Welcome!

There’s so much content running through my brain as well as content already contained. I’d like to invite you, dear reader, into my world of Busted Flip Flops. We’ll explore observations of life, musings about becoming Mom, Cherry Pearl the snorting pug, weird dreams, recipes, movies, ’80’s nostalgia, picking up strays (the furry and the non), and unfeigned poetry. Watch for weekly upcoming posts as these beach reads begin to build and form like, well, a castle in the sand...

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A Morning at the Sponge Docks, Desolate

My eyes wanted to see it. Needed to see it.

The safer-at-home order has its ups and downs. However because I long to spend more time in my home and away from noise and crowds, it has not been a real stretch for me. That said, being confined to a space for many weeks, no matter how comfy, lends itself to the brain desiring a slightly altering experience, even if just a few miles from home. And exercising cautiously outdoors is good for the soul.

Sponge docks boat and sky

The sponge docks are a little mini-European getaway. Founded by John Cocoris and his hired Greek sponge divers and their families in the late 1880’s, this little corner of west Florida is the sponge capital of the world. Sponges of all kinds, plucked from the gulf waters, specialty shops, Greek restaurants, and a rescue aquarium are some of what the five senses experience. I spent countless, beautiful moments with friends and family here over the past two decades. It remains one of my favorite local places, as well as in the world.

Sponge docks sponge diver

I made my trek by bicycle on a morning I knew there’d be few people out. The spring air void of humidity and the blue skies with an occasional wispy, puff cloud an extra enticement for the journey. There were a few times during off-season when the docks were quiet and fairly empty. But I had to see them now, had to experience this usually bustling town breathing in its silence.

And I had to take a lot of photographs.

Sponge docks empty parking lot

Sponge docks empty street

Sponge docks shop door

Sponge docks empty carousel

Sponge docks bakery case

The only open bakery, which is usually teeming with people.

Sponge docks lady at counter

Besides me, this lady was the sole patron.

Sponge docks window display

Sponge docks bakery case outside

Sponge docks empty restaurant

Sponge docks cigar

Sponge docks mannequin with mask

 

Sponge docks mermaid and turtle

Sponge docks bicycle

I trekked back home with two Tsoureki  loaves. Buy one, get one free.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Wild Spring Breeze and All It Brings

My eyes cannot view the sea from here
but its brackish scent wafts through
with the course of spring wind

It reminds me of times spent in its warm, emerald waters
and the passage of time

So fleeting time, in its uncharted path
ever shifting like the wild spring currents

If I could go back again
however I cannot

Here I sit in calmness
breathe what the breeze brings
And know we will again
someday.

Spring Breeze

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Things That Don’t Exist Anymore, Things I Miss, and New Things

Last night I decided to watch a movie from the 90’s that I wasn’t sure I’d seen before. Since I worked at a movie theatre for much of that decade it was a safe bet I had, although the memory was as fuzzy as my comfy house slippers that have become normal footwear during this new Stay-at-Home order.

Chasing Amy is about a guy who falls for a lesbian, and I was curious to see if the story arc involved the lesbian actually falling for the guy, Ben Affleck in this case, a decently attractive man with an annoying over-the-top best friend (sorry Jason Lee, love you more as Earl). I didn’t finish the movie, because I ended up spontaneously video chatting with my real lesbian friend and her wife. Weird things have been happening all around.

So probably because of the weirdness of the world right now, the nostalgia of seeing the trends from the 90’s, the absence of being with my students, and connecting with dear friends virtually after days of not seeing anyone besides by beautiful moody teenage son, I got a little emotional and started a list. Some items are in more than one. There’s an abundance to add but here’s the short version.

Things that don’t exist anymore (some are because of Covid-19 and some are from the passing of decades):
pay phones
people smoking in movies
beepers
calling everyone “bitch”
cars shaped like boxes
rednecks infiltrating the north end of the causeway
life without devices
brown lipstick with lip liner
the park with its rickety swing set and painted, cement tunnels
all the stores at Hickory Hollow mall
Happi China
my nail salon
all the animals I loved and cared for and lost
badminton with Gracie
lunch with Rhiley
Clearwater Beach in 2004
the artificial Christmas tree passed down from my parents that was too big for my condo
Disney World, circa 2008
the quaintish/industrial/cool nightlife of downtown Nashville

