Category Archives: Florida

Widow For A Week

dave at dunedinI’ve been without my husband Dave for the last week.  He is down in Florida visiting our friends Jeff and Anna and their three children. It is school break week in Florida so Jeff who is a teacher, has been free to golf with Dave everyday. Yesterday Jeff sent me the photo above of Dave at Dunedin where the Toronto Blue Jays have their spring training games.  

Jeff and Dave at Dunedin last year.

Jeff and Dave at Dunedin last year.

We got home from Arizona the first week of March and Dave swung right into substitute teaching.  By the end of last week he’d already spent eight days in the classroom and figured he’d earned enough bonus cash to take advantage of a cheap flight to Orlando he found online. I couldn’t go because I was booked to give tours at the art gallery, had student teachers to visit and a writing deadline to meet.

It hasn’t been all work and no play for me though. I’ve had supper with a friend, enjoyed a lovely meal at the home of my brother and his partner, taken dinner over to share with my aunt who is recovering after having emergency hip surgery, and spent an evening with my writing group. 

Dave will be home on Sunday.  I’m happy he’s had a good time, but I’ll be glad to have him back. I guess after nearly forty three years I’m so used to having him around things just don’t seem quite right when he’s gone.

Other posts about our Florida friends Jeff and Anna…….

Fun with Naomi

 Yankess and Blue Jays

Making Chinese Dumplings


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Playing Catch

playing catch in florida” The best part was playing catch.”  That’s what our nephew Tim posted on Facebook this morning. He took his sons to Florida for three days of fun that included trips to Animal Kingdom, Universal Studios and an air boat ride to see alligators.

This family photo was taken after we'd been out to dinner and a magic show.

This family photo was taken after we’d been out to dinner and a magic show.

We were fortunate to share one day in Florida with Tim and his boys. Despite all the fun things his Dad had planned one of our great nephews still reported that playing catch had been the best part.

Rough housing with Great Uncle Dave

Rough housing with Great Uncle Dave

When you love baseball and live in a place where ice and snow prevents you from playing outdoors for many months getting a chance to throw the ball around outside is special.

playing catchEarly in the morning I took these photos from the balcony of our room. Dave was outside in the parking lot playing catch with his great-nephew. Dave had brought his glove along hoping to get in a little throwing practice on our vacation

throwing the ballLast year Dave had to bow out of his season with his ball team because he had hip surgery. bending overHe’s hoping to be back out on the field in a couple of months, so he was happy to have a chance to do a little warming up with his great-nephew. 

throwing the ballOther posts about baseball……..

Spring Training

Baseball in His 60th Year

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Filed under Family, Florida, Sports

Blue Jays and Yankees- Spring Training in Florida

Today we went to Dunedin, Florida with our friends Jeff and Anna and their children to watch the Toronto Blue Jays play the New York Yankees in a spring training game. The Jays didn’t do very well but it was a beautiful afternoon to be watching ball. 
















Other posts about professional baseball ………….

The Detroit Tigers- In The Pink

The Tigers Met the Yankees and We Were There

Arizona Spring Training

Tigers Baseball

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Filed under Canada, Florida, Sports, Travel

Mexican Night

dinner out floridaWe celebrated last night at a restaurant called Rocco’s Tacos after two less than perfect vacation days. (Not that we’re complaining. We know what the weather is like in Winnipeg and feel very lucky to be here.)golfing in floridaWe shivered through our golf round yesterday in very chilly temperatures warming our hands in our pockets between holes. On Wednesday Shirley and I went grocery shopping and after we had loaded our groceries into the back seat because the trunk wouldn’t open, Paul and Shirley’s car wouldn’t start. What happened next is a long story that involved me placing a call for help to the guys, Dave and I heading back to the condo in our car with the groceries and Paul and Shirley being towed across the city at a snail’s pace in rush hour traffic with a tow truck operator whose knowledge of Orlando geography was sketchy at best – spending hours at the car dealership having the car fixed and arriving home late in the evening some nine hours after we first tried to start the car. 

dave and shirley

So we were ready to unwind, warm up and have a good time at Rocco’s Taco a restaurant that came highly recommended by some of Paul and Shirley’s friends. guacamole makingWe ordered the ‘made at your table’ guacamole and this young man did a professional job of preparing some delicious guacamole.

rocco taco guacamole
dave and shirleyWe had a lovely evening. salad rocco tacoThe food was good. friendly waitressThe waitress was friendly. paul and marylouAnd we were relaxed and ready for our regular evening euchre match by the time dinner was over. And yes the guys won this time! But it was close. 

Other posts about restaurants and food……….

Tasting Toronto

Acquiring a Taste for Jamaican Food

Eating Sticky Rice

The Paddock Restaurant

Wine Canyon

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Filed under Family, Florida, Food, Restaurants, Travel

Breakfast in Florida

breakfast in floridaWe are sharing Dave’s brother Paul and his wife Shirley’s lovely Kissimmee condo for a few days. Yesterday morning we had a fabulous breakfast out on the balcony enjoying the perfect balmy weather along with friends of Paul and Shirley’s who had stopped in on the way to their own family home in Clearwater Beach. setting the table florida breakfast

There were glasses of Florida fresh orange juice mixed with a fine Pinot Grigio and hot just brewed coffee. breakfast in florida

The main entrée was a layered breakfast dish that included vegetables, beef, hashbrowns, cheese and poached eggs topped with salsa. This was accompanied by toast, bacon and a fruit salad of grapes, pineapple, bananas and melon. It was a meal to be savored. 

breakfastAfter breakfast we enjoyed a great day in the Florida sunshine that included eighteen holes of golf. My sister-in-law Shirley was definitely the star on the links with her long drives and consistent fairway shots. We had dinner afterwards in the clubhouse and ended the day with a euchre tournament that was won by the ladies.  This was a particularly sweet victory since last year when we shared our house in Phoenix with Paul and Shirley the men won every euchre match. Paul was even gracious enough in defeat to acknowledge that my euchre skills had shown marked improvement since last year.

Other posts about vacations with Paul and Shirley……

Family Visit

Golfing in Phoenix

Climbing Pinnacle Peak


Filed under Family, Florida, Food, Retirement

A Personal Dali

The Basket of Bread by Salvador Dali

The Basket of Bread by Salvador Dali- a painting that shows Dali’s technical expertise

I was first introduced to the work of Salvador Dali when I was assigned to chaperone a high school art trip to Spain in 2008. To prepare I learned about the Dali paintings we would see in Madrid and Barcelona.  Since the trip was designed for art students we were looking at the technical aspects of Dali’s work and I learned to appreciate them. But I was pleased that on my recent visit to the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida I was introduced to a more personal Dali and was able to learn more about his personal life and how it impacted his work. 

The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus- Salvador Dali-1959

The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus- Salvador Dali-1959

Dali’s  Russian born wife Gala figures prominently in so many of his paintings.  In this one she poses as the Virgin Mary on a flag being carried by a young Christopher Columbus. Gala was ten years older than Dali and married to another man and was the mother of a daughter when she met the artist. They married in 1934 after her divorce. Gala left her daughter to marry Salvador. Dali said Gala was his muse and inspiration and he sometimes signed both their names to a painting.

Portrait of My Sister- 1924

Portrait of My Sister- 1924

Dali created this portrait of his fifteen year old sister Ana Maria in 1924 when they had a good relationship and she often acted as his model.

Later Dali altered the portrait so it looked like a sort of a playing card with a distorted and haggard looking version of his sister painted upside down on the lower half of the canvas.  This reflected Dali’s changed relationship with his sister. After Dali published his autobiography in 1941- The Secret Life of Salvador Dali Ana Maria published her own version of her brother’s life called Salvador Dali As Seen By His Sister.  In her story she refuted much of what he’d said about his childhood in his own book and she was very critical of his marriage to Gala. 

The Average Bureaucrat by Salvador Dali - 1930

The Average Bureaucrat by Salvador Dali – 1930

This painting of Dali’s father shows how their relationship changed.  The bureaucrat is Dali’s father.  As a defiant young man Dali sought ways to challenge and shock his father. After Salvador married Gala his father banished him from the family and disinherited him in his will. He depicts his father here with his eyes closed and his head down, uninterested in the world. He has no ears to hear and is empty-headed save for a few shells and pebbles. A tiny image to the left of the bureaucrat’s head shows a father and young son holding hands -a sign that in his childhood Dali and his father were close.

There were images of Dali’s childhood nanny Llucia in several of his paintings in the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg. In one piece The Weaning of Furniture Nutrition he shows how after he grew up and was ‘weaned’ from his nanny’s loving care it left a hole in his life that required a crutch to provide the support previously given by his nanny. In describing this work Dali said, “the absence of a beloved person leaves a sentimental void.”  

Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man- by Salvador Dali- 1943

Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man- by Salvador Dali- 1943

This painting done during World War II was meant to show the growing importance of the New World/the Americas while Europe is being crushed by the hand of the man in the painting. World War II brought about a new world order but it involved a great deal of bloodshed. Besides its political interpretation however this work is also personal because it shows a new Dali emerging in America. He and his wife moved to New York in order to escape Europe during World War II and Dali became involved in all kinds of new art forms including advertising and film.

The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg holds the largest collection of Dali’s work outside of Spain. It is a good place to learn not only about Dali the artist, but also Dali the man. 

Other posts about art gallery visits……


The Chicago Institute of Art

The Phoenix Art Museum

John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art



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Filed under Art, Dali, Florida, Travel

Six-Toed Cats, A Spanish Birthing Chair and His Last Penny

HemingwayhouseMy friend Sue and I visited Ernest Hemingway’s  home in Key West Florida.  

A portrait of Ernest Hemingway during the years he lived in Key West

A portrait of Ernest Hemingway during the years he lived in Key West is on the wall of the diningroom.

Hemingway lived in  Florida with his second wife Pauline Pfeiffer from 1931-1939. Hemingway met Pauline in Paris where she worked as a journalist for Vogue Magazine.

Pauline’s wealthy uncle Gus Pfeiffer basically bank rolled Pauline and Ernest since he had no children of his own and liked being associated with a famous writer. Gus bought the Key West house for them. Pauline and Ernest had two sons Gregory and Patrick. 

The study where Hemingway did his writing at the Key West house

The study where Hemingway did his writing at the Key West house

My friend Sue was interested in Hemingway because she had read The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain last fall during an extended stay in Paris. The Paris Wife tells the story of Hemingway’s first marriage and Sue had explored some of the Hemingways’ Paris haunts.  I was interested in Hemingway because I had studied the Hemingway short story Hills Like White Elephants with my high school students and had read his memoir A Moveable Feast. 

Sue climbs the stairs to see Hemingway's study above the property's pool house

Sue climbs the stairs to see Hemingway’s study above the property’s pool house

Hemingway’s study above the pool house on the Key West estate was once connected to the balcony of the main house by a cat walk so Ernest could just stroll across in the morning and start writing. He wrote at least seven of his novels, a play and many short stories here.
wedding site at ernest hemingway's key west home Ironically the Hemingway home in Key West is popular as a wedding venue, even though Hemingway found it hard to stay married for of ernest hemingway and his four wives in his key west home A photo display in the house shows the Pulitzer and Nobel prize- winning author surrounded with photos of all four of his wives. spanish birthing chairAt the end of Pauline and Ernest Hemingway’s bed was an old-fashioned Spanish birthing chair. Spanish women would sit on them and grip the handles on either side during labor. The chair folded up when not in use.  Hemingway had a collection of these chairs and liked to carry one with him because he could unfold it and plunk it down anywhere to use as a seat.  He was known to take one to the bullfights when he was in Spain and it garnered him lots of attention since the people in Spain all knew what the chair was really for. cat at hemingway house in florida

There were lots of cats wandering the former Hemingway property.The legend surrounding the cats is that Hemingway met a sea-captain in Florida who owned an unusual six-toed tomcat, which intrigued Hemingway. When the captain left Key West he gave  the cat to Hemingway. Many of the cats that still live on the property have the  unusual six toes.

Ernest Hemingway had a boxing ring installed in the backyard of the Key West house. Our guide said that while Ernest was in Spain working as a news correspondent during the Spanish Civil War his wife Pauline took down the boxing ring and put in the lavish salt water pool after she heard Ernest was having an affair in Spain.  

Penny in the cement by the Hemingway swimming pool.

The penny embedded  in the cement by the Hemingway swimming pool.

Pauline spent some $20,000 on the pool -much more than the whole house had cost. Ernest arriving home from Spain in the midst of pool construction accused Pauline of spending, “his last penny” on the pool and flipped a penny into the wet cement around the pool. It remains embedded there. 

key west sunsetOur tour of the Hemingway house was quick since Sue and I knew our husbands were waiting for us. The four of us planned to view the Key West sunset from a rooftop patio before having dinner. Even though our visit to the Hemingway home was brief we learned lots of fascinating stuff about one of America’s greatest writers. 

One of the most interesting things for me about our visit to the Hemingway House was discovering that Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois. I’ve visited Oak Park and have written blog posts about two other famous Oak Park residents.

Carol Shields

Frank Lloyd Wright



Filed under Books, Culture, Florida, History