Sandie & Mister Knightly @ Home


Wish for the New Millennium:
May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, enough hope to make you happy, and enough money to buy gifts!!


Places We Liked | A Few Good Jokes | Weird Stuff | Mister Knightly Photos | Wayne's World | Book Reviews |

Past History:

2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 |

Thought for 2016: 

"Being powerful is like being a lady.  If you have to tell someone you are, you aren't.

- Margaret Thatcher

The Christmas Letter 2016

It's hard to know what to say this year, part of me is numb.  The happy optimistic part of me who usually writes this letter feels as if she is swimming in thick water and is in constant danger of sinking into melancholy.  I fight it.  I swim on and kick harder.  I say to myself that I have survived other bad things and times and I will survive this too... and then I stick my head into the sand.

The presidential Campaign that took place this year and culminated in the election of Donald Trump (and his cabinet-to-come appointees, some of whom are downright scary) has shown me a different side of America.  It is ugly - both sides too - each filled with strong, often disturbing notions about right & wrong, appropriate & inappropriate, courtesy & discourtesy, fact & fiction, concern & disregard, love & hate.  I've seen people on both sides get mad at hearing an opinion with which they do not agree, so mad as to damage friendships.  I've heard a good (Christian) man talking about the need to kill everyone within a 5 block radius of a disturbed terrorist in Nice. I heard a woman discussing the use of nuclear bombs against the people of China rather than negotiate with their leaders beyond a certain undefined point.  People I know to be good decent people talking about retaliation and mass murder as if it is in some way justified by  the fact that someone sees the world differently from themselves.  And when I hear people talking what, to me, amounts to evil, it hurts my heart!  and I almost do sink into melancholy. 

Because I want us all to get along - to have ideals & beliefs and to live up to and be true to those ideals & beliefs.  Not to descend into a more primitive state of mind in which everything is black or white and where two rights (or partial rights) is a foreign concept.  I want us to be tolerant.  I want to see that concept trending in America and around the world, tolerance... and this year I could not see it.  To me it felt this year as if, as the world grows warmer, its people grow colder...

But then, as I do every year, I read back through all the handwritten notes I have received though out this year from those who continue to tolerate me, who continue to be my friend even though I am very imperfect and not "easy".  This makes me want to look back on 2016 and find all the happy things in it to celebrate:  fun times with friends, travel, a fun job, a good dog... because it's the little things that can save you. It's the little things that can keep you sane in an insane world. 

"With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world, Be cheerful.  Strive to be Happy!"

I've never needed those words more than now... I offer them to you also in case they can be of help.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

December -  A month of food, friends and celebrations.  I organized 3 get together's for friends - lunch for 18 of the folks i workout with at the gym on the 7th   Then dinner for my friends in the hood (12 of them) at the Hollander on the 14th and finally a Herd (14 folks) gathering also at the Hollander on the 21st. So that by the 23rd when I went to dinner with Bill, Letty and Doug at the Tavern it was very nice to have a more intimate gathering

Christmas Eve was lovely.  Dinner at Tim & Randy's with Ed - our 25th Christmas Eve together.  We laughed, ate & drank and exchanged gifts... a lovely evening.  Christmas day I took gifts next door for Paul and Gracie and I opened gifts with Susan on Face time and we gabbed for an hour... then after a phone charge it was another fun call with Sweden - I got to see the new baby Mona and say hi to a big bunch of friends all gathered at Solgatan 10. My friends were overly generous with me in the gift department, but I think they believe me to be a lush based on the amount of alcohol I was given, still, it's the thought that counts.  But no matter how many friends I have, it is always sad to lose one, whether to death or to anger and this year I lost three:  one to death, one to my anger and one to her anger.  My anger will pass but it will take time to mend that friendship - I will try however.  The other friendship is more complicated.  I believe there is scant hope for it as the problem appears to be with my personality, and as I approach 70 I am not inclined to change that.  As Popeye says, "I yam what I yam!"  But there is always hope. And lastly, Diane's son Paul David passed away on Christmas Eve.  Far too young to be gone so early, my heart broke both for him and for her.   

By the 29tth - 31st, both friendships were mending nicely and so I was able to face the new year with a light and happy heart.  Not wanting to be out solo, I stayed home and made a couple with Mister Knightly for New Years Eve.  I enjoyed the passing of this very strange and unhappy year.    



