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24
May

Naked Ed at Lily Springs

Sam and I went kayaking today, and decided to put into the Santa Fe River at Poe Springs Park — because the river is beautiful there and also to see if the construction work on the walkway and steps leading up to the swimming area was finished (not quite).

We decided to paddle downstream first, while we were fresh — meaning we’d have some energy left to paddle back up.  (I know, Mr. Spock, I know — that’s not logical).  Saw a wonderful dock composed of two pontoons from a pontoon boat with a dock mounted on it, sliding board and all.  Noticed that the back of the boat\dock had an engine mount, wondered if the dock could be launched and driven on the river (what a sight that would be!)

Heard a guy power-sawing and hammering on a dock downstream, so we decided to go a watch a man work for awhile.  He told us we’d got there just in time, as he didn’t plan to work much longer — just getting ready for a party, at which he expected 100 or so guests, at which there would be live music, which he’d been hosting since 1993.  Nice of him to share his beautiful property on the Santa Fe River with so many others.

Paddled back up and across the river to take a turn up to Lily Springs, where Naked Ed his a camp, sort of a house, and some very nice property.  Ed is a local legend (http://www.forgottencompass.com/2011/06/miles-down-santa-fe-in-search-of-naked.html), and here’s his picture:

Naked Ed at Home

Naked Ed at Home

Ed was shirtless and had on a pair of shorts, and Sam and I had a 20-minute chat with him.  About being a fellow Vintage 50’s (he was born May of 1950, according to the bio he has posted on a sign); about parents and nursing homes, including some medical fraud he scoped out and reported involving his mom, now passed away.  About the different sounds that squirrels make when they’re warning other squirrels about a cat versus a hawk.  About our healths, about people in our cohort dying off.

And then back upriver.  We had lunch at Alice’s Parkside restaurant in High Springs, which features a Fried Shrimp Special on Friday’s.  With 2 sides — I had coleslaw and cheese grits, with cornbread, while Sam had grits, hushpuppies, and collard greens.   All most excellent, in the way of a local restaurant in the rural South.

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20
May

Suwannee River Jumping Sturgeon

We had a church picnic yesterday at Fanning Springs State Park.

Fanning Springs State Park

Fanning Springs State Park

It’s St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church, and we were celebrating Pentecost with an outdoor communion service, lunch, swimming, boating, and socializing.

And for me, swimming of course.  Service started at about 11:00 and, though it wasn’t a particularly hot day, it’s still May in North Central Florida, so by 12:30 or so, and carrying chairs around, etc., I was ready for a plunge into the icy Springs.  (Ok, ok, “icy” is a bit much, as the year-round temperature for Florida springs is about 70 degrees — bit of a shock when you jump in, but not really all that cold.)  So I did, and swam around a little, and then it was time for the picnic; burgers and hot dogs, potato salad, chips, the usual picnic fare, but an couple expressions of individuality by my fellow parishioners, who each provided side dishes (we brought brownies, a big hit with the kids).

Pam and I swam again (of course waiting the half-hour after eating that our moms ingrained in us early on); then I decided to kayak the beautiful Suwannee River while Pam sat in the shade and read from my Kindle.  As soon as I got in the water, having read the sign warning me of  currents, alligators, and jumping sturgeon, yes indeed! an actual sturgeon jumped way out of the water about 50 feet in front of my boat.  Didn’t see any alligators, but the sturgeon was a thrill — there have been cases of them jumping into boats (accidentally), hitting and injuring people in the boat, which may be traveling 20-30 mph and more.

 

Jumping Sturgeon, Suwannee River

Jumping Sturgeon, Suwannee River

 

 

14
May

Through the Looking Glass

Had lunch with my daughter Rebecca yesterday, as pictured (the lunch and Rebecca) below.  As is our tradition, we ate at Mildred’s (Real City Food). I had quiche with salad, and Becca had salad with seared tuna.

Lunch With Becca At Mildred's

Lunch With Becca At Mildred’s

Delicious as always — it’s Bert Gill’s restaurant, and he’s sort of a genius as a chef, not to mention a dedicated proponent of local food.  And they have excellent coffee.

