It is August, and it is night, but it is not as hot as it has been. A little rain earlier this evening has made it livable out here on the back porch.
I am getting ready to welcome chickens back into the coop. Two hens, 2-3 years old, are not welcome in their current neighborhood, so they’re coming to live with us. The best part? I don’t have to schlep out to get them…they’ll be delivered Saturday. I’m trying to be cool about this, like I’m not super excited, but if you know me at all you know I’m super excited.
To celebrate Steve’s birthday, I planned a weekend of surprises for him. All I told him was to pack for the weekend and that the surprises were for him and not disguised treats that were really for me (I’ve been known to do that, sad to say).
On Friday, we drove to Weeki Wachee to see the mermaids. Weeki Wachee was once privately owned but is now a state park. One side of the spring is now a water park, which seems so odd to me. The spring pool is not very large and half of it is calm and quiet while the water park half is rowdy, loud and not at all what I think of as a spring. The mermaids were much more interesting than I had expected. During the beginning of their show, a turtle was clearly following one of the mermaids. When the three mermaids created a sort of wheel and swam in a circle, the turtle was still swimming with the one mermaid. Later in the show the mermaids fed the fish and it was apparent that the turtle was hanging around to get his treat. I really enjoyed the show until the end when they did this super patriotic Proud to be an American thing…I guess jingoism reaches even mermaids. It was cringe-worthy but apparently I was the only one who found it inappropriate.
We wanted to see another show but there was a thunderstorm so it wasn’t safe for the mermaids to swim. A friend had told me about a little town called Hudson, right on the Gulf, where there is an awesome raw bar, so that was our second stop. Our lunch was disappointing but the beer was cold, the waitress was friendly and the view was spectacular. $36 later (yep, you read that right!) we got back on the road and headed into Tampa. We stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel, which has the most comfortable beds on the planet. It’s also right across from the WestShore Mall, so we headed out to see what there was to see, and ended up at the movie theater. If you get the chance, go see Cowboys and Aliens. I don’t care what gender you are; if you can look at Daniel Craig in those leather chaps and not drool just a little, there is something wrong with you. A quick Taco Bell stop and then back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.
Saturday morning we went to the Florida Aquarium (after hot donuts at Krispy Kreme – a real treat). The parking lot was too far from the building, if you ask me, and there were no shuttles, but we managed to get to the Aquarium and spent a great morning there. One of the exhibits was about the variety of fish tanks people have in their homes. There was one really contemporary thing, a monstrosity to my way of thinking but Steve just loved it. It had smooth clear glass pebbles on the bottom and three or four acrylic columns of varying heights, some clear and some blue. That’s all. I don’t remember what kind of fish were in it, but there were no plants. Blech! Some of the most memorable things for me were the seahorses, an octopus, some teeny tiny jellyfish, and the deep reef tank. In the deep reef, there were several small sharks and a fish that had been bitten. It was terribly hot when we left and Steve watched TV while I took a nap. We went for a walk later and then ordered a pizza and wings. I think there may be few things nicer than eating pizza and wings on sheets that cost $156 apiece (retail…I priced them because they were the loveliest sheets I’ve ever experienced).
On Sunday we went to the Museum of Science and Industry. There is not much to say about this except that the exhibits were insufficiently explained and many of the interactive things didn’t work. I was hugely disappointed.
It was good to spend some time together without our computers. It was also very good to get back home. I hope we’ll do more trips like this. Since we now have memberships to the Aquarium and MoSI, we can check out zoos and museums all over the place without paying admission. That, coupled with our state parks pass, should give us many fun excursions if we will just make the time to do it.
So here we go with a character sketch (how’s that for a sloppy segue?):
She rides the escalator, about six steps ahead of me, up three stories to the catwalk that will take her to the parking garage. Her t-shirt has a small stain and a smaller hole near the bottom of the hem, and her hair
hangs in limp strings below her slumped shoulders. She would be about my height if she were standing straight up, but whatever is going on in her life is pressing so hard on her that she stands about 5’4″ and she radiates exhaustion. Faded jeans hang loosely from her hips. Her shoes are old and it looks like the heel of her left shoe is separating from the body. She carries a tote bag and a plastic water bottle. When she reaches the top, she stumbles a little stepping off but catches herself. She takes a couple of steps and stops to pull her shoulders up to her ears, rolling them as she drops her head back. Just a small stretch, but it seems to rejuvenate her. With surprisingly long strides, she crosses the catwalk. At the far end, the automatic doors open and the afternoon heat is like a blow as she walks through. I am parked along the far wall but she enters the stairwell to another floor and I have no idea what happens to her.
Also, this morning when I was walking into the hospital, I passed a woman coming the other way. She was crying a little, and looking straight ahead not making eye contact. I really wish I had said something to her or touched her arm or SOMETHING. Next time something like this happens, I will make contact somehow. Our mission at FH is to extend the healing ministry of Christ, but it can be tricky to be helpful without being intrusive. Sometimes prayer is all we can offer, and I guess I have to trust that when that’s what’s needed, that’s what’s needed and God will do the rest. Experiences like this always remind me of the woman who was so kind to me when I was waiting at the airport for Tracy to pick me up when I flew home when Dad was dying…she gave me only company but it was exactly right and I’d sure like to pay that forward some day. If only we could KNOW when we’ve hit it just right like that. I will never forget her; she was put there just for me, I know it. Because, after all, it IS all about me.