Month: July 2018

Everybody loves a good ghost story.

My dad has some great family stories to share, so I’m writing them down so the real Florida is showcased and not lost.

I know it’s not Halloween but who doesn’t like a good creepy tale or two?

My grandfather(my papa) was born at the end of the 19th century. He was a farmer, a carpenter, a jack of all trades in order to provide for his family. He was a no nonsense man with a spark of humor. He loved observing and nicknaming people(my dad was “baby blue”-my dad has green eyes by the way so…), he loved to dance(which is unusual because he was a Baptist), and giving me silver dollars and pennies. He was and continues to be a wonderful father figure to me. He died when I was 5 years old, but I still remember him letting me drive his blue tractor at his farm.

My papa during WWI

My papa had the sight my dad recounted, he saw things or felt things that others didn’t. One such strange occurrence was when papa was about 17-18 years old. He was going with a young lady(my dad didn’t remember her name), who he wanted to marry. He was working at his family farm one day , and this young lady came down the road in a white shift leading a brown heifer cow. My papa stopped what he was doing and went over to talk to her. He asked about her health, and inquired about spending an evening with her;usual polite small talk. She kept interrupting him and told him to go to her house. He thought nothing of it and said he would when he was done with his work. That seemed to make her feel better for she smiled at him and reached out to take his hand, but he stopped her because his hands were dirty and she was wearing white. She looked at him one more time, and then began continuing down the road with the cow. My papa watched her until she turned a corner and got back to work, smiling to himself. Once he got done with his work, he washed up and made his way to his girlfriend’s house(my dad was pretty sure he rode a horse but not positive since my grandfather hated horses-he got kicked in the chin once by a horse-he may have walked). It was twilight when he got to the house, and asked about the young lady. The father of the young lady took him outside and told him that she had died that morning(not sure from what), and they were so devastated that they hadn’t come over to his father’s farm to let him know. My papa was shocked and devastated, but when he told him that he had seen her along the road. The father looked at him and said, “son that’s impossible…”(my dad’s exact words). My papa did not marry until his mid 30’s.

My papa did not like his picture taken and would go to extreme lengths to not sit still for one. So a lot of later photographs of him are either fuzzy, grainy , or far off pics.

Picking figs for my mama’s famous fig preserves-so good on biscuits.

This next story still gives me goosebumps. My grand parents had 3 sons: my dad, my uncle Franklin, and my uncle Fyord. My papa’s favorite son was my Dad and my grandmother’s favorite son was Franklin, but both of them loved their youngest equally. He was good natured and he loved to fish, he was a carpenter like his dad, and he was a new Dad and another on the way. My dad tells the story, my uncle was over at his parents house with his family for dinner when he mentioned he was going with some of his Attaway cousins to go night fishing. My grandfather from what was recounted tried to talk his son out of going. His argument included not liking those young men, the dangers of night fishing, etc. In the end, he told his son “…if you go into that boat son, we’re going to pull you out of that river dead.”(exact words from my dad). His son went, he drank, something happened…my uncle (a strong swimmer) drowned at 25 and left behind a wife, a 18 month daughter, and a son he would never meet. My papa was the one who found him and pulled his body from the river.

Another instance of him having intuition, the sight, whatever you want to call it; my dad was going to visit his parents for the weekend(when we lived in Alabama). My grandmother called my mom and told her that papa was in a frantic mood all day, that under no circumstances should my dad come to the house that weekend. Why? Papa wouldn’t tell her. Come to find out, that night my uncle Franklin, who had drank a little too much whiskey, came to my grandparents house with his shotgun ready to kill my dad. Coincidence? Hmm.

Again thank you Dad for sharing stories about my papa.

Remember it’s not about the destination it’s about the journey,

Mercedes

New project…memories

My dad just turned 82 this week. His mind is sharp even though his stride is not as fast. My mom is forgetting more and more. She forgot I have 5 kids, she has extreme anxiety, she is changing. How long am I going to wait? We were talking to my dad the other day about school and his experiences growing up. That’s when it hit me…my dad loves to tell stories why not blog about these special Old Florida(or Real Florida) memories? They are fascinating! Imagine a grade with only 4 students in that whole grade, no I-10 or I-95 highways to get around, a World War I lucky break…so my blog might have a different focus for the next couple of weeks. I hope you’ll come along and get a different perspective of what Florida was like during the depression and WWII era.

My Dad and his younger brother Franklin

Remember it’s not about the destination it’s about the journey,

Mercedes

Staycation is still a vacation.

Our boys at BSA summer camp(photo courtesy of Troop5)

Sometimes things don’t work out the way you’ve planned, so you roll with it and do something else. The trending word for people who go nowhere on vacation is”staycation”. Heard of it? Yeah me neither until this summer. The ultimate idle time. So what do you do on your “staycation”? Well, some people catch up on sleep, binge watch their favorite shows, or work around the house. Alright, but if you want your staycation to be memorable, here are some suggestions.

When was the last time you visited a state park?

Florida has some of the best state parks. Wherever you live, a state park is a short drive away. In North Florida for example, there is the beautiful Washington Oaks with a nature trail, gardens to stroll through, and cross A1A, and you’re at the beach. Check out the website floridastateparks.org for more information about these treasures near you. Helpful hint: wear bug spray and carry water.

Art museum and Zoo-oh my!

Cummer art museum is a Riverside treasure with beautiful gardens on the St John’s River. Every Tuesday after 4p.m. until close, admission is free! It’s worth a visit! Families are welcome. The Jacksonville Zoo is another fun attraction. It’s not just about animals, the gardens are stunning. My favorite is Old Florida with black bears, panthers, and even a gator hole. There is a lot of shade as you make your way to Asia with the tigers. Helpful hint: sunscreen is a must. Go early when the zoo first opens(9:00 a.m.), a lot of the animals are up and about.

Sweet and Smarts.

It’s always an adventure at Sweet Pete’s

Downtown Jacksonville has two destinations very close to one another, The Main Library and Sweet Pete’s. Both are free to visit, but you might be tempted to spend some money at Sweet Pete’s because the candy is so delectable. The smells are definitely free! Make your way across Hemming Plaza to the library and if you have a library card, check out all your summer reads. If not, find a comfortable spot and read to your heart’s content. Helpful hint: don’t want to pay for parking? Take the JTA skyway, it’s free! We always park at San Marco and catch the train to the Hemming Plaza stop.

Beaches and The Beaches Museum.

Everyone loves going to the beach! Did you know there’s a museum in Jax Beach? It’s on Beach Blvd and 3rd St. You can tour the old post office, a Florida cracker cabin, and the old Beaches Chapel sanctuary. So much history! Admission was free/donation last time we visited. Helpful Hint: There is a guided tour, ask at the front desk. If you get to Jax Beach before 9 a.m., parking in certain lots are free. In Atlantic Beach, 1st Street parking is free near the town center. I suggest getting there early.

City Parks are not just for kiddies.

We have numerous city parks in Jacksonville. Everything from hiking trails at the Jacksonville Arboretum to riding trails at the Jacksonville Baldwin Rail Trail and everything in between. Check out the website coj.net park finder to find a park near you. These parks are free! Helpful hint: always be aware of your surroundings and watch for wildlife. Yes, I have seen snakes, deer, wild turkeys, and even cows when hiking.

Wild blueberries at UNF

Explore the home of the Fins and the Swoop.

