Chills & Bumps

Ah, how I LUVed that mosaic and the stories it told.

Ah, how I LUVed that mosaic and the stories it told.

I would literally get chill bumps from telling the story.

It was spring of 2005 and I’d organized a home & garden tour in our Fort Lauderdale neighborhood. Our own home and guesthouse were included. In in the house for almost four years, still each time I told the story of the mosaic picture frame added around the large window which overlooked the pool, those chills would arrive on cue. There were sea shells, sand dollars, pottery remnants, and there were marbles. The marbles were discovered by the previous owners as they excavated the property for new landscaping. They’d belonged to some kid who lived in the house in years past. Were they the family which painted over the pecky cyprus ceiling in the dining room and Dade County pine in the living room? They had lived there, in the same spaces we were in at the time. And I’d tell the stories of the marbles which once belonged to a child who lived there and a chill would creep up my back as I did.

I’ve lived in new houses and older houses. We had neighbors in Atlanta who were from Germany and when they told their families in Germany they lived in an older home in the United States, they made fun of them when they came to visit and found it was built in the 1950s. “Older home” in Germany could mean a few centuries. I liked that. I like things, structures, people with stories to tell. A history, stories to tell make things interesting.

Our guesthouse used to be a garage, was where my inner child liked to come out to play!  Places with stories can have that effect, more than others, I think.

Our guesthouse used to be a garage, was where my inner child liked to come out to play! Places with stories can have that effect, more than others, I think.

Our Fort Lauderdale house had been built in the 1930’s. After we moved in to the neighborhood many of the older homes on double lots, single ones, too, for that matter, were being torn down and replaced with cookie cutter homes nearly identical to one another. My detest for them was no secret and I warned those who bought them that when the market turned they would be competing with others largely on location alone. The more cookie cutters there were the more I appreciated the uniqueness of our own home.

I like a home with stories to tell, character. When we moved to Winter Park in 2006 I was impressed with the variety of homes, the wonderful architecture. As I came to know about the community rallying to save Casa Feliz, I think I understood I was now living in a community which suited me, excited me, maybe shared some of my own passions. When you celebrate older homes, the vintage ones, it often leads others to conclude you are “anti-” the new ones. That is surely not the case with me. I look around Winter Park, have been through so many amazing, gorgeous new homes. I personally think it’s communities which cherish great older homes which will tend to see better, more interesting new construction. The two sort of go hand in hand. I’m pretty sure Phil Kean and Posada Homes, two Local builders which stand out in my mind, build the amazing homes they do because of an appreciation of great older homes which have inspired them.

The Capen House on Interlachen was built in 1885 for one of the city's founders.

The Capen House on Interlachen was built in 1885 for one of the city’s founders.

I learned yesterday of a Local home built in the late 1800’s which is now to be demolished. That is unfortunate to me. I just saw a post on The Daily City facebook page saying the house is FREE to any party interested in moving it. The thing about tearing down a unique older home of some importance, of historical value is that it cannot be replaced. I personally believe personal property rights are among the greatest and most vital in our society. But I would never be able to make such a decision to destroy such a property, to bring an end to its stories. Perhaps, like Casa Feliz, its stories will somehow continue.

And Now BUMPS . . .

My path into blogging has been marred by my own wordiness. Memo to self: blogs are not columns. I’m working on that.

So, just an fyi that I’ve done my own reality check and you’ll be seeing less written more often. And, yes, at times, you’ll see the wordy me come out to play.

In the last few days I’ve heard rumors of various changes with Local businesses. Perhaps I should not have mentioned what I did, have yet to add to. Later on I asked myself why I did, trying to be certain I did so for positive reasons. I think I did, believe so.

I stopped in later to see Linda Semmler at Earth Inspired Living on Park Avenue to chat, had noticed a few times recently how much their inventory has dwindled. Planning to close that store end of June, we discussed how their own situation –now working closely with The Ancient Olive and providing their own products via that expanding brand — has been very beneficial timing. Not all businesses close because of lagging sales. There can be a myriad of reasons, factors which go into such decisions.

I have taken on highlighting Local business developments for a few reasons, but tops on that list is that I’d like for those business owners to know they will be missed, they were appreciated for the unique presence they had within our community. Yeah, sometimes I hope a few might change their mind. But bottom line, those business owners should be doing what is best for them and their families. Change can be good, though it is not always wanted.

Over the weekend I posted a few links pertaining to a Firehouse Subs coming to Park Avenue. There are STRONG feelings about that, and some great points made both pro and con. I seek to promote and celebrate those businesses within our community which are unique to it, one-of-a-kind, or at least one of a small number. I will admit to agreeing with foes of such a business being on Park Avenue on a few items. I was a big fan of malls when I was younger. Now days, I think I sort of despise them. Give me unique and familiar, comfortable. I do believe Park Avenue is made better with each unique, one of a kind business it has. To me, that is true of Edgewater Avenue, Corrine Drive, First Avenue, any major downtown thoroughfare.

As I am not “anti-” new houses, I am also not anti- big business on such streets. But when they are there, I guess I do expect them to seek to be a part of the community, to embrace it. Last year I breezed into the Williams-Sonoma on Park Avenue, doing one of my Park Avenue ‘Sidewalk Sale’ spotlights. The reception shocked me. I was told I was not allowed to take any photos, they did not wish to participate, they were not allowed to. Since then I’ve looked a number of times to see if they’ve participated in any Local events organized for Park Avenue. I’ve seen no evidence. Oh, I do think they put out a water dish for dogs. πŸ™‚ I don’t get that. And I haven’t been back in there since.

I think these guys know how to be a chain, but also fit into a community.

I think these guys know how to be a chain, but also fit into a community.

I juxtapose that to the arrival of The Meat House on Orange Avenue. They embrace Local products, including them in their product selection. I go in and the staff isn’t just friendly, receptive to opportunities I suggest — though to date we haven’t pulled any off! — but to my amazement they remember my name the whole time I’m in the store and use it again as I leave. I think they get coming into a community like Winter Park like no other chain I’ve ever seen. I, for one, appreciate that.

Perhaps I’m a bit territorial, protective of Winter Park how I see it, what I LUV about it, what I think community means and how it is best fostered. Yeah, okay, I’ll agree to that. Happily.

I’m shooting for LESS wordy. . . shortly! πŸ™‚

FINALLY info on my new plans for Totally Local Tuesday and Park AveNEWS . . . the section of the blog to focus ON Park Avenue, with your help.

Holy bricks & Spanish moss . . . I’m shuttin’ up!

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2 Responses to Chills & Bumps

  1. Jackie Becker says:

    As always a wonderful “column”. You voice my feelings exactly. You are missed in the Observer.

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