November - In Malaga I had signed up to tour the caves at Nerja and I enjoyed the tour and the tour guide... not quite as informative the guide we had in Cartagena but still interesting.  Then we had a day at sea and put into port in Madeira the following day  In Madeira, as I was leaving the ship i chanced to meet a woman named Nicola who, from that point on, made the cruise experience much more pleasant.  Like me she was traveling alone but only because her husband was unable to join her as they had planned.  Still she was young and funny and easy to talk with and we took to each other in a friendly way as sometimes happens.  We spent the day together touring Madeira and the photos I have of that are hers since as usual, i forgot to bring my mobile phone.  There were a lot of folks traveling solo and we would often meet for cocktails and talk before going to dinner.  The rest of the cruise was "at sea"  we were supposed to stop in Bermuda but the seas were too rough to we pressed on to Miami.  I spent hours in my cabin watching movies and drawing, it was very comfortable for me and my steward delighted me daily with towel animals.   I was at the ship's gym somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic when I heard the news of the Presidential election.  I knew then i had made the right decision in taking the cruise and that the fear I had in the spring when I booked it had been real and was now very real indeed.  I was so glad to be out of the country.

Back home things were as I had left them only Thanksgiving was coming.  I had a bit of the cold that was going around the ship to dispose of and then it was time for friends and turkey.  Diane came down to see her son and we were able to get together again too. and so the month passed into memory

October - October was a nice month.  The weather began to cool down a bit and events started to happen around town.  Went to the Free movie in the park with Doug, Bill & Letty, also went to a couple of Tuesday matinee movies downtown with Joan and Gary & Barbara. I was looking forward to the Orchestra concert in the park but when it got rained out I watched football with the guys and then went home.  There was a lot to be done getting ready for my holiday which began on the 24th, until finally it was time to fly to Barcelona.  A beautiful city, Barcelona and I was there until the 30th.  Diane joined me for a couple of days and i was reminded again how easy it is to travel with her.  We met up with some guys I know in San Francisco and we toured around the city.. did some shopping of course.  Then it was time for Diane to fly home and me to leave on a trans-Atlantic cruise home.  Halloween I was ship board leaving Cartagena where we had put in for a day, and on my way to Malaga... to be continued.



September - I always feel better when August comes to an end... business was so slow at the Spice Shop that I was asked if I would stay home until after my holiday ends in November.  The first week or so I enjoyed it but it soon came to be a bore.  I need to do something and It was still a bit hot for yard work, so I spent money.  I bought a new A/C for Wayne's World and gave the room a fall cleaning.  I went shopping with Susan Hunt in Palmetto, I had several coffees with Aleth, I threw a pool party for the Savory gang, had brunch with Doug D'Souza in Gulfport, went to a birthday party for Doug and Jaeden, had Tim & Randy & Toby over for some doggie pool ball games, went to hear music with Doug G. Bill & Letty and saw a couple of movies:  Sully (with Barbara & Gary) and Snowden.  But the month was defined more by what I did not do.  I did not study Spanish and I did not paint.  I did some reading, but not that much... I basically became a sloth...

The Savory Gang   Hard to believe Jaeden is 13 and so very tall.

August - A month filled with birthdays...Geri, Marcia, Brenna, Sandra, Mary and Susan Hunt... sending out cards.  I did pop down to visit Susan and meet her new dog Xen, a very nice shepherd retired now from the seeing-eye business.  We did some antique shopping and ate lunch... always great to spend time with her and to see Bobby too.  Otherwise it was a quiet month willed with rain, yard work, pool cleaning and home expenses, as everything expensive that could break, did break.  Work at Savory was very slow, making for long boring shifts.  I also had a bit of a depression too - I recognized it by the eating pattern and the compulsion to look in the fridge a lot, but I have no idea what caused it other than boredom... I felt like the David Bromberg song, Somebody Elses Blues, and wondered who was living my happy life.  I should have been putting time into studying Spanish or painting but I didn't, just couldn't get motivated...  but as i think back on my life I realize that I have often found the month of August stressful and once wrote about it in an old journal (long lost now).  I did one decent painting of Susan, my niece, seen below... it isn't too terrible and it does look like her too.  I did one of President Obama but his delicate features are very hard to capture so I won't post it.

The month ended with the ultimate birthday, Mister Knight's !  I decided to get him a new pool ball and my neighbor Paul wanted an outing so we went to Petsmart and Target and then on to Lowes where Paul wanted to get some plants - it should have been an easy outing except that he is diabetic and didn't eat any protein before we left and in Lowes his blood sugar dropped and so did Paul... about 110 lbs of dead weight - but with help I got him home and into the house... he is stubborn and should know how to handle his illness better, but perhaps he was in the August doldrums too.  Anyway it was a bit of an adventure in an otherwise dull month.  Mister Knightly and I split a rib eye steak and played with his new ball as the month came to an end.

    My two Loves...  

