Waiting for the Ice to go out!

We packed up on Saturday and headed out from the 89 degree sunshine in SW Florida and made the 1800 mile trek back to northern Minnesota.


This is a picture of our front yard taken yesterday morning. The ice is still on the lake and the snow is packed tight against the garage door, making it impossible to open. Obviously, we returned a little too early! 


The Case of the Moving Palm Fronds

“Will you check my mailbox and see if there’s anything in there?” an elderly woman called out to me from her driveway as I walked by. Her voice was amazingly strong and loud for a woman possibly in her 80’s.

“Sure,” I said, and opened the box. I walked up the driveway and handed over the single white envelope.palm

She thanked me.

Though her eyes were clouded with cataracts, her face seemed to hold the sweetness of so many women from that generation, reminding me of my grandmother.

I was glad she stopped me.

On my return, nearly an hour later, she stood alongside that same mailbox.

I pulled out my earplugs.

“I’m disabled with my hip,” she said. “Will you go move that?” She pointed across the street to a fallen palm frond. “Those people tossed it there. Will you move it back before it blows into my yard?”

Now, what little I know about palm fronds is they’re usually quite heavy, and absent a hurricane, I doubt they’d blow anywhere until someone, namely the county yard waste crew, picked them up.

“I’m sure they’ll pick it up next time,” I offered, trying to sound helpful.

“Those pigs in that house tossed it into that yard,” she shouted in her booming voice.

Oh, no. I steeled myself for whatever was coming next.

“What kind of people do that?” Her voice rose with each sentence. “They’re filthy pigs!”

Their yard was well-maintained and the landscaping quite beautiful. I had an idea what the real problem was.

“Go get that and put it back in their yard,” she insisted.

At this point, I wasn’t about to step in anyone’s yard across the street, nor move anything. There was no telling what kind of feud these people were having and I suspected there might be some form of dementia going on with this poor woman.

“I ah…don’t think I should do that,” I said. “It’s not my yard.”

“Fine,” she snapped. “I’ll just call them.”

She ambled up her driveway. There was a late model vehicle in the garage. With her eyes, I doubted she was the driver. Thankfully, she must have a caregiver.

“The world has really changed,” she muttered, shaking her head as she went to make her call.

I’m not sure if she meant things have changed because I wouldn’t help her, or if, because the people across the street were pigs that allegedly toss pond fronds into another’s yard.

Either way, she’s right. I don’t think her world will ever be the same.DSCN1333

The weather here in SW Florida is hot. The sun is bright. Enjoy your life, and stay well, my friends!


The Boys of Buckingham

Once a month the “World Famous” Buckingham Blues Bar in Buckingham, Florida, just 8 miles east of downtown Ft. Myers, hosts an outdoors Blues fest. Last Saturday the weather was perfect – mid eighties, not a cloud in the sky. The bar is one part bikers and one part ranching country boys.



The beer was cold. The sun high. The music great. The crowd fun.

Out in Buckingham, it’s an older crowd. A SW Florida baby boomer crowd. As Mike says, “Gotta love a biker with leather vest, “Live to Ride” patches, and pressed creases in their jeans.

Florida – love it!

I Love Spring Training Games


It was Minnesota Days at Hammand Stadium last Sunday. HUGE tail gate party.  Lots of fun meeting fellow snowbirds from around Minnesota. Even met a few from our neck of the woods.


When working in Minnesota during the winters, we rarely saw people until spring. I assumed they were hibernating to stay warm. Now I know – they’re all down here!

Though the Twins lost – they looked good. The boys always look good :-).


Famous Ft. Myers Snowbirds

We’ve wintered in Ft.Myers for six years and have never attended the Edison Festival of Light Parade. Saturday marked its 75th anniversary and we decided to go.

The parade ran through historic downtown Ft.Myers and honors its most famous snowbird, Thomas Edison.  As most of you know, Edison invented many things and among them were the phonograph and electric light bulb.  Hence, the light parade.


We began our evening at Ford’s Garage, a popular bar and grill on First St.  This bar pays homage to Edison’s good friend, Henry Ford, another famous Ft.Myers snowbird.

Edison and Ford were good friends and winter neighbors with side-by-side residences overlooking the Caloosahatchee River. The Edison Ford Estates offer tours of the gardens, the grounds, and a detailed history of the plants that Thomas Edison brought into the State. He was quite the horticulturist.

