Thursday, February 28, 2013

Manners Anyone?

Once upon a time I loved reading "Miss Manners" in our local newspaper on Sundays. How delighted I was to discover recently that our pitiful paper is carrying her columns on Thursday. I especially liked the one I read while eating lunch today wherein the letter writer complained about the Wedding Industrial Complex, her words, not mine! The title to the column is "Not Invited to the Wedding? Don't Bother Choosing the Cake." Seriously, if I hadn't read it with my own eyes I would not believe this sort of thing goes on.

You may think I'm weird, but I am actually just fine with Jonathan and Alissa getting married at the courthouse. Although Dave and Michelle's wedding was beautiful and loads of fun to boot, the money spent on one day of festivities is, in my mind, excessive. Loads of props to Michelle who made lots of stuff and even bought her dress on Ebay, otherwise it would have been another $10,000!  I say wait and spend all kinds of money on a big anniversary party. Anyone can get married, but staying married is what is worth celebrating! Enough Gail.

Returning to the manners theme, I am going to share a story with you, that if you're a bit squeamish, you may want to skip. So, here goes....

You might have wondered why I didn't just buy a tablecloth for the market table, and if so, I couldn't blame you. Our cloths must be floor length, covering all sides, something you just can't find anywhere. I had Angela buy one for me on Amazon for $15. So far, so good. Except, when we opened the package, (at the market I might add) it was so poorly made, one of the main seams on the table top was, not only coming apart, but it was already raveling away. Back it went. Sturdy black fabric is hard to find so when I found some at the Wal Mart Super Center on Sand Lake Road, I bit the bullet, paid the $10 a yard, and bought four of them. While the clerk and I were trying to figure out how much I needed, we did so over the howls of a toddler. A mother blithely pushed her boy around while he was screaming his head off. We both shook our heads, wondering, either why she did not pick him up, or better yet, leave the store. Neither occurred. She may have had no manners, but at least it wasn't gross.....keep reading.

Once we began actually making the tablecloth, we discovered we were one yard short. Another trip to WM. As the clerk began cutting my fabric, she was shaking her head...."just when you think you've seen it all, something else happens." My curiosity piqued, I inquired as to what happened. Here goes:
A man wearing a prosthetic leg sat upon the cutting table, proceeded to remove said prosthetic leg, and CLEAN it, along with his stump right in the MIDDLE of the store!!!! Replacing said prosthetic leg, he carried on with his shopping!!! The clerk who related this story then went on to say, "you can see ANYTHING at WM, and after hearing that, I don't doubt her for a moment. I wonder what Miss Manners would have to say about that story???

Onward to other stuff:

Yesterday afternoon I had a wonderfully long chat with Matthew, hearing all about the trip to India. Relating the story of their first night/morning sleeping there, he said the heat was pretty much insufferable. I imagine that, although he did not think of it at the time, his early training at home, when we could not afford air conditioning, came in sort of handy. Poor Tom though, the heat was undoubtedly the worst he'd ever felt.

The bunnies are coming to FAVO!
Patrons will vote with little paper carrots, putting them in a envelope in front of the bunny of their choice. Hot dog, all of the ones I've seen so far are so darn creative! It's going to be a fun addition to the evening for sure. They are all for sale, the proceeds to go towards FAVO renovations. While there yesterday, I asked Will if I might take his photograph, not only because I didn't like the one he was using for FB, but also so you could see the man behind FAVO. Introducing Mr. Will Benton:
I've been enjoying helping him name his abstract paintings, stretching my creativity to the max. When he is not playing the organ for two churches, he's either painting, or giving piano lessons to his astounding amount of students. I'm pretty sure he said he has 50, but seriously, could he have time for that? He is a kind soul and I'm delighted to now call him a friend.

Is it any wonder folks love cardinals as much as they do. Look how Mr. Cardinal stands out in the landscape!
In addition to talking about India, we did a little talking about the homefront here. I mentioned that I have ridden on so many of the same streets I was looking for something new. Well, duh! There's a park nearby! Today I crossed the railroad tracks heading to Cypress Grove Park, my first time there without a pokey little dog in tow.
I'm including this photo because in the future we might look back at it, thinking to ourselves--wow, that's the line for SunRail, which if all goes according to plan will begin running next year. I remember our first night in this house, it was October and the windows were open. As we lay in bed exhausted after the move, we heard the whistle blow on the train running along Orange Avenue. We liked it. That same night, I banged my head so hard on the towel bar when I got up during the night to use the bathroom. It's a pretty teeny bathroom which we've managed in just fine all these years. It's funny the things you remember, including that story; I always keep my head up and away from that bar!

In closing, I guess the food is better over at Sue's house because, much to my dismay, after finishing yesterday's post, I went to check on the swallowtail and there was no swallowtail to check on. Boo hoo! I was all geared up for a three day stay. :(

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Swallowtail Sleepover

This story about mining in India, in some ways, reminds me of the novel I just finished reading, Serena.  Now you already know how much I love Ron Rash, but I'm warning you, if you read anything by him, get ready for some action. Reading one of his novels, or even his short stories for that matter, is like watching a train wreck--you know it's going to be bad, just how bad, time will tell. Jennifer Lawrence, of recent Oscar fame is playing Serena in the movie and I can't imagine how she will do it. If ever there were a fictional female character who is mean, well, that word hardly does her justice, Serena is it.

The story concerns a logging empire in the mountains of western North Carolina during the depression. Men work, despite nearly daily disasters, because they had no other options. It is hard for me to believe nearly these same conditions exist in our world today, however, according to the linked article above, much the same goes on in the mines, except there are children involved! Very sad indeed.

Yesterday, as I mentioned, was not a good weather day. My energy level goes way down when the skies are leaden. Nonetheless, I did accomplish a few things, like making cookies for Friday night. Generally, when I buy a new product, I tend to use the manufacturer's recipe on the back of the package. So in keeping with that, when I made the oatmeal cookies with cinnamon chips, I expected the recipe to work. I figure they have a whole team of people testing those recipes, even more so than say those from a cookbook. Did it work very well? Not so much. For one thing I think the oven temperature as stated was too low. Who bakes cookies at 350 degrees? They just wouldn't brown at that temp. Raising it to 375 worked only slightly better. Eventually I got some to bake properly, and although they taste pretty good,  are they ever unattractive! We'll see what my FAVO guests think. I'll report back on this one.

The day was quickly turning to dusk when I went out to get the mail, noticing, as I did, a black swallowtail butterfly flitting about the porch. Quick go get the camera!
Eventually, said beautiful butterfly settled on one of the tomato plant leaves and stayed put. This is an entirely new phenomenon to me.....I have hardly ever seen one stay still long enough for a photograph.
I took a gazillion photos, most of which did not turn out very well due to the waning light, going so far as to get my macro lens. All the while the butterfly didn't budge. Amazing really. I tried every angle in the book!
Look! A fuzzy yellow body. And how about those incredibly spindly legs??? And the eyes! I'll tell you this much, I am not good with the macro lens, one of the few photography purchases that I might have been better of not having made. Mostly it is because I'm too lazy to get my tripod out which is the recommended method.

You know what happened when the lights went out? The wings fold up for the night and aren't they gorgeous?
The blue is just killer! Before I went to bed I turned on the porch light, and there was the butterfly just chilling. Same thing when I got up before daylight. As I type at 10 in the morning pretty boy is still hanging out only now his wings are flattened once again.
My friend Sue tells me she had one stay for three days! Wonder what it all means? Any ideas?

Guess what else is back? A silly question I realize....
Recently Bruce told me he wondered why anyone would buy an orchid. When he gets back from his trip, I'll show him why. Year after year they just keep coming back. Don't you just love nature?

As they days lengthen, the sunrise is finally getting earlier, a fact for which I'm grateful. Because I missed my ride yesterday due to the blustery weather, I made up for it this morning. Along the way these cloud formations caught my eye.
Despite looking up the types of clouds on Wikipedia, like the unscientific person that I am, I can't really decide what kind they are. Cumulus perhaps?

In non-nature related news, Jonathan and Alissa have finally set a wedding date. Maybe I should call it a "getting hitched" date because it will occur in the Austin courthouse with nary a family member present. The following day, June 29, they will begin a long journey to Tokyo, a life-long dream for Jonathan. Alissa is happy to be going to Japan as well because she, like me, loves to take photos. This has been a long time coming and we are so thrilled for them. Another girl in the family!

