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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Time out

Some weeks fly by, others drag on. Last week was a particularly slow week, got Sunday off and then started another slow week, packed with so much work it's hard to find time to get up out of my chair and go to the bathrooms sometimes. Working this weekend too, but somehow I'm looking forward to getting back on the road. Of course, I have to be careful what I wish for...I'm on the road next weekend too, and the next, and the next. Whoa.

Anyway, that all leads to this: I'm taking today off. Completely off. Yes, I'm up at the wee hours because I'm a morning person and that's what I like to do. The sun will begin to shine in a few minutes and I plan to go for an early morning beach walk. Then home for a leisurely breakfast and coffee I can linger over. The blackberry is off. I'm not going anywhere.

That reminds me: This weekend we went to watch the Rays play the White Sox. Rays were wiped out 6-0. At the bottom of the ninth, the Rays were at bat. Two outs. Two strikes on the batter. Grown-ups decided it was time to go, so we started gathering up our stuff. Five-year-old C-bear was watching the game intently (we were close to the field). She says, "No! We've almost got this! Sit down, we're not going anywhere!" Ah, the optimism of youth. We stayed til the end of the game.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Just another day in paradise

I've lived on Treasure Island for nine months and counting. And, it still takes my breath away when I step on the white sand beach and look in either direction. It's like living in a postcard. The reality of living here is often more complex than a postcard can capture.

Our neighbors here on our neck of the beach all have their little quirks. One of them, an elderly lady with weathered skin usally clad in a swimsuit, cover up and flip flops, greets you with "Just another day in paradise." She rarely says it with a smile. Just a matter-of-fact.

Not everyone on the beach is retired. Most of us hold jobs, if not 9-to-5, still jobs that take us away from the beach. Daily chores and other things get in the way. We don't get to watch as many sunsets as we would like.

The neighborhood is diverse -- not ethnically perhaps, but none the less definitely diverse. Retirees, waiters, waitresses, bartenders, a writer, an artist, a nurse, a sports agent -- we all live in close proximity touching on the fringes of each other's lives.

One neighbor, one not liked by anyone on the block for many good reasons, was found dead in the house he lived in two doors down a few weeks ago. It's sad, he's not missed. The older woman who had invited him to live with her, only to find herself shipped off to a nursing home while he stayed in her house has returned home. Just another day in paradise.

One retiree walks his two dogs every day. He limps as he walks. We were chatting with him one especially beautiful sunny day when all the neighbors were out and about. He mentioned his late wife. It was the anniversary of their marriage. They had one son. He died many years ago, said the neighbor, the loneliness and sadness of his losses spilling over into his eyes. Just another day in paradise.

Spring break has been hard. The crowds move from the local beach bar into our driveways and we're constantly yelling at drunk tourists to move their cars. Just another day in paradise.

I'm looking forward to May and June. When the sweltering days and the hot Gulf water temperatures began to creep up, forcing the tourists from up north -- and Tampa -- to find refuge elsewhere.

All this complexity can wear on you. Then I walk on the beach, look around and soak it all in. Just another day in paradise.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

In the fast lane

This past weekend, the Gran Prix series was held in St. Petersburg. I gave hubby tickets for the whole weekend as an anniversary present. He loved it. I went with him for a while on Friday afternoon. It was fun, you get pretty close to the drivers and cars in the Paddock area where you are actually allowed to walk.

I don't know a lot about racing. But I've sort of been a fan of Danica Patrick for a while, well, because she's a woman and she drives fast -- faster than most guys. But Helio C. is always a fave too.

So, we went over to Danica's car. It was crowded with lots of moms and dads and their little girls who clutched Danica posters or a camera. Danica comes out of her trailer, glances at the crowd -- no smile -- and jumps in her car for adjustments. She gets back out, ignores the calls for autographs or photos and gets back in her trailer. She does stand at the front of the trailer long enough to pull her racing suit off the top part of her body earning her cat calls from the men -- the ones without the kids. She smiles and walks out of sight. She materializes again, only to briskly walk past the crowd to a waiting vehicle to take her to the track.

