Monday, February 22, 2010


As part of my pre-departure for a year in Korea, I wanted to see my dad in Florida. I don't like to go more than a year and a half without visiting. Plus, it's always nice to have a reason to go somewhere sunny in the winter. I found out the hard way on my first visit here in 2004 that it's not a good idea to come between July and October. It is hurricane season and I showed up just in time for Hurricane Frances, spending a portion of the visit evacuated at my dad's friend's house. From then on I have made winter-only visits.

Over 2 years ago, I met a neighbor of my dad's here at the resort named Charlie. He recently died of prostate cancer and I just want to take a moment to remember him. We met because he offered to give me tennis lessons, and even at 71 years old in the Florida heat was in great shape, probably more fit than I was. He also was a state Backgammon champion and gave me lessons in that as well. I had only played one other time, when I was taught by a couple Austrian boys at a palapa on the beach in Zipolite, Oaxaca coast, Mexico. Charlie’s house was right on the lake and we also went swimming together. He was the ONLY person who swam in the lake, which during the winter months every one else considered too cold. Of course for me, the lake was the best I could hope for in summer in the PNW, and there was no keeping me out. I swam across, my heart pounding all the while, probably more from the thought of sharing the water with gators than from the workout. Anyway, Charlie was a fun, spirited, wryly funny, smart man who I am happy to have met.

A trip to this resort community is always pleasant- seeing my dad, running, learning Petanque, sunbathing, and swimming. But this trip was extra special. We had a small family reunion with my great aunt and uncle, my dad’s two sisters, and some cousin—better called a “union” because we have never all been together to begin with! We all met near Fort Meyer where my aunt and uncle were staying, and sat by the pool, looked at pictures, told stories, walked along the water, and went out for a nice dinner. The highlight was probably my Aunt Natalie, who is a ridiculously good storyteller. She is animated, quick, and her perfectly timed voice inflections leave you on the edge of your seat. I loved hearing stories about the older generations growing up in the Italian neighborhood of Chicago- the mafia ties, the family pride, the hard work, the immigrant experience and learning English.

Another great part about the whole thing was being able to bring my new computer down to my dad. I feel a little like it is my new baby that he helped christen. My old computer was broken and I definitely need one for Korea, so I finally upgraded to a MacBook and I haven’t been able to tear myself away from it ever since. My dad showed me some things, helped me download a couple programs, and in a very sweet dad-esque move, burned me at 430 page PDF on Everything I Need to Know about My Mac. Then on Mondays, there is a guy at the resort who does a free computer class to boot! I learned all about router types and how they affect internet connection speed, as well as keyboard shortcuts. He then sat with me for another hour after the class to walk through the computer. I haven’t felt this technologically savvy since I decided to take every free class offered at the Student Technology Center my last year at Western.

The last thing I want to mention is that I just added another link to my blog reading list, called Orangette. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a food blog by a Seattle resident who also recently just published a food stories/recipe book called A Homemade Life. I started reading it on the plane and accidentally spilled my orange juice on it, which I found to be a strange coincidence, and spilled some on the pants of the man sleeping next to me, which I found to be a relief that he didn’t wake up. Anyway, it’s a sweet compilation of food dishes that relate specifically to people, places, or events, and overall a funny and enjoyable read.


ElizaBeth said...

So glad you're able to enjoy Florida and your family in the off-hurricane season! When do you leave? Or, are you gone already? I realized in horror that after we made a pact to go to our 10-year high school reunion, you will not be able to attend after all. I may forgive you in time...

makewhatyouneedtofind said...

"She is animated, quick, and her perfectly timed voice inflections leave you on the edge of your seat."

i love your descriptions of people amber. and your voice inflections-too-i've always thought you were a rockstar storyteller. glad you got to take this dad trip.

my former writing job is over now but i may have a new one soon...i'll soon keep you posted :) (as well as my abandoned blog) kate

AmberAnda said...

Thanks for the comments ladies! I leave next week. The whole departure process is a little behind schedule, but that's okay. I'm pretty bummed about missing the 10 year reunion, and I'm also missing a huge reunion for Fairhaven at WWU. I'll definitely make it next decade once I have a farm and 8 kids and won't be living so internationally. Kate, I'm looking forward to reading more of your work and/or blog!