Art, food, music, friends and of course cucumber punch at Gifford Lane

Once a year, in our little village, we have what’s called the Gifford Lane Art Stroll – it’s about art, but it’s also about food, music and friends – it’s an old fashioned block party and it’s a place where everybody knows everybody else.

I took a Freebee over, it’s a little golf cart that drives people around town, and the driver told me, “The whole town is there!” And that’s the way it’s been for 21 years. It’s one of our favorite events of the year.

Money raised through the art, food and cucumber punch – the best part of the event, goes to two local charities.

My friend Dave and his wife Trina, who started the event so long ago, open their house to visitors. The green cucumber punch is ladled out in the kitchen and people stroll out back to their tropical back yard. It’s old Florida.

A funny thing is that Dave calls out to people as they obliviously walk by, “Thank you for coming! Take all the punch you want!” If I said it, that would be sarcastic, but he means it. And that’s part of the charm of the whole thing.

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More art shows filling the streets

This past weekend we had a couple of arts festivals in town. They were a lot of fun, I went all three days with different friends and family. There are a lot of art shows this time of year in Miami. We have a couple more coming up, I may go to the Street Painting Festival in Lake Worth next weekend, and then in March there is one final show, which is more of a block party. One of our favorite ones of the year.

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This is from 2008, a friend painted me at a local restaurant. I hadn’t seen this painting since back then, she gave it to me the other day. Love it.

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The rest of these photos are just some of this weekend’s art shows.

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It’s festival season

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Ocean Drive, South Beach

Art season has started in Miami. For the next few months there are lots of festivals and art shows. I attended two this weekend. Two old ones, they have both been around for years.

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A scene on Ocean Drive, South Beach.

Today I was in South Beach for the Art Deco Festival and yesterday we went to the Beaux Arts Festival in Coral Gables. That festival is close to home, it’s on the University of Miami campus. I’ve been going to both festivals since I’m a kid. Yes, they’ve been around that long. It’s also Regatta season for the next six months, but I don’t really deal with that. I live on the water, but I’m not much of a boater.

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Vintage cars lined Ocean Drive for Art Deco.

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I know a lot of the artists from over the years and from the neighborhood. They tend to go from festival to festival and so do I, so I guess I’ll see a lot of them this coming winter.

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Eating my way through.

My favorite thing is to eat my way through the festivals. I love festival food and other great food and drinks. One of the festivals in February has an English tea room and for all three days of that festival I have tea and scones with friends. Whoever is around, I drag over with me and everyone enjoys that – English tea with scones with jelly and clotted cream! I go for three days because the festival is right in my neighborhood and it’s easy to just stay put for the weekend rather than deal with the traffic in and out of town. I’ll post pictures of that next month.

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How can you pass up this paella?

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Beaux Arts on the UM Campus

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Living in the Roaring ’20s

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Let’s bring back the newsies caps, but not the smoking.

Some of us were talking and we have a feeling that a lot of the 1920s will come back in the 2020s. I’m talking about maybe fashions and sayings and things like that. Maybe even  reprisal of silent films as a goof. It may all start as a goof.

I have so many of those newsboy/newsies caps, but I never wear them. Possibly some guys may start wearing them as a goof and they’ll catch on and become the fashion. Maybe sayings will come back like, “horse feathers,” and “Don’t take any wooden nickels,” and “four-flusher.” You can see a full list here.

Other fashion statements of the 1920s were beaded dresses, argyle socks, Cloche hats, art deco and flapper styles. Maybe guys will slick back their hair and wear straw hats.

Podcasts are sort of like old time radio, aren’t they? And maybe sepia toned photos could be a common thing on Instagram. And what about cars, people might drive more restored cars around as a common thing – Model T’s, Model A’s, The Hobnocker, Bugatti, etc.

Pez was invented in the 1920s and so was Pineapple upside down cake and Kool-Aid and sliced bread! Water skiing was invented and the dial telephone,  and the jukebox and sunglasses! And of course newspapers were at an all time high in circulation, every city had their fair share. And it was the Gatsby and the Charleston dance era. Who knows, even if just one or two things came back for a bit, it would be interesting.

I never liked when the years changed or the decades passed. I don’t know why, I guess I didn’t like the passage of time. But for some reason, I’m all into the 2020s. I’m looking forward to them.

Pumpkin and apple picking in the Hudson Valley

Earlier this month, I think on October 5, a couple of my cousins and I drove upstate from New York City. We went to Poughkeepsie and Highland, which are on either side of the Hudson River. It was the 10th anniversary of the Walkway Over the Hudson. It was originally a train bridge during World War II and 10 years ago, it was turned into a walking bridge, which spans the Hudson River and connects Highland and Poughkeepsie. The walkway is the world’s longest pedestrian bridge.

