Thursday, January 29, 2004

The Saxophonist

Leaving the ship after 8pm while docked in Nassau is surprising.  The crowds of travelers from the ships on the hunt for Del Sol t-shirts, duty free jewelry, and rum liqueur are now absent from the island. How different the city is now.  The feverish pitch of the recent day has given way to a languid balmy evening.

The city is anything but asleep and appears as if it has pulled into itself.  The Christmas lights still are hung and  turned on at the British Colonial Hilton.  The bars are open, yet no tourists, just the local folk and hotel guests grace the tables and the bar stools.

Only two shops remain open on the stretch of store fronts that line the Woodes Rogers Walk, the first that the tourists see while entering the island from the cruise ships.

Small groups of natives hush to an eerie silence as Joe and I come closer and then pass.  We hear their voices resume as we reach some distance from them.  We walk to the Hilton, turn and then walk back.  We pass the Senor Frog's, the Pirate Museum, a Cuban restaurant on a second story veranda, the patrons eating, drinking and laughing.

As we continue our walk back to the Prince George Wharf,  we feel as if we are the only two people on this lonely slumbering street.  The low soft sounds of a saxophone drift towards us.  As we come closer to the entrance of the Welcome Center we see a lone street musician.  I am enchanted and stop to listen.  With delight I recognize the song, "Yesterday." He begins another...."You are my Hero." The sound is haunting. He has adjusted each piece ever so slightly to make it his own.  I take all the dollars I have and place them in the cup at his feet. 

As we are on the dock that leads us to the gang plank, the sound of his saxophone floats towards us, gently following us back to the ship.  I had chills running down my spine.

For the times I wish to remember this trip, my mind will return to the image of the lone saxophonist playing to the abandoned streets of Nassau.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Majesty of the Seas

The ship!  The beauty and magnitude of an ocean worthy hotel!   12 stories of state rooms, casinos, bars, swimming pools & hot tubs, restaurants, life boats, and exercise room and running track!  Taking one of six elevators was difficult to near impossible most the day if you wanted to get somewhere quickly, so we did a lot of stair climbing. We were on the 4th floor, the food and pool on the 11th.  I'll say no more. 

What I savor the most about the ship experience was getting up early in the morning and heading to the 11th floor and watching the sun rise. I would drink the delicious coffee (addict) and eat the melt in your mouth croissants.  Everything at that time of day is quiet and peaceful.  Around 730am the murmurs 8am it was a full blown crescendo of human voices. 

We participated in or watched an activity every night.  The most fun was a rated X scavenger hunt.  Not really as risqué as it sounds, but a rollicking good time.  We attended a midnight dinner with dancing one evening. A very enthusiastic group of party seekers also attended.  . Visulize the tasmanian devil doing the Freddie. (does anyone else remember the Freddie?)

Standing at the pool bar one afternoon after arriving back from the CoCo Cay beach, someone yelled, "Hey Joe! Hey Lexington!" (actually they yelled his last name and the small town we are from).  To our astonishment, there were seven people aboard the ship from our small town! 

Money is not allowed on the ship.  Everything is charged to the room.  The bar bills, the excursions, the photo's, the duty free perfume...just everything.  It becomes so easy to just sign that little slip of paper. The total bill?  Let's just say, not as bad as last year!

Beginnings make the endings so sad.  Four days of not having to worry about a thing.  Four days of not having to think about a thing....Nothing.  This is bliss.    

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Week-End Update

Great weekend.  Things at work are beginning to pick up.  My boss asked if I wanted to attend the African American Ball Saturday night.  I said "sure!".  I went with Ted, one of my co-workers.  We also had Jason go with us, an ex-coworker who is now with the University of Kentucky Athletic Dept.(Joe could not go, we have his 9 year old daughter every week end, too short notice to find a "Babysitter")  Plus three of Ted's neighbors. We had a blast.  This is one of the tremendous benefits of the company I work for...we are involved with most every big company in the area in one way or another.  Makes for some great perks.

We are going to start training for the big three running races in Louisville in about two weeks. Oh boy!

Also Joe and I received a piece of junk mail about cruises in Europe.  And we saw a travel show with Rick Steven about Italy.  Even more wierd is that I am reading "Under the Tuscan Sun".  I think it all means the trip next year is Europe! 

Only have two more stories about the Bahama trip and then it is finished.

As a Chinese poet said (and I paraphrase), to recreate something  in words is like being alive twice. 

I  understand that sentiment.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Ocean Drive

When we returned to Miami we headed to our hotel at 9am.  They were nice enough to give us a room.  The bell hop was so kind and helpful.  He gave us directions to the Metro Mover and the names of the stops we need to get back to Little Havana. He also gave us the bus directions to South Beach.

After a harrowing ride hanging on while we crossed the I95 causeway we landed in South Beach and began to walk. We stumbled upon the Art Deco Weekend festival being held on Ocean Blvd. 

It was beautiful as much as it was fun.  The crowds milling about seemed more local than tourists. The street side of Ocean were open cafes one after the other.  The ocean side was the visual technicolor of booths and vendors.  Everything from Art Deco antiques to T-shirts, paintings and photographs, jewelry and magic wands.  Whimsical and delightful everything was swirled together with a parade of the most beautiful people imaginable, the smell of mouth watering food and the quintessential Hatuey beer. 

The back drop was the Art Deco style buildings with the neon and the soft pastel colors surrounded by palm trees and the golden light of a fading afternoon ....well, this is my next favorite memory of the trip.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Ron Harris

Larger than Life

There are a handful of people who are bigger than life.  Ron Harris is one of those people.  Despite the fact that he is 6-4 and probably 250+ pounds, Ron is special because of his big heart and loving nature.

 I met Ron and his wife Shirley way back in the late 70's.  Shirley was the bar manager of the bluegrass bar I worked.  As you can see, Ron is a musician.  He was a local celebrity, but managed to play all over the world with some renown Blues Bands.

I left Lexington in 1980 and did not return until the early 90's.  When I ran into Ron it was if we picked up a conversation we left off last week. 

Here are two of my favorite recent Ron stories.  He was playing in Germany and collapsed on the stage.  When he came to, he was in a hospital hooked up to every imaginable machine and surrounded by some very concerned faces. "Mr. Harris, you have one week to live." Ron jumped out of the bed, pulled out the IV's and said, "Well, then hell I ain't spending my last days in no damn hospital!"

Thank God they were wrong.

Second story.  His daughter is going to Transy U. in Lexington taking a music appreciation class.  The professor says something, she rolls her eyes and makes some sort of disagreeing noise.  The professor is stunned by the overt challenge of a student and asks to see her after class.

"My father would say you were full of crap," she told him, "Just who is your father, then?" "Ron Harris."  The guy is silent for a moment. "Ron Harris....THE Ron Harris?"  Ends up Ron had taught this guy to play guitar when the prof was in high school. 

I just found out today Ron had a heart attack and passed away while we were in Florida. He was only 52.

 I think he is up in heaven organizing and winning talent contests.  When he would pick the guitar with his teeth....well, no one ever could top that.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Life lesson in Nassau

Anyone who has been to Nassau knows that to say it is a tourist trap is stating the obvious.  Yet you cannot deny that it is one of the most beautiful places to visit during a weary winter.  If you are able to get off the beaten path, out of the way of the hair braiders, the taxi drivers, the "free" bracelets which make you an honorary native of the Bahamas, and find those little areas, it indeed becomes paradise. 

Joe wanted a license plate from the Bahamas.  He read in a travel guide that you could actually purchase one on the island.  It was obvious that we would not be able to find it in the straw market.  Nor would we locate one in the many stores along the main streets that were overflowing with the travelers from the three ships at port. 

As we turned down a side street we saw an "open" sign sitting out on the sidewalk in front of a dark wood door.  In the window was a neon beer sign. We looked at each other, shrugged and pushed open the door. 

That's how we found "Busey."  A small bar with six seats, two tables against the wall, one patron drinking a Heineken. The back bar was a table of some sort with a dark rum barrel cut in two from top to bottom, hinged together with a set of shelves on each.  The shelves held the bottles of liquor, which we were not allowed to drink, since his restaurant had yet to be officially opened. 

Busey listened to Joe ask about the Nassau license plate and then he disappeared.  15 minutes later he returns with a plate and proudly hands it to Joe.  1977!  In beautiful condition.  Busey is very pleased that Joe is blown away and would not accept any money.

 Everywhere we stepped on this island someone was ready to separate us from our money.  Meeting Busey was a message to let me know that you can never make sweeping generalizations about anything!

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Little Havana

Last year, it was dark when we left the hotel and hit the streets.  I was apprehensive about being out in an unfamiliar area at night.  My fears were quickly laid to rest when we stumbled upon a production crew filming a commercial around the corner from our hotel.  I figured that we were safe, the police would not allow the main export (Miami's photogenic nature) to be compromised.

We roamed the dark streets and at that hour, on a Sunday night, everything was closed.  We were so hungry!  It was then that we saw Tony's restaurant.  Its soft neon glow beckoning to  us.  The place was empty. Being the only customers, we received the royal treatment.  Fish in brown sauce for me, Jamaican steak for Joe. We tried to pay with a credit card, but Tony only accepted cash.  All our money was in the hotel room.. 

So I take off. Tony assured me that I would be safe and I believed him. That and the fact that the commercial crew was so close to us.  I was lost immediately.  1st Ave. S.E., 1st. St. S.E., 1st. Ave S.W....aaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!! I spotted a woman smoking a cigarette in the doorway of an office building and somehow she was able to give me instructions, in Spanish, to find the hotel. 

I  made my way back to Tony's.  The 20 minute walk to the hotel took five minutes returning to the restaurant.

The next day we passed by Tony's restaurnat  numerous times.  He was always sitting in the seat by the window. We would wave at him, he would wave back.  We grinned at each other. His restaurant was located one half block from Biscayne Ave, the Bayside Market, and the Port of Miami. I would not have traded the meal I ate at his place for any of the national chains located a stones throw away.

When we returned last week, I looked forward to returning to Tony's. It was not to be.  The building was surrounded by a chain link fence.  Slated to be torn down to make way for progress.  

My first impressions of Miami were of Tony and his place. The feeling of being able to run through unfamiliar streets without fear and full of exhilaration, I wanted to thank him for that.  Thank him for something more than just dinner.

Yellow Bird Recipe

I'm warning you all, this is divine!

1 oz. 151 dark rum

.5 oz galliano

.5oz banana liqueur

2 oz orange juice

2oz grapefruit juice

Shake, pour over ice in tall glass, garnish with fruit (pineapple slice, cherry etc).


Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Key West

I am the type of person who will pick up a magazine and begin at the back.  With that being said, I am having a difficult time on choosing a place to begin the story of Mary & Joe's  Big Adventure in the Bahamas 2004.

 So, I'll begin in Key West, at the back of the trip.   This was the Port we were really looking forward to.  Since the ship is in the port for the day only, there is only so much you can cram in.  And we wanted to see everything again, and discover more.

 We found the bar called "Rick's Tree House" on Duval Street. It opens onto the street.  I mean the bar is literally on the street.  We grabbed two bar stools and sat back and began to take in the town.  We left the island last year with such a sense of the place, that it was exciting to be back.

 The bartender was a trip.  The group of us gathered around the bar realized that one of the colorful characters of Key West was right before us. We coaxed his story out of him. 

 Tommy was ex-cop, New York City.  He was injured in the line of duty and found his way to Key West. He was originally Homicide, but was shot at so continuously that he felt it was in his best interest to switch to "community police," which meant bicycle duty.  That is where he was finally taken out by the most heinous of them all, little old lady with big car.

 So he headed to Key West and wrote a book. He even has a publisher lined up! Writing came easy to him.  He just used himself as his main character.  He was Good Tommy, Evil Tommy, Brave Tommy, Stupid Tommy...and each individual began to take on a personality and role in the story.   

When he would have writers block, or feel  he was forcing it, he would head out into the Keys for R&R.  When inspiration was restored, he would return to the book. 

Key West is so beautiful that you just want to fall back into it and stay forever. Write books and head to the beautiful pearl necklace of islands for soul nourishment. 

What a life. 

Monday, January 19, 2004

Bang The Drum All Day

When Todd Rundgren wrote the words ...."I don't want to work, I  want to bang the drum all day", he must have met the gentleman above standing next to the guy with the hat.  Ha ha.

The Bahama's have been described by poets so I will not try.

We had a blast.  The shaky nature of all the digital photos will attest to that.  Too many Yellow Birds.

I have some 35mm film I took to Sams club today that I hope will have a few good pictures .

Thank you Price Line!  The rooms we had at Hyatt before leaving and then at the Raddison when we returned were knock down fabulous with breath taking views of Miami.

I have some wonderful experiences to share with you guys. We stumbled upon the Art Deco Festival in South Beach on Friday much to my delight.  We rode around on the Metro Mover, we rode a bus, we met character after character everywhere we went. 

We flew home via Detroit...two hours late.  Sat on the run way while they de-iced the plane.  It was enough to make one cry.

I don't want to work, I just want to bang on the drum all day.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Miami Bound

We are leaving this morning!  Will return on January 17th.

I'm going to miss everyone.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Hippie Handbook

Writing my last entry, I wondered if I could find my copy of the above catalog.  And I did.  Do you all recoginze it?  It is not the original title, which is "The Whole Earth Catalog" and featured a photo of the Earth from the Moon.  1970, I think.  Remember we had just landed on the Moon in 1969.

It was before the internet, before 800 numbers.  It was mail order at its finest.  You could find just about anything that had to do with "getting back to the Earth".  Pot belly stoves, marijuana growing handbooks, greenhouses, clothes etc. etc. etc. And as an added bonus, there was a fictional story that was included on the borders of the pages.

Simpler times.

Friday, January 9, 2004

Ode to a Pot Belly

red cloud, potbelly [front]

 Oh the Memories.

When I awoke this morning to Mother Natures beautiful white blanket, I found my thoughts going back to "that snowfall" of many years gone by. I was living in the most western reaches of Kentucky, in a little town called Paducah. It was very hip to live in the country back then. And I really mean... the country.  I lived on a farm that was five miles out of town. Then you traveled down a gravel road. That road finally emptied into a cleared area where a small four room tenant farm house rested. 

The furnace did not work. It scared me anyway and I was glad when we had to stop purchasing home fuel and bought for  a mere $100 a pot belly heater called a Warm Morning. 

Now, I am a city girl. Both my parents are from New York City. My father is dangerous with a screwdriver and I am his daughter.  I would look at that Warm Morning and cuss.  Yet, I learned how to start a fire in it, I learned how to bank it, I learned how to shake it down in the morning, and after shaking it down, I got it going again.  Yup, this little old city girl could get that Warm Mourning fired up faster and faster as the days grew colder and colder. 

1977.  The worst blizzard I have ever seen.  It snowed 18 inches. Then stopped and the sun came out, began to melt everything.  Then, the sky darkened and it snowed another foot.  I would walk outside, fall through the top 12 inches, hit the ice on top of the first 18 inches, pause for a moment and then plunge up to my waist in the snow.  Very difficult trying to find wood to get the smoldering coal back to a blaze. 

I always wondered about the name, Warm Morning.  Was it a joke?  Some twisted mind from the 1800's called that humor?  Was it intended as an oxymoron? My experience was this....there was no Warm Morning that winter.   

Thursday, January 8, 2004


I just found this beautiful journal!


Wednesday, January 7, 2004

Blog Block

I sat for a long time last night trying to create a journal entry.  I ended up deleting it.  It just was uninspired and quite frankly boring.

When did my life become lacking in drama?  There is a lull in the industry that I claim to work in.  Things should begin to pick back up in spring.  My personal life is calm, like the surface of a tranquil lake.  The lines in my face from stress and the everyday demands life makes on me are relaxed and softened.  What is up?

Could it be that the daily upheavels coupled with all the drama that my daughter presented to me each and everyday of our lives since she turned a teenager are actually over? The years have been rocky ever since she entered Middle School.  I lost my influence and grip on her.  I was replaced by a bunch of thugs whom she considered to be her best friends.  I lost her for many years, yet I was always the one to pick up the pieces, to rescue her, and what I finally realized was enabling her.

All that changed miraculously when she met her boyfriend S. A man came to my rescue!!!! How I hate to say that, but it is the truth.  Love can change the world. He has been a blessing.  He has dramatically changed her life and turned it around, and subsequently mine.

No longer do I deal with wrecked cars, the inside of court rooms and judges, paying bail, and crying at the funerals of "children" I loved.  Those kids who were not equipped to make the right choices in regards to drugs, alcohol and vehicles. "Children" who were overwhelmed with struggles that demand coping skills people twice their ages lack.

Enjoying my life calm and boring ?  I answered my own question. 


Sunday, January 4, 2004

Count Down

In one week Joe and I will be flying to Miami!  Hurray!  We will be going on a five day four night cruise on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.  We went last year (sounds so funny to call 2003 last year ) on the same cruise.  I liked it a lot because you were always somewhere rather than "at sea".  The above picture is from an island called Coco Cay that the RCCL owns.  You lay around all day and snorkel, drink, sunbath, drink, eat, drink, walk to get a get the idea.

I love the colors of the Bahamas.  I would love to paint our house the fun colors of the islands, but I think there must be some law in Kentucky that says you can't.

I am getting excited. 

I went to the Lexington Community College and paid my admission fee.  I will be able to sign up for classes on line on the 6th of January.  I think I will begin with an easy 100 level for computer design.  I'm excited about that too, though the class will begin the week I'm gone.  Guess that is the best class to miss, if you have to miss one.

Thursday, January 1, 2004

Ride in the New Year

I am not one to stick to resolutions.  Though,  for lent once I decided to give up all sweets (candy, cupcakes, cookies) and I did it.  That was a miracle!

I have compiled a long list of things I would like to accomplish this year. Next step is to figure out an action plan to acheive them!

Number one is to take a class at the University of Kentucky's sister school, Lex. Community College.  I want to take a computer class to learn things like web design.

I want to finish the triple crown of running again, which means I have to start training very soon. (good for loosing the weight I have piled on the past several months).

There is a triathlon at Disney World my sister Kit and I participated in and I would like to do it again in May. (no aligators in the lagoon...know this first hand, Kit and I both were concerned about this before hand.  My friend Debbie promiced to stand by with raw chicken just in case)

I want to take the master gardener class and then parlay that into some type of community garden, this year or next. I think this may be the answer to my wanting to find a way to give back.

I want to take a  bible study class .  I did one several years ago and was blown away at my lack of knowledge and familiarity with the Bible.  I guess that is my Catholicism showing.

Have idea for small business that may or may not work.  Need to get marketing plan together for feasibility.

That should keep me busy through February. HA!

Happy New Year Everyone!