Thursday, April 24, 2014

Florida Livin'

John and I spent this past weekend visiting my mom's side of the family in Fort Myers, Florida. When I was young and we'd go to visit, we always stayed with my grandparents in my mother's childhood home, and it has always held a special place in my heart. These days, my grandparents spend the majority of the year in their home in the Virginia mountains, which means their home in Florida doesn't get lived in and cared for the way it should. For this reason, they're planning to sell it, so I felt it was important to take John there so he could see where so many of my favorite childhood memories took place.

The idea of someone purchasing their home, which is beautiful and full of character and memories, just so that they can bulldoze it and build a generic McMansion (which seems to be the most likely scenario) has brought me to tears. A few times. Visiting helped a lot with getting some closure, and I took some pictures to immortalize its charm. Since my grandparents are in the process of moving everything out of the house, some rooms are nearly empty and others are full of boxes and misplaced belongings, so the few pictures I took are just of small and random portions (like corners) of the house.

Their house sits on the Caloosahatchee River, and their yard has a sort of delightfully overgrown, jungle feel. It's not actually overgrown--really, it's nicely maintained--but it's so lush and green that it feels totally wild.

The view from their back patio

When I was young, I'd wake up each morning and come outside to find
my dad reading the paper right on the river next to this tree

They have the most beautiful sunsets!

The front of the house. Their windows swing out and have screens on the inside. No AC required!


Clearly you can't see much of the kitchen here--the point is that view!
I've always loved this stairway for some reason

One of the bathrooms

The upstairs hallway

The half bath

I know this picture doesn't look very spectacular, but those used to be exterior windows,
which were left in place when the porch was enclosed. I love the crown
molding and the breadboard ceiling, which are much sweeter in person.

This picture isn't all that glamorous--it's a shot of my grandfather's workshop, where we spent countless hours
making strange gadgets that only he could dream up

Here's his lathe, which he's turned dozens of wooden bowls on. Dozens may be a vast understatement.
This is the same lathe I turned my first bowl on, as well!
If you're unfamiliar with turning bowls on a lathe, here are just a few of the many that my grandfather has made.

The one in the very center is my favorite, followed by the one in the top left. Details like that
take an unbelievable amount of time and work!

In addition to their main house, they also own some land with a creek that runs through it about 30 minutes away. They built a very small, charming house on it in the 60s. This property is where one of my uncles married my aunt, and is also where I learned to drive many years before I should have been behind the wheel. (Shh. I won't tell if you don't.)


Look at those windows!

There's a loft where my three uncles used to sleep, while my mom got her own bedroom. Lucky duck

We ate some mulberries while we were out there. Yummm

This is just some random door near my grandparents' property that leads to somewhere mysterious.
I think it's somewhere amazing and beautiful, like a secret garden. John, on the other hand,
claims it goes to an evil lair. Boys...

Now, shall we get on to what we did other than stare at architecture? Meet my uncle Stephen.

I don't know what kind of knife that actually is, but let's refer to it as a
machete, because that's probably the only kind of knife I can name.

Why does my uncle have a machete in his mouth? Let's back up a sec. The Browns are a much more fun/exciting/adventurous group than I am. Seeing my husband up there on that teeny tiny platform made my risk-averse hear skip a beat, even though I've been up there a thousand times.

John just got a few inches taller...
Why is John standing on a giant platform? To jump off, of course!

John's first time on the bag swing

So, back to the machete. My uncle decided there were tree limbs that were getting in the way of the bag swing rope, so he scaled the tree to cut them down. I'm kicking myself for not taking a panoramic shot of how long the rope is, but it's a long way to the top. You can kind of tell in the picture below.

And in case you're wondering about how my risk-averse self was feeling as my uncle hovered over my husband with a machete in his mouth, I felt great about it.

Don't mind the fact that John's in a different shirt. I took these over different
days. Mah bad

My turn!

Woosh!

It's a shame you can't tell how high up I am in this picture... but it's high!

Aunt Kathie, Uncle Stephen, me, and John

In the name of tradition, which, if you know me, you know is very important to me, we started each morning at the bagel factory.

Best bagel I've ever had... ahhhhh

John was very sweet and learned how to make rubber band bracelets. Perhaps an Etsy shop is in his future? ;)

For Easter, we dyed some eggs. Sarah, Margaret, and Lili are my (not-so-little) little redheaded cousins.

My grandfather, Robin, my grandmother, Jan, me, and John
 
Me and my great aunt Susie. Isn't she beautiful?!

My grandfather and uncle were working on some device with unknown purpose in my
grandfather's workshop. During his waking hours, if he's not eating a meal,
he's guaranteed to be found out there

The gang went to a classical concert one night. Another one of my cousins, Emily, is in the top right.

Outside of the art center, which is where the concert was held, were these amazing
light installments that cast shadows all over the ground and the building

Ahhh, what a trip! I'm very glad we went. I somehow never managed to get a picture of us with my other aunt and uncle, Stacey and Stuart. Dang! Later on, I'll post about a DIY jewelry project I did with my aunt Stacey and you will literally think I performed magic. Seriously. I won't let you down.

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