Tagged: 8 Random Things

July 2, 2007

QuionMonkey and Ybonesy are writing/blogger pals over at Redravine. As I understand it, I am supposed to write a blog about eight random items of interest about myself. In that blog, I am also to tag eight other bloggers to do the same in a blog about themselves and include these rules of the tag. I then leave each of them notes to let them know they have been tagged. 

Ybonesy explained the tagging process this way: “to share eight random things about ourselves. “Tagging” (aka a meme) is kind of like those chain letters you get via email — send this note to a dozen other people and you will get showered with joy — except without the prognostications of happiness, good fortune, or money if you follow through.” Does seem like an interesting way to get to know others and just have a fun writing challenge! So here we go…

My Eight:
1. I am not very random. I try to be. And I very much enjoy others who are random and spontaneous. I tend to plan and anticipate and organize and plan some more.

2. My right and left brains constantly battle. I am seriously tortured by the feuding between my business and artistic selves.

3. Liza and I have been enjoying life’s adventures together since 1984. Time with her, and the rest of our families, is my greatest joy.

4. I like making old things new or usable again. Consequently, I love rehabbing, yard sales, vintage stores, 50’s modern, old cars, historic architecture.

5. I try to look for the good in all things, but there are a few things I hate: cooked cabbage, lima beans, intolerance, being late and/or unprepared.

6. I lived in Key West, FL for 17 happy years.

7. I changed my college major 5 times. (art, education, journalism, business and merchandising… I just loved learning and I still do.)

8. I love things that sparkle. Yes the obvious like diamonds, crystals and jewels. But also, sparkling conversation, downtown raindrops in the evening lamplight, giggles, sunset reflections on ocean waves, snow and ice covered woods on a sunny midday, the eyes of healthy babies, coins, candlelight, fireworks, and enthusiasm.

There. Now here is who I am tagging:

RachelCreative

DarrellKlein

igblog

nacona77

josephbuffett

jessicatorrant

Happy blogging!


Down Town Rehabbing

May 29, 2007


We are rehabbers. My Dad taught us about real estate and helped me buy my first property… a triplex at auction purchased for $13,000. We rehabbed it, rented it, my mom help manage it and we later sold it for $30,000.

Liza’s favorite rehab was an old victorian in a somewhat questionable neighborhood that was our residence for 18 months. That turn-of-the-century, friendly spirit inhabited, cottage netted us enough profit to make our big relocation to Key West where even in the late 80’s it was difficult to find any kind of little cottage in the historic district for less than $100,000. But after 2 years of looking, we found one and purchased it for $95,000. Three thousand of our own money and a second of $17,000 held by the desparate sellers. Within two years we were able to refinance at better rates and pay off the seller. Fifteen years later we sold this property for over 6 times what we paid for it.  Dad, you were right. The harder you work the luckier you get!

Because property had gotten so expensive in Key West, we went on the week-ends to Ft. Lauderdale (where we have dear friends) and purchased another triplex, fixed it up, rented it, and sold it less than 2 years later for a significant profit. I love real estate. 

Now we are back to my hometown. For several years we have been watching our downtown area deteriorate as the mall, strip shopping centers and the suburbs developed. But as many small towns across America, our little town’s city center is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance. The wonderful old historic buildings are catching the eye of young investors, the train station is being renovated, local musicians play in open air gathering spots and new shops are opening.

When we decided to come back to East Tennessee (at least part-time), we decided we wanted to be a part of the refurbishing of our downtown. So we purchased the commercial building pictured above. It was built in 1905. Local historians report that it was first utilized as doctors offices.

In the fifties, a group of attorney’s occupied the upper floor while various retail businesses occupied the two small storefronts downstairs. When we first saw the upstairs with the huge skylights, and a room with 60 bookshelves built-in (law library) we knew we had found a new project and home. 

In the eighties, the upstairs was rented by a local radio station. Evidence of this still exists as one bedroom door is labled “studio A, Control room”. We purchased this building last year and have renovated the building with new heating/cooling systems, new wiring, new wood floors, new paint, and new plumbing. We made “studio B, Production” into a roomy and modern kitchen.

We like our downtown loft even with the 25 step walk-up and the parking challenges. We miss a yard and a garage, but are proud of our work and our contribution to preserving something historic and worthy. With the interior almost complete we are now working on the exterior… well, actually, Dave the painter guy is. In Liza’s photo above, Dave is pressure washing in preparation for paint.

Love the idea of taking something old or somewhat forgotten and giving it new life cycle. Our building will be starting over. Starting over as our new home in the city.

Warm wishes.


Rebel Barn, Pride or Hate?