“Sounds boring,” said Mike. Which is why we’ve never gone.

Since this was the 75th anniversary, the parade had five Grand Marshals. One of these was the Budweiser Clydesdales. Imagine, a NASCAR driver, a novelist, some local dignitaries and the Budweiser Clydesdales as Grand Marshals? I loved it! I’d toured the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in St. Louis many years ago and have been fascinated with these magnificent animals ever since. During the parade, their harnesses and reins were lit up like Christmas trees and a spunky Dalmatian with a penchant for posing rode on top the drawn carriage. The News Press reported that the parade selected the Clydesdales because they are a breed that has been improved and reinvigorated just as Edison’s inventions. I’d say do!

And not to have Edison upstage him, Henry Ford was well represented. Galloway Ford (a local car dealer) and Araba Shriners paraded a fleet of vintage vehicles.


I thought Wells Fargo did a nice job with their team.


Marching bands blew their horns and music blared from electrified floats. Edison and Ford would have been honored. I suppose a nighttime event often morphs into a party. It was fun. Perhaps now I can convince Mike to tour the Edison and Ford Estates. After all, they did choose the Budweiser Clydesdales as Grand Marshals. How boring can it be?

The Wonderful World of Disney

While living near the Gulf of Mexico I tend to forget that Florida is also home to the world renown, Disney World. I suppose to children everywhere – that is Florida.  Though we prefer the warm sultry breezes, the white sand beaches, and…adults, Mike had never been to Disney World. So, we decided to take a vacation from our vacation and make the 150 mile trek inland to Orlando.  Disney World!

Walt Disney certainly had an imagination and a marketing vision. He was able to tie his movie characters and themes into rides and state of art 3-D shows that entertain children of all ages, bringing their childhood fantasies to life.  Even we were transported back to our youths with the sightings of Peter Pan, the castle, and the flying dumbos.

A lot has changed since my first visit many years ago. My memories of Disney were of the rides and Mickey and Minnie. I don’t recall a fascination with princesses. The longest lines during this trip trailed out for those waiting to see Aurora, Jasmine, and Rapunzel. I felt old. Even Minnie, my dear Minnie was dressed in pink and sparkled with glitter and jewels. Though I have to admit, I did love her new look, I couldn’t help but wonder, when did all this happen?   disney 016-001

Along with ball gown wearing guests and the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, where little princesses can get a makeover, came some amazing new technology. 3-D interactive shows, new rides, and Fantasyland. In the evening, we watched the 3-D laser show on the castle that was followed by the fireworks. The technology was incredible and you can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjLZ8fFZO4w

disney 101

The lines weren’t long I suppose because it was the end of January, mid-week, and no holidays. Kids were in school. This helped to make Disney World  better than I remembered and everywhere we went, I was called Princess. The day was magical indeed.


Not Your Typical Snowbird Experience

There’s a certain western romanticism surrounding ranching and cowboys. The scent of leather and horse under the hot sun can certainly conjure up some great daydreams. But this is Southwest Florida and this story is about hog ranching. Pigs and slop, not equestrian beauties and sweet smelling hay. rancher.

I’d venture to say not many snowbirds spend time on a ranch, but hog and cattle ranches are big business in Florida.

Mike has a friend who owns a ranch and it seems he frequently needs Mike’s “ranching” skills.

I’ve been out there. I know what they do. They goof off. Generally, they spend the day dodging bulls and low hanging mossy oak while riding through the Florida swamp in a safari type jeep. They mend a fence or two and swap stories about the size of the hogs they saw rooting in the mud.

Yesterday, I rode out to the ranch with Mike and his friend.  On the way home, the guys had me stop at a place they both seemed to know all too well. A drive-thru bar.


Yup. Just ring the bell, place your order, and the bartender passes the drinks out the window, right from the bar to the car. Bloody Mary’s only $3.00.

Now, I’ve seen drive-thru liquor stores, but never a drive-thru bar. As the designated driver, I constantly glanced out the rearview window, just knowing the local sheriff was on my tail. But apparently, this is legal. Ranching in SW Florida appears to be untamed and somewhat unregulated, not unlike the wild west.

I overheard the guys say they’re getting a front end loader delivered next week. No wonder they spend so much time at the ranch.


