Monday, November 30, 2009

The Mikes

Son extraordinaire prefers his perch as an observer. He's one of those quiet mullers, taking in the scene, the noise, the undercurrent, and then making a quick remark that sums it all up.

He chuckles at his parents and their quirks, habits and choices of expressions.
Apparently, NO ONE calls it a clicker. "Maybe back in the '80s." NO ONE calls it 'The Net" as in 'surfing the net.' And, believe you me: NO ONE comes within a foot of a computer screen with his/her finger.

Not that he doesn't have his little ways, having lived on his own for a few years. This is why, if I purchase extra milk, I will find all cartons open in our less-than-huge refrigerator. And, of course, there's that ritual of opening up said refrigerator and staring, wistfully, at what is NOT there.

A growing amusement for the Zach is the growing friendship between the Mikes, his dad and our next-door-neighbor. I have mentioned him before, he with all the tools, all the equipment, all the skill, and an infinite source of optimism.

Our Mike has had a nodding acquaintance with neighbors as he has been busy at his law practice. Now, with that distraction gone, he is discovering that we live in a great neighborhood and have pretty cool neighbors. I'd say Next Door Mike is the coolest.

His wife Ann once told me that she knew when she married him, she'd never have to worry about fixing things. Defining THINGS as broadly as you will, she was right on.

Next Door Mike has tools big and small. Where you might have multiple screwdrivers, he adds to that clipping tools, mowing tools, blowing tools, and many many other tools. I have no idea what their uses are. As for storage, well, there's the requisite garage and basement work room. Plus, a recent acquisition, a nearby oversized storage unit, has been named the ManCave by the hub. I cannot do it justice but besides toys, it has a movable staircase and flashing lights, a snack room, an outside picnic area, a car lift and engine hoist.

At any rate, when the hub decided to tear down our old dog fence and replace it, Next Door Mike said that he hoped we'd wait until his day off from the water company. He wanted to be a part.

And so he was. Ann snapped The Two Mikes.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Let me get all Thoreau on you....

Henry David Thoreau was the most famous disciple of Ralph Waldo Emerson, the father of American Transcendentalism. Those wacky 19th century people LOVED to use their three names.

Anyway, as most people who have dozed through American Literature know, Thoreau spent 2 years (and 2 months and 2 days for you trivia junkies) in a rented cabin near Walden Pond outside of Concord, Massachusetts. His aim was to live out the principles to which he ascribed. He had quite a time.

Never a hermit but certainly ok with internal dialogue, he entertained visitors when they trekked the 2 miles out to see him. At other times, he slept when the sun went down, rose when it came up, farmed, fished, and lived a simple life. AND he journaled extensively, creating WALDEN, his best known work.

More than once, I’m sure, someone asked him what the heck he thought he was doing. I’m guessing they phrased it better as a study of their writings would uncover. Perhaps he needed to mull it a bit himself. He had the time and lacked distractions to formulate a great answer. At any rate, this is what he came to: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

What is it with the woods, with its sights, sounds and aromas that draw modern day seekers to find some part of themselves?

At this house, we all find a walk in the woods to be a therapeutic exercise. If you can get so far in that you can’t hear motors, you can hear the chirps, crunches, trills, clicks, and other tones that combine into a most soothing melody. We have a place nearby that we often have to ourselves: no matter what time of day or night, nature sings in waves as the wind rustles through tree limbs and along the grassy ground.

I was raised in the suburbs so I’ve come to this outside thing lately. The hub, however, has sought the great outdoors for most of his life. He and his siblings have taken various camping trips and even hiked part of the Appalachian Trail. Mike said just the other day that he wished he had taken the time to hike the whole route.

(I’m thinking the idea of Hiking the Trail is much better than the actual trek.)

He has tried to engage me in ‘real camping.’ That means outside, rain or shine (and why does it aways rain?) sleeping on the ground, cooking over a fire that you start from wood that you gather. I must say, my definition of ‘roughing it’ means a motel with only basic cable.

At any rate, as we are savoring our gift of extra time, Mike and I have are filling our days with novel experiences. He will not come to die and discover that he has not lived. Not if I can help it.
Thoreau also said that, in his opinion, most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.

It is our goal to sing that song, loud and as long as God gives us breath. Sometimes it sounds like a guitar. Sometimes it sounds like a table saw as it zips through timber. And sometimes, it’s the sweet whispers that we share, just the two of us, with each other.

We’ve passed Thanksgiving 2009. It was one of the best celebrations of our marriage. We have much to be thankful for.

Friends are wishing us a happy holiday as we head into Christmas. We had not believed that we’d spend these holidays with each other and with family and friends. What a wonder. What a gift. What a special joy for us all.

Please join us in singing:

Glory to God in the highest
And to the Son and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be:
World without end.

Amen Amen.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Going on an Adventure

“You want to go on an adventure?’


“Surprise. If I told you, it wouldn’t be a surprise.”

“Uh, ok.”

“Put on some sweats and get a hat.”

HMMMMMM. So much for the fresh haircuts.

You might think that I’m all excited. I mean, an adventure! Sounds …

But this is from the boy I love, who has taken me along on other adventures where I was either ill equipped or lacked the skill or did not possess the experience to participate fully. Disaster and/or pain followed on occasion.

Also, the hub, who is very fit and has great natural ability, is not a detail person. (see ‘hat’ above.) Rather than anticipate what might go wrong, as in, what to guard against, he will dive in, fully assured that he is competent to manage the task or handle any contingency that might crop up. He does not, however, give brain space to what skills may be lacking in his compatriots. And to be fair, most other fellows are more coordinated than am I.

How many times, as I picked myself up, rubbed a bruise, bandaged an abrasion, called 911, did I hear, “I never thought THAT would happen?”

Quite a few.

He tries to remember. I certainly try to remind him. He is usually patient with my lack of athletic agility as he says, “Ok, watch out for the….” as we approach a hazard. Or “Ok, that didn’t matter, do this” as I’ve failed to perform what he thinks is logical. Or, when the temper is short, “THINK.” Which, of course, means ‘think like me” which is a whole ‘nuther story.’

But I’m game for some fun and at least, my performance will be entertaining to him. So into sweats, sneakers, jacket and hat I jump up into my place in the truck.

Hat: in our house, we don’t have many hats. I DO have a collection of flimsy, frou frou hats that I have acquired from the hub who ‘loves hats on women.’ These come out for special occasions. I also have some baseball caps, none with baseball logos. From those two categories, I assume the second will go better with the sweats.

We drive 10 miles west, past a little town called Burlington and then onto a country road and then onto a smaller, curvy country round until we stop at a wooded hill on which is a two door garage. Beyond the woods, as the trees have thinned, you can see a large, harvested corn field. Ok, we’re in for some outdoor adventures; I figured it out.

The hub walks to the side of the garage, feels under something and retrieves a key. Said key opens a side door and when he enters, he is able to open a larger door and what do I see?
Many, many, many 4 wheelers, all splashed with mud. He chooses two and drags them out into the sun.

SO, THIS will be the adventure.

Until Saturday, I had never driven or even ridden on an All Terrain Vehicle. What I know about them is that kids tip them over the break things, mostly within themselves. I am long past the age where I fantasized that I am immortal on this planet or, at least, that I don’t break. So, as the hub explains that subtleties of steering, I’m all ears.

“Look, just keep it on level ground and you’ll be fine.”

Level. Got it.

Since I will control the speed, it should not be too hard to stick to the plan.

Except the next instruction is, “Ok, follow me,” at which time, he takes the lead toward a gully…that would be heading down…and then a hill….that would be heading up, and then onto the cornfield, which has countless rims and ridges left from the combine. So much for level.

