Microadventure #37: The Dr. Seuss Experience with Diego and Reneya

Diego, Me, and Reneya with The Cat in the Hat at the Dr. Seuss Experience

Every May, my daughter and son-in-law take a getaway trip to celebrate their wedding Anniversary and I get some quality time with my two grandkids, Diego (almost 13) and Reneya (almost 11).

When I saw that an immersive “Dr. Seuss Experience” was open in Centennial, I thought that might be a fun microadventure for us to do together. I was a little concerned that they may feel like they had outgrown Dr. Seuss (they’re much more interested in Harry Potter and Star Wars these days).

The description said it was fun for all ages, so I took a chance. Reneya, who’s going to be in the musical, Seussical, this summer was on board, but Diego was not exactly jumping up and down with excitement about the suggestion. I was probably the most excited and happy to have a chance to wear Seuss-like attire.

It turns out, we all agreed, the experience surpassed all of our expectations.

The experience was creative and colorful and… just magical! It was whimsy at its best!

There were several different rooms representing different Dr. Seuss books. Each of them created this surreal feeling of stepping into an imaginary world filled with the curious characters and scenes created by Dr. Seuss.

Ah! A chance to be tall!

There were lights and illusions throughout the whole experience. I especially liked this artistic display full of black cut-outs of Seuss characters and objects.

However when you stand in the designated “Stand Here” spot and look at the display, THIS is what you see!

Here’s what really generated the “That is SO COOL!” comments from the kids:

We were all surprised when this Cat in the Hat had an actual conversation with us! He clearly was not a live person and so at first we thought whatever he was saying was a recording. When it became clear that he could see and hear us (somehow!) we were amazed!

If you love creativity, color, and the magic of Dr. Seuss, you’ll love this at any age!

Will you like it, young or old?
Yes you'll like it, shy or bold.
You will like it, you will see!
You will like it, just trust me!

Microadventure #36: Kentucky Derby / St. Paddy’s Party with Ed

Ed Zitt with his friend, Tom, at the 2022 St. Paddy’s / Kentucky Derby Party

I met Ed Zitt, the host of this week’s Microadventure at the Boulder Kinetics Festival in 2014.

I’d been in one of my pity-party lonely moods. I’d invited about 10 different friends, but no one wanted to go with me to the festival. I remember very clearly setting a goal for myself to meet someone and that maybe that someone would become a life-long friend.

It’s definitely out of my comfort zone to talk to strangers, but thanks to my ‘goal’ at the Kinetics festival, I said ‘hello’ to Ed and we started talking about the band, The Vinyl Underground, that we both enjoyed.

I found an entry from my journal from that day, June 22, 2014: 

It turned out I loved going to the Kinetics Race and hearing the band, even though I was alone.  I met this man — Ed Zitt (who was hilarious about his name!  He talked about how people would ask about Mrs. Zitt and all the little pimples!)  Ed also loves Vinyl Underground and told me that every St. Patrick’s Day his friend hosts a big party and they were going to hire them to play.  He told me to ‘friend’ him on Facebook and he’d invite me to the party.  Ed’s married so there was no hint of anyone ‘hitting on’ anyone, but it was so cool to strike up a conversation and meet someone new with no agendas…  I realized that in some ways, going to the festival was more fun going alone than if I’d gone with friends…  It helps me feel more comfortable with meeting new people and/or worrying whether the people I invited are having a good time.  I can just focus on enjoying the atmosphere and the music and the sunshine, which is exactly what I did!

True to his word, Ed put me on his distribution list for his annual St. Patrick’s Day Party! And it turned out, he’s also friends with one of my best friends, Cathy Kerry!

Ed co-hosts the annual party with another “Ed” and I’ve gone every year that I’ve been in town for it. I soon learned that this tradition had been going on for decades!

Cathy and the St. Paddy’s Hall of Fame

However, because of Covid, both 2020 and 2021 parties were cancelled. In 2022, they decided to have a combined Kentucky Derby and St. Patrick’s Day Party on May 5th. This worked out great for me! I was still in Florida on St. Patrick’s Day, but back in Colorado just in time to attend. Plus, I love ‘theme’ parties and fun to dress for both St. Paddy’s Day and the Kentucky Derby!

Ed is an adventurer and someone who is the epitome of someone who lives life fully. The years I’ve attended his parties, I’m always greeted with such welcoming friendliness and enjoy hearing the stories of the parties of the past.

I don’t see Ed much in person, but thanks to Facebook, I do get to see his photos and experience that fun sense of humor of his. I’ve also been grateful that he’s been a contributor and supporter of my ALS efforts. A true Carpe Diem Connection!

So whenever you get in one of those situations where you feel alone, meet someone new – if you’re lucky like I was, you’ll meet someone like Ed.

Microadventure #35 Walk at Pella Crossing with Glenn

Glenn and me on a Walk at Pella Crossing Near Hygiene

The first few days I was back in Colorado, the weather was very cold and gloomy. I was colder in the first week of May in Colorado than I’d been all winter in Florida. It was downright depressing! In fact, I’ve seriously been thinking about selling my Colorado house. But I digress.

I know that when I start feeling depressed one of the best remedies for me is to get outside and walk. I checked Meetup and saw that Glenn Pinkerton, one of my favorite Walk/Hike Buddies, had scheduled a walk in a place I’d never been: Pella Crossing Near Hygiene.

Glenn is the primary leader of the Grey Wolves Meetup Group – a group that I’ve been a member of for at least 15 years. Only one other person, a nice guy named Lance, showed up for this walk. That ended up being great because Glenn and Lance were both excellent conversationalists so I was entertained and interested the whole time we walked.

The walk itself was much like a Florida walk, flat with ponds and water-birds. In fact, I would have thought I still was in Florida except the weather was cold!

Despite the cloudy, cool weather, by the end of the hike, I was no longer depressed at all. Walking, nature, and good conversation are the perfect recipe for improving one’s mood!

Microadventure #34: Road Trip Home with JJ

I’m back in Colorado, thanks to my friend, JJ. I actually call him “Jim” but since everyone else calls him JJ, I’m trying to get used to it. I actually called him “James” during this trip since that’s such a “chauffeur” name.

I met him first over 20 years ago because he worked for me at Sun Microsystems. We have a long history and I count on him as one of my best friends. How many other people would agree to make the long road trip back to Colorado with me?

JJ got into Tampa on Tuesday and the first thing we did was check the Flamingo Art that’s in the works. I’d been hoping to see this before heading back to Colorado and knew it was scheduled to be finished in the Spring. Not quite complete, but it’s getting there!

JJ grew up in the Ft. Lauderdale area and loves the beach. Even though he had to work (via computer) during the days, we got out in the evenings to the nearby beaches to eat, drink margaritas, and see the magnificent sunsets.

While we were picnicking on the beach Tuesday evening, JJ was admiring the 6-pack abs of a couple of guys playing frisbee. (I once read in “Men’s Health” that the first thing women notice about men are their abs. I totally disagree with that, but I guess men notice each others’ abs.. or at least JJ does, probably because he’s always working on his own.) Anyway, it turns out one of those guys with the good abs was Bill Brodie, son of former 49’er quarterback, John Brodie.

Bill chatted with us a bit and then went back to his frisbee playing. I don’t follow sports, but even I was excited to meet the son of a football star.

On Friday, JJ wrapped up work early and we hit the road. Google Maps estimates the route as 28 hours, going through Atlanta and Kansas City into Colorado.

JJ drove the whole way. (That tends to happen when I go on road trips with people who have experienced my driving.) Admittedly, I’m a nervous driver, especially with a passenger, so I don’t argue with people who want to drive.

It only would have been a couple of hour detour to stop by Quincy, Illinois to visit Aunt Nancy, and if I ever drive this route myself (or with someone who can afford to take it slowly) I’d love to stop for a visit. As it was, though, JJ wanted to get back home. In fact, if it was up to him, we would have driven straight through, but, wimp that I am about getting sleep, I took advantage of my Marriott points and reserved hotels in Atlanta and Topeka.

We made it home by about noon on Sunday, May 1, with absolutely no problems with the car or weather. There were a few slowdowns when going through Atlanta and Kansas City, but overall, it was incredibly smooth and absolutely the fastest of the 4 times I’ve made the journey by car.

I’m super grateful to JJ for his friendship and for getting us home safely!

Microadventures #32-#33 Poetry with Pat Williams Owen

Microadventure #32 Poetry Reading at Bookstore1Sarasota

Poetry! I love it. It’s like a puzzle that gives you that extra sense of satisfaction when completed. More than a puzzle – it’s wordplay. Wordplay combines two of my favorite things: Words and Play! Though poetry might not always be considered “playful,” I find it intriguing in its nuanced subtlety.

So, of course, when Becky asked if I wanted to join her for a Poetry Reading at a Bookstore1Sarasota earlier this month, I said, “Of course!” Even better, was that Becky personally knew one of the authors, Pat Williams Owen, who would be reading from her latest book of poetry, Bardo of Becoming, at the PoetryMic event.

Becky embraces her good friend, Pat Williams Owen, author of several books, including “Bardo of Becoming.”

Though I have a lot to learn about poetry, Pat’s poems certainly resonated with me, in that they were relatable and remind me of my own similar experiences.

This morning, when I was on the phone with my sister, who was telling me how frustrated she was that she couldn’t find her passport, I said: “Oh! Let me read you a poem by Pat Owen! It’s titled “When I Think I Have a Problem, I Generally Don’t.” (I love that title!)

The poem is about a lost earring, and the obsessive search that follows, ending with the earring being found “over layers of lint, there it was, glowing like a treasure.”

Michele noted that Pat’s earring was found the next day and that she’d been looking for her passport for more than 24 hours and would not be able to go on her planned trip without it, so… she still has a problem. (She wasn’t really in the mood for poetry. If she were, she’d undoubtedly write a poem titled, “Why Don’t You Believe Me? When I Think I Have a Problem, I Do!”)

But enough about Michele. Back to Pat.

Pat often introduced her poems with a question like, “How many of you have parents?” or some similar question that made us all chuckle. She’d go on to read a poem about her father with many of the mixed emotions so many of us have about our own parents. Feelings that our children may have about us.

The adventure continued yesterday with a privately hosted event where I was able to not only hear more of Pat’s poetry, but personally chat with her and others about her poems.

Becky did a wonderful job of playing emcee of this event at a beautiful home of Helen and Beatty, neighbors and friends of Pat’s. (I really think Becky should consider talk-show host as her next career.)

What a treat to actually be able to talk to Pat! She answered questions about the creative process and explained her thoughts when writing some of the poems. As I said, I think poetry can often seem like a mysterious puzzle with double meanings. How fun to be able to ask the author what she was thinking as she created her pieces.

Since April is National Poetry Month, I’d been meaning to learn more about poetry. Listening to these poems and buying Pat’s book has inspired me!

Microadventure #33: Private Poetry Reading and Discussion with Pat Williams Owen

I was inspired not just by Pat’s book and poetry, but by the post-discussion by all those who attended. This picture doesn’t show everyone in attendance (and excuse the poor photo where I cut off the head of the one male, one of our hosts!)

Each person has a story worthy of a book! What varied experiences from this learned group! I was so impressed with their accomplishments, wisdom, and creative endeavors!

They also had the humility to downplay their stories to which I’m afraid I may have been a little too harsh in my response, reminding them not to sell themselves short.

I know how much the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves matter. These people are incredible role models to everyone and I felt so lucky to have been able to share the afternoon with them all.

Microadventure #31: Whimsy Walk with Bill

My favorite museum in Sarasota is the Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy. Ever since I discovered it, I’m on the lookout for “whimsy sightings.”

But what exactly does whimsy mean?

Just for grins, I looked up Synonyms for Whimsy and this is what Merriam Webster lists: beecapricecrankfancyfreakhumorkinkmaggotmegrimnotionvagaryvagrancywhim

As a former Software QA manager, I’d say there are some bugs in those synonyms. Bee? Maggot? (Just a little geek humor.. (Bugs = Defects in the software world and these definitely seem like defective synonyms..)

Moving on…

From looking at all the pieces in the museum of art & whimsy, I’d use words like creative, imaginative, fanciful, colorful, unusual, fun, joyful. I think Dr. Seuss and Lewis Carroll would be considered masters of whimsy.

Embracing my inner-child and these kids at the Van Wezel

With my fanciful definition in mind, I set out to create a custom “Whimsy Walk” in downtown Sarasota. I asked Bill to join me and was happy that he not only came along, but has continued to give me ideas and text me with whimsical Sarasota sightings!

Next Fall when I come back, I may offer up the Whimsy Walking Tour as an Airbnb Experience!

Here are some of the stops I’d include:

  1. Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy! (Of course! I Love this place!)
I asked Bill to pick a picture spot and he picked the heart!
Colorful creations… Notice even the pink flamingos in the distance!

2. The Wicked Cantina

The Wicked Cantina minutes from the Museum of Whimsy has the best margaritas!

3. J.J. & Maude Murphy House

This colorful and historic house is now the Bird House Bungalow

4. The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

Another purple-painted building in a beautiful and unique setting is the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

5. Colorful Bicycles

Whimsical painted bicycles are scattered throughout downtown Sarasota!

What’s YOUR definition of Whimsy and where do you find it?

Come share your ideas on the Carpe Diem Connections Facebook group!

Microadventure #30: Volunteering with Manatee Literacy Council (MLC)

Manatee Literacy Council (MLC)
Volunteer with MLC to help adults with English conversation skills

I’ve done a lot of volunteering over the years. It’s always been one of those “extra-curricular” activities I’ve enjoyed.

For the past few years, however, my volunteer efforts have been a little hit-and-miss. Sometimes, I’ll sign up for something and there are so many volunteers that it ends up I’m really not needed. My last volunteer work before Covid was at an event where my “job” was to show people where the elevator was! And then my Red Cross deployment was much more work than I’d expected.

I finally found a volunteer opportunity at the Manatee Literacy Center that was Goldilocks perfect. Not too easy, not too demanding.. just right!

I’m just about through with the training required to be a tutor and help adults with their English conversation skills. I’ve already met with my “learner,” a delightful young woman from Colombia, as well as my mentor, who has been super-friendly and helpful.

There were quite a few steps in the training process including reading materials, videos, participation in weekly Zoom conversations with students, and a 4-hour in-person training on April 5th.

Over the summer, since I’m heading back to Colorado, I’ll be meeting with my learner and attending other events remotely — it’s nice that that’s now an option, thanks to Covid. And also, by the way, it looks like Zoom has added a bunch of cool new Marketplace apps for virtual teaming! Can’t wait to experiment with those.

I especially like working with someone who has Spanish as their first language. I now realize how difficult it is to become fluent in a second language! As I said in yesterday’s blog post, it takes a lot of practice, especially with speaking and listening! And even though we’re supposed to stick to English during our tutoring sessions, I can’t help but hope I’ll have an opportunity to speak a little Spanish with my learner, too, once we get to know each other better.

After all my work at learning Spanish, it’s interesting to look at it from the other perspective — through the eyes of someone who doesn’t have English as their native language. I see just how difficult English can be, full of irregularities in pronunciation and spelling anomalies.

Even though I’ve only just begun the actual “work” of tutoring, I can see that this opportunity is right up my alley! I love communication, learning about languages, and getting to know the learners, other volunteers, and everyone involved! I’m really excited!

Oh! And I’m just in time to participate in their annual “Be the One” fundraising event on April 26-27.

Microadventures #27-#29: Practicing Español

I’m on Day 1137 of my Duolingo Spanish Streak. Yes, that’s over 3 years, and no, I’m still not fluent. However, I am improving.

I was reminded of how far I had to go when I was in Mexico last November with my friend, Nancie (who is fluent) and she remarked, “I would have thought you’d be a lot better by now.” Gee, thanks, Nancie.

Though, I was a little put off by her bluntness, it did remind me that I needed to do more than the minimum of a quick Duolingo lesson every day. I really needed to practice my conversation skills!

Microadventure #27: Spanish Conversation Class

As it turned out, Carlos, the man I was sitting next to at the TEDx event I went to in early March, teaches Spanish Conversation classes at the local library!

Microadventure #27: Spanish Conversation Class

I’ve been attending Carlos’s class for the past 3 weeks and I really like that it’s for all levels! It’s a very informal class and fun that I’m not only getting more exposure to Spanish, but getting to meet others who are interested in learning Spanish!

Carlos talks a lot about culture, particularly of Latin American countries and one of the things I really appreciated is that he handed out a document with local-area restaurants and markets where we could practice our Spanish with native speakers!

Microadventure #28: Colombian Point Restaurant with Carlos

As soon as I got the list of markets and restaurants, I was on a mission to go to as many as possible! I told Carlos that I was a blogger and asked if I could share his list and he gave me the thumbs up!

He also asked if I’d want to go to Colombian Point Restaurant in Sarasota that weekend. Heck, yeah! It was so nice that Carlos asked ME to do this excursion instead of the other way around. Even though I’m proud that I’ve kept up with my microadventure resolution all winter, it’s still out of my comfort zone to ask someone new to do something.

As it turns out, Carlos and I chatted for over 2 hours! It was all in English, I’m afraid, but he has some very interesting stories and skills, including public speaking (something I always want to try and improve in.) He was interested in my skills with blogging and social media, so maybe we can help each other. And I did get some Spanish practice in with the waiters and felt very good about it!

Microadventure #28: Colombian Point Restaurant with Carlos

Microadventure 29: Palmetto Flea Market with Coach Bill

Though it wasn’t on his spreadsheet, one of the places Carlos mentioned that I might want to practice my Spanish was at Mr. G Flea Market in Palmetto, about 30 minutes from my new condo in Bradenton.

So, when “Coach Bill” texted and asked if we could do a microadventure before we both went back to our respective summer places, I suggested the flea market!

I met Coach Bill way back on my very first Microadventure, a hike for Positive Thinkers in North Port. He introduced himself as “Coach Bill” and I’ve called him that ever since to distinguish him from another Bill I met around the same timeframe.

Coach Bill happily accepted my suggestion (he is, after all, a Positive Thinker) and we had a great time checking out all the wares at Mr. G’s.

Microadventure 29: Palmetto Flea Market with Coach Bill

Of course, one of the objectives was to practice a little Spanish, and I had that opportunity with the lunch place that was on site, Taquería Lolita.

We both ordered “Sincronizadas” which I’d never even heard of! It turned out to be a much richer dish than I’d bargained for. (And, by the way, if you ever order a drink here, be aware that they are supersized! I never order sweet drinks, but I wanted to see what the “limon” drink was… uh… it was a big, big, way too big, cup of lemonade.

So, yeah, I didn’t learn a lot of Spanish, but I got a little lesson: Figure out what something is before you order it. And actually, I really liked the Sincronizada, but it was probably demaciadas calorías.

Bill was busy coaching girl’s volleyball all winter and North Port (where he was living and working) is a good hour from Bradenton, but he made the trek up again to Bradenton on Easter Sunday to hang out with me and some other friends.

I feel so lucky for the people I’ve met during this wonderful Snowbird adventure! I already can’t wait to come back next winter!

Microadventure #26: Sarasota Classic Car Museum with Mike

The Sarasota Classic Car Museum is recognized as the second oldest continuously operating antique car museum in the Nation!

Some of the things I like best about Microadventure #26 is that it was completely different, unexpected, unplanned by me, spontaneous and suggested by a new Bumble date, Mike. (Maybe that makes it a “Mike”roadventure!)

I’d been casually chatting with Mike and asked if he’d be willing to join me for a Microadventure, sending him a link to this site so he could see what I was talking about. I was very impressed that he read enough to pick out the perfect, quirky excursion to Sarasota’s Classic Car Museum!

The first “classic car” we saw was straight from the “Flintstones” before we even entered the museum! I’ve been channeling my inner-Wilma since last year (was part of a Flintstones foursome) so had to get a pic with me in the Cavemobile!

Yabba Dabba Doo!

Though classic cars were the main event, the museum was filled with a variety of antiques. In fact, I’m just realizing that the museum housed antiques of items that reminded me of everyone from my family of origin: An old sewing machine (for Mom), cameras (Michele) a piano (for me), pinball machines (Chris), Porsches (Dad), and, well, all the other cars (Neal!)

Sewing Machines – a love of Mom’s
Cameras for Michele
An antique piano for me – guests are invited to play!
Antique Pinball for Chris..
A Porsche for Dad
Neal, too many to list for you. You have to come see for yourself!

I asked Mike to pose by his favorites. The first he picked is one that was very much like a model he’d made when he was 12 and laid up in the hospital for three months with two broken legs:

1929 Model A Ford (Mike’s was a 1930 of the same color)
John & Mabel Ringling’s 1922 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost

I couldn’t really pick out a favorite myself, but I did like this recreation of Lincoln’s Hearse:

Lincoln’s Funeral Hearse

And this car, though more Bohemian than my own Carpe Diem Car, gets points for its purple color:

After the classic car tour, we headed to the Honey Tree Cafe for a delicious breakfast for lunch! The wait staff were all super-friendly and the atmosphere was very homey and comfortable.

Delicious meal at Honey Tree Cafe

Overall this was the quintessential microadventure! Interesting, unique, and fun to share it with a new friend. I really appreciate how Mike, not only was super-easy to talk to and get to know, but how he tapped right into my personality and created such a memorable experience!

Microadventure #25: Sarasota Jungle Gardens with Scotty and Kazi

A trip to Sarasota Jungle Gardens to visit adopted flamingo, Kazi

Two years ago, when the pandemic began, I “adopted” a flamingo, Kamikaze (“Kazi” for short), from the Sarasota Jungle Gardens.

Since Scotty was visiting last week, I took the opportunity to introduce him to his adopted “flamingBRO”!

I told Scotty that when we got to the flamingo area there would be a lot of flamingos and we’d have to check their legs for the #38 tag. (Sadly, I am not able to pick Kazi out in a crowd without his tag. I only visit him once a year. I know. Not great Flamingo mothering.)

Well, almost as soon as we entered the park, a flamingo, very much removed from the flamingo area, comes roaming up to us, and guess who it is? You got it! #38 – Kazi!

When Scotty tried to give him some of our newly purchased flamingo food, he turned up his nose at it!

Some other patrons came by and told us to “Watch out for that one! He’s mean!”

MEAN? My adorable adopted flamingo? My parental instincts fired up, I was tempted to tell those people THEY were the mean ones! How dare they judge my innocent Kazi.

Then I went into guilt mode. How much of this is my doing for adopting him and then completely neglecting him? I know my biological children can understand that my neglect is done with love.. and also because they’re all grown up.

Maybe Scotty was the problem. Could Kazi be jealous? I just wanted him to meet his human brother.

It was clear that Kazi was not warming up to us. We went on to visit with the other more sociable flamingos. They were quick to gobble up (in a kind of slobbery way) the food we’d bought.

A much better reception from these flamingos

We enjoyed the rest of the park, but I still had a heavy heart that my own adopted flamingo did not want to be with me. I tried to chalk it up to flamingo adolescence and vowed to make one more attempt to connect before we left the park.

As we were exiting, we saw Kazi, still separated from the other flamingos, in line — get this — to have his picture taken with an exotic bird!

Kazi in line to have his picture taken with an exotic bird

Maybe this was the problem. Kazi was jealous of all the attention these pretty birds were getting. Or could it be, he had an identity crisis and thought he was in the wrong species? I knew I shouldn’t have read “The Ugly Duckling” to him. It’s bound to mess with a bird’s psyche. Or, maybe, he had a crush on one of the colorful exotic birds.

“Don’t look now, but I think that pink flamingo likes you!”

I just hoped that the birds would all be kind and not bully him for his pink feathers or long neck. It’s gotta be tough on an adolescent orphaned flamingo with an absent adoptive mother.

Good mother-flamingo talk

I told Kazi that I would always love him no matter what. If he wanted to be with a different kind of bird, that was cool. “You do you, Kazi!”

Once he saw that I was not going to force him to hang out with his own kind he took the flamingo food that I’d saved for him from my hand. Yeah, it’s probably just that he was hungry, but I like to think it was our talk.

Even flamingos need to know that their mother loves and accepts them, regardless of their quirks.

I’m proud that I’ve brought Kazi up to have a mind of his own. He doesn’t feel the need to conform to what others view as “normal” flamingo behavior. He ignores the taunts from those who call him “mean” or any bullying squawks from the macaws.

You make me proud, Kazi! I hope next time you’ll join Scotty and me in a family picture:

Kazi: “Does she know she’s NOT a flamingo? Why couldn’t I have a normal adoptive mother?”