Chilly Hill Fun

December 10, 2017

Chilly Hill Fun

We’re usually busy on the weekends.  Because of an unexpected break, we discovered we could go to the bayfront to watch the boats parade by dressed up in Christmas lights.

So, Mom, sisters, cousin, and brother all gathered into the van (we had to go pick one sister up from her event to join us!) and made our way to the free “nights of lights shuttle” parking area.  This was my first time using this service, and it was fantastic!  We arrived at the bus stop (county health department) about 4:30pm.  The girls played “rock, paper, scissors” and softly sang along to the Christmas songs while Lucas announced the passing of every bus, big truck, and string of Christmas lights; usually adding “we on a bus, Mom!”  We were at the parking garage drop off & did the short walk to the fort to arrive just before 5pm.

At that moment, although it was Florida chilly (low 60s) the wind chill wasn’t too bad.  I kept reminding the girls to put on their jackets (which, like most younglings, they had tried to “forget” both at home and in the van).

Four girls and Lucas rolled down the fort hill (Lucas actually rolled in the flat dirt, much to the entertainment of his older sisters), ran about playing some version of “Tag” with any other child who crossed their path, and periodically bounced to the older girls’ perch on the bayfront wall asking, “are the boats coming yet?”

Kimberly, Jaquline, Jillian, and Anastasia spied a Fire Department boat with red lights and a Police boat with blue lights that appeared to be racing!  They each cheered for their favorite color – blue won.  But the red one stayed right in front of our spot so Lucas yelled “Hi, red fire boat!” almost every time he glanced that way for the next 20 minutes.

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Finally, the boats started to line up.  It was nearly 6pm and the temperature was reading low 40s with 30s wind chill!  The girls were huddled together like ducklings next to mom while Louis turned into an “emperor penguin” wind barrier.

The boats were beautiful!  (I have to get a camera that takes good night pictures!  Everything after dark was blurry.)   The first was a pirate ship!  The cannon from the fort fired three shots!  The girls claimed the pirate boat fired back… they were too cold to duck and cover.  Then came the gingerbread-cookie boats.  Anastasia and Jillian decided they tasted good and began to make chomping noises and say “yummy boat” in deep voices.  By the time the neon purple one circled to the far side, the girls were frigid and when Anastasia said, “can we please go to the warm bus?” Lucas added, “bye bye boats!” and we started back.

We also had to get Christina back to CAP before 8pm!

After the fastest .7 mile family walk with Louis timing (aided by a sturdy double stroller), we boarded the warm bus and sang songs while Jillian and Anastasia goofed off and Lucas reminded everyone about each boat he had seen.

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We got Christina back in time.  Before we got home, only Mom and Rebeccah were still awake.  So we will leave you as we snuggle with the sleepies on the couch and start watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” to end our perfect day!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

New Story Release!

October 30, 2017

New Story Release!

Welcome to the ninth book in the “Five Alive: Stories of the Funny Sisters” series.  The title is “Happy Hurricane Helpers.”

Following Hurricane Irma’s attack on their town in Florida, the sisters join with their neighbors and help clean up.

Hurricane Irma was a powerful storm that did reach category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale (over 155 mph).  Hurricanes usually decrease in power as they travel over land.  Hurricane Irma had traveled almost straight up Florida’s peninsula from the Keys.  When this storm hit Saint Augustine, it was a category 1 storm (75 to 95 mph).

In coastal areas like Saint Augustine, most hurricane damage is caused by flooding.  The strong winds can fell huge trees, rip debris off houses, throw limbs through windows, and cause heavy damage as well.  Trees falling on power lines caused the sisters to be out of power.  For more information about hurricanes in general, see “Hurricanes,” one of my Home-Edge Readers!

For now, how about a preview of two scenes from “Happy Hurricane Helpers!

Kim awoke this morning before the sun even started to turn the edge of the sky pink.  Last night, the power had gone off and the sisters had camped out in their sleeping bags under the huge, sturdy wooden table in the safe room where there were no windows.  Last night they had heard the deep rumbling that sounded like standing next to train tracks when the train raced by.  Last night Hurricane Irma had hit Saint Augustine. 

   As soon as the tree on the dirt road was clear, Tina, Becky, Kim, Ellen, and Jill followed Mom and Daddy and started helping with limb cleanup.  Some of the Tree family kids were out cleaning limbs too.  Two other children from a house down the paved road joined in the fun.  The Tree men had left a trail of sawed-off branches scattered where the big trees had fallen.  They had stacked big round stacks of trunk wood by the road because those were too heavy for little kids.  But the branches were perfect for kids! 

   Six-year-old Kim flexed her muscles. 

   “I can drag this BIG one to the road!” She challenged, dragging a limb to the edge of the road. 

   “I got a bigger one!” said Tina. 

   Becky and Ellen laughed.  “We are doing teamwork!”  Ellen announced.  She was four and her blankie was draped over her shoulders like a boa.

   “Me too!” Jill called.  Jill was only two but she loved to help.  She had a two-year-old-sized branch and was making funny faces as she fought it to the edge of the road.

   “Let me help you, Jill,” offered Tina. 

   “No!” Jill yanked the branch and it flew out of her hands and right to the edge!  Jill stood up straight, brushed her hands on her jeans, and said, “I can do it myself!” 

   … (continued reading Happy Hurricane Helpers here!)

 

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

New Story Release!

September 27, 2017

New Story Release!

