Sunday, February 28, 2016

A Gathering of Gearheads

According to the Urban Dictionary, a gearhead is a person who is very knowledgeable about how to modify and fix vehicles. This past weekend Tim and I, plus hundreds of other car enthusiasts, were at the Auto Fest, a gearhead's version of paradise, held semi-annually in Lakeland, FL.

A rally with other Provost owners drew us here. Otherwise, I'm not sure we would have learned of this event. But it was wonderful to meet other owners who graciously shared their experiences and expertise with us. Maybe one day we'll qualify as gearheads, too.  Ha!  That would be a real stretch for me!

Auto Fest is a combination car show,

automotive flea market 

and an auction.  

There were vintage cars, 

luxury cars,

celebrity cars, 

Tom Wopat, star of The Dukes of Hazard television show signed autographs.

classic cars 

and cars that are now defunct. 

Two airplane hangers acted as the prep areas where potential buyers could kick the tires, raise car hoods, check out engines and even climb behind the wheel of the car they hoped to acquire.

But it was in the third hanger where the real action took place.  There the auctioneer's patter between the current bid and the asking price to outbid mixed together in a chant that sounded very like the rat-ta-tat-tat of an assault weapon.  

Spotting the raised hand/finger/eyebrow of a bidder, his ringmen added their own banshee cries to the pandemonium.  I found it so mesmerizing to watch that I had to sit on my hands to keep from entering the fray.

Elsewhere on the grounds were vendors who displayed hub caps, steering wheels, bucket seats, custom rims and every possible gear and lever known to man.  

There were vintage road signs

and signs that appealed to a very discriminating fan; 

Traffic lights that a crafty person could repurpose   

and wheels that have already been recycled as one-of-a-kind clocks.

There was something to please even the most bored wife.

Our son Richard and his friend Montana flew down from DC to join us for the weekend.  

Richard found a Ferrari that I feared he would buy, but even he agreed that his bank account could not afford it.  Still, it was worth an extended look. 

But the only gears we purchased Saturday were the gyros ("Gyear-ose" or is it pronounced "Gy-row" as in gyroscope?) we bought for our lunch.  

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Wright School

"Which college should I attend?"  That's a question that has many seniors tied up in knots as the end of their high school days draws near. They're concerned that they make it into the right school. 

What isn't on the favored college list of most seniors is Florida Southern College, a Methodist-affiliated school of approximately 2,800 students in Lakeland, FL.  Yet, it is the Wright school--the school that noted American architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed.  

This weekend Tim and I are in Lakeland for Auto Fest, a show of vintage and classic automobiles. At least Tim is here for the car show. I'm more interested in spending time with Patty, a friend from my college days who now resides in Lakeland. And what could be more right for two college buddies than to check out the Wright campus! 

Florida Southern College boasts the largest collection of Wright's work in the world. Between 1938 and 1958, twelve of the college's structures were built from Wright's designs and under his guidance.  The 13th building, the Usonian House, was completed according to Wright's blueprints in 2013.  

We knew we were in the Wright place when we saw so many of his signature features in the buildings: 

Stained glass made up of squares and elongated rectangles,

The Annie Pfeiffer Chapel

Cantilevered wings that give the impression the building is about to take flight,

Compression and release where narrow entrances with extremely low ceilings make you feel squeezed and slightly uncomfortable before you move into the main room,

Light boxes that flood interiors with sunlight,

Colored glass chips embedded in walls,

Geometric shapes like circles and triangles,

And curves--lots of curves!

The Thad Buckner Building

The Thad Buckner Building was once the E. T. Roux Library.  It still contains the original curved desks of the reading room.  Positioning linear book shelves within its circular confines must have been challenging for the librarians.

In addition to the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel shown above, there's also a small chapel on campus named the William H. Danforth Chapel. 

That made us think of our alma mater, Kansas State University, because its campus, too, has a Danforth Chapel built with funds from The William H. Danforth Foundation. 

We felt Wright at home!  

Sunday, February 21, 2016


Patty, Cindy and Terri

"Friends are the siblings God never gave us." ~ Mencius (372 BC - 289 BC), Chinese philosopher

I always wanted a sister. Growing up with two brothers and no sisters, I always wished for one.  And then I left home for Kansas State University and found 63 sisters.  That, plus one (me!), was the number of women who lived in Smurthwaite Scholarship House. 

In exchange for cooking and housekeeping chores, we scholarship students paid a much reduced fee for our housing. Tales of cooking disasters perpetrated on our fellow residents have long since passed into the legends and lore of the House but the bonds of friendship remain. 

This morning I met two Smurthwaite friends, Terri and Patty, for a hike along General James A. Van Fleet State Park Trail, a trail Tim and I had walked earlier this week. 

And it was just as if we were still sitting on the steps of the House, chatting about our day while waiting for the dinner bell to ring. 

Only this time, we talked of our lives--husbands, boyfriend, children and parents, jobs, retirement, volunteerism, art, books, movies, politics and, of course, our faith. 

Faith has been the common denominator between us even though our paths through life have differed. It's what has sustained us through difficult times in our marriages, the raising of teenagers, the passing of parents, hard health issues and a host of other challenges. 