July - The month began with a treat... Marcia and Bill invited me to a production of West Side Story at the Palladium Theater.  The St Pete opera company staged the show and it really was excellent!  July 4th I threw a small pool party for the A&W gang... after swimming and eating, we all went to the Vinoy and watched some truly spectacular fireworks.  Diane came into town for two weeks and we got to hang out a bit... her son is very sick so she wanted to spend as much time with him as possible but we managed a couple of nights on the town and one at the beach...  Summer is time for the Cool Art Show and Susan Hunt and I enjoyed looking at the art in the old Coliseum...  I also spent a lot of time watching the political convention of the Democrats and a bit of time watching the Republicans too. 

I find Donald Trump disgusting and it is hard for me to respect those planning to vote for him.  I know some very good people who plan to do it even while saying they don't like him and I could understand that, as I am not crazy about Hillary, but for one thing... Trump is a bigot and a racist!  To me this disqualifies him completely!  I never felt this way about either Bush, didn't like their politics but never felt that they were filled with hate for large segments of Americans - but I am sure this is true for Donald Trump and this alone disqualifies him.  And I will find it hard to respect anyone who can look at that and still support him. Not to mention that he is a dishonest businessman and his negotiation style involves making sure the other guy gets screwed completely - never Win-Win, always I Win - You Loose!

But I will vote against Trump and spend the rest of my time looking for some beauty in the world - right now, for me I find great joy in watching birds:  Drawing birds and seeing them on my feeder .  I am also drawing faces again using water colors and beginning to like doing it. 

June - I took the entire month of June off from the Spice Shop...  I went to the beach, hung out with Mary & Bob, ate lots of lunches and generally relaxed.  I also did a great deal of yard work, installed a new fence between 915 and 921 and had the trees trimmed in preparation for hurricane season...spent some money in doing all that but it all needed to be done.  I also took my love, Mister Knightly to the Atlantic coast and visited with the Kails.  Bridget came up so I got to play with Liam and see the new baby too.  Geri and I even devoted a day to painting together.  All in all it was a nice month where the hardest thing to do was keep track of what day it was. 


May - May is always a jam packed month of events with all the guys having birthdays to celebrate.  But I jumped the gun and celebrated them all in April.  Tim and Randy went to San Francisco to celebrate Tim's 60th so they were gone for the beginning of May... I went out to the beach to celebrate Bill's birthday. and watch the sunset.  I continued to work at Savory even though there was less and less for me to do.   My dear friend Mary and her husband came from the UK for a 3 week stay at the beach...Dion came from San Francisco to surprise her and the Three of us were reunited again after 20 more years...

Here we are through the years:    Mary looks so great when I consider that in December I was not expecting her to be alive... she is frail, and a bit unsteady but on the whole a marvelous comeback.  We went boating on the Manatee with the Hunts and our to dinner with Ellen and I made a pool party for the two of them.  Then there was the surprise wedding of Tim and Randy to I had to include a bit of a reception for them as I didn't want to see my boys miss anything.    So the month ended on a very HIGH note indeed!

 Me in curls


It has taken me five months to decide whether to continue to maintain my own website.  Of course I began my site long before Facebook and in those days it was a convenient way to show my friends in Europe what was going on with my life.  Then i lost my FrontPage tool in 2014 when I was laid off from my consulting job and had to get a new computer - the new one wouldn't even let me install FrontPage much less use it.  So I had to struggle on using Word but that wasn't very satisfactory...  Now I have an app called Web Expression 4 and it is almost just like FP and so I am back in business.

What has been going on in my life this year?  I turned 69 and with my sprained ankle on the mend all I had to worry about were sick friends but then I tripped and fell flat on my face in January!  I hit my knee very hard and almost lost a front tooth.  This was unfortunate for a number of reasons, pain and discomfort being two.  But also the fact that pain makes me feel OLD and I hate the feeling.  Mary was improving daily in the UK, but next door, Rickie was dying, slowly and wasting away to almost nothing.  It was a terrible thing to watch and the combination of watching and feeling my own age left me a little down in spirit, though I tried to fight the feelings and not let my self sink into real depression... I like to stop at melancholy whenever possible.  It is easy to forget about how old you are when you feel really good.  I got back to the gym as quickly as possible after the fall and even though it is still not perfect in either my knee or ankle, it is 99% improved and I am again feeling like I am much younger than my years. 

I decided back in June to let my hair grow and it is a long slow process but I am able to put it up now and have decided that I will be an old aldy with a bun!  I have been working on my drawing, trying to learn how to do it so I can stand to look at it.  This is complicated by the fact that I have no native talent.  Still I push on and will show you now a drawing I actually like of mine

dog with owl drawing 2016

I have such a long way to go before I am any good but it focuses my mind and keeps me from being bored so I will continue on.

Anyway the year has progressed like all the previous years, Super Bowl party  Egg Coloring Party, May Babies Event etc. and that gets me caught up to the present and I will now see if I can post this page and begin again...