Another Memory Stirred….

There was a discussion about hunting and guns and I was trying to remember when I first learned to shoot. We did have cap guns and BB guns, but of course those don’t count. Daddy had a .22 rifle and a shotgun. He only hunted small game; birds, rabbits, and squirrels. Well, he did accidentally shoot a racoon one time and I don’t recall if we liked the stew or not. Anyway, I went fishing with him sometimes, but not hunting and that was probably because he was pretty intermittent with when he went.

It seems reasonable he would have taught us to shoot although the most distinct time I recall was going to a range with my uncle and cousins. I was on the ROTC rifle team for like one semester and did attend a match. I was never more than an average shot. As I’ve mentioned before, I was an “inadvertent” pioneer in the Army based on coming in as the Women’s Army Corps was being transitioned out. My first two years it was optional for women to qualify with the M-16 and .45 pistol. I didn’t hesitate even though a couple of my classmates chose to not fire a weapon. In light of the fact I went into the Ordnance Corps and weapons repair from small arms to artillery was part of our mission, we did of course have to fire as well as learn to repair them. Now when I say, “repair”, what that actually meant for an officer was to get a fundamental lesson in breaking down the weapon to see the parts and learn the most ordinary kind of failures. That was for pistols through machine guns and yes, firing an M60 and a .50 cal was an interesting experience. I had some difficulty with the Light Anti-tank Weapon (LAW) because my hands are small and the hand strength required to hold and fire was designed for the average-size male.

Intriguing Art…….

As I have mentioned, I’m heavily involved in the nonprofit Homestead Center for the Arts. We have up to 30 artists and they are in a range of amateur to professional and work in different mediums. A couple are former art teachers and one artist took up painting because her mother was adamant she quit smoking and she was looking for something to substitute. Anyway, a little over a year ago, a couple moved here for the husband half to take a job with the Florida City government. (Florida City adjoins Homestead and is the last municipality before reaching the Keys). Terre Rybovich was an established artist in West Palm Beach and they had quite a bit to relocate not to mention her losing her studio. She’s shown all over Florida, in NY, and overseas. She hoped there would be available space to rent, but we lost that capability several years ago when we lost the last art gallery. With their decision to buy and remodel a home in Redland, they only recently became fairly settled.

One of the aspects of restoring the Seminole Theatre was to dedicate its considerable wall space to the Artist in the Spotlight program. Although the program is run by the City, HCA artists are frequently featured and the exhibits change about every two months. Terre was scheduled for last March when everything was shut down. So, she’s the first artist to re-start the program. She and her husband described her unique art and the fact it’s really big, but I didn’t honestly understand until I helped them hang the exhibit last week. In essence, she takes a huge canvas, covers it with charcoal, and applies part or all of her body. She then decides what part to leave or add and often also adds a bird to inject some color. Here’s a link to her website to get a better understanding. (https://www.terrerybovich.com)

Oops, Lost A Week…..

I knew it had been extra hectic lately and didn’t realize I was days behind on posting. Yes, it’s the “usual suspects” as the popular line goes. Today will be only marginally better as I head out to cover a local event for the paper, but another thing I had lined up occurred yesterday instead. That, of course, wound up taking a few hours longer than expected even though it was a good deed. Anyway, among my tasks was getting the word out about the release of Idyllic Islands, now available on Amazon and B&N as well as posted to my website. I’ll get my copies in about another week; those I have earmarked for the ones who always receive signed copies plus a few extra to keep on hand for direct sales.

This is the fourth of the Chris Green books; the character I created in Shades of Truth and liked her so much I decided to spin her off into a separate series. That was why I featured her as the dual protagonist in Shades of Gold. I included a subplot to make it reasonable for her to leave Verde Key and go off on her own. I had already developed her character to be more of a “wandering type” and while not free-spirited, definitely more open to certain things than the character of Detective Bev Henderson. In fact,  when I wrote False Front (second Chris Green book after Deadly Doubloons) I did check with a friend and fan about Chris consistently entering into short flings. Not having been single for quite some time I wasn’t sure how that would play in my target audience. I was assured that didn’t mar her as a character. While a new interest isn’t quite the case in Idyllic Islands, there is a bit of a reflection about it as it applies to her relationship with Jeff. (No, I’m not going to say any more about that). This one is somewhat like False Front in that the clues to potential sinister events are not completely clear. Oh, and this is also a case where I actually made a major change toward the end based on my editor’s view. After you read the book, I’ll let you in on it.

