Thursday, November 29, 2018

Buyer Beware

Over the space of the last 70 years (my entire life) I have owned 25-acres of vacant rural land, a small residential house in an old part of Town, a large residential house in a new part of Town, a condominium and parking space in a trendy urban centre and a heritage building with four units (two residential, two commercial). Though I've owned more real estate and had more headaches for doing so than most people I know, I am seldom if ever asked my opinion on the subject. If I were asked, my unadulterated thesis is this: rent; don't buy.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Sunny and Cool

The real Floridians wore coats this morning.  Parkas! The weather today was sunny and cool. It's currently 57℉ which is about 40° lower than it was a month ago! When I went for my morning cycle I had on a light hoodie over my Polo shirt, all topped by a Patagonia Synchilla® fleece pullover. I also wore some very comfortable Wigwam woollen socks. I didn't feel in the least overdressed.  In fact when I passed a determined (pale) jogger wearing only a T-shirt and shorts I felt decidedly Floridian by comparison. I speculated that he had only recently landed on the island, intent upon milking the experience for what he had likely anticipated to be a warmer menu. For my part it was an agreeable state. The sun still burnished my face despite the cool northern air.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Back at it!

The three commercial parties with whom I have been speaking in the past month - the banker, the financial advisor and the accountant - have all proven themselves remiss.  Given my high standard of diligence it is perhaps unfair of me to label them slipshod. But after practicing what I preach for about 40 years I am not prepared to capitulate. As usual the coaxing of dispatch demanded some prodding - and a reminder that previous promises, howsoever casual, were left unattended. Naturally I have assuaged their heedlessness by asserting on their behalf a myriad of reasons for delay - whether my own compulsiveness or relative unimportance, their overwhelming preoccupation, possible family and health concerns, etc.  I confess I hadn't anticipated the legitimacy of a power outage (as one party complained) but neither do I excuse the apparent incapacity to communicate a rationale for the protraction. What is more evident is the customary disclosure that there is no real reason for the inadequacy.

Monday, November 26, 2018

December Sun

The winter solstice unremittingly approaches. The alteration affects even this sub-tropical barrier island at 28° latitude. The late afternoon sky today was blurred by a chalky grey.  No fluffy white cumulonimbus clouds against an azure backdrop. The green palm trees and sea grape bushes were oddly more manifest, as though filtered.  The nautical blue stripe of the spa contrasted brilliantly with its emerald green water and circular white concrete rim. In the distance the Gulf of Mexico was a mournful plate.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

What ever happened to...

Soooooooooooooo many thanks for the great e mails ... Eileen and I love getting them ... cold up here but to rain this weekend … go figure ... snow on driveway ... ploughed once ... Robbie just got new car … so excited ... old guy still driving a 1998 dodge ram 1500 pick up ... but ... you know how it is ... older people trudge on ... young people 100 mph straight ahead ... good for them ... sweety and me been in this old house 44 yrs ??? I think Bill you helped close this property from my dad and then Lockharts ... remember … bank on Margret's ass ... many thanks Bill ... long time eh??? dad thought the world of you and Raymond Jamieson … and Donny Johnson ??? salt of the earth ... where do you find that ... now ??? world going 1000 miles per hour ... no one has a true friend anymore ... you helped dad and me... and Eileen through many probs ....  Bill cannot express our thanks ... just memories now eh??? had too many beers Bill ... but for always a true friend .... hope you and Dennie ... enjoy your time ... to hell with world affairs ... its all screwed up ... so just carry on ... and enjoy ... your old friends in Almonte Bobby and Eileen

Friday, November 23, 2018

Arvo Pärt - "Te Deum"

