Friday, April 26, 2013


...OR NOT TO FINISH, that is the question.


FINISHER- one who takes a stitched needlepoint piece and makes it into a finished and useable product, such as an ornament, pillow, stand-up doll, frame... the list could go on forever. 

The other day, while at work, I ran across a booklet advertising artwork in Key West. Toward the back of the booklet, I saw a needlepoint store. I was a little surprised to see a store here. I couldn't resist stopping by the store on my way to work yesterday morning. It is a small shop located in the ground floor of a beautiful house with a white picket fence. Very cute. 

The owner, Julie Pischke paints canvas and ships them all over the country. Her designs, as you can guess, have an island theme.

When asked, "Do you stitch?"... I told her of my history with needlepoint stores and finishing. I worked for Pocket Full of Stitches in Lubbock for 6 years, and was a finisher for 17 years. I closed my business a couple years ago, because I suffered burnout. Every year, the last three months before Christmas were a nightmare for me, because I was working another job also. Trying to make my Christmas deadline was very stressful, I didn't get much sleep, and could not enjoy the holiday season.

When I moved onto my boat, I threw away ALL of the photos of my work, my patterns and notes from my finishing business. I got rid of everything, because I vowed to NEVER finish again.

But, when she told me that she was interested in having a local finisher, my mind started racing... extra money! As I walked out of her shop and into the sunlight, the reality of a commitment to the store hit me. I walked to my bike talking to myself like many of the homeless I see wondering the streets of Key West.

Me: Lezlie, don't even think of getting back in the business.
Me: Yes, but it would be extra money. You said, just last week, you needed to make more money.
Me: But, remember how you dreaded your finish work? Remember?
Me: It wouldn't have to be that way. That shop is not that busy. There wouldn't be that much business...

So, see, I have this inner struggle going on. I wonder who will win?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Frozen yogurt, in 24 flavors. Yummy! I have some everyday. Smoothies, they are very good too. The first week I worked there, making smoothies scared me. Now, I think it's fun. Today, someone asked for a Strawberry Affair (strawberry yogurt, fresh strawberries & banana) with blueberries too. It was delicious! Oh yeah, we usually have a little more than will fit in the cup... we can't waste it!

Today, I had a group from Sweden come in and a man announced that it was his 60th birthday. After everyone made their own yogurt creation, complete with toppings and sauces, they sang "Happy Birthday" in English, followed by a song in their native language. This was a happy group, and upon their leaving, the gentleman handed me a miniature Swedish flag.

We get all kinds of people in the shop. Last week, it seemed as though most were French speaking customers. I hate it when I get that blank stare when I start my 'it's self-serve' monologue, it usually means they don't speak good English. That's when I start with a lot of pointing at things. At the register, it is common for a customer to not be real familiar with the U.S. currency, so they just hold out a hand full of coins, and I rifle through and find the correct change.

The shop is open from 11 am to 11 pm. I don't like to work the closing shift, because it usually takes us 45 minutes to put everything away and clean. That puts me getting home after midnight, and I'm not a night owl. I do better with an 'early to bed, early to rise' schedule. Lately, I haven't had to work the closing shift.

On my way home tonight, the moon was so pretty over the water, I had to stop and try to get a picture. The rustling of the palm fronds in the breeze and the sound of the waves was very soothing. There was a couple on the beach holding hands while gazing at the moon. She turned to him and wrapped her arms around him and they kissed. It was sweet.

And then there are those moments when you smile,  shake your head and think 'only in Key West'. Monday night, I was walking to the Jeep. As I pasted these three guys on the sidewalk, the guy trailing along behind the two, had a drink in one hand and his pants around his knees in the other hand. I summarized quickly that alcohol was involved. As I passed by, the guy having a wardrobe malfunction turned toward me and reassured me that he was okay. I laughed and replied, "Good, 'cause I was worried 'bout you."

Key West is a party town, there is no telling what you will see. Some bars do not close until 4 am. Amazingly, I have only had one beer in the last month. I'm going to have to step up my game... I live in Key West!!!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Those two extra wheels make life a little easier. My daughter and her family went out of town for a week, and didn't want to leave their Jeep Wrangler just sitting for that long. It could possibly become a temporary home for Mr. Homeless. Yeah, it has happened.