If you can’t get enough of the outdoors, explore the UNF preserve and trails! There’s several different trails including the blueberry and goldenrod trails which border along the lake and a scrub forest. The plus about the blueberry trail is the beautiful views and boardwalk bordering the UNF lake. There is an alligator,even though I’ve never seen it, so stay on the path. The goldenrod trail takes you through scrub forest and reminds me of the Ocala/Florida Trail. Not a lot of shade, but lots of native plants and wildlife. JU has a paved loop along the St John’s river. There is no shade! However, if you walk towards the Marine Center, you can find shaded paths and bridge walkway. It’s a beautiful campus! Helpful hint: I have encountered poisonous snakes at both campuses. Be mindful of where you step. Carry a walking stick just in case. Wear close toed hiking shoes or tennis shoes.

Give my regards to Broadway.

Maybe all that fresh air has made you wish for a/c. Check out a show at one of the last dinner and a show theaters at the Alhambra. From what I’ve heard, the entrees are delish. There’s also shows at Daily’s Place, which can be relatively inexpensive or travel down to St Augustine Amphitheater for some musical acts too. Culture is alive and well! Helpful hints: Bring cash for parking.

Whatever you decide to do on your staycation, remember to slow down and enjoy your time. I hope I gave you some ideas to try.

Now back to my reading.

Remember it’s not about the destination it’s about the journey,

Mercedes

If you ran and didn’t take pictures, did you really run ?

I love to chronicle my runs and races and I try to snap at least one or two pictures. Therefore you, the follower, can see for yourself if my outfit was cute, pretty scenery, or how much it sucked. That’s just the way social media works. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I just described my runs/races and included no visuals. Would it be as engrossing? Exciting? Would you use your imagination to visualize the action? Hmm. Let’s try it.

July 4th and it’s 5:15 a m and guess who’s up. Pre race eats including Honey Stinger honey waffle, banana, and my favorite cup of java. I have all my stuff laid out so no brainer about my race outfit. It’s a 10k(6.2 miles), so nothing really to prepare. Chris worries about getting something to eat on the course…well there’s water and then there’s water. It’s not like you have to worry about nutrition like a half marathon or marathon-just saying. We head out at 6:45 and begin walking down Peachtree to Lenox Mall. I’m in wave D and we start at 7:16. We see the elite women begin and see a familiar Jax runner Kim B., she’s in the back of the pack. Still…wow!

Bathroom break before getting to my Corral and Chris heads to corral L. The weather has a hint of a breeze, but the race officials are expecting to go from code yellow to code red. One of the reasons we are starting early is because a runner last year was in heat distress(cardiac arrest). We runners appreciate this time change. I get to my corral with a minute to spare and we’re off!

I have a plan! Run a 5k for the first part of the race and run/walk the next 5k. I love my plan. This might be doable. I see young runners, older runners, kids, and tons of people lined up alongside Peachtree cheering us on. There’s people passing out beer, watermelon, and popsicles. I even saw someone passing out Nutter Butters! I only took a little water at mile 3 and 5. There were sprinklers spraying runners to cool them off and Episcopalian priests sprinkling holy water for blessing of the runners. Miles 1 and 2 were downhill but then mile 3 started the infamous climb to cardiac hill. I felt good and was enjoying watching people as they ran ahead with their patriotic costumes. There were a couple of Wonder Woman’s, George Washington, lots of red, white, & blue. Chris said he saw runners dressed like the Marta!! Say what?!3.1…Over the timing mats-28:30! Not too terrible! Especially dodging all those runners. There are 60,000 of us!

Now time to run/walk! 60/30. I warn runners that I am taking walk breaks and receive compliments for doing that. Well of course! Too many people just stop and you have to do some fancy footwork to avoid them. I smile and thank the volunteers and thank the spectators cheering us on. I try to stay on the right side of the road. From Buckhead to Midtown with a finish at Piedmont Park. Then I’m done! Official time: 1:02:18, not my best but I finished with a smile. 49th Peachtree Road Race is in the history books! I hope you enjoyed running alongside.

Look, I’m doing something other than running. Next time you visit Atlanta, visit the Botanical Gardens.

Remember it’s not about the destination it’s about the journey,

Mercedes