My introduction to Arvo Pärt was about 7 - 10 years ago, I don't recall the precise incident or the reason.  I suspect I just heard something he composed (probably the "Te Deum") and was irrevocably drawn to it. His haunting music and near association with Finland instantly put me in mind of a white snowstorm. I imagined a grey clapboard house snowbound in a vast open space. I can still picture it. You would think this is hardly the material to coincide with Longboat Key.  But somewhere around two o'clock this morning as I lay in bed I was trolling the internet to see what I could find about Arvo Pärt whose name had arisen yesterday in a casual conversation I had at the hot tub with an American woman who has visited Finland (as have I).  I was pleased to discover that Helsinki, Finland is immediately above Estonia whence Pärt hails, adjacent the Baltic Sea (where I last sailed) and Sweden (where years ago my parents and sister lived and I visited). The woman in the hot tub has some relation who now lives in Stockholm, which is what sparked all this in the first place. Pärt's reputed connection to minimalist style and Gregorian chant reflects my predilection for Erik Satie and Thomas Tallis respectively. Everything connects.  As usual.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving Day USA 2018

The atmosphere here today was typical of a Thanksgiving holiday - less traffic, grey skies and a sudden eruption of children everywhere. The occasion did not however impede my normal curmudgeonly schedule.  It was breakfast as always then bicycling.  Again today I made it to Longboat Pass bridge and back (about sixteen miles), a distance I had initially thought was beyond my scope after similar outings yesterday and the day before.  Apparently I am adjusting to the new limit (which formerly extended only half as far to the 5000 Block just past Bayfront Park).  We have succeeded to accommodate the familial absorption associated with this festive day by arranging to dine on Holmes Beach this evening.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Sapphire Blue

When I awoke shortly before 7:00 o'clock this morning the sun was shining brilliantly and the sky was patently crystal clear. I know this because I keep the shades of the bedroom window partially open (though I wear a mask to counter unwanted light when I sleep). It requires extraordinary effort to resist such pleasing daylight motivation! Though I momentarily attempted to bury myself below the duvet it was mere seconds before I succumbed to the better ambition.  I reasoned that it was early enough to appropriate the communal laundry facility to conduct my weekly cleanse of the bed clothes.  We inhabit one of those '70s condominiums built with shared washers and dryers on each floor. It's the only feature of the building which I find remotely annoying (though oddly reminiscent of my first apartment - then considered terribly modern - at Pestalozzi College in Ottawa after graduating from law school).

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Be true to your school

Epiphany can occur at the most unexpected moment. Today I had such a sudden realization. Looking back I should have been prepared for the manifestation, having already experienced since early this morning an uncommonly prolific euphoria in all that I embraced.  For example a hastily organized visit to our nail salon for what began as a mere manicure broadened to include a thoroughly relaxing pedicure and lower limb massage. Afterwards we put on the nosebag at our favourite breakfast joint - homemade oatmeal and fresh fruit followed by the perfect plate of eggs, bacon, sausage patties and American cheese. Then I went for what started as a routine bike ride and ended by traveling the seemingly effortless distance of eight miles to Longboat Pass bridge.

Down the Coast

Epiphany can occur at the most unexpected moment. Today I had such a sudden realization. Looking back I should have been prepared for the manifestation, having already experienced since early this morning an uncommonly prolific euphoria in all that I embraced.  For example a hastily organized visit to our nail salon for what began as a mere manicure broadened to include a thoroughly relaxing pedicure and lower limb massage. Afterwards we put on the nosebag at our favourite breakfast joint - homemade oatmeal and fresh fruit followed by the perfect plate of eggs, bacon, sausage patties and American cheese. Then I went for what started as a routine bike ride and ended by traveling the seemingly effortless distance of eight miles to Longboat Pass bridge.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Some other time...

Where has the time all gone to
Haven't done half the things we want to
Oh well, we'll catch up some other time

This day was just a token
Too many words are still unspoken
Oh well, we'll catch up some other time

Just when the fun is starting
Comes the time for parting
But, let's just be glad for what we had
And what's to come

There's so much more embracing
Still to be done but time is racing
Oh well, we'll catch up some other time

Some Other Time by
Songwriters Julie Styne/Sammy Cahn

Some Other Time

Friday, November 16, 2018

Cool Day

It was 65℉ out-of-doors before eight o'clock this morning. When I began my bicycle ride 2½ hours later, I was in a tunnel of cool wind from the north. For the first time in a month I sported a light charcoal sweater over my stripped blue and white golf shirt.  Not long into the ride - still hidden from the sun in an emerald shade by the giant sea grape bushes - I contemplated turning back to collect a heavier sweater.  And socks.  But the dry, cool air and the cerulean blue sky spurred me along.  All the way to the end of the barrier island where it meets the Longboat Pass bridge to Bradenton Beach.  Approximately eight miles I am informed. The 3' elevation above sea level makes for an easy ride.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Cloudy Day

I asked him if he ever wished to write his thoughts. He said that he had read and written letters for those who could not, but he never tried to write thoughts—no, he could not, he could not tell what to put first, it would kill him, and then there was spelling to be attended to at the same time!"

