We made a trip to Florida in the middle of April when we were scheduled to use the family condo on Longboat Key near Sarasota, on the Gulf coast of Florida. Overlapping with Stephen’s sister Alice & her husband John for only a couple of days in order to celebrate Stephen’s 73rd birthday. Nephew David drove from his home in Miami to join.

While they use the condo for several months each year, we must plan more carefully for one of the longest flights in the country, diagonally from the NW corner to the SW corner. For years, I have needed this slot of time to prepare for the Spring Art Studio Tour, but because we’ve moved to Point Ruston, our life has changed in so many ways, including losing my eligibility to participate in that event.

As well, we’ve been recuperating from exhaustion after the difficult processes of selling Soundcliff & making the move. Our winter has seemed longer, colder & wetter than even our usual, so we were happy to head for warm, sunny beach time.

It was a great treat to have two rare weeks to ourselves! We made breakfast after sleeping late & sometimes cooked for ourselves, but often found dinner at one of the numerous good restaurants nearby. It was interesting to sample fish from the very different waters of the South Atlantic to our Pacific Northwest.

I’ve long joked, having grown-up on the plains, that “Florida is Kansas with palm trees”… & so it is. Both are flat… sometimes also in sociopolitical ways. I’ve often critiqued both rather negatively. But over the years I have come to appreciate some gentler opinions. I suspect age might have something to play here as well.

I was quite ready for the recuperative aspects of the good weather, even as it was several times rainy. More time to read! I picked up a hardbound book by a very Florida novelist, Carl Hiaason, named Squeeze Me; it had much of the humor for which he is known, while spinning a complicated mystery involving pythons & a winter White House full of other kinds of snakes. It had been a long time since I’d read a non-digitized book inside an ofttimes unwieldy cover, but it worked well on the beach, where my iPad would not. It was delightfully silly… perfect as part of my new!

David stayed another couple days after his parents left for home… Alice flying, John driving with Covey the dog. The three of us guys drove Alice to the Sarasota Airport & then went to the Ringling. This trio of museums is always absorbing & educational. The Circus Museum continues to recreate the magic of that old-fashioned entertainment from the train into the big top via the back lot with the animals, working, like the elephants, or being preened for parade wagons, then through the mess halls & the sideshow. All this visually shown by a huge working model around which one walks, listening to the surrounding soundtrack. All done well. I always learn so much!

John Ringling was a showman, both in the circus world & the world he brought home… Ca’ d’Zan, the mansion he & wife Mable built in an opulent Venetian style. We three gay boys could fantasize, even in its “over-doneness.”

Then, there remains the Art Museum, which we have found properly staid. The better part is a livelier changing exhibit… currently of Seminole Art .

This is the tile design in the restrooms...
This is the tile design in the restrooms…

It was very good to have more time with David. The third time in as many months! We are actively working together toward my desire to turn GRB Bells over to him.

Here he takes a studious moment…

A week or so later, we drove across the state to Miami, to visit David.

His 18th floor home gave us yet another notion of condo! He welcomed us with a beautifully luscious lemon-chicken dish, for which his partner Rocky made a perfectly complimentary vegetable of peas with mushrooms.

So delicious very little was left!
We enjoyed our first time meeting his partner Rocky… we approve!

Next day we had a useful business meeting with a potential foundry nearby, thus seriously beginning our search for a new source & taking a first dose of education about the work David & I are taking on. We continue creating our new relationship & business around the bells.

A day later we again traversed the Everglades… this time driving Honda Helen west across Alligator Alley to return home…

Sunrise on the first morning back promised a good beach day…

& the beach!

A crab joined us one afternoon…
One great sunset wrapped around to hover over the pool area…
But it blazed better at the front door…

All in all, it was very good to get away from the all-involving processes of our move… to which we returned with new energies.

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