Friday, November 25, 2005

Florida, Ah, Florida

Sort of reminds me of Australia but with decent food.

Yes, we've been in the Sunshine State over a month now and today was one of those days that made me appreciate being out of doors with virtually nothing to do. Most times, we're outside for a reason; going to and fro, beaching it, just catching some z's, or as I did today, nothing but sit down with a good book in 76 degree, low humidity weather and catch the air for all it's worth.

We came here from Iowa. Uh huh, that means the weather would have been nicer than any place not called Moscow, so it isn't as if I'm comparing this place to Georgia, or California so take it with a grain of salt, but not a very large grain at all.

Australia...the southeast where Sydney is...has the same sort of weather patterns; hot & muggy in the summer, and by the by they're just heading into their summer now, and temperate in the winter. Gets maybe 45 degrees on a blustery winters day and that's it. If the sky is clear we're talking high-50's, low-60's and that isn't bad ny a longshot.

But I did mention food, didn't I?

Therein was my rub. Like "chips"? Big old french fries, that is? Pile 'em up next to some battered fish and that's 90% of their cuisine. Washed down with a pitcher of beer of course, and on pleasant days the office would head out to one of the marvelous waterfront "restaurants"...think diner with most of the seats outside overlooking the harbor...and get moderately plastered before returning to work. Do it each and every day and that pitcher of beer hardly gives you a buzz, and yes, I DID have to acclimate my alcohol consumption tolerance because if you don't drink, you don't get much business done, and not like anyone was bending my arm, but I had to drink beer and a lot of it in order to fit in.

Wasn't peer-pressure but business-pressure. They just don't trust a man who doesn't wash down a mint with a schooner of something fermented, and if you pop two mints it better be two schooners. Australia, like the UK, has this problem with wanting to order their brew in pints, but since they went metric years ago it's really something close to half a liter and they still call it a pint because that's what the Brits do, and whatever the Brits do the Ozzies do, but better.

Order a pizza in Australia and it's like ordering one in say California, where they toss a ton of stuff on a sheet of dough and call it pizza. That's becoming prevalent nearly everywhere I've been and so many people are missing out on the real thing it makes me weep.

But back to Florida. Used to come here relatively often, stay for a week tops then head back north to the Apple. That's when I kind of liked the seasons. Now I think seasons suck. Six days from December and I'm outside in shirtsleeves, short shirtsleeves at that, and reading Crichton's "State of Fear" and loving it. The weather that is. The book is replete with cardboard cutouts posing as interesting characters but it's okay for a fluff-read. Something to do when staring at the trees gets boring and you want to go inside but know that you shouldn't waste such a wonderful day.

And that's one of the northerner things I have to get out of my mindset. The good days aren't going to go away and be replaced with a minimum of 6 months of ice and snow, but I still feel like I'm cheating myself in not appreciating the blue sky. And it's wonderful to see a blue sky, something rare indeed in Iowa. That's where we came from, and don't ask how a NYC boy wound up in Iowa. Even in the "summer" going outdoors was a challenge because the midwest is WINDY. Sit and read a book in July? Better have a firm grip or it'll flat out blow away the first time you forget yourself and relax. Iowa isn't for relaxing. Iowa is sitting indoors even when it's pleasant out because you KNOW that its a phony pleasant that will get even with you for letting down your guard and daring to do nothing but veg. If it's warm out that means growing season and growing season means fertilizer and the main branch of the bank we did business with had to get special filters for the air conditioning because the smell of cow manure would be objectionable to the point way past distraction and into disgusting.

The locals made like it didn't bother them, but show me one woman who doesn't think having her hair smell like the stockyards and I'll show you a good liar. And me, I hadda be cursed with a ridiculously keen sense of smell, and no, it wasn't as bad as some of the jungles I've lived in, and no, it wasn't as bad as getting off of the plane in Jakarta and taking a deep whiff of what passes for air there, but it was home, and home is supposed to be where the heart is, NOT where the surgical mask must be used. It started snowing in late October, blizzards by mid-November, and if the farmers were lucky it'd be safe for the seedlings some time in early May, but even early May sees frosty nights so better be careful and only plant the hardier strains of corn.

I don't like the neighborhood we're in, and it was my fault for not coming here at night when things get interesting, but say la vee as the Fwogs like to utter. We'll get out of here to someplace that doesn't have roving bands of whatever they are, trading drugs into the wee hours of the can tell they're native Floridians because the "cold" nights have driven them inside and that's a good thing so we have until spring to find new digs and that shouldn't be too difficult an undertaking.

I still like it here. Soon I'm going to love it here and it's always good to picture things getting better.

My name's Bob, thank you for reading, and for once no Liberals were harmed during the typing of this blog.

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