Friday, August 14, 2009

Really Good Things Happen, If You Just Let Them

Yes, Counters, this is another one of my long, rambling, all over the board posts so refresh that cold beverage and Count Along With Me.

Go ahead, I'm not going anywhere.

I'm glad to have you back.

Last year, shortly after I moved over to the Birthplace of Speed from Sl-Ocala, I needed to change my email address.

I have had a total of three primary email addresses since I have ventured out into these tubes.

Proudad....because I am a proud dad of my wonderful daughter, Jessica; my Mom and TheGentleManFarmer could, when they still breathed the same air I do, could remember where I live;

and...longrooffan...which represents the passion I have for old station wagons....

So, I changed my email address and looked around for a new cell phone provider as that Nextel was rather expensive and I really didn't need 2000 minutes a month any more. Well, I found Metro PCS and it meets my needs, most of the time.

So, I got my new email set up and my new cheap cell phone going and all is good. I emailed a whole bunch of family and friends with my new contact info and all is well.

But I still have gone back to check my old email addresses in case someone was excluded from the move or just didn't get it.

Oh, by the way, God is Great, Beer is Good and People are Crazy. That is the song playing on my massive stereo system right now. And I stand by those lyrics.

So last week, I checked my old johninocala email account and find one from a wonderful, old, long lost friend to whom I, regrettably, did not forward my new contact info.

Much like the email I received from my "ex-nephew", that resulted in that blog and this one, I received a very similar email from a soul finding friend.

It seems I had neglected to inform my long time good friend, Kris, of my new contact info and she sent an email to my old account late last week.

I first met Kris when I was in Purchasing for a home builder in Sl-Ocala and she was the Landscape Designer for a local firm interested in doing business with us. She did a dang good job of it, worked well with my clients but the owner of that firm was a piece of work and she moved on.

We dated a few times and really enjoyed each other's company but she was trying to figure out her relationship with an old boyfriend and she was just not that into me.

It was during the time we were dating and at the same time that TheGentlemanFarmer decided to join Uncle Frank and I was home for his Celebrate Life memorial service. I mentioned to Mom a comment about my lover, Kris. Mom asked if Kris was a man or a woman.

Yeah, that "John Lee is gay" rumor even extends into my family.

Decidedly. Not. Gay.

Kris and I did, however, become friends, once I quit trying to bust a move on her. We remodeled a couple houses, she gave me some practical advice on the remodel of the big *ss house I did in Sl-Ocala and we communicate really well with each other. We always enjoy our times together.

She was married for 24 years to a horse vet and has 5 grown boys. They divorced a number of years ago and he kept the farm on which they raised those boys. Kris was very active in matters of a civic nature and, almost single handedly, was responsible getting continued, permanent funding of the Southeastern Livestock Pavillion in Sl-Ocala. This is a big venue in the horse world and it regularly hosts nationwide rodeos. Yeah, it's a pretty big deal.

About three years ago she was building a spec house down in Palm Beach Gardens, ironically, in the same neighborhood, Frenchman's Reserve, where I visited with those long lost "ex-nephews" of mine last spring. Thanks again National City Bank. I had only seen her occasionally when she would visit friends back in Sl-Ocala but I had not heard from her in a couple years.

Well, anyway, I received an email from her at my Johninocala address late last week.

In the subject line was the question "Still in Ocala?". She mentioned in it that she was in Sl-Ocala for a short time and wanted to touch base.

I responded that I thought I would never hear from her again and gave her my contact information.

Almost immediately, after sending that email, my trusty, cheap cell phone rings and I recognize the number as the same one Kris had years ago when she lived in Sl-Ocala.

It sure warmed my heart to see it.

We ended up talking for over an hour getting caught up.

Well, it seems her ex-husband, who is 20 years older than Kris and me, had passed on to meet and greet my Mom and TheGentlemanFarmer. As Kris's oldest son was the Executor of his Dad's estate, he asked Kris to come up to Sl-Ocala and clean up a somewhat complicated situation, plus sell the remaining horses that old vet had around.

Kris was having a bit of difficulty trying to decide on how to handle a couple things and wanted to bounce some ideas off me. I was flattered and, know, Kris is doing the right thing.

We have spoken to each other nearly every day since then. When we were speaking on Wednesday night, I could tell it was taking its toll on her and she seemed pretty down in the dumps.

So on Thursday, mid-afternoon, I finished up my portion of a project and gave a call to that heart warming Sl-Ocala based cell number.

"What are you up to?", I asked.

"Watching it rain. What are you up to?", she replied.

"Well, I think a friend of mine in Sl-Ocala needs a hug and I thought I would run over and give that hug to her."

"You do," was her response.

"See you in a couple hours."

So I passed by the Taj Mahal, showered, changed clothes and beat it through the Ocala National Forest on State Road 40 to administer that much needed hug.

Now you might, at this juncture, ask, as I am heading to Sl-Ocala mid-afternoon, why I did not pack a bag with a change of clothes?

Well, this past weekend all five of her boys came up to that farm and loaded the entire contents of that home, except a mattress and a desk, and took it back down to Orlando, distributing the contents to each of the boys homes.

And, as I mentioned, "she's just not that into me", I knew I would be returning to the Taj Mahal later that evening, as sleeping on the floor with drop dead gorgeous woman in the next room would not be all that comfortable.

Except for the horrendous thunderstorm on the trip over, it was an uneventful one and it was interesting for me to determine if I could remember the route on SR 40 as I have not been to Sl-Ocala since I picked up my wrecked oleragtop some time late last year.

So I arrived around 5 with a pot of yellow mums for Kris and we gave each other a big hug. She showed me around the house she and the vet had remodeled several times, the farm and outbuildings and the first swimming pool built by a former employer of mine.

After a bit, we retired back to that one office chair office and I sat on the countertop and Kris told me some of the details of the resolution of the vet's Estate. At least all of her boys were in agreement on most of the details and it looks like she will get it resolved in short order.

We then were discussing where to eat for dinner.

Kris commented that she always thinks of me when she sees a franchise of my favorite restaurant, but we both agreed it was to far as it is located on the other side of town from us.

She then mentioned a new place, Pi on Broadway, which had opened down near the square and she was referred to it by a couple who had enjoyed their visit to that establishment.

So, we tried it out and it was delicious. However, it was not nearly as delicious as the great conversation that occured between Kris and I over that meal of lettuce wrapped ahi tuna and a wonderful pizza Pi made from what, I don't remember. I also enjoyed a couple martinis while Kris did the same with some pint glasses of wheat beer.

It turns out she remembered the bartender from his employment days at another restaurant and when we had finished dinner, he came over and mentioned they had live music upstairs on the open air balcony overlooking parts of downtown Sl-Ocala.

Kris mentioned we should check it out and I was like, "Sounds good to me".

And I am glad Kris is a take charge type of woman because we ended up listening to the best live music I have heard in quite some time and definitely the best live music I had ever heard in Sl-Ocala.

The band was a duo, with electric acoustic guitars, the singer was a wonderfully voiced female, her partner was a vertically challenged guy and both of them could play a wicked guitar. I have not heard a voice like hers, live, since I saw Kelley Hunt at Cartoons in the Queen City of The Ozarks when I was up there for TheGentlemanFarmer's Celebration of His Life in 2003.

The range of this woman's voice was absolutely unbelieveable.

Kris commented that killer voiced woman should go on American Idol, which promptly got us on the subject of reality shows. I commented that I live in my reality show every day and I am not interested in someone else's scripted reality. I like living without a script, it is easier to Celebrate Life that way.

That evening was like a perfect storm combination of killer music, excellent weather, tremendous ambience, interesting conversation, good food and fantastic company. And that includes Jose, in town from Miami, looking for one thing, and one thing only, in that club that evening.

Kris enjoyed a few pints of wheat beer while I consumed several glasses of ice water.

It was a wonderful time.

But, alas, all good times have to end sometime and around 11, the band called it quits.

Kris and I head back to the farm, exchanged heart felt embraces, and said our goodbyes, each commenting on what a great, relaxing evening we had.

I got back onto SR40 to head east. It was around 11:30 and I felt invigorated by the evening and how much fun I had.

I was not 15 minutes from the vet's farm when I look up in the rear view mirror of the oleragtop to see flashing blue lights which is always my signal to move over to the side of the road and stop.

Thank God I switched to water.

But either way, I don't drink and drive as my buddy's on the Florida Highway Patrol (how about that? I got another blog coming based on that image!), well they would personally kick my *ss if I got caught and, then, disown me and, probably look around for a new shop to service their patrol cars.

So, as always, lights off, keys on dash, window down, interior light on, hands on the steering wheel in plain sight.

In my mind I was going over what it might be. A random DUI check? I know I wasn't speeding. What could it be?

Officer Friendly of the Sl-Ocala Police Department strides up to inform me that I have a burnt out tail light and asks for my driver's license. I hand it to him, he verifies the address with me and he heads back to his patrol car. Several minutes later, he is back asking me where I am going and I mentioned that a good friend's dad had passed and I drove over to give her a shoulder to cry on and was returning home. (Yeah, I know, lieing to a cop is not a good thing but it was pretty close to the truth.) He returns my license to me and says he is going to let me go this time and to get it repaired. I reply that "I will be at my brother's Goodyear shop first thing in the morning. Thank you, Sir and Stay Safe." And I beat it the hell out of Sl-Ocala, possibly to never return.

About 20 minutes later, just before the Ocala National Forest, I pass by a Marion County Sheriff's Office SUV parked perpendicular to the highway just watching me go by. Of course, he pulls out and proceeds to pull the olelongrooffan over to side of SR 40. I perform the same routine, lights off, interior light on, window down, hands on the wheel. He walks up and mentioned the reason he pulled me over. You know what it was. I replied, Yes sir, the Ocala Police Department informed me of the status of that light about 20 minutes ago. He requests my license, confirms my address and heads back to his SUV, a distant relative of the olestationbus. He returns a few minutes later and confirms the longrooffan will be able to proceed, ticketless, to the Taj Mahal. Just one thing this young man says, "What does your license plate mean?. I told him, he chuckled and said, "that makes sense." "Stay Safe Sir," was my response as start the oleragtop up and got the h*ll out of there.

Whew, another encounter with those fine defenders of justice and I got away again!!

So, I am driving through the Ocala National Forest and the high beams on that oleragtop spot, at different times, encountered a possum and a raccoon along the shoulder of that two lane highway. The low beams encountered only one other set of headlights as it was now on towards 1 in the morning on Friday. I really thought one of thejeepjunkie's Florida Highway Patrol buddies would see me. But to no avail.

Along this part of the highway, the speed limit is 60 mph, but I was doing about 70, with my excuse being that I was trying to get home before I got pulled over again. I think it would have elicited a laugh from the law and I am sticking with that.

So I pass under that I-95 bridge over SR40 safe with the knowledge I am less than four miles from the Taj Mahal and I take a deep breath. I head over that high bridge over the St. Johns River, which replaced this, and get beachside.

Ah, less than 2 miles from the Taj Mahal and I am ready to get there. It is now around 1:45 am and I am needing to get out of the oleragtop and relax with some hurricane supplies and chill out, and reflect on the memories of this fantastic evening.

But, alas, those hurricane supplies and fantastic recollections would need to wait just a bit longer.

As I turned south onto A1A from SR40, Granada Avenue here in the Birthplace of Speed, I noticed in the oleragtop's passenger side rear view mirror a mini SUV from a bankrupt american manufacturer, although it was Ormond Beach Police Department badged. Sure enough, two blocks later this olelongrooffan is getting pulled over for the third time in just under two hours.

Well, the timeframe in which I was driving, 11:30 pm to 1:30 am is a pretty good time to catch morons DUI-ing it around most places, except for this hoon.

So, I again perform the same maneuvers, interior light on, window down, lights off, hands in plain sight. However, this time, the representative of Ormond Beach's finest walks up to the passenger side of the oleragtop and shines a flashlight into the cockpit and it reflects off the empty water bottles and Diet Coke cans I have consumed since I left for the vet's farm the previous afternoon. I quickly lower that window and before he has a chance to say anything, I ask, "Is this about that burnt out tail light?" He chuckles and responds in the affirmative and I mention that the Ocala Police and Marion County Sheriff have beat him in the telling of me about this light. He laughs and asks if I have been drinking. I mention to him about my buddies over at FHP and he laughs again. I mention I live two blocks away down behind Pirates Cove mini golf and he mentions I should head on that way. "Stay Safe," I responded and, after a wave of the hand to that Officer when I turned around, the oleragtop roared down A1A and reached the Taj Mahal without further encounters with the blue light equipped vehicles.

So I have to share with you Counters out there, regardless of my run ins with JohnnyLaw, I had a fantastic time with a long lost friend Thursday evening, in a town I lived in for 5 years and don't miss a bit. It was a wonderful time and, Kris, thanks for getting in touch.

And it is experiences like this, with everything else going on in, both her life, and mine, that let us continue to

Celebrate Life.

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