What have I done different with those two extra wheels... you ask? Well, I went to the grocery store, for one thing. I can't carry many groceries on my bike, and things tend to get smashed when I tie them down. And then, there's the rainy days. Bill was nice enough to put the doors and top on before he left. It is fun to drive without the doors too, but the driver's seat gets a little wet when it rains.

My next vehicle will be a Wrangler. I LOVE IT!!!! I would say that the Wrangler is the most popular vehicle here in Key West, right behind the scooter and bicycle. They are everywhere. The other day, I looked out at the parking lot, and saw two other Wranglers parked next to my ride.

After not driving for a few months, it feels a little awkward getting behind the wheel. Doesn't take long to get back in the rhythm of shifting gears. Today, I thought I would take it to work. I was closing, and it looked like it might rain. Silly me thought it would be quicker and easier, when in fact it was a nightmare and took the same amount of time. I drove around for 10 minutes, and still couldn't find a free parking space. I timed getting home, and found that it is just as quick on my bike.

Amy and Bill's Wrangler is easily recognized. Bill stenciled he and Amy's wedding date on the hood. On the back, there is the stick figure family. You wouldn't know it, but Bill is a Phillies fan... oh, you could tell? The last sticker was just added last week. The little girl is still in the oven, but will be done in August. I am very excited. The testosterone/estrogen levels were way out of balance in that family.

Monday, April 22, 2013


One person told me, "When you come to Key West, you have to bring him/her with you, because you won't find one here."

While I've been here in Key West, I've met several guys. Most were nice guys, friend material, but nothing more. The chemistry was just not there. Here was my experience with two of my 'online' guys:

One day I received a message from a guy, I will call Grinch (that's not his name, just who he looks like.) He saw my profile, noticed I was also from Texas, and wanted to say hello. In order to do this, he had to change his profile to 'non-smoker', because a 'smoker' couldn't contact me. His message started with these words, "...I know we are not a match, but I have a group of friends here I would like to introduce you to. Most are from Texas..." My reply started with, " You are right, we are not a match..."

I met Grinch and a few others at a bar to listen to the live music and have a few drinks. It was fun. I then joined this group of friends for a St. Patrick's celebration. It was fun and I had a great time. By the next outing, Grinch was telling me, "I'm crazy about you! We need to talk, I'll quit smoking!" This is the kind of situation I hate. Grinch is nice, but IT AIN'T HAPPENING!!!! To make a long story short, I lost that group of friends, and one of them was a lady I had been kayaking with. Bummer.

Then there was a nice looking guy we will call 'Sun-Worshiper'.  He has a nice house right on the water, complete with a pool table and hot tub. I went out with him on his power boat. While anchored, sunning with beer in-hand... he turns to me and says, "I wonder what the poor people are doing today?" First thought that ran through my head, "Sitting here with you on your boat."

Sun-Worshipper made that same comment again before days end. Few days later, he asked to see me before he left for a week stay in the Bahamas. I was busy and couldn't make time for him, and his response was, "REALLY? ttyl"  Never heard from him again. We are from different worlds.

I've been in contact with a few Captains, but never met. They have been off on a boat delivery, or live farther up the Keys and just haven't made it down here. But, they all three enjoy sailing. That's a big plus!

There were several first meetings, and once was enough for me. However, I did meet this one guy.... I've seen him many times now. We'll see what happens. Taking it slow, one day at a time.


If your idea of mass transit is a pontoon boat, 

you must be in Conch Country.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Key West will use any excuse to have a party or fun event. Today was day two of the ten day 31st Annual Conch Republic Independence Celebration.

With heels, wigs, make-up, and stylish dresses, some of Key West's famous female impersonators hit Duval Street for the annual Drag (queen) Race.  This group of entertainers put on a spectacular show. They always draw a big crowd and everyone had a blast. A few guys from the audience, unknowingly get pulled into the competition. It's all in good fun, and everyone has a good time.

The contestants run through the tires, in heels.

 ...then the contestant jumps in a cart....

...and is pushed by these scantly clad guys, weaving through orange cones to the finish line. 

Here is a link to one of the past year's event. 