OK, this is my first time at this race. So I'm not surprised. She's busy. She's working.Those are the excuses I give her, because I've admired her for so long. Never mind that she left several little girls in disppointed tears.

Then we head over to Helio's area, figuring he's probably already gone too. So, I'm surprised when he's standing by his car, posing for photos. Smiling, he walks over to fans and shakes everyone's hand, signs autographs, poses for more photos, hops on the scooter he rides to the track and poses for another photo. Wow.

I have a new favorite driver. Helio was that way all through the weekend. I cheered for him to win -- he came in second. Danica finished 10th. Good for her. I'm always thrilled to see a woman breaking into a male-dominated field. Still...I think that she could give five minutes of her time to make some kids very happy. But I guess we all have our "working style."

Saturday, April 05, 2008

23 years and counting...

April 2, 1985. The wedding was set for June. Planning was going nowhere. We were getting opposition from friends and family. Stress was building. We KNEW this was right, why couldn't anyone else get over the fact that we had become engaged only after two months of dating? This was month four. We had just moved in together and the parents were freaking out. Never mind that we were both in our late 20s and hadn't lived at home for years.

So we decided to get married. We called two friends to join us as witnesses and we drove from Lubbock to the big city of Tahoka, Texas. We had called ahead and the justice of the peace was expecting us at the courthouse. We did everything in one day, license, etc. The JP talked to us about his latest fishing trip in East Texas. We both got more nervous. This was the second time for both of us. The first time hadn't been great for him. For me, the first marriage was disastrous. This was a huge step. The right step, but huge.

The ceremony started. I seemed calmed, but kept moving the heel of my shoe around in a nervous motion. It broke off. We laughed. We made our promises, to love, cherish in good times and bad. We celebrated our first anniversary with the wedding we didn't have the year before.

We're still laughing. Still cherishing. Things have changed. We've raised the children that Ray adopted as his own. We now share grandchildren and memories, good times and bad.

My hubby, who has almost no romantic bone in his body made me cry recently when he bought a framed painting, underneath the sentiment: "Come grow old with me. The best is yet to be."

I believe it is. After a week of pain and doctor's visits from my accident. He's been right there, helping me get dressed, holding my hand when he knew I hurt. And on our anniversary planning a three-hour dinner cruise complete with wine and roses.

Marrying him was the very best thing I ever have done.

The best is yet to be...

Who knew?

It seemed like I used to have a lot more time to blog. I should have more time. But in reality, I've been trying to write and work on my book. One of them, anyway. And, I've been traveling for work. Here's an update for anybody who cares, though my guess is that the continued long absences from blogging have diminished my readers.

Mid-March: The Jazz in the Gardens in Miami was a fun event. Lesson learned: Don't volunteer to ride in the back seat of an F350 pickup for five hours. It's a bumpy ride.

Easter was wonderful, first time with the granddaughters. Spent part of the day on the beach, of course.

This past weekend -- last weekend in March -- headed to Tallahassee for long-awaited launch of the Champmobile.

Well, yours truly, managed to dislocate her shoulder while riding on the CM during a parade. Truck moved, felt myself slipping, grabbed podium, truck moved again (F350's aren't exactly smooth moving vehicles) out popped the joint. Ouch. Big ouch.

For lack of better transportation at the end of the parade, when I finally let people know it happened because being the P.R. person, I sure as heck didn't want the news to report that the parade was stopped because the CM had to have an ambulance meet it enroute. Yep, the ambulance took me to the hospital. Embarassing. Well, I would have been embarassed if I hadn't passed out from the pain when they moved me to the stretcher.

So, now I'm in a sling and trying to regain motion without pain in the shoulder. Not a spring chicken, so apparently, I'm not as resilient as Candace Parker, a basketball star playing for Tennessee that in a recent NCAA final game dislocated her shoulder, not once, but twice, in the course of the game. And, she continued to play. Yep, compared to Candace Parker, I'm a wimp.