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!

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.


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: