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January, February, and March 2014 Journal

Here I am in the ‘Goldilocks Chair’ again. ‘Which chair is it this time?’ you may wonder. Well…April in Florida is PERFECT…so the Goldilocks Chair is on the curved shaded-yet-sunny 104-year-old Victorian veranda of my favorite old house…The 1910 Inn.

It has been the most wonderful winter (yes…colder than usual for Florida…but, oh, my…not nearly as cold as most of our country experienced this winter), I have met the most wonderful people, and I must put my thoughts onto paper…because they are ready to burst from my head. I fervently took care of some early morning tasks around town, worried that the thoughts and words that needed to be written would flee before I could get to the Goldilocks Chair. Does that ever happen to you? As silly as it may sound…it is a bit stressful, actually.

Often the Sesame Street song lyrics of “People In Your Neighborhood” fill my head and make me smile, as I encounter: Marty at the post office, Tracy who delivers the mail to the inn, Agnes and Nancy at the bank, the shop owners along Tarpon Avenue (where I love to comb through their treasures in search of antique furnishings for the century-old inn), the early morning cashiers at Wal-Mart, the smiling and helpful ladies at the Publix bakery, Irini at the Greek bakery, the knowledgeable men at Ace Hardware. My errand days are busy, yet only take me as far as one mile from the inn. Some additional ‘people in my neighborhood’ are also dear friends, Pauline, Maria, Margo, Loretta, Athena, and my mama, Sylvia, who delightfully appear at the Side Garden’s kitchen door. That is one of the great things about Tarpon Springs.

Oh, the darling succession of events at the inn! On January 6 the inn hosted an Open House for the Epiphany celebration. It was a rainy, cold day…we thought…until we encountered truly cold weather the next day. Things are put into perspective when that happens…we were suddenly thankful that we had the rainy ‘slightly’ cold day for the cross divers on the 6th. It was special to have Veronica and Tom come stay at the inn for a second Epiphany. Remember…they were the inn’s inaugural guests in 2013. And Sarla and Ronald came back, too, and brought sweet Christina from Greece with them. And Mary and Jim returned, too. Everyone becomes ‘family’ at The 1910 Inn.

In February the inn again hosted the annual Burnette Society Reception for Helen Ellis Memorial / Florida Hospital North Pinellas. It was an enjoyable evening with a delicious feast and libations donated by The Original Mama Maria’s Restaurant and B-21 Liquors. Thank you, Mike, Costa, and Robert.

Baby showers…bridal showers…a celebration of life / memorial…birthday gatherings…almost one venue event each weekend. There is something charming, warm, and inviting about The 1910 Inn. It feels like ‘home’ to many people. Such love abounds at events at the inn. Remember Ava's Aunt Mary had a baby shower at the inn last fall? Last month Mary sent me a photograph of her beautiful baby boy! I am smiling now, as I picture his darling face!

One day a kind woman, named Rosanne, called regarding winter accommodations for her husband, John, and herself. Recently retired from interesting and long careers, their 6-week stay at the inn’s apartments extended into 4 ½ months…as they escaped the Boston winter. That is how the winter months were at the inn…the colder it got ‘up north’…the more the phone rang at the inn. Roger and Diane, my Indiana farmer friends, returned for a second winter visit, prior to their March planting season. They are such gentle souls. They became friends with Rosanne and John, and the four of them visited restaurants and the zoo together.

Lucille! She returned, also. And her grown daughter visited her, too. Lucille is quite the master gardener, and she enjoys the inn’s gardening potential. Her eyes would light up as she described which plants pair nicely with other plants for dish gardens and pots. She happily gardens, while she stays at the inn. I learn from her. Now that she is back in Maryland, I take plant photographs (with the new-millennium telephone that my grown children told me I would need at the inn) and text my gardening questions to Lucille.

Jim and Carla visited at the apartments again this year, while they completed renovations on their recently-purchased winter dwelling. They still stop by to visit when they are in Tarpon Springs…and it is always a nice surprise to see them walking along the garden walkway toward the inn’s kitchen, as I wash dishes and overlook the 'angel garden'.