Things I miss (some are because of Covid-19 and some are because of circumstance and the passing of time):
life without devices (in certain situations like mealtimes, trying to have a physical conversation, and while sitting on the front porch)
the park with its rickety swing set and painted, cement tunnels
every house, basement, condo I’ve lived in
all the animals I loved and cared for and lost
all the loved ones I cared for and lost
all the fall and winter candle scents
all the stores at Hickory Hollow mall (and to a lesser extent but still appreciated Countryside mall)
Happi China
my nail salon
badminton with Gracie
lunch with Rhiley
Clearwater Beach in 2004
plastic key baby toys
the artificial Christmas tree passed down from my parents that was too big for my condo
every moment of my son’s growing up years (except those 3-year-old meltdowns)
Disney World before 2015 (it became too crowded, now there’s no one at all)
the quaintish/industrial/cool nightlife of downtown Nashville

New Things (mostly because of Covid-19):
teddy bears in windows
positive messages in chalk on driveways
Sundays without sirens
unidentified tiny white spiders crawling across my living room tile
empty parking lots and beaches
more families taking walks and playing with their kids

Oh and here’s another list
Things I’m Cherishing Right Now:
my pet lizard’s company
the solace of helpful and kind neighbors
the connection with loved ones via phone, Zoom, social media
my availability to help my son with his schoolwork (although I’m not sure if I’m much help, maybe just emotional support)
food in the fridge, toilet paper in the bathroom
heavenly spring weather
coffee in the morning while listening to birdsong
the goodness and sanity and health of friends and family

Stay safe ya’ll. Stay home. And hug each other (from a distance).

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The Time We Have

Some of us find ourselves with more time on our hands lately. Some of us are deemed an “essential employee”. Whatever your situation, and I hope everyone safe, healthy, and financially stable throughout this strange journey we’re all moving through, there is TIME– to capture, seize, harness. Our state is on a “Safer-at-Home” order. My neighbor says he’s “going out of his mind” yet in that same breath he said he wiped the grey dust off his guitar and clumsily yet earnestly strummed the strings, something he hadn’t done in years. Our community pool is closed due to the current situation. Last Thursday I strolled around the neighborhood for a much-needed leg stretch after work (I’m considered an essential employee and have been sitting in front of a computer every day for hours, not something I’m used to as a Montessori teacher). A mom and her young daughter had filled two blue paddling pools, placed them in their driveway, and were giggling and playfully splashing each other.

Although we have implemented distance learning at our school and conduct regular Zoom meetings, some of my students have taken up knitting. Some have baked sweet, chocolaty treats. Some have FaceTimed for 6 hours while watching the same Netflix series.

I have seen even more families taking walks together than usual. My brother said it is the same where he lives, 700 miles away from me. I’ve smelled the waft of charred food on grills more nights than not. I’ve heard an unusual abundance of birds singing in the tops of the oak and Norfolk pines. Gone are the shrieks of sirens every hour, the blasting hum of airplanes overhead, the smell of air thick with the pollution of car exhaust and industry.

Even though I’m still working, I’ve had a few more moments to enjoy the sound of birdsong, make brownies from scratch, read my current fiction of choice, water my neighbor’s garden, connect with friends I’ve haven’t talked to in months. At first I was consumed by the news and social media but I’m making a concerted effort to put the phone down for chunks at a time (there are some funny memes out there, though).

This week is my son’s 16th birthday. There will not be a car in the driveway with a bow on it (that wasn’t happening anyway). We will not have our usual hibachi feast with friends and family. But we will celebrate in the quiet and simple fashion we’re all becoming familiar with.

I’m just embracing the good that can come from a dire situation. And there is good here. And there is time.

(But I haven’t been to Walmart to buy toilet paper).

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Lingering There

Dwelling in the past, for any length of time, is a deep, dark hole. Merely happily reminiscing or learning from past mistakes isn’t a bad idea. But lingering there, well no good really comes of it. In fact, it’s sure to drive you mad. Lead you to the pits of despair.

Children grow up quickly, grandparents pass away, even certain friendships die. Marriages dissolve. Relationships blunder. Businesses bankrupt. Sea levels rise. Fat grows in places it never did before.

But sometimes for the need to have a purging bawl fest we linger there. We beat ourselves up. It was my fault that this or that happened. I’m never good enough, etc. etc. Bubble snot happens. Eyes are puffy in the morning. There’s a balled-up tissue next to the bed, soaked in tears.

With the new day feel a bit better.

Birds outside are singing.

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Catching Scents, Memories on the Highway

Written from the screened porch at the old Earle cabin near Ichetucknee Springs, Florida
June 13, 2018

I don’t even know where to begin, it’s been so long since I’ve written anything (besides a short thank-you note). I’m going all old-school long hand as I’ve no working computer at the moment. How did I manage to journal all those years on paper? It was all I really knew. And I preferred it. Now my mind is faster than my hand. And my posture is terrible.

Yesterday I caught a scent which reminded me of grandpa Pa. It must have been a combination of raw tobacco and the rain right before it falls. I was driving my son and I along one of the many country roads, lined with farmland– corn, cows, horses, watermelon. Power lines neatly parallel to the ever-stretching two-lane highway. Pa used his handkerchief (which he kept in his back pocket) to blow his nose. His vice was chewing tobacco. His very own garden full of the best tomatoes I’ve ever eaten to this day.

As a teen I couldn’t imagine his existence anything short of mundane, perhaps dull. But now I see the allure. The very peacefulness of it all. Days spent tinkering in the garage, tending to the vegetables, gathering fallen tree limbs, wiping the sweat of the brow with a worn handkerchief.

I go to these trips to the springs, to the ranch, to get away from it all. To be away from noise and chatter and chores and errands and work. Here the birds sing day and night. The rooster crows. The donkey bellows. There’s no WiFi. I woke up this morning and walked in dewy grass to pet a pygmy horse.

I miss my Pa. And my Granny. It’s hard sometimes to grasp the brevity of it all– that I shall never again spend time in their presence. Their memories float along with the momentum of the highway, the rows of melon, and the fields of corn.

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Scenes from a Burger King

The kid is on a hamburger kick recently. My teenager wants to try all the decent restaurant and fast food hamburgers to see which one is the tastiest. Already Glory Days, a nearby sports-themed bar and grille, is winning with its bacon and egg layers among the juicy char-grilled patty of meat. He has never been a big fast food kid, so I have to coach him on some burgers he might like to try, some I liked as a kid before I turned all pollo-pescetarian.

I told him of Burger King last week, and how they actually put their burgers on a real flame searing grill. “Notice the smoke wafting from the roof? That’s a real flame-grilled burger!” He tries one and is craving another the next day.

Now we never go into these fast food restaurants, only through the drive-thru. Today on a day trip with his grandparents, we stop inside one, by his incessant request for a Burger King burger. There happened to be one on the outskirts of the town we were visiting. And by outskirts I mean there were people in the parking lot who I think had just escaped jail.

We walk inside and immediately I begin to think of a prison cafeteria, or a high school cafeteria, as they basically look the same. The lighting is bright and glaring and the furniture is nailed to the floor. There’s a couple sitting side by side munching joylessly in unison, staring straight ahead into nowhere. Of course there’s a long line to order and there is nothing fast going on at all here. I notice a strange looking man with blonde, curly hair that could have been a wig on a mannequin in the early 80’s. He’s fumbling with his paper cup and receipt and mumbling to himself.

After we order (finally!) we grab our paper cups to fill them at the soda trough. I’m scanning the dining area to see where we could sit without brushing shoulders with someone who might stab us with a plastic knife. I notice 80’s hair, sitting by himself. In fact he is the only person on the whole left side of the dining room. I avert his stare and we glide over to the more bustling side with the lesser of the people who could possibly drag me into their white van.

As soon as we sit down I notice that my teenager looks as if he’s about to have a panic attack and I tell him Hey you wanted a BK burger! He doesn’t like going anywhere remotely sketchy, not even to the grocery store with me. My dad gets up to go get our tray of food-like items and immediately 80’s mannequin hair walks over to our table.

“I was cleared of those charges,” he says defensively.

He repeats himself.

Again, repeats. “I’m telling you I was cleared of those charges!”

My son and I stare at each other in non-disbelief. My mom stammers through, “Uh we don’t know what you’re talking about?”

80’s mannequin hair continues. “I don’t know why everyone keeps talking about it!”

He walks off in a huff.

I look at the man sitting a couple booths over, who I’m certain is a serial killer, mouthing the word Oh-K and rolling his eyes after witnessing this altercation/creepy conversation.

My dad comes back with the tray of our food-like items and misses the whole thing. I grab the pepper shaker and immediately recoil as it’s coated in a stickiness I don’t even want to ponder. The four of us eat our meals in our little bubble, snickering about how weird it all is. They love their burgers and I’m kind of enjoying my salad, if only I had a plastic knife to cut the choke-able-sized chunks of chicken or defend myself in an all-out BK clientele skirmish.

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