The good ole summertime or dog days, which is it? People dread it or love it! Some of that depends on the location of your doghouse. If you’re in the mountains of North Carolina or along the Montana – Canadian border, it’s like Hammerstein’s lyrics from Porky and Bess, “Summertime and the livin’ is easy.” Not so if you’re sweltering in the desert southwest or in Florida’s everglades. Give it six months – those songs will change 180°. I like the summer for another reason. My humans are home more, and when they do travel, they’re much more likely to take me along.
Example, I went up into the cool mountain air a couple of weeks ago. The Geezer’s best friend was celebrating a special birthday in the beautiful town of Burnsville, NC. Ah! The mountains! Plenty of deer to chase. Flowers to sniff in the mountain meadows. Crystal waters to drink from spring fed “branches.” The luxury of watching time rock by. What a trip for relieving the tension created by the tortuous times we live in.
The difference in the two summers was driven home to me when we were returning. Driving south on Interstate 26, we stopped at a rest area, still in the Hendersonville mountain area, so I could sprinkle the grass. The temperature was pleasant, the humidity low. An hour-and-a-half later Mrs. G needed to find a used coffee disposal device (that’s a Geezerism). Hopping out of the car was like jumping into a Swedish sauna with palmettos and pines as decor.
Summer is baby manatee season – Mama & offspring relax in our canal
Summer is when life renews itself. The proof is in our back yard … in the canal and bushes behind it. Two exhibits are placed in evidence. Matilda the Manatee is shown here with her latest young ‘un. Our resident night herons have had their nests in full operation. The next squadron is already flying. Our canal’s air traffic rivals O’hare at times.
I get to go to more of the Geezer’s book events and presentations in the summer. One thing about this season is the drastic difference in outdoor and indoor events. He has two coming up in the next couple weeks. The Geezer will be presenting programs for Master the Possibilities this fall. He’ll be in Ocala for a kick-off meet and greet at 8415 SW 80th Street, in Ocala, FL this coming Friday the 24th at 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM. It’s in the Cypress and Live Oak’s AC. He’ll also be at Englewood Florida’s Pioneer Days in Pioneer Park on Dearborn Street, September 2nd & 3rd where he’ll be doing some MCing of the program and signing books. It’s outside … it is hot, but it’s fun!
Don’t forget to check out “Possibilities! The Hudson comes to the Peace” writers conference at http://www.southwestfloridawritersconference.com . This is going to be a premier conference. If you want to improve your skills, determine if writing is for you, or GET THE RARE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE NEW YORK AGENTS & EDITORS VIEW YOUR WORK you need to be there!
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That’s where he’ll be this weekend. The #Crowley Museum is one of those places that few human folks know about and that lots of human people should. It’s a living photo of history within a two-and-a-half hour drive for those living in communities from Marco Island to Clearwater and into the center of south Florida. I love that kind of place, but unfortunately, I’m on guard duty this weekend. He’s listed by his author name on their program – DL Havlin, instead of his more descriptive title – Geezer.
The Crowley is a late 1800’s frontier town that’s been restored to preserve the area’s heritage. It even has some of the cattle breed the Spanish brought with them in the 1500s that was the foundation for Florida’s first important industry, “ranch herding.” One reason I’m not going is all the farm animals. Chasing is irresistible.
The event for this weekend is the Southwest Florida Heritage Festival. There will be all kinds of demonstrations like squeezing sugar cane and making syrup from the juice just like Florida Crackers did using draft animals and wood fires. Other exhibitions include spinning, whip making, bee keeping, noodle making, pioneer cooking and more! Here are a few pictures.
Irma was rough on this wonderful example of Florida history. It has just recently been reopened after the extensive work done to put it back as it was! I highly recommend you stop by and see this fascinating bit of Americana. The Geezer will be presenting two historical talks at the Crowley Learning Center. “The Loyal 14th Colony: Florida in the Revolutionary War” will presented Saturday (2/24) at 11:00 AM. He’ll talk about “Florida: The Forgotten Years – 1865 to 1920” on Sunday (2/25) also at 11:00 AM. Both presentations have power point programs with them and the old boy will stick around to answer questions and chat afterwards. He loves that. The Geezer (DL Havlin) will be there both days open to close. Instructions to get to the Learning Center are available on-line and will be at the event.
The Crowley Museum is located very near Sarasota. Exit I-75 on to Fruitville Road East. Fruitville dead ends into Myakka Road. Turn right. The road twists and turns for a few miles to 16405 Myakka. That’s about 13 miles from the #210 exit off I-75. It’s on the left side of the road traveling east. There is a website with more info. It’s http://www.crowleyfl.org . GPS should get you there. Come see him this weekend!
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Wow! The event I attended over the weekend gets a five bone award on a five bone scale. It had something that all who attended could enjoy. Woof-woof for the “Lemon Bay Historical Society Cracker Fair.” Everything from demonstrations of pioneer living, to the wildlife that Florida’s early settlers had for neighbors entertained and educated. You couldn’t help but be impressed by the folks who made up the very large crowd. I spoke to men and women from nine different countries. (Count ’em – England, Canada, India, France, Denmark, Germany, Columbia, Switzerland, and South Africa.) Like you’d expect, many canines took their humans to the cultural event. I had a chance to bark with breeds from – Boxers to Yorkies – with Chihuahuas, Bull dogs, German Sheperds, and many others mixed in. Of course, other Goldens were well represented. I distributed my canine cookie recipe to so many, I almost ran out of the cards it’s printed on. Below are some interesting pics from the fair.
There wasn’t a negative about the fair. The result on the Geezer … that’s another thing. It will take a month for the swelling to go down. He was the featured speaker during the town’s history week at Charlotte/Englewood library a few days before and many people stopped by to tell him they really enjoyed his presentation. (At that point, an air-compressor hose was attached to his cranium) A couple individuals asked him to speak to their organizations. If that wasn’t bad enough, four people who have read his books stopped by to buy more and tell him how much they loved his stuff. That last part, the loved his stuff, was bad! The compressor fired off. Putt, putt, putt, putt……… Next, two placed orders for a book he’s in the process of finishing. Compressor. Faster. Buttabuttabuttabutta……….. Finally, one person left her name with a standing order for each new book when it comes out. Compressor. Race. Bbbbrrrruuuummmmmmmm………. The old turkey will be hard to live with for a while. If I can find a large pin, I’ll puncture that balloon – that is if I can find a way to shelter from the gush of hot air that will rush out at hurricane force.
The Geezer loves history and the culture of ALL of our past. He believes that choosing to ignore history insures the same mistakes will be relived. Ignoring or “deleting” what’s happened won’t change one thing and only drastically increases the probability of an instant replay.
The Cracker Fair is all about history. Some intrepid re-enactors sweated and sweltered in the Florida sun so the visitors could get the flavor of the times. Below are a couple of gentlemen who were walking, talking history books. They added mystic and ambiance besides answering questions about the time period.
Worse, the Geezer will be speaking at the Helen B. Hoffman Library, located at 501 N Fig Tree Lane, in Plantation, Florida, Monday 2/12 at 10 AM. He’ll be speaking about “The loyal 14th colony: Florida in the Revolutionary War.”
I may need a blimp tender to hold him down after that.
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I finally was able to get to the computer to write a post! The Geezer has been so busy he’s hogged the keyboard ever since Christmas. The old boy is finishing two books. He’s doing a final edit on one and completing the last chapters on the other. The months of December through April are Snow Bird season so that means he’s busy on the speaker’s circuit. Most “events” are held during that period because there are up to a third more folks that can attend.
It’s also the season he gets to enjoy seeing his long-lost schoolmates and friends. The old boy really loves that. He’s had three visits in the last four weeks.
You’d think this would give me more, not less, opportunity to blog. Nope. Two things have occurred to keep this from happening. First, because he’s been so busy, he has switched to a lap top and takes it with him. Second, and this one I can’t even complain about, he has been able to take me with him on a lot of events lately. If I complain about that, all the moaning and grousing about being left at home will have been wasted.
My two favorite friends in the neighborhood are away on trips. Manny, the Chichichua is off on a cruise through the Panama canal. It will be a while before he or Sarge comes back. Sarge is my German Shepard friend who is visiting relatives in Colorado for a month of skiing. I can see his humans on skis, but even though Sarge is an athlete that vision is a bit much. That leaves Fifi and Lucy. Fifi is the typical conceded Poodle who knows everything and has done everything better than you and Lucy the Cocker Spaniel owns a mouth that may be the first perpetual motion machine ever invented. It is tough spending time with them. I try, but boredom is better.
Being careful to avoid complaining about all the travelling, I told the Geezer, “Geezer I’m bored. Can’t you find a way to let me get some computer time? I’m tired of doing nothing.”
“Why are you unhappy? Seems to me you have it very good. All you have to do is watch the Osprey’s nest across the street, see the mullet jump in the canal, sleep on your cushions, and ride with me when I go to speak. You like all those things, don’t you?”
The old boy had me boxed in and he knew it. “So, you should be happy, right?”
You know, sometimes I’m so happy I could just s _ _ t!
Note: Come see the Geezer and me at Pioneer Park in Englewood, Florida tomorrow. He’ll be there all day.
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Just for the period of time it takes to read this post, I’d like you to imagine the words are being read to you by Charles Kuralt. All of you under forty are probably asking, “Who in the hell is Charles Kuralt?” Charles Kuralt was “the voice” of a CBS program that aired for years. It was titled On The Road. His distinctive voice was the signature for this show … a show that was all his. On The Road was just that, Charlie nosed around the nooks, crannies, highways, and byways of the US. I know it may be hard for the younger folks who read this post to believe, but once upon a time their were actual journalists on national television that were true to their vocation, not their political beliefs. It was a time before we were divided into blocks for political opportunism. Kuralt found and touched the heart and the soul of his viewers. As you read my words, hear them through his voice.
I’m speaking to you today from a few hundred yards off of Florida Highway 16. It’s about midway between two places you probably never heard of, the towns of Starke to the west and Green Cove Springs which lies eastward. The grass field I’m sitting in the middle of, is part of the Camp Blanding Museum. Around me are the tools of wars past. They’re reminders of what this place was, one of the important training areas for a war that would engulf the world. What remains of this site as an active military center is behind the entrance south of the museum. It’s only a token of what was once arguably the largest city in Florida. Over 300,000 men and women trained or worked here. Look around and you see what young men came to this place to learn to use. They had to do this to help win a war we could have lost and as importantly to give them their best chance of surviving it.
Looking inside the drivers compartments of these vehicles is a shock to some. The levers, switches, and mechanisms are crude by 2017 standards. A young man asked, “Did they really fight in these things?” An old man answered, “We sure did and we did a damned good job of it!” There was more in his voice than pride in having served and survived. In his eye and tone there was that reverence those who have experienced combat have for those they knew who did not return to stand here today.
The lawn around the museum is home to many vehicles. Half-tracks, DUKWs, ambulances, trucks, field pieces, all are pages of a book that tell us a story. Even a C-47 transport plane with D-day markings graces a concrete pad, a reminder of 508th Paratroop Regiment who trained in the sands beyond the guard gate.
Mixed in with the vehicles are monuments to the Army units that trained here and the people that were flesh and bone that gave them life. Among them was the Big Red One – the first army division. Nine infantry divisions lived here and learned about war on these grounds. There are monuments to the extra brave who began their journey into hell at this place. One honors distinguished service cross recipients and another the nations highest award, The Medal of Honor. Both have a significant number of names chiseled into stone to remind us of sacrifice and that sometimes forgotten word – honor.
Going inside the museum is like stepping through a time portal on Star Trek. We see what we were. What we did. Right and wrong.
The pictures and exhibits show us what a base for a quarter of a million men looked like. Row upon row of small cabins, barracks like the one the museum is housed in, hospitals, theaters, commissary buildings, maintenance facilities, everything that a city of that size needed to exist was built in Florida’s wilderness. Work on Blanding was a seven day a week, three shift schedule in 1940-1941. Today, most of the 150,000 acres that is Camp Blanding has been reclaimed by the pine barrens and swamps from which it was hacked. Concrete foundations, weathered and hidden by nature, dot the ground and are the ghosts that haunt these woods.
Reminders of the past always bring bitter to go with sweet. Exhibits remind us of where we’ve been, some of them telling us of what we did wrong. The Army of 1940 was one that was still segregated. Separate facilities, living areas, even swimming lakes are indictments of what just one of our societies mistakes has been.
It tells us of things we did correctly. Few know that many German POWs were transported to the USA. Camp Blanding hosted around 2,000. They lived in the same type facilities as our GIs. They were given jobs and paid to do them. Contrast that to the fate of POWs in German or Russian hands. Less than 10% survived the war and literally this amounted to millions of deaths. More than 15% of Germans elected to stay in the US and become citizens and over 98% survived.
Places like this, Camp Blanding, are places that should bring us together. We can attempt to change history, there are those who do, but it really won’t change. Camp Blanding is a string tied around our finger, like ones used by our country men before computers, to remind them of something they had to do. If we forget the good and bad that history teaches, we’ll neither continue our virtues or avoid our mistakes. Humans are on a long voyage of discovery. That discovery is how imperfect we really are. We have to embrace what we have become, not languish in what we were, but learn from where we’ve been.
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I’m recuperating. My muscles are sore, my joints are jingling, even my tail hurts. Keeping up with the relatives isn’t always a good idea, particularly if the relative is ten percent of your age. The Geezer and Mrs. G took me to visit my niece, Remi, this weekend. She lives in the Jacksonville area. She’s Golden. Yep, she’s a Golden Retriever, too. Remi is a little over one year old. I love her, but she makes Niagara Falls look inactive.
We’ve been together before and I new she was energetic, but I didn’t expect to step into a situation equivalent to a nuclear explosion. When the front door closed behind me at her human’s house, the action began. In the twenty feet it took to get from the door to the living room, Remi had circled me four times, jumped over me three times and crawled under me once. She was as quick as the animation in one of those super-hero cartoon films. Maybe she thinks she’s The Golden Flash or something.
“Let’s play tug-o-war.” Remi bounded around and picked up a rope with handles on both ends. When I didn’t respond, she added, “Come on, live a little!” I rolled my eyes, but she didn’t receive the same message I was trying to send. “How about we do the tug thing and run and jump into the swimming pool at the same time. How’s that? Huh? Huh?”
I needed some excuse that wouldn’t admit I was at the age that a discussion about the literary classic “Lassie, Come Home,” or an in depth analysis of the pros and cons of dry foods versus canned was more to my liking than a serious romp in the park. The best I could come up with was, “My winter coat is coming in and I’m shedding very badly right now. I need to stay out of your humans pool.”
“OH! Okay! Lets play with a ball. I’ll go get one. We can play take away. I hold it my teeth and growl when I’m ready to begin. You grab it with your teeth and try to pull it away from me.”
I had to think of something. I lied —– “I have false teeth.”
“Oh, that’s too bad. Lets play tag, instead of take away. I hold the ball and runaway until you catch me. Then I give you the ball and I chase you until I tag you. I’ll even give you a five second head-start.”
“Honest, Remi, I’m tired from my travel. Right now I’d have a rough time summoning up enough energy to chew my dinner.” I thought that would end the conversation.
“Poor Sandy! Those horrible false teeth. I’ll help! I’ll chew your food for you! You might lose some in the process, but it’s better than starving.”
I knew I was cooked. I said, “Let’s go play.” No other three words have caused me more misery.
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The Geezer had a successful visit to the Florida Heritage Book Festival on Saturday in St. Augustine. His publisher and a number of her authors attended to support this literary event. I’ve included a picture of his display and pictures of our visit to the Camp Blanding Museum on the way home. I’ll being speaking of both in future posts.
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