Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Well, ye socks, I had to do something today that I didn't really want to do.

But, it had to be done.

I cancelled my much-anticipated trip to the Show-me State next month.

Had to be done due to budgetary constraints.

Or, should I say "projected" budgetary constraints associated with the new home purchase.

Would that our elected officials exercised such fiscal discipline, no?

Oh, well, it will all be worth it. And, I guess Missouri will always be there, right?!


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

John Wayne Key, Sr., RIP

Condolences go out today to the family of John Key, who died late last night at his home in Orlando.

Mr. Key is survived by his wife of more than 50 years Pat; eight children Becky, Cindy, Johnny, Theresa, Jimmy, Randy, David, and Candy; many grandchildren; and a couple of great-grandchildren, too.

The Keys came to Central Florida many years ago from the Wilkesboro, North Carolina, area--many of them in the same old Ford Mustang--a tale that has oft been repeated around my office. You see, of the 8 Key children, 4 of them have worked for us at one point or another--and 2 of the grandsons, too.

Mr. Key was 72 years old, and his passing ended a lot of recent bodily suffering on his part. His large extended family underwent a lot of tribulation themselves as a result. Hopefully, all are at peace today.


Monday, April 28, 2008

The Fake Fictions

And, now from the world of music.

I recently discovered a distant cousin making a splash in the Chicago music scene.

His name is Nick Ammerman, and his voice and guitar makes up one-third of The Fake Fictions.
That's him in the stylish winter sweater. His wife Sarah, who adds the bass and her own vocal stylings to the trio, is pictured at center. And, at right is Ben Bilow, a drummer they found on Craig's List.

Check out some of the sounds on their current album "Krakatoa" at:

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

When gators attack . . .

Well, ye socks, it seems we've had another gator "incident" in our little corner of heaven since the little Oldsmar kitchen episode this week.

Apparently, some old guy was attacked by one of our friendly repitilian neighbors while diving for stray golf balls.

Is it gator mating season or something?! Usually, these beasts are pretty lethargic . . .

Anyway, as a follow-up, I thought ye might find this database of interest:,0,5577679.htmlpage

It allows you to search ALL the gator attacks in the great and sovereign state of Florida, dating back to 1980 . . . or, at least that's the oldest one I could find attributed to Orange County.

Happy hunting. In the database, I mean. You have to have a special license to go after gators outside of cyberspace!

Orange and blue!


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Slow Saturday Set-backs

I spent a half-day over at the Elizabeth Avenue house contending with a couple of set-backs.

Setback #1: My stupid digital camera is not cooperating. So, ye socks are just going to have to continue waiting on the edge of your seats for some interior "before" pics. I thought it was just a dead battery problem, but I thought wrong. Stay tuned, though. I'm hoping to find a good loaner in the next few days.

Setback #2: A bigger deal than the camera. The cabinetry we picked out last week is no longer being manufactured in the style we liked. So, Alan and Lin at Regent Interiors are going to spend the rest of the weekend figuring out a viable alternative that will work with the tile selection(s) so I won't have to go thru that again.

I did get some relief late in the afternoon when my buddy John stopped by with some Chipotle take-out. That kinda forced me to stop, take a breath, and recharge.

My Uncle Bill was supposed to stop by, too. But, apparently a groin injury prevented him from leaving the house today. The less said about that the better, I'm sure!

Anyway, back up at the Lake Hammer chalet, and have decided there's no better way to forget my frustrations than to boil up a big old pot of pasta.

Mangia tutti!

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Film Flop

Well, ye socks, the busy social calendar had an amazing lack of engagements for a typical Friday night in this little corner of heaven.

So, I decided to take advantage of that situation and watch one of the DVD's that arrived at my doorstep courtesy of

"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford."

What a waste of time it turned out to be.

A lot of time. 2 hours and 40 minutes to be specific.

I probably should have been prepared for a long, drawn-out flick given the length of the title itself.

Someone should talk to the producers of this film about EDITING.

So, why didn't I like it?

Well, probably because I like classic Westerns. And, this is more of an "anti-Western." None of the romance and heroism I look for in the genre.

It was, no doubt, historically accurate. There were no cowboy hats, for example. And, it was set in Missouri where James and his cronies actually lived. But, that meant no breathtaking Western backdrops.

The title characters failed to live up to their billing. Brad Pitt's portrayal of Jesse James as a person who liked to play mind games was, at times, uncomfortable to watch. And, Casey Affleck's version of Robert Ford was anything but cowardly. I guess this is just the latest example of Hollywood looking to rewrite historic episodes, hoping the twists and distortions will be enough to drive folks into theaters or rent the DVD.

Maybe, all of this started with Jesse James, after all?

I mean, the movie didn't end with Ford killing the outlaw. Rather it dragged on and on, following the "assassin's" career and the American public's peculiar fascination with the James myth.

If that is the case, then this film was a parody of itself, in which case (I suppose) it somewhat redeems itself.

But, not by much.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

RIP, May Hardeman Lathem

Condolences go out today to the family of Lily Mae "May" Hardeman Lathem, particularly to her daughter and son-in-law Be & Ben Bateman.

May was 78 years old when she passed away on Saturday. She was preceded in death by her husband Billy, and is survived (in addition to Be & Ben) by her son Roger and wife Terri; another daughter Ginger and her husband Richard Rudiger; grandchildren Diana Myhra, Chantel Cole, Danielle Cole, Kyle Lathem and Jessica Lathem; four great grandchildren; brothers Billy and Culley Hardeman; and sisters Juanita Wyatt and Janice Dockins.

Mrs. Lathem was a devoted wife, mother, sister, mother-in-law, grandmother and great grandmother.

She was also a kind and generous friend and neighbor who will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved her.

She was an excellent homemaker and faithful wife who took joy in being with her children and family.

No one was ever a stranger in her home and babies were drawn to her as though she was everyone's mother.

Memorial services will be held on Saturday, April 26th, 3PM, at Reeves United Methodist Church, 1100 N. Fern Creek Avenue, Orlando, FL 32803.

In lieu of flowers contributions in her name may be made to Reeves Methodist Church.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tile selection

After work today, I had the pleasure of picking out the tile for the kitchen remodel project.

Detecting a little sarcasm?

Well, it actually turned out to be less painful an experience than anticipated, mostly because we had a great sales representative in the person of Mr. Jim Lanford at ProSource Wholesale Floorcoverings.

We actually had to come up with two game plans, everything dependant upon what we uncover when the linoleum is removed.

We're hoping to find hard wood. And, if it's in decent condition, we can skip tiling the floor and increase the budget on the backsplash.

That being the case, I decided on a mixture of the glass tiles pictured here and some really cool stainless steel tiles (to match the new appliances).

So, keep your fingers crossed, and I'll let ye socks know when we start peeling back the linoleum!


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Captive audience

None of us like to be cornered, am I right?

Least of all in a "conversation."

I found myself in that position today, and just hated it.

I mean, I literally had no means of extricating myself from the situation.

What amazes me is that it never dawns on the "cornerer" that they are engaging in self-defeating behavior.

I mean, how can they possibly think what they're doing is going to be worthwhile in the long run?

When you corner someone in a conversation, they're pretty much going to tell you what you want to hear until you give them a way out.

So, why bother?

Even if it makes you feel good at the time, it ain't going to last.

Just trust me on that one.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Go, Gator!

I wonder if poor Sandra Frosti used words like that to shoo this 8-foot booger out of her kitchen today . . .

Yep, that's right, ye socks, we still have dragons in our little corner of heaven.

Actually, this one was down I-4 a piece, in Oldsmar. Closer to Tampa than Orlando. But, just by a hop, skip, and a jump.

Can you imagine finding something like this when you came downstairs in the morning to cook breakfast?!

Apparently the 69-year-old woman left a sliding glass door open. (For what, I ask, fresh air?!? It's 90+ degrees out there!!) Anyway, Mr. Friendly came crawling in, loped his way down a hallway, and got comfy on the cool kitchen tiles.

I'm just glad I wasn't on the other end of that phone line when the panic call was placed!

Orange and Blue!


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Full moon

I don't know what it is about the full moon, but it seems it causes an awful lot of craziness.

The scientists will tell you the gravitational pull from Earth's little orbiter is strongest during a full moon, affecting global tides.

They're somewhat hesitant, however, to claim the lunar tugging has any psycho-social effects.

But, I ask ye socks, how could it not?

I mean, aren't we humans about 98% water?!

Only makes sense to me.

But, maybe, the moon has just made me lose my mind . . . they call that "lunacy," right?!


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Planning rennovations

Trying to come up with a game plan for post-estate-sale at Elizabeth Avenue.

So, I met with Allen Fennell from Regent Interiors of Central Florida.

Nice bloke.

I say that, because he's British.

So's his wife. And, they seem to make a good team.

Anyway, he was really just getting a look at the place today, taking measurements, making sketches, etc.

By Monday, he expects to have a more formal presentation and some ballpark figures put together.

Looks like the proverbial ducks are getting in a row around here, and that's a good feeling.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Earl K. Wood

For ye out-of-town socks, that's the name of our eternal tax collector here in Orange County, Florida.

Ol' Earl has been taking our money around these parts for forty-four years.

He's 92 years old.

He's running for re-election.

And, he's almost certain to win . . . handily.

I don't know what it is about our little corner of heaven. But, we seem to like it when geezers are in charge.

Look at Apopka's mayor, John Land!

Getting back to Earl, the oft-repeated joke this time of year is that Chief Osceola was his campaign manager when he first ran for office, because he misunderstood him to mean he wanted to be the next "Attacks Collector."

Hardy-har-har, huh?

Oh, well, the ol' feller seems to be doin' a purty good job. So, I reckon I'll probably vote for 'em again . . . and again . . .and again.

Can somebody hand be another pen? Mine's run out of ink from writing so many checks to Earl today . . .


Thursday, April 17, 2008

A dunce cap for Obama

I don't know why yours truly tuned in to watch a portion of the Democratic debate on ABC last night.

Maybe, it's because I always enjoy watching Democrats go at each other's throats.

Anyway, I wonder how many of ye socks out there may have gotten the impression of Barrack Hussein Obama that I did.

We all know how captivating he can be on the campaign trail. The press have been selling us that for a long, long time. Certainly, his rhetoric is bold and lofty.

But, he is light on substance. And, he came off last night as being completely ignorant of rudimentary tax policies.

Oh, he CLAIMS he wants to make changes to the tax system to benefit the middle class. (A group of people he labels as those who earn less than $250,000 a year.)

In reality, though, he wants to hike the capital gains tax rate up to 28%.

Didn't he take even one course on economics in college?

Raising the cap gains rate has a proven record of reducing the amount of revenue collected by the government--revenue it would desperately need if it is expected to fund all the expanded social programs the illustrious junior senator from Illinois is proposing.

But, Obama doesn't stop there. He also wants to raise the cap on wages subject to the payroll tax from the current $97,500 to $102,000.

So, he is contradicting himself. $102,000 is far below the level he himself established for the "middle class." By his own definition, his proposals will increase the tax burden on these folks, not lighten their load.

I guess with some folks like Obama, dogma trumps pragmatism. They'd rather adhere to their orthodoxy (in his case, higher taxes and bigger government) than deal with reality . . .

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pope Benny's American Birthday Bash

Ok, I know not all ye socks have a great appreciation for the Catholic Church.

And, truth be told, the church has given you plenty o' reasons for that viewpoint over recent years.

But, I for one have been pleasantly surprised by Pope Benedict XVI's willingness to confront those reasons head-on during his visit to the United States this week.

What struck me most as I listened to the commentators observing the pope's birthday celebrations today was the statistic that only 11% of European Catholics attend Mass on a regular basis.

In the U.S. of A., that figure is 25%.

So, perhaps, the Holy Father isn't just visiting us because we know how to throw a party. Maybe, he's taking notes on what the Church is doing right over here so he can carry those lessons back home to the Vatican?!

Just one sock's conjecture.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tax Day

This has got to be my least favorite day of the year.

That's probably why I procrastinated up to the last minute to fill out my individual tax return.

I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised with the results of my calculations.

But, I shudder to think what next year's will look like. Or, the year after that, I suppose.

Imagine how much our collective tax burden will grow if one of the two Yayhoo's on the Democratic side of the aisle manage to seize the White House!!


Monday, April 14, 2008

Estate Sale planned for next month

Alright, ye socks, it's time to mark your calendars.

We have arranged an estate sale at the new place in College Park.

The magic dates are May 23rd (Fri) and 24th (Sat).

Complete details, map, directions, and photos of items to be sold will be posted at in the next few weeks.

So, plan on coming if you can, and spend lots of money. It's going to a good cause!

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Birthday "bash"

Oh, how times have changed.

I celebrated my birthday at a mall, and the strongest thing I consumed were the jalapenos on the nacho appetizer.

Yep, that's right, I stuck to the ice tea. The sweet variety, not the Long Island type.

But, a fun time was had by all.

I was pretty surprised how many folks showed up to mark the occasion, especially since it was thrown together kinda last-minute-like.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Furniture huntin'

It was back up to St. Augustine today in the continuing effort to furnish the empty condo at Ocean Sunrise.

Some successes, some disappointments.

And, man, what a scorcher it was out there!

90 degrees!!

I'll sure be glad when this little project is over, because a lot of things are falling by the wayside back in Apopka/Orlando . . .


Friday, April 11, 2008

From ye olde plat book

One of the cool things about an old property like the one I bought this week is all the historical records that go along with it.
For instance, I found this old plat of the neighborhood from the 1920's. (My lot is highlighted in yellow.)
A couple of the streets have changed names since then. My own was once called Severn Road. Now, it's Elizabeth Avenue. The next street over was once called Newborn. Now, it's Harrison.
But, the neatest thing I found was the handwritten notation on the left side of the plat.
It was done by my great-uncle Arthur Newell, father of the previous owner Lois Newell Lee. (I marked his name with blue dots.)
How cool is all this?!
Well, alright, maybe it's only cool to a history geek like yours truly . . .
I hope all ye socks have a good weekend. It's back to St. Augustine for me . . .


Thursday, April 10, 2008

The current floorplan

Well, a close approximation, anyway.
At least the footprint is to scale!
I just wanted ye socks to have an idea of what the pre-renovation lay-out of the house looked like.
Planned changes (so far) are:
1. Modernize kitchen appliances, cabinets, and flooring.
2. Modernize the bathroom (block-in window, add a new one higher up on wall, create a shower stall, and replace both the toilet and sink.)
3. Move laundry from back patio to current pantry area, and convert into a screened-in back portch.
4. Make a master suite in attic, including additional bathroom.
5. Restore front porch to extend entire length of house (rather than just right half) by moving office upstairs with master suite.
Those are the "biggies." The painting and landscaping goes without saying, I guess . . .
I'm going to try to take some more "before" pictures tonight. So, stay tuned.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

This Old House

I've been keeping this one under my hat for a while, so apologize in advance to any of ye socks who feel slighted for being kept out of the loop.

I didn't want to talk about it much in case things fell thru.

But, the big news out of the dryer today is that yours truly closed on a house in a little corner of heaven better known as College Park.

It is an old home that's been in the family for many years, and is in need of some serious TLC.

But, it has great "bones," as they say. And, with a little bit o' elbow grease (and probably a large chunk of change), I'm hoping to bring this little lady back to her former glory.

I'm planning to post some before-and-after pictures as this project progresses. So, stay tuned!


Monday, April 07, 2008

Number crunching

Well, I have to confess, there is one thing I hate more than shopping.
And, that is preparing a tax return.
But, it sure feels good when it's done.
Don't try to avoid it, ye socks.
The old adage is true.
There's only one thing less aoidable than taxes, and that's death.
So, if ye socks haven't already done so, sharpen your pencils, fire up your calculators, and get some numbers crunched for good ol' Uncle Sam!


Sunday, April 06, 2008

There's no place like home

My apologies to ye socks for the recent rant.
I'll try to make it up to you today.
I'm back home now.
And, all I can say is, I've never been so happy to see the Apopka city limit sign.
There's just no beatin' the indoor foliage capital of the world!


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Retail wail

I hate shopping.
For anything.
Groceries. Clothes. Christmas. Easter.
Doesn't matter what or when.
I just hate it.
And, I've had an unusually annoying go of it in St. Augustine today.
How !(*%&#()* difficult can it be to find a decent set of dishes and two MATCHING sets of twin bed linens?!?
Well, let me tell you: It cannot be done in this beach town.
I finally had to throw my hands in the air in disgust.
Some things will just have to wait til next weekend, I guess . . .


Friday, April 04, 2008

A working weekend

Yep, it was back up to St. Augustine Beach for me today, ye socks.

As mentioned in previous posting(s), one of the units is completely unfurnished at present.

That's right, not a stick of furniture.

So, I'm hoping to remedy that situation.

It starts tomorrow with the delivery of three beds.

The unit in question is at Ocean Sunrise, just off the Dondanville Road beach ramp.

Hoping to get it haibtable by the end of the month.

So, let me know if any of ye need to schedule some surf and sand time!


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Let's hope this means some big May flowers . . .

We experienced a pretty nasty thunderstorm in this little corner of heaven tonight.
The weather gurus say Apopka got some 60 mph winds at the peak of the brouhaha.
Also, some nickel-sized hail.
All I personally experienced was a some howling wind and three loud claps of thunder.
But, not so much as one broken tree limb at the Lake Hammer chalet.
In fact, once the thunder and lightning rolled thru, we got a much-needed dousing of the turf.
And, the pitter patter of the rain drops on the tin roof of my back patio was all the incentive yours truly needed to take a snooze!


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Not just any old day at the beach.

Believe it or not, this is where I had to work yesterday. No April Fool's joke at all.
Feelin' a little jealous out there in the blogosphere?
Seriously, it wasn't all fun and games.
I was on a recon mission, trying to figure out how to get 5 condos up in the St. Augustine area ready for the summer tourist season.
Of course, they weren't all conveniently located in the same complex:
#1 is a little condotel by the yacht club.
#2 is the Barefoot Trace unit oft-mentioned in this blog.
#3 is a luxury unit off Dondanville Road.
#4 is another luxury unit in the same complex as #3, but doesn't have a stick of furniture in it. (Not a big attraction to potential renters . . .)
#5 is a big family-friendly place near the southern tip of Anastasia Island.
If any of ye socks have a yen to bask in the glory of the First Coast sun, please keep yours truly in mind and drop me an email with dates and requirements. We may just be able to accomodate!!

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April Fool's Day!

Seems like the big joke is on me this year.
Just about everybody in Orlando decided to go on vacation this week except yours truly.
Some without even so much as a courtesy call.
Can't say as I blame them, though.
We're enjoying some beautiful weather in this little corner of heaven!
And, I ain't pullin' your leg on that account!