I’ve been pretty much tied to my desk working on my new book, and I really needed a break. So yesterday we took a day trip to the beautiful historic city of Saint Augustine.
A few days ago, longtime blog reader Bob Dunn contacted me, telling me about an old yarn winder he had found in a secondhand shop somewhere and wondered if it might be something Miss Terry would be interested in. I showed her the picture Bob sent me and she said she definitely would be. Bob wrote back to tell me that he and his lovely wife, and I’m so embarrassed because I just can’t remember her name right now, would be in Saint Augustine and would be happy to bring it down from their home in South Carolina and meet us.
Our friend Jim Lewis had not been to Saint Augustine yet and he was looking forward to checking it out sometime, so off we went. We met Bob and his wife at an IHOP restaurant that was packed, and the service was incredibly slow. I’m glad all we ordered was iced tea because they had ordered breakfast before we arrived, and it took an hour to get it.
We visited for an hour or so, then went outside to check out Terry’s new toy. This is actually called a yarn weasel. Yarn is wrapped around the four arms, which rotate, and the square box under the horizontal part near the top has wooden gears in it. When you wind on the correct amount of yarn, a device inside with the gears makes a popping sound to let you know you’re done. And that, my friends, is where we get the term “pop goes the weasel.”
After we parted company with Bob and Mrs. Bob, we drove into the old town part of Saint Augustine to tour the historic Castillo de San Marcos. Construction began on this marvelous old bastion in 1672, and the flags of Spain, Great Britain, the Confederate States of America, and the United States have flown over it. That was besieged twice by the British and changed hands several times through treaties, the fort never fell to an enemy in time of war.
We wandered through the fort, checking out some of the rooms, which have displays on the fort’s history and the daily life of different soldiers stationed there over the years, and listened to a volunteer giving a fascinating talk on the American Revolution. I thought I knew quite a bit about that time in our history, but I learned a thing or two.
Then we walked up to the top of the wall surrounding the fort to watch a demonstration of cannons being fired. From up there the parade ground looked even smaller than it did from ground level.
When we left the fort we spent a couple of hours wandering down Saint George Street. Back in early settlement days, this was Saint Augustine’s main street. Today it is a pedestrian mall lined with restaurants, galleries, bakeries, and dozens of interesting little shops. Some of the buildings there date back centuries.
I love the sound of a saxophone, and though I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, I’ve always wanted to learn how to play the sax. A few years ago, I actually bought two of them. That’s when I discovered I really didn’t want to learn how to play the sax, because that takes way too much time, I just wanted to pick it up and magically start making music come out of it. As it turns out, it doesn’t work that way. About the best I could manage to do was scare the hell out of Terry’s cat.
So I was fascinated when we came across a fellow named Jim Brock, who has a little business called Bamboo Windshop. Jim makes what look like flutes out of bamboo, then fits them with a saxophone mouthpiece, and the music he plays with them is unbelievable. You could close your eyes and swear you were listening to a saxophone being played.
Jim had the alto models on sale, and I was tempted to get one. Very tempted. But I know I have absolutely no musical ability and all I would be doing is wasting time. My father was an excellent musician who could play anything with keys or strings, though he never had a music lesson in his life and couldn’t read music. I inherited absolutely none of his talent. And these days we don’t even have a cat I can terrify, so what’s the point?
Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Birdsongs, the first book in my friend Jason Deas’ excellent Benny James mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.
Thought For The Day – Christmas is the season when you buy this year’s gifts with next year’s money.