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Friday, March 30, 2007

We Are Hoping Keith's Hoyas Win It All

One of the toughest things about being a Trailing Spouse living in Tallahassee is being so far from family members that work and live "back north." You love when they come to visit - but you know that sad and uncomfortable moment is coming when you have to put them on the plane at Tallahassee International and let them go.

One of the best times is when we all get together for some sporting event - sort of a common interest or bond. Last week we all got together in Tampa at the ACC Basketball Tournament to cheer on the Seminoles and Dukies and Hurricanes.

I have 2 sons - Drew went to Duke and then straight on for his PhD in pharmacology at Miami. Keith went to Georgetown and got his degree in economics and got a masters here at Florida State. Drew is now a research scientist at the medical school in Syracuse. Keith is an economist for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington DC. Both of them played basketball in high school and live and die for the sport.

So now the Georgetown Hoyas are in the Final Four in Atlanta. After a 20 year drought - they have a chance to win it all. As much as we tried - it is not in the cards to meet in Atlanta - prices for plane tickets have gone thru the roof - and game ticket prices are just as silly. I told my son - if he could find a cheap flight to Atlanta - I would drive up and go to the games with him - hoping for some less expensive tickets at game time. He has a few vacation days saved up for things like this. But he decided to stay in DC and watch the game in Georgetown - and be ready to celebrate on campus. But I will be watching my e-mail on Saturday morning to see if he found a reasonable flight down and I would have 5 hours of drive time to look forward to.

At any rate - this family on Seminole Drive will be cheering for the Hoyas. We love the Seminoles - but how can you not like the cinderella Hoyas chances - after all they did pound the Carolina Tar Heels in overtime after falling behind by 15 points.

These are things that go through a Trailing Spouse's mind on Final Four and Springtime Tallahassee Weekend. Oh yes - if Georgetown wins - I will also win our ESPN Basketball Pool. Hoya Saxa!!

Pictures: 1 - Dad and Son watching Hoya fans storm court in DC when the Hoyas beat Duke, 2 - Even though the Hoyas beat the Blue Devils last year in DC - boths sons are smiling, 3 - Buying tickets in Tampa for the ACC Tournament.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Chinese Woman Holds Up Construction

China is getting more like America every day. Take a look at this building. It is owned by a 50 year old woman - she refuses to move or sellout. Read the story in the NY Times.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

FSU Girls Lost Noon Game to Virginia Tech 1-0

I just got home from a noon game where the FSU girls lost to Virginia. Tiffany MacDonald stuck out 9 - but the Seminoles only got 1 hit to support her. Jessica Everhart played for VT. Brittany Osmon from San Diego had a swinging strike 3 to end the game with 1 baserunner on second base.

Because MacDonald struck out 8 or more - the entire crowd was given coupons for Circle K jumbo hot dogs. Wednesday they play UCF here. It was hot and sunny at the ball park - Tallahassee is having a record hot day. Great weather for the scooter.

Softball admission is free.

Georgetown Hoyas Play the University of North Carolina Tar Heels Today at 5 PM on CBS

Today we are cheering for Keith's Georgetown Hoyas to defeat UNC in the NCAA Tournament to advance to the Final Four next weekend. The game will be played on CBS-TV in High Definition format. The Hoyas are our last team in the NCAA playoffs. Yesterday - Florida State women lost to Louisiana State - 55-43. Also the Duke women lost to Rutgers to end their season with a 32-2 record.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Florida State University Names Science Lab After My Friend George Dawson

One of the hardest parts about being a Trailing Spouse is finding good friends. Today I want to tell you about the best one I have found here.

George and Joel Dawson are our neighbors. They live near Myers Park in downtown Tallahassee. They have taken on the task as the "GODparents" of Lulu and me. George and Joel are retired science teachers - just like me - except George Odes Dawson has the initials to prove it.

George was a science professor at Florida State University for over 30 years. I doubt that there is a science teacher in the state that does not know about George's accomplishments or has not used some of the programs that he designed. George was making videodisks before there were even CDs.

Flashback - I am cheating a little. I first met George in 1988 - when Lulu came to FSU to earn her doctorate. George was looking for a middle school science teacher with wacky ideas that incorporated computer technology in their classroom. Yes - even back then I wasted a lot of time typing into my Apple II Computer. I wrote a silly cover letter to George and he immediately flew me down from Pennsylvania and hired me.

Back in those days - George was bringing millions of dollars into FSU from the National Science Foundation and Houghton-Mifflin Textbook Company - back when a million dollars was worth a million dollars. His interactive programs in science education were top drawer in the best school in the country. Why else would FSU make him a full professor and professor emeritus even though he never wasted his time getting a doctor's degree. George is/was a practitioner - he is/was more interested in results than theory.

Today at 5PM - the Science Education Department bestowed an even greater honor on him. They named the Science Education Laboratory after him. A large group of past and present students and faculty gathered to honor him and present the plaque to him. Even former President Marshall made the appearance to honor George.

Recently - George was honored by his old high school back in Louisville. He was inducted into their Hall of Fame.

Usually these kind of honors are presented when it is too late for the honoree to enjoy them. Not George - at 71 he still goes off-road biking every week. A month does not go by without Joel planning another trip.

Last fall - George and Joel completed the cycle by taking a "steamer" to Antarctica. Next month - they will take their granddaughter to London and Paris. Just two weeks ago they were skiing in Whistler, Canada - out near Seattle.

George is an excellent role model and my hero. He is showing me the right way to retire. His attitude toward helping others - trying to leave the planet a better place for the kids - and keeping physically active - is inspiring to me.

If you are a Trailing Spouse - I hope you find a friend like George.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Chuck and Gabe Have Found 36 Bombs in Iraq

Since trailing Lulu to Tallahassee - I have kept up contact with the folks back in the hills of home and many of my former students. A few of my students have traveled to Tallahassee to visit. We have taken them to football games - to the top of the Capitol - and Wakulla Springs - you know the routine. But one of my students that can't visit me is Chuck Shuck. You see - Chuck is serving his 3rd tour of duty in Iraq - his job is to sniff out road side bombs.

Chuck Shuck was one of my favorite students. He was slightly built - had a head of curly hair - and did not come from a rich family - few of my students did. Most of the teachers were surprised that Chuck could put together a life that enabled him to have prefect attendance in school - coming to class each and every day with a big smile and positive attitude.

Chuck chose the Army as a career before the Iraq War. He served state side in Alaska and Texas in the military police - guarding our bases at home. When we invaded Iraq - all that changed. Chuck was trained to handle "sniffer dogs" dogs that search out explosives - mostly road side bombs. Chuck loves to send email back to his friends and family. When he returns state side - he usually travels around the country visiting schools where the kids write to him. He talks to them about his dog Gabe.

Chuck belongs to the 178th MP DET, 720th MP BN, 89TH MP BDE out of Fort Hood, Texas

Here is a letter that Chuck sent to me this morning -

"Dear family and friends,

I hope this email finds you all having a great day/night. It's been a few weeks since I last wrote a mass update, but Gabe and I have been really busy. Here in a few hours, we will start out 91st mission of this deployment. We are now on the downhill slope of this deployment and are quite frankly looking forward to the break back in Texas. We have 169 days left. Gabe is doing well and keeping in high spirits as he is always working to find his kong that he gets when he finds a bomb or weapon To date Gabe has found here in Iraq 36 bombs (they would have been made into bombs until we found them), 7 weapons and over 300 rounds of ammunition so he is earning his keep. He also found a bag of IED making components.

The weather here has been rainy the past few days with temps in the 60's and 70's in the day and 40's at night. I still have comic books and I have mailed out over 1,500 of them so far to about 45 elem school classes from California, to Maine and from Alaska to Hawaii.......I ask you say a prayer for 3 more military police soldiers that were killed this past week. A day doens't go by that we don't think of our fallen brothers and sisters that made the ultimate sacrifice so Iraq can wave their flag as proudly as we wave ours in the United States. Until next time. Gos bless you and God bless us, your American Soldiers

Chuck and Gabe

PS.....Gabe doens't need anymore treats, he has been on a diet for 1 1/2 months now"

I am so proud of Chuck as my student. Most of all I admire his positive attitude and sense of humor. He personifies courage to me. We do not discuss politics - probably we do not agree on the reasons for this war - but he gives personal meaning to me of the phrase - "hate the war - love the troops." One thing for certain - Iraq is not one of the places that this Spouse will Trail.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

My Blog Makes the News Back Home

Click on title to see full story in the Times News

Have you ever done a "google search" of yourself on the Internet? Sometimes some frightening and surprising things show up. This morning I did such a search and here is an article that showed up. I feel like Paris Hilton - so much written over absolutely nothing. Click on the picture to enlarge it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

George and Joel Have Exciting Ski Trip to Canada

My neighbors and best friends - George and Joel Dawson just went on a ski trip to Canada. Joel narrates the roller coaster of a trip -

The Trip that Shouldn’t have Happened

Fortunately Joel’s stepmother reached 100 and there was a party for her.
Unfortunately we had difficulty getting to the party without mishaps.

Fortunately we live close enough to the airport that a taxi isn’t too expensive.
Unfortunately we had to make three trips to get all of our belongings to the airport, so our trip to the airport was $55.

Fortunately we left early for the airport.
Unfortunately one of our suitcases (the one with our passports and computer) was left sitting on our driveway and we didn’t discover it was missing until we reached the airport.

Fortunately we had a long layover in Atlanta.
Unfortunately after we walked from Concourse E to Concourse B Joel discovered that she left her purse back at Concourse E.

Fortunately there was time for Joel to head back to Concourse E while George talked to the Delta people nearby.
Unfortunately Joel rode the train to the wrong end of the airport before she made it back to Concourse E.

Fortunately people were helpful and Joel retrieved her purse at the gate where we landed.
Unfortunately it took her a long time to get back to Concourse B since the train and the moving sidewalk weren’t running.

Fortunately we had a very nice visit with Sally, Joel’s stepmother, Saturday afternoon.
Unfortunately Saturday we also realized that our plane departure on Sunday was scheduled for 5 PM instead of 6:30 PM. (The party had been moved to 3 PM so we wouldn’t have a long wait before going to the airport that is nearby.)

Fortunately Sally was in good spirits and there were lots of people at the party so we wouldn’t be missed when we slipped out early.
Unfortunately we had to leave 25 minutes after the party began to make it to the airport.

Fortunately both plane legs from Cincinnati to Atlanta and Atlanta to Seattle went without hitches.
Unfortunately since we were using frequent fliers, we had to go this long route to Seattle and couldn’t get to Vancouver.

Fortunately we had a great lunch at the harbor in Vancouver and a lovely drive with spectacular scenery up to Whistler.
Unfortunately when we arrived at our lodging, we were locked out and there wasn’t any reception service.

Fortunately, someone let us into the building.
Unfortunately that didn’t help us to get into our condo and we were getting rather nervous about where we might spend the night and possibly next four days.

Fortunately we had a phone number to call and the owner of the condo answered after the first busy signal. He told us the code and we got into our condo!!!
Unfortunately it was raining outside and so the ski conditions didn’t sound too good.

Fortunately we got our skis right across the street and the gondola wasn’t much farther away.
Unfortunately it was raining in the morning when we headed to the ski lift.

Fortunately the skiing up on top of the mountain was O.K. (not great).
Unfortunately we had sun for two hours in the four days and the snow conditions were either crusty, windy, slushy, snowing, hard to see….

Fortunately we like to be together and the scenery, when we could see, was spectacular.
Unfortunately on the third day Joel lost her great little Canon camera. We thought she probably lost it when she hit a hole and splayed out in the snow under the lift. When she discovered it was missing, the last gondola had gone up for the day.

Fortunately the lost and found lady was very nice and we could tell her exactly where the camera probably was. She was many of the Aussie workers we met at Whistler.
Unfortunately it didn’t matter how nice she was. The camera was not located. And it snowed more than 5 inches overnight.

Fortunately, we still had one day left and we got up on the mountain rather early. We skied to the spot and used our skis to dig for the camera until we were sweating.
Unfortunately no camera was found and the fantastic video of George skiing was lost.

Fortunately the trip back to Seattle was uneventful and we made our 6:20 AM flight with no problem.
Unfortunately, the trip back to Tallahassee had some glitches.

Fortunately the planes left on time – almost.
Unfortunately the plane in Atlanta was stopped at the last minute because of an oil leak and so we had to change to a new plane.

Fortunately a new plane was found in a couple of minutes and the passengers headed from Concourse B to Concourse T.
Unfortunately the new plane was actually not at T, but back at B. It took 1-½ hours to get everybody resituated on our plane to Tallahassee.

Fortunately Hannah was meeting us at the airport so we didn’t need to spend more money on a taxi.
Unfortunately she had a long wait for us to arrive and then it took another 40 minutes for the luggage to get the terminal.

Fortunately we have had many uneventful trips in the past.
Unfortunately maybe we need to take someone with us in the future to make sure to don’t forget anything and get where we’re supposed to be without mishap.

Fortunately we have friends and family who were willing to read through this whole thing to find out about the trip that shouldn’t have happened.
Unfortunately this is the end of the story. Hope you enjoyed it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Check Out This Electric Motor Scooter

One of the great pleasures of living in Florida is the marvelous weather for riding motor scooters all year. There seems to be a strong connection between the over 55 crowd and electric scooters - you know - the ones we ride around in super markets.

I normally drive a Vespa 150 motor scooter but I must admit I was impresssed with the EVT 168 electric motor scooter that I rode in Miami during our trip to the Keys. This scooter looked a lot like an old Vespa or a Yamaha Vino - except that it did not have a noisy exhaust pipe or clanky chain.

Notice in the pictures that this scooter was missing a fender and had a little rust on it from sitting outside for 2 years in downtown Miami.

It was powered by 4 - 12 volt batteries. It had a 3 HP engine inside the back wheel. Since this configuration did not require a chain drive - it was almost silent. It also had a disk brake on the back wheel and a drum brake on the front. The seat was only big enough for one person but it was rated to carry 350 pounds. The engine is 92% efficient - whatever that means.

It went 30 miles on a charge - and you simply plugged it into a house outlet where a full recharge costs 11 cents. The scooter went 30 MPH - and I was impressed with the low end torque making fast starts really neat with a quiet smooth surge.

This scooter is street legal in all 50 states. So if you "greenies" want to "save the planet" but can't afford a Prius - for $2000 you can be zooming to work in silent exhaust free luxury. At this speed it would give new meaning to term "the trailing spouse."

Sunday, March 11, 2007

ACC Tournament in Tampa

My family and I love to go to Florida State sporting events. It is a chance for the 4 of us to gather - usually in a fun place - and what better fun place can there be than sunny Tampa.

My sons live in Washington DC and Syracuse NY. They are alumni of Duke - Georgetown - FSU - Miami. So they flew in on Wednesday night - fighting the northern weather - one flight even being cancelled. Fortunately he got a flight into Orlando at 2 AM and I was able to drive from Tampa to pick him up.

The ticket situation at the ACC Tournament is unfair to the "high roller" fans. In order to go to even 1 game - you must buy a ticket booklet for 11 games - that costs $363. And then if you team loses in the first game - like happened to Maryland - you are stuck with all these "worthless" tickets. I hope our buyers on the enclosed pictures do not mind - because I gave them a good buy on our tickets - but a disgruntled Maryland sold us for tickets booklets that he paid almost $1600 for - he sold them to me for $200 total! They were exactly on the center court line - on the third level.

After enjoying and FSU win and Miami win - then suffering thru losses by FSU - Miami - and Duke - we were done. So we decided to do other things like got to the beach - visit Tarpon Springs and some great Greek Restaurant - and attending a giant yard site at the University of Tampa.

We visited my cousins - Carl and Marylou - and Carol and Ernie - two folks we met on a cruise last summer.

Finally - Saturday morning - I went back to the arena to sell my ticket booklets. They were great seats and I made a great sale to Carolina fans. They paid $80 each for the rest of the tickets - $320. As I write - they are getting ready for the championship game - they got great seats at a good price.

I am just sad for all the fans that have to pay $400 for a ticket to see their team lose 1 game.

Then we took 11 people to dinner at Hellas in Tarpons Springs.

More pictures coming - my wife is bugging me to move.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Spring Break - and ACC Basketball in Tampa

One the the best things about being a retired trailing spouse is having the time to share a common bond with the family - college sports. My sons went to college at Duke - Miami - Georgetown - Florida State. With Lulu being an FSU professor - we all have a common bond - we love the same teams.

What a better way to spend spring break than to have everyone travel to Tampa for a great 4 day weekend in sunny Tampa at the St. Petes News Arena in downtown Tampa. With the weather being miserable in Washington DC and Syracuse where my sons live - we were lucky to get them to Tampa on time for the games. Both of their flights were delayed or cancelled - and it took some quick thinking to change a flight to Orlando - but I was able to pick up my youngest son near Disney and drive him back to Tampa at 2AM. That was good because his original flight was cancelled and not re-scheduled until after the Seminoles were to play on Thursday at noon.

In the first day - Miami and FSU - our teams - won - but Duke fell in the second session at 7 PM. Friday - FSU lost early and was followed out the door by Miami. With only 2 days down - all of our teams are out of the picture.

Tickets were being sold way below face value. All ticket books cost $363 - that is a lot of money. Every fan that bought a book had to buy tickets for all 11 games at $33 a game. Even if their team was knocked out and the fans wanted to go home - they were stuck with $363 worth of tickets. I never saw so many people standing outside the arena selling tickets. Prices for any game could be had for $10 per game if you were not particular where you sat.

During the first FSU game - I bought 4 tickets for $20 each in a super box with kitchen and bathroom. For the Duke game - I bought 4 tickets on courtside - 8th row - for $30 each. After that I bought 4 ticket books which cost $363 for $50 each - total $200. The tickets were at exactly midcourt but in the 300 level. We still have tickets for the 3 games left on Saturday and Sunday from those books - but will probably sell them and make a profit - hopefully.

One of my students - Matt Fredericks - drove over from Palm Beach with another teacher. We got to sit with him durng the Boston College/Miami game. Matt told me that Charlie Depuy said that, "Harry will have you sitting on the floor." Check out those seats.

So with 2 days left - all of our teams have lost. The teams left are - UNC - BC - NCSU - and either Wake or VT. I guess UNC is the favorite to win it all.

Probably Lulu and the boys and I will spend some time at the beach tomorrow. Weather has been sunny and in the 80s. Tampa is a beautiful town but it does not seem to have many basketball fans. I would really be a cranky fan if I paid $363 for a ticket booklet only to see people outside buying tickets from other fans for $10 to $20 - and usually getting better seats.

It is so nice to be going to basketball games during the afternoon on a day that is a work day for everyone else but The Trailing Spouse.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Title Visiting Fort Jefferson on the Dry Tortugas in the Florida Keys – and Achieving Your Birthright and Manifest Destiny as a Florida Resident

Being a trailing spouse in Tallahassee opens so many opportunities. One can retire with your health and have plenty to time to do neat little things. Today – I visited one of the places I wanted to see ever since I enjoyed my 1st lesson in 4th grade about the Civil War.

My 4th grade history textbook was old and tattered – come to think of it most of my textbooks were in “well used” condition in the public schools of my hometown in Appalachia. Whenever you dropped the book on the desk – it would open to a picture of Fort Jefferson on the Dry Tortugas Island. The Fort was so impressive surrounded by palm trees – white sand – migrating birds – and beautiful light blue shades of aqua and turquoise waters. I thought to myself, “it doesn’t look too dry to me.” Indeed – it has always been my idea of what a “desert island” should be. The caption said it was in Florida – and I thought someday I would go there.

Now that I live in Florida – like Patton I had “the right instrument in the right place at the right time” to achieve my destiny. I was going to drive to Fort Jefferson!

So we left Tallahassee last week with many destinations – but the one in mind most was the Dry Tortugas.

People do not realize how big it is – but one can start at one end of Florida near Pensacola and drive 1000 miles to the other end in the Keys. We were going to drive the 700 miles from Tallahassee to the Keys – and the only real tropical place in the United States before Hawaii. Remember I was in 4th grade pre-1959 and Hawaiian Statehood.

If you have not driven to the Florida Keys – what are you waiting for? Key West is like visiting Honolulu without the $800 cover charge for a plane ticket. The highway to the end of the rainbow has no toll charges.

So far on this trip Lulu has been the trailing spouse. We started by visiting by high school friend Gary in Plantation and were now headed to my friend Ben’s in the Keys. Ben is a retired eye surgeon but we met over our mutual admiration of the Mac computer. Ben was too busy to read software manuals so he found out about me and I would give him abbreviated lessons back in PA. We continue to videoconference about once a week as he travels to his homes in New Zealand, Pennsylvania, Canada and the Keys – all in pursuit of the perfect fish with his perfect wife, Carol. Carol, we found out by watching some expertly produced Ben iDVDs, is actually the better fisherman – a master in fly fishing. They are great people and wonderful hosts. We really resisted the temptation to move in with them.

Of course I know that Fort Jefferson is on an island 70 west of the town of Key West and one must take a boat of plane for the final sprint – but that doesn’t fit into my idea so I avoid it. We took a float plane from Key West – although one can also choose a ferry or a high speed catamaran. 35 minutes and $200 later – 8 passengers walk the final 5 feet thru the water to the Dry Tortugas.

Fort Jefferson was built in the 1850s as a defense of the Florida Straits shipping channel. It is made of 16 million bricks – about 300 cannons – and tons of loneliness. Although never fully finished and never fired upon by a hostile enemy – it symbolizes an era of putting up a defense by building a wall and keeping everyone out. Our country built a ring of these forts around it – like Fort Delaware – Fort Pulaski – Fort Sumter – and so on.

The fort is in remarkable shape considering it has been there about 150 years. Maybe the isolation has kept vandals and thieves away – but the fort looks great. So many architectural ideas are intact – but the best part is the visitor can roam free – hardly ever seeing the 20 or so other people that are on the island. There are few places off limits.

You are allowed to camp on the island for $3 a night. You must bring all your own water and food – and you must take all your garbage home with you. You can swim and snorkel where you want – there are plenty of places you can pitch your tent and sun bathe in any state of clothing.

If you wish to have a free guided tour that it available too.

Dr. Mudd – the man who set John Wilkes Booth’s broken leg after he killed Abraham Lincoln – spent 4 years here as a prisoner after his conviction. At that time the fort housed about 2000 people – half of them deserted Northern soldiers. When yellow fever hit the fort and killed the Army doctor – Dr. Mudd took over and saved many lives. For this – he was granted a pardon by President Andrew Johnson. You can visit the dungeon where they kept Dr. Mudd. Today – it seems much more peaceful and tidy than it must have been.

The 2 hours that we had to roam passed way too fast. At 1 PM – we hopped back on the plane – put the nose into the wind – and headed back to Key West. The 8 passengers had looks of fulfillment and accomplishment on their faces. The faces of concern on the way over were erased by the afterglow of their short rendezvous with history. Already – my mind was romanticizing what I had seen and done. On the plane – my time was shared between reviewing the 200 pictures I took versus “switching my camera over to guns” and taking more pictures of ship wrecks and even a picture of the only private home on the Marqueses Islands on the way back. The blues – greens – purples – and yellows of the shallow warm waters in the Gulf Stream had you dreaming of pirates and treasure that infested this area when the Florida Hurricanes had their way with the inhabitants and travelers – some things never change.

After our perfect landing at the Key West International Airport – we felt like sailors on shore leave in this port town of 50,000 people – enjoying shopping – eating – and even a few special drinks in Margaritaville.

So 700 miles from Tallahassee – we sadly must turn our craft around and head North – leaving behind wonderful friends (Ben and Carol) and marvelous memories. It is great being a resident of Florida and having this tropical and historic playground to explore all year without having to shovel snow and ice. See tons more pictures at –
These opportunities would never have presented themselves without my taking a chance on being The Trailing Spouse.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Our Visit to Doris and Elias - and Ben and Carol

One of the nicest things about being a retired trailing spouse - is being able to travel at the drop of a hat. Sometimes I feel like a puppy standing at the door with my leash in mouth.

Living in Tallahassee, Florida - we are right in the center of some of my favorite travel destinations. New Orleans - Atlanta - Saint Augustine - Tampa - Orlando - Miami - and Key West are all within 10 hours of my front door. Also - there is never a worry of snow or ice on the highways.

On the way to the Keys - we stopped at the home of our friends - Doris and Elias. They live in Homestead. Doris graduated from high school with Lulu back in the 70s - and her home has been a terminal resort of many of our trips. She lives a couple of miles from the gate to the Everglades National Park. In 1992 - when Hurricane Andrew virtually leveled her home - we packed up our old camper with goodies - generators - well pumps - food - clothes - and drove the 1400 miles non-stop from the Northland. They re-built their home - lived in a trailer for a year - and still hunker down for each hurricane that flies by.

It is about 2 hours down the Keys to Ben and Carol's place. Ben was my eye doctor up north - and his home just east of Key West has been in the family for 50 years. In the "old days" - Ben would fly from the Northeast and land on a small runway closeby. Now that he has retired - he flies commercial - and spends 3 months here. I cannot even start to describe how neat this place is - on the water - guest cottages - boats - plants - neat toys.

