First Day of Spring

by grace on March 20, 2023

OK then, first day of spring and I’m having a serious problem trying to get off the couch. I woke up early, planning on getting so much done…and now it’s almost noon and not much accomplished so far. I’m going to go for a job pretty soon but when I went out a while ago it was still mighty windy and felt chilly. soon…

Meanwhile, we had a bigger clump of crocuses blooming this year but so far the daffodils haven’t opened yet.

Riley, always so tired…

And Lester, always so busy. A sack was lying on the couch and he started ripping and tearing it like crazy. He doesn’t eat the paper, but rather destroys it and spits it out. A very busy boy.

I’d like to make a new springtime banner today but almost no spring photos. But hopefully the weather is getting warmer. And actually, it’ll probably be sweltering before we know it.

OK then,

Mrs. First Day of Spring Hughes.


One last day in Florida

by grace on March 11, 2023

Friday Feb. 24th, it was nice to wake up with nothing electric car-related to obsess about. Mom wanted to take a boat ride and they had ones leaving from the aquarium near the Publix where we’d fueled our car, so I booked the hour-long dolphin cruise. We’d thought of taking the one and a half hour cruise that stopped somewhere so we could collect shells and I wanted to do that even though I’d already collected a decent amount of shells. But the longer cruise was sold out.

It worked out fine that we took the shorter cruise. Beforehand, we drove a short way down the island to take a look at the shops. We didn’t actually visit a single shop, but instead had some gelato which was good because it was a very warm morning.

Instead of sold out, this cruise had only about a dozen people on it, which was nice because I never like a crowd.

We all had to say where we were from and a woman next to us said with a french accent that she was from Canada. I asked her if she knew of Louise Penny, a Canadian author whose murder mystery audio books I’ve enjoyed listening to. I assumed she’d have heard of her because she seems to be known all over the world, but the woman didn’t know who she was. So I guess the author isn’t really known everywhere.

We saw a few dolphins but in trying to take a picture all I have is photos of the water. I did like this nice row of birds.

We got to the beach a couple of hours before sunset which was great.

We took a short walk on the beach and saw a wedding. Nice idea, but it was pretty dang windy and sort of chilly.

A young woman walked out on the beach with a cute little puppy. It was just so funny and cute, and every time somebody stopped to pet it, it’d flop down on the sand and wriggle around gleefully. It was also intent on digging a big hole.

As we left the beach I talked to the woman, and she said the puppy was three months old. She said she tries to take him to the beach every day because he loves it, and also to work off some of his energy. So cute!

I hadn’t gone in the water at all but decided it was now or never, and I’m glad I did. The water wasn’t that cold, and as I waded in, a guy was splashing around and I said, “the temperature’s not bad,” and he replied, “It’s great, and it’s my last chance!” He had the right idea.

The final sunset…

The woman we’d met on the beach on our first day had recommended a “pricey” restaurant on the beach, so we drove down the street and walked a bit to get there. It wasn’t nice at all, but very loud and crowded. We left and walked a little further and found the next one she’d mentioned, and same deal there, except we here was asked about the wait time and it was 45 minutes. Not worth it. We tried another place, long wait, and ended up at the original “Frenchy’s,” which was kitchy and cute and we were able to sit right down and have a tasty last dinner in Florida.

I’d thought that if I was ambitious I could get up early and run on the beach one last time, but I was lucky to manage to get ready and head out the door in the morning. The drive wasn’t bad at all; that same beach lady full in misinformation had said the traffic would be terrible on Saturday because of everybody going to the beach, but I don’t think I even got stuck in traffic. It was a sunny, warm morning and there were plenty of bridges to cross en route.

And now, back in Springfield it’s grey and cold and about to rain pretty soon. But at least no snow, plus I can feel the approach of spring.

Ok then,



Driving around in Florida

by grace on March 9, 2023

On Thursday Feb. 23rd, Mom and I drove to Lakeland to visit her cousin Barb. Barb is such a sweet and lovely person, and we were so happy to spend some time with her.

First we drove to the Tampa airport to exchange our electric car. When we got there, so many people were there returning their cars, ending their vacations, and it was a little weird to be there and not doing that.

I finally got somebody’s attention and let them know we wanted to exchange and was directed to go to the Dollar rental booth. The woman there said “We don’t have any cars” and gestured around at all the empty spaces. Oh boy. She said she’d have to talk to her manager, and if she did manage to find a car and it was a bigger than the one I paid for, which was the cheapest one, then I’d have to pay extra. I didn’t have it in me to argue at this point, so desperate was I to get something I could fill with gas.

After waiting around a very long time she announced that she’d located a small car…not the smallest, but small. Whew.

I had toyed with the idea of trying to return the car on Saturday to the Tampa airport instead of Sarasota so I’d be spared the very very long drive, but when I suggested that to the harried worker she said that would be a whole different thing and I’d have to contact Sarasota and blah blah blah. I decided I didn’t care anymore, and with great relief we headed out of the parking garage in a comparatively rinky dink little Mitsubishi Mirage.

We got on the highway to Lakeland and I remembered the last time we’d driven on it, in Feb. 2020, the traffic was crazy, with so many people driving like maniacs, swerving in and out of traffic. That time I’d decided to take a smaller road back to where we were staying but this time I figured I’d just deal with it.

We pulled into Barb’s subdivision and we greeted by these cool birds. I texted a picture of them to Jim, who immediately ID’d them as Sandhill Cranes. Very cool.

We chatted with Barb out on her beautiful lanai and then she took us out to lunch. A good time was had by all. Barb talked about Mom’s dad, Ed, and it sounded like Barb had had the opportunity to see him even more than Mom did when growing up. Ed traveled a lot in his job and apparently visited Barb and her family once a month.

I wasn’t feeling so great during lunch what with the cold, otherwise I’d have grilled Barb more extensively about my grandfather. I’m sad I never knew him.

We all had the steak and shrimp special because why not, we were on vacation.

The drive back was slightly awful mostly because we had to sit in traffic a lot. But it wasn’t so bad and we made it to the beach in time for another sunset. The guy was out there with his kite board again.

He came out of the water and walked past me and I told him it looked like he was having fun. He grinned and said it was and he sounded like he might have been Australian. Hmm, funny place for an Aussie to vacation?

After we got back to our place I decided to walk back out to the beach in the dark. Yes, it might have been kind of risky, but it was so quiet and peaceful and beautiful…

One more day left in sunny Florida.

OK then,



Here’s a very quick video of our Air B&B in Clearwater Beach. I took this before we went to dinner, and before I’d strewn my stuff all over the place. I was clearly exhausted when I took the video because at the end I dropped the F bomb, something I try not to do in public.

The friendly Air B&B manager, Matt, had given us a lift in his golf cart to a nearby bar/restaurant with live music. The woman playing was good, and the margaritas were refreshing. I had some kind of fish wrap and coconut rice, which I’d never had before and it was so delicious that I’m going to look up recipes for it to make at home.

We took the short walk back to our place and I’d never seen such fancy embellishments at any place I’ve ever stayed. Clearly the cleaning people had taken some special course in folding stuff.

Looking a little bleary-eyed the next morning, with the Mandalay Channel in the background.

It was cool to walk out and see the water, second only to actually staying on the beach.

Finally I got to do one of my favorite things, running on the beach. I didn’t go very far or very fast (not that I ever go fast) because during our trip I was battling a cold.

As I detailed in an earlier post, I got back to our place and spent way too much time looking up how to charge an electric car and signing up for charging apps and lots of other car-related nonsense. We finally took a short drive to a Publix and I managed to re-charge the car a bit.

We had a lovely lunch out in the sunshine and enjoyed the afternoon.

We packed up the nice beach chairs and towels in a little beach cart and trundled the four minute walk across the island to the beach to see the sun set. A guy was out there parasailing, although is that what it’s called? I don’t think so. I mean there’s a kite and there’s the guy on a surfboard. Kitesurfing! Also called Kiteboarding.

After I took that selfie, a woman engaged Mom in conversation because Mom was wearing a Cardinals hat. She offered to take our picture and we obliged, although I can’t imagine why she thought we’d want out whole bodies including our legs in the picture. But it was very nice of her.

I’d read about a pizza place in between the beach and our place, and we stopped there on our way back and picked one up. The pizza place was called Alba, in case you’re ever in the area, and it was outstanding. We enjoyed a lovely dinner out on our deck and luckily we were the only people in our little condo who wanted to eat there.

In spite of the electric car frustrations, it was a pretty darn good day.

Ok then,



The Ringling Museum

March 5, 2023

Mom and I walked down the very very long walkway to the Ringling mansion which was huge and ornate. Mom sat on a bench to catch her breath while I darted around trying to figure out where the entrance was. Here’s a short video of the front of the place. I ran around to the […]

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The Ringling Museum & Mansion

March 3, 2023

As I wrote previously, the Ringling Museum was a five-minute drive from the Sarasota Airport, so after I figured to put the electric car in drive, we headed right over. Since Ringling had made his fortune while abusing animals for so many years, that aspect of it made me not want to go, but at […]

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Florida in an Electric Car.

March 2, 2023

Last Monday, February 20th, Mom and I headed down to St. Louis to spend the night and fly out to Florida on Tuesday morning. It was a make up trip since Mom hadn’t been able to go to NYC with me in January. We stayed in the Pear Tree Inn right across from the airport, […]

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February 26, 2023

Mom turns eighty seven today! She didn’t used to want people to know her age but now now she’s loud and proud! I guess she’s always been loud. Yesterday afternoon Mom and I got back from a quick trip down to Florida. We went to make up for her not getting to go to NYC […]

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Kitties and other wildlife in January

February 15, 2023

This was actually the end of December, when Mom was staying with us after being run over in the Kohl’s parking lot. We decided it’d be easier to care for her cat Hobbs if Hobbs was here with our crowd of kitties. Also, once you have half a dozen cats (plus two outside), what’s one […]

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Flying Back Home

February 12, 2023

Our flight home from NYC wasn’t til 3:30 in the afternoon on Friday Jan. 20th so we had plenty of time to do some final things before leaving. Well, plenty of time isn’t necessarily the right word. We had some time, anyway, and I really wanted to go to Central Park. We didn’t have time […]

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