Week Zipping Past….

It seems as if I have once again allowed extra days to zip past without posting. This is another case of having a full schedule and then, oops – gee, can’t you fit in this one other task? Oh, well, I guess I meant two; or really I suppose it’s three, etc., Not to mention I’m trying to manage to get a dive in before the end of the month. Okay, with that said, I’ll move on to the topic of the day which is I managed to not get reservations for an Eagles Tribute band performance at the Seminole Theatre as I had intended. In all fairness, I tried to get tickets a couple of weeks ago, but with the reduced attendance capacity of the theatre due to on-going COVID restrictions, the on-line seating function wasn’t working. I even went by in person a couple of days later to no avail. Alas, when I tried earlier this week, the site was functioning correctly along with the notice the show was sold out.

However, there is a potential silver lining. It so happens there was another performance I was interested in, but it’s for Apr 2d, and as there are already one (now two) more events scheduled for April we have to attend, I passed on the Swon Brothers. I decided on them as our back-up: “The Swon Brothers became the first duo to make it to a season finale with the help of their coach, Blake Shelton on the hit TV show, The Voice. In October 2014, The Swon Brothers released their self-titled album and received a nomination for CMA Vocal Duo of the Year. Shortly after, in 2016, they released their EP, Timeless and spent the year touring coast to coast in the United States and Canada with Carrie Underwood on The Storytellers Tour.”

I’m sure we will enjoy them and the only potential drawback is Hubby has been teaching a lot lately due to the usually busy spring break crowds. He may have full day on the 2d which means a late dinner after the show instead of dining beforehand as I prefer. Ah well, that’s easy enough to handle.

Exciting New Cybrarium…..

The word may not yet be familiar, but Homestead now has one. The full article about the grand opening of the Cybrarium will be in next week’s paper. I have of course written multiple posts about how deeply I feel about the value of libraries. When government at different levels look to cut funds, unfortunately, they can be prone to view libraries as a target. Our county did cut back some hours a few years ago during a crunch and thankfully were able to restore them. Our library here has always been modest and in an older building, but the County has a robust program for getting materials from other branches so it wasn’t bad. A few years ago, the City Manager envisioned something much more ambitious with the intent of making the Cybrarium appeal to the digital generation.

The new building opened yesterday, bright and airy and nearly 24,000 square feet with two stories. “Regular books” are available, but also Virtual Reality capability, a Children’s Theater complete with a digital “wall” atop the stage to allow for special effects such as rain falling if that is part of the story/play.(Yes, they will have adult shows, too). Later in the summer, there will be a Book Mountain, which is a two-story high interactive sculpture where apparently a young astronaut will read books or talk about them or something (I’m a little unclear on this). Then there is the Steampunk area, complete with more books, art, displays, and a special lounge where they have 3-D printers.

While some older people may be a bit reluctant to enter initially, there’s no questions kids of all ages through teens (and of course their parents) are going to be drawn in. This is a City initiative and so people will need to have a separate card, but there is a reciprocal agreement with the County and everyone will still have access to the county library system.

Have a peak: www.cybrarium.org

Asking Forgiveness or Permission…..

Many, many years ago I and a friend wanted to do something that quite frankly would be utterly not allowed these days. (It was questionable then, too). So I had my first encounter with the phrase, “Better to ask forgiveness than permission because some asshole will always say no.” We went ahead and didn’t encounter an issue, but that was another of those “youthful indiscretions” that could have easily gone awry. (The details aren’t important) A recent local situation brought this memory to mind along with a common misconception about this phrase.

I have heard others cavalierly toss this out when faced with the sudden realization forgiveness might not be granted. People have a tendency to think their “initiative” or “boldness” will count more heavily in their favor. It very often does, particularly if the action results in something good. Even so, though, it can also lead to friction within a group as not everyone may be in the “forgiving” mode. The point though is it doesn’t always. At those few times I’ve witnessed the reaction of the one “not forgiven” the common reaction is one of disbelief followed by an emotional response of anger and/or pleading for reconsideration. (More about that below)

A boss of mine later expanded on the idea with his three “rules”. First, make sure what you want to do is legal. Second, think it through carefully and be able to explain your reasoning. Third, accept the consequences if things don’t go as planned. To reinforce the above paragraph, that meant prepare myself if the action/decision didn’t work out correctly or forgiveness was not in the mix. This is one of those life lessons that served me well and I passed it on to numerous subordinates during my career.

E-Readers and “Real” Books…..

The other day, we – as in a group of friends – had the discussion about e-readers versus real books. I’ve posted about this before, but it’s been a while and I will add an extra note at the end. We did hold off on buying Kindles for a few years after they came out and are a couple of generations “behind” the newest versions. Although the original reason to do so was because I had a fan who insisted I publish an e-book edition of my books, we quickly appreciated what others had been telling us all along. I don’t own a tablet as I have my regular laptop and a smaller laptop for travel. The point about tablets is because the Kindle app and I think now Nook (Barnes and Nobles e-reader) can be downloaded onto a tablet as well as a smart phone. That eliminates the need for a separate e-reader if someone already has a tablet.

Storage space and travel (notwithstanding all the restrictions of 2020 and into 2021) are what I like about the Kindle.With our many bookcases filled to capacity and the difficulty in finding a place to take used books, being able to store hundreds electronically has definite benefits. Yes, I do still like the feel of a “real book”, but that doesn’t take priority over practicality. The other thing though about real books is the ability to quickly flip back through if I want to re-read a passage. I haven’t found an easy way to do that with Kindle. Oh yes, being able to increase the size of the font with an e-reader is handy,  too.

E-books have also opened the way for many authors who decide to self-publish because costs to do only an e-book are significantly less than to do even a trade (paperback). That of course can lead to the debate of all those books that probably shouldn’t be published, but that’s not the point of this post. And speaking of costs, I refuse to read newly released best sellers on Kindle because the price of $14.99 (standard) is ridiculous. I know what it costs to do a Kindle conversion. What you are paying for at that price is the name recognition. Wait a few months and it will drop.

Might Miss Another Party….

In the scheme of things, this isn’t an overly important point, but it did bring an interesting memory to mind. I’ll start with the main thing.As I mentioned in a previous post, last year was granddaughter’s fifth birthday and the first one she was to have as a “major event”. Our present to her was to be the venue, a popular place with a specific children’s birthday party package. She was inviting people months ahead and then, as timing has it, her March 13th day hit right before the official shutdown. At that stage, however, parents were becoming concerned and most basically told the kids they weren’t going to be comfortable with attending. The venue acknowledged they’d had many cancellations and so the decision was made. The grandparents from Maine did come down and they had a special day which helped take the sting out of no big party. Granddaughter hasn’t forgotten though and apparently the decision again this year is “not yet”. They are looking for something extra special so we’ll see what that turns out to be.

Anyway, reaching way back to when her dad was a baby, as I have explained, his dad was killed when he was only four months old. Single parenting with an infant and being on active duty in the Army came with more challenges than I want to get into. And as often happens when the “needs of the Army” and the “desires of the individual” conflict, it’s not hard to guess who wins. This is how I found myself on the way to a specialized school at Fort Ord, CA in Monterey for almost four months when the child was only ten months old. Most at the school did not have their families with them and since I didn’t really have anyone to care for him for that length of time (as was suggested), they made an exception for me to have him with me. However, being the only single parent, especially with an infant, came with yet another set of challenges. We were divided into work groups and since several of the individuals in our group were also parents, they rallied around to help at least some and those who weren’t parents got into the swing of it. As the child’s first birthday approached, they were startled I said I wasn’t having a party for him. The fact is birthday parties for a one-year-old is for parents and grandparents to have cute photos. Unknown to me, the group decided that wouldn’t do and our “dinner out” that night segued into a surprise party complete with messy chocolate cake and a ride on an indoor merry-go-round. They also gave me a touching framed multi-photo piece of photos one of the guys had taken over the series of weekends as I brought the baby along for times we when went out to lunch. And yes, I do still have that hanging on the wall.

