Thursday, February 20, 2014


We have experienced a couple of really nice, relaxing, and peaceful days. On my Monday morning walk I saw 15 manatees in the river at the park. Also was treated with a great view of an american bald eagle sitting in a tree. Took many pics then accidentally erased them when I arrived at the house.

Monday evening we hosted Dewey, Peter, Jen, and Casey for a cook out and campfire. It was a very pleasant evening with clear skies and plenty of stars. John treated us to some harmonica playing and we all sang along. Dewey sang his new favorite song over and over again. I can't remember the title but it certainly had a catchy tune. We enjoyed the company very much and little Casey was happy to have a campfire except for his disappointment regarding marshmallows.

This morning we drove into Spring Hill so John and I could get haircuts. Then the three of us enjoyed breakfast at "The Pressbox". Freshly made and toasted biscuits! Following breakfast we took the short drive to the Botanical gardens. I took some great pics only to discover that I did not have the memory card in the camera. Oh well, I guess I will go back. It is a beautiful and restful place and FREE.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sunshine, Strawberry, and Song

This weekend weather and activities are the reason we enjoy our annual sabbatical in Florida so much. Each day began cold, in the 30's, then with clear skies the sun warmed us up to 70 degrees.

On Saturday we walked at TomVarn Park in Brooksville. It is a beautiful town park with winding paved paths under trees draped with Spanish moss.
 John on his sunshine walk
 This old man with his walking stick
John and Mary

Following our walk we took a short drive to a pick your own strawberry farm. Over 17 acres of strawberries was available to us and we picked a full pail. Cost? $7.00.
 Mary and John picking strawberries

Our harvest for the day

Sunday morning we attended early church then traveled to the nearby "Olive Grove" for an outdoor concert with "The Kingston Trio". The opening act, Amber Lynn Nicol, is a fine singer-songwriter.

The fellas who make up the present "Kingston Trio" have fine voices, are very talented musicians, and their harmonies were stunning. The group has a 57 year history and  the present members have been part of the group for 30 plus years. They sang many of my old favorites including; "Tom Dooley", "The Wreck of the John B.", "Where Have All The Flowers Gone", "Worried Man", and "M. T. A.. It was a wonderful three hours of beautiful music in the warm sunshine.
 Amber Lynn Nicol
 The Kingston Trio

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Manatee sightings

Today, Mary, John, and I walked at the Linda Pedersen Park and were treated to the sight of about a dozen manatees. They were very active and swimming to and fro in the swimming area.

We traveled down to Tampa to visit the Aquarium. It was very enjoyable and they currently offer a special deal for seniors of a 10 dollar admission with coffee and a danish. There are definitely some advantages to this aging process. Here are some pics from our visit
Enjoying the Florida sunshine

In the afternoon we visited our friend, Ruth, in Clearwater. She recently purchased a home and we joined her for a lovely lunch and a game of Uno.

This Gift.

We have the world on the condition that...

There’s no justification for the permanent destruction of the world.
My belief, and I’ve written out of it for many years, is that the world and our life in it are conditional gifts.We have the world to live in and the use of it to live from on the condi-tion that we will take good care of it.

 And to take good care of it we have to know it and we have to show how to take care of it.
 And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.
And we’ve ignored all that all these years.

People of religious faith know that the world is maintained every day by the same force that created it. It is an article of my faith and belief that all creatures live by breathing God’s breath and participating in his spirit.

And this means that the whole thing is holy. The whole shooting match. There are no sacred and unsacred places, there are only sacred and desecrated places.
  (Wendell Berry in conversation with Bill Moyers, 2013)

Friday, February 07, 2014

50 Years?

For those of us of a certain age, today is a significant anniversary of sorts. On this evening, 50 years ago, "The Beatles" appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Columnist Leonard Pitts writes; "The Beatles rode the forefront of a wave that would reshape everything-music, fashion, culture, politics-and neither America or the world would ever be the same."

As I look back on almost seven decades of life there are a few events that I can remember with detail. Most of those, of course, are significant family related events, i.e. meeting Mary. our wedding, the birth of our children, etc. The other events are the seminal moments of our generation; landing on the moon, the assassinations of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr, the Civil Rights movement, etc. Sitting prominently in that collection of remembrances is that evening when the "youngsters from Liverpool" made their appearance on the show that was a Sunday night habit for America.

I was an Airman Second Class in the United States Air Force at the time and was attending tech school at Chanute Air Force Base outside Chicago.  Somebody yelled, "Schwartz, you've got to see this." I made my way down the barracks hallway to the day room where almost all of the residents were gathered around the 19 inch black and white TV. I had missed Sullivan's introduction and the screen was now filled with the image of scores of teenage girls screaming at the top of their lungs. Then the camera panned back to the stage where I got my first glimpse of the "mop heads". All of us gathered in that room sported regulation haircuts that revealed our shining scalps and emphasized our protruding ears. We laughed. I remember exactly where I was standing, what I was seeing on the tv, and I remember the laughter.

It's important to realize that most of us in that room were facing the inevitability of a tour in Vietnam. We dealt with the anxiety of that future by daily consuming alcohol and when we laughed it was usually the scornful, self deprecating, and cynical laughter of boys playing at being young men. But not that evening. As the girls in the Ed Sullivan Theater screamed and Paul, John, George, and Ringo nodded their shaggy heads to the music; we in that day room erupted in a joyous laughter. It was the laughter of our childhood whenever we were delightfully surprised by something. I recall someone in the room saying; "This is crazy."

Crazy indeed! In the midst of the aftermath of Kennedy's assassination, the violence of the Civil rights movement, and the fear of going to what we had started to refer to as 'Nam had come these odd looking boys, their music that we could not get out of our heads, and the hysteria of Beatlemania. A week or so later, the Beatles found themselves in Miami, Florida preparing for yet another appearance on the Sullivan show. The local police sergeant in charge of their security invited them to dinner at his home. Barry Dresner, writing in the Feb. "Floridian" describes the scene.

Jeri (12 year old daughter of the police sergeant) "is serving the potatoes that accompany Mom's roast beef. Her stomach churns with anxiety. George looms ahead. Fumbling with the spoon, she drops a hot potato on George's lap. Oh, my God. But George doesn't act like it's the end of the world. He laughs!

Meanwhile, Ringo quietly leans over to cut 6-year-old Barry's roast beef. Ringo even removes his storied rings and lets the boy play with them. Eat and run? The Beatles stay and chat politely. They tell Jeri's Mom how much they appreciate the home-cooked meal, including the strawberry shortcake."

So much has happened in the 50 years since that February of 1964. Two of the Beatles lives were cut short as were the lives of half of the boys who gathered in the day room that evening. Many of them victims of the war in Vietnam.

But that night, February 7, 1964, we laughed.

You can read more about the day the Beatles came to dinner at Barry Dresner's blog.