Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Return from the Sunshine State

My trip to Florida was filled with lots of events. The picture you see here is one I took of The Pier, a complex with shops, restaurants, and an aquarium in downtown St. Petersburg that stretches out into Tampa Bay. There has been some public building on this site since the 1880s, but the upside-down pyramidal structure was built in the 1970s. I was told that there are plans to start doing major renovations here--possibly even eliminate the building--because the actual pier foundation needs a major overhaul in its support structure. Although the building is a bit kitschy, I do hope they keep it, as it's been a great landmark for decades now.

My primary reason for going to the Sunshine State these days mostly revolves around the health and well being of a few seniors in the family, notably Padre, my uncle, and my aunt. Thus, there were almost daily visits to either one doctor or another and hospitals. No sooner after I arrived, for instance, my aunt fell and broke her hip, needing a partial hip replacement and subsequently physical therapy at a senior rehabilitation center. The good news is that by the time I left everyone was doing well, so that was a comfort. I also had a few dinners with cousins, and on one very hot and humid afternoon I went with my godchildren to Lowry Park Zoo. While there, we rode the carousel, saw lots of fun animals (loved the meerkats and penguins), and enjoyed a delicious chocolate ice cream cone (I say that because I'm not a big fan of ice cream).

The planned "Gay Boys Weekend" at the Flamingo was great fun. I had coordinated this trip with friends to belatedly celebrate my 40th birthday, the passing of my Oral Exam, and the submission of my dissertation proposal (which has been accepted with some minor changes...more on that in a future post). In the picture below are some of my friends and I at tea dance (notice a few Bears in the background...don't ask, long story). My friends came from NYC, Miami, and Houston. The "resort" itself was basically a roadside highway hotel, but the pool area was great, and their local drink special was a deliciously fizzy $3 concoction that (if I remember correctly) had Smirnoff pomegranate vodka, seltzer, and some sort of sweet syrupy flavoring (pink in color, of course). We ate out all the time, going one night to Central Avenue Oyster Bar for some great seafood and going twice to Pia's Trattoria for some of the most delicious, simple Italian cuisine with wonderful ambiance and service.

My trip ended with a few days in Jacksonville visiting SVH for her birthday and to see my canine nephew George the Greyhound. I've never been completely comfortable around large dogs (not sure why exactly), but he is the one large dog that I absolutely adore. We went to the dog park one morning and got a bit muddy playing with all the dogs. We also went to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, of course to see the animals, but also so that SVH could photograph the public displays of poetry that relate in part to the "Poetry in the Branches" campaign led by Poets House (actually located here in NYC). She is one of the organizers at the Jacksonville Public Library for this NEH-funded program to encourage people to read poetry.

All in all, it was a great trip, but it's good to be home. I'm already back to work and settling back into my groove here in Brooklyn and on bklynbiblio.

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