You CAN Go Home Again – Part 1

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I know the old saying is, “You CAN’T go home again,” but I most adamantly disagree. I recently tested my position by returning to Florida State University (my alma mater) for the first time in – well, more years than I’m going to admit to. Actually, it’s probably more years ago than many of you have been alive. My dear husband, Jim, bought tickets to FSU’s Homecoming game as a birthday gift.

 

I haven’t been as excited to go somewhere since we returned to Waynesville, North Carolina a couple of years ago. It was extra special for us, as Jim had never seen the campus and I was anxious to share this beautiful place and seen of so many happy memories with him. Neither of us was disappointed.

Façade of One of the Buildings on FSU Campus

Façade of One of the Buildings on FSU Campus

Let me say – right here and now – that Florida State University has one of the most beautiful campuses I’ve ever seen. Sure, I will happily admit that I am very prejudiced. I will also adamantly argue that anyone who sees it must be impressed with its beauty. The administration has taken great care to maintain the charm and beauty by continuing the same style architecture and building materials throughout any and all new and re-construction. The only buildings that don’t seem to “match” (which are only a couple) are those that were already there when I was a student. I was told that members of the planning committee had actually taken trips to other universities around the country (including the University of Michigan) where the campuses have maintained their beauty even through many construction phases.

 

Once we got settled at our Bed & Breakfast (The McFarlin House in Quincy. A whole new post coming up about the B&B, restaurants, and travel), we headed for campus. I have to admit I was a little apprehensive at first. I had such sweet memories of the beautiful campus. As I said earlier, I was not at all disappointed. Our first stop was the stadium. Jim wanted to be certain that we could find it easily prior to the game.

Doak Campbell Stadium

Doak Campbell Stadium

Holy SMOKES! This was NOT the stadium I remembered. Frankly, the stadium I remembered was not much to look at. Sure, we all had a ball going to games (even though, back in those days, we mostly lost); however, the stadium was pretty old and standard. THIS stadium is amazing! It’s the stadium that Bobby Bowden built. I foresee another whole post about my awe and respect for Bobby Bowden, but I do not think I’m overstating that without him, Doak Campbell Stadium would never be as grand.

Bobby Bowden Statue at Doak Campbell Stadium

Bobby Bowden Statue at Doak Campbell Stadium

Since we were at the stadium, I wanted to find the statue of “the man” – Bobby Bowden – so I could take photos. As we drove around the stadium, I saw that there were many statues that I wanted to get a better look at, but my focus was on that one statue. We found it!

Bobby Bowden THE Coach

Bobby Bowden
THE Coach

After that, we headed to the main administration building – Westcott. No sight better exemplifies Florida State University than looking down College Avenue, through the arch, past the fountain, at the beautiful, Gothic, brick façade of Westcott. It was a beautiful, autumn day. I couldn’t stop tears from welling up in my eyes and spilling over onto my cheeks. It had been a very long time since I’d gazed on that place that had meant so much to me. What amazed me the most is that the clock could just as well have been turned back to my first year at Florida State. The kids were wearing clothing very similar to what we wore (although, trust me, we never had anyone wearing “National Champion” anything in those days).

Westcott (Florida State University)

Westcott
(Florida State University)

Another View of Westcott

Another View of Westcott

From there we walked to one place that is deeply ingrained in my memories at Florida State University. The Sweet Shop! This was – at the time – a place where kids could get burgers, fries, hot dogs, milkshakes (oh, those milkshakes) and all kinds of ice cream delights. It’s changed some. Food is now mostly coffee, floats, and desserts with some wraps available. The interior has also changed some. It used to be crammed with tables and booths. It was unceasingly noisy. Now large sofas are arranged around a more open area with fewer tables. The booths remain, but the whole feel is much more studious and quiet – even at Homecoming.