Excerpt From: Henry David Thoreau. “Walden"

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Walk on the beach

The beach on the Gulf of Mexico is little more than 100 feet from the side door of the condominium apartment building where we reside. Oddly it was only today that I lingered on the beach for more than a few moments.  After having spent several hours this morning by the pool, sunbathing and swimming, I opted to go for a walk on the shore this afternoon. I directed myself southerly towards The Resort at Longboat Key Club which is nestled at the lower tip of the barrier island. It was there - less than a year ago - that we first visited Longboat Key and thus initiated our more prolonged winter sojourn here this year.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Special Numbers

It won't be esteemed a misfortune or wasteful ambition to hope for the life of a gentleman, not a nobleman or a superior being of mere social status, but rather one who through a degree of learning and the application of god-given intelligence qualifies as an acceptable feature to humanity. The object is not the approbation of others but rather the satisfaction of having done the best one can with what one has. Lately I have read what others consider the manual for that attainment.  I prefer not to advance my own theory (if indeed I presume to have one).  Instead it pleases me to reminisce about the special numbers which have affected me from time to time, those slight moments of delight that provoke fond thoughts regarding the sometimes miserable history of my particular being and personal demonstration.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sunday Morning Ritual

It wasn't the catharsis of a worship service which propelled me on my bicycle this Sunday morning to Bradenton Beach on the southern part of Anna Maria Island. Indeed I marvel that in spite of the lack of spiritual impetus I made it that far, I'm guessing about seven miles one way. No doubt it was naught more poignant than an uncommonly restful sleep last night. In any event by this accident of nature I have now completed my absorption of the various societal channels on Longboat Key, end to end.  The southern portion (where we reside) has frequent nautical themes (Privateer, Yardarm, Harbour Point, Aquarius Club, Neptune, Seahorse Beach, Pelican Harbour); the northern portion has a Spanish element (Laguna, de Narvaez, Juan Anasco, Reclinata, Casa del Mar). The social shift from south to north is likewise apparent, fewer gated communities and residences (though as many prominent seaside mansions) and more (though perpetually moderate) commercial activity.  If one were to progress to Holmes Beach (the centre municipality of Anna Maria Island) the popular vernacular is instantly apparent.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Up and at it!

We keep odd hours.  This morning for example (and this account is by no means singular) we were stripping the beds and doing laundry soon after 4:00 am. By the same token I owe it to observe that in the evenings we are customarily in our virginal lairs by no later than ten o'clock, often earlier.  We generally eat only two meals a day - a substantial breakfast and an equally healthful dinner.  Lunch would be quite impossible.  But because we routinely exercise (bicycling and swimming) between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm, the two meals mark the compass points each day.

The Splendour of the Moment

In any weather, at any hour of the day or night, I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick too; to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line.

 Excerpt from "Walden" by Henry David Thoreau

Friday, November 9, 2018

Blank Day

There was nothing on my diary today, nothing. The agenda was blank. It suited me fine.  Especially as the sky was absolutely clear; and there was a promise of 82℉. I had several filet of cooked Grouper in the fridge.  That and some Moon Drop grapes, sliced banana and black coffee made for an acceptable breakfast.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

First, we eat...