Living in Florida has so much to offer - great beaches - warm sunshine - lots of pretty plants - excellent highways - and endless destinations. It is also fun to be able to talk to all the tourists and snowbirds - and tell them that we are residents - we live in Tallahassee - one of the few cities in the world that goes by one name. Like Rome - Venice - Berlin - New York - London - everyone knows about Tallahassee - and now it is part of me.

Pictures - Lulu and I on the beach 36 years after honeymoon - Doris, Elias, and Doris's mother down from our old hometown - the plane we will take to Fort Jefferson tomorrow "The Buddy Holly Special" - a wedding on the beach in Key West - and Harry's hero Robert Johnson - the father of rock and rock. "White men can sing the blues unless the Banana Republic runs out of Khakis."

But the best part of living here - is the opportunity that it has offered Lulu to work for a great university and with many world renowned professors. It could not have happened - unless I became "the trailing spouse."

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Seminoles Win in Overtime - We Took Gary Miller to the Game

It is spring break in Tallahassee and at FSU. The trailing spouse has a week off to follow his lovely wife to the Southland.

The drive from Tallahassee to Miami was peaceful. We bought one of those "Sun Passes" at Publix to be able to pass by the toll booths on the turnpike. For once in my life I had the feeling of exclusivity as I passed the long lines of spring breakers stopping to pay the gatekeeper. We arrived at my friend Gary's house in 7 hours.

To our luck - the Seminoles were playing the University of Miami in a must game. So we headed to Coral Gables in the convertible and got to the campus about 1 hour from tip off. We walked around campus and found a fabulous student cafeteria. They aren't like they used to be when I attended Podunk State Teachers College - the variety of food was tremendous and the price really low. Also the students of Miami know how to dress for the 88 degree day that it was. We ate way too much.

Then we walked a couple hundred yards to the Arena - what a pretty tropical campus. Plenty of tickets at the front window for $25 to $35 - but with my trusty fingers in the air - a nice fellow came up and peeled off 3 free ones for us. The ushers did not seem to mind as we sauntered up to the seats right behind the scorer's table. It is amazing how they seldom roust senior citizens and let us sit whereever we wanted.

The game was great - close all the way. FSU dropped to 10 behind with about 4 minutes to go. It looked like we were going to be swept into the garbage for the season. But the Noles were not denied. You could tell that Al Thornton did not want to let it end that way. At the buzzer - Tony Douglas - who has been sidelined for 5 games with a broken hand - hit a 3 to send it into overtime. In the 5th quarter - the Seminoles reached manifest destiny - 98 to 90 - we celebrated. Al had scored 45. 500 miles from home but in the same state.

After the game - we dropped back into the cafeteria - and the nice lady let us "finish" our lunch. UMiami was very nice to us Noles. I was surprised at how many Seminole fans made the trip.

After the game - Lulu and I watched the lunar eclipse on the beach. It was 36 years ago that we did the same thing - on the same beach - on our honeymoon. Where did the time go?

We stayed with my high school classmate Gary. He left our little town in the Appalachians in 1966 - and made it big in the fashion industry. He retired to Miami at age 50 and the high life.

1. 4 years at Pudunk State Teachers College in 1966 - $4000

2. 33 years of teaching in the same 7th grade classroom - $50000

3. Driving to Miami and spending time with your best friend from high school - Priceless

It is a long way from "coal cracker land" to "coral gables land."

Gary Miller lived on Broad Street in a second floor flat above his Mom's dress shop right next to Moser's News Agency in our hometown. He walked to school for 12 years - then off to the Big Apple to find his fame. Me - I do the dishes and laundry for my wife - why - because I am the trailing spouse. "I carry her baggage."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Away in a Manger - Peter and Jane spend the night

Last night - we had special house guests. Jane Robbins and her husband - Peter - stayed in our guest house. Jane was the dean at Florida State that hired Nancy. One the day that Nancy started work here - Jane retired. They now live in East Aurora - just outside of Buffalo. Jane and Peter have turned into snow birds. They were spending some time in the Tampa Area - and now are returning home to the real snow country - where they measure snow in feet - not inches.

Several of the professors that Jane hired dropped by to visit with her. The second picture shows - John - Darrell - Christy - and Nancy with Queen Jane. Not here when picture was taken - Wayne showed up after teaching class.

Jane and Peter left this morning after breakfast in their white VW Passat station wagon - heading north. We hope they come back in the fall and stay longer.