The Sweet Shop - Then

The Sweet Shop – Then

 

 

 

 

 

The Sweet Shop - Now

The Sweet Shop – Now

The Sweet Shop Menu

The Sweet Shop Menu

 

 

 

 

After several hours of deep FSU immersion, we headed back to the B&B in Quincy and made dinner plans. I am going to devote a whole post to the wonderful B&B (The McFarlin House) and to restaurants in and around the Tallahassee area.

 

Tomorrow was going to be a big day! We planned to spend the entire day walking the campus, seeing the sights, and reminiscing about my days as a student at Florida State University.

 

Remember, I really love to hear your comments. Just click on the “Comments” link and let me know what you think. Also, let me know if there’s something you’d like to hear more about.

 

Looking Forward to “Seeing” You Here Next Time on Colmel’s Blog!

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Finishing a Basement

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

 

Part of the reason I wasn’t blogging from mid-summer until recently was that we were busy “finishing” our basement.

Ta DAAA!

Ta DAAA!

Those of you who have been reading my blog over the years know that we moved to Michigan in August of 2003. After looking at what seemed like a hundred houses, we found the house that I love. We are set in the woods and our back-yard is adjacent to a Metropark. (For those of you not familiar with Metroparks – and I wasn’t until we started visiting Jim, Jim’s family – they are large natural areas that are maintained to continue to be as natural and unspoiled as possible while still providing outdoor recreation. Some of these parks have golf courses, fishing, cross-country skiing, etc., I’ll probably do another whole post on the many Metroparks in our area.)

Here’s a link to local Metroparks: http://www.metroparks.com/ 

Man Walking Dog in "Our" Metropark (photo from Huron Meadows' website)

Man Walking Dog in “Our” Metropark
(photo from Huron Meadows’ website)

The part of the Metropark that we abut is not public access. It is only accessible to those of us who live by it and is only mildly maintained. This means that the birds and critters who live back there are generally undisturbed. There are no motorized vehicles allowed, which makes it nice and a perfect extended “back yard.”

Our Home in the Woods

Our Home in the Woods

Getting back on track – I do seem to go off on tangents for those of you new to my blog – we found our home that was quite new, sitting in a beautifully treed lot (about 1.3 acres), with this marvelous park in the back. Considering we had four German Shepherd Dogs, the promise that we wouldn’t have very close neighbors who would be disturbed by barking was a necessity. Also having a large area that we could fence for the dogs to run was a requirement. I immediately fell in love with the surroundings, and once I walked into the house, I knew I was home. We looked out one of the living room windows that was next to the fireplace and saw a large deer looking in. That sealed the deal.

Zoe, Popcorn & Peanut

Zoe, Popcorn & Peanut

The house had a large, unfinished, walk-out basement which was something that we really wanted. It was every bit as large as the main level of the house and I envisioned building it into a pub with a large, separate workshop. It was already sectioned into two areas, so I figured we’d finish it in a couple of years.

 

A “couple of years” turned into 11. Somewhere in the back of our minds, I guess we always figured we would end up moving back south, so we kept putting off the time and the expense. After long talks and much consideration, we decided that we really do love our home and that it would be nearly impossible to find the same environment with all the outdoor amenities that we enjoy anywhere else. We decided to make this our home – forever. Now, we needed to complete setting it up the way we wanted so that we could enjoy all it has to offer.

 

The first order of business was to empty out the space we wanted to build into our “pub.” After so many years, the basement had become a catch-all. We had furniture that had come with us from Georgia that didn’t fit into the new space. We had boxes full of clothes that we hadn’t worn since we moved, and all kinds of just plain “stuff” that we neither wanted nor needed any longer. Luckily, we found resources to take all these items off our hands and would put them into the hands of those who needed or wanted them.

 

Once the space was empty, we took stock of the layout and determined what we wanted to use the room for. We knew that we wanted a wet bar, a half-bath, and a pool table. An area for a model railroad layout was also a necessity. Beyond that, I hoped we could add an area for a seating/sofabed and a large television. I had envisioned this basement so many times in my mind, but didn’t know if it would be workable in actuality.

 

Time to call a contractor. We were lucky that our first choice – a local man who we had met at local home shows – was available. Once he was able to look at our space, we were assured that we could, indeed, do everything with the space that we had hoped. We agreed on how we wanted everything set up and that was the starting bell.

Drywall Dust

Drywall Dust

If you’ve never been around construction when dry-wall was being installed, count yourself lucky. It’s a wonderful product because it makes instant walls when it’s attached to the stud walls, but then there’s the joint taping and joint compound. That part, again, isn’t so bad, but then they have to sand all the joinery flat so that all the seams are invisible when the paint goes on. That dust gets EVERYWHERE! That part of the project couldn’t be done soon enough to suit me.

I mean EVERYWHERE

I mean EVERYWHERE

While walls were being built, we made what seemed like a second home at the nearby home improvement center. That was actually lots of fun. I enjoy picking out paint colors, fixtures, faucets, flooring, furniture, and even sinks and toilets. I also became well-acquainted with many of the online and brick-and-mortar home decoration retailers.

 

Without going into detail of every phase of the construction, after months of construction, decorating and arranging, our “pub” was ready to go. We found excellent craftsmen locally. Virtually every person who worked on our project was local – living within 10-15 miles of our house.

Most Important Addition

Most Important Addition

One of the most important purchases was the pool table that both Jim and I so dearly wanted. Luckily for us, one of the top pool table companies in the country (Pro Billiards) is nearby. We found the exact table we wanted on-line and made arrangements for them to install the table when the work was complete. This has proven to be one of the best purchases we’ve made over the years. We really enjoy playing pool every weekend and sometimes during the week.

Wine Bar with Neon Poster Above

Wine Bar with Neon Poster Above

We were really lucky to find some really cool neon lights and posters. They really make the space!

Cream Poster (Jim was at this concert)

Cream Poster (Jim was at this concert)

Detroit Rock Festival Poster

Detroit Rock Festival Poster

I was so happy to get all my Secretariat artwork out of the shipping crates it had been in since leaving Georgia all those years ago. I now have my Secretariat corner. I think it looks terrific! What do you think?

Part of my "Secretariat Corner"

Part of my “Secretariat Corner”

Other portion of "Secretariat Corner"

Other portion of “Secretariat Corner”

Here’s the bar! The lighted shelving on the wall is actually the top of our hutch. We didn’t have room for the top upstairs in the dining area, so it had been sitting in the basement for years. It’s absolutely perfect for this purpose. I couldn’t have found anything better if I’d looked.

Bar with Neon Poster & Cabinet

Bar with Neon Poster & Cabinet

Liquor/Glass Cabinet (Used to be Part of My Dining Room Hutch)

Liquor/Glass Cabinet (Used to be Part of My Dining Room Hutch)

The half bath has the neat pump-style faucet I’d wanted ever since I first saw that style in a log home we’d visited several years ago.

Half Bath

Half Bath

 

"Pump" faucet (Isn't it Cool?)

“Pump” faucet (Isn’t it Cool?)

The workroom is slowly getting organized. Once that’s in order, I can get back to my stained-glass projects and Jim can get his workbench pulled together. That’s a necessity to begin the next step.

 

The train area is our next project. Jim has been collecting rolling stock for years. The plan now is to build the benchwork that the layout sits on. I think we’re going to have a wonderful time building the layout with the scenery (trees, bushes, rivers, bridges, etc.) and making our own little H/O-scale world. I’ll be sure to blog about that once we get that in progress.

 

Looking Forward to “Seeing” You Here Next Time on Colmel’s Blog!

Cinder(ella)

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

After a long absence, I’m back. Work can put a real crimp on blogging, but I love my job and the people I work with, so I try to find a balance. In the transportation industry, things get really crazy for several months before Christmas, so work necessarily had to jump to the fore. I hope that I’m finally going to be able to get my blog rolling along again with new posts and updates to old stories. I hope you will hang in with me and follow along.
I wrote about losing our sweet Sydney last August. What I haven’t written about is the message we got only a few weeks after she went to the Rainbow Bridge. Kristin Bright from Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue got in touch with me to tell me about a wonderful, older girl that had come to be with their rescue.

Cinder (the day she arrived at SWMI Rescue)

Cinder (the day she arrived at SWMI Rescue)

 

Cinder - Skin and Bone (Day She Arrived at Rescue)

Cinder – Skin and Bone (Day She Arrived at Rescue)

2014-10-24 12.25.50

This gal had come in with another dog – a male – from an owner who had some severe medical issues and was going to have to go into assisted living. Neither of his dogs could go with him. It was obvious from the photos, that “Sinder” had not had proper care for some time. She was painfully thin, had some severe flea dermatitis, had hard callouses on her legs, had virtually no fur on her tail, and her toenails were incredibly (grotesquely) long. I don’t believe it was from lack of concern, rather lack of ability to do anything.

Grotesquely Long Nails (Photo taken day she arrived at Rescue)

Grotesquely Long Nails (Photo taken day she arrived at Rescue)

Kristin told us that she immediately thought of us as we had experience rescuing older dogs. She knew we were missing our Sidney and had room in our home and hearts for another dog. In case you’re relatively new to my blog, we had adopted eight previous German Shepherds – including Sydney – and fostered two others. Kristin told us that this girl was a real sweetheart and needed a loving home to help her bloom and get back in shape.

Beauty and Nobility Shone Through

Beauty and Nobility Shone Through

Maybe it was the nobility in her lovely face. Maybe it was the obvious need for a furever home. Maybe it was because we know how hard it is to place a dark-colored dog – especially an older one. Maybe it was just that both Jim and I hate the idea of a sweet, old dog not being with a loving family, but we immediately told Kristin that we would bring Bear and Dolly for a visit. If all went smoothly, we would adopt Sinder.

Despite All the Ills, Beauty and Sweetness Shown Through

Despite All the Ills, Beauty and Sweetness Shone Through

Before we could visit, Kristin had Sinder spayed. (Yes, we’re pretty sure she had been used for breeding.) At that time, while she was under, the vet cut and cauterized her nails. They were so long and misshapen that they had to be done under anesthesia. She had several baths with medicine for her skin and coat. She was on her way back to health.

The Day We Met & Brought Cinder Home

The Day We Met & Brought Cinder Home

As is obvious, the visit went very well. Dolly is an in-your-face kind of girl (although she’s finally learning to relax a little). She’s like one of those women who get right up in your face and talk very loud. She’s not at all malicious, she just grew up on the streets and had no manners. Even that didn’t faze good, old Sinder. (You’ve probably noticed that there are two spellings of her name. She was turned over to the rescue as “Sinder.” We changed the spelling to “Cinder” to match her coloration.)

Silly, happy girl. Cinder VERY much a part of the family

Silly, happy girl. Cinder VERY much a part of the family

Now Cinder is blossoming (Cinderella?). She gained the badly-needed weight. Her coat is shiny and full. Her tail looks like it should, and her dermatitis is long gone. She’s a happy, quirky dog. I say quirky because she’s of the opinion that every toy that comes into the house belongs to her. It’s rather comic, and it’s a good thing both of the other kids are easy-going. I wonder if she ever had a toy prior to coming to live with us. She’s also not good with small dogs or cats. That doesn’t matter at all to us as we don’t have either. As it turns out, Kristin knew we would be a perfect fit. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Cinder with Her Lovely Coat and Tail

Cinder with Her Lovely Coat and Tail

 

Such a Pretty, Sweet Girl!

Such a Pretty, Sweet Girl!

Sweet Cinder (ella?)

Sweet Cinder (ella?)

Below is the link to the Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue. Please cut and paste it into your browser. Kristin does amazing things with very short funding and assistance. If you are in Michigan or close state and are considering adopting a new family member, you might want to see who is available. If you are considering making a financial donation to a tax-deductible charity, you might want to consider SWMGS Rescue.

http://www.swmigermanshepherdrescue.com/

 

Looking forward to “seeing” you here on Colmel’s Blog!