Friday, April 19, 2013


On April 23, 1982, the Florida Keys seceded from the United States of America, and formed The Conch Republic. This was done in protest to the blockade on Hwy 1. The United States Border Patrol set up a blockade at the north end of the Keys to stop the flow of illegal aliens into America. Instead, this action practically paralyzed Key West and the Keys. The roadblock caused a backup of traffic for up to 17 miles at times. Hotels started to empty and deliveries were slowed or stopped completely. So, they protested, the American thing to do! To read the whole story, click here.

In the quest for recognition, the Honorable Peter Anderson, Secretary General of the Conch Republic has created "Official Conch Republic Passports".  Officially, the passports, Diplomats and Citizens, have been well received by 13 Caribbean Nations as well as Germany, Sweden, Havana, Mexico, France Spain, Ireland, and Russia. How awesome is that. I want one!!!

Today begins the 31st Annual Conch Republic Independence Celebration. There are many events, including the Drag (queen) Races on Duval Street, Bed Race, Conch Shell Blowing contest, and the infamous battle in Key West harbor where Conch Republic vessels toss stale cuban bread at Coast Guard vessels and each other in a mock secession.

The celebration activities will last for ten days, with a different event each day. I will cover as many as I possibly can. Party every night for ten days... I will do it for you guys, it's my duty.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


When my daughter learned she was relocating to Key West, she tried to describe the island to me. Her best, and most accurate sentence was, "It's an island of misfit toys." Now that I have been here almost three months, I do agree. And will add, I fit in perfectly.

Someone else describes Key West this way:
Key West cannot be 'put in to a box'. I suggest that Key West is one GIANT box filled with 'un-boxed' people and no bubble paper to absorb the shock of them occasionally crashing into one another or the sides of the box.

Key West (KW) is different for everyone. I have met people that have moved here after falling in love with the Keys during a visit. For many, it's the fishing. They go out nearly every day. For others, it's the laid back life style. And others, simply the weather, water and view.

A person born on the island is referred to as a Conch (pronounced konk). A Conch is proud of his/her heritage, and they will tell you to which generation they belong, "I'm a fifth generation Conch....". In Texas, when a baby is born into a family, it is common to display a sign in front of the home announcing the new arrival. It's not done as much now, but in the past, a conch shell was placed on a stick in front of the home of a new baby born in KW.

My grandson, Rocket, missed being a Conch by 6 weeks. This August, my daughter is expected to deliver a baby girl. She will be a first generation Conch.

It is not cheap to live here. Properties are expensive, groceries are not cheap. We do not have a WalMart, nor Target. is our friend. Many businesses give 'local discounts' to help out their neighbors. The first Sunday of every month, many of the museums and tour businesses are free to the locals. I plan to take advantage of these discounts.

The temperatures are rising, and the sun is intense. My tan is a nice golden brown. The sunscreen and lotion I was using, were heavy and made me sweat more, thus removing the sunscreen. I found a moisturizing face lotion by Eucerin that I love. It is SPF 30, and my skin is not looking dry. I can be outside for hours and my nose does not turn red.

Today is my day off. I will do my usual running around; bank, Publix, then maybe the beach... or pool. Maybe get a new swimsuit? Yeah, that's the ticket!

Sunday, April 14, 2013


April 14, 2013. I've just finished dinner and stretched out on the couch watching a movie with my roommate, when my phone rings. It's Mako, my former crew mate on s/v Kairos. We exchange a few text occasionally, but never phone calls. This is odd. I answer and ask him how he's doing. Mako asks if it would be possible for me to come pick him up, as he has disembarked s/v Kairos.

I remember, just two months ago, when I was standing on the dock, all my belongings in a dock cart, with the feeling of both relief and 'oh crap, now what'. Mako didn't know anyone else in the area, and he knew I would understand his situation... and I did. Without hesitation, I grabbed my bag, borrowed my roommate's vehicle and drove to Marathon, FL, where they docked.

Mako and I crewed together during the crossing of the Gulf of Mexico on Kairos. I had worried somewhat about Mako sailing off with the inexperienced captain. The possibilities of bad situations, are endless. I am glad he is off the boat, and safe.

Kairos has been repaired and is ready for the trip to the Bahamas, but the captain is not. I don't know how he will ever be able to keep crew on the vessel, unless he changes his behavior. This is the third crew member to leave him. Most people don't put up with the ranting of a madman and being belittled. It will be interesting to read the next update of the voyage on the captain's website. His account of the Gulf crossing did not include me... oh wait, he did use my photos in the story, without giving me credit. Will he erase Mako also?  We'll see.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Conch (konk) - a person born on the island.

A few days ago, I received an email from one of my loyal followers. In my reply, I apologized for not posting much lately. My excuse, was that I had not done anything worthy of reading. It was brought to my attention, "Your daily routine is different than any one else so tell us about your day. We will all be happy to read it."

I realize many people here, we start to take things for granted. So, l will show you Key West, Florida. I live on the Atlantic side of the island, and while standing on my balcony, I can see the water. The island is small, and parking is a problem. Many, like me, use a bike or scooter for transportation. My ride to work, is along a bike path next to the water and the beaches.
Along my way to work.

Spring Break in Key West lasts longer than one week... more like 6 weeks! It is starting to wind down, but while riding past the beach, I still smell the intoxicating aroma of sun tan oil. Today, I stopped at the Snack Shack and had a Crab Cake Sandwich.  It was very good!

My new T-shirt.
This past weekend was the kick-off of the KEY WEST FISHING TOURNAMENT. I was invited to attend the Captain's Meeting, and then the Awards Ceremony. It was a new experience for me, and I came away with a new long sleeved T-shirt and a few new friends. Fishing is a big thing here, and I am looking forward to the day of fishing I have been promised. I'm excited about it. I was asked, "What is the biggest fish you have ever caught?" My response, "About 4 pounds." He just grinned real big. I took that to mean, we could possibly catch something much bigger.

Nice bike path along the Atlantic side.
My job. How many places let you go to work: no make-up, shorts, tank top or T-shirt and flip flops? This is the common attire in Key West, and I love it.

As you know, I ride my bike everywhere. The island is not very big, but the miles I ride each day add up. To work and back is 9 miles. If I work a split shift, that number doubles. Sunday, I rode a total of about 13 miles. I have noticed that my endurance is much better now, and my legs are so much stronger and leaner. By summer's end, I might be a size or two smaller!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


My friend says, "Dating at our age, is like shopping at the outlet mall. They are all dented and scratched." There is a lot of truth in that statement. We are all a little dented, scratched and carrying some luggage. This luggage can be as small as a carry-on, or as big as a steamer trunk, but we all have at least one.

As most of you may know, I have been single for a while now. During this time, I have tried online dating. When you open an account, the first thing they ask you to do, is come up with a catchy username. CRAP, I am not very creative! Then you have to write an essay about yourself, and then tell what you are looking for in a guy. It's not as easy as it sounds. Next, you need to find recent, flattering photos of yourself, preferably doing 'fun' things with a big smile on your face. Okay, I spent the better part of two evenings doing this. I didn't know it was going to be such an undertaking!

I'm going to get on my soapbox for a minute, so everyone just bear with me. The whole purpose of being on a dating site, is to find someone to spend time with. So, why do these guys from 5 states over, send 'flirts'. Okay, that's another thing I have a problem with... a 'flirt' is a pre-written sentence that is send to someone with the click of a button. Yeah, that's very personal, and it makes me want to send you a reply. If there are no pictures, forget it, you will not get anything back from me.

Having a profile on a dating site, is time consuming and very distracting. You can waste so much time perusing the profiles. Some profiles are very clever, but most all sound the same. Pictures, who wants to know what you looked like 15 years ago? This is today, what do you look like TODAY? I understand that some people don't have many pics of themselves, because I am one of them, but I managed to scramble around and find a half dozen from the last couple of years.

I don't have horror stories from my 'first meetings', but I am very selective and cautious. I don't meet every guy that sends me a message. I had dinner with a man recently, and half-way through the meal, he asked if he looked like a stalker or something. Instead of letting him pick me up, I told him I would meet him at the restaurant. That's just the way I am, until I get to know someone. I don't want them to know where I live.

Please don't let me dissuade anyone from trying online dating, it can be a good thing. I have met quite a few guys that are very nice people. In fact, a couple that I met, are still very good friends. But, if you choose this road, just keep in mind that it is a rocky road. The popular phrase still rings true: You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your handsome prince. I know of several who have found the love of their life through a dating site, it can be done, it's just not easy.

With Chap Stick in hand, my search continues for my handsome prince.