The Christmas Letter 2014

Merry Christmas

So can you believe it? We’ve lived in Tampa for a whole year! And it took us the better part of the year to even figure out what we were called. We’re Tampanians. (Don’t even ask what Dan originally thought it was.) But boy, have we Tampanians learned a lot about living in our new area!

First of all, there’s no shame in going to dinner in the afternoon. It’s Florida. It’s expected. Granted the first time we did it, we may have been a bit too early at 4:30. We were alone in the restaurant until a very lovely elderly man (and his portable oxygen tank) were seated beside us. At that point we decided to wait until at least 5:00.
Lesson learned.

Secondly, you must get accustomed to easy parking…especially when coming from Los Angeles, where finding parking is a professional sport. Most places here in Tampa have a zillion open parking spots. For free! And if they don’t have adequate self-parking, they have something LA would never consider: complimentary valet.

Unfortunately, Dan had the wrong idea about the whole complimentary concept. He handed the valet the keys and stood there. And waited. Patiently. Apparently, Dan thought the valet was going to say something nice like, “Gee, have you lost weight? Looks like you’ve been working out!” Nope. Didn’t happen. So he learned that this is a different type of “complimentary”. (Between you and me, I think he prefers his idea.)

Moving on, we have definitely learned a lot more about the local critters. Last year we met the manatees & sharks. Well this year, we had a lengthy personal visit from an osprey. (At first we thought he was a hawk…so naturally, we named him Hank. Hank the Hawk…now renamed to Hank the “Grand Ol’ Osprey”. I crack myself up.)

Aaaanyway, he flew up onto our balcony, and perched there for an entire afternoon. It was fairly apparent that he wasn’t feeling well…seemed like he had a tummy ache. So Dan made friends, and welcomed him to stay until he felt better. It took hours, but eventually he recovered and gracefully flew off. And yes, it also took hours to clean up after a large fish-eating bird with a gastrointestinal issue.

 

Hank

 

(In case you were wondering, Dan is indeed wearing a “No grits, no glory” t-shirt in that photo. I know. I have ruined the Wisconsin boy. I apologize.)

So, back to speaking of critters, here’s a riddle for you:

How do you keep the two of us busy? You tell us to count the ducks.

Lemme explain. Until we moved here, I had never learned where the word “duck” came from. (I didn’t get out much.) Ducks, it seems…well, they “duck” under the water (duh), and pop back up again. So Dan and I endlessly amuse ourselves by counting the ducks floating outside on the bay and shouting out the current tally, “Twelve, no, five…no, eight…wait, no, three…oops, now there’s six…”

We can do that all day. Literally.

And lastly, we learned a lot about lightning. When the lightning is excruciatingly, deafeningly loud, and you can’t even count to “one” after you see the flash of light…it has hit your building. What did we learn? Walking up 20 flights of stairs is very good exercise. But we’ll take lightning over earthquakes anytime!!! Especially since it’s beautiful:

 

Lightning

 

Welp, we certainly hope you’re all prepared for Christmas. Dan has already talked to Santa Claus. (Seriously. Imagine my embarrassment.) When Santa asked him if he had been a good boy for the entire year, Dan paused, looked a little quizzical, and finally said, “You know Santa…I prefer to live in the moment.” Smart boy.
Let’s hope Santa falls for that logic…for all of us.

 

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