I’m excited about a new release!  This is the eighth book in the “Five Alive: Stories of the Funny Sisters” series.  The title is “Gale at the Ghost Town.”

In this story, the sisters walk through their town as a gale is descending upon them.  A gale is a storm with winds between 50 and 65 miles an hour.  It is a nautical and meteorological term.  Most people refer to this today as “tropical storm force winds” because a tropical storm is defined as a storm with sustained winds between 39 and 74 miles an hour.   (www.amol.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/A5.html)

The storm in this story is Hurricane Irma, a powerful storm that did reach category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale (over 155 mph).  Hurricanes generally lose power once they travel over land, so when Hurricane Irma hit Saint Augustine, it was a category 1 storm (75 to 95 mph).

Although the winds from hurricanes can be powerful, in coastal areas, it is usually the flooding that causes most damage.  Residents in low-lying areas try to protect their houses or businesses with sandbags to keep the water out.  For more information about hurricanes in general, see “Hurricanes,” one of my Home-Edge Readers!

For now, for a preview of “Gale at the Ghost Town” read below:

This day was when the colors on the radar map hid the entire Florida peninsula.  Schools were closed for the hurricane, but Becky’s school didn’t take a break.  She was nose-deep in her science book when Daddy announced, “Let’s go see downtown!”

“Yeah!” Shouted Kim, darting into the room in shorts and a workout top.  “I’m ready!”

Becky laughed.  It was cold for Florida summer and Mom came around the corner with “oh no you are not, young lady.  If you are going out in this storm, you are wearing long pants, a jacket, and socks and shoes.”

Jill, who was two, came to the shoe box and grabbed her Minnie Mouse flip-flops.  “Flip-floppies! Ready!”  She squealed. 

Tina, who was the biggest at ten, laughed and said, “but you need real clothes” and hopped like a bunny rabbit into the bedroom to find Jill’s clothes.  Pull-up-only-clad Jill followed in her best froggie-attempt at bunny impersonation.  

While the girls scrambled to find jeans and convince four-year-old Ellen that party dresses were not suitable for walking about in stormy winds, Mom pulled out the winter suitcase.  This big fat, suitcase smelled like Grandpa and baby powder.  It held all of the snow clothes.  They lived in Florida so this was the bag they grabbed in winter when they decided to drive to freezing climates like Middle Georgia.  The snow clothes were water resistant.

 … (continued reading Gale at the Ghost Town here!)

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

Our Historic City

July 14, 2017

Our Historic City

We live in the oldest continuing city in the United States.  Actually, our city is really a town – everyone here knows everyone else.  We are friendly and have fun.  On holidays, like the Fourth of July, our town comes together in a menagerie of period costumes, pirate ships, haunted buildings, and eager children.   Everyone turns into a child as they travel back in time in our town.  Our streets are narrow and the buildings old. (Of course, old only for New World buildings!) Trolleys, bicycles, and horse-drawn carriages maneuver the streets.  (Those riding in “New” automobiles must avoid these picturesque obstacles with care!)  Stately one-time hotels (one now a museum, the other a college) stand facing each other next to the Casa Monica (another old hotel) – the Lightner Museum and Flagler College have some amazing artifacts and display unique architecture.

One of my family’s favorite things to do in our town is to go downtown and to play tourist.  We park behind the Lightner Museum (free after 6pm, metered before then) and stroll around.  We explore the Museum and the children are entranced for at least fifteen minutes by the koi in the courtyard pond.  Sometimes a local anole (lizard that camouflages itself by changing between green and brown shades) shows up and that steals the show!  (As excited as they get, you’d think that was their first anole sighting!)

We waddle like Mom and Daddy Mallard with ducklings trailing behind through the colorful shops and cobblestones on St George Street.  Occasionally we comment on items in the windows, and we women like to stare dreamily at the artwork (especially the jewelry) displayed at the various galleries.  We might run into one of the local pirates!  Several pirates walk our streets at random times.

We cross to the Fort (precisely named, “The Castillo de San Marcos” National Monument) and they race up the hill (yes, what someone from any other region calls a mound of dirt, we flatlanders call a hill) and proceed with a game of “tumbledowners” (this is really just children rolling down a hill emitting high-pitched noises) while the adults walk royally along the sidewalk at the apex.  (No, we are more often seen rolling down the hill like maniacs too! But on only dark, moonless nights to avoid recognition.)

From here, we walk the bayfront.  The girls talk to the empty carriage horses, we watch the water carefully and spot dolphins, fish, and the occasional manatee, they jump from the walkway and back up, racing in the grass between the street and the upper walkway.

The bridge is opening!  Now the race is on! The girls love to watch the boats go through our Bridge of Lions (it is a drawbridge) and enjoy it even more if they are on the bridge when the boats go under.  (They wave as if the passing boats are putting on a parade – and most boaters wave right back.)  Walking the bridge is a highlight for the baby – this is because the pedestrian lane on each side of the bridge is protected by bars keeping baby from the water and a short concrete wall keeping the cars from baby.  Except for having to rescue the baby from the occasional bicyclist this spot is one long baby-proof runway!

Once on the Anastasia Island side, we walk around a bit.  I like to time our return to match the sunset.  This makes for some awesome views of God’s nightly artwork on the canvas of the sky.

Every time I walk downtown in my town, I am reminded of the quaint, simple beauty that attracted and has kept me here.  Saint Augustine is a beautiful place to see.  The friendly people make it a wonderful place to call home.

Thanks for reading,

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart