Saturday, November 24, 2007

Eine Note des Winter-Schnees im Kansas City

As if to punctuate our absence of nearly 20 years, my beautiful Kansas City has managed to welcome us back into her ample bosom with quite frigid air and light dustings of perfectly gorgeous snow off and on since we've arrived - a nice taste of what was our life here in the mid-west.

The layover in Minneapolis' airport was very relaxing. What a wonderful airport: lots of high-end shops, great eateries, interesting wildlife watching . . . We were there for nearly 6 hours waiting for our connecting flight to Kansas City. When we got to Kansas City the temperature was around 60 some degrees F. From the time that we crossed the jetway into the terminal and retrieved our bags and stepped outside to get our rental car, the thermometer had plummeted into the 30's. And, it's been, to this Flahridian, Arctic ever since.

Each year on Thanksgiving evening, Santa comes to town and, along with the mayor, flips a huge switch and the entire Country Club Plaza lights up with wonderful holiday lights festooned over and around all the doors and windows, eaves, turrets, copulas, etc. (See picture above.) It's breathtaking, really. This city is one of the most beautiful in the country sporting more boulevard miles than any other city except Paris, more fountains than any city save Rome (see photo at bottom), cleaner air than Honolulu, and the nation's economy runs through it 3 times a day! The area has the second-most affluent county in the country.

Thanksgiving day went very well. I spent most of it in the kitchen getting dinner together. We ate around 5pm. Had turkey, great dressing, lumpy & dirty golden mashed potatos, gravy, Mama Stamberg's (really Craig Claiborne's) cranberry relish, mixed veggie sautee', baked sweet potatos in butter and brown sugar; and for dessert I made an apple and blueberry crostini, + we had a pumpkin pie and kick-ass pumpkin muffins from Panera. Competitive wines included several chards, a nice Voignier (mid-coast), an old vine Zin which was really chewy and yummy.

This trip has proven to be a whirlwind of appointments for us. We've so many friends to see and catch up with. Tonight we're having a cocktail party here at our host's home for the rest of the gang that we just couldn't possibly get to visit individually. Each day and night for the rest of the trip is booked with dinners and visits. We leave on Tuesday, heading back to Tampa and sun and orchids in bloom.
I must admit that driving around town has been somewhat of a surreal adventure. There are parts of it I remember quite well - others that evade memory. With Tampa and Baltimore between the time we lived here and this visit, one is a bit muddled . . . landmarks that you recall are now either gone or have completely different surroundings so you have to rethink what you see and adopt a new perspective. Not unlike the journey through Life, I suppose.
Sunday, tomorrow, we head up to Parkville, Missouri to see the college and my dear friend, Carolyn. I'm sure that will annoint me with a flood of memories as we trapse up and down the hills of that picturesque little dorf.

The main fountain on the Plaza

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Die Einzige Sache, Die Konstant Ist, Ist Änderung.

While this site has been a model of deadly silence for the past month, behind the scenes the author has been busier than a hooker working two bedrooms. My wonderful position as a cataloger for Tampa's library system has come to a close due to managerial re-direction and, at my own request, I have been re-assigned to the library situated but two or three blocks from Das Schloß.

It was a simple deduction, really. The director of the libraries wants to do away with the cataloging department, thinking that any cataloging we may require can be outsourced, and so I saw the writing on the wall. Rather than wait for the other shoe to fall, I felt the need to take control of a bad situation and manage my own patootie's future. So, I put in for a transfer and it went through. This decision broke my heart as I truly felt 'at home' cataloging. But, things change . . . and that's the only constant in life.

The drive to work from my house in New Tampa to South Tampa was around 60 miles round trip. At roughly $30.00/week for gas (when gas was around $2.60/US gal.), that meant that I would, in effect, give myself $1,440.00/yr. raise just in gas savings alone. Heaven forbid what it would be now at $3.10/US gal. F'rinstance: last week I drove on empty the entire week going to and from work. I can bike to work on nice days which draws me a bit closer to being a greener guy.

So, anyway: I've been at New Tampa Regional LIbrary for two weeks now and it's working out very well. The crew is made up of terrific people. It's nice to be working with the public again, especially the little ones. Our library has such a diverse make-up of patrons: Arabs, Hindi, Punjabi, Filipino, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Russian, Bulgarian, German. There are a lot of Americans, too, but they seem to be in the minority here in New Tampa, so it's always interesting tending the circulation desk.

In less than two weeks, Himself and I will be winging our way to Kansas City to visit with friends over Thanksgiving. We'll arrive at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport at 10:30am, cool our heels for around 6 hours for our connection at 4:10to KCMO arriving at 5:37. T'will be a long day but think of the knitting that I'll get done in Minnesota! I'm hoping that the notorious Midwest weather will be co-operative for our trip. I've seen blizzards in October in that part of the country. We depart Tampadorf on the 20th of November and return on the 27th.

We are now in the "Perfect Season" here in Florida. Zero humidity, temps in the 70's during the day and in the 50's at night. The orchids are singing away out on the lanai - several are in spike and 2 are in full flower - We've actually had to shut up the house the last few nights as it was just too chilly - inside temperature was 62 degrees F. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr . . . . . .

Tomorrow is Veteran's Day and, since the library is closed, I'm planning on hitting the beach armed with needles and yarn. I've been a bit under the weather since yesterday - it has been exactly two weeks since I started back in the public sector so that's about the right incubation period for all those nasty germs that I'm unaccustomed to that one encounters on library materials and the public in general. But, I'm feeling much better today so, hopefully, it was just a 24 hour 'thing'.

Now, off to our weekend bike ride . . .