This land is mine, God gave this land to me,
This great this golden land to me.
And when the morning sun reveals her hills and plains,
I see a land where children can run free…..Exodus, 1960


A cool, still morning greeted the Gilchrist Park people  as a rare spring cold front brought a heavy mist to this historic riparian strip along the  Peace River.

The quiet calm however belied the tension of the past week between the TennisFolks and Pickleballers.

But, even as the well bundled, early runners and walkers emerged to the new day, word quickly spread of a great compromise achieved by the Town Council in a very rare midnight, (actual 9 pm) meeting last night.
Taking a page out of history, the council followed the path taken by the United Nations in 1948 when that world body carved out a section of Palestine for the state of Israel.

By council degree, the Pickleballers  were presented with a piece of land of their own.

Two existing tennis courts were now and forever, designated for occupation and use by the PickleBall People.
Several of the council members, who were present during the 1948  negotiations of  the Arab /Israeli solution, credited their experience in that dispute with helping resolve the Pickleball  issue.
Many agreed and hoped that this decision will go as smoothly as that landmark 1948 proclamation.

However, some worry that a dangerous precedent may have been created and more trouble could be just down the road as questions immediately arose.
What if Ballers who prefer other condiments want their own land too?

The mustard and catsup people are already feeling  they have been being squeezed out. Then there are the onion and relish folks who think the entire process stinks. And if those Chicago Style people, with their tomato and sport pepper preferences get involved, the situation could really get messy.
No, unlike the universal appeal of the Arab/Israeli compromise, the only person happy on the Gilchrist strip this morning seems to be  the hot dog vender.


The Feud

March 25, 2013

It’s been 150 years since the Hatfields of West Virginia and the McCoys of Kentucky began their notorious quarrel that lasted nearly 30 years and left several citizens and family members dead.

Things have been relatively quiet since then, however, a confrontation is brewing in my little part of southwest Florida which just might get very ugly, very fast.
This past week saw the start of what might become  southwest Florida’s version of that famous 19th century hillbilly fight.
I am referring to The Great Tennis/Pickle Ball War of 2013.  And it seems the combatants have ironically chosen peaceful Gilchrist Park as their battleground location.
Gilchrist Park is roughly the eleven acre preserve that runs along the placid Peace River from the great Banyon Tree to Fishermen’s Village.
It has been the home of walkers, runners, sitters, lookers and  hot dog eaters for nearly a century.  It has also provided  a scenic place for tennis players, basketballers and more recently, pickleballers to hone their sport.
Here in lies the problem. With no dedicated courts for their sport, pickleballers have begun poaching the tennis courts. This has not set well with the more established tennis crowd. Two weeks ago some unnamed individual ignited the explosive situation by drawing  pickle ball court lines on the tennis courts.

There was shock, outrage and mortification that anyone would deface these ancient courts, which are considered by many locals to be just as hallowed as the green grass of Wimbledon.
Well, this upstart aggression was just too big an insult for the clubby tennis players to swallow, so they (allegedly) volleyed back and “erased” the pickle lines with oil and pickle juice.
So now, Punta Gorda ‘s major case squad has been brought in to assess the situation, determine who is at fault and bring the perps to justice.

The investigation is ongoing and the police department is keeping a close eye on the situation before any racquets get thrown in anger.

Meanwhile, the jogging, walking, looking, sitting and hot dog eating continue unabated.

Where The Girls Are!

March 24, 2013

It has been quite some time since I have been in a house where teenage girls were staying.
This past week, my granddaughters and friends (GD&F) came to visit for spring break and stayed in my condo in southwest Florida.
I consider myself an easy-going guy, but honestly, I was not prepared for the complete apartment transformation a few pubescent females can make.
First, while greeting my neighbor in the elevator, I casually mentioned that GD&F were visiting.

His answer, ” We know we heard them” was a little surprising.

Next, the Homeowners Association might be on my case for excess hair.

Why you ask?

Well as the readers of this space know, I am follically challenged, but with the influx of GD&F comes enormous amounts of hair. While I spend virtual no time addressing my few remaining short strands of hair, hours and days are spent by teenage girls, washing, drying, brushing, tossing and tying hair. This apparently may have upset the building’s filamentous biomaterial balance.
There maybe some truth to this as the other day, I observed two brushes the size of frying pans  where I thought the bathroom sink used to be. I say that because the sink was covered with a vast assortment of female paraphilia.
So distracted at not seeing the sink in its usual spot, I almost failed to notice the half eaten bag of Cheetos on top of the toilet tank.

How odd.

Further inquiry disclosed that the bag was placed there and forgotten as a beach bag was being emptied. Needless to say, I was quite relieved that simultaneous eating and “uneating” was not taking place in my house.

While we are in the neighborhood, you should know I observed that girls, for whatever reason, use between 43 and 68 percent more toilet paper than boys. Just an interesting “factoid.”

Back to eating, the week before, when Prospero and Atticus visited,  I was impressed with their ability to make food disappear, but the girls seemed to hold their own in this regard. It might be fun to see them go head to head, especially if chocolate cake is involved.
Marathon sleeping is another event where both the boys and girls seemed to excel. Here however, I have to declare Sydney the clear winner with a very impressive 11 hour shift, only interrupted by a trip to the kitchen seeking a bowl of cereal. which after consuming in record time,  she returned to her room and locked the door.
Because of this penchant for massive door locking by teenagers,  I have taken  your advice, Mariah, and have purchased a very nice selection of door opening ice picks. FYI. They are kept in the kitchen drawer, next to the sharp knives.
Visits to the farm went as expected with near hand feeding of a willing bovine by Hadley and Kate occurring.
I can’t report on trips to the beach and the mall, because I eschew those locations, but I notice that  pink sweat shirts with “Punta Gorda” written on them are items of fashion this season.
All in all it was a lovely spring break for the girls, , I just need to figure out what to do with all this Activia yogurt they left in my fridge.


March 16, 2013

Way out west, they got a name
For rain and wind and fire
The rain is Tess, the fire’s Joe and
They call the wind Mariah
Mariah blows the stars around
And sends the clouds a-flying
Mariah makes the mountain sounds
Like folks were up there dying
Mariah, They call the wind Mariah…Alan Lerner, 1951

When I was young, and my cousins came to visit, my mother would put all us kids in the back bedroom/ laundry room. We had all manner of bedding and blankets and it was a place where mom or Aunt Ruth as she was known to my cousins could keep  kids corralled and under a watchful eye. She did not tolerate  waste or foolishness in youngsters.

This was readily apparent one  Saturday in July when she felt my cousins and I were sleeping too late.
She entered the room, announcing herself with a loud slap of the door, saying,
” The Lord did not make such a glorious day for you lazy kids to waste it in bed all morning!”

There was a chorus of complaints from the sleepy group,

“Come on Aunt Ruth, it’s our summer vacation?”

But, we all knew it was a futile effort to complain and no more sleep was to be had especially when mom, (Aunt Ruth) threw open the curtains to the bright sun light.
For some reason, each time she roused us up, the song, They called the wind Mariah always came to my mind. I guess it was the kinetic energy that swept into to the room when “Aunt Ruth” was in attack mode.

The memory of Aunt Ruth returned this past week when Mariah, her two nephews, Prospero and Atticus and their parents came for a visit.
Right from the beginning, I realized that Aunt Mariah was giving no quarter to her teenage nephews in assuming her role as the guiding, counseling, protecting and rule enforcing Aunt that she was.
It was also clear that both Prospero and Atticus, while grumbling about Aunt Mariah’s admonishments, appreciated her guidance and wise counsel.
It all became very clear one morning about 9 am when Mariah out of the blue,  asked me if I had an ice pick. Thinking it was a bit early to be gathering cocktail ingredients, I asked what did she need an ice pick for. She replied that those boys had locked the door to their room and would not answer her clarion calls to get up. Time was a wasting.

I thought for a moment , well you are not going to prod them with the ice pick are you?

No, she assured me she was going to open the lock with it.

Relieved, I informed her that I did indeed have no ice pick and I was not sure I wanted to be an accessory to breaking and entering anyway.

The stand-off was averted however when the boys realized that their position was untenable. They surrendered and walked sleepily into the light of day…only to assume a new prone position on the living room floor.
How comforting and reassuring it is to have the likes of Aunt Mariah and Aunt Ruth benefit us teenagers of every age.

Thank you. Ladies.