Also, as we have had two days of rain, many indentures are full of water and mud. Now, I’m ok with mud. I’m also ok with driving this thing, but the leader keeps heading off to the hills around the field.

I have one speed control and with only an occasion gunning, I’m going to set the land speed record for S L O W, I can tell.

I have a flashback: after a few lessons on a very big motorcycle, the hub set me up and pointed me toward the same Burlington on a busy highway. I knew how to shift but was so scared of the power, I drove the whole thing in first gear. Many honks behind and around me.

I have another flashback: the first time I took a wave runner out, it was at Marco Island in Florida and I headed out to the Gulf of Mexico. Didn’t get too far as I idled the whole time. NOTE: you CAN make progress in neutral with the help of waves.

Onto the flattest section of cornfield I go. And is the case with power toys, once I get the hang of it, my speed increases. ZZZZZZZZip, ZZZZZZZZip, spash, and then I slow down. Again. And Again. Hey, this is fun!

It’s windy and the baseball cap falls off somewhere. What I needed was a stocking cap and when the Conqueror of Great Hills reappears, I grab his from off his head.

He’s a gentleman, all the way.

Yes, we had fun. Indiana DOES have glorious weather in the fall, between rain and sleet. This day boasted of blue skies and a breeze.

And special time together.

(tense change, here)

Later, I ran into some students who asked what I had been up to. I said, “We went ATVing.” Blank stares. They know of Mike’s illness and did not know if our activity was connected with it.

Then one little bright light, who has active grandparents, executed that elaborated eye roll and nod, and looked to her friends.

“She means they went 4 wheeling.”

Giggles and then, collectively, “OOOOOOOOOOOOOh.”

And to me, “No one calls it ATVing.”

Except me.

I was surprised by the trip and then by how worn out I was at the end of the day. However, no bruises or blood. I’d say it was a success.

Monday, November 16, 2009

San Antonio Revelations

My jaunts to San Antonio are always filled with new experiences. We’ve ‘done’ the River Walk. We’ve driven through the live zoo with its voracious zebras and aggressive ostriches. (If you’ve never been within pecking distance of an ostrich, you’ve not truly lived on the edge.) We’ve eaten at Rudy’s.

And Sunday night, I got to experience the wonder of watching my grandson think his way through some math homework. Yes, it’s kindergarten and yes, it was simple, but as he labored to get it right, I could sense his concentration and I could almost see the wheels turning inside that magnificent skull.

As a high school teacher, I’m more accustomed to building on a student’s foundation, laid by an earlier teacher and, hopefully, fortified by his own thinking. It’s a different process. I work to bring new information to my students, to craft thinking experiences where they can stretch those gray cells. Often, I bring in an editorial or some news item where they can read (read!), think (think!), form an opinion and then verbalize the same. It’s good exercise and it primes that pump for more learning.

But as Drew colored three cubes to match the three race cars, as he matched two cubes with the picture of the two puppies, as he laboriously traced the dots to create the number 3, he was intense in his concentration. He’s a lefty; he holds his pencil (with name embossed….gift from Gramma) a bit awkwardly and after the tracing, the freehand 3 needs a bit more practice. But, there is no frustration, only deep effort to get it right.

And these are the fundamentals on which he can build as he continues through school.

He brings home something to do almost every day. It requires around 30 minutes of table time with someone nearby. And as this home values education, the school work will get done, ahead of basketball practice, shopping trips, television, and any other interruption.

He’ll practice writing numbers and letters and he’ll learn to organize his day around getting homework done. But even more important, his brain will nurture the seeds that have been planted, where he’ll continue to make those amazing connections between symbol and tangible amount; between individual letters and words; between sounds and actual reading.

What an amazing creation is the human brain.

Last night, my grandson ran through the alphabet, saying each letter and then making the sound of that letter. He looked at an advertisement and sounded out “Office Max” as a place that holds many wonders, like makers and clips. (“Hey, they sell clips!) And then, ta ta ta DA! Drew read to me.

