Well readers, say what you will about Florida……and many have…..but a notable contingent of northerners, currently wrapped in layers of wool and down, will tell you that this is the place people come to die.  Au contraire my friends – this is where you come to vote!  Susan and I fulfilled our civic duty on election day although it entailed wading through layers of chads from an election of a bygone era.  Turns out, we didn’t fully participate in the election process.  We could have done more. In Florida there are many ways to vote.  You can vote early, you can vote online and you can vote in person.  Apparently there is consensus among quite a group patriotic Floridians  that it’s good to do all three!  If you like your candidate, why skimp on the votes?  Patriotic over-enthusiasm I guess!  But……….. those who did come to Florida to die were not left out.  The early recount results indicate that several have voted from beyond the grave. This is a bit unsettling and gives pause to those among us who have hitherto questioned the likelihood of an afterlife!  But why should they be denied their vote?  Their’s was the incumbent senatorial candidate who had held office for over forty years without a single legislative proposal. (Possibly the best solution right now!)  The high voter interest here is puzzling given the fact that neither of the candidates for either of the disputed positions of Governor or US Senate should be given more responsibility than serving refreshments at a PTA meeting.  Enough of Florida politics and on to more pressing business.   ( It was not my intent to insult those serving refreshments at PTA meetings).

We are often asked what we do with our time, and if at the end of each day I did not scribble on my calendar what the preceding 24 hrs had entailed I would be unable to answer that question.  You see we get up, usually before the sun,  and the day takes care of itself!  …………………I just had to come inside. It was getting too hot on the deck………..sorry New Yorkers, was that insensitive of me?

For those of you contemplating retirement – be cautious.  We exercise a lot.  Early Body-Pump classes three mornings a week and run on the off days.  One evening a week we run with the local running club and then assess our training over pizza and beer.   Now looking at my calendar,I see that in the last month we have: camped out with wild horses on Cumberland Island,  gone birding with a local birding group (another story), cleaned the plastic and garbage from the beach,  attended a meeting to save the trees on Amelia Island as well as the rest of the world,  attended a meeting on saving the sea turtles,  attended a meeting on saving the endangered Right Whales, did CPR on a beached horse shoe crab,  attended a meeting on protecting native plants and prepared and served meals at a homeless shelter…………  So you can all sit back and relax, we’ve pretty much saved the world!  Given the nature of most of these activities one may assume that Grumpa was not the only one “unchained” in retirement!   I am comforted by the fact that there are no polar bears to save in Florida!

We have also had a lot going on at home. In our spare time we have been bonding with our grandson as well as continually meeting with our architect and future builder.  One of our visions for this house was to have a pool connected to our back deck overlooking the marsh and river. The obstacles creating concern for all the pool contractors were the proximity to the marsh, a concrete slab from a previous hot tub and a giant tree stump located dead center in our future pool.  There was a unanimous opinion among them that both physical obstacles should be removed before they could evaluate the pool site.  There was also a unanimous lack of interest on their part to participate in the removal.

Susan and I are not good at sitting on our hands and although we would rather construct things we are actually better at breaking them.  So with sledge hammer in hand, a little elbow grease and a lot of sweat – it’s warm down here – we set to work on the concrete slab.


















That challenge overcome, we set to work digging out the tree stump.  It’s always important to have the right tool for any job and in this case it turned out to be a hand trowel.  It also turned out to be the mother of all tree stumps!



Now that we’ve done all this, the pool builders don’t think it’s such a great pool location after all.  Some issue of it tipping into the marsh?  Many times during these endeavors the thought crossed my mind that in all my expectations for retirement this particular activity was never a vision I had entertained!


So in addition to living on bare concrete floors, doorways gutted of their doors, a vacancy where once lived a dishwasher, no washer or dryer, our refrigerator recently relocated to the garage, a slow drip from the ice maker connection, a light over the vanity in our bathroom that spontaneously ejected itself from the wall and a deck that we’ve destroyed, we now have a huge hole behind our house.  They say everyone likes to leave their own fingerprint on their home.  In our case it’s more like claw marks!  By now, none of the neighbors believe we are ever going to do anything except let the grass continue to die.  As a matter of fact, the only things thriving in our yard are a couple of shaggy palm trees that look like they were pulled out of the swamp!

Yet………..our hopes run high!!!!!!   The contractor we hired said they would begin on Dec 1st.  On my calendar, that’s a Saturday.  Since they only work down here for a couple of hours between cigarette breaks the chance of a crew showing up here on a Saturday morning ranks somewhere between putting a man on Mars and our president handing over his tax returns.   This is not the north.  An appointment made for 10:00 Tuesday doesn’t necessarily mean 10:00………or even Tuesday.  So though our hopes run high, our expectations are rooted in reality.

Birding – In truth, the nicest group of birders we have encountered.

Q:  How long does to take to identify a killdeer?

A:  Two hours with multiple spotting scopes, reference to several field guides, much discussion and a final vote with multiple recounts!  After about an hour I’m thinking (not saying) WTF,  so what if it is a killdeer ?- Who hasn’t seen one of those before?!

I don’t have the energy to entangle you in the debate over the palm warbler vs. the female yellow rumped warbler in winter plumage….It would take a lot of energy.  So –  Just imagine the uncertainty unleashed upon us had we become tasked with distinguishing between the rare Blue Footed Flamingo vs. your everyday, garden variety, Florida Flamingo?  If it’s blue foot is the one in the water how would we ever know?  How long does the dedicated birder stay glued to her/his scope to add that to the life list?   This brings into focus just why John James Audubon shot first and identified later!!

Then there was Halloween with our Grandson.

Jameson was Humpty Dumpty and Suzi was Wonder Woman.  Although Gavin is not in a costume he appears to be quite content married to a super hero and having fathered an egg! Shall we vote on that?


Life is full and fun.

I wish you all a wonderful thanksgiving.

From the Grump Stump,






  1. tom colbert


    Of all the travails and challenges listed, the issue with your ice maker concerns me most. Please see that it is attended to by early March when we hope to drop by.

    Lastly, be sure to download and watch ” Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” ” , the classic film staring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, periodically through out the process. The portions about unforeseen job extras are most humorous-to me.


  2. Richard McCutcheon

    Thanks for saving the planet and destroying your back yard at the same time! In line with Tom’s comment – I, also, am worried about the ice maker AND the guest bedroom!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *