Miami Nice


For the next few days, I spent time visiting with my dad Bill and his wonderful wife Fran at their home in Coral Gables. Spending time with my dad is still a pretty recent thing for me because I spent about 20 childish and resentful years not speaking with him. A couple of years ago with the help of several really good advisors, I was finally able to reconcile with my father easily and completely. I got my dad back by giving up the past. It's an amazing thing and I recommend it highly if it's on your list of things to do.
One thing that's made it even more interesting (and wonderful in a lot of ways) to become reacquainted with my dad is that he's lost almost all of his short term memory and has some pretty large gaps in his long term memory as well. This allows him to effortlessly accomplish the goal of many a new age guru, he lives almost exclusively in the present. This is greatly facilitated by the phenomenal attitude of his wife Fran, whose philosophy revolves around taking each moment as it comes to the point of being amused at what her life sometimes offers up. It was fascinating for me as a passionate student of cognitive science to observe firsthand the ramifications of waking up in a new world every morning. I learned a lot about how identity is formed and smithed and preserved, and I learned a lot about how cool my step mom is.

Over the course of the visit, we made a number of enjoyable field trips (including a lunch at a fabulous old-school seafood restaurant and a pleasant evening at an Xmas Pops concert at the local church). Saturday morning, knowing of my fondness for the place, Fran and Bill treated me to a visit to one of my favorite visionary art environments: Coral Castle. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coral_Castle

Like most places that light me up, Coral Castle is the curious legacy left by a person determined to express their vision and passion, with little to no regard for reason and oftentimes no formal training in their medium.

Edward Leedskalnin was an eccentric Latvian fellow who was jilted by his 16-year-old fiancée a day before their wedding. In a tizzy, he left for America and spent the next 28 years building a monument to the spurner of his affection, refusing to allow anyone to view him while he worked. He accomplished feats of engineering that are still marveled at to this day, such as the 9 ton slab of coral rock he installed as a revolving door using an old Ford axle for the spindle. It's said that the door revolved at the touch of a finger in Ed's day. And that's not even beginning to address the issue of how he GOT the 9 ton slab of stone to it's installation site.

It's a magical place and I enjoyed getting to share it with Bill and Fran, neither of which had visited previously.

I also enjoyed accompanying Bill and Fran on their daily walks. Bill and Fran are very fit and active and it was so very pleasant to walk their morning routes with them. Fran is a knowledgeable and gifted gardener and it was wonderful to have her not only show me around her extensive garden, but also to help me identify plants I'd never seen before.

I departed Sunday, just after lunch, with a ziplock bag of road snacks (mmmm-peanut butter treats-thank you Fran!) and settled in for another long drive. Florida's got the same problem as Texas when you're going from Miami to anywhere else in the U.S. - you need an 8 hour handicap to simply get out of the state. I selected Chemical Brothers and Pendulum, mesmerizing techno dance bands, to sing me gently to Jacksonville. That was as far as I could fathom proceeding this day.

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