Thank you, Miss Brown, for the work that you are doing.

Drew is in the class with the youngest kindergarteners. It’s all day and the teacher is not permitted to give them a rest period. And as this 5 year-old would still take a nap if given the chance, I’m betting the afternoon gets l-o-n-g. But she has to know that these little blooms are growing strong and wise within her care.

Teachers get used to the other kinds of kids, those whose homes don’t value education. With no incentive, few kids will choose the grind of table work when other adventures beckon. Can these students learn at school? Well, of course. And many do just fine without home encouragement. But so many do not.

It’s essential to school success that a child learn to read, to write a bit, to work some basic ciphers and to value what he learns. More than almost anything else, these skills will help him become a successful student. Go Drew!

Mom also got an inside view of the life of a first-year resident. Think Grey’s Anatomy without any of the social life. Her schedule changes from month to month. Right now, she leaves her home by 6:00 AM with every hope of getting home before the boys go to bed at 7. Sometimes, she makes it and there are hugs and reading time.

But, she’s a doctor, you know? Several times, as she was about to come home, a sick person arrives and she must stay. It’s ultimately her responsibility. She tells me that it’s common for first year residents to feel burned out. And it should get better, in about a year and a half. When you have little ones, that’s a long stretch.

Thank God for Aunt Sherry, who has arrived and is now caring for the children. Sherry is a most organized, no-nonsense kind of nanny. And she cooks really really well. And she LOVES to cook. She also sings like an angel and keeps the boys on schedule.

Since her arrival, there are many tangible evidences of order and calm: all the socks are sorted, matched and put away. The counters are cleared and the pantry is stocked.

Drew must catch the bus at 7 AM, about 1 block from their door. As we walk to the stop, a small mob is forming; many are now friends on this trip to school. He returns home at 3. After snack and wind down, he will get that homework done.

So for now, Noah, 3, sits a few feet away, playing marbles with Aunt Sherry. Then there will be reading with Aunt Sherry. “I love this book,” she says to him. “Do you love this book?” He does.

Another reader some day soon.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tear down that wall!

2o years ago, the Berlin Wall was torn down, uniting that city and marking the end of the Cold War.

Monday, Zach, who was 6 at the time, commemorated the event by tearing down a fence at our house.

We (actually Zach and Mike) had built that wall about 10 years ago. It was wood and ran from the garage to the shed on the side of our house. It was the DOG FENCE.

We have shared our lives with three (not all at once) Golden Retrievers....Buster, Beau, and Bob....alliterative infusion. These were wonderful dogs who were, um, not very well trained. After we (I) got them housebroken, we kind of let them train themselves.

This meant that they jumped up on visitors (sometimes) and ran the neighborhood if they escaped from the back door. They did NOT, except with one exception. ever do much as guard dogs. One time, some slime balls broke in while we were gone. They got some chicken out of the frig and fed the dog. Slime balls but smart. The dog probably wagged them right to what feeble goodies they could pinch.

The only time we got a menacing growl from the dogs came when our friend, Tom, walked up to the door. He came and comes over a lot. The dogs knew him. Yes, he's a retired cop and yes, he probably has that 'aura.' But even out of uniform, the dogs would growl and bark when he came hear.

At any rate, we found that we needed a fence to keep them in so Mike and Zach built the wooden structure.

Last week, as we were seized by a frantic need to clean (no one, believe me, is pregnant), Mike said that he wanted to replace the fence. Our current dog, Princess Ivy, doesn't actually run the neighborhood. When she gets out, she has a route that takes her to four back doors, all of which have a stash of snacks set aside for her visits.

It took Zach several hours to dissemble and take down the fence. That was Monday. Neighbor Mike, the man with all the tools, came over to offer some suggestions and then asked the men to wait until Wednesday, his day off, so he could help with new construction.

The three had a carnival of a time today, building a new fence. I will have to wait until I get home from San Antonio to see it but the hub reports that it is grand.

Celebrating Veterans'; Day in San Antonio

Allyson and Mom needed a little daughter/mom time so I'm down at her home in San Antonio for this week.

Sister in law Sherry has moved in, organized and got the lay of the land. She is a blessing to my daughter and her boys. Drew (5) is starting to read. So exciting. Noah is back at preschool.

And this is a beautiful place. We are sharing good times in the bright sun. EEEEE-ha!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How to get channeled, I think...

My lovely wife and I recently took a short vacation to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, which is just north of Ft. Lauderdale proper. We stayed at a wonderful, small inn, which had only seven rooms. Very quiet, very clean, and literally two steps from our door to the beach. It was a small piece of heaven for adults.

One morning I was up before Lynne and skipped to the beach to play in the surf. I think the tide was coming in. There was a strong wind, which was causing the waves to be bigger than the previous day. I spent a half hour or so, diving through the waves, getting knocked down, and just having a wonderful time, acting like a 6 year-old kid at the beach.

When I was worn out, I went to sit on my beach towel at the ocean's edge. A woman of about mid-thirties age came up to me and commented that I seemed at ease in the surf. I told her that I had been practically born a swimmer and was quite comfortable in the water. She said she did not swim well, but wanted to play in the waves, anyway. She asked if I would watch her in case she got into any trouble. I told her that I would go out with her and would look after her, if she had any problems. Out we went. She seemed to have a good time and she certainly did not drown on my watch.

When she was tired we both went to sit on our beach towels and dry off in the sun. She asked if I was staying at the inn. I told her I was and we both commented on how perfect it was.
"You are from Seattle, aren't you?" I asked.

"Yes, I am. How did you know that?" she asked. I could tell that she was concerned that I had information about her that she had not volunteered.

"I have a good friend who is a doctor. She is from Seattle, too. Your accents are similar. I am from Indiana and we do not meet too many Seattle people in the corn fields there. Your accent is quite distinctive." She seemed relieved that I wasn't an obvious creep.

"Are you here for fun or business?" I asked.

"I am here to take a class in Miami", she said.

"What are you studying?" I asked.

"I am going to school to study channeling for a week," she informed me.

Now before I go further, I acknowledge that I can upon occasion be pretty ornery. Couple that with being an obnoxious lawyer and I can make myself difficult with people. This is particularly true with people who are perceived by me to be flakes. Such turned out to be the case here. I should be shot for this, but I saw the opportunity to have some fun with this curious person.

"Is that where you try to contact and communicate with people who have passed on?" I asked.

"Yes," she said. "That is it exactly."

"Well, tell you what. I am going to be dead very shortly. I wonder if you might like to channel me in a couple of months," I stated with a perfectly straight face.

"That is not funny," she said. "Are you making fun of me?"

"Absolutely not ," I said. "I don't think my dying is funny at all."

"You shouldn't kid around about such things," she responded.

"But I am not kidding around. I am terminally ill with gall bladder cancer, they tell me. The doctors say that I am not going to last much longer. Maybe a few months." As the commercial for MasterCard says, the look on her face was priceless. She was at a complete loss of words.

"So about this channeling business, do you need my name, or what?" I wondered if I needed to volunteer my date of birth and Social Security number. I thought of it, but did not have the heart to further torment this poor soul. And what about the class? A whole week? What were they going to talk about? Were all the spirits (channelers?) going to be converging on Miami for a week?

Would there be vaporous armies of dead loved ones stacked up over Miami like airliners in a holding pattern, waiting to talk to the channeler? Does it take all week to contact one dead person? How do they pick who to contact? Does the teacher pick? The students? A group vote which would be democratic? Do they ask Obama? Who decides what questions to ask? I mean, I'd like to know what happened to my prized baseball glove that I lost in sixth grade. Could I ask that? Could somebody ask for me? If that's possible, then I have a whole list of questions someone could ask on my behalf.

I'd start with, "How's the food?" I'd also want to know if anyone had run across Amelia Earhart and could anyone tell us where to look for her? I could go on but I won't.

"I am very sorry to hear of your illness," she said with what I could tell was genuine compassion.

"Yeah," I said. "It is the pits, but what can you do? What I usually say to most people is that we all have to play the cards we are dealt as best we can. That is pretty flippant, but most people do not really want to talk to a person who is dying. At least, that has been my experience. It makes them uneasy, because they know they could be next, I think. And they don't know what to say, anyway."

"Well, it has certainly been interesting to talk with you," she said. "I have to get packed, because I am leaving this morning for Miami."

"I hope your class goes well and you find out whatever you are looking for," I said. She walked away toward the inn. I haven't seen her since.

I cannot help but think that with the trouble she had dealing with a very much alive, but terminally ill person, that to actually talk with an already deceased person just might be more than she bargained for. I probably should have given her my email address, but then that would have been ornery, wouldn't it?
Mike out.

Monday, November 9, 2009

It's Always Sunny in Florida

I have three girlfriends (ladies, all) who have interesting relationships with the hub. One insists on hugs whenever they meet. Now, the hub has not been one for hugging much until his illness softened him. When we run into her, we know what’s coming. She will grin with her entire face and say something like, “Comeeeer, you. Where’s my hug?”

And they hug.

One loves us both but has trouble reading the hub, who has been known to say and do obscure things where it’s difficult for her to react. Is he kidding? Is he needing something? Is he nuts? She just smiles widely and says, “Oh, Mike.”

Another is a neighbor at the lake who has been known to get in heated discussions with the hub. When he gets cantankerous or says something just to provoke, she will call him on it. He loves it.

She is the one who mused recently, “Who knows why God has chosen to answer these prayers? We can’t know the mind of God.”

Actually each friend has said something like this to us. One suggested that Mike would have never retired if he hadn’t gotten sick.

“True,” he had to admit.

She adds, “And look how God has used you, is using you.”


One said that she thought that one reason was so that Mike could find out how many people love him. He will wriggle here but she’s absolutely right.

In the weeks following diagnosis, cards, letters, phone calls, e-mails clogged our various repositories. We received over 500 cards from friends, clients, colleagues, and people from our pasts, all telling us that they were praying for us. You know who you are out there.

Mike had me save all of them.

Some included written narratives of something Mike had done for them, with them, to them, that had changed their lives and/or for which they will always remember him.

Those are stacked carefully in a designated drawer. Some moved us to tears. Some we read over and over and over, out loud, to each other.

Now here’s the thing. As a teacher in this town for 35 years, I’m actually used to being told I’m loved, certainly not by every critter who has sat in my class, but by enough that I don’t doubt that somewhere out there, when they talk about teachers, my name will come up affectionately.

Mike, on the other hand, had no idea how many people care for him, how him, and how his life and work have made a difference in so many lives. While that’s sad on some level, we can all praise God that he’s given so many people a chance to say to him what they might have said about him, when he’s gone.

So awash in all this love, let me tell you about our little trip to Florida during the first week of November. When it looked like I’d actually get the hub to agree to go somewhere, we started to do the research and make the plans.

He had said that he wanted to “rent a convertible and drive to Key West.” Plan A: We would fly to Miami and drive down.
But wait. We have a friend in Fort Lauderdale. Could we fly in there? Yeah, sure. Plan B: We shifted location and would make the drive after spending the day with the friends and a good night’s sleep.

Long time ago, we had lots of Brians in our life. Canoe Brian created a patented kayak carrier. Boat Brian fixed boats in Winona. The Fort Lauderdale Brian was Clothes Brian. Mike met him a decade ago when he was selling custom made suits and shirts in Indianapolis.

Now Clothes Brian is F.L. Brian, who along with his brother Brent, owns The Catamaran Company. They sell ocean-going ships. We did not realize that 11/2 was the last day of the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, where dealers make 60 – 70% of their annual sales, so Alternate Plan B: We added a day to Ft. Lauderdale so as to not interrupt their business.

By the way, I believe this was a first time we have traveled during the 'off season.' We learned that you miss a lot: noise, crowds, kids, lines.

It was great fun hanging out with the Bs and their families and then we started our trek to Key West. As followers of this blog know, the hub and I have different travel motifs. I thought we’d just get on Highway 1 and drive until we ran out of Highway One.

Hub wanted a map. “A real map, too. Not one of those Google maps.” Imagine.

It was a good call because my plan would have taken us through miles and miles and miles and miles of stop lights where HIS helped us by pass on a bypass.

Even on the better route, we hit heavy traffic. I was amazed that about every 5th billboard was selling liquor. We’re not big drinkers, but in the Florida sun, I can see the attraction. One that showed up regularly was for some sort of whiskey. The sweating glass was half full with those clear, irregular shaped ice cubes and a little swizzle stick tilted rakishly to the side.

Don’t recall the brand. So much for successful advertising.

The Keys are notorious for their laid back attitude and life style. I saw lots of spas and massage places and, not coincidentally, no law offices. As you get farther down the keys, certain words and phrases take on altered meanings:

Open at 9
No (smoking, jaywalking, parking)

As it was Election Day, folks lined the streets in Marathon, holding placards for their candidates. One vintage lady was dressed in a long white gauzy number. She had nothing on under it.

“I’ll vote for her guy,” said the hub.

We had not eaten since breakfast, thinking we would find something Alas, there was no place to eat south of 77 mile marker. I guess restaurateurs figure that it’s too close to all the places in Key West. We, however, had not eaten since 8; it was 2:30. We pulled into several “Lounges.”

“We don’t have actual food here. Beer nuts and chips. I have some frozen taco bites in my freezer. Ya want me to go and get them?”

Well, no. We found a Hampton’s Inn with an empty (but open) Outback Steak House. We were ready to gnaw on our waitress’s leg so the fact that they didn’t have some menu items did not dissuade us.

I hope I don’t disillusion you. It turned out that the idea of Driving to the Keys in a Convertible was much better than the reality, at least for us. It’s about 120 miles, much of it through heavy traffic. It was hot. Yes, I know, Florida. Twice we were stopped because a drawbridge has slipped a gear.

Having left a beach in Lauderdale, we remembered that the Keys aren’t known for their beaches. Fishing, drinking, diving, drinking, sightseeing, drinking, and did I mention drinking? We decided to cut short the Keys part and get back to the beach. Plan C

But, before we turned around, as we were close, I wanted to find a bar that is owned by our neighbor at the lake. His name is Don. His place is Don’s Bar. We found it, several miles east of the funky historic district. We met the bartender and shared some liquid with several Ernest Hemingway look alikes.

It was getting dark as we turned around to return north. Right there, in front of us was a huge orange full moon, rising and reflecting on the water. Allyson used to call this ‘a face moon.’ That face was smiling as we drove back to Lauderdale by the sea.

With an extra day in Lauderdale by the sea, we had more time with the B’s. They took us motoring in an electric boat, up and down the coast of Fort Lauderdale and through numerous waterways lined with huge, I mean huge, houses. Really, I thought some were hotels. In front of many were moored sea-going yachts.

We also had time to play, really play, in the waves. The wind kicked up white caps and huge rolling waves. We waded out, not too far, and either rode those waves or let the water crash into us, tossing us around. We laughed and laughed.
Down the beach, some younger men were kite boarding, something I had never seen. We walked to them and watched as the wind sometimes lifted them and as they rode waves powered by the wind.

Mike said he’d like to try it. I think that means a return trip.

(November 5, 2009)

Where, oh where, are they?

In Florida last week. Yes. Yes.

Info coming soon.