A Trip to Old Florida With Andrea

I recently took a trip to Deland, and visited Old Florida. My first stop was at Blue Heron River Tours.  This boat tours the St. Johns River and its tributaries.  Birds abound on the river beds and in the grasses of the shore.  We viewed at least 30 Great Blue Herons and Josh, our guide, showed us Limkins. This bird is on the endangered species list and over 50 live on this river.

From the boat trip, I drove to the amazing Stetson House. This house was purchased and renovated by two men from the Long Island/Jersey area. While I don’t visit places twice I broke my cardinal rule and revisited after seeing the home in December with its Christmas splendor.  It was equally gorgeous in July and Sue our guide made the Stetson family history come alive.

On the way home Andrea, my trusty Garmin GPS began to act up. With her stern, authoritarian voice she continued to espouse directions to I-95 and I would have no part of it.  We began to war and quite frankly she became a bitch. I pleaded with her by madly pressing her buttons for re-route however I was unable. She was sending us home I-95 or nothing.

As we continued our battle exchanging cross words a light bulb came on in my head.  I have a map.  While I let her know she continued to espouse her I-95 directions and to her chagrin I turned her off.  Paper reigned as I located route 11 and gleefully made my way back to St. Augustine the old- fashioned way.  Take that, Andrea!

Broken Chair

I enjoy going to the condo club house and using their Wi-Fi. At first it was because I saved $79.95 a month but then I realized it had become another daily senior event.

When I walk to the club house I always see Jimmy on my way and get a hello. Then upon arrival at my “office” as Sam has nicknamed it, I open my computer on the community condo desk and get to work. While it is a community office I like to think of it as my own.

I particularly like my office as I have a nearby bathroom, good lighting and of course the desk. But the thing I liked best was my office chair. It was a black leather, high back executive office chair and today I broke it. As I turned to pick up a paper I found myself on the floor. The metal shaft of the chairs seat had split in half. Sam replaced it with a metal folding chair but my office is no longer the same.

I feel great remorse in this loss and now have moved to the condo couch, a much more comfortable spot but as I look at my desk I long to sit there. I am concerned that my event will be an agenda item for the next condo meeting. I hope by then I’ve lost those last 15 pounds.

Montreal Fireworks

 

Several years ago, when I needed a miracle I knew just where to go. I went to St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, Canada and prayed.  It was a glorious sunny weekend with flowers in bloom, bilingual bus drivers and a fireworks festival at night.

After praying I took a bus and the driver left me at a subway station which would lead me to my college dorm hotel room. At the subway station sign I became confused which I usually do.  All those colors and lines tend to scare me.  A gentleman approached me as I was having a conversation with the sign and asked me where I was going.  I told him and he gave me the appropriate subway information to get to the hotel.

As we continued to speak we discussed the fireworks and he asked me to accompany him to them.  In five years, I had not accompanied a man anywhere so I decided to say yes as I knew I would never find the fireworks park.  We went to my dorm and he stayed outside while I freshened up and got a jacket.

On the way to the fireworks we stopped at various sites and he explained the areas.  He was a delightful tour guide and we discussed everything from Pierre Trudeau to English as second language.  As the conversation continued I learned he was a Canadian citizen but former Syrian. He relayed many sad tales of loss and my heart cried for his pain.

When we arrived at the fireworks we sat on the grass and the sites were amazing as this was a worldwide competition.  Shapes and squiggles of all kinds appeared in the night sky with noisy alarm.

Post fireworks it was a bit awkward as we knew we would never see each other again. Walking to the subway we saw a couple in a mad embrace kissing and we both laughed.   We found my train and he located his. We departed and I began to walk down the stairs.  Abruptly turning I saw he was still watching me and I ran up the stairs gave him an passionate kiss and then ran down the stairs into the waiting train.

Pray for the people of Syria as I do.  We are all in this world together and there are good people out there.

 

Trac Fone

 

In 2007, I discovered Trac Fone.  For those unfamiliar, these are the throw away gems that police shows talk endlessly about as criminals use them in their nefarious deeds.

Actually, I found them in a much less criminal way.  I was in the Dollar General of Oneonta, New York and a 70ish man was using the offender.   In my curiosity, he began to espouse the wonders of the small 1 ½ by 3-inch device and I was hooked.  He even explained how to install it giving me the pros and cons and do’s and don’ts.  I was in love.

I promptly purchased one for the enormous sum of $20 and began my installation. While it didn’t go with ease as he explained, since I am not tech savvy, it was up and running after several hours.

Elated that I had entered the 21st century my Trac Fone went with me wherever I went.  When I had problems, I called the Indian staff at Trac Fone and always got great personal service.  The times I lost the phone or dropped it in a puddle I merrily ran to Walgreen’s, CVS or Walmart’s to purchase another and transfer the number.

Then came the advancement of technology and I was told by a millennium to purchase an Android.  The Android is nice and has many services but after 2 years I still am unsure how to answer it and frequently call people when actually I haven’t.

When I ask millenniums, they take the device fix it and return it to me but they have went so fast I simply don’t know what they’ve done. I also have taken library classes but quite frankly sometimes no one knows how to fix my concerns.

Since Dylan, my 19-year-old Microsoft Certified guru moved to San Antonia I have been up the creek. While Dylan shook his head at times he enjoyed the challenge and always came up with an answer.  Bill Gates needs to hire him and have him marry into the family.  I believe Bill Gates has daughter his age. Dylan is an amazing young man and when I meet Warren Buffet I’ll give him Dylan’s business card.

I am with the cell phone carrier voted #1 by Money Magazine.  They have a site where fellow Android owners help you and FAQs, (frequently asked questions), but to this day I haven’t found their phone number.

So, I remain with two phones. My trusty Trac Fone remains number one and while I lack three phones the Android has become the middle child. I send love messages to the Android in an attempt to keep it happy but deep in its computer chip mind I’m sure he or she knows he’s not the most loved.  Oh, the middle child syndrome.

Being Hacked

 

Several months ago, I returned from a grueling 13-day excursion to China.  The people were delightful and the food tasty except when the entire bus got sick from something toxic. Then there was the fact we didn’t see the sun for the entire time due to their air pollution.  While one worries about respiratory ailments for the population I also feel for Vitamin D deficiency, that being rickets from lack of sun.

Once home as I sat exhausted in my gray recliner pondering my visit I received a call. It was from my bank and they wondered if I had purchased $1800 worth of Ruth Chris Steakhouse gift certificates, $100 of Chewy dog food and registered my car at the DMV in New York State.  Hello, I have no dog and now live in Florida!

While I was unsure if this was an actual true call the representative did seem to know I had registered my excursion to China on my card. I had told no one of this trip.  I quickly told her if she looked at my statements my spending habits revolve around the Dollar Tree, Aldi’s, Walmart’s, Belk’s on sale days, and Ross and Bealls on senior citizen discount day. She requested I cancel the card and I agreed to this immediately.

For the next 2 months, I was without a card but thankful that I had a backup.  I completed various required forms and kept a copy of all I sent.  It annoyed me that this occurred and caused so much havoc.

As I spoke with others I understand this is commonplace and even my gal pal at TD got hacked in St. Augustine with outside gas pump purchases.  To the dismay of my fellow customers I now only run my card inside for gas purchases.

This stuff is scary and one wonders where it will end and the type of scurvy person who would dabble in such riff raff.  It is an ugly and disgusting breach of trust and as I ponder what good can come from this I sign on to my computer.

Since I was breeched on my yahoo account every time I sign on I must have a text sent to my phone.  I know it annoys my fellow library patrons who wish to have silence but it comes with the territory.  Each time I chuckle as I receive my new sign on word.

This morning I received KLZU. Could this mean loving and friendly or is it actually short for Klzumenito the Russian hacker who bought the Ruth Chris Steakhouse gift certificates on me and if this is so please sprinkle salmonella on the steak.

 

Put Down the Phone and Talk to the Child

Last week during music at the St. Augustine Gazebo I people watched a man with his young son.  I assumed the child was about 12 as he was 5 feet, gawky and in that stage.  After they placed their chairs on the grass “dad” discovered a cadre of his friends.  He proceeded to introduce the child then left him and walked with his friends to get a beer from their stash.

As I watched I saw the child look over at his “dad” several times. I felt sad as I continued to watch the child. I wanted to say or do something, but they have guns in Florida and I knew I best keep my tongue.

Fifteen minutes later “dad” returned and sat next to the child pulling out his phone.  He didn’t even acknowledge the child upon his return.  The music had begun to play but gee he could have at least smiled at the child or said hello.

From there it got worse as within 5 minutes “dad” was up again looking to go to the loo.  That’s the bathroom in Britain and I like that phrase so I’ve coined it here. When “dad” returned once again there was no acknowledgement of the child but the phone was pulled out and for the rest of the concert not one word was exchanged between the two.  It was like the child was invisible.  Was the man actually aware the child was there?

Another event I recall was in a McDonald’s parking lot where “mom” was on the phone. The children couldn’t get her attention so they smiled and waved at me and we had a short conversation regarding tasty fries.  Me of all people doing this.  What has happened?

Perhaps the worst offenses I’ve seen were on the NYC subways.  I don’t know how they do it with cell phone black outs but parents are constantly on the phone to friends or whomever yakking and avoiding the children.  It’s epidemic and needs to stop.

While I have never considered myself much of a mother I have always tried to talk to my daughter, she’s 34 now. She is never totally fond of what I have to say and rarely returns a call but we do exchange texts once a week. I’m told this may change.  God knows I’ve read enough books on how to talk to your adult child. And when I really want to get her attention I write her a letter.  She’s told me she always reads those.

I’m sending this out today as weekend visitation is approaching for those divorced parents.  So, bottom line:

PUT DOWN THE PHONE AND TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN