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Day Tripping

To begin with, today is the 11th anniversary of our Mother's death. Each and every Thanksgiving, for the last 11 years, as the potatoes are mashed, either by me, or in last Thursday's case, our niece Amanda, I think of that day in 2003 when I got the call from Bruce saying Mom was in pretty bad shape. David and Michelle had offered to pick Mom up at her condo in order for her to spend Thanksgiving with the family. Except, when they arrived, it was not good. Bruce came to help, but still, he felt I should be there. It is the one and only time in my life that I walked out in the middle of cooking a meal. That year, our niece Laura took over the cooking as I drove, with a heavy heart, the mile to face whatever was happening at our Mom's place. She was nearly in a coma, not responding at all, thus, I put the call into hospice for help. Can you imagine the mood at our house as people tried to act normal? I don't know where it was worse to be!

And so it was that four days later, at around 4 in the afternoon, that she died in her own bed, surrounded by her daughters. I thought about that this morning as the calendar must have been the same that year. That Monday morning, 11 years ago today, I had a decision to make--should I go to work or not? I did, but tried to hold back the tears as I tried to act normal while doing mammograms. I remember a patient, who was so sweet--the following year she remembered my circumstances, asking about Mom. In those days my first patient was scheduled for 7:15, so I'd already done a number of patients when I just felt like it was time to go home. Thank God for the hospice workers, is what I have to say; they are very special people.

So, now that I've got that off my chest, let us talk about something more pleasant, shall we? 

Friday was crisp and bright, perfect weather for a day trip to Lakeland to visit the campus of Florida Southern. Tom was very keen to see Frank Lloyd Wright's work there, after visiting his studio in Chicago during their honeymoon this summer. As were the rest of us! During our trips to Lakeland to do the art show, we've driven by the campus on multiple occasions, however, last year I failed to get my application in on time, so we missed it. No wonder we'd never seen this marvelous new building! Constructed a year ago from plans FLW did in 1939, it sits across the street from the campus.
Isn't it gorgeous?? Matt and Tom purchased our tickets for the extended tour, and I thought the tickets were so nice you might like to see them.
Aren't they pretty? Waiting on the tour to begin,
the "boys" were kind enough to let me photograph them in the morning sun. The younger two returned to London on a flight yesterday evening, and I do so hope they soaked up enough Florida sunshine to survive the normally gloomy London winter.

My plan is to show you a few highlights of the nearly three hour tour as I realize not each and every one of you is a FLW enthusiast. Off we go, following Cris, our in-depth tour guide, who was what you might describe as a FLW disciple; he was extremely enthusiastic regarding his subject! The columns, pictured below, supporting the roofs over the walkways, were intended to mimic the former orange trees that filled the campus site before building began.
That is a very much condensed version of the story....

We went into the library, which has both rectangular, and round elements. Most interesting to me was that it was built by the women left on the campus during WWII while the men were off fighting.
In typical FLW fashion, he used students to build his projects, and this campus was no exception. Apparently they had the nerve to ask him to design campus building, but no funds, so a free college education was offered to those students who were willing to build. A fancy use of the barter system, don't you think?

This is a view of the campus chapel exterior--
We learned from Cris that the metal atop the building is affectionately known as God's bicycle rack. The interior looks like this:
This interior, more than most of what we saw, is in need of some restoration. Although it looks super cool, the glass ceiling has done a serious fading number on the balcony seats. One of my favorite parts of his designs is the use of colored glass, as seen behind the chairs. Here's another look at how the glass adds to the interest of his buildings:
Florida Southern is a very small school, making it all the more remarkable that it is the "home of the world’s largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture". Pretty amazing.
I forgot to ask Cris if the steps were always painted this color. I found them a wonderful contrast to all that concrete!

Our group consisted of our group, and one other couple who were well-schooled FLW enthusiasts. This is taken outside another very small chapel.
As you can see from the sky, it was a beautiful day! At one point in time the school had a Methodist affiliation which is perhaps why there are two chapels? 

All in all it was a lovely tour, ending where it began at the home I showed at the outset. This is what Mr. Wright called a carport.
Apparently the plans for this house were lost in some drawers, only found quite recently. The idea was to build multiple houses for the professors, scattered around campus, however a lack of funds kept this from becoming a reality. I can't tell you how cool the inside of this small house is. Plus, the furniture is all custom built to fit the space. Terrific!!

After a nice lunch in the quiet downtown, we made a short visit to Hollis Garden
I have no idea who the Hollis family is, but they have certainly been generous with their money in Lakeland. Their name was found, as benefactors, in multiple places on the campus of Florida Southern. A garden trip is always made better by the presence of little birds...
at least it is to me. :)

If you are looking for an idea for a day trip from Orlando, Lakeland is a highly recommended destination, not just for what I've shown you today, but there are cute little downtown shops, AND a wonderful art museum. Not to mention some great houses nestled around the downtown lakes. Only a 50 mile drive away.......
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