Being a retired English professor (and a dad), I asked Becca if she was reading anything, and to my surprise she said, Through the Looking Glass.  Asked if she’d read Alice In Wonderland, and turns out she’d read that first.   My first question was, have you noticed that adult women come off rather badly in both books?   That hadn’t occurred to her, but she knew what I meant — there’s the Red Queen (“Off with her head!”  “Sentence first, trial after!”); also the Duchess (“Speak roughly to your little boy\And beat him when he sneezes”).   There are other examples of adult women coming off badly, while Alice herself is a perfect darling — Lewis Carroll had uneasy relationships with women and preferred the company of children.

We talked about how all the poems in the Alice books are mockeries of Victorian children’s poetry, which tended to be high-minded moralizations about how children should mind their manners, mind their parents, etc. — mockeries as in “Speak roughly to your little boy” above, as well as the famous “Jabberwocky” or “How doth the little crocodile\Improve his shining tail?”

Becca’s next question wass a good one: Are the Alice books really for children?  I asked, “What do you think”?  We agreed that children probably love them, with a child heroine at the center, as well as all sorts of fascinating creatures like the March Hare, the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, Humpty Dumpty and so forth.

I told her that I once owned an edition of Alice’s Adventures Underground that was Carroll’s hand-written text (photocopied, not the original) with his own illustrations, which he gave to Alice Liddell as a gift.  When the book was professionally published, it was re-titled and illustrated by professional artist John Tenniel — these are the illustrations that are in the memories of most of us, but Carroll’s drawings seem quite good to me.

And by the way, Becca is an accomplished singer\songwriter — all sorts of her YouTube videos are here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/WhiteElephantGiftExc?feature=em-uploademail_ch

8
May

Baseball Strangeness

We went to the baseball game last night — University of Florida Gators vs. Florida Atlantic University Owls.  We’re season-ticket holders, so we go to a lot of games, sit with the same people over and over, forming a nice community.

A perfectly-sedate game to start with, both teams doing pretty much nothing, FAU leading 1-0 after the top of the 5th inning.  But then the bottom of the 5th inning, Gators batting, was the Strangest.Inning.Ever.

The Game from Our Seats

The Game from Our Seats

Our local newspaper, The Gainesville Sun, had a very prosaic account of the inning:

        Offensively, Florida didn’t get going until the fifth. Trailing 1-0, the Gators sent 12 batters to the plate in the inning, scoring six runs on just

        four hits. Shortstop Cody Dent squeezed in Florida’s first run before Turgeon’s two-run double put the Gators ahead to stay. Turgeon later

        scored on a balk. Florida added a pair of runs on a Zack Powers RBI single and Harrison Bader bases loaded walk.

      The Gators also took advantage of an FAU error and had three batters hit by pitches during the inning. Third baseman Josh Tobias was hit

       twice in the same inning, something you don’t see every day.

       “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that,” O’Sullivan said.

_______________________

Actually, the inning was much stranger than the newspaper account today, though noting that three batters were hit in the inning is a start on acknowledging the oddness of it all.  The paper didn’t tell us that FAU used three pitchers in the inning, that the second pitcher hit the first two batters he faced, and that the fielders started throwing the ball around somewhat aimlessly, not always to the base where they could get a runner out.  The catcher allowed a runner to steal third because he apparently wasn’t watching him. When the coach came out to bring in the third pitcher of the inning, he summoned all the infielders to the mound, where he perhaps told them to start paying attention to the game.  Maybe he asked them if they were all O.K.

Back in my section, with Pam and Sam there and some other friends in the row behind me, we were joking about whether or not Florida had offered complimentary Gatorade to the visiting team, and spiked it with a hallucinogen, and if said hallucinogen had taken effect all at once in the inning we were watching.

It was the strangest half-inning I’ve ever seen in a lifetime of watching baseball.

6
May

The Bruschetta Tour

Possibly the most-delicious food I’ve ever eaten was the Bruschetta con Gamberoni (bruschetta with shrimp) at De’Neno’s Restaurant in Alachua, Fl. Sadly, De’Neno’s was only open for a few years, years coinciding with when Pam and I lived in High Springs and then Alachua — Spring 2004 until November, 2008.

What made the Bruschetta con Gamberoni so good was not only that shrimp is so (and this shrimp was fresh, cooked right) but the garlic and tomatoes.  I don’t know where Carol De’Neno got her garlic and tomatoes, but she had a good vendor (or farmer, maybe), and then she marinated them.

Thinking of this last Friday when Pam took me for a slightly-belated birthday dinner (my 63rd birthday was three days earlier, April 30th).  We went to Pomodoro’s in Gainesville, one of our favorite Italian restaurants (I was in the mood for pasta).  Their bruschetta was just fine — not up to the De’Neno’s bruschetta standard (nothing ever is), but quite delicious — good bread, tomatoes, and scallops.

For a main course I had linguine con vongole, pictured here:

Pomodoro's Linguine Con Vongole.

Pomodoro’s Linguine Con Vongole.

Very tasty, and more than we could eat, so we came home with excellent leftovers.   And shared a nice tiramisu as well.

Looking at the picture I took of my food (taken with the iPhone) reminded me of 30 years ago, when I was taking a course on Federico Fellini’s movies in grad school at University of Florida from Bill Robinson.  My friends and I cooked and shared Italian dinners at our houses, taking pictures of the food; my friend Steve even dressed up as Fellini once.  Food, pictures of food, Fellini movies.   Sigh.

4
May

Gossip, A Danish Philosopher, & Henry James

Soren Kierkegaard, the 19th Century Danish philosopher, famously said, “In time, all people will be interested in is gossip.”  Now, he apparently didn’t mean that people being interested in nothing  but gossip would be a good thing; quite the opposite.  And we have to factor in the “gloominess-factor” associated with philosophers in general, with the 19th century especially, and with Scandinavia in particular — I mean, does the sun ever come out in Denmark, Finland, or Norway?   Is it true their diet is about 50% salted fish and bread.   You and I would be gloomy, too.

But maybe Kierkegaard’s comment had predictive value.   Let’s consider it together with something that appeared in Slate today, starring gloomily-humorous American novelist (and social commentator) Henry James.

Henry James, Looking Disapprovingly Into the Future

Henry James, Looking Disapprovingly Into the Future

The Slate article noted that one Mary McClellan, a historically-real American girl, had gone to Europe and marveled at the “Anglomania” of the Italians, mockingly, sarcastically.  This led Jones to create a fictional American girl, enamored of English culture, French culture, of Americans copying it — in essence, James in his fiction, mocked Americans’ fascination with gossip.  To wit:

            The story that sprang from the International McClellan Incident is of Francie Dosson, a pretty and rich 25-year-old American girl.  She and her unpretty, conniving sister and simple father come from Boston to Paris. At sea they meet a reporter named George Flack, who…falls for Francie but has introduced her to a trendy painter, who is painting frightening “Impressionist” portraits. This painter’s best friend, of an American family (from “Carolina”) that has married ridiculously well into France and become Frencher-than-thou, falls for Francie as well. In the face of rivalry Flack decides he wants more than just Francie: He’s also after some hot copy for his American paper, The Reverberator.

        A third of the way through the book, Mr. Flack delivers a chilling and visionary speech to Francie that he expanded for the (wordier, less punchy) New York edition of 1908, to give this mildly terrifying manifesto:

“The society-news of every quarter of the globe, furnished by the prominent members themselves—oh they can be fixed, you’ll see!—from day to day and from hour to hour and served up hot at every breakfast-table in the United States: that’s what the American people want and that’s what the American people are going to have …”

So, as Slate puts it, novelist Henry James “Nostradamus’d” the current, and decades-old, fascination our culture has with gossip, especially celebrity gossip.  And which, coupled with our 24-hour news cycle and the Internet, boils down to a lot of gossip — seems as if it’s all anyone is interested in, doesn’t it?  Or is that just too gloomy a thought?