The sun is finally shining again, for how long is anyone's guess. I'm taking a few things over to FAVO just now and I can't wait to see more of the bunnies in person. There's even one someone did in the "Steampunk" style! Don't know what that is? Neither do I!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Weather Adventures

Since the beginning of 2013 the weather has been just about perfect. No humidity, mostly comfortable temperatures, with the only negative being very little rain. Our plants need rain, but do they really need it on a Sunday? I think not! Especially between the hours of 7AM-5PM. Despite my wishes, rain finally came on Sunday around noon and when it came, it really came down. As in an inch in less than an hour! Look who was prepared for the rain:
Actually this was just after the deluge, however,  in case it started again this little Chihuahua was ready. Naturally everyone was wanting to take a picture of the little one:
Do you suppose that dog in the upper right is wondering what sort of dog wears a yellow rain slicker? What is it with Chihuahuas wearing clothes? First a Christmas dress, and now this????

As you can tell from the messiness on the ground, the overhead oak trees shed much of their spring blooms. Not a pretty sight for sure. The drainage is less than stellar allowing my neighbor's tent to flood.
Poor Vern is doing his best to move the water. Mr. Bruce prepared me for the rain by putting all four sides up, and all four sides came down, sheltering not only me, but six strangers who shared my tiny space for the next 45 minutes. Very interesting indeed. Mostly everything stayed in good shape except for one of the large boxes. Some things were a bit damp, so instead of taking it all home and packing it away, after the market closed, we headed straight over to FAVO to hang the canvases on the wall. It worked out super, and we only got home about 15 minutes later than we would have had we gone home. One reason we did so is because this Friday is once again our monthly event. My goodness, I can't believe how fast this year is going!

This month, Will purchased unglazed ceramic bunnies for the artists to decorate for a contest. Attendees will vote on the bunnies with the winner receiving a prize. As well, they will be sold to raise money for FAVO. Hmmmm........what to do with mine? Using a technique I learned from my Christmas gift book,  "Steal Like an Artist", I did just that. Remember the papered pig I bought at the thrift store? Using that idea, I did my best.
Peter Max is now wearing a brand new cover! I'll show you the real thing closer to the event as Will is asking us to keep them under wraps...if you will.

Do you suppose this is where the idea for water skiing came from?
Mostly we worked on projects over the weekend, that is when I was not at the markets. The new blue tablecloth I made a few weeks ago was really not very well done, in part because the fabric was sketchy, and then too, I did a poor job cutting it out. If you're a seamstress of any kind you know it's all in the cutting. Bring in new fabric and Mr. Bruce who marked it and cut it. I did the easy part--sewing it all together. Poor new tablecloth got very wet Sunday, what with the rising water and all.

While searching for tablecloth fabric I found some fabric for the new/old kitchen chairs that I thought might work. With most of Bruce's jobs nearly complete, he isn't spending every minute of every day working, thus, he can cover chairs in his spare time.
If you've ever done anything with fabric you know that an iron is your best friend. When upholstering, strong hands come in mighty handy as well.
Ta Da!
One is complete, only three more to go. I hope I did the right thing using a print....

While Bruce was working on the chair, I was signing prints. See this big stack all neatly lined up?
I then proceeded to put the wrong price sticker on every last one of them!! You would think that after all these years I would know that a blue sticker is meant for the $10 size, wouldn't you? Duh!!!!
I am happy to report that my trip to Sportstown was not in vain; two of the new prints sold over the weekend!

In my heart I knew it was going to rain on Sunday, but we went anyway, as did this family:
At least this Sunday it was only wet, not super cold like last weekend! This morning the wind chimes are ringing like mad. Sun, wind, rain, humidity, cold, gloom---weather sure does make things interesting, particularly if you're an outdoor vendor. Is it any wonder that I can't wait to get inside Friday night?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Judy Peck

I've been spending some time in the company of teachers lately, most recently last evening. I suspect both Bonnie and Bev were fantastic teachers, even if they did teach science, a subject I hate ! Both of them are filled with curiosity, which I'm thinking must be one of the main characteristics of a great teacher. Their enthusiasm is infectious, if you will.

Another teacher I've know for far longer is my sister-in-law Judy Peck. During my second year of x-ray school I lived with her and my brother-in-law Cris. Can you imagine that kindness? A brand new college graduate,  her first job teaching was at, what was even back then a very iffy junior high--Robinswood. As I recall, the whole teaching thing scared her, especially because she spent her life in all Catholic schools with, as everyone knows, very strict discipline. She adjusted and thrived, never losing her curiosity, or regretting her decision to spend her life improving students lives. Although I've battled the squirrels around here, I still find them interesting. This squirrel's, "in your face" look reminds me a little bit of Judy:
Kind of like, "I dare you not to learn in this class!" Not to mention how industrious squirrels are.

Another animal that comes to mind thinking of Judy is a cat, not only because she loves them, but also because they can sneak up on, grabbing your affection before you know it.
Plus they are soft to the touch, and although Judy has never been afraid to give students the grade they earned, she is still a bit of a soft touch! Furthermore, most any former student of hers I've ever talked to, and there are plenty, (this is still a small town!), talks about how funny she is. You know how some people have a laugh that just makes you feel good? That's Judy! Through GEICO commercials we've all come to think of this little guy as funny:
Then too, her mission has always been to give her students wings to fly:
Like this blossom from a lemon tree over in Eric's garden, she leaves a fragrance that is not easily forgotten. Soon this lovely bloom will turn into a lemon, which in itself is pretty darn amazing when you think about it. Judy has been turning lackadaisical students into super stars for so many years now it's really remarkable. Throughout 41 years of teaching she has left her mark on more students than you can count.
By now, I'm sure my curious readers are wondering what the heck does she teach? Wonder no more! Currently she's teaching Advanced Placement English at Winter Springs High School. If you live in Florida you've heard of the FCAT and all the problems with students passing this statewide test. Not so Judy's students--the sheer force of her will probably MAKES them pass! Spending countless hours working with students making the yearbook and the school newspaper, it's easy to imagine some of them going on to become journalists and writers.

I'll never forget the time a young man, upon learning we were related, told me that although he earned a D in Mrs. Peck 's class, she was his favorite teacher. Can you imagine? And so it is that the entire Senior class at Winter Springs High just voted Judy "their favorite teacher." Very exciting indeed!

As reliable as the azalea blossoms, which return year after year, she keeps on teaching.
Here's to all the great teachers in the world--those you remember fondly, like Judy, who left an indelible mark on your life!

Speaking of the Peck family, if you'd like to know how my son Matthew takes photographs, have a look at these from his India trip. When there are a large bunch, I love to watch them as a slideshow.

 Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Reaction

Most of the time, when I tell people I went to Valencia College in my early 50's, they assume it was to study Photography. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Photography class--1 
Math classes--4

And no, I did not go to study math, a subject I hate; they made me do it! That one photography class, taught by Professor Burt Stout, was not at all what I was thinking when I signed up for it. Called, "Art with a Camera", I assumed it would be about the art of photography more than the technical details of operating a camera, alas, it was the technical stuff which goes right over my head. One thing I do remember clearly though was when he told us that a successful photograph is one that prompts a reaction. So, I suppose that I should not be offended by the comment made on this blog by an unknown person to me, Pepper Culpepper. Here's what she said: "That's some god awful photography."  At least it's a reaction, albeit a mean spirited one!

So, where were we? That's right I was going to tell you about our crazy Sunday night at the Cheyenne Saloon on Church Street. Our friend Dana called just as both Bruce and I were talking about making it an early night, following a light supper. Despite being fairly comfortable in the cold weather during the market, being out in it for so long takes a toll on your body. That said, we can never say no to Dana. 

You may recall that along with all her other duties, she manages the Church Street properties, and as such, has to be there during events. This one, sponsored by Hamburger Mary's is an extension of their Sunday Broadway brunch, a big show with lots of big hair! As it began I turned to Bruce saying I figured a lot of the performers were from Disney, and Dana confirmed that. She told folks we were VIPs allowing us a great spot to watch the performance. If the show did not start at 7:30, there's no doubt we would have been able to say no because we hate to go out late. My question is, why do they have late start times anyway? Onward...
I gave my camera card to Dana's assistant, so this one, taken with my phone, will have to suffice--a number from "Les Miserables." They did one from "Sister Act," another from "Mary Poppins," along with others. Can you say SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPEALIDOCIOUS?

Before the front came through the other day, the wind was ferocious...check out the water spray from the Lake Eola fountain.
The other morning I woke up from a dream about our son Bill starting a cheese making business. Where does stuff like that come from??? Soon thereafter, I went on a mission to see how one makes cheese, and according to some, it's as easy as making a pie. Anyway, Bill is thinking about buying a house, and renting out his condo. As such, we've looked around a bit in our area for an affordable home. I drove over to the neighborhood where I grew up, ages 4-15 anyway, to check out a house on Lake Arnold, just down the street from our house on Montclair Street. Well, what should I see but our old house is being foreclosed upon.
Long ago, when our family of eight lived in this very house, the garage was still a garage. Peering through the front window, I could hardly imagine how we all fit in there! It is a well-worn tale about how our Mother was anything but sweet to us, however, the older I get, the more I understand her unhappiness. Six children, small house, no air-conditioning--who Could remain pleasant? Furthermore, our Father wasn't much help, or perhaps I should say more accurately, no help. The way I see it is, all's well that ends well, and despite our iffy upbringing, the Price kids turned out alright.

The peach tree just down the street is in full bloom:
As has been well documented in this blog, blooming trees make me very happy. Then too, so do flowers of all kinds. I need more flowers to take care of like I need a hole in my head, but I could not resist the sweetness of these plants:
Of course, I tend to like small things, and these little cuties are so tiny and delicate, it is no wonder they came home with me. Now, where to put them is another story....

 I can't really remember what I was after during a trip to Wal Mart, certainly not heart shaped marshmallows, but they spoke to me,
Aren't they super cute? Apparently they are strawberry flavored, but I'm not much of a marshmallow fan, so mainly I purchased the discounted bag for a photograph. I just love how soft they look.

Here is something I've never seen before--a lemon plum from Chile that I spotted at Clemons the other day. 
Great color--right? 

Mr. Bruce was in and out. Monday morning he drove to Lake City for his final inspection at the Olive Garden. Arriving home around dinner time last night, I learned it went very well. Off again this morning to Santa Monica to help them finish that job which has gone on for what seems like forever! Won't be long though, and that too will become a memory. One of the things we learned last Friday is that Bruce has accumulated 400 hours of time off, which he'll soon start taking. If only he had been able to do so while working, things might be different today, as in, he wouldn't be so darn worn out! It is exciting to think about the possibilities of our new life which is just around the corner....

Speaking of memories, while hunting around in my library I saw that on this date last year, we were in Lakeland, where he was building another Olive Garden. While there I visited the "Hollis Gardens", a very lovely place. Perhaps I might begin to show photographs taken on the day I'm blogging, one year earlier? 
Just an idea for keeping things lively on this spot in the world wide web....

Any reactions out there?

Monday, February 18, 2013

My Funny Valentine

Before I go one minute further, I must tell you that I had something so exciting happen last week. You know that new Nikon D5100 I bought in June of last year? You don't? No matter, I did buy a new body to replace my broken D60, and all this time I had the settings WRONG! I discovered this by accident when I went to Colonial Photo and Hobby to ask about some focusing problems. The Nikon guru couldn't find anything wrong with that part of the camera, but boy howdy, did he find a bunch of stuff wrong in the settings--otherwise known as the brain of the camera. Once he cleared it all up, I could not WAIT to take some photographs with the new settings. Leaving FAVO the other afternoon I came across what, both Josie and Matt informed me from my previous post, a magnolia tree in full bloom. And in good light!
Because I was able to get close to them, I discovered first-hand how fantastic these blooms smell. Amazing! I can't tell you how thrilled I am because I've never been super impressed with the results I've been getting-- perhaps now I know why.

When last we met, I was just about to greet Bruce for our Valentines Day dinner at home. As I mentioned in my last post, I'm a bit of a skeptic about what I call "card company" money makers. Good thing that Bruce is one as well. His gift was a fairly impressive dinner--you know the whole "way to a man's heart" is through his stomach thing. Plus a cute card. He, on the other hand, gave me some chocolate hearts, which, while they look pretty cute, are destined for the garbage can....
Please ignore water spot on table....anyway, I image about now my sister Lisa is gasping in disbelief--throw away chocolate???? Indeed dear sister. I do my best not to eat anything made in China, which I know may sound a bit harsh, but I have my standards, as does Bruce if he has time to really check. He bought these in LA at a hotel gift shop, never noticing the country of origin until he was on his way home. He is in agreement with me on this one! Looking at his signature on the card with a puzzled look, he asked me what was I thinking? "Well, honey, it doesn't look all that much like your writing."You will NEVER guess what he said!! "I did the best I could on my steering wheel." !!!! Our love is so much bigger than one day which is a darn good thing. My funny Valentine indeed.

From reading this blog, you might just have the wrong impression of me. Because I normally only show you the good stuff, you might be tempted to think I do most things pretty well. WRONG! Look how sad my bread came out the other day...
It's hard to say what went wrong, but I'm thinking because I was juggling several projects at once, that I let it rise too long? You wouldn't know it from looking at the sagging top in the photograph, but at one time, before it went into the oven, it had a big, beautiful, rounded top!

On the other hand, I did have a super discovery which I'm now sharing because I know there are readers out there that have struggled with cutting brownies neatly. Or, maybe it is just me, but I always seem to get some pretty ragged looking brownies. You may not have a lettuce knife, and neither would I if not for Marshalls, but let me tell you it worked like a charm on this pan of brownies.
I'm wondering if we could have used it on the Christmas fudge? Tom did a remarkable job cutting up those delicious little square, but it was not without effort I'll tell you that much!

The weekend was jam packed with both work and fun. On a more serious note, Bruce, on Friday, met with human resources to find out just what retirement will mean to us financially. He came home, after several meetings at the office, and we put together our finances. Should he, or shouldn't he? That remains the question. We must have been feeling pretty good about things because we went out to eat at "The Rusty Spoon", an excellent downtown restaurant with an unfortunate name. Because there were no tables available, we ate at the bar and had a darn good time. Seated at the corner, a revolving cast of strangers occupied the seat adjacent to me. In what must be a real sign of how old we are getting, we could not believe Erica is 39 years old!
She was a delightful companion, at least for the 30 minutes she sat there. She spent seven years as an animal trainer at Animal Kingdom before deciding to go in a different direction. Currently she is trying to get into nursing school. Isn't everyone?

This could get long, so perhaps a few photos will suffice?
Winter Garden on Saturday--chilly, but good. I'm continuing my roving ways there after having been kicked out from under the pavilion, which may, or may not, be a good thing. To set the record straight, the produce folks are so darn busy there is no room for me there anymore. No one is mad at me, thank goodness!

Sunday was very chilly, in fact, probably the coldest day we've had all winter. Putting the sides on the tent was quite the chore for my funny Valentine. 38 degrees anyone? Nevertheless, between the sides, and the heater, I was more than comfortable. At least half of the vendors decided to stay home leaving room for these two ladies to take in the afternoon sunshine.
Because I have taken photos every single Sunday, going on five years, it is rare that I share any with you, but I kind of liked this one:
Pears seem to make a lovely photographic subject, don't they? As you can imagine the morning was slow. Who can blame anyone? I certainly wouldn't have been there as a customer! Not thinking far enough ahead, I finished the book I was reading by 11:30. Now what?
Have you heard of Conrad Richter? I hadn't, probably because school children are not given his novels to read, however, after reading this beautifully lyrical account of life in the West, mostly before it was tamed, I'm thinking they should. How is that I came to read a novel written in 1936? I liked the "old school" look of it. There were probably seven or eight novels by Conrad Richter on the downtown library shelves so I figured he must be somebody important and that turns out to be a good hunch. He won the Pulitzer prize for Literature long before I began reading. Furthermore, this book was made into a movie starring Kathryn Hepburn and Spencer Tracy! After the first page I was hooked! A call to Mr. Bruce and he drove back to the market with a new novel. Now that is a gift better than any chocolate made in China!

And that is all I'm going to say today. Our Sunday evening was so crazy fun, I'm saving it for tomorrow. I know--you can't believe we went out after the market, and frankly, I can't either.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Go Ahead and Be Nosy

I love that kind of invitation! Can you imagine someone offered that to me? It's like giving candy to a baby!

At the market you never know who you are going to meet--one day it's Richard Gere, and the next it is the owners of Sportstown. Oh wait, I didn't meet Richard Gere, however, I was in the proximity! So, what is Sportstown? I'm fixing to tell you all about it, maybe even more than you want to know....
I should have know it was an interesting place, what with the Scrabble letters on the front. Vicki, one of the owners, after hearing my interest in beer bottle caps, invited me to visit at 10AM on Tuesday. Not one to turn down an offer for a potential photo op, I agreed to meet her there. Was she ever wonderful! It was she, who, once I entered, invited me to be nosy. "It's a big place and there is a lot to see," she said, and boy was she ever right about that!

Not only did I look around, but I asked a few questions. Imagine that! She and her husband have owned the place for 28 years, which in the Orlando bar scene, is practically unheard of. There are a few bars in town that have been around a long time, but very few. Add to that, it has been a bar since the 50's which is even more remarkable. Located on Robinson Avenue, just across the street from the T.G. Lee dairy processing plant, Vicki dreamed up the Milk District idea to attract more attention to the place. Inside they have every kind of entertainment you can think of. Of course there are the pool tables,
along with so many other things I can't even remember. I learned that they have 25 employees helping them run the place, and she is always dreaming up new things to add to her "baby." One thing I absolutely loved was all the retro furniture, mostly in the front part where I was standing while taking the photo above. Tables and chairs--all super cool.
They serve a lot of beer, as in 200 varieties. I do love my wine--beer, I hate. Others, on the other hand, love the stuff, and frequently I have had requests for a still-life related to beer--thus my mission. Vicki plopped down three big Zip-Loc bags of caps, directing me to the ping pong table, which turned out to be perfect, not only because of it's size, but its proximity to a window, meaning I did not need to use my flash. Perfect! At first she left me alone, but after a short while she came over to get in on the fun, making a peace sign with PBR caps. That's Pabst Blue Ribbon to those who are wondering what I'm talking about,  which, according to her, is still raging in the "hipster" community.
There were a lot of caps to sort through....
Originally I thought I would do some shots with domestic and imports, however, she would have none of that. When I placed a Budweiser cap next to, gosh, now I've forgotten, she said that would never do. So, we went on a mission to find all craft beer caps. Now, you may think that is not very interesting, however, that may be because you have never sorted beer caps. After seeing so many, I have no doubt that a lot of thought goes into those things! I was really digging the ones that had little sayings inside. Sadly, that picture did not turn out at all. :(

Asking if I would like her to get out some pool balls I said, of course!
A little after the noon opening time, some young men came in to take advantage of the free pool from 12-7PM.
While we sorting, the afternoon employee came in, and if you can imagine, when Vicki introduced me, Jade immediately said that she knew me--she's purchased several things from me. Orlando is a small town my friends.

So, I told you she has some super cool things in there---my personal favorite is this:
I absolutely love this lighted globe! Seriously, I want one of these bad.
I was very, very impressed with the operation in so many ways. How about that little 8 ball bike rack?

Because they have so many beers, Vicki has some flash cards for the employees---the name of the beer is on one side, with the state/country of origin on the other. She keeps them behind the bar in this:
I had another appointment at 1, so, much as I wanted to stay and do more, I had to cut my visit short. Eating lunch at the bar, I had a sandwich and a COKE! I can't say enough of how much I liked Vicki and am super grateful for her hospitality. Time will tell if folks like the photos I took while there, but even if they don't go over in a big way, I was super blessed to meet someone who has such a passion for making people feel comfortable. The funny thing is, she doesn't like beer either.

From there I scooted over right quick to FAVO to meet Jeannie Albers, a young woman I met while doing the Winter Garden Art Festival.
This is one talented young lady! Not only does she play piano, sing, play ukelele, do wedding photography, and is a marketing guru, she paints. Make that for one year she has painted. She picked my brain about selling art, and I picked hers as well. I had her meet me at FAVO because I thought it might be a good first step in getting her art in front of the public. Will Benton, the fantastic director of FAVO, was kind enough to meet with us. I'm not sure where it will all go. but I'm rooting for Jeannie!

I've just got off the phone with my Valentine who will be home from the airport within the half hour. Time to finish up the meal preparations I've been working on a good bit of the day. As you all know, I'm a bit of a skeptic about most things, including Valentine's Day, but what the heck--it never hurts to show extra love to the one you love. Plus, he allows me to be as nosy as I want!

Long Beach, CA