A good exhaustion

So my friend who visited from NY is on a plane on his way home as we speak. I miss him. But I’ll see him in a couple of months when I go to NY so that will be fun.

But let me tell you something. If you haven’t gotten back to your after-pandemic routine, you know – back to normal, you may be in for a rude awakening.

I like to think I am in good shape, but after not doing much for the past year and not going to the gym, let me tell you – I am beat after everything we’ve done. It’s almost as if I need a day off in between our outings.

He said to me yesterday that I seemed very low-key, not down, but very quiet, “low energy” are the words he used. He said I wasn’t like my usual lively self. He was right. I was exhausted from all the walking and site seeing and other things we did. We had a cool/cold winter here and now the heat and humidity is starting to kick in so that takes a lot out of you. And not having done much exercise or walking in the past year makes a difference when you walk nine miles a day in the heat and humidity!

But it feels good. It’s a good exhaustion, like when you do a hard day’s work and you feel you’ve accomplished something. That’s how I feel.

A visit to the zoo

I finally got the workout I have been looking for all year – I went to the zoo with a friend the other day.

We walked around in the sun and heat for five hours – that will give anyone a nice workout. We ended up walking miles! It felt good. According to an app on my phone, we walked 9 miles! Slowly and stopping a lot, of course, but still, 9 miles!

I could not move the next day. I hadn’t worked out so much in a year due to the pandemic. When I’m in NY, I have been known to walk 12 miles in a day, so I better work myself up for that for when I go this summer, otherwise I’ll be nursing sore muscles after one day out and about the city.

I have a friend in town from NY so we’ve been doing things, I’m not sure what possessed us to do Zoo Miami, but on that same day, one of my cousins announced that was her first day working at the Bronx Zoo, a lifelong dream of hers.

I got excited because I started watching all those behind the scenes zoo shows at the beginning of the pandemic. That was my Saturday nights and the Bronx Zoo episodes are my favorites of all of them. It’s very comforting, especially at the time of being locked inside for all those months.

There are zoos featured from all over – Tampa, England, Australia, Columbus, Ohio; North Carolina, etc. It’s amazing to see all the love and respect the animals are given by the caretakers. But my favorite is how they do it in the Boogie Down Bronx.

I have plans to visit the Bronx Zoo this summer – to not see the animals – but to see the human characters I see on the zoo tv shows!

Maine Cabin Masters

The Maine Cabin Masters

There is a tv show I’ve been watching a lot lately – Maine Cabin Masters. I’ve been binge watching it. I really like it.

It’s a group of old friends and some family members, who renovate old cabins for clients, which they call “camps,” in Maine. The cabins are on lakes or rivers. The main three are Chase, the boss; his sister Ashley and her husband Ryan. There are also Dixie, Jedi, and Lance, who was a great character on the show, who left in later seasons.

The scenery alone is worth viewing, so much of it seems to take place in the fall and the turning leaves are amazing. The show is fun because they all have a great rapport since they know each other all their lives and also, the renovation work is great, they take old worn out cabins and turn them into spectacular places. And three words really are the main/Maine reason to love it – “Maine,” “cabin,” and “lake.” Three perfect things.

There is one thing that bothers me though, and that’s the budget. Clients give them a long list of things to do which usually consists of fixing the whole foundation, replacing the roof, replacing the outside siding, replace the flooring, sometimes redo the inside stairs, add a new outside deck, add new windows, renovate and redo the kitchen and every single thing inside, including bringing electricity and running water into the place and oh yes, add a dock down on the lake and add steps down to it, also many times, trees, huge, tall trees, have to be cleared from part of the property – and do it all for $30,000!

The crew is about eight people and the supplies have to cost way more than $30,000. The roof alone is more than that. How much would the Property Brothers charge for this? $150,000 or more? I can’t figure out how they work for months, literally a couple of months on this one job and all split the $30,000 after paying for supplies.

Now I am guessing the producers of the show pay it all, but still it’s all unrealistic. Even if they are paying for most of the salaries and supplies, etc., why not give a realistic estimate and at the end of the show have a little blurb in the credits that says the production company paid for the job. Sort of like Judge Judy, where the people who lose the cases have their loss paid for by the production company.

Other than this one little thing, I love the show. It’s comforting to watch. The hour goes by quite quickly.

Old friends popping up out of the blue

I’ve been cleaning the house up this week. Nothing much, it’s more messy than dirty. But I want it to look decent for a friend I haven’t seen in 40 years. Yup, 40 years! We were kids the last time we saw each other for goodness sake!

