Monday, July 7, 2014

A Peek Into You Life in Florida

A peek into your life, is a segment spotlighting authors, specialists, and friends who brave my countless questions day in and day out. It's the best way I can share with you all, the many people who taught me the bizarre things I know, who satisfy my thirst for knowledge and adventure, and who keep me motivated.

Self portrait in the shadows
So today I am being interviewed over at Writing and Living where Richard asked me some questions about the unique place I call home. Now... we get extreme cold, he sees extreme heat...

He lives in a state I visit often because I have family there who I love dearly, and so when he ran this idea by me... I just had to jump on the chance to find out what he thinks about actually LIVING in Florida, because well... I think it's a righto swell place to visit.

Richard is the author of The Gunman in Black, Battles and Other Stories, and Only the Lonely.  He is also a painter and you can check out some of his work on his site.

But! This isn't about Richard!!! It's about peeking at where he lives and how that inspires him.

Where are you from, and did you always live here?  I was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. I went away to college for four years, coming home off and on, and then lived at home for a year before going on active duty with the US Navy. When I got out of the navy, I lived in Jacksonville another two years before moving to Rhode Island in 1973, where I lived for a year before moving to Massachusetts and married my wife of 40 years in 1974. For a variety of reasons we moved to Jacksonville in 1988, where I’ve lived since.

View from the highest point in Jacksonville
What places or sites would you recommend I visit when in your area? Do you visit these places and what did you think about them? If you visit Jacksonville, the main attractions are its beaches. We have a smooth sandy coast line with usually small to moderate (2-3 foot) waves, although when storms come in those waves can get quite high (easily 6-8 feet).
For northerners, the best time to visit is April or May for wonderful weather. The summers can be brutally hot, and the winters too cold for lying in the sun and swimming. We actually have quite a few visitors from Canada during the spring.

The best nearby place to visit is St. Augustine, Florida, about an hour’s drive from Jax. It’s the oldest continuously occupied city in the U.S.A. It’s quaint and restored to its original buildings and configuration. It has many visitors from around the world every year. It’s a destination for many travelers. I’ve been there many times.

What do your pets think about the climate? I (we) have two cats. One’s an inside cat, the other goes in and out. They almost always want to be inside the house.

A good day drawing by the pool!
What do you like to do in your spare time that is outside? I dislike working outside in the summertime. The heat and humidity floors me within minutes. Unfortunately, I have to maintain the yard. I do have a swimming pool, so I jump in when I get too hot. Pool maintenance is a constant outside activity I’ve been doing since 1988.

What areas/places interest you the most about your town? 
We have a vibrant arts scene; we have some good museums and art galleries; I enjoy our library system a lot. Other than that, I don’t do a whole lot. I do take courses in art at the U of North Florida.

In what ways does where you live filter into your writing?
The lake at the Jacksonville Arboretum
Jacksonville played prominently in my early stories, but not so much now. In fact, after traveling some of the world and living up north, Jacksonville is just a place to live, nothing more. I could easily move someplace else, although I’ll probably be here the rest of my life.

Dang, our peek is already done.
Thank you so much Richard for sharing your world with us! 
Hope you enjoyed it and take the time to visit Richard's site to see what I have to say about living on the prairies. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Floods on the Prairies

We experiences an absurd amount of rain for the prairies this weekend. Water levels were already high; so high many didn't get their crops in this year. Add to that about 190 millimeters more rain than expected in one downpour and well...

Roads are washed out, cutting entire towns off from the world. Basements are flooded. Towns had to evacuate. Livestock is forced to higher ground and many horror stories erupted.  

We were away at the time and felt powerless. Yet these great people who were stranded kept us posted, took care of the buildings in town that they could save and looked after what they could. It would have been so much worse had they given up.

Using 4x4 and taking some dirt roads we wiggled our way into town over streams and around washed out roads after the major flooding had passed. Our usually 9 minute trip took us an hour as we detoured around the rising creeks. It was interesting and dramatic. We arrived to see the town working together, fighting the water in every way imaginable. Of course, when we arrived it had already backed off our property and was slowly going down.

I can't imagine how scared they were to see the creek rise to levels never seen before and to know they were without help from the outside while high ground became surrounded by rushing water. Every community in the area was cut off from the others, forcing people to do like us, and find creative ways to get in and out, and to save their town.

