Tuesday, July 25, 2023

On Becoming a Car Girl

On Becoming a "Car Girl"

This past week I participated in my very first car show. Other than the temperature being crazy hot, I loved it. Mike and I had fun. Mike is a fan of classic cars. We drove to the show in his 1969 Chevelle SS 396. It looks exactly like the first car he owned as a kid.


The town where we live has an official town square. "Picturesque" is how most people would describe it. The old courthouse is the centerpiece of the square with streets radiating out like spokes on a wheel. The entire area is blocked off for the monthly car show. People come from miles around to participate.


“So what do you do at a car show?” I asked. 

“Walk around and look at the cars,” he said.


Hmmm…I wasn’t too sure this would be my cup of tea, but Mike likes it and I was open to learn more. We drove the short distance from our house to the town square in his Chevelle with the windows rolled down and “oldies” playing on the radio. 


Once we arrived, Mike propped up the hood of his muscle car for other car enthusiasts to view. I slipped the laminated “window sticker” onto the dash in the front window. 

Mike's Chevelle

By the way, the manufacturers suggested retail price in 1969 for that vehicle wouldn’t buy you a good Trek Mountain Bicycle today.


I digress.


We were set up, so we left the car. Seriously? Yep, we left. Windows down and all. 

We walked over to Stumpknockers. It's one of our favorite restaurants. We had a great dinner and shared a piece of Key Lime Pie. It felt a bit like a high school date. Except of course, this time I was on a date with my husband and we weren’t scraping together enough change to split a hamburger.


We didn't eat at Mel's Diner
(from the movie American Graffiti)
Stumpknockers is our favorite. 


After dinner we did our share of walking around and looking at an array of automobiles. It was fun to talk with other car enthusiasts. I took pictures for my oldest grandson, another “car guy” while Mike talked with someone he knew from other shows. 


I discovered not all the car guys…and girls…were our age. Some were older, yes, but many were quite a bit younger. 


I’ve decided there is some sort of “motor gene” a few special people are born with that makes them love the smell of gas and oil, the feel of polished metal, and the look of a nice set of Cragar wheels.

Here are a few pics...

'61 Corvette
And Yep, That's
Our Favorite Restaurant
in the Background

'57 Chevy

And a Shiny Barracuda



Tuesday, July 18, 2023

A Case for Creativity

A Case For Creating...Fun

I spent this past week with two of my daughters, two granddaughters, and my mother in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It has been a family vacation destination for over thirty years. We all love the water, so swimming in the ocean and playing in the pool is the highlight of each day.


The evening brings a different set of expectations. When my daughters were very young we included a round of putt-putt golf from time to time, but always…ALWAYS…family games. We played an array of card games and board games throughout our stay. 


This week was no different. We enjoyed days on the beach and evenings around the table. 


We didn’t bring sand toys like molds and buckets with us this year, but my two granddaughters managed to create staircases in the dunes and carve out images in the wet sand using whatever they had on hand. They used an empty two-liter plastic cola bottle to make a mold for a sand castle and “last night’s” pizza box to smooth out the castle’s sandy platform.


Because my oldest daughter would be flying home, she knew she would have little room to haul games in her luggage. Still, she managed to bring the cards to a game called Wits and Wagers, leaving the board, answer cards, and playing pieces at home. We searched the beach for pairs of shells matching in kind and color but of two differing sizes to serve as the needed game pieces. Notepaper served as both the answer cards and playing board.


We had fun. Pure and simple fun. As the evening closed, we talked about how we didn’t need all the hoopla of fancy toys and game boards. Instead, we crafted solutions with what we had on hand. 


Our talk turned to the notion of creativity and problem solving.


I know many people associate creativity with arts and crafts. But it is so much more. Creativity is a frame of mind. It is the openness to recognize solutions to problems using what you have available.


Likely you’ve heard the saying “Necessity is the mother of invention.” It’s true. But there is more than need driving the creative mind. 


Think about it. 


There is creativity fueled by a dream or desire. The Wright brothers wanted to fly. They couldn’t grow wings, so they figured out a way to build some. 


Often creativity is the outcome of solving a problem when the “typical” tools aren’t available or the solution isn’t readily visible.  Creativity is being confident enough to take a first step toward a possible solution.


Sometimes creativity means observing something in one area and applying it in another. The invention of Velcro comes to mind. A man by the name of George de Mestral noticed the cockle burrs attaching themselves to his dog’s thick fur. The hooks and loops of Velcro soon became a useful fastener for clothing. 


Some people don’t think they are creative. Maybe that describes you. But you may be more creative than you think.


You may be that person who can pull random items from the refrigerator and create a delicious meal for your family without a second thought.


Maybe you’re the one who figured out a way to move a heavy, awkward piece of furniture across the room without scratching the floor.  


You punched holes in garbage bags and donned them as ponchos to protect you from the rain. Silly? No. Creative. 


Being creative is more than arts and crafts.  Creativity is an openness to the notion that there are multiple ways to solve a problem. 


I would love to hear how creativity plays out in your life. Be sure to share in the comments below.








Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Stories of Life: Of Roots and Branches

Stories of Life: Of Roots and Branches

I can pretty much chronicle my life with stories of trees.


When I was seven, I would ride my pony to my grandparent’s house, sneak along the fence and climb Grandma’s treasured cherry tree. I loved to eat my fill of the sweet forbidden fruit and spit the seeds on the ground. It was forbidden because my father told me Grandma saved those cherries to make preserves and pies. Not for little girls to devour.


Then there was the maple tree on our own farm. I kept the latest Nancy Drew mystery novel tucked in the branches. I would climb the tree and read to my heart’s content…or until my mother came out and threatened to chop the maple down if I didn’t come down immediately and clean my room.


I loved the mulberry tree we had at our next house in town. It was an easy climb and the fruit was tasty. Unfortunately, the berries stained my hands and clothes so there was no hiding what I’d been up to.


Trees have always been important in my life. 

There are the Christmas trees Tom and I planted with our girls. They grew to be taller than the house. There is the sprawling walnut tree beneath which we buried our sweet dog, Max. 


My maternal grandfather knew trees. 

He could name them, tell you how many “board feet” you could get out of them, and explain the various uses for each sort of wood. I can’t do that. But I still appreciate trees. 


The house Mike lived in when we started dating and became engaged was seated pretty far back off the road. He built his house on land once owned by his parents. 

Enormous oak trees provided much needed shade from the Florida sunshine. “My dad planted those trees,” Mike told me as we walked around his house a few months before we were married.


I marveled at the huge, beautiful trees. Mike told me the story of how, when his mom and dad moved to the area, his dad walked the field and wooded parts of the land. He dug up starts of oak trees from the back acres of the property and planted the saplings in the yard. 


We knew we were not going to live in that house after we married. We were already looking at property further north of Tampa. 


“Would you do me a favor,” I asked over the phone sometime later. “Would it be okay with you if we dug up a couple saplings from those oaks to plant at our house when we find one?”


The house we bought a month or so later has all sorts of trees. There are citrus trees in the front yard. It has magnolias, cypress trees and palm trees in the back. 


There is one tall tree in the maple family.  It is probably the biggest maple tree I’ve ever seen. 

It’s near the swing. 

The tree is badly scarred from a bolt of lightening. A piece of chain is embedded in a slice of bark resting on the ground. A metal ring still screwed into a nearby tree tells the story of a hammock once spread between the two large trees. 


Badly scarred, yet still beautiful and intriguing. 


I love to sit on that swing beneath the canopy of trees and look out to the lake. I enjoy the cool breeze on these summer days. 


And from that swing, I can keep watch on that  small oak tree in the corner of the yard, now thriving in the Florida sunshine. It is a part of Mike’s childhood. It is a nod to his past and his father. And...it is the future. That tree is a new story in the making. 

Do YOU have a "tree story?" Leave it in the comments below!




Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Jumping Into Life...with a Plan

Fireworks from the Water


Jumping Into Life...With a Plan 

If you follow my blog, you know that Mike and I live on a lake in Florida. Last week I posted a story about how we went out to eat at a local restaurant…traveling there by boat. What fun. 


Mike and I often talk about how this time in our lives is turning out to be unexpectedly wonderful. It is a period of time crowned with a love neither of us expected. 


Like so many others this past week, we geared up for the big Fourth of July celebrations. That often means food, fun, and family. But it always means FIREWORKS. 


Our new community puts on a fantastic fireworks display. On our lake. We went to it by boat. Us and at least 150 other boaters. 


Every kind of boat was there. We were in our bay boat. There were air boats, fishing boats, pontoon boats, ski boats, jon boats, and jet skis. There were boats with big motors, medium motors, and even some with small electric trolling motors.


It was light when we left our dock. The fireworks were scheduled for 9:15pm. We took bottles of cold Gatorade and water. We chose a place in the middle of the lake and weighed anchor, listening to music and people watching as a variety of boats overflowing with people gathered nearby.


Fireworks on the Lake

At quarter after nine…on the dot… fireworks lit the night sky. I’m not sure exactly how long the display lasted, but it was one of the longest I’ve ever witnessed. Exciting and beautiful…and then it was over. 


The Grand Finale...
and then it was Over...

And dark.


The Tsala-Apopka pool of lakes cover more than 8500 acres. Yet, never once was I worried we wouldn’t make it home through the dark night.


It could have been fearful. You see, traveling by boat isn’t like being on a well-lit road. Boats don’t exactly have headlights and even if they did, staying the course could be rough. There were several other boats heading back in our direction. All lit about as much as we were. All feeling their way through the dark night and cold water. 


Fortunately, we had already made a plan to find our way home. Mike navigated his way out of Lake Henderson through a channel leading past Estate Point with ease. Then we were back out in the deeper water of Tsala-Apopka Lake, our part of the chain of lakes. In the darkness, we could make out the entry to the cove where we ate last week and the stand of Cypress trees leading to the cove where our house is nestled among the trees.


The Garmin on the boat wasn’t tracking as we expected, but my iPhone knew we were in a boat and offered a map leading back to my “parked car.” It was an adventure. And fun. 


Isn’t that the way of life? We tend to “jump into” life experiences or run after something interesting with no plan or thought as to how it will impact us later. Sometimes we are being adventurous. Sometimes we’re simply being foolish.  


Fortunately, Mike and I had a plan. And a backup plan. We traveled cautiously. We used our resources. 


And, best of all, we had a wonderful time.


By the way, if you missed our trip to the Cove restaurant, you can go back and read about it by clicking HERE.