May 15, 2007


My Liza came home with this disturbing photo today.  What is this rebel flag suppose to be saying to us?  Is it “southern pride” or is it “state’s rights” or is it some kind of backward racial comment made by someone clearly still residing in another time?

As a white female boomer born in the south, I am very proud of most things southern. Love my Mama and my family and my southern musical heritage. Love Tennessee Pride sausage gravy and homemade biscuits almost as much as a nice thick authentic southern accent. I call everyone “Y’all”. I love the climate: the four seasons of the Applalachian mountains, the tropical flavor of South Florida, the historical architecture of Savannah and the diversity of New Orleans and Atlanta. And I like the weather too.

I decided a long time ago that I would travel everywhere, but would not reside west of the Mississippi River nor north of Virginia. I am a southern girl. This doesn’t mean I am proud of every page of my southern history book.

Having said that, I am also a product of the sixties. I beleived Mr. King. Racial bigotry is the same to me as any other hate based thinking involving discrimination. Whether against women, gays, minority races, or religious/secular groups, it is all the same. I have always beleived that a lack of mutal respect for other humans and/or a lack of education must be behind this kind of narrow (if you are not like me then you must be wrong) thinking.

I am a product of Key West’s ONE HUMAN FAMILY philosophy.

So what does this rebel flag emblem suppose to mean to me? Or should it exist at all?


Gotham Writer’s Workshop????

April 4, 2007

In my new effort to improve my non-fiction writing chops, I am considering participating in an  writer’s group at Gotham Writer’s Workshop (NYC of course).  Have any of you experience with this organization? 

Their credentials seem in order.  I would prefer a writer’s group in person, but none are available nearby. 

A.D.D., I seem to be in need of structure and accountability. Perhaps a writer’s group would be the encouragement I need.

Kindred Spirit in Key West offered a writing course that I took a few years ago.  In one class exercise, Instructor Shelley had us write on writing.

“Writing for me is basically an involuntary reaction like throwing up, belching, or sneezing when I get black pepper up my nose.  I haven’t much choice.  I write so I can go on.”

“I remember after Hurricane Georges numbly shuffling through the days of clean-up: the heat, the muck, the worry. I even saw a man die. Run over on his bicycle by one of those monster debris removal trucks. There the stranger lay on the pavement: helmet removed, a single trickle of blood making a puddle near his dark, curly hair. The huge truck’s driver sitting on the curb with his head resting in open hands.”

“Somewhere into the second week after the hurricane, the storm raged on in my mind. I felt so heavy with the collective trauma. I needed to catalog all the impressions and feelings. To put them somewhere safe for keeping. I unloaded my weight onto the page. There. I could move on!”

My journals are filled with the births, deaths, and all varieties of change and drama. “I write when I feel. When I feel so strongly that I can not help myself, I write. I need the release. Writing makes me feel light and unburdened.  It allows me to go on.”

Shelley gave me permission to write not only when necessary, but just because I could. “I write in my notebook filled with loose leaf paper.  I also write on the white paper napkins while I drink White Russian milkshakes at Louis Backyard Bar. I also write on the back of K-mart receipts or a small notepad with “First State Bank… your hometown bank” printed in neat aqua letters across the top of each sheet.”

“But I am not a writer. Writer’s get paid and are interviewed by Matt or Al on morning TV. Writers get published. Writer’s get read.”

Thanks to blogging, I now have a forum for writing not just because I have to, but because Shelley said I can.

Warm wishes until next time. anitamorrell.wordpress.com


Without Keys

March 29, 2007

  LOT of antique vintage keys / key TOTAL of 16  

Vintagegoosehas a lovely online shop selling very cool vintage jewelry and other goodies like the antique keys above.  Seeing her photo made me think of an essay I wrote about three years before I “started over”. 

“Without Keys” was written while living in Key West but vacationing on Sebec Lake in Maine. Can you sense the career burn-out in my tone even then? Or just how desperately happy I was to be away from the A-type, three-careers-at-once, too-many-plates-up-in-the-air kind of life I lived…. hmmm.

WITHOUT KEYS by Anita Morrell

I know I am on vacation because I have NO KEYS.  No responsibilities and no keys.  No jingling metal bits to hang from the purple clip attached to the belt loop of my Dockers.  No mass clinking against my thigh as I walk.  No keys.  No responsibilities.  

Now let’s see. There’s the five keys it takes to get us into the business and two keys for our home.  There’s my office key, my car keys and safety deposit box key.  Scooter key, mail box key, pool key, bowling alley locker key.  I have none of them here. I am on vacation and have no responsibilities. 

You don’t need keys here on Sebec Lake.  The pontoon boat that floats us up and down the lake starts with the push of a button.  No keys needed to access the hiking trails or morning quiet.  No keys required for the black night sky and the brilliant stars that are suspended there. 

The keys are important in the real world but not here on Sebec Lake.  Those keys allow me a way to manage and protect the life that affords me this keyless vacation space in my year.  The keys are left behind with our most trusted friends.  They carry my weight just now.  Cause, you see, I am on vacation with no responsibilities and no keys. 

I once knew an Englishman who told me that he thought that cold St. Petersburg, Russia and Key West would make a delightful cocktail.  I now know what he meant.  As much as I love Key West (our balmy sun kissed island), I too love the northern woods and crisp morning air. I love the quiet of the country where the only sound I hear is the breeze rushing through the trees and the squeaking of the boat as it rubs against the dock. 

So I will drink this libation slowly this vacation week, trying to savor and observe and appreciate and feel all that I can.  I will enjoy having only the sweet responsibility of life on Sebec Lake.  Because I am on vacation and have no keys!


18 Years without Spring!

March 26, 2007

Spring has arrived in East Tennessee. The blooms on the Bartlett pear trees are bright explosions of whiteness. Liza photographed this golden forsythia just yesterday.



These misty blue hills of East Tennessee are my home again, although we have been living on the tropical isle of Key West for the past 18 years. During those years, we came home often… just never in the Spring. We came at Christmas or to escape the South Florida summer heat.

I have missed the mountain Spring time. Magically, the fields and meadows turn from a dull straw color to a bright kelly green. The front porches are edged by screaming yellow daffodils, and fragrant purple hyacinths. Tulips are popping up with loaded blooms ready to explode any day. Changes happen quickly from day to day. Soon it will be the redbuds and then the dogwoods as Spring layers persistently towards summer.

Snow birds and other tourists used to ask us if we missed the seasons in Key West since it was always sunny and warm there. Locals (Conchs) and residents for ten or more years (fresh water Conchs) knew that Spring very much existed there as verified by the glorious, reddish orange Poinciannas Trees that canopy the island every year.

Spring in Key West is subtle, sliding from balmy winter to the long sunny days of summer. And as much as I grew to appreciate the subtle changes of season and light in the tropics, this mountain Spring is coaxing out of me a new hope. A lightness of heart and a new interest in exporing and creating is tempting me. This is the Spring of my childhood, like the ones I remember as the REAL beginning to each of the happy years of my youth.

So happy new year everyone! And warm wishes until next time.

Disclaimer: My spellchecker on wordpress is not working. hehe.


Teleidoscopic Photography

March 6, 2007

Take one creative soul, give him a camera and a computer with some editing software and step back!  Teleidoscopic photography is born!  See Dan’s amazing work at tropicalwave.com  In his work you will see hints of the island he calls home.  But you will also see industrial elements and an amazing sense of color and rhythm. Did I say rhythm? That would be logical since Dan is also a bass guitar player and sound engineer with a recording studio called “Private Ear”.  A highly skilled, creative soul that dances to beats of his own vision.

Warm wishes to all.


Tax Prep Made Easy!

February 28, 2007

I know the perfect way to reduce the time, energy and money you spend paying Uncle Sam. Quit all your jobs. I did.

As part of Starting Over, step one was to chuck the 9 to 5 which was more like 24/7 as a experienced and producing real estate agent in a hot market.  Fortunately, this was done prior to the current real estate slump so I’m thinking the Universe had my back on that one.  From my ten years in real estate, I learned about money, investments, rentals, law, land, contracts, and problem solving. I worked with people from all over the world . I became friends with many of them.

From that business I also learned about ambition, greed, corruption, and how intensely one can feel for their clients.  Protecting the first-time-home-buyers with those stars in their eyes was gratifying. Seeing someone cash in an expensive property in favor of a simpler life made me happy. I loved helping people move on to the next exciting stage of their lives and I became witness to much “starting over”.

Step two, let go of a music equipment retail operation.  This was tough because it affected a lot of people besides myself. But it was my part-time gig (my able partner took care of daily operations) as bookkeeper (bill payer) that had become rote and sucked up hours weekly.  After 17 years, we had so much invested. Investments in friendships, associates, and the community were hard to leave. 

Step three: finish up all other part-time income producing projects like the triplex we were renovating on the week-ends in “our spare time”.

Now with out all of this eliminated from your life you will find your tax preparation will be reduced from 3 or 4 long days to a matter of hours.  I don’t mean the actual tax form preparation (that’s done by M. our accountant), I’m just talking about the amount of time it took to round up the contents of that huge box (papers, receipts, daily records, tax statements, inventory sheets, 1099s, bank statements, etc.) that had to be dragged to M’s office by appointment.

Now my tax prep time is quick and easy.  A slim brown mailing envelope contains all the info M. will need to determine our governmental tithe.  This is great. So why am I stalling?  Some things never change! 

Warm wishes until next time.


One Human Family

February 23, 2007

During my Starting Over process I was cleaning out a box from B.D.D. when I ran across a bumper sticker that read:  “Everyone in the world can share the Official Philosophy of Key West, Florida: All People are created equal members of ONE HUMAN FAMILY”.

It occurs to me now that I am not just missing my Dad but am also missing the life I had in Key West for 17 years. By letting go of my professional life, relocating our homes, and suffering a tragic loss – all in a very short time, I fear I have created for myself the perfect storm… but that is not the subject today.

Key West is a tiny island at the end of a chain of islands (Keys) that pushes itself out into the Atlantic Ocean like a plantling stretching for the sun. Only 90 miles from Cuba, Key West is the USA’s only tropical, frost free oasis to which one can drive.

That is exactly what we did in April, 1989.  Our 23′ long U-haul, plus towed Mustang, arrived in Key West carrying us, possessions to meet immediate needs and enough musical equipment to stock the little music store that we intended to open.

We are proud of our work there knowing that we filled a need that afforded us a modest income and passage into a truly amazing community of characters. The people in Key West are as diverse as those colored sprinkles that top your ice cream cone from the local DQ.

But no one there seems to notice.  It is a very live-and-let-live kind of place.  The movie star lives next to the retired or escaping corporate dude, who lives next to the bartender from Sloppy Joe’s, who lives next door to Cuban bakery.  The cheese toast and buche are enjoyed by everyone on the island including the conch on his way to a City job who lives next door to a household of hotel workers from Mexico.

My friend P. is a fifth generation conch who lives in a turn-of-the-century gingerbread eyebrow house and is a perfect example of the excepting nature of the island.  P’s family included a great, great grandfather from China who married an island girl.  Her family has co-existed with the Cuban folks who came in the 60’s (and still come today), with influxes of Irish immigrants, not to mention the eastern block invasion that happened after the cold war passed.  Even before P’s time, her family was exposed to travelers from all over the world including the US military that has occupied the island and still does today.  P. contends it is the island’s diversity that makes it the special place that it is and I agree.

Not too much “keeping up with the Jones” in Key West. Everyone wears shorts and sandals.  Some don’t have to work, and some have 3 jobs.  Some fill their days with artistic escape, volunteering, partying, some work 15 hours a day just so they can live the remaining hours in this magical space.  At the end of the day, all join together at the edges of the island to praise the Universe for producing yet another dependably stunning sunset over the crystal tipped waves of the Gulf of Mexico. 

I miss Key West, but I miss her people more.  I am a better person for having lived in Key West because I embraced and took with me the concept of One Human Family.  I wish I could put this understanding in a pill that the whole world would take.


First Exposure

February 11, 2007

anitaforweb3.jpg
Hi everyone! Welcome to my first exposure to blogging. 

 If we define ourselves in terms of how we spend our time, I have been: a college student, a department store buyer, a music store owner, a real estate investor, rehabber and Realtor, and now a want-to-be artist and writer. 

If we describe ouselves in terms of where we have lived, for me that would be the amazing blue hills of East Tennessee or the tropical sanctuary of Key West. I lost count with over a dozen residence changes since college days.

No matter how we define ourselves, whether by address or occupation, it is certain that life is not static and change happens.  Whether we change jobs, move to a new home, suffer some great loss like the death of a family member or friend, retire, start anything new or give up a bad habit, we have all had the feeling of starting from the beginning.  

For me just now, a new life cycle began with the death of my father.  We were close and the past seven months since his passing have been some of the most difficult days of my life.  I can’t help thinking in terms of B.D.D. or A.D.D., which is before Dad’s death or after Dad’s death.  I was a different person B.D.D.  A person that had never experienced the gut wrenching pain of loss. I know for me it represents one of those starting over moments.  Starting over without Dad. 

B.D.D. I could call on my father’s wisdom anytime I wanted, A.D.D. I can only guess how he would advise me.  B.D.D. I thought he would be around forever, A.D.D. I know none of us will be.  It’s a hard pill to swallow.

And now as a card carrying blogger, I wonder about the starting over experiences of others.  Let me know about your starting over experiences. Hope to update often. Thanks for visiting and warm wishes to all.

PS. E-mail me at anitamorrell at aol dot com
Also stop by our Art Blog at dailyart.wordpress.com
Please comment by clicking on highlighted “comment” at end of each blog. Thanks for visiting with me.