(Almost) Nothing but Net

Dominique, Jackson, and I had a couple of free hours yesterday so we checked in at The Drop Zone, a Tallahassee hot spot for school aged youngsters. Why weren't these trampoline play areas around when I was a kid?

My photography won't win any awards, but that's okay. Jackson had fun while Dominique mainly lolled around the spectators' area with me.

Peace and trampolines, people!

A Little Slice of Haven

For Mother’s Day my son purchased a couple of gift certificates for me for services at Haven, a spa in Tallahassee. I’m a big fan of spas and believe there should be one on every corner, like Starbucks or McDonalds, where patrons just walk up to a counter and order “a deep tissue massage with a side of facial.” Now that would be a perfect world.

I do treat myself to spa treatments fairly regularly, but I’d never been to Haven. Their website was great, and I was able to book my appointment online. That was a big plus, in my book. 

Being a bit of an overachiever, I scouted out the location of the spa one afternoon last week when I was in the neighborhood. Inside Haven the vibe was just the right sort of mellow. As an added plus, one of my favorite local cafés, Canopy Road, was nearby. 

Today was the big day. I arrived a few minutes early for my 60-minute acupressure massage with Steve Peuckert, and was met at the door by a friendly young woman, Pam, I believe, who had me complete the easy peasy paperwork for a first timer. 

One of my pet peeves is going to a new spa and having to fill out two sides of a form. By the time I’m finished I’m more stressed than I was when I entered. But Haven’s questionnaire had five quick questions. Even I don’t mind answering five questions.

Steve took me back immediately and soon I was drifting away into the land of ahhhhhs. I’m an aficionado of great massage therapists, and Steve skyrocketed to the top of my list. The man knows his stuff. I rebooked before leaving the salon.

Haven Spa offers discounts to customers who check in on Facebook, Google+, or Yelp when they arrive at the spa. That’s about as good as it gets, right? Haven might not have a franchise on every corner, but they make it easy to get a wonderful and affordable spa experience.

I didn’t receive any products or free services for this piece on Haven Spa. As usual I just wanted to let my friends in on a really great business. Here’s a link to their website: http://www.ilovehaven.com/

Peace, people.

Life in the Slow Lane

Last Saturday afternoon Studly Doright decided we needed to drive the convertible into Tallahassee for dinner at a local sports bar. The weather was perfect with temps in the mid-80’s and a smattering of towering cumulonimbus clouds off to the west.

We drove east bound down a series of two lane back roads all the way into Tallahassee enjoying the peaceful late summer ambience at a leisurely pace. No worries, no hurries.

I’m not a big fan of the sports bar we went to, so I won’t mention it by name. The service is terrible–I’ve never gotten what I’ve ordered on the first try–but the waitresses are earnest in their cluelessness. They’re also adorable, which I suspect is Studly’s reason for being a repeat customer. 

On the way home the temps had dropped a bit and the clouds were more numerous. Studly and I both agreed it was an evening  meant for driving around with the top down.

Don’t you think the cloud pictured below looks like a frog? See his little leg on the left? 
We turned down Lanier Rd, a pleasant two lane that roughly parallels our neighborhood. 

I’d planned on snapping a photo of the canopy formed by the live oaks on either side of Lanier, but as we approached the canopied section we noticed flashing lights.

A tree limb had fallen and was blocking the road.  
Studly tried to convince the sheriff’s deputy that we had plenty of clearance to drive through. Fortunately the officer discouraged that. There was nothing to do but retrace our route and approach Doright Manor from another direction.

As we made a U-turn and drove away from the tree, Studly mentioned that we’d taken that very route to the restaurant. Thank goodness the tree waited for us to pass before dropping a limb. 

Who knew that life in the slow lane could be hazardous?

Safely stabled. 

Peace, people! 

Numbering Things

I recently began blogging a series of photos I’ve snapped in and around Tallahassee. From the start I was super conscientious about scrupulously sticking to the truth: photo #1, #2, and so on.

Now, I’ve lost count, so I’m just labeling them willy nilly. Next up, photo 9,456, 785, 321.7. Enjoy.

I call this one, “A Pair of Keets and then some.”  

Art in the Park

A couple of weeks ago I shrugged off my nagging back pain to attend the LeMoyne Chain of Parks Arts Festival in downtown Tallahassee.

The day was gorgeous, seemingly made for enjoying the arts and soaking in the sun. Here are just a few of the photos I snapped that afternoon.   
Art was everywhere, and much of it was for sale. It’s not often that I wish to be wealthy, but that day I did. 

I love functional art and these handcrafted sinks by Indikoi Sinks fit that category beautifully.   
Check them out online at www.indikoisinks.com

Then look at these gorgeous designs from Aquatic Impressions! 


Here’s how they’re made:

I purchased a cutting board.

