time I was admitted my body was again head to toe flaming red itchy welts.

Upon my arrival, the dermatologists ripped up bed sheets, soaked them in some sort of solution, wrapped me like a mummy, administered IV steroids, loaded me up with Valium, and kept me for three nights to get the whole mess under control. Diagnosis? It was “the most profound rash” they had ever seen.

Treatment? More steroids, more moon-face, more misery.

Fast forward we moved to Florida and finally landed in Saint Petersburg. My good friend, Charki, swore that if anyone could fix me it would be Doc’s Outside the Box. Two Doctors–one a board-certified cardiologist, the other a practitioner of Eastern medicine. Their approach? They took a detailed history, studied my skin and my diet and my lifestyle. Then they put me on a protocol of specialized supplements.

It took about eight months of following their guidelines before I finally, for the first time in YEARS, shook the miserable rash.

I now trust these doctors implicitly. I even trusted them when they put me on an anti-viral (?) I was to take just before/during/after the full-moon. (Yes, it’s true. Jim tells me NOT to share that one with people. It sounds too wacky for his pedestrian approach to medicine.)

Now I’m trusting them to put Brain Dead me back together again. I swill my weird shakes, gobble Min Chex capsules, avoid watching the news (they noted my anxiety increases exponentially when I steep in daily miserable updates. When I get anxious, I sometimes get itchy.)

I know I’m not alone with these feelings. This heartbreaking pandemic has paralyzed the planet. I pray daily for a safe vaccine. And for sensible leadership, honest leadership, science based leadership.

(Uh Oh. Now I’m wandering down a mental path that threatens to cause more panic. I think I’ll go gobble a few Min-Chex and escape into a novel.)

Hopefully between now and next week my brain will rise like a phoenix! But with or without that wee exhausted pile of gray matter I will be here next week, pounding the keys and keeping my promise to myself.

You just rest, Brain. I got this.


“On this day… 19 years (September 10th) ago, 246 people went to sleep in preparation for their morning flights. 2,606 people went to sleep in preparation for work in the morning. 343 firefighters went to sleep in preparation for their morning shift. 60 police officers went to sleep in preparation for morning patrol. 8 paramedics went to sleep in preparation for the morning shift. None of them saw past 10:00am Sept 11, 2001. In one single moment life may never be the same. As you live and enjoy the breaths you take today and tonight before you go to sleep in preparation for your life tomorrow, kiss the ones you love, snuggle a little tighter, and never take one second of your life for granted.”

I had planned a different subject for today’s blog. Then, I looked at the calendar.

September 11. Nineteen years and a thousand lifetimes ago. We all remember where we were that tragic day. I was in the car, driving to the gym. I pulled over to listen to the radio. My heart still aches for the many families who endured heartbreaking losses.

My friends spent their careers as flight attendants. One of them, Charki, posted these photos today.

Imagine the horror felt by those in the air when this alert was posted.

The unknown author’s words bear repeating;

“As you live and enjoy the breaths you take today and tonight before you go to sleep in preparation for your life tomorrow, kiss the ones you love, snuggle a little tighter, and never take one second of your life for granted.”

Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Let the Writing Begin



These books are the tip of my library “how to write”iceberg. I’d like to purchase more.  Except then I’d be reading instead of writing. And I have finally committed to getting my first book written.

Getting going has been spurred along by my niece, Megan Nilsen.  I have mentioned her before in this blog.  The post, dated October 20, 2017, tells about her family’s adoption journey, and also about how she wrote a book.  Yes, a whole book titled A Beautiful Exchange.  She managed this incredible feat in spite of having four young children, a husband, and a home to care for. Adoption. A Beautiful Exchange.

I have only two of those things–a husband and a home to care for.  The husband is retired and helps a lot.  The home is small, 1465 square feet, plus we have a cleaning guy every other week. Danny, bless his heart.  When our building shut down for the pan-damn-ick I curled up in a fetal position and mourned the loss of Danny for a week. Then we jumped on Amazon Prime and purchased a replacement for our old robotic vacuum.  We now have Hazel.  She keeps up with the house between Danny’s visits.

