Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Vacation and more...

In another month or so, I should be on vacation, barring any unforeseen issues popping up. It's always been somewhat of a tradition for me to take the week of my birthday off (end of June).. I have plans for things to do then, albeit loosely made. They're things that I yearn to do.

Once upon a time, when I was making a lot more money in a world that I haven't been part of for some time, going on vacation meant actually driving somewhere else far from home or as luck would have it, flying somewhere else. My vacations back then were almost always 'destination' trips to things like the Daytona 500 or a very long drive up the East Coast, trekking back to New England to spend upwards of two weeks, cramming in as much activity as I could. Sometimes I would also take the friendly skies and fly somewhere I'd never been. I was quite the adventurous sort back in those days. I still am adventurous but my idea of adventure has changed greatly due to a few factors, the most important one being financial.

When money grew tighter for me, I began to indulge in what is commonly known as the 'staycation'. In fact, when my vacations became the stay-at-home sort, there wasn't even a nifty term for it. I actually laughed out loud the first time I heard the term 'staycation'. Even though I will not be taking to the friendly skies or even long distances, I do have some local 'day trips' planned, probably more day trips than I'd had in the past.

The things I want to do while I'm off involve a lot of photography, more than just the standard vacation-type of photos that you see a lot of people taking. Influenced greatly by my artist friends, I plan to head to interesting places that lend themselves well to someone on a budget. I've been aching to return to the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo, FL. I went there around Christmas at night and still can recall all the spots within that seemed to lend themselves well to picture taking, such as lots of fountains and greenery. As far as I know, it's free to visit the gardens. (Fingers crossed anyway.)

Another place I love to visit is Tarpon Springs which is famous for its enormous Greek community as well as the famous sponge docks. Some of the architecture down the side streets of this wonderful city is beyond comparison. I am pretty much committed to checking out this place as well.

I have to blame my artist friends for having this type of influence on me. As some of you might know, I belong to a local art organization and have become very friendly with a lot of talented people. They really encourage myself and others to reach for the stars with our particular forms of creativity. One of my goals as an artist is to be at least as good as these fine folks are in whatever endeavour I choose to follow.

Maybe while I'm on vacation I could revisit the place where I took the above photo. This was taken locally behind The Don Cesar Hotel in St. Pete Beach.

The above photo was taken in Winter Park, FL in May 1994. This was well before the photography bug bit me. I believe the car is a Cobra. I took this before cars became important to me but apparently I liked this one enough to get a shot of it.

Right now, where I'm working on this blog is a place locally that I head to every Wednesday afternoon once I leave work. It's  not a bar. It's actually a bookstore, yes they still exist. This one has a coffee & tea bar in it and free WIFI. I do not yet have WIFI in my home so when I got this laptop, I wanted to try out some of the local WIFI hotspots. I've been coming to this place now since...March, I think.

The place I go to is known as Wings Bookstore and it's on the campus of First Unity Church in St. Pete, FL. I swear I could live in here. I love books and it's always nice and quiet. I'm one of those people who can easily pick up on the energy that a place gives off. Wings feels like coming home. There's always good mellow music going in here, either flute, new age, ambient (one of my favorite styles of music) or all of it mixed together. The energy I get from being here has the power to make a rotten day into something great in just fifteen minutes. The folks who work here are super nice and treat their customers well. It is one of the only places I visit on a regular basis.

Wings has been in St. Pete for a couple of years now but it's only within the past year that I've become aware of the healing energy present. Early last year, my father passed away and I was having issues dealing with it. I somehow ended up at Wings and luckily the place was dead. It was either a Monday or Tuesday, I can't recall. I came in and sat down in one of the armchairs and just cried for a good half hour. No one bothered me. Apparently, I let the place work its magic and when I left, I felt a lot better. I think the word I would use is 'welcoming'. It's the sort of welcoming that you don't see in a lot of places.

Along with the healing vibes and wonderful staff, the atmosphere here really lends itself well to my creativity. I might step in here with one idea in mind yet when I sit down to type, I'm getting ideas bubbling up with no explanation. I really get a lot out of being here and couldn't imagine my week without it.

This is what Wings Bookstore looks like on the inside. Very cozy. They sell books, CDs, cards and many other things. The coffee bar is great as well. 

This is Wings patio. I took this shot through the window. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Joseph P. Genera in commercial!

Joseph was my interviewee for the 'You're Never Too Old to Rock & Roll' bit I did a few months back. He's been one of my biggest supporters for this blog and it's my distinct pleasure to throw him some props as well. Well done, Joe!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Thirty Years On....

It was thirty years ago this month (May) that I made one of many radical changes in my life. I quit college one year short of graduation, packed up my meager belongings and set off for Florida. You might shrug and go 'Yeah? So? Big deal!'. Well, it is a big deal to me.
Thirty years ago, I had come to a point in my life where nothing was adding up for me. I was a junior in college, having transferred from a college that Id adored (in Massachusetts) to one that was large and impersonal (in New York.). I was just one more number on a page at a college that at any given time had about 10,000+ students attending this school. My prior college had about 1,000 students all told. Wow, talk about from the fire straight into the frying pain! Yikes! Culture shock!
Anyway, my family had already made the emigration south to Florida from small-town Connecticut, the prior fall. My grandfather still lived in Connecticut while the rest of the relatives were scattered all across New England. Most of my friends had already gone to other places. The plan had been for me anyway was to finish up my college education in New York and then either find a job up there or elsewhere. That had been the plan anyway. We all know what happens to the best laid plans, don't we?
I hadn't counted on how desperately unhappy I became at school. I really felt like I was in way over my head. In retrospect, I think that I should have thought things through a bit better. But when I was in my 20's, such insight didn't come easily to me. I had to learn it, often the hard way. It got to the point where I began to seriously not care what became of me and as my unhappiness grew, I just went crazy. I began to cut class and fell behind in my studies. I fell in with the wrong crowd, kids that were doing things that I'd only read about such as staying out all  night and partying into the wee hours.
By May 1983, the school year had ended and I just had enough. I went to the registrar's office at college and formally withdrew. I got my transcripts and they told a sad tale. My GPA had slipped way down. I just knew that I wanted to get out of there so bad that it didn't really matter. Luckily, I wasn't that cut off from my family in Florida and they encouraged me to come down there and live with them.
I've often heard that when people come to Florida to live that they are running away from something. That well may be true in my case, I was just running away from poor life choices. I made my way south alone. My car was packed to the rafters with all my stuff. It was sort of an adventure and I loved the independence it gave me just to do that. I felt very grown up as I made the 1200+  mile trip.
I moved in with my family into a home that I had never really lived in. The last time I'd lived with them, we all were still in Connecticut and in a familiar house. It took a bit to get used to. It was a hard transitition, moving back in. I immediately felt about ten years old again and for me, after living three years in two different colleges independently...let's just say it was like oil and water.
I was expected to get a job once I got to FL and pay rent which was only fair. It seemed that no one wanted to hire a kid with no experience. A lot of these places also had the idea that since I had a year left at college that I'd quit and go back, leaving them in the lurch. I finally was able to get a job through a job agency and had to pay a fee to the agency to be able to work.
When the dust settled after I'd moved here, I felt that I'd made a grave mistake. If I had felt out of sorts up in New York, it felt even worse in FL. I still felt as if I didn't really belong anywhere. If I wasn't working, I was out at the clubs partying the nights away. And the worst part of all? I wanted to move back up north. I was just twenty one and pretty much made most of my decisions by what felt good at the time or by being rash and making snap judgments. I didn't have any goals for the future. I didn't know what I'd be doing in five years nor did I have anything mapped out. I didn't have a clue. And I was scared.
My brother decided to take a trip back up North to spend time with some of his friends during the summer. I leapt at the chance to go with him. So along with him and a friend of his, we took his car and headed back up there. We spent a good three weeks up there and then we came back to FL. I got another job once I came back, one that paid better.
By year's end, I finally had my own place. My grandmother moved in with me to help with the  mortgage payment; she lived with me for ten years. For me having my own place was the best thing in the world. I think that knowing that I was responsible for paying bills in a timely fashion helped mature me as nothing had. But even with all of this, I still was horribly homesick for the north. I was homesick most of all for all the friends that I'd left up there.
Most of the vacations I took the first few years while living in FL were usually in New England where most of my friends still resided. Looking back, it took a good four years before I really felt at home down here. Now, all these years later I still feel at home here. In fact, my roots are so deep here that it would take an act of God to get me to go anyplace else.
I believe that as I've grown older and learned how to deal with the world better, I have become more thankful for a lot of things. I've learned to appreciate things and take stock of the ways that I'm truly blessed. I've finally put down roots here in FL and have made some lasting and valuable friendships. Now thirty years on, I couldn't imagine being anywhere else.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

And now some new jewelry

One of my latest anklet designs. Living in FL, I tend to see a lot of people wearing ankle bracelets. I wear them fairly often too. I think that they're just another way to wear jewelry. 

Here's another. People that I've sold jewelry to in the past seem to love pink. So I've really gone to town on creating more pink ones. 

Purple is another color that people seem to gravitate towards. I always have great luck selling items with purple in them. 

A memory wire bracelet I recently made

Another memory wire bracelet, using black 'pipes' (aka bugle beads) and multi-colored beads 

The above are just a few of the things I've been hard at work on lately. 

New artwork

I've been pretty hard at work making new greeting cards for the upcoming event (Awakening Into the Sun) and wanted to share them with all of you.

A good part of the time I just find a quote that speaks to me and then build a card around it. 

I adore quotes about the moon, clouds and the sky in general. They give me a chance to break out the moon stencils and go to town! 

One day I just felt moved and came up with this quote. It's pretty true for me. I love being on the beach, hearing the waves and feeling the breeze whisk across my skin. Being near the water, makes me forget all my worries, be more present and in tune with where I am. 

I really love this quote. I've been finding a lot of quotes by Rumi all over the place and really love his message. This quote is the reverse take on 'You're just a drop in the ocean'. 

When I came across this quote in my online travels, I immediately thought about which stencils I could use to build a card around it. Luckily, it worked out. 

Being a cat lover/owner, I really love any quotes I can find about the alluring animal known as the feline. 

And I certainly can't leave the dog quotes out either. I have dog owner friends and family ; they all adore their hairy, four-legged buddies. 

So those cards are just a few that I've been working on recently. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

New News...and more

All The Goods is still moving ever forward, ever ahead. I have a new interview that is in the process of being put together as I type. (I should say that the interviewee has the questions I sent him, but his schedule is jam packed. So when he's done with the questions I sent him, then I will put the interview up.) No hints either. This is kind of a biggie and I don't want to jinx it by letting too much go at this juncture. Let's just suffice to say that I am thrilled to death that he has consented to do this.

In other news, I've been pulling some new art together for the upcoming Awakening Into The Sun event that will be taking place Sat 6/1 and Sun 6/2 in St. Pete, at the First Unity Church. This event is going to be the first annual and hopefully for me it will be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. I will be sharing tent space with my good friend Barbara Lewis. She is the lady who was the topic of one of my first write ups for this little site. (This would be the blog for 12/16/12.) My other friend Joy Hawkins (A Little Peace of Joy) is also going to be selling her wares as well. You can find out more about Barbara Lewis by visiting this; you won't be sorry! And you can take a look at Joy Hawkins' fine work by checking out this

Along with all of this, I've been investigating new ways of furthering the cause of All The Goods. I'm still going to keep this blog/website, so don't worry about it going away anytime soon. I am looking into the possibility of an All The Goods radio show but done as a podcast. I've always wanted to do a radio show of some sort but was unsure about what to do or where to start. Back in the old days, one needed to not only have a license to be on the airwaves but also it was a good idea to be on a radio station. From what I understand now, you really don't even need a license anymore. And with the new technology, you don't even need a radio station either. So I'm looking into that for a future goal.

Another goal is a possible All The Goods You Tube channel. First I have to figure out how to use video on either my phone or digital camera. Yes, I have never done either thing. I use both of those things to take still pictures but not video quite yet. I think that if I could reach towards You Tube, it might really work for some of the interviews that I want to pursue in the future. I've been really lucky thus far that all of the interviews I've done for this very site have been through email. But I'm smart enough to realize that this format might not work for everyone.

So I have a lot of things to look into for the future and it's actually kind of exciting when I sit down and really think about it. Before I conclude this All The Goods message, I wanted to say thank you. Thank you to all the people that have come here and checked the page out. It's really encouraging to see the pageviews on my Dashboard here. It really helps propel me forward. People from Facebook and Twitter have also made their ways over here and I could not thank all of them enough. I get such an enormous bunch of support from everyone and it really is a great thing indeed.

View from atop the soon-to-be-demolished St. Pete Pier in St. Pete, FL This photo was taken in May 2003. I never could have fathomed that ten years after taking this photo, the the Pier would be taken down. It is mind-blowing to say the least. I am so glad that I took this photo. Not only is a great view of the city but it shows a different landscape than what we have now. There are so many more new buildings down there and it almost seems like a totally different place now.