Hanging around with famous folks.

I really want this bicycle to decorate my courtyard area. Of course I also want a dinosaur and a Buddha and maybe a 30 foot tall bacon sculpture.

This was created from an actual leaf. 


Estate Sale Find

Estate sales are my weakness. More so than garage sales, estate sales are often poignant looks into the lives of the people who’ve inhabited a home.

Last week I stumbled onto a sale in the Old Town section of Tallahassee. Many of the homes in this part of town are on large lots with huge trees and lovingly tended gardens. The estate sale home was one of these well-kept older residences.

Bypassing the items displayed in the covered parking area I entered the kitchen and found my treasure. 

I picked it up and was surprised by its weight which I estimate to be about a pound and a half to two pounds. I wasn’t sure what it was. Then I opened it:

Ah! A clue! Two little shot glasses. Surely this was some type of mobile Victorian bar set. Swizzle sticks and limes could go in the little trough….

Just as I was contemplating my first sip of whisky from one of the tiny glasses a woman approached me and said, “Oh! You found a nice inkwell. And it has the glasses intact!”

Yes, I nodded. I knew it all the time. 

I still think I could have a little nip from it. 

Peace, people!

Criminal Animation

On a typical Saturday morning one would usually find me wandering around Tallahassee or neighboring communities while Studly plays eighteen holes at Southwood Golf Club. I had planned to explore the annual LeMoyne Chain of Parks Art Festival this morning, but a bulging disc (not nearly as glamorous as it sounds) and the threat of rain have kept me homebound. Maybe tomorrow….

I’ve had a couple of cups of coffee enhanced with Irish cream, and a protein bar for breakfast. The forest in my backyard is bathed in that processed chrome lighting that accompanies cloudy days in the Florida panhandle. It looks as though a fae clan might emerge at any moment to dance around the toadstools growing beneath a magnolia tree. I keep watch, just in case.

I’m doing laundry and watching Saturday morning cartoons, and I have a complaint to lodge. Namely, whoever the hell is doing the animation for the cartoon Alvinnn!!! and the Chipmunks should be arrested posthaste and forced to serve a life sentence watching the original series. Maybe he/she/they would learn what Alvin and company should look like and draw them accordingly.

My years spent sitting enraptured by Saturday morning television surely qualify me as an expert in the field of cartoon esthetics, and what I’ve witnessed this morning is a disgrace. So, how do I report this travesty? The chipmunks look like sleazy rodents instead of clean cut, chubby cheeked faux-teenagers. 

Flipping through the channels I find that few of my other cartoon favorites have fared any better. They’re either so heavily computer-generated that they look nothing like the originals or drawn so poorly that their original animators must be rolling over in their respective graves.

Today’s children, though, have been raised on this second-rate fare, plus, they have so many more choices than my brothers and I had with our three channels (ABC, NBC, CBS) that I suppose they don’t realize what they’re missing.

But I do, and it makes me sad. 



Peace, people.

Sweet Weekend, Part 2

I had so much fun bumming around the Word of [South] festival on Saturday that I couldn’t wait to return on Sunday. Pre-festival I stopped in at one of my favorite eateries, the Crepevine for breakfast and then once at Cascades Park I was immediately handed a free mimosa. Life was good!

Part of me was a little nervous that Sunday wouldn’t be able to compete with Saturday, but that free mimosa totally erased my doubts. I’m uncomplicated that way.

My first stop was to the stage where an act billed as The Sonnet Man was already in progress. http://www.thesonnetmannyc.com  

This young man has set Shakespeare’s sonnets and soliloquies to music, creating “Hip-Hop Shakespeare Fusion.” He was incredibly fun. I loved watching the kids in the audience head bobbing to Sonnet 130

Next up on the same stage was musician Jim White, whose debut album, The Mysterious Tale of How I Shouted “Wrong-Eyed Jesus” was the inspiration behind the 2003 doucumentary “Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus.”

I became an instant fan of Jim White who bills himself on his website as “songer/songwriter, author, fine art photographer, crackpot philosopher, folk artist, record producer, film maker, dad.” He’s quirky, immensely talented, and might be a little addictive.

Jim’s set made me thirsty. There might’ve been alcohol involved, but I had decisions to make. Did I want to listen to Grant Peeples and Tom Franklin or Chatham County Line? Ultimately I flipped a coin and ended up at Grant Peeple’s gig. 

Pictured below is Grant. He’s the bald guy. I didn’t catch his guitarist’s name. A self-described “’vegetarian that watches NASCAR, and tree-hugger with a gun below the seat,’Grant Peeples is known for his axe-sharp socio-political tunes, raucous humor and heart-gigging ballads.”

Watching the crowd as Grant performed, it occurred to me that many in attendance weren’t quite grasping that his lyrics were hitting close to home. He poked pointed fun at the GOP, racists, homophobes, etc., and they loved him. 

