More Thrifting and Some Actual Work ;-)

When I visit my mom, I try to do a couple of things for her while I’m there. This trip we decide to revamp the “garden” aka weed patch by her patio. This pic is post weeding. She has had some medical issues over the last year and the yard has gotten away from her. We pull the weeds; add a fountain and some new plants that are supposed to like full sun and voila! a beautiful patio garden with the soothing sound of trickling water. I also tried my hand at a faux finish on her bathroom walls and I think it came out pretty well.On my numerous trips to the Home Depot, I drive right by a Salvation Army Thrift store and for some reason my car always automatically pulls into the parking lot. I have found some little treasure each time – a pink Dogwood dinner plate, an amber Diana dinner plate and this last time, a Candlewick saucer and two green Depression glass cups.
My only other score in Miami is this way cool lamp made from 2 metal boxes in the 1940's judging from the non-polarized plug. We plan on traveling back to Ohio on the weekend so I'm hoping for better luck at the flea markets than we had on the way to Miami.
Next: Finally! A good flea market!!


Miami Nightlife - Clubs, Gangs and Hitler??

One thing I have to say about traveling with my 20-something daughter is that it sure makes me expand my comfort zone! Meg has heard about some places she is interested in checking out so instead of sitting at home and going to bed at a reasonable hour we venture out into the Miami night.

There is a club just outside the oh-so-trendy Fashion District downtown called Churchill’s A Sort of English Pub. It has a reputation for supporting local indie bands and you never know what type of music they will have coming up. There are 4 or 5 bands playing the first night we’re there and all I can say about them is that they were LOUD! Megan and I sit at the bar where we have a good view of the stage. While we’re waiting for the bands to begin I spend some time watching a hustler at the pool table. I think he’s having an off night because he doesn’t seem that good but maybe that’s the whole idea? He takes off when the place starts to fill up with a young hip crowd and I am feeling more and more out of place. I move over to the darker side of the bar where I can hide. Of course, as soon as I move two guys swoop in on Meg and I have fun watching them all chat from across the bar.

One of the guys she was talking with has made quite an impression on Meg – smart, funny, well read and a law student at the University of Miami. Oh, and really cute too, and in a band. She must have made an impression on him as well because he starts calling her the next day and they decide to have coffee that evening. Thank goodness! I don’t think I could do two late nights in a row ;-) The next night they plan to listen to some music and hang out at his apartment. He’s originally from Germany and has a lot of WWII books and memorabilia in the living room. Meg has always been interested in history so she is enjoying looking at everything. He offers to show her more of his collection but tells her it may “creep her out”… When she follows him into the bedroom there is a collection of German medals and armbands including ones with Nazi insignia and …get this… a portrait of Hitler! Not just a cheap print either but an embossed metal 3-D profile on a wood plaque. Her response? “Ummm… do you think you could take me home now?” I mean seriously, who has a portrait of Hitler in their bedroom??!

Needless to say, the budding romance came to a screeching halt. The next night we decide to do something All American so we go bowling. Mom comes to watch and giggle at my lack of bowling skills. Megan is a natural athlete and beats me easily even though she has no form and basically just hurls the ball toward the pins and knocks them down. Being raised by a league bowler, I have excellent form and a wicked curve but unfortunately no control over what path the ball might choose to take down the alley. I had one good game, which for me is anything over 100. My other games were just pathetic, I don’t know what the record is for gutter balls but I must have been getting close, lol!

Later Meg and I go to a billiard hall in Hialeah to play some pool, a game where I am not totally inept. When we walk in the very first thing she notices is that there is a large group of gang members playing at one of the tables wearing leather jackets emblazened with skulls and the name of the gang. Guess what table we’re given? That’s right, the one right next to the gang members. Here are my keen observations of gang life. 1. Always wear your colors. One of the members was chastised for not having his jacket on. 2. Show respect to the head of the gang. The leader had just gotten out of the hospital, had a big cast on his leg and was reigning over the table from a chair on the side - obviously an important guy. 3. The new guy has to pay his dues. One guy was apparently new as he was running around getting things for the rest of the group and they were teaching him how to play pool. It was pretty tame. I guess that as long as there’s not an opposing gang present it’s perfectly safe. The weird thing was that they were a motorcycle gang but there weren’t any bikes parked outside.

We visit Churchill’s again before we leave Miami and on this night, they have an open jam where all of the local bands come and play together. It was a very bazaar group of pseudo hippie, punk, and or hipster musicians and their loyal followers weaving a musical tapestry of a sort. A very friendly (and very high) bunch of people and entertaining as well.


Sunburns, Aloe and Miami's Other Beaches

One of my mom's home remedies for sunburn is fresh aloe from the garden. She slices off a leaf and peels the skin off one side and then you just rub the jelly-like inside on your bod. I don't know if the aloe does anything to prevent additional peeling but it sure does feel nice, especially if it's been kept in the fridge, ahhh cool and refreshing. It does have a weird odor at first but that completely disappears when it dries leaving you silky soft! Meg and I are both peeling just a little bit. How could this happen? We’re Italian for goodness sake! Well, I’m half Italian and Meg’s one quarter, but she looks more Italian than I do and we NEVER peel… until now.

We can’t stay away from the beach forever so we head out to explore some of Miami’s other beaches. We load up sunscreen and cover-ups and leave later in the day when the sun isn’t so damaging.

Megan is very interested in marine life so we decide to visit Matheson Hammock. The main beach there is an atoll, kind of a big salt-water pool. My family spent many Sunday afternoons there in the late 1950’s and one of the very cool features was the coral rock building that housed a snack bar where, as a special treat, I could get an ice-cream cone or some other frozen delight. I’m sure there were changing rooms and such also but my memory stops at the snack bar!

Meg is not at all impressed with the beach, the snack bar is closed and the rest of the coral rock building has been converted into a fancy restaurant. The mile long sandbar that used to be on the ocean side of the pool seawall is gone too. My last chance to salvage the day is a side beach that has tidal pools and a lot of interesting sea life. The sign for the beach access road is missing but I’m sure that I remember where to turn so we venture down a familiar if unmarked path. The road hasn’t been maintained and I comment on how deserted the area is which is odd as it used to be quite popular and now appears to be abandoned. We park the car and as I am about to get out and walk down to the beach Meg says, “Wait, let’s see what that sign says.” Eeek! No wonder no one is on the beach! We drive around for a bit peering into the mangroves but we don’t spot any Crocs and neither one of us want to be bait to entice them to come out so we leave.

Most of the beaches in Miami don’t allow dogs. The only one I know of is along the causeway to Crandon Park. It’s very rocky with little sand but it’s a beach and we want to see if Iggy will like the ocean.

Although he’s an excellent swimmer one quick paddle to shore is enough for him and he is not at all interested in splashing along the shoreline. Get me outta here! Poor baby! We wrap him up in a towel and soon he is sleeping peacefully.

I have to say that even though I have fond memories of Crandon and Matheson, as those are the beaches my family usually went to when I was little; Miami Beach is by far the nicest beach we visited. It’s very clean, the waves are nice and there are no crocodiles running around ;-)