Thought for 2010:

"Lead me not into temptation: I can find the way myself."  
                                      - Rita Mae Brown

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Christmas Letter 2010

I think the theme of Christmas this year is Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas with the emphasis on merry... So many of my friends are going through hard times and so are only planning a small celebration - a Little Christmas if you will, this year...and so the Merry becomes even more important.  It is good to focus on remembering that many of the things that make life worth while - that make life Merry - cost nothing in terms of money - They only need to be sought, to be found.

Each year at this time I sort through all the cards that I have received since last December.  Then I sit down and write this letter and reflect on the year that soon will have passed into history.  Having just reread all the kind words and filed away all your family photos, I always find myself in a sentimental mood - grateful to know so many lovely people and happy that each of you has taken time to think of me at some point during the year.  I am lucky and I know it - thankful too...  

"So what of 2010?" you may ask... well I came through it pretty good - no issues there...but on the whole it was a crappy year!  The bad economy hurt everyone in some way and seemed to bring out the bad mood in many otherwise lovely people... I could take some time to comment on society and the world at large but there isn't much point, except to say the I wish we were all more astute at predicting the future (and planning for it) instead of just being great at criticizing & blaming and second-guessing events once they have transpired.  Monday morning quarterbacking has replaced all sports as the national pass time with everyone weighing in with his or her opinion based on whatever version of the facts their favorite pundit has pre-digested for them (in the interest of full disclosure, I have Jon Stewart pre-digest my facts for me).  The world continues to grow more complex and it would be nice if there were easy answers to its many problems but there aren't - and that is a fact - not an opinion.  So all I can say is that opinions are like assholes, everyone's got one and until I develop the trick of predicting the future, I think the world can get along very well without hearing mine.

On the personal front, I did have a couple of goals for the year - neither has been fully realized as I write this - though progress was made on both.  The first goal was to loose another 5 lbs. in 2010 and I still have hope of success though so far I have only lost (and kept off) 3 lbs. this year.  The other goal is more subjective... I was hoping to be more content.  You see, I've never been totally content with my daily existence.  I've always been looking for some undefined, unknown something - possibly around the next bend or over the next hill, and last December I decided that while that wasn't necessarily a bad thing, I shouldn't let it blind me to the wonders of the present... (Here I realize that it would be so easy to say something about "being here now" and lapse into some new age jargon about the road to enlightenment but I am not going to go that route... No. My quest for being more content with the Now involves figuring it out my own way...) I know, both emotionally & intellectually, that I am just a small part of the whole "what it is" but I also believe that the part of me that is unique in this universal soup of which I am just a part, is my ego.  I embrace my ego - the I part of Me - but for my own contentment this year i thought I would try to tone it down a bit - try to talk less - listen & look more - become a supporting player in the drama of my own life & not always try to be the star.  

But just as President Obama can't turn around an economic depression in 18 months, I can't change the habits of a lifetime overnight or by just wishing it so... I still talk a lot and talk too loud and often vex my own spirit even if I may not vex my friends and I'll always be that way to some extent (especially in party mode) but I think I am making some progress, or at least I hope so...

So, as the year (and the decade) draw to an end I will continue to keep interested in my own life & that of my friends...  I will try to recognize the good I can do and to do it... I will try to avoid hurting anyone... I'll try to loose 5 more pounds... I'll try to talk less & listen more...And I'll enjoy the wonderful life I've been given and the wonderful people who are an essential part of it - That's YOU!!!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Sandie & Mister Knightly

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Christmas photos by Jack Akeson , myself and Randy Hill

November - Turned out to be a fall like month with cooler weather so I could wear my jeans in comfort!  I had a great weekend on the 12th & 13th when I saw my old time favorite Dave Mason in concert and then attended a Music party at Bill & Marcia's. Chris Silvia and I joined Doug & Kevin for the former and Julie and her friend, Danny attended the 2nd with me.  Both were fun - I danced and dance to Dave Mason and a bit at Marcia's as well - so I had fun!  The rest of the month was the usual stuff - working, gym, dog park and coffee and the Saturday Market with Aleth.  These coffee's have really come to mean a lot to me as we discuss the goings-on in our lives but also the things we are reading and thinking as a result - sometimes we don't agree...this is to be expected and is one of the things that keeps the friendship interesting - but we always have respect and it never becomes too personal - we talk through our disagreements and arrive as some sort of detante - it is great!

October 2010 179.jpg (133886 bytes)  November is also the month of Thanksgiving. and a few friends gathered around my table to tear a turkey with me and Mister Knightly October 2010 176.jpg (144889 bytes).  As I write this in December, there is still turkey in the fridge! We had a lovely day filled with good food and easy conversation and super pies baked by Sandra Bruen.  A really lovely day.  And then, before I knew it we were in December...

October - This was such a jam packed month but it has taken be two weeks to get around to posting it...

It all began with a trip to Green Bay to see the famous Green Bay Packers play football in Lambeau Field with my friend Diane.  This was an extremely fun weekend filled with girlfriends and football and fall weather! October 2010 067.jpg (227116 bytes) 100_1129.JPG (2186048 bytes) .  Ed and I went to see the Rays play and loose for the AL Championship.  There was the Florida Orchestra's free concert in the Park which has become an annual event. and then the return of my buddy, Conan and his dog Auggie

IMG_0781.JPG (573169 bytes) IMG_0777.JPG (379685 bytes).  But the biggest event of a big event month was the visit with Becky's kids (my adoptive GrandKids) at Disney

IMG_0809.JPG (408996 bytes) IMG_0854.JPG (302632 bytes) - I also got to meet Blake, Becky's husband and a really nice guy.  Gwenny & Brenna are both delightful and well behaved children.  I was quite impressed with their creativity and intelligence - am I prejudiced...maybe, but they were very good company.  The month ended with Halloween and I dressed as the Girl Who Played with Fire complete with dragon tattoo by Lauren.October 2010 158.jpg (80761 bytes)

September - A month of lovely days when the sun approaches its equinox and the afternoon feels like heaven...I begin to dream of fall and turning off the A/C.  I began the month at A Taste for Wine at a little wine tasting of Australian wines and went along - had a good time too.  Coffee with Aleth on Saturdays until it was time for her to leave for the harvest...a dinner with Jack on Labor Day at an Oyster Bar with no Oysters!!! Damn you BP!!!  I took part in a walk in support of AIDS charities as part of Ed's team Aunt Eddie's High Steppers 58564_1615991797796_1176386141_31800921_5524512_n.jpg (127786 bytes) threw a birthday party for my buddy Jaeden and his godfather Doug September 2010 031.jpg (104652 bytes)and then it was time to go to San Francisco for OOW.  September 2010 097.jpg (103051 bytes) and hang out with Diane & Dion!September 2010 115.jpg (116421 bytes) 


August - A month of birthdays:  Geri Kail, Jerry Naples, Brenna Uppleger, Marcia Bredwick, Sandra Bruen, David Faxon, Mary Hughes and Mister Knightly and I managed to be on hand to celebrate them all - I went to Flagler to celebrate Geri's and (aside from a pretty bad fall) had a wonderful time just walking & talking with her...we did almost nothing else, unless you count watching Lonesome Dove all at one sitting ;-) IMG_0745.JPG (568791 bytes)

I threw a little beach party at Caddy's for Jerry and it turned out great - it was his 50th and I didn't want to see it pass without someone making a fuss over him - he is such a sweet guy.  We were back the following week to celebrate Sandra and she seemed to have a very good time...I believe she has had a very good year with her fire walking and I see her becoming more positive each day.  Marcia escaped on her summer holiday before we could do much to celebrate her birthday and Brenna got a Bee from me and also from her other Grandmother so I will need to plan better next year...August 2010 061.jpg (115477 bytes)

Mister Knightly had a day most dogs dream of - singing, playing, treats and a big soup bone - but it was just another day in his life as I sing and play and give treats and bones all the time...if I'd really been thinking I'd have taken him to the beach.  Dave came up from Punta Gorda and we went to dinner but he refused to let me buy him anything more than a drink - still it is always so great to sit and talk with him - we have a long and wonderful friendship.August 2010 074.jpg (115676 bytes) I had a long talk with Mary and she opened and liked my gift for her 60th.

July - The annual July 4th pool party was a big success this month  - I had a good time anyway... I don't always enjoy all my parties oddly enough - sometimes I realize at the end that I was so busy hostessing around that I never go to really talk with anyone... but not this time.  July 2010 018.jpg (147171 bytes) In addition to it being a holiday, it was also the birthday of Randy's Mom, Sue so I tried to focus on her and not just the traditional stuff.  She really looks great at 70 and I was so glad she decided to spend the big day with us at my house.  The fireworks were fun and we had a good time in the pool July 2010 038.jpg (192448 bytes)

A lot of the month was taken up with concern for my friend Mary Lou - she seems to be slipping a little more each month...and when she comes back she is always a bit less than before.  Mid July she had me really worried but as the month closed she seemed to be back on track again.  She is a very strange woman - I don't pretend to fully understand her.  Julie and the kids came over to play in the pool and that was nice... Paul & I went to the movies ...Cindy & I went to the movies...Went to brunch with the guys and then on to Cool Art...I went to a birthday party for Jordan... out to the beach for sunset...and Sydni & I finally did lunch.  Paul took Julie and I out for a sunset sail which was great fun since I haven't been sailing for a while.IMG_0669.JPG (610190 bytes) IMG_0706.JPG (488550 bytes)  One of the women I met in the UK, Carol was in a production of Annie Get Your Gun and sent me some cast photosshowgirls outside.jpg (2559192 bytes) Group ballroom gowns.jpg (121583 bytes)  Carol is in the teal!

June - I arrived home from the UK on June 4th and spent a night with the Kails which is always fun before driving home...took a nap, washed some clothes and went to Palmetto to have dinner with the Hunts and pick up Mister Knightly (I think he missed me).    Tim & Randy had a party for Louise on the 6th so I got to see all the gang there and then I went to see the sunset with the gang on Monday despite having a ton of work to get caught up on...  the next weekend I had dinner at the beach with Randy - which was really nice as he and I seldom get to have one on one time.  Aleth had postponed her trip to France so we got to have one more coffee together.  Sunday I went to see Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in Swedish and it was GREAT!  I finish the third book of the trilogy enroute home from the UK and now I look forward to the films if this one is indicative of the quality we will get.  

This next week I lunched with Tim and partied with Julie as her divorce became final and dog sat for Jack who developed a clot in his lung and had to be hospitalized...spent the weekend getting the garden back in order as well.  Bridget & Matt came by with Liam to have a photo session with Sheri and I took care of Luna so then I had 4 dogs in the house!.  We got some much needed rain and I managed to get the garden back in some kind of shape, but it still looks bedraggled   

Jack got out of the hospital and appears to be doing fine - his dogs are back with him but the dog days of summer are here now.

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May - was a jam packed month!  There was May Babies at my house...then  HAIR! in the park followed by Tropical Heatwave in Tampa and a vacation to England!  Let's take them in order.  The May Babies birthday celebration was a margarita pool party and a Kentucky Derby lottery combined..  We had five May babies this year, Tim, Randy, Ed, Bill and Amy and here they are: May Babies.JPG (169153 bytes)  Next came Hair in the park where we had a group group of attendees in 60's dress Hair 2010 007.jpg (168750 bytes) Hair 2010 008.jpg (218942 bytes) And then tropical Heatwave a huge music extravaganza of fun but I did not take a camera and so the only picture that I have is one that was drawn of me by some guy I danced with Heatwave 2010.jpg (277715 bytes).  Then it was off to England to visit Mary & Bob.  I saw some great places - Wimborne, Lime Regis, and Beer - we visited an old manor called Kingston Lacey and I saw the sea wall that is often featured in movies and TV shows and we explored a castle ruin in Corffe.  Mary & Bob seem to have carved out a nice life for themselves with Mary working and singing and Bob working as well - they have a sweet little flat that they are busy improving.  We had some good times together.  I stayed in a B&B in town and not in the flat so I was able to go around to some of the great pubs in Wimborne and meet some very nice people on my own   My favorite pub was the Odd Fellow Arms and here are some of the great gals I got to talk with Next to me is Billy the dog with Marie Claire, next is Marilyn who goes by Maz, then Evelyn and lastly Carol - all were great to chat with IMG_0660.JPG (815272 bytes) and here is Marie Claire again with Emily.  This is Kingston LaceyEngland 085.jpg (114891 bytes) and this is the famous sea wall where they filmed the French Lieutenant's WomanIMG_0351.JPG (682527 bytes) but if you are a friend of mine and want to see the whole set of holiday photos, please check out my FaceBook site.  

April - Another lovely spring month with no air conditioning at all!  My Final Four brackets fell apart early but Paul and I still got together to watch the last game - this is a tradition for us.  But first we had to get through Easter Easter 2010 001.jpg (378505 bytes) which wasn't too hard.  And Art in Bloom at the Museum of Fine Arts....

I managed to attend a couple of sunsets April 2010 Sunset snaps 015.jpg (253968 bytes) April 2010 travel & Swedes 170.jpg (72599 bytes) and have lunch with Mary Lou (who was feeling very poorly) and have some coffees with Aleth before flying off to Las Vegas for work.  I stayed at the Mandalay Bay and had a very good conference - I have posted a bunch of Vegas photos on FaceBook and will not duplicate them here.

I was gone for a week and got back in time to attend Marcia and Bill's music party - but when I arrived home I had Swedish houseguests - Karin Astrom and her new boyfriend, Peter had gotten stuck by the volcanic ash cloud in NYC and decided to come to FL and wait it out, this was just great as I was yearning to see Karin and spend some time with her.  April 2010 travel & Swedes 151.jpg (74562 bytes)  April 2010 travel & Swedes 155.jpg (126434 bytes) April 2010 travel & Swedes 156.jpg (100037 bytes) Peter is a cool guy and a veterinarian. I hope they make it as a couple - they are both so nice and so happy together.  So Anyway after they departed it was time to go to Marcia's Music Party and enjoy some jammin'  -  a great group of people but I was totally jet lagged and didn't stay very late. April ended with me planning for the may Babies party, but that's another story.

March - This was a jam packed and interesting month - I began with a Monday night at the beach and am sad to say that our beautiful beach is eroding quickly - the winter storms have taken a big bite out of it and if I lived on Sunset Beach, I would be worried 3-1-2010 003.jpg (212457 bytes) as hurricane season approaches - a big storm could cut a channel through some very valuable real estate.  On the 5th, Russ and I went to see a production of The Rat Pack at McHaffey Theater and it was quite good...Russ and I also went to dinner and had a great meal and a lot of good was a very nice evening.  The weather continued to be rather cold for Florida all month and the plants had been so damaged by the cold of February that it was not recommended to do any cutting back until things warmed up again.  Pollen came and everything had a light yellow patina of pollen on it - the pool stayed on the verge of turning green all month.  About mid month the real cold let up and the normal cool of early spring arrived in time for our trip to the Renaissance Fair on the 19th.  The cool weather lent itself to the wearing of costumes, though I would have worn one no matter what the weather.  RennyFair 018.jpg (297388 bytes) RennyFair 007.jpg (440953 bytes)     ... I was excited to see the movie of Alice in Wonderland and reread the books in an annotated version - but the film, though good was a disappointment to me - Tim Burton took something that was unique and enchanting and made it into just another teenage movie... an opportunity missed... likewise a parth billed as a Mad Hat party turned out to be just a Ho-Hum event to my sorrow - though I did have a smashing hat if I do say so myself.  St Patrick's day we went to lunch with Mary Lou and had a nice time...Art In Bloom and the Botero exhibit at the Museum were a lot of fun art n bloom 009.jpg (271180 bytes)  and to end the month, I hosted the 18th Annual Egg Coloring Party!  Eggs 004.jpg (333920 bytes) Eggs 009.jpg (328840 bytes) 


February - This was about the coldest entire month in Florida that I can remember!  I know we set several record lows.  The good news was that I got a chance to try out outfits to wear when I visit Mary in England this that was how I made lemonade from lemons... I also did some on line shopping for England.  As for events, there weren't take many...I didn't go to Monday sunsets...too cold!  I did go to a birthday party for Molly who turned 2 years old... such a cute kid and in about 2 more years I will be able to actually talk to her.Misc 2010 016.jpg (283438 bytes)  the party was outdoors and the day was cold and damp and Molly had a cold..  Another event in February was a concert in Clearwater - a Blues Festival actually starring John Mayall - Tim, Randy, Marcia Bill & I went and the day was one of the nicest all month - both for the good company and the good weather.Mayall 2010 041.jpg (106426 bytes) Mayall 2010 037.jpg (112173 bytes).  mayall is now 76 but still performing and sounding good!  Ya gotta love the blues...  The rest of the month was spent hoping to see some robins, which I finally did and being happy I had a gas log in the fireplace (it made keeping warm affordable).  I did take this really cute photo of Mister Knightly too Misc 2010 013.jpg (198058 bytes).

January - As always the New Year began with a party and this year the party was at my house.  Out of the 50+ folks I invited, about 30+ showed up so there was a good crowd and we had a fun time.  The city chipped in with some fireworks and I had hats and horns so it was all very festive.  I found a super dress to wear and was feeling very foxy indeed all evening as you can see:  

NY Eve 09 003.jpg (253338 bytes) NYE1.jpg (70747 bytes)    I had invited about 50 people knowing that on New Years a lot of folks just stay home - about 30+ showed up and that was a fine number for a party.  The Kails came from Orlando because they got to have a long weekend...By the way Bridget had her baby Liam on the 21st of January but no photos are available yet.

Once the New Year got off to a good start it was back to the old grind - except for a wonderful production of South Pacific that was at TBPAC - Doug and I went and were blown away by the quality of the production.  My birthday (63rd) followed and I had a lovely home cooked dinner with Ed Tim and Randy - at T&R's home.  That was followed by Cosi fan Tutti with Jack Akeson and friends and culminated with a beg group dinner at Caddy's

The rest of the month has been quiet and some of it very cold.  My yard looks very sad with the more tropical plants badly burned...some will come back but some may have passed away.  I am feeling very close to Aleth just now after going to her wine tasting and spending my Saturday mornings with her over is nice to have a close girlfriend with whom to mull things over.  So now that I am a year older I have to confess that I am as healthy as I have ever been in my life - I feel like 25 and I even like the way I look (for a change)... Life is Good!