As an outgrowth of her book, Megan has launched a new business as a “Spiritual Discernment Coach.”  You can find out more about her at

A few weeks ago I was tumbling down Facebook rabbit-holes when I came upon Megan speaking about what was up with her new direction.  It hit me that I NEEDED to work with her.  I’ve been stuck, nailed to the floor by fear, and unable to get my writing off the ground.

“Fear of what, Alice?”

As Joan Rivers famously said, “OH GROW UP!”  Fear of FAILURE, of course!

Fear of spending a year pounding the keyboard only to find I have nothing to say, and no talent for saying it.  But just like that! Here was my answer!  I needed a coach.  A cheerleader.  A sounding board.  I immediately texted Megan and asked her to take me on.  “But,” I cautioned, “I’m not a Bible person.  Just want to work on blasting me out of the terror zone.”

I told her the Bible stuff wouldn’t “take” with me.  I explained how I had cut Sunday school as a kid.  How I once did a Bible study. The other seven people in the group looked at me as if I needed to have a stake driven through my blasphemous heart.

In spite of my shortcomings, Megan took me on.  She has been all the things I had hoped for, and so much more.  We’ve had six sessions.  Here’s what has transpired.

1) I’ve added the YouVersion Bible app to my phone.

2) I’ve purchased a Bible.  I asked Megan to suggest “Bible 101” Mostly I just read parts of the New Testament.  I tell Megan I don’t like the Old Testament God.   She assures me they are the same God, but you coulda’ fooled me.  That Old Testament guy is cranky.


3)  BEST OF ALL, I’m writing!  On two fronts.  This blog and my novel.

Megan and I talked about how much training it takes to do a marathon. At this point, I’m just tying on my walking shoes.  I’ll keep plodding along, shooting for 1000 words a day until I get it done.

My novel?  It’s going to be a time travel story.

I LOVE time travel.  Remember the movie “The Time Machine”?

As described on Wikipedia:

Scientist H. George Wells (Rod Taylor) builds a time machine, and despite the warning from his friend David (Alan Young) against “tempting the laws of providence,” decides to visit the future. Jumping ahead 14 years, he observes changes in women’s fashion. Jumping ahead 40, he meets David’s son (also Young) amid a terrible war. Finally, he travels thousands of years ahead to discover a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by humanoid Eloi and the monstrous Morlocks that feed on them.
Screen Shot 2020-09-02 at 2.41.06 PM
I probably need to watch it again.  Rod Taylor was a cutie, and his time machine was so creative.
My time travel vehicle came to me in a dream.  An outhouse!  I woke up thinking, “THIS IS THE BEST EVER TIME MACHINE IN THE WORLD!  I will call the book “Outhouser”.
Once the cobwebs cleared I realized the outhouse transportation was a shitty idea. (see what I just did there?  Outhouse?  Shitty?  Yup, I’m a punny rocket scientist writer.)
Fortunately, more recent dreams have led to less stinky conveyances.
Today I met with Megan. She was glad to hear the outhouse is OUT.
Megan and I talked about training for a marathon.  You don’t just start running the race.   You train.  For months and months.  At this point, I’m simply tying on my running shoes, stretching, and getting prepared.  If I focus on writing at the pace of 1000 words a day, eventually I will come up with the 50,000 to 75,000 needed for a YA novel.
Then it will take time to edit.  And on and on it goes.   But that’s all putting the cart before the writing.
She asked how I plan to keep my work in order.
 “I have no idea,”  I said. “How to keep this all sorted out is puzzling.”
She suggested an application called Scrivener.  It can help me organize my writing/research/random bits of flotsam and jetsom.  I’ve downloaded it and will begin studying the why’s and wherefore’s of it tomorrow. When Danny is cleaning the house! Yay for Danny Day!
As I’ve perused my earlier blog posts I realize I might, in fact, be kinda’ a Bible-ish person after all.  Or at least a believer that accessing a higher power kicks down doors.
It’s now Friday morning.  I have our little home all to myself.  Jim is off to a doctor’s appointment.  And Danny called to postpone his visit.  He is concerned he has been exposed to the virus.  He is off to have his third Covid19 test.  We appreciate his caution.  I promised him I’d save our dirt for another week so he has something to look forward to.
Stay Healthy, everyone.  Now, I’m going to dig into my free trial of Scrivener.