The Art of Getting Money

Yesterday, on a short noon-time stroll, I passed a man in a white long-sleeved shirt and tie, which isn’t unusual. But the fact that he’d paired the shirt with shorts and tennis shoes made him the oddity. He rolled a black suitcase behind him and whistled like Tom Sawyer on a leisurely adventure.

A door to door salesman? How 1950’s.

I desperately wanted to know what he was selling.

I slowed my gait and overheard him touting the benefits of his “super” cleaner to an elderly gentleman standing in a driveway. The salesman’s voice, sing-songy and loud, filled the air, just like the guy at the flea market who sells the super dicer and chopper. A door-to-door home show barker? I secretly hoped he would stop by our house.Art-of-Money-Getting-png

The day progressed and I forgot about the peddler until five o’clock when he knocked on our door.

“You must be the lady that Miss Parker, your neighbor, mentioned as having the green thumb with landscaping,” he said, in an animated voice.

With a quick glance to my dying bushes, my grin rose. I liked him already.

Mike, my DH, fled to the back bedroom like a roach scattering under light, while I let our guest in.

“Miss Frost, your tennis shoe shoes will be restored to showroom white.” He demonstrated the solution on my shoe.

“Your windows won’t fog.” He sprayed the window, buffed it clean and huffed close to the glass to prove he did not lie.

“It even kills the white-footed ants,” he said.

I stifled the urge to ask, “Can it even dye my eyes to match my gown?”

With only one capful of this citrus scented solution, he practically guaranteed I’d never have another cleaning problem. Citrus was this year’s newest fragrance.

Of course, the product he was selling for $40 was no doubt worth $3.00 at Wal-mart.

And, of course…I bought it. It was his show that I enjoyed.

Mike rolled his eyes as I displayed the bottle of orange liquid.

Not dissuaded, I grabbed some paper towels and marched to the driveway to clean the car windows when I overhead the salesman in the driveway next door.

“You must be the lady that Miss Frost, your neighbor, mentioned as having the green thumb with landscaping.”

Oh, this guy was good.

I just finished the front windshield when Mike approached with a smug look on face. “What?” I asked.

He held up a full bottle of the same cleaner in lavender, last year’s latest scent.  Apparently, I had been equally impressed last year.

P.T. Barnum is often credited with saying, “There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute.”

I really need to stay out of flea markets and away from door-to-door salesmen.


A Hauntingly Beautiful Return

Hello Everyone!!!

I’m excited to be back in SW Florida for another season!

I love the light, the vibrant flowers, the miles of sandy beaches that stretch along the Gulf of Mexico, and of course…the people.  DSCN1308

This is our sixth year – I’d say we are officially SNOWBIRDS.  As much as we look forward to returning each year to Florida, we always harbor a smidgen of apprehension, not knowing just what awaits us. Seven months is a long time to be gone.

After opening up our home, Mike’s first order of business is always to pull out a lawn chair, crack open a beer, and soak up some of the sorely missed rays of sunshine.

Fair enough, we’d just driven over 1800 miles.

Shamelessly, the thing I wanted to do most was to find out how the neighbor’s face lift turned out. Last April I drove her to her Lifestyle Lift surgery. http://kyliefrost.com/?p=328. I’d seen her at her worst and we’d had headed back North before the results were revealed.

In Minnesota, cosmetic surgery doesn’t seem as prevalent as it does in Florida. I suppose when you’re bundled beneath a parka, the opportunity to show off the work is limited. But in Ft.Myers and Naples I’ve seen plenty of skin stretched too thin, sometimes making the person look… a little alien.

The verdict is in. She looks stunning. Natural. The work took years off her face – and tastefully so.

However, she’s not done.

“I’m going back to get this eyelid lifted,” she said, pointing at her perfectly youthful looking right eye.

Images of the cat woman photos in the National Enquirer popped into my mind. I wondered if this was just the beginning of many tweaks for her. Why mess with a good thing? I thought.

She asked me to take her to her eyelid appointment next week. “Once this is done, I’ll be good for five year,” she said.

Good to know. I’d been curious about the upkeep.

Then she tells me she’s currently receiving hospice care for a terminal cancer. No kidding. No jokes. She may not live long enough to have her eyelid lifted and it certainly doesn’t sound as if she has five years remaining on her calendar.

It’s interesting what each of us focuses on in life. I’m not sure what things I’d follow through with if I was told I only had a short time to live. What’s important to one person, can mean little to another. For whatever reason, this is important to her.

I say – “Life is fleeting – enjoy!”