This morning after our mani and pedi we stopped at a dive just over the bridge from Longboat Key.   New Pass Grill & Bait Shop on Ken Thompson Parkway. It's a place we've seen a number of times before when cycling in the area - notable for its park and marine museum (Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium to be exact) overlooking Sarasota Bay. New Pass Grill - like similar establishments here - has a clientele that includes in addition to tourists a goodly number of local contractors who apparently consider the fare quality for value.  It's not a place one necessarily lingers but it certainly satisfies the need for nourishment without any fuss. The trades around here are as ubiquitous as the interlopers, a visible testament to the commercial dependence of the two.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Sub-tropical Evening

Anna Maria Island is just north of Longboat Key, about a thirty minute drive at the outside (and that at between only 25 - 45 mph). Basically the road clings to the Gulf of Mexico. The names of the roads are all variations on that theme - Gulf of Mexico Drive, Gulf Drive S, Gulf Drive N, Gulf Drive, N Shore Drive and round to N Bay Blvd and S Bay Blvd as it approaches Tampa Bay on the east side of the Island and redirects southerly. The haul from Longboat Key is through Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach both reminiscent of the best and worst of Key West and Coney Island and as a consequence with as much texture and buoyancy. Though these two old fogeys happily relinquish themselves to the tranquillity of Longboat Key, the temporary elevation of spirit was cheering.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Public Beach Access

Without having to investigate the constitutional legitimacy of public beach access on Longboat Key it is transparent that the right exists - sometimes adjacent the manicured porticoes of the coastal estates. The Gulf of Mexico Drive is the spine of this dwarfish barrier island. The view of the Gulf of Mexico on one side or of Sarasota Bay on the other is never long out of sight.


"Demagogue: a political leader in a democracy who gains popularity and seeks support by appealing to and exploiting popular desires, prejudice and ignorance among the common people rather than by using rational argument and reasoned deliberation; demagogues overturn established customs of political conduct, or promise or threaten to do so; synonyms include rabble-rouser, agitator, soapbox orator, firebrand, fomenter, provocateur.

Demagoguery is the one fundamental flaw in democracy: because power is held by the people, it is possible for the people to give that power to someone who appeals to the lowest common denominator of a large segment of the population. Demagogues usually advocate immediate, forceful action to address a national crisis while accusing moderate and thoughtful opponents of weakness or disloyalty. Modern demagogues include Adolf Hitler and Joseph McCarthy.  Techniques include scapegoating, fear mongering, lying, emotional oratory and personal charisma, accusing opponents of weakness and disloyalty, promising the impossible, violence and physical intimidation, personal insults and ridicule, vulgarity and outrageous behaviour, folksy posturing, gross oversimplification and attacking the news media."

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Saturday Morning Bike Ride

Though I had intended to be on my bicycle by mid-morning it was closer to noon before I had drained my restorative cup of java and succeeded to accomplish the prior necessities of a disquieting business matter, preparing and consuming a healthful breakfast (including what is now my passion - honeycomb imbued with the floral aroma of Georgia), washing the bed clothes and cleansing my carcass.  But the combination of a grand day and having surmounted a bothersome administrative issue lent the most desirable impetus to my ambition.  I swear my chronic arthritic condition is as much a psychological persuasion as physical. While I wasn't exactly boomps-a-daisy I nonetheless felt uncommonly buoyant as I peddled my way purposively to the north gate where I immediately connected to what I consider an unalloyed recreational path along the Gulf of Mexico Drive.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Let's do lunch!

“Her mind was as the landscape outside when dark beneath clouds and straitly lashed by wind and hail."

"The Voyage Out" by Virginia Woolf

Today on a stormy beach day we were provoked to foregather for lunch.  We hadn't any particular venue in mind. Each of us three liberally conceded unshackled choice to the others. Though after pondering what was available immediately on Longboat Key (always by definition a restricted diet) we agreeably settled upon Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub, 760 Broadway Street at the north end of the Key. It turns out to have been a hunky-dory selection.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

How YOU doin'?

Years ago we maintained a condominium in the By Ward Market in Ottawa. One Saturday morning I was wandering about the colourful stalls looking for cheese and fruits when I encountered Horace on a similar shopping expedition. The "Market" was then - and continues to be - a popular social outing on the weekends.  Horace (who is a self-made multi-millionaire from Smiths Falls, Ontario) informed me that he and his wife Patti had just returned from Italy.  While there Horace ventured into a sailing yard and with the assistance of one of the workers learned that a three-storey private yacht from Texas was in dry dock for painting and cleaning, an enterprise which was anticipated to consume three months during which the crew of 75 lingered on shore. It was at this juncture that Horace looked coldly at me and queried, "Billy, where did we go wrong?"