I like people. Most places I go I talk to strangers, much to the chagrin of my family. I almost always find people that I think are interesting and likable no matter how different they are from me. All that being said I am not drawn to the people here in St. Petersburg and most of them are not from here. I wonder how so many people from around the world who clearly belong here all got here?
This morning Russ and I got up and walked three miles down the beach to Pass-a-Grille to eat breakfast in what was the “nicest place.” On the walk we passed many multimillion dollar homes so it was not that it was a down trodden area. The average car was Mercedes, meaning there were higher ones and lower ones. I was a little worried that I was going to be too sweaty to eat at the nicest spot because it was already eighty degrees first thing in the morning.
We arrived and checked in with the hostess and told it would just be a five minute wait and to sit on the benches outside. We were clearly the youngest people waiting, some looking like they were dressed for church, but we were not too out of place. Quickly our name was called and we were ushered into a knotty pine low ceiling diner that could have been in South Jersey.
The waitress was friendly in that “more coffee, hon?” kind of way. As I looked around I realized we were fish out of water. Russ was the only man with either hair or a hair cut. Most older men had long stringy grey hair, the young ones had no hair at all. The older women had tattoos that had seen better days the young women had tattoos that were not going to age well. One woman across from our pine booth had a smokers cough that sounded like she needed her last rites. This was the nicest place for breakfast?
After breakfast we went out on the now fairly crowded beach to make the three mile walk back. It was more of the same, except the tattoos acted as covering instead of bathing suits. Sometimes it is hard to know where to look. One of the only people I saw without major body art was an old man walking towards us in a black banana hammock bathing suit (smaller than a speedo) with a fanny pack. I was dying to say, “regular men’s bathing suits have pockets!” What I would have given for that guy to have a tattoo to cover up some junk.
I have to say that I did not encounter anyone I wanted to carry on a long conversation with the whole day, except my husband. I know he brought me here for a business trip, but what he secretly did was make me cling on to him tightly as the only person I want to talk to or look at. Brilliant move Russ Lange.
Twenty five years ago, before Russ and I got married my father gave him a nice present with a card that read, “Never take my daughter to a Motel 6 again.” This was in reference to the Super 8 motel in Anaheim, California where Russ and I went on a business trip together and I first noticed him.
I am happy to report that Russ has lived up to my father’s demands and has never taken me to any hotel with a number in the name. Now I am thinking my father should have also mentioned that Russ not take me to any place that was “Anaheim like.”
Tuesday is our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. It is quite an occasion to make it all these years and still really like each other. Since we got a surprise new sewer line and are replacing our roof and painting our house all this month I told Russ that is what we were getting for our anniversary. Russ thought that was not good enough, so he offered to take me on a business trip to Florida. It is more like Anaheim than I expected. My father would not be happy.
We are staying at a nice place and we had a fun day visiting botanical gardens, doing a little shopping and walking, walking, walking. The highlight of the day was going to the Italian market where Russ got a giant hoagie for $5.50 that tasted like it was right out of Philly.
As we walked the five lane beach road to go to dinner we passed many motels that could have been mistaken for Motel Six. I felt twenty five years younger. It was as if Russ and I were back in Anaheim, just falling in love. I am quite thankful we have not recreated the hot tub scene in the parking lot of the motel with music blaring from the biker bar next door. Some things are best not relived.
When I was a kid Salvador Dali was just a weird guy. I did not appreciate his art as surrealism was just above my childish head. Today Russ and I went to the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. It was a fabulous experience.
The museum, which is the collection of one couple from Cleveland, came to be in St. Petersburg because no major museum would take their collection in the mid 1970’s. The collector, Mr. Morse, ran a full page story in the Wall Street Journal about the fact that no museum would take the collection and it caught the eye of a young lawyer in St. Petersburg who convinced the Morse Family to donate 92 works of Dali art to a new all Dali museum to be built around their collection. Since that donation the museum has gone on to increase the size of the collection to 2100 works of Dali art.
Dali is most well known for his melting clocks and the museum has one of the two melting clocks works. It is fine, but the real highlight of the museum are 8 of the 22 large format works he made in his later years.
One is a portrait of his wife Gala, from the rear, but if you view it for far enough away you realize it is a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. These giant format works best viewed in person so yo can see the optical illusions Dali had painted into them.
After a great time discovering the genius of Dali, Russ and I enjoyed a lovely Spanish lunch outside in the garden from the museum cafe. The gazpacho had us right back in Spain. What a treat it all was.
My high school friend Mary Derbyshire has written a book about agility and balance. She is trained in the Alexander method and has been training people for 35 years in fitness and balance. Mary went to Northwestern after Ethel Walkers and is smart as well as fit and funny. This is her first book and there is a limited deal. If you order at Amazon for a kindle download before May 2 you can get it for .99¢. If Mary gets 250 people to order it by then she will become an Amazon bestsellers and that improves her listing in searches. For less than a buck you have not much to lose and perhaps a lot to gain.
The older I get the more I appreciate balance. Falling is no longer something I can laugh about when I am splayed on the sidewalk. I am getting to the fear of a broken hip stage of life. Quite frankly any form of exercise is needed, but none can happen effectively without good balance.
So here is the link to pre-order her book. It goes live on May 2 when you can download it. After May 2 it will cost $7.99. Save the seven dollars and get it today.
The other day my friend Michelle was talking about a flight she took with her family earlier this year. They had to make a connection in Atlanta and go from terminal A to terminal F. Their first flight arrived late and they bolted to the next gate to find out that their plane was still there, but the gate agent had given their seats away and rebooked them into middle seats. It was infuriating since they made the flight and those standby passengers could have been given those middle seats.
Today I got a notice that something I had ordered had been shipped and I went to the tracking page and was able to see exactly where my package is now and when it will be delivered to my house. Seems to me that airlines could get a lot more customer satisfaction, something they could use right now, if they would treat connecting passengers like packages and track them.
The information already exists to know if a person boarded a plane, if that plane landed and which gate it landed at. All the airlines need to do is create algorithms that say how long it takes the average passenger to walk from one gate to the next. They could improve the accuracy if they also included where on the first plane someone was sitting so they could judge how long it might take them to deplane. Throw in an extra three minute for a bathroom stop and the gate agents at the second leg should be able to know if connecting passengers are going to make a flight or not.
Let’s add some more improvements. If there are twenty people trying to connect and they are going to hold the departure of the plane up by five minutes isn’t that worth doing because the system could tell the gate agent that there are not 20 free seats on the next flight. The information exists, but it is not being utilized to make smart, customer friendly decisions.
Today airlines have built in so much fat in the flying times so that they can make on time arrivals we should stop caring about on time departures. Who cares if you take off on time as long as you arrive on time.
It seems ridiculous that packages are treated better than people. Hey every airline out there– hire some UPS data analysis people and take better care of your passengers.
Graduation is a month away for Carter and her friends. I want to celebrate the occasion for a few close friends. I already have ordered gifts for girls. Girls, they are easy to buy for, but what to get boys? Coming from a family of all girls I have no idea what to get boys.
If I went on advice my father might give me I would be breaking the law I. What boys in college might want. Going on advice I might get from my husband I wouldn’t understand the technology he might suggest. So I am turning to you, dear readers. What might a young man as a graduation gift?
Wild ideas are appreciated, but extravagant ones, like cars, or surf boards are not needed. I can think of expensive things myself. Also these need to be gifts that the parents would not frown upon, so nothing naughty. I appreciate all your brilliance.