About Those Luxury Cars……

Yes, I have owned two Mercedes, a Saab, and a Jaguar. Now in all fairness, they were all “previously owned”, three of the four purchased through Carmax. The first Mercedes was when we were in Germany and it was a “European Spec” which meant certain things would have to be modified to bring it back to the U.S. Rather than bother with that was when we bought the Saab convertible. Not only bought it, but did the deal where we went to Guttenberg Sweden to pick it up. We had transferred to Italy at that point. So here was the deal. The price of the car included delivery from Sweden or the other option. Train from Italy to port of Hamburg (I think it was). overnight ferry to Guttenberg, pick up the car, overnight stay, then drive back. Daytime ferry for return trip. Since we went on a Saturday and the factory wasn’t open, a lady from the factory delivered the car to the hotel. This was all very civilized. It was also the first time we’d done a high-speed train which was a nice experience, too. It was winter though so a bit on the chilly side. Clear, however, which meant we did walk around and Guttenberg is a charming place. Our son enjoyed it because the TV shows were in English with Swedish subtitles. Yes, he did walk around with us, too. The drive from the port back to Italy allowed Hubby to get a good feel for the car and we spent the night in some hotel in Switzerland close to the highway.

As much as I loved the Saab, unfortunately, it was not designed for hot climates and I had serious mechanical issues with it when we left Virginia for Hubby’s last assignment in Puerto Rico. I went with the second Mercedes when we came back from there and then had a most unfortunate accident on the Turnpike. No injury thanks to great Mercedes engineering, but car was totaled. That led to the Jaguar. Again, loved the car, but I erroneously thought we had a dealership closer than we did. Getting service and repairs became truly annoying. There was also the matter of running premium gas. At that stage, I said, “enough”, and returned to my Ford roots. What brought all this to mind was the two-day Porsche events this weekend. Yesterday (Friday) was at the Homestead-Miami Speedway and today is car show at Schnebly Winery. We aren’t going due to some other things scheduled, but if it’s successful and they return next year, it might work out for us.

Holding Onto a Record…..

I will admit conflicted feelings about the NFL. I’m still angry they allowed the game/organization to be politicized when they had other options. On the other hand, setting aside the adverse economic impact of COVID-19 closures and restrictions, in normal circumstances, it is not only the highly paid players, owners, etc., who make a living from football. There is the associated revenue for many, many small businesses in and around stadiums and then there is the intangible love of the sport. With that said, I’ll segue into the point of the post.

All athletes, no matter how good, come to an end to their career. The body will simply no longer hold up to the physical demand, particularly when there are additional injuries as well as the normal “wear and tear”. It is, however, also true that for the highest paid “star athletes” whether it’s the money or the continued fame, they may hold on longer than they should. It is also true when one attains that level, hundreds of thousands of people (if not more) will express their opinions about when “it’s time to quit”. This was on full display in this year’s Superbowl where both Tom Brady as quarterback for Tampa Bay and Head Coach Bruce Arians were the oldest to ever win a Superbowl in their respective positions. Brady of course set another record having now won his 7th as a QB. For every record set, however, there will be those who aspire to break it. Some will hold for decades, such as the 1972 Miami Dolphins continue to be the only team that has had a perfect season of no losses to include the Superbowl. One can imagine that thought is already circulating in Tampa Bay for next season.

There was a superb and much too short-lived TV series, “Sports Night”, in the 1990s. It was wonderfully cast with excellent writing and although a comedy, there were often dramatic and poignant themes and scenes. In one episode, they staff was cheering for an older Olympic contender in some sort of track event; a man who had been on the cusp of setting a world record, but was sidelined due to an injury. He fought his way back and did set the record. As the one sportscaster said, “Then, fifteen minutes later, a young (whatever country he was from), came along and broke that record by a fraction of a second.” He felt a pang of desolation for what the other man had endured to hold the world record for barely fifteen minutes. Another individual quietly observed, “Which is fifteen minutes longer than most athletes will ever hold it.”