As of right now, we are fine. Lots to clean up and do. We still have no phones, but the Internet is working! And our cell phones are working too. The power is on, and we have lots of food and water for drinking. Leaving town is far from everyone's mind.

We lost very little. My heart breaks as we help others who lost so much, and yet they offer to help others get back on their feet. These people are amazing and I'm so proud to live among them. I wish I could do so much more.

The damage in the area is going to take a long time to repair. Yet I already see the changes each thing we do makes. Spirits aren't down, just tired.

Everyone is safe and for right now, the worst is over. With the creek so high, who knows what will happen, but we'll cross that damaged bridge when we have to.

I do want to thank the wonderful family who rescued my dog. She is terrified of water and can't swim. I know a terrified St Bernard is not the easiest beast to house yet they did it so gracefully and happily (even though she was a drenched muddy mess who smelt wonderful) and kept us posted as we tried to get back. She is home now, washed, and happy.

Here are a few links from the news:
Leader Post news
Huffington Post

Saturday, June 14, 2014

What My Father Taught Me

Recently, we had to clean up my dad's video game collection. Hundreds of games. Games we bought with him. Games we promised to play with him. Games he wanted to play while he retired. 

Each one feels like a kick in the gut. There is no way any one person could play all those games in any life time, forget one whose life was cut short like his. (mind you, he did play a lot of them!)

My dad always lived with the motto, "I'll do it next month." His months ran out and it was still close to his last words.

And so, it leaves us struggling with this-- It's not fair he never got to do these things he dreamed of doing. 

Yet...  he was happy putting these things off to sit and play a game with us. Always, he was happy to come visit us. Always happy.

So... this means...

Anything that can be put off until next month isn't important enough to this moment, which means something else is more important. Take a look around, what could possibly be more important?

I like the idea of putting off the things that can wait until tomorrow so I can be happy today curled up on the couch, playing a game with my family.

It's a nice lesson. 

I miss my dad terribly but I have a lot of wonderful and caring father figures still in my life to play games with and he taught me how important they are to me. 

Happy Father's Day 
to all the wonderful dads in my life, 
thank you for putting off things to spend time with us.

What memory do you have of your father that you feel like sharing today?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Laughing in Public- fou rire

So I was reading a book at the dentist office while waiting. The dentist office is a… not so funny place. Everyone looks nervous and anxious, but here I was reading and well… it was funny.
Not done it yet, but enjoying it so far...
I guess it's my type of humour
I tried to muffle a laugh, but dang it, it was FUNNY!

And my quiet throat-giggle turned into a snort. Which is always funn--ier.

So there I was giggling like a nut. I glanced up. Everyone was trying not to look at me, but when someone snort-laughs all to themselves at the dentist office, it’s grounds for a few smirks. So everyone had this little grin they couldn’t really hide while they avoided making eye contact with anyone.

I had this urge to read them the page that made me laugh so they’d know I was not as crazy as I was coming off, but I did that before and no one else thought it was funny, so then I really did look crazy and even got that eye-roll thing that makes me want to run.

Looking at the cover of the book, well it looks serious so they probably thought I was a bit of a weirdo. I had no idea it was going to be so funny, but this kid. *shakes head and wipes laughing tears that materialize* Anyway,  I was tempted to tell these strangers it was a good book, but they were trying so hard NOT to look at me I decided to just sit there and giggle to myself. But it's hard to do this properly and without drawing attention to yourself. At one point my entire body was shaking with the laughter which of course was funny and you see how this was not cool.

In French we call it fou rire and I never found an expression similar in English, but this is the perfect example, just laughter that explodes from inside you at the worst time or place that you can't get a handle on. 

So, I finally collected myself and dived back into the book. Well… it got more funny… so there I was, right out laughing to myself, not caring where I was. I mean, let's face it, by now I was already on the nutso list, I might as well just go with it.

No one else laughed, just stared ahead pretending I wasn't nuts. I know right?

What do you do when you’re in public and can’t stop laughing? This ever happen to you? Do you ignore strangers laughing or get in on the joke? Where is the weirdest place you ever caught the fou rire?