Tampa FL

Final shots of Tampa

by grace on April 5, 2020

Update on life: Whew. Every single day, whew. I almost always end the day talking to bev and we share with each other things the other one might have missed, all the horrible stuff happening everywhere. We always end up giving a handful of heavy sighs, and then we laugh about the sighing because otherwise we’d cry. But the sun is shining and it’s a new day and we do what we can. which mostly involves staying at home.

Back to Florida – finally, this is my last post of our last day, Tuesday Feb. 25th.

Every day in Florida mom and i ate oatmeal at home. I’d made up little plastic bags of it so just had to add water and cook it every morning. I add flax, raisins, cinnamon ginger, and a couple other things to the mixture of regular oatmeal and steel-cut oats so it’s very nutritious. It’s based on a recipe that Kevin was making when we first met back in 2004.

It was nice to have a free and healthy breakfast every day, but on our last morning we splurged and went out for breakfast. It was a treat.

We had to leave our air b&b at 10:00. This is ridiculously early, earlier than i’ve ever even had to check out of a hotel. On their air b&b listing they claimed that checkout was at 11:00, but the house rules said we had to leave at 10:00 because a cleaning person came then to clean for the next guest. Ridiculous.

So we had to get up relatively early on Tuesday to get ready to vacate the premises. I went out back for a little bit.

First, here’s a photo of the river in back of our house. I think this might be an alligator but it was small and kind of far away.

Here’s one more video of the backyard, including a banana tree which i hadn’t noticed before.

This is a closer shot of that banana tree.

We managed to leave by 10:00 and headed down the street to the Seminole Heights General Store. I just looked them up on facebook and they’re still open for take out and delivery. I’m glad they haven’t closed for good, because it was a lovely place.

Here’s a quick video of the Seminole Heights General Store.

I had poached eggs on avocado toast. mmmm good.

I’m pretty sure this cool pelican wasn’t for sale, but even if it was i wouldn’t have been able to fit it in my suitcase. I had bought a smaller wooden pelican way back at our place in St. Pete. So my pelican collection is now up to two pelicans.

Such a cute place.

We took a short drive downtown and found parking at the very top of a parking garage. across the river is the University of Tampa and the dome of the Henry B. Plant museum.

It was a very warm day as we strolled along the Riverwalk. The only other riverwalk i’ve been on was the San Antonio Riverwalk in Texas. I was there so many years ago but i remember it was filled with lots of restaurants, shops and hotels, and a lot of it was shady.

The Tampa Riverwalk is relatively new but i don’t think they’re going to have any shade added, but hopefully there will be more restaurants, etc.

mom was wearing jeans. I wore a skort and planned to change into leggings at the airport. I did my best to persuade mom to do something similar but she was adamant about wearing her jeans. i knew she’d get hot walking, and she did.

We go as far as the Tampa Convention Center and stopped in for a bit to sit down and cool off. the temperature was in the 80s.

We kept going a little further and turned the corner to see this big line of expensive yachts moored along the riverwalk.

We turned around and headed back and i saw these cool water bikes. i’d never heard of such a thing and it might be cool to own one. hmm, i have a feeling it wouldn’t be cheap. I just looked them up and found one for $1,500. Not cheap. but so cool!

Here are a few pelicans doing some fishing in the bay.

We wanted to get inside because it was so warm and decided to go to the Florida Museum of Photographic Art because it was on the way back.

It took us a while to find it, but we finally did. The current exhibition was of Langston Hughes…here’s a short bit about him from wikipedia:

He was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri. He moved to New York City as a young man, where he made his career. One of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form called jazz poetry, Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance. He famously wrote about the period that “the negro was in vogue”, which was later paraphrased as “when Harlem was in vogue.”

The information about Hughes on Wikipedia is fascinating and since there’s so much free time nowadays, it wouldn’t hurt you to click and read about him in detail. He lived in Lincoln, IL for a while in high school.

The exhibit was about Hughes and his friendship with Griffith Davis, a journalist, photographer and diplomat.

The exhibit wasn’t very extensive, but i did find one interesting bit in a letter from Hughes to Davis. Dated Feb. 18, 1948, Hughes wrote to Davis from NYC, after he’d been on a speaking tour in the south. Here’s the fascinating part to me:

“This is not for publication, so do not spread it abroad, but it looks as though the American Legion is bent, bound, and determined to prevent my speaking for the Springfield, Illinois Urban League, on Thursday, March 11. The League seems determined to to through with it, so there might be material for a good picture story if there is a picket line thrown around the program by the reactionaries in Abraham Lincoln’s and Vachel Lindsay’s hometown, so maybe you might like to come down there with me and bring your camera. If so, let me know.”

I mean, of course where was (and is) so much prejudice in the world, but i was startled that he mentioned Springfield. I tried finding something out about Hughes’ visit to Springfield, but in my five-minute search i didn’t find anything.

The exhibit had lots of letters from Hughes to Davis and there were a few of Davis’ photos and articles, but like i said, it wasn’t a large exhibit.

There was another exhibit on another floor and i can’t tell you know what it was about, but when mom and i walked in we walked right back out again. All i remember is that it was something very dark and disturbing.

Here’s a view of the netting in the lobby of the building, which was mostly an office building.

We tried going into the nearby Tampa Museum of Art but the admission was twenty bucks i think and we decided it wasn’t worth it because we weren’t really interested.

By this time it was after 2:00 and our plane was going to leave at 6:50. I wanted to get to the aiport two hours early so we wouldn’t have to rush, and we drove down to Bayshore Blvd with all the huge mansions overlooking the bay. The neighborhood all around there was very upscale and we searched for a place to have lunch, but it got later and i decided we should just go to the airport really early.

because i’d paid for a full tank of gas at the car rental place i wanted to drain the tank before getting back. we almost did – the “range” down there on the lower left shows that by the time we pulled into the airport parking garage we could have only driven six more miles before running out of gas.

It all seems very anticlimactic to me, but that’s really ok. we returned the car and were able to check our bags when we first entered the very first terminal, and had two easy rides on the trams back to the southwest terminal.

we both chose a meal; mom had a burger and i treated myself to a big middle-eastern peda thing but i got chicken instead of lamb and it was dry but i didn’t care because by then i was starving.

We waited around a while for the plane but i never felt bored waiting. on our flight back we sat near the front of the plane so we could get off quickly, get our bags and get on the road. i watched the wonderful movie “judy on my ipad.” I barely finished it by the time the plane landed. What a good movie, and i’d like to see it on our big TV sometime.

The plane landed on time and we go off quickly but then had to wait a long time for our bags. when they finally arrived, somebody had broken the handle on my lovely, relatively new suitcase. i asked a southwest employee about it and she said to go to the claims office. i went in and the woman gave me a $100 voucher to apply to another flight. that seemed ok at the time, but it expires in a year and i wasn’t planning on flying anyway, but now of course i’m sure i won’t. the worst thing is that the woman took forever to type the info into her computer and spent time having conversations with other employees who came into the office and when we finally got out of there it seemed like we’d waited forever.

it’s all relative of course and especially now. the ride home was ok and it was wonderful to be back to kevin and the kitties.

Now i remember that the lovely young woman who sat between mom and me on the plane wiped down her tray and everything with a sanitary wipe, and she offered one to mom and me and we did the same. she was from puerto rico but had moved to a small town near st. louis, and was going back to puerto rico to sell her child-care business. her husband and daughter were still in st. louis.

and now i hope she managed to get out of puerto rico and back to her family.

it’s unthinkable about how much life has changed since our trip. Last night Bev told me that she read about a woman going on a plane recently to see somebody and she was the lone passenger. I read about Hong Kong’s Cathay Airlines, that usually had 100,000 people a day and yesterday only 538 flew. How many airlines will permanently close? not to mention everything else in the world.

so much to worry about, which is why it’s good to try to focus on good things in life. and it’s good to exercise, which i’m about to do right now.

I don’t have any posts at all from march yet, and i’m sure i have some photos of our kitties plus lovey who is living up in our front bedroom for now.




final photos from the Plant Museum

by grace on March 23, 2020

Ok, i want one of these fabulous planters. Here are more photos from the Plant Museum, which used to be the Tampa Bay Hotel a long time ago. This is the afternoon of Fri. Feb. 21st.

I think that this odd-looking setttee/planter was something that the Plants claimed to come from…Marie Antoinette? I think they said stuff like that about some of the furnishings to get publicity. It actually looks kind of cool, but i don’t think i’d want to be sitting there with a plant tickling the back of my neck.

This is definitely the ugliest giant vase i’ve ever seen.

Great collection of spoons, including that one with an alligator handle. I love spoons like this and I have some somewhere. I should put them on display.


One room at the museum was devoted to the special collection, the Gasparilla Pirate Festival.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about the festival:

The Gasparilla Pirate Festival is a large parade and a host of related community events held in Tampa, Florida almost every year since 1904.[1] The theme of the festivities is an invasion by the mythical pirate José Gaspar (also known as Gasparilla), who is a popular figure in Florida folklore even though there is no evidence that he actually existed.[2] The focal point of Gasparilla is the Parade of Pirates, which is held on the last Saturday in January and is often referred to as the Gasparilla Parade. Since its inception, it has been organized by Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla (YMKG), an organization modeled after the “krewes” that participate in Mardi Gras in New Orleans. On Gasparilla Day, members of YMKG sail into downtown Tampa aboard their large replica pirate ship accompanied by hundreds of private boats to demand that the mayor hand over the key to the city. Afterwards, they stage a “victory parade” along Bayshore Boulevard accompanied by dozens of other krewes and community organizations, with the festivities continuing into the nighttime hours along the Tampa Riverwalk.

Gasparilla began in 1904 as an informal pirate parade that was a small part of a larger community event, such as Tampa’s May Day festival. It was first held as a stand-alone event in 1913, and after a hiatus during World War II, the Parade of Pirates has grown into the third largest parade in the United States with a local economic impact of over $20 million and an average attendance of about 300,000.

There were costumes and photos and i loved this float of giant swans.

Maybe this woman was queen of the festival in 1963? I took this photo because that’s the year i was born, plus i wish you could see this picture more close-up. The top, including the huge collar, is knitted. i’ve never seen a formal gown with a knitted top. soooo ugly.


A couple of photos of the outside. At least the minarets are still intact…

And meanwhile back at home…Kevin took this photo of Lovey our outside cat.

When we got back to our house on the river in Tampa our dinner was more food from Trader Joe’s. we then watched a movie. it all seems so very long ago…

ok then,

g.h., staying home for quite a while i bet.


a chilly florida friday

by grace on March 22, 2020

life update: still coughing. last night i took some of amy’s codeine cough syrup after waking up and coughing for about an hour. and it totally worked! i have enough to last me 7-8 night, and hopefully the nighttime coughing will be gone? otherwise i’ll have to go to Priority Care to get some more and i don’t really want to be around all those sick people.

also it’s dark and snowing this Sunday march morning. maybe it’ll be the last snow of the spring. we can always hope.

back to friday morning, feb. 21st at our house in tampa. it was chilly so we sat on the bench to eat breakfast.

I don’t recall having a plan for friday, especially because it was in the 50s and incredibly windy . we decided we’d go to lunch at a place called Ulele that got great reviews. It wasn’t far from a museum I found called the Henry B. Plant Museum, on the campus of the University of Tampa.

We drove down to Ulele and found a parking spot nearby but then I noticed a big building that looked kind of interesting and people were going in and out, so we decided to check it out.

turns out it’s the the Armature, a hip new space full of many restaurants and a few stalling stuff. the main section is like a modern giant food court, plus they have a few sit-down restaurants and meeting spaces and stuff. It used to be a streetcar warehouse/repair place, and it was quite cool.

It was crowded and i kept announcing that must have been because it was sunday…but a woman at one of the booths pointed out that it wasn’t sunday, it was friday. a server at the place where we got some fantastic pizza said it wasn’t even very crowded right then. It seemed so crowded to me. here’s a very brief video so you can hear how loud it is.

After our delicious pizza we headed to the Henry B. Plant Museum/

Here’s a little bit of the history of the museum. It used to be a huge and spectacular hotel built by Henry Plant in 1891. The link has more info about Plant’s busy life. It seems sad to me that he built this palatial hotel in 1891 and died only eight years later.

During the 1880’s, Henry Bradley Plant was building an empire of railroads, steamships and hotels. He wanted that empire to have a palace and that palace was the Tampa Bay Hotel. The hotel was built by Plant personally, not investors, at a cost of $2,500,000 and an additional $500,000 for furnishings. It took two years to build, covered 6 acres and was 1/4 mile long. Its 511 rooms were among the first in Florida to be completely electric. Advertised as completely fire proof, the building contained poured concrete reinforced with rails and cables in between floors. The building had all of the latest luxuries including a billiard room, barbershop, shoeshine service, beauty shop, flower shop, telegraph office, formal dining room, Grand Salon, Music Room with orchestra, and telephones in all guest rooms.

I also find it sad that even though the building remains, most of it has been incorporated into the university and the relatively small museum is relegated to the first floor. I think about the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI, and the fact that it’s still going strong (well it’s still open anyway, but the spring opening will undoubtedly be postponed for who knows how long. Plus what about the whole of Mackinac Island, whose business is almost entirely the tourist trade? Worrisome.)

Sprinkled around the museum were these little notes from etiquette books in the 1890s.

I always like a swan.

And there was an even bigger one in a dining room. There was an audio guide to many of the rooms even though it’s such a small and kind of obscure museum.

Because it was February they had old Valentines on display. So beautiful.

In one room were many of the plant stands and containers that the Plants bought on their massive shopping spree abroad.

These two plant stands were my favorites. Dad would have like them.

I’d like to have a couple of these gorgeous mirrors.

In the fanciest rooms you could get a piano brought in and if you didn’t know how to play the piano somebody would come and play it for you. Deluxe.

This mantle clock is almost identical to the one we have on our mantle.

I do have more photos of the place, soon to appear here.

ok then,



Tampa ho!

by grace on March 21, 2020

First, my coughing report . *cough* *cough* Amy had a cough in January that lasted 10 weeks. I’m hoping I don’t beat her record.

But back to sunny Florida, BCV – surely somebody has coined that phrase, Before Coronavirus, haven’t they?

Anyway…after our afternoon at the Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg on Thurs. Feb. 20th we drove up the street to a Trader Joe’s. Normally i’m very excited about trader joe’s because i don’t get to go to them very often, but i was a little bit too hot and tired to fully appreciate the wonderfulness of the store, and mom, of course, isn’t a shopper so we didn’t go around scooping up everything.

but we did get some stuff and then headed over the bridge to Tampa where we’d be spending the next five nights.

The traffic was slightly horrible on the highway and we somehow avoided a long line of cars, diverting to different side streets to get us into Tampa. We passed a fantastic boulevard along with water lines with huge mansions and ended up downtown, managing to avoid the clogged highway entirely.

why did we switch houses mid-trip? well, the house in St. Pete was kind of pricey and had three bedrooms which we didn’t need, plus I’d never really been to Tampa and the air b&b we were headed for looked beautiful. The backyard overlooked a river which flowed out to the bay, so the owner had written that you might see small alligators and manatees on the river. Plus they had a kayak. It sounded different and lovely.

But in reality…when we got home from Florida i wanted to review the place on air b&b but i felt it was a delicate situation. Even though the house was really lovely, clean, well-furnished, and the owner was very helpful, the neighborhood was kind of shady. as we drove up the main street we passed pawn shops and rundown buildings and it looked unsafe. When I finally wrote my review of the place I did talk about the beauty of the house but also mentioned the neighborhood, because if i was going there I’d want accurate information.

we turned down a small side street, and there was our house.

Like i said, it was lovely. here’s the first picture i took, a black goose down on the dock.

and a video of the backyard and the river…

I think it was looking for its mate, and it found her, so that’s good.

The first thing I noticed inside was this giant vat of Nutella. I believe Nutella is my favorite food so i never have it because i’m likely to eat the entire thing in one sitting.

it was an opened jar, so somebody had left it behind. hmm, should you eat from an open jar of Nutella?

of course i did.

the kitchen had granite countertops and new appliances.

The dining room where we actually ate at least a couple of meals.

the enclosed sunroom in back of the house looking out over the river. cool ceiling light.

Living room, also lovely with a comfy recliner couch.

And here’s a full tour of the place.

we enjoyed our meal from Trader Joe’s out on the deck; it looks from this photo that we had some kind of healthy salad, good for us! I started getting bitten by something, probably mosquitoes, so i was able to use the vanilla spray that i’d brought.

we spent a whole lot of time trying to figure out how to use the array of TV remotes. Owners should always leave detailed instructions about them because it seems they’re more and more complicated and nobody has the same configuration.

whew, a very busy day. BCV.

ok then,