Back to Rosanne and John…really, they became my friends, also. Since they extended their stay a few times, they took a multi-day trip and a 1-week Caribbean cruise while they awaited availability at the inn’s apartments again. I would miss them while they were away, and I would tell them what had occurred in town and at the inn during their absence. I believe Rosanne and John will move to Tarpon Springs one day. They have the flexibility to do that, and I know that John enjoys our Greek community, which reminds him of his youth in Greece. How wonderful that Rosanne embraces his culture!

Many new apartment visitors came for one-week and two-week visits and have begun to plan their 2015 return visits. The inn visitors can walk to everything they need: shopping, dining, museums, churches, kayaking, day cruises, bike trails, and even the beach.

Inn guest, Anna from Greece, shared an intriguing and powerful story about a religious icon.

Monk priest, Fr. Christodoulos, arrives unexpectedly in Tarpon Springs and at the inn occasionally. Inn guests are fascinated by his words during breakfast.

Claire and Dave and their most-wonderful daughter, Joanna, stayed at the inn for a succession of days. They brought to me a CD of beautiful music they created and perform in North Carolina, as a group called, “Vintage”. Claire runs a lodge, called Greer House, Dave is a country doctor, and Joanna is a nurse.

Cousin Tasia and her husband, Miltos, came from Greece and visited the inn. Oh, how I love them. Whenever I think of them over the years I feel small and helpless…like I am grasping for ‘time’ with them. A visit with family members who live half-a-world away is never enough ‘time’. Perhaps you understand what I mean…

One weekend the inn was home to the ‘Dueling Tonys’, as Tony DeBloise likes to call their dueling piano duo. Tony DeBloise and Tony Kidonakis perform throughout the country and on cruise ships, and their talent is astonishing. They performed in Tarpon Springs at a community event. Truly, it will leave you speechless, if you witness one of their performances. The musical genius, Tony DeBloise is blind, autistic, and one of eight musical savants worldwide. He has a repertoire of 8,000 songs. Perhaps you would like to plan a visit to the inn in December for their December 6, 2014 concert at St. Nicholas Community Center.

I could write endlessly about the days at the inn. As I gently rock in a black rocking chair with a cup of Earl Grey tea (oh…my favorite “Geoff with a G” and his wonderful wife, Harriet, came back to the inn in February for a conference in Clearwater. Remember…Earl Grey is Geoff’s favorite tea.) on the wrought-iron glass-topped table beside me, and Tarpon Springs comes to life on a sunny, lightly-breezy warm April morning, I smile because…I love ‘the old house’ (my affectionate name for the inn), and I love the visitors who have come from all over our country and from other countries (Norway, England, France, Holland, Greece, and Canada these past few months). They enrich our community. They enrich me. I love to hear about their lives and livelihoods. The world comes to The 1910 Inn.

Remember when CBS News and the 48 Hours television crew filmed at The 1910 Inn twice last year? It was so nice to hear from producer, Charlotte Fuller, recently that the 48 Hours episode was ready to air in March. The inn looked warm, cozy, and comforting in the interior footage, and the veranda looked delightfully wholesome, peaceful, and quite aqua turquoise in the exterior footage. The air date was March 15, 2014 and you can see the episode on youtube.com: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TU_Uf3cgtLs

Well, restoration on the old house always continues. Just like my brain fills with words that share the stories of the inn. Restoration ideas busy my mind continually. All in due time. Upcoming work: the veranda ceiling will be painted; a long-awaited project will come to fruition in the side garden; the balcony door in Bedroom One will be replaced; and, hopefully, I will find ‘just-the-right’ Victorian carpet pattern for the inn’s main staircase (that task is harder than expected).

Be well, and I thank you, dear friends, for reading about life at The 1910 Inn during the first months of 2014. Come by for a cup of tea one day. Just call me about an hour ahead, and I will be sure to be there. And I love to give tours of ‘the old house’.

With love,
Annie

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