It’s an incredible walk, the walk itself, but I mean the view. We had hoped to see fall leaves, which I believe are red and yellow now, but October 5 it was still warm and the leaves hadn’t turned yet. But it was a beautiful day. So nice, so peaceful and it’s gorgeous up there.

We had lunch at a place on the river, drove over the other bridge, the Mid-Hudson Bridge, which takes car traffic, to get there.

The best part, or maybe just as great as the walkway was a stop at DuBois Farms, where we went pumpkin and apple picking. It’s a real farm with animals and so many other features like prepared food and drinks, weekend BBQ’s, a tavern on site and so much more – so beautiful, check them out here: duboisfarms.com.

This was the same week as NY Comic Con, so we went from that hectic scene, to the serene scene of the Hudson Valley. A perfect fall week.

NY Starbucks are a sitcom onto themselves

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There’s always something going on at Starbucks in New York. I guess it’s the same in Miami, at my Miami location, which is home, everyone knows everyone else, and sometimes there is one big conversation going on in the whole store, you know, sort of like an Andy Griffith episode. In New York it’s different, there are the regulars, but so many tourists pass through and there are so many stories.

It’s almost as if any Starbucks in New York could be a sitcom, or a comic strip!

The other night I went to Starbucks which is across the street from where I’m staying and I ended up drinking two wrong coffees! Why? Because there were three Toms there at the same time! There were only a handful of people there, so there weren’t many people to get confused with, but apparently there were three of us!

I ordered on the app as I usually do, I walked in and heard my name called so I took the coffee, but after I tasted it, it didn’t taste right, so they gave me another coffee named Tom; still wrong. Two Tom coffees, both wrong. I told the girl behind the counter what I had ordered – a cafe mocha with extra whipped cream, and she said, oh, this is for another Tom.

I said, “Another Tom? There are three Tom’s here ordering at this very moment?” She said, “Yes, we have a lot of Tom’s here tonight!”

This morning I went across the street for breakfast. I usually go to Pret A Manger every morning and get the same thing – coffee or green tea and oatmeal. But I ended up in Starbucks. And it was a madhouse, very crowded and crazy. I didn’t use the app because I don’t usually order green tea and oatmeal on the app so I thought it would be faster to order at the register rather than look for the items on the app. But it was quite confusing. There were three registers open with people yelling in orders from every direction.

I ordered and the lady handed me my tea. I guess I looked confused, but I was just wondering who was going to hand me the oatmeal. I must have really looked confused because a guy next to me waiting for his order said, “The milk and sugar is over there,” and he pointed behind us. I smiled and tapped him on the shoulder, you know, friendly-like, and I said, “I know, I’ve been here before,” meaning Starbucks, any Starbucks. He got a bit embarrassed and laughed but I explained to him I was just waiting for the oatmeal. It was a nice funny experience early in the morning.

I was handed my oatmeal, said goodbye to they guy who was still waiting, and left.

Eating healthy

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I thought I was a healthy eater but guess not. I ran into a friend at Publix the other day. I found it interesting that I always see her at the same area in Publix. I run into her often and she’s always at the produce section. She told me because that’s the only area she shops in, the produce area, she doesn’t buy any prepared food, which I do. She took one look at my shopping cart and threw a fit. I had things that I thought were healthy, like a frozen dinner that was chicken and broccoli, but she told me it had too much sodium, it did – 1050 milligrams (mg) ! I don’t buy canned soup because it has 750 mg of sodium, and this “healthy meal” had over 1000 mg!

I ended up putting so much of the food I had in the cart back and after a tour around the produce section with my friend, I ended up with Kiwi, watermelon, watercress, spinach, tuna, lemons, strawberries, peppers, apples (which I hate) you know, everything green and red, nothing with sugar or salt and I felt so much better for it. I do honestly try to eat vegetarian if I can but I guess I was lax in reading all of the labels. People in the store were laughing as they watched us go around. I felt so foolish because I really do think I’m eating healthy and I guess I eat healthier than most people, but I had a lot to learn.

I almost ended up with another friend for breakfast that morning at a place we call the Dirty Deli, which serves all greasy diner food. Glad I didn’t go that day.

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But I did end up at a festival in town later in the day and I cheated. I had a cheeseburger and then as I was walking down the street I saw these great doughnuts by The Salty Donut which is this great place in Miami. They had a promotion going on – $1.00 per doughnut, which is quite cheap for them. So I had one, as you can see here.

I’ll get back on the wagon tomorrow, I have all that green and red produce I bought, so I’ll eat it, which I do love. Doughnuts and burgers in moderation.

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Me eating a tiramisu doughnut. It was only $1.00!