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Tuesday, November 15, 2022

SINGIN' FROM THE PORCH

      Wouldn't it be cool if musicians played music for the neighbors from your front porch? Gainesville's historic Duckpond neighborhood has many old houses with "singin' room" out front.

               

Last Saturday they were front and center in our town's first Duckpond Porch Fest.

                             








        That's a small, volunteer-run festival where front porches become stages, yards become venues, and anyone can wander into the audience.

 



    Some time ago someone got the notion to "bring music home" by turning front yards into concert sites.

     

Now its a national tradition when one weekend a year communities are encouraged to have "Front Porch Festivals".

       Gainesville got its first one last Saturday when local musician Quincy Flint and the Florida Music Heritage Foundation made it happen in Duckpond. 

 

     Mr. Flint and I being buddies, I signed on as a concert guide, a guy in a funny hat leading the multitudes from one half-hour porch concert to the next.

     It started with Cathy DeWitt's band, Patchwork, performing on the Thomas Center's porte chochere.

From there we walked to six other houses over a course of four hours.

     It was a perfect day for music and outdoor fun. We thank Quincy, the foundation, and all of the musicians who make it possible and look forward to next year's front porch fun.

 

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Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Yesterday's Neighborhood Halloween Parade

   YESTERDAY OUR NEIGHBORHOOD TOOK TO THE STREETS again to celebrate All Hallows Eve.  I thank everyone who came, the musicians who played, and for the folks who helped fund it.

Here are a few photos...


We had flying pigs!

















Sunday, October 30, 2022

MISSING BOB

  Bob Mc Peek left us two weeks ago. I met him when we moved to G'ville in 2019.  He was just a quiet, nice guy in yoga class.

 

When I learned he was a local musical legend I asked him if he would consider performing on our Florida Park neighborhood stage. A couple of weeks later he did and it was wonderful.

 We put on little Halloween parade every year. When  Nancye and Bob showed up to watch it in 2021 I needed more people in it.  I asked  them to march and they graciously agreed.

 

 

Bob was our Blue Robot.

 

 

  



We'll march again tomorrow but, like the rest of Gainesville, we'll be missing Bob McPeek.

Monday, October 10, 2022

OUR FIRST ART SHOW!

                

     Art makes people happy. That was abundantly evident when a group of us put on a neighborhood art show yesterday. It took place at the United Church of Gainesville on NW 5 Ave.

 

     Everyone had a great time and we raised over $650 for the local Food4Kids program. 

       Most of the action took place inside.

 

Twenty-six artists displayed their work

   

     While others chose to display their creations outside, in the patio, on a perfect fall day.

 

 

    Heidi Stein got us in the holiday spirit with her Krampus sculptures. 

 

    He's the mythical Eastern European figure who punishes children who are bad.

    

 Inside children (good ones!) were enchanted by an artist who made sculptures instantly on a 3-D printer.

 

     

   Our friend, Uta, presented a wide variety of her amazing creations.

 

  

I threw in a few of mine as well.

 

     This was a different kind of show. One where you could sell art...or not.  This display -one of the best- had all sorts of incredible, colorful wool sculptures.

 

 

    Nothing was priced. When I asked the artist how much her blue felt hat costs she told me, "I have no idea. I don't sell my work". She then offered to teach me how to make one.


    The ultra-talented Malika Green sold many delicate French macaroons but what really caught my eye where her shoes

 

    Who ever thought you'd see platform shoes for toddlers, or, these witchy brown wonders? 

 

 

It's like seeing flying pigs, another story I picked up yesterday, but I'll save that for another column.  

      Our first show was terrific. When we do it again next year come join us!

              ___________________

Monday, September 5, 2022

NEW ENGLAND ON $86 A DAY


       Yes, it’s possible if you crash with friends. A neighbor’s Vermont wedding prompted us to head north last week. 



    It was a lovely, all-day affair on the groom’s family's farm.

 



 On the way there, we stopped to visit the birth site of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon church. Elder Buswell told us fantastic stories of attempts to convert the Aztecs 3000 years ago, magic glasses, and buried treasure.

 

Francesca with Elder Buswell
Best of all, his attempts to convert us were gentle and non-threatening.

       

 

    After the wedding we headed to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom to enjoy an outdoor performance of the Bread & Puppet Circus. 

 

     This renown company has been performing radical political theater since 1964.
        
              Outhouse advertisement, four seats, no waiting

      In one of the show's twelve acts, the Supreme Court announced they had voted 6 to 3 to ban circuses. When the troupe’s lawyer objected on the grounds of “tigers”, three of them ran out to eat the justices.  Blood (well, red fabric) flew everywhere. 


      

After the grand finale, hot sour-dough rye bread -spread with fresh aioli- was shared with 800 of us. 

 

 

Francesca sharing bread with Peter Schulmann. He and his wife, Elka, started B&P in 1964.



     

 

 

    In the sixteen-acre field behind us another pageant began. A chorus sang as Mother Sun rotated like a large, lazy galaxy.
    After that another distant drama took place ending with a fifty-foot flying
dragon swooping in to eat the evil doers.



    The good guys usually come out ahead in Bread & Puppet Theater productions.

     After almost three hours of
performances we were invited to tour the Puppet Museum 400 yards away.

 

 

    An ancient barn shelters hundreds of puppets from 58-years past.

Some are twelve-feet tall.
         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Their gift shop sold what they call “cheap art”, hand-made prints to help finance the circus’ sixty-person staff. 


The company is on the road much of the year. They will be in multiple Maine locations this week.
          

    After hours of mind-blowing entertainment we retreated to our BnB in nearby Glover, VT. 


        An outstanding breakfast can brighten any day.

We enjoyed one at the historic Busy Bee Diner in Glover. It's been owned and operated by women since 1932.
Denise’s pancakes were as big as hubcaps. Her brother, Jerry, keeps the Bee in fresh maple syrup (“The best, she said, very dark!”).


      Heading four hours east took us to the coast of Maine. Bunches of Coconut Grove friends have summer homes there.

 

        The "Captain's House" in Round Pond

    We stayed in both Demariscotta and Belfast.  Our gracious hosts took us hiking on pristine islands off-shore. 

  Hiking on Hog Island

 

     In Round Pond we met Buddy, a lobsterman who will be marrying a writer we admire on Saturday.  Inside "The Captain’s House” (photo above) there is still much the seafarer’s old things including his tools, a two-seat outhouse and this crazy hat.



         

 

Our buddy Paul is all over Belfast. He owns an upscale indoor farmer's market, a marina, and the Belfast Yacht Club. 

 

You can join the red-clad club if you own (at least) a canoe and pay a $2 fee.

Next to the club the presidential yacht, "Sequoia", is plastic-wrapped and awaiting restoration. 

 

    The 104-footer served as  the "Floating White House" for eight administrations, from Hoover to Carter. It's been stuck in Belfast for three years. 

 

 

                      Sunrise on Belfast Bay

 

    Our friends,Tom and Meg, are turning this elderly Belfast school into a 11,000 s.f. residence.

   It seemed every wall had large windows or blackboards. Thankfully, the cafeteria line was short.

     We think we over-booked on this trip. It seemed we were trying out a new bed almost every night. 

     We spent last two in Boston with Francesca's brother and his wife. The architects live in the city's "Little Italy" which is called The North End.

 

On a tour of MIT's Haydon Library. It's one of many buildings we saw designed by their firm, "KVA".

 

    The North End was like visiting a small Italian city. Who knew you could cram so many red-sauce restaurants, Italian bakers, pasta-makers, and butchers into eight-square blocks.  
    They party with celebratory “feasts” every week.

  

Each features a colorful parade, lively music, and wine flowing freely.  There was still white confetti on the ground from the "97th Annual Italian Feast of the Healing Saints Cosmas and Damian" a few days ago. They’ll be feting St. Anthony this weekend.  
      

In Bean Town we were surrounded by history. 


If you follow their three-mile brick path
("The Freedom Trail") it’ll take you to past half of the sites you recall from eight-grade history.

     

   We trudged up Bunker Hill, went down inside our oldest war ship, the USS Constitution, then toured the house of Paul Revere.  

 

Paul on his horse next to North Church.
        
    After that midnight ride we learned  Paul fathered 16 kids, made marvelous silver for wealthy clients -and- dentures for his friends.

     I wish I could have been one of them. These epic summer adventures have left me with one less tooth.

    Finally our freedom trail has taken us  back to Gainesville.  We look forward to being free to do nothing, to going nowhere, and to sleeping in our favorite bed again.


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