Trading off with Grant was author Tom Franklin, who read aloud excerpts from his novel, Smonkhttps://g.co/kgs/uCw4M

I didn’t get to the book tent in time to purchase his book, but it quickly was added to my wish list on Amazon. He writes the south as he sees it, and he sees it clearly. 

Next on my impromptu itinerary was author Adam Johnson. Adam is an FSU graduate with some serious writing credentials. According to Wikipedia “Adam Johnson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist and short story writer. 

“He won the Pulitzer for his 2012 novel, The Orphan Master’s Son. He is also a professor of English at Stanford University with a focus on creative writing.”

Adam read his short story, Nirvana, and had the audience in the palm of his hand. Check out this man’s work. He is amazing. https://g.co/kgs/ZdTev

You’d think I could’ve gone home happy after all I’d experienced, but like a glutton I stayed for one more author, renowned columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. Having read Mr. Pitts’s column in the Miami Herald for years I could scarcely believe I was sitting just a few feet from him as he read excerpts from his latest novel, Grant Park.  

I was in awe, and pray that I didn’t sit there on the front row with my jaw hanging open like a beached fish during his talk. He also offered his keen insights on the current political climate in the U.S. and accepted questions from the audience. 

As soon as the applause died down at the end of the presentation I sprinted to the book sellers’ tent and bought a copy of Grant Park

Best of all, I made him laugh when he signed my book. Leonard Pitts, Jr. has a great laugh. Here’s the link to his website:

What an awesome day. I cannot wait to dig into the books I purchased, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s festival.

Peace, and happy reading, people.

Sweet Weekend, Part I

If days were desserts this past weekend would have been a fresh slice of orange sponge cake, piled high with luscious red strawberries and topped with cream cheese icing. It was that good.

After a ridiculously pleasant night’s sleep Friday night (thank you Tempur-pedic!), a refreshing shower, and a hearty breakfast I dressed and headed into Tallahassee on Saturday for the Word of [South] Festival of Literature and Music.

This marks the festival’s second year. I was in La Antigua de Guatemala last April and missed out. Not that I’m complaining. My week in Antigua was the experience of a lifetime. And from what I hear the festival saw its share of rain in 2015.

There was not even a hint of precipitation this time around, though, as authors, musicians, and artists from all over the country shared their time and talents with those of us in Tallahassee. There was something for everyone, from gospel, folk, soul, rock, and jazz on the musical spectrum and every imaginable genre on the literary side.

Cascades Park hosted the event and one had only to walk from one venue to another within the park to experience a completely new vibe. And did I mention that with the exception of two concerts  the event was free of charge? Sweet!   

I wandered aimlessly for a bit before finding a schedule of events for one of the stages.

The Biergarten stage was just one of five venues featuring performers. Seeing Rita Coolidge’s name on the list I hurried over to grab a seat. I had no idea who Leslie Poole and Paul Garfinkel were, but I arrived as their set was in progress and fell in love with their words and message.

Ms. Poole, the author of several books about Florida, read from her most recent published work, Saving Florida. I’m not a native Floridian, so learning about the efforts of women on the front lines of environmental activism in the Sunshine State was an eye-opening experience. 

Mr. Garfinkel’s engaging folk songs woven around Florida’s delicate ecosystem bestowed even greater weight to Ms. Poole’s vignettes as the two traded places in the spotlight. Their performance was a lively, thought-provoking give and take.

Leslie Poole, left, Paul Garfinkel and his accompanist.

Then the beautiful Rita Coolidge took the stage.


Rita, a graduate of Florida State University, read from her memoir Delta Lady, and entertained the crowd with tales of her bohemian days as an art major here. 

Rita, like all of the artists and authors, signed books after her presentation.


My friend Julie and her lovely mom enjoyed Rita’s talk with me. We hadn’t arranged to meet at the event; it just happened. Sweet, right?

After Rita’s presentation I had lunch at the Edison and ran into yet another friend, Cathy, who made room for me next to her place at the bar. We then hustled over to another of the stages to hear Diane Roberts read excerpts from her book, Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America.


Having grown up in Texas, I could completely relate to Diane’s college football obsession. This woman, a professor at FSU, is hysterically funny. If you have any love for the game you need this book. Even if you despise the game you need this book. 

I knew Studly would be getting restless, so I headed home shortly after having Ms. Roberts sign my newly purchased copy of her book. When I got home he was chomping at the bit to take the Goldwing out for an evening drive, so we suited up (“all the gear, all the time” is our motto) and rode over to Havana for a meal at a local Italian restaurant, providing the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Tomorrow I’ll share photos of Sunday at the festival. I’m still on an intellectual and emotional high after my experiences. 

Peace, people!