He emailed me a couple of weeks ago. My name popped in his head after all these years and he did an internet search and he found me. We talked on the phone, and he’ll be in town maybe this week. He lives in Orlando now and he’s back and forth to Miami often.

Strange when I think about it. 40 years – a lifetime. I had a whole life since I saw him last, so did he.

This isn’t the first time this happened, a friend I know since we are three years old contacted me not long ago. He found me on Facebook. We haven’t touched base in person yet, but he also lives not too far from me, maybe an hour’s drive north. The last time I saw him, I think he was maybe 7 or 8 years old. Amazing. He has a wife and four kids now.

Social media is amazing. But again – this isn’t the first time, but a bit before I was on social media, in 2008 or 2009, I found an old photo of a friend named Tom, yup, another Tom. We were very good friends but he left town after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. It was such a crazy time that people got scattered all over the place and he ended up going back to California, to San Francisco, where he was born. His family has lived there for generations. I never asked him about it, I have to – did they go there during the gold rush of 1849? How did they end up there so many years ago?

Anyway, I found a bunch of old photos and there was Tom in one. It jogged my memory, I had not seen him for almost 20 years by then. I did an internet search and I found his email address. I emailed him and we connected, he came down to visit and we have been connected since – mostly on Facebook – but we have been connected in person, too. It’s sort of my turn to visit him in California – maybe soon after the pandemic is over.

I find it so weird and interesting that even though decades have passed, we all go back to where we left off – sort of like muscle memory. It’s like no time passed at all. Even all our voices sound the same to all of us after not hearing them for so long. And the funny things we remember about each other come right back. Certain things come up or tv shows come on or whatever, and something flashed in your mind and you remember certain people at certain times doing certain things. A news story or event or a certain neighborhood or building brings certain people to mind.

My friend in Orlando asked if I remembered him. I was taken aback when he asked. Why wouldn’t I? He’s part of the fabric of my life.

He protests too much

I just left my car for service early this morning – a tune up, Schedule A service.

I took Uber home. I see they charge a booking fee now on top of the regular fee. Strange. How else would I get them, wave them down to save on the booking fee? Just add that fee to the cost of the ride rather than nickle and dime people, right?

A friend texted me and asked me to meet him for breakfast. I had breakfast early this morning, about 7 am, so I didn’t want to go to breakfast, but also, I am incapacitated until the car is done later. So I’m stuck at home, although I guess I could have taken an Uber to meet him.

He could have picked me up you say? No, he can’t, because in Miami, a car-based city, he doesn’t have car. He bikes it all over. He is an older guy, in his 70s and to his credit, he rides miles a day – sometimes as much as 60 miles a day!

When I told him I left the car for service, his reply was, “I’m so glad I don’t have a car.” Which makes me think he wishes he had a car, because why say such a thing? We all chauffeur him around when he can’t take his bike places.

And he is totally against social media, too.. I think it’s because he doesn’t get it. He doesn’t understand. He puts down social media daily. He sends me articles constantly on how bad it is, how they are stealing our personal info, etc. etc.

Rather than just not say anything, he likes to put social media down, like he does my car or anyone’s car – because he doesn’t have a car.

Ironically, he used to work for the city and he had a city car and he would bring the city car home, which maybe was not allowed, because quite a few years back he was written about in the newspaper and blogs and scrutinized about using the company car for person reasons. So maybe that’s why he has an aversion to cars. Although he has had his own car after that situation and he did pick me up many times to go out and hang out.

He did tell me yesterday that the best thing he ever did was give up his car and use his bike, which I can believe. I told him I missed the gym and he suggested I get a bike, but I miss the free weights, not cardio. So a bike will do me no good in that regard.

He has a new bike now, it folds up. It looks so silly when we are at lunch or wherever, because it looks like a wheelchair or something folded up beside him, then he unfolds it and rides off.

Counting the days until summer

summerhouse
I see Carl and Kyle and that looks like Amanda next to Kyle and Paige next to her.

I came across this photo, which I originally posted in July 2019.

Every year when I’m in The Hamptons I look for the filming of Summer House, a tv show I watch. When I watch the show they seem to always be at bars and restaurants we go to so I’m always checking around for them. I left The Hamptons one day in the summer, in July 2019, and headed back to the city, and there they are at a restaurant some of my cousins were at the night I left.

My cousin Matt took this picture at the restaurant. He texted it and said, “Is this the thing you’re always talking about?” And it was.

I watched the recent episode last night. This year they are quarantined in the house in the Hamptons and they can’t leave. Usually they are out and about and they have big parties and hang out at the bars and beach, etc. and they go back and forth to the city each week and then hit the summer house on the weekends.


I made my plans again for this summer. I had missed last summer due to the pandemic – first time in years, and hopefully I’ll be there this summer. I’m not sure why I like the show so much, but I think it has to do with the fact that I am there when they are there and I am at places they are going to, so it sort of brings the summer back to me. They usually show the episodes six months or so later, so summer is long over by the time it’s on tv, and it is a little nostalgic for the past summer.

I used to like the Fall best, and I guess I still do, but these days I really love summers. I’m not sure why, all of a sudden, but it could be due to New York. New York has a certain vibe in the summer. While it seems like everyone is gone – up to the mountains or out to the Hamptons and Montauk it’s really not like that and the city comes alive. I like tagging my Instagram pics as #summerinthecity, it has a nice ring to it.

Everyone is out on the streets – at sidewalk tables, in the parks – everywhere. It’s alive. The farmer’s market at Union Square has a special feel to it, although I love the pumpkins and eventually Christmas trees and stuff in the fall and winter. But summer is special. We spend July 4th in the Hamptons and there is always someone at the house, so it’s easy to go back and forth at any time from the city, there is always someone driving back and forth at any given time.

I do a lot of walking in New York, on this particular day, on July 1, 2019, I walked 11.1 miles! Those “flights climbed” are probably up and down the subway steps, which isn’t part of this total walking tabulation, so add whatever miles I rode on the subway to the 11.1 miles and you can see I rally got around. I remember this one day because I was flabbergasted at at all the miles I covered in one day.

I’m really looking forward to this summer. It’s hard to believe it is only a few months away. I’m dying to get vaccinated, which will be the first step to some sort of normalcy.

Thanks, but I’ve moved on

Me with my friend Michelle, celebrating the Grapevine, about 10 years ago.

This week, a year ago, I ended the Coconut Grove Grapevine, which was the daily news of our little village. The last post was exactly a year ago today.

I published it for 15 years and in that time covered everything that went on in town. I covered events, village council meetings, I fought with politicians, I did it all. After 15 long years, I ended it. I gave fair warning – a few months in advance. It was time.

But people are still mourning it. It’s almost like a tv show that ended, where people want more. You know – like Friends – people keep asking, “When is the reunion?”

I bring this all up because it’s hard to believe that people still want to send me stories to publish or want me to get involved in causes. Close friends. Just this week alone, four people asked me to publish things! I’m shocked. I quit my job guys, I retired from it, and you still want me to go back to the daily grind.

One friend called and wanted me to get involved with something at City Hall, I can’t remember what, but I was shocked that he asked. The other day I got a call out of the blue from my lawyer – a friend – who is concerned with tree issues in the village – he was reading old stories in the Grapevine and wanted me to get involved in saving the trees again, by covering the destruction around the town, caused by real estate developers, who would rather pay the fines than follow the law. You know, do it, then ask for forgiveness later.

Speaking of trees, one of my best friends called the other night – he too was concerned about a single tree in front of his former house, and he wanted me to do a story on it, to try and stop it from being taken down!

I was at a community event this weekend, sort of a mini arts festival. One of the organizers, a good friend of mine, asked me if she should send me photos that she took, you know, to help promote the event! I would post them on the social media pages, which I sometimes still dabble in, just to keep them alive.

I told her no, that I didn’t want to go there and start that again, besides, I deleted all the emails associated with the Grapevine and I certainly didn’t want her to text me the pics and I don’t want to be pressured or obligated, like I was for 15 long years.

I am proud that people still miss the publication. But it’s all about Tomversation now! Read this blog instead!! You can subscribe here: Click here. 

Christmas this year

So I may spend Christmas alone this year – first time ever – just like Thanksgiving – first time I ever was alone for Thanksgiving was this year, too.

I’m going to deliver gifts today to friends and family, just so I am not pressured on Christmas day, then I can play it by ear that day and go or not go anywhere and not be pressured because there are gifts to be delivered.

I was finishing wrapping up presents this morning and I turned around and saw this. Isn’t this cute? This little guy wants to escape. It’s a metaphor for the year, I think. Don’t we all want to escape this year? One of my friends who say this photo said he is trying to get out because he wants to stay with me. But not to worry, he is going to a good home – to a one month old boy, in fact! He’s probably bigger than the boy at this point.

Anyway, it’s not that I don’t have a place or two or three to go, but in the interest of safety, I think it’s best not to mix and mingle, especially due to the fact that I have family members who think it’s nothing to go out and party in bars and clubs all the time. Why they are still open can only be explained by our inept government.

I noticed that all of 2020 I did not have hospitalization as part of my coverage! I renew my health insurance myself every year and apparently last year that slipped by – the year of covid!

It’s a confusing process every November and December because it always changes. Things are dropped or moved around and you have to look through dozens of plans to make sure everything is on there that you want and while I was looking for something here, the hospitalization there just slipped away without me noticing. I only noticed when I compared plans for 2021.

So that’s another reason I choose to stay home this holiday season. Why tempt fate when 2021 is only a few days away and I’ll be fully covered, health insurance-wise.

To tell you the truth, I was telling someone that I welcome the change. Just to get out of the rut. It’s the same thing every year – go here for Christmas Eve, go to midnight mass, go here for breakfast the next day, then go here for lunch/dinner, then do this to open gifts and so on – it’s all sort of scripted.

So to have a change this year feels refreshing. To be honest, I don’t even know what day of the week it is anymore. If someone didn’t tell me it was Christmas, I would probably sleep right through it. Maybe next year we can change things up for the holidays – maybe France for Christmas day; maybe Thanksgiving in the mountains. Who knows?

It’s nice to be missed and I wasn’t angry

Near the bike shop.

I live in a small village in Miami. It’s a place where everybody knows your name. It is changing though, lots of development – over-development. Politicians sold the place out and our little village is turning into something else.

I only mention it because we have “Andy Griffith” spots in town. We call them that because they are gathering places where people hang out. If you’re looking for someone or some gossip, they can be found at the Andy Griffith spot, sort of like they did on the Andy Griffith show outside the courthouse or Floyd’s barber shop, etc.

In the past it was at a sunglasses kiosk that a friend ran. We all hung out there, put our feet up on the table and shot the breeze. We also hung out at art galleries and the book store, which was part cafe.

Now it’s the bike shop, which is in danger of being taken over by developers like all the other locations.

Anyway, after I had gotten towed, I wasn’t around. not for any reason other than I was busy and the few times I tried to stop by, I couldn’t find parking and wasn’t about to tempt fate again with the towing company.

But the funny thing is when I returned to the hang out and center of town on Friday, I had so many people call out to me and ask how my car was and asked if I got it back! Small village life.

Many thought I was still upset and didn’t want to return for that reason. Even close friends thought that. And I asked them, well, if you cared, you would have called or texted. And they said the same to me, that I would have reached out to them, too.

But it was just funny to have people asking about the car and the fact that they missed me; I had already forgotten about it and was dealing with other things. I guess it’s nice to be missed.

I didn’t want to ‘Say Cheese!’

I was talking about film and developing recently. It reminded me of a couple of stories regarding film and cameras.

I had a friend, Vincent, who would take pictures throughout the year and he would put a couple of the prints in the Christmas card he would send you. You would open the card and out would pop a photo of you and friends from July 4th or a birthday party or whatever, from earlier in the year.

When I was in high school I worked at a department store. At one point I worked in the camera department where we sent photos out to be developed. We had a couple of friends, ladies maybe in their 20s, who used to have racy pictures developed every week. It was a regular thing.

People who worked in all different departments of the store used to come by asking if any of their photos were in, returned by the developer. So many people would see the photos, it’s a wonder the ladies never complained about the envelope that the photos came in, it was surely bent and wrinkled and not in the pristine shape the pictures came in. But then again, they probably knew and got a kick out of the whole store seeing their x-rated life.

I remember reading when I was a kid, that there were just a few pictures of Jesee James and Abraham Lincoln and I used to think that was so cool, even though I know why there were only just a few photos. So I decided for most of the 1980s, that I would not be in any photos so when I died, there would only be a few shots of me, like Lincoln.

I don’t think I said anything, I would just slip out of the frame. To this day, I think this is the first time I am telling anyone. It wasn’t a secret, it was just something I did without mentioning it. In many cases, I would offer to take the picture, you know, “Oh Joe! Get in the picture, I’ll take it!”

And so all these years later, I don’t have many, if any images of me from the 1980s, the favorite decade!

Recently one of my cousins put a picture on Facebook, I think from 1989. It was an image of about 25 family members lined up in the backyard. We were all in town for a wedding. And I was missing in the picture! We were all wondering where I was. I couldn’t think of a reason why I wasn’t there either. And then I realized, I probably took the photo after slipping out of the frame. One of my lamebrained ideas. I don’t think I told anyone why, even recently on Facebook, what I did as a joke was Photoshop a current picture of myself into the photo.

I do regret not being in many pictures now. Seeing them would have brought back so many wonderful memories that I forgot about.