Thought for  Year 2004

"Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we're here...we might as well dance!"  Author unknown

Happy Holidays!

My World View (Yet Another Ramble) 

Time once again for the annual Christmas Letter!  I wish I had better news to report this year.  Two good friends gone in 2004.  I suppose this will become a trend until, at some point along the road as I continue on, eventually I will be the one who is gone and then these Christmas Letters will cease. 

Not a happy beginning for the Christmas Letter, but then this is stream of consciousness writing and that was the thought that came first.  Still, if it hadnít been for the passing of my long time friend and mentor, Wayne Hutchison and the loss of another more recent friend, Frank Sciadini, it might have been an OK year.  Notwithstanding the fact that last yearís Prayer for Peace went unrealized and GWB was reelected for four more potentially disastrous years... Well, maybe this year was never intended to be a good year after all and it was only my driving desire to maintain a positive attitude that kept me thinking that it wasnít all that bad.  Maybe the hopeful thing to look at is the fact that it is almost over!

I think I did have a lot of fun in 2004 some how despite everything.  I threw a New Years Eve party that was lots of fun and that got the year off to a strong start.  I bought a new car, a convertible named Gregory that has made even the shortest trip to the grocery a fun time.  Florida was treated to a long coolish, lovely spring that included several fun parties and gatherings and I was anticipating a really terrific summer when the shit began to hit the fan.  First with Frankís passing and then with Hutchison going so quickly and then there were the four (count Ďem) hurricanes followed by The Election - with an abundance of hostile feelings on both sides leading up to it & culminating with the defeat of a candidate that even a tree huger like myself was finding it hard to really like (except compared to GWB!).  Then at Thanksgiving I almost lost Zohar!  His stomach flipped upside down and it took two surgeries and the removal of his spleen (you donít want to know the vet bill!) to save his life.

And yet, some how I still canít say this was a horrible year.  My new car kept me somewhat happy as I drove back and forth to Wayneís.  He left me a house full of lovely possessions and a bunch of money to fix up my own house.  I gave most of his possessions to his friends but kept enough for myself so that I will need to add a room to display them in properly.  (That will be a project for 2005).  Home wise, I remodeled the kitchen - the first step in moving Wayneís things into my life - the new room will come off the kitchen so I wanted to get that part completed first.  I love the results! 

Health wise I went for my annual check up and was told my cholesterol was too high and I should take some drug - but I decided to try diet & exercise first and managed to raise the good stuff 14 points and lower the bad stuff 18 points in 90 days - also lost some weight in the process - so that was a good thing.  Swimming wise I learned to be careful (or very precise) in what you wish for as you might get it.  I am still working on making the right wish and so far this year am on my third try - three may be a charm too.  The third one was named Bob and I will let you know next year how it works out, as right now it is too soon to tell for sure.

Work wise, I have new responsibilities and have been busier than ever - I love that too.  The company is doing really good work and I feel as if I am making a contribution.  I got to organize a conference that took place at Disney World in November and it was a triumph for me.  Everything went off as planned, we had attendance stronger than last year, we had lots of fun and we made money!  I worked hard on it and I was so happy with the results.  As I write this I am preparing to travel to San Francisco for another conference and a little visit with Dion, so I am looking forward to that too.

Vacation wise Mary and I went on a Carnival cruise - but it either wasnít the right cruise for me or I donít like cruising - still it was nice to be on the high seas and out of town

So let me sum up:  On the negative side Death, Natural Destruction, Disappointment, Defeat and Medical Distress.  On the positive side: New Car, New Kitchen, New Work Responsibilities, New Boyfriend and a new chance on life for Zohar.  On balance, I canít complain.  I feel as if I am leading an enchanted life.  And to celebrate I will throw another New Yearís Eve Party and begin 2005 with joy in my heart or at least champagne in my bloodstream!

Hereís wishing you an Enchanted Life as well.  Merry Christmas and an Enchanting New Year!



November - As November draws to a close my new kitchen is almost finished.  I cut the pass through you see below and added some pantry and other storage.  Then came the new counter tops and now we are installing a new dish washer and refrigerator - that will be it (thank goodness).  I must say the new countertops look fantastic.  You can see them a bit in this photo which also features a new man in my life - Bob bob1.jpg (354083 bytes)  Bob and I have been seeing each other for a month and we seem to get along well.  I had Thanksgiving with Tim, Randy, Mary and Ed and Bob joined us for dessert and the lighting of the deer - you will note in this photo that Bob is tall (6 ft. 5 in.)  We had a wonderful Thanksgiving feast with turkey and all the trimmings Kitchen3.JPG (269388 bytes)... Earlier in November I attended the Directions Conference - this year I was the conference chairman and spent the entire year leading up to the conference planning with the committee how things would go and I must say that things went beautifully - we had a good turn out and lots of great presentations and fun events and we made money - a real success and I got to dance with Goofy (I love a dog that can lead)DwGoofy.JPG (208942 bytes)  goofy.JPG (234868 bytes)


October - October marked the beginning of my kitchen remodeling and you will have to wait until it is complete to get the photos before/after... I had the laundry room re oriented and reduced in size to that with the space gained I could enlarge the kitchen.  I cut a pass through into the dining room (oh, heck I will show you a photo after all)kitchen.JPG (212423 bytes) I had some custom cabinets built and I have ordered new counter tops.  There is also a lot of new paint in both the living room and the kitchen.  It is actually November as I write this and the kitchen work is still going on...  

We also planted a tree in celebration of Wayne's life and I don't have any photos of it yet to show you, but it is at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and it is in a good location (Wayne always liked to have a good location) with a view of the sea.  We also had a bit of a retrospective of his art and a concert in tribute to his memory.  Some day the tree will have a plaque on it saying "In celebration of a great life - J. Wayne Hutchison".  I still miss him a great deal and think of him most days.

The guys, Mary and I went to a wine tasting of Aleth's family wines Domaine Michel Voarick.  I am building them a website... .  If you want to try a very nice wine I recommend these.  We also had a free Concert by the Florida Orchestra in the Park and I got to see my friends from Sweden, Claes and Paula.  Zohar & I sponsored one of the fireworks for the concert.  It was a beautiful evening to be sitting by the water listening to a live orchestra!

The month ended with the Circus McGirkis - a hippie fair by Lake Maggori followed by a Halloween Party at Suzanne's where I met a nice man that I am still seeing two weeks later.  I will try to get a photo of him for November... He is a great swimmer.


September -           We did get hit by Jeanne  lots of trees down and lots of debris and stuff everywhere, but no deaths that I have heard of and all things considered, it could have been a lot worse.  Many thanks to everyone who called to see if I was OK - Yes.  I am just fine.

  Looks like Tampa Bay dodged another one... Ivan

In case you were wondering I have survived Hurricane Frances too.  We had a lot more weather with Frances than with Charley however.  The eye of the storm passed through eastern Tampa and St. Pete got hit with hurricane winds on the back side.  Still no damage here and again - we were very lucky.  Now another storm is brewing and I will see what develops from this one.

Meanwhile, as promised last month here are photos from the cruise Mary & I took the last week of August - this will probably be my last cruise for a long while. scan2.jpg (450882 bytes)  scan0005.jpg (199222 bytes)  scan0004.jpg (226202 bytes)

August - The message in green was written as I thought Hurricane Charley  was coming right at us - but it turned east and missed us completely.

 Still trying to get all of Wayne's things straightened out... right now however, I am awaiting Hurricane Charley.  So if you are reading this from Sweden or Scotland and wonder am I going to be affected by Charley - the answer is YES!  Looks like he is going to land right on Tampa Bay.  but don't worry I will survive.  I am prepared for the worst and I am not evacuating - it is noon on Friday the 13th as I write and by morning it will be over and I will give another report.  But don't worry!!  Lord knows I'm not worried, so why should you be?  Now that the hurricane has passed I can think about my next adventure - a short cruise to Cozemel on the Carnival 'Sensation' with Mary.  It is only 4 days of cruising but it will be enough to tell me whether I like cruising or not... details in September

July - I spent the month moving and disposing of the personal effects Wayne had accumulated over the years.  Depressing.

June - Lots of things happened in June but they were all over shadowed by the death of my dear friend, J Wayne Hutchison.  

Hutch smiling.jpg (85825 bytes)
James Wayne Hutchison
1924 - 2004

Wayne was truly a unique person.  He was kind, loving and thoughtful & he was demanding, egotistical and bombastic.  I loved him.  I thought of him as the father I never had.  I talked with him several times a week and I was looking forward to his 80th birthday in July.  I am so sad not to have him in my life now - I can't even write about him yet... but I miss him.


May began with the Garden Tour - Tim and I had a little breakfast on the front porch and then went off to tour the gardens of my neighbors in the Old Northeast Neighborhood.  This is always a great way to get new ideas for your own garden.  Aleth joined us about half ay through - in all, we walked about 3.5 miles and saw some beautiful plants and flowers Pink Droopy flower copy.jpg (43303 bytes).  This photo was taken by by friend Sherri who also took the tour.  Work occupied a great deal of May with lots to do and lots of fun doing it.  In the middle of the month we held the annual May Babies party here, by the pool, with lots of food and drinks and plenty of happy grown up kids.may babies.jpg (67047 bytes) .  But the month was not without some sadness.  My friend Frank Sciadini died suddenly of a rupture in his aorta.  sandra'n'frank.jpg (29593 bytes) His wife, Sandra is in my book club.  They married in college and have been together forever - Frank was a very sweet man and he will be missed.  

Business took me to Cincinnati for a night where I got to see 6 innings of a Cincinnati Reds game before the rain drove me away, and now it is Memorial Day weekend.  I am spending the weekend at home - seeing friends, Wayne, Paul & Aleth, Tim & Randy, Mary... and hanging by the pool - if that gets to be too much, I may go see Shreck 2 - Life is Good here at Grasshopper Bungalow...

April - A lovely month with cool nights and soft warm days.  We colored eggs of course and we went to the Renaissance Fair.  The Fair has moved to a new location which was a little longer drive but seems to be a larger venue and I have high hopes for the years to come - the Fair should grow into a very fun event, not that it wasn't already.  For Easter I hid the eggs I had colored in the yards of some of my friends with kids.  The following weekend I went to an art show with a guy I met on I am not going to have much luck with dating using this service again it seems - this is how I met Mr. Bill and I was thinking that I might try again, but they all are looking a lot like Santa Claus, with white hair and beard and big bellies.  Shakespeare in the Park was in April and we had a great picnic and a good play even if it was the exact script from the Movie - Much Ado About Nothing.  sitp.JPG (71500 bytes)  Then I got to fly to San Diego again.  Had a great time, a great hotel a beautiful view and did some good business.  and so, April slipped away... still cool and not requiring air conditioning.

March - The month began with a visit to Hutch in Sarasota (GREGORY and I drove home topless under the full moon) followed by an Art Show in Tampa which Aleth and attended in GREGORY  I never liked to drive to Tampa before but now with GREGORY I am happy to drive anywhere... The next weekend I was fixed up on a double date by Suzanne, but I guess I didn't do very well because Suzanne said she wanted to share some observations with me afterward, but she hasn't done that yet.  The next night I went to a surprise party (a 50th birthday) for Helena.  After that I kept my head down and worked hard to get the yard cleaned and ready for spring.  I tried to do a little match-making for a friend but didn't get the match right, oh well.  On the work front I was over to Disney to scout a site for a conference in the fall that I am in charge of... I was treated to a "back stage" view of Disney which was sort of fun.  As the month drew to an end we were planning to color eggs  and since this month is short on photos I will share a preview of the April 3rd Easter Egg coloring party with you here egg04.jpg (61297 bytes)

February - A short month even with an extra day, but I managed to do some fun things... Went to dinner with Suzanne and saw her beautiful new house, went to Mary's for her Frieda Margarita Party, went to Sandra's for the Oscar party, had dinner with susan Hunt, and with Paul, Aleth Linda, Claes and Julie and Eric where we played the prototype of a new game... and oh yes, bought a new car 3.JPG (423491 bytes) isn't he a beauty?  I am going to call him Gregory.  I've been dreaming about having a convertible for years newcar2.JPG (237545 bytes)  Zohar loves Gregory so much that every time he rides in him, Zo has a hard on the whole time - pink lipstick sticking out of its happy...  new car.JPG (423948 bytes) . Now I will have to think of something else to dream about having - I have my house, my pool and now my convertible, what could be better.  my friend Lauren saw Gregory and said Whoa!!   I think that sums it up... So February was short, but sweet - 

January -   The Christmas Holidays have been a real joy this year with one party after another - it all began with a party at Tim's house on the 12th which was a smash of a party - then Mac Perry invited us to his house for a party filled with singing and performances of all sorts on the 20th - this was followed on Christmas Eve with a little dinner at my house including gift giving and lots of wine and spirits...wholegang.JPG (41274 bytes)  This was followed on the 28th by a brunch at the Vinoy  vinoy.JPG (39796 bytes)  and this was followed by a Happy New Year's Party at my house  NYLinn.JPG (36884 bytes)   Linn Wheeling came down from Pennsylvania to visit me and she was a big help in getting everything ready... The theme was to wear a hat and an accessory to go with it  NYdolly.JPG (22808 bytes)  Dolly & Keith  NYEd.JPG (31908 bytes) Sandra & Ed  NYguys2.JPG (43508 bytes)  Russ & Jim   NYguys.jpg (41389 bytes) Ed, Randy & Tim... Oh there were other people and the photos will come in soon but we had ourselves a time of it and lots of fun.  Here are more  ...     NYEpearls.JPG (315429 bytes)  This is Aleth and I  NYEporch.jpg (400103 bytes)  Here you see Jerry, Paul Tim and Maureen NYEmen.JPG (293865 bytes)  and here I am with a kitchen full of men, my neighbor Karl, Randy, Ed and Tim...NYETimdances2.JPG (396869 bytes) NYsandNjer.JPG (253927 bytes)

I hope the rest of the year 2004 will live up to this start.    In January there were the post holiday events - Mary treated us all to drinks at Bridgeview followed by my dinner aboard the Starlight Princess... here we are at Bridgeview...  bridgeview2.jpg (178483 bytes)  Bridgeview.jpg (53279 bytes) .  Next Ed hosted a fabulous party at his new house but I can't find those photos - same bunch basically with some additions.  Then it was off to Dallas for me for 5 days of meetings and fun - went to Gilly's and watched as my friends rode the bull - tried to two-step but find I like dances where I don't have to count my steps - I'm sure I'd get the hang of it if I did it more.  Back in the Burg, I went to a new Jazz club in the downtown area that was fun and met some nice new people... have gone twice and enjoyed it both times.  Then it was off to San Diego for an Oracle show... the old bar fly in me came out this visit and I ended up taking a 27 year old boy (man?) back to my hotel for a quick shag but otherwise I was a good girl.  Then I went to Punta Gorda for the Care Ball - a formal dinner-dance that I go to most years with Davey and Butchie.  This year I didn't dance as much as I played craps (for play money) - I like that game.  The next day I awoke with a cold and so that is the way January ended - all in all, a good month.