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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our ninth calendar year
    PCR #442  (Vol. 9, No. 37)  This edition is for the week of September 8--14, 2008.

The Fight For Sanity in Insane Times  by William Moriaty
"Burn After Reading"  by Mike Smith
DVD Grindhouse: "Murder Mansion" (1972)  by Andy Lalino
If I Had An Idea...  by Corey Castellano
DVD Review: "Psychotronica Collector’s Set"  by ED Tucker
The Star Wars Years  by Chris Woods
Bucs Drop One To The Saints .... Rays Falling From Grace? Can’t Be! .... Stick A Fork In Him .... Week 2 NFL Picks  by Chris Munger
Toga, Toga, Toga, Toga .... Happy Birthday SAG  by Matt Drinnenberg
My Dad .... And The Oscar For 1997 Should Have Gone To...  by Mike Smith
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The Fight For Sanity in Insane Times

I'm not going to beat around the bush here. I am not happy at all with how things have gone down (and I really mean gone down) with my 1920 Cracker house here in Plant City.

As readers of this column may recall, back in November 2007 it was determined that years of termite and dry rot had resulted in the house being structurally unsound. After appearing before Plant City's Historic Review Board, restoration had started on the house in February 2008. Due to the severity and cost of repairs needed to complete the work, a sizable loan would be required. As it turns out, there was only enough liquidity to complete restoration of the most serious structural failures. As there was no longer cash to furnish continued construction, all reconstruction of the house ceased on the first week of April 2008. Since that time the house has sat lonely and vacant with no south wall left and all of the siding immediately below the attic removed.

Needless to say when a hurricane, let alone a strong wind gust from a typical summer thunderstorm, is within 500 miles of here I freak out to the max wondering if my home sweet home will soon be joining Dorothy and Toto. Where I thought Karen and I would have moved back in, we are still waiting to finalize a loan that will cover the rest of the work needed - - and this whole time since February our cost of living has more than doubled due to having to relocate to an apartment until the work can be finished.

Little did we know the housing market and economy would go bust making securing a loan, even with our very good credit rating, nigh impossible. One company we tried to secure a loan with dangled us around for over two months until we had to drop them for less than ethical business practices. We have been pre-approved with a second company but everything connected with this has been agonizingly slow and tedious.

My two trips a week to Tampa are a thing of the past. I find myself living more like I did twenty-five years ago having to give up many of things that brought me joy but can not now afford.

Well, enough of my belly-achin'. At least Karen and I and our two cats are in reasonably good health, and so far our job situation does not appear to be imperiled.

So just what does it take to keep my sanity in such an uncertain and insane time?

For starters there's my faith in God. A faith that reassures me that if it be His will, no problem I encounter is too daunting or big for Him to get me through, and that if His answer is no, He will still always mean all the world to me

Since God has blessed me at the ripe old age of 53 with reasonably good health, I find myself still jogging. Due to our new address at possibly the nicest apartment complex in Plant City (the Village at Park Road which is only five blocks from the Plant City Church of Christ that I attend), I find myself jogging to old familiar loves at different locations.

Botanical gardens are one of those old familiar loves, and a new "Teaching Garden" (PDF file) was installed over the past few months at the Plant City campus of Hillsborough Community College which is our next door neighbor to the north. It's a relatively short jog of only about 10 minutes from the apartment, but is only open between 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM.

Further north at Mike E. Sansone Park I discovered a second old familiar love, a paved nature trail that runs in the middle of a fresh water swamp commonly referred to as a "Bayhead". These seasonally flooded lowlands are called "Bayheads" due to the abundance of Sweetbay Magnolia (M. virginiana) trees. Common throughout all but the southernmost tip of Florida, these are woods where the silvery undersides of the Sweetbay leaves contrast so beautifully when breezes make the trees appear to almost glow when they are sunlit with a dark summer thunderstorm in the background. In Central Florida, Bayheads also contain other water loving trees and shrubs such as Red Maple (Acer rubrum), Florida Elm (Ulmus americana var. "floridana"), Tupelo Gum (Nyssa sylvatica var. "biflora"), Dahoon Holly (Ilex cassine) Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera) and Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis). In addition, they are great for fire fly watching from spring until late summer.

Lastly, we have a beautiful open view to the west with our porch looking over a retention pond that actually frames and affords us with some spectacular sunsets, so in retrospect things could truly be worse - - a lot worse. And then in what seems like the worst of times I remind myself to count my many blessings and then I find myself humbled once again to the person that I need to be.

The gate at the Teaching Garden at the Plant City campus of Hillsborough Community College is a ten minute jog from my apartment.An overview of the newly opened Garden which features native trees, shrubs and wildflowers as well as grasses, roses and an array of other types of plants commonly found in Central Florida gardens.
The paved nature trail that traverses through the Bayhead swamp immediately north of the Mike E. Sansone Park in Plant City, a fifteen minute jog from my apartment.One of the most common trees in freshwater wetlands in the Eastern United States is the colorful Red Maple. Ranging from southern Ontario and Quebec to just north of Miami, Florida, the specimen is seen in typical summer leaves with their glowing red foliage.
A close up of the Bayhead namesake, the Sweetbay Magnolia, seen here in full fruit, Sweetbay natively occurs in freshwater and brackish wetlands from coastal southern Massachusetts southward to Dade and Monroe Counties, Florida.One of several tannic acid filled blackwater creeks that run through the Bayhead swamp north of Mike E. Sansone Park.

A fiery, beautiful sunset as seen from the back porch of our apartment in Plant City.

"La Floridiana" is ©2008 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.