Monday, May 29, 2017

Florida 2017: Lynn Hears a Chamber Music Concert, We Visit Diane, and Go on a Walking Tour of Dunedin

Feb 4th, Saturday. Because the Best Damn Race has the streets closed until 11 I head north on Main Street and run along McMullin Booth Road for my 5 mile run. Last year I ran the races but this year I’m still recovering from Dopey so no racing for me right now. It's not as scenic but the sidewalks are wide and plentiful so it's really no problem. Later we go to a place in St. Pete called The Bikery  to make a donation to the coffee shop ACLU fundraiser. Yeah it's a coffee shop AND a bike shop. We look at bikes a bit, go to another bike shop too. We may want to upgrade our bikes but we’re not sure exactly what we want.

Feb 6th, Monday. I traipse off to a mall in Tampa for Lee's valentine’s day present. We never go to Tampa. I don't know why, it's not that far. Later in the afternoon  we take the dogs to Enterprise dog park, the best dog park I've ever seen. It is huge, with actual trails and a separate section with agility equipment. The dogs love it, and it makes us happy to watch them run their little heads off, enjoying the wide open spaces and playing with other dogs.

Feb 8th Wednesday. I take a boxing conditioning class in the morning. This year I have wraps for my hands and they seem to make a difference when I punch. This class is such a great workout, I look forward to it all year. And this year for once I seem to remember a bit so I don't have to start completely over.

In the evening I go to a Chamber music concert with Joan in St Pete. I drive the truck, which is fine except when it comes to parking. The parking lots right by the concert hall are full so we go down a couple of blocks. We find a quiet side street with plenty of parking but it's next to a park and seems dark and deserted. Neither of us know St Pete so we have no idea if it is a perfectly safe place to park there or dangerous, but we take a chance and leave the truck there.

The concert is really great. It's been awhile since I've gone to a classical music concert. Their name is The Ehnes Quartet. It's an all Beethoven program. They play 3 string quartets, one each from his early, middle and late periods. The early one contains no surprises, the middle one is very beautiful, and the late one has parts that are a little humorous, kind of like musical jokes. Especially the last movement, that seemingly pretends to end at least five times.

At intermission I try to turn on my phone but the battery has drained. I turn it back off and try not to worry about getting home. I know we need to head north, and preferably not go through Tampa. But once we get to the truck and I’m able to plug my phone back in it fires back up without any trouble.

Feb 9th, Thursday. We go visit Diane in New Port Richie. We bring sandwiches, and sit in the sun watching the dogs play. Diane's dogs look great, all clean and groomed. Our dogs have a great time playing with her dogs and running around her big yard. Then we put the dogs in the house for a nap and take our bikes to a nearby park with a huge nature preserve. We go for a 13 mile ride through the trails in the park and the surrounding area.  We bike through fields of palmetto plants and pines, with the occasional turtle sunning itself along the path.

That night we try a new restaurant. The Little Lamb is a gastropub with good food. We split  a Caesar Salad. Lee has a lamb burger and I have the short ribs. Yummy! But in retrospect it must have been very salty because I gained two pounds overnight.

Feb 10th, Friday. We go on a sunset walking tour of Dunedin. Dunedin is a larger town than Safety Harbor. It has a lot of things going on so it's a fun occasional destination. I signed us up for a walking tour of Victoria Drive, which has fancy old houses along the shore. The houses and the sunset are lovely. The light slowly fades and all the men in our group have been given lanterns to light our way in the dark. That part of the tour is fine. And our tour guide, Vinny, is very knowledgeable. He know everything about these houses and the people that built them. The problem is, he doesn't seem to know how to be a little selective in the information he imparts. He gets sidetracked with so many stories that what was billed as a 75 minute tour was still going strong at close to 2 hours when we finally told him we had to go and took our leave. The rest of the people on the tour had more stamina than we did, or maybe they had the sense to eat something beforehand. We get a carry out dinner from the Greek gyro place we like, Famous Greek Salads. Its just a little restaurant in a strip mall but the food tastes heavenly. I think Vinny and Frank, our tour guide at the Vatican, would get along great. They could just talk each other to death.

Feb 11th, Saturday. It's Dunedin’s farmers market day so back we go. There is also a crafts festival going on so there are a lot of people in town. It's crowded and there's no place to park. We almost decide to give up but finally find a place in a little park about a half mile from the market.

We walk through part of the crafts festival on our way to the market. It's is huge, and so are the crowds. The dogs are very very good, and as usual they have their own personal fan club everywhere we go. We get fruit,  veggies, bread and bagels before we hightail it out of there. We stop at the fish market on our way back to the car and get some amberjack for dinner.

Feb 12th, Sunday. Lee and I go on a bike ride, 16 miles along the Wilson Reams trail and then the Progress Parkway trail until it peters out. We cycle through a subdivision after the Progress Parkway trail ends. I know there is a road somewhere we can take to get to the Pinellas County Trail but I don't remember where it is so we turn around, taking a detour through Kapock Park on the way back. It is another beautiful day in Florida and they're having another blizzard at home. We’re not sorry to be here, not at all.

Friday, May 19, 2017

A Suitcase Adventure

I went to Minneapolis for Mother’s Day. Lee had been there since Wednesday, helping Sarah and Erik with the remodel of their master bed and bathroom. I was just going for the weekend, so on Friday, I had to go to the airport by myself. I had my suitcase and bag all packed and ready to go. I locked up the house, carried my suitcase downstairs, and put it next to the car. Then I went back upstairs, put the dog’s harnesses on and got them in the car. 

I drove to Diane’s, dropped of the dogs, and then made my way to Boston Logan. I intended to park in Economy parking, but the lot was full, so I followed the signs to overflow parking, way off by the Airport Hilton. As I was parking the car, I suddenly had a sinking sensation. I had no memory of putting my suitcase in the car. Was it in the back seat? No, of course not, the dogs had been there. Was it in the trunk? No, the trunk was empty. I had forgotten it! It was sitting in the garage back home. There was no way I could go home and get it and still make my flight. 

I called Lee as I was leaving the airport. “I can’t come. I forgot my suitcase.” He asked me if I was sure, and I said yes. He said oh that’s too bad. I hung up the phone and promptly got a call from my daughter.

“Just come, we’ll figure it out.”

“But Sarah, I don’t have any contacts except the ones I’m wearing. I don’t have my glasses! I don’t have any clothes!”

She said, don’t worry, we can go to Target, and you can borrow things of mine.

Well…okay, I said. I’m coming!

It was getting late so I didn’t try to go back to Economy Parking, but pulled into Central Parking instead. Yes I know its expensive, but it would be really stupid after all of this to miss my flight!

Central Parking was jammed packed and it took me awhile to find a place to park. I wrote down my level (4) and row (bb) and headed to terminal A. With TSA Pre it didn’t take me long to clear security and I was at my gate just as they started to board.

It was a great weekend. I went to Target that night and wandered through the store, grabbing must-haves like saline solution and a contact case, a toothbrush, floss, and a comb. I quickly selected a couple of t-shirt and maxi dresses, a pair of yoga pants, some underwear, socks, sandals and a sports bra. I grabbed a couple of t-shirts and something to sleep in, and I was set.

I was able to help some with the reno; I can paint (except for the edges) and I was a good errand-runner too! Sarah made a yummy brunch on Sunday morning, and we took her little dog Mika for a nice walk. I managed to get my daily contacts to last two full days, and I could see close-up in the morning if I held things right in front of my nose. I made the best of it, and figured, oh well! My suitcase was waiting for me at home, right?

Sunday night I flew back to Boston. It was rainy and cold, and it took me forever to find my car in Central Parking, even though theoretically I knew where it was. I think I came out a different exit in terminal A and that got me turned all around. They give you 30 minutes to leave the garage from the time you pay, and I think I cut it pretty close.

I drove down I-93 in the rain and fog, eager to get home and get my glasses out of my suitcase and throw the overused contacts in my eyes away. I turn into our driveway, get the mail out of the mailbox and look for the NYTs in the driveway. Its not there. Hmmm, that’s strange. Well sometimes they miss the delivery; I’ll have to call them in the morning.

I drive up to the garage. The NYTs in right outside the garage. Hmmmm, that’s strange too. Someone must have brought it there, because the delivery people NEVER do that. I open the garage. The suitcase isn’t there. Wait, where did I leave it? I thought I had left it right next to the car, but maybe not. Did I leave it in the basement, by the garage door? No. Upstairs? No. Somewhere odd in the house? No. Outside? NO! Did someone come up to the house, see it, and put it on the front porch or the back deck? No….. I go get a flashlight and walk down our long dark driveway in the rain, checking both sides. No suitcase.

I’m very disturbed. I have no idea where it could be. I’ve looked all over the house, in semi-logical and totally illogical places. My suitcase is gone.

Its 1:30 in the morning and I’m exhausted. I need to go to sleep and deal with this in the morning. I do what little unpacking I have, take out my contacts and dig out my old “emergency” glasses. They are really old, probably over 10 years. I can barely see out of them, but they do improve my distance vision. 

Even though I’m very tired I toss and turn all night. I’m up early too. By now I’m in recovery mode. I send my neighbors a text, asking them if they’ve seen anything odd. I start making a list of the things I’ve lost and planning how and when to replace them. I call Lee and tell him and he clearly thinks I’m losing it. So do I, but I also think someone took it. There is simply no other explanation.

On Monday I get ready to do the most urgent replacements, things like ordering new glasses and buying a razor. Late in the morning I get a phone call. Its a 603 area code but an unknown number. I answer it, just hoping against hope….

“Hi, is this Lynn Nill?”


“I think I found your suitcase on Mary Anne Avenue”

At this point the poor man can’t get another word in edgewise as I am exclaiming and thanking and babbling to beat the band. He is coming down Shore Drive and I meet him in the driveway. Its my suitcase all right, torn and covered in mud. It looks like its been dragged and beaten up. I quickly open it. Nothing inside has been disturbed or damaged, but everything is soaking wet.

I thank him over and over again, drag my suitcase up to the house and start to unpack. I’ve got to wash everything, but except for the suitcase itself, everything else is okay. I do throw away my toothbrush and my comb, however. It just seemed creepy to keep them.

it took me awhile to calm down enough to speculate on what could have possibly happened. Did someone come up the driveway for some reason and steal it, and then think better of it and throw it to the side of the road where it was hit by someone and buried in the mud? Maybe. Did someone come up the driveway and somehow get it caught on their car and drag it over to Mary Anne Avenue before it finally fell off? Maybe. The guy that returned it was a salvage guy. Maybe HE came up the driveway, saw the suitcase, threw it in his truck, left it there until Monday and then thought better of it and called me? Who knows!

I’ll never know a) what I did with the suitcase and b) what happened to it after I left it wherever I left it. I wish that suitcase could talk! Then it could write this saga as a first person narrative. Oh well. I’m just so happy it was returned. You never know how dependent you are on your glasses and contacts until they are gone…


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