Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Home from Florida

This post is super late, but I can't leave out these pictures. When we got off the plane in Seattle after our  month of sunshine and vitamin D...we almost froze our butts off. 

This is The Return From Florida...

It was cold. Actually, no. It was pretty mild. WE were cold.

Driving North for the first time in a month...

We left the Keys with regret. We knew we were starting our journey home. The good news: we had almost a week to get back to Orlando

The highlight of our trip homeward was looking forward to some time in Bonita Springs. We have family and friends there, so it was a treat.

After a quick overnight in our old standby, the Hampton Inn in Fort Lauderdale, we stopped off at the GIGANTIC Sawgrass Mall and Outlet Centre (I had a retail heart was too many stores). Then it was a quick shot across Alligator Alley to get to the Gulf of Mexico side of the state.

Our great family friends, the Smiths, offered to host a dinner with everyone we knew in Bonita Springs. I was excited to see them! I grew up across the street from the Smiths in Burlington and was best friends with their kids (the only thing that would have made the visit better? Seeing Greg and Hil too!). It was such a wonderful treat to hang out with them. And...we got to hang out with them IN THEIR BEAUTIFUL house. Loved it. Straight up love. Not only was it gorgeous, I can't stop thinking about Aunt Erica's drop everything room. She has a room where she can leave things she brings in from the car but doesn't have a place for quite yet. My new mental dream home has a room just like this. In fact, instead of fantasizing about a library or indoor pool in my dream house, I dream of a room just like that one.

The pool felt like it was in the middle of the living room. It was divine.

It was pretty alright.

But the best part was seeing the hosts, Uncle Pat and Aunt Erica. And also getting a chance to catch up with my Aunt Karen and Carl, and Joan and George. It is always fun to see people you know well in a different context. It was a perfect evening.

Joan and George were kind enough to invite us to spend the night at their place (no small gesture when you are a family of five!). George thrilled the kids with pictures from a trip to Africa and we had a nice chat before heading to bed.

The next morning, we met up at my Aunt Karen's, where my parents and brother stayed, and headed to Sanibel Island. It is reknowned as one of the best islands for shell hunting. I wanted to check it out.

It was a very natural, untouched place. Probably because of the big, toll causeway bridge to get there. We didn't realize then, but the hundreds of dead fish we spotted (and the thousands of horrified "Ewwwww!"s we heard from the kids...and Eric) were caused by a big wave of Red Tide that had just hit the area.

Luckily, the beach was huge and the dead fish were spread out. It wasn't that bad.

The boys:

The shells:

Right over Lukey's right shoulder, you might be able to spot my mother huddled down in sheer panic. She is deathly afraid of birds. As you can see, there are a few birds around.

She is getting ready to bolt in this next picture.

And in this one, she's abandoning my children to the bird attack. This picture does not adequately convey the haste she used in her departure. It appears leisurely. It was not.

A bit of driftwood/sea garbage baseball.

My brother contemplating the horizon.

This was a bad game of chicken my father, brother and husband devised for me. There were some big rogue waves in the incoming tide. They bet me I'd get wet where I was sitting. I said I wouldn't.

After a couple of minutes of me staying dry, they got impatient to see me soaked and miserable. So they dug a channel so the waves could access me more easily. Wasn't that nice of them? The three of them stood a few feet behind me and watched each wave come in, cheering it on

Once they finally saw me get wet, they were satisfied and we could leave.

Last night in the hotel in Orlando before the long trip home. We were sad, sad, sad to leave.

Hopefully we'll be back?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I Heart Key West

Recognize this guy?

We rented our house in Marathon with my parents from Saturday to Saturday. When we booked our trip we were hopeful that my brother would be able to join us, but his work schedule has been hectic. Luckily, he managed to get away. He arrived after three flights and a long car trip to a full Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday night. Hey, it was American Thanksgiving. When in Rome...

I knew my brother would love Key West. We didn't let him take it easy. Friday morning we took off for another trip South to the big lights. Eric stayed back with the kids and went to the beach. I beelined for Hemingway House. 

Ernest Hemingway lived in his house in Key West for some of his most productive writing years. He was very inspired by this location. So was I. 

My experience at Hemingway House was fantastic. They run tours every half hour. It was informative and funny. Bob from Boston crammed tons of info into my tour. I have always like good ol' Ernest. I really dug him after this.

Here is a painting of Key West in Ernest's living room.

 The spaces are so open, breezy and straight up gorgeous. No wonder the guy banged out some classics. Get me settled in here, I could come up with good stuff too. Not American, you know...really good stuff. Ok, maybe not. But it was a mind-blowing location.

C'mon...look at these pictures. Couldn't anyone be genius here?

 The picture below carries a great story. Apparently Ernest was upset at the amount of money it cost to build his pool (strange, since it was his wife's cash that funded it). He was feeling a little cash-strapped when his buddy Sloppy Joe cleared all the urinals out of his bar, Ernest's well-frequented local.

Ernest came home with a urinal. He told his wife that since she got the pool (as if!), he got the urinal. He told her that he had pissed so much money down the drain in Sloppy Joe's, it cost around the same amount.

She, very artfully, made this beautiful fountain out of it. She slapped an olive jar up there and glued some Mexican tile on the side. Nicely done, hey? Lemonade out of lemons.

Even funnier, the cats that live at the house won't drink out of the urinal. They balance precariously and lick the water dripping down the urn.

Here's the pool.

Here's Ernie's writing space. I mean, geez. Set me up in there (minus the creepy head) and I could whip up...Ancient Lady and the Ocean (get it...? Old Man and the Sea...?).

Everything about this house was artful and soul-feeding. Even the tile. The strange six-toed cats. The weird urinal fountain. I. Loved. It. All.

The lady of the house. Wife number two of four. Hemingway might almost have been worth living for just for the house. Although...imagine how quickly I could have run that beauty into the ground. Throw a few empty applesauce containers around there. Pencil shavings. Dirty dishes. I'd be right at home.

Oh Pauline, you got me beat, you stylish lady.


You know, it is probably cheaper than an Eastside Vancouver Special.

After touring heaven, I met up with my parents and my brother. Have you met my parents?

Here they are...

The city is full of these little architectural gems.  Love, love, love.

This is a nice picture of my parents (the real ones). Sweet, huh? I didn't take this shot to get my parents captured in time in a beautiful place on a great family holiday...

 It was a decoy shot so I could snap the picture below.The sign next to this guy read "Palms Read by a real Swami". What is he really reading? Comics. Couldn't he have hidden them inside a scholarly journal or an ancient text?

Great day.