Alpaca Farm next to the Trail

So I'm thankful to call Patty and Terri my sisters, for indeed they are. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Day In the Park

Last Sunday we finished our stint at the Habitat for Humanity build in Fellsmere and moved our bus, the Dawntreader, inland to Davenport, FL.

Davenport is only 20 miles from Disney World in Orlando, but we've been there and done that tourist trap when Jillian and Richard were small. And after enduring long lines and cranky kids, not to mention the high cost of an admission ticket, we vowed we'd never go again.  But we should never say never!  Our son Richard and his friend are flying to Orlando next weekend and guess where they want to go?  Disney World!

This week we looked for tourist places off the beaten path and decided that a day in the park--Winter Park--might be just the ticket. 

Located on the outskirts of Orlando, Winter Park is an enclave of winter homes that were built by wealthy industrialists in the late 19th century.  The rich still live here in mansions surrounding the chain of lakes found within the city's limits. More about that in a moment. 

But first, we stopped at Casa Feliz, a restored Spanish farmhouse designed by architect James Gamble Rogers II, which overlooks the golf course in the heart of Winter Park. Rogers (1901-1990) built several homes in Winter Park but this is perhaps his best-known. 

I found the house charming inside and out.  

His studio was interesting, too. 

A friend told me that the most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany could be viewed at the Charles Hosmer Morris Museum so we walked a few blocks south to its location. 

There we found incredibly beautiful stained glass works of art.  Most were saved from the 1957 fire that devastated Laurelton Hall, Tiffany's Long Island estate. I wish I could have used my camera to capture his 1893 chapel created for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago which the museum reconstructed as well as more of his works. However, photography was not allowed in the museum, except for one room which housed the Daffodil Terrace from Tiffany's home.  I guess I'll just have to return to this museum again to keep my memories from fading. 

No trip to Winter Park should be considered complete without a boat tour of its lakes and canals so we walked a few blocks east from the museum to where the boats dock.  Our pontoon boat took us through winding canals that connected the lakes while we oohed and ahhed at the homes that lined the shores. 

It was in one of these homes that Margaret Mitchell finished the last two chapters of Gone With the Wind.  Tom Hanks stayed in another during the filming of Apollo 13.  My favorite, however, was the home of Fred Rogers, host of the popular children's TV show, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.

The Rogers' home

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Team Building

Top row: Tim, Chuck, Debra, Larry, Sue, Ricardo, Ann, Richard, Marty, Daniel, Joan
Bottom row: Cindy, Judy, Judy, Joel and Ken

Multi-million-dollar companies host team building sessions in an effort to induce greater productivity in their employees, but those sessions could not produce a team as effective as the one pictured above. Oh, boy!  Can this team build!  

Joy asked all the team who worked on her house to sign her T-shirt just as Marty is doing here.

During our 2-week Habitat for Humanity build, we finished a house for home buyer Joy and her granddaughter. 

Three bedrooms, two baths approximately 1200 sq. feet

This is Joy's house and these are our team leaders, Chuck and Judy.  But that wasn't all we built!  

Up at dawn, our crew raised trusses on one house, roofed two others, framed walls in the third, nailed up interior partition walls in the fourth and gave the fifth house a lick and a promise that someday it, too, would welcome a home buyer's family through its doors. 

Tim and the rest of the men raised the roof on the house on the end.

Seventy-seven-years-young, Richard was up on a roof every day of our 2 weeks and he signed up for an additional 2 weeks at Fellsmere.  Undoubtedly, he'll be up on the roof for those 14 days, too.

Home buyers like this mom must put in 300 hours of "sweat equity" at the build site.

Joy's house on the left was midway through the process of nailing on its siding.  Surprisingly, this was my favorite job.

But none of that would have happened without team work. 

From left to right: Larry, Debra, Marty, Ken and Judy

Each morning Ricardo, our site manager, listed what needed to be accomplished that day, matching jobs to each team member's skills--or in my case, potential skills. 

Ricardo, our site manager

Left to right: Joan, Ann, Richard, Tim and Maria

We worked hard, but Chuck and Judy made sure we had fun, too. There was the Super Bowl party, a social hour one evening, dinners out on Friday nights, a trip--and then, a return trip--to Marsh Landing to listen to a bluegrass band enough times to learn the words and hand motions to "Five pounds of possum in my headlights tonight."

I tried to take more photos this week than I did last, but when you're the rookie, you've got to pull your own weight without lollygaging around taking pictures. I did capture a few people at work, and you can tell from their faces that this was a team that enjoyed working together. 





Richard, Judy and Sue

Friday night was our last supper together.

Captain Butcher's Grill

After our meal, Chuck honored each of the men with a sentence or two of what made that person so essential to the team. Judy did the same for the women. It was touching to think of all the ways this team pulled together over these past two weeks. 

Last night as we gathered around a bonfire comprised of castoff lumber, we vowed to repeat this team building experience by reuniting in Fellsmere again next January.  In the meantime, several continued on down the road to a build in Indiantown, FL; one couple left for a restful break on the Suwannee River; Tim & I departed for Davenport, FL; and three families remained on site in Fellsmere.

Go, team!  But let's experience another team building exercise again next year!

View from the restaurant's deck at our last supper