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I’ve had it in mind to write a piece of fiction set in Victorian San Francisco. I grew up in that area and in our history classes we had learned about the gold rush. And in some small towns, their whole attraction is that they were once a mining town. They are actually quite proud of it, erecting statues to commemorate those times and even selling you trinkets to allow you to pan for your own gold.

But the thing about setting stories in the Guilded Age of San Francisco is that there are more than a few novels based in that time and place. After all, it was a very exciting time and a much documented time as well. There are plenty of resource materials from books to web sites to the original newspaper articles dating back to the mid-1800’s.

So I thought, since I live in Florida now that I could very well set a story here. My preliminary research was quite shocking, though I don’t know why it would be. Florida is the southernmost state in the lower 48, after all.

There were many items regarding Florida. The most exciting time seemed to be in the 1600’s. There are lost merchant and pirate ships strewn about the southern coastline currently. Ponce de Leon and the fountain of youth and all that. But my interest lay in the 19th century.

What I discovered is that Florida is indeed the south. There is a saying here that you actually have to go north to reach the south, but Florida has it’s roots very much in Southern history.

You see Florida was a plantation culture in the 1800’s. Out of the population of 140,000, nearly half were slaves. During the Civil War not only did Florida secede, but they were also the first to be one of the confederate states.

In the 1900’s there was a series of lynchings. It became so frightening to live in Florida that there was a mass exodus to find a better life elsewhere.

In guidebooks about the south, Florida is never included. But I think that has more to do with the influx of New Englanders. They don’t call it the Fifth Borough for nothing. It’s probably the only thing that keeps Florida from feeling like the south completely. Not that there is anything wrong with the south. I just wasn’t intending on writing a story about plantation life.

It would be a distinctly different story if I set it in Florida. There would be southern belles, land owners, and slaves. That is not the story I wanted to tell. At least not this particular story. There is always a chance that I will set another story here.

So I have decided that the story will remain in San Francisco,. After all, there are railroad barons, bonanza kings, corruption, mayhem, and secret underground tunnels not to mention the rich diversity of people that settled there. And of course, earthquakes!!

Until tomorrow!

Crossposted to Samantha Ling, Dreamwidth and Livejournal

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One of the restaurants that we always go to, but I never talk about is Thai Singha. It’s obviously a Thai restaurant and it’s at Waterford Lakes. It is also attached to a sushi restaurant next door named Kirin Sushi. When you sit at either restaurant, you can order food from either place.

I really like the chicken lemongrass soup with a side of rice(Thom Yum Gai), massaman chicken, and panang curry. They only offer a limited menu at lunch so they can get you out in time for you to get back to work. I see a lot of Lockheed Martin people there. You can tell them apart because they’ve got the tan slacks and polo. Plus, they wear their badge everywhere!

At night, I like spicy bamboo shoots! We don’t normally go for dinner though because I like their Thai iced tea and I can’t have that in the evenings. I won’t be able to sleep.

Theydo have a few dishes that aren’t that great though. They are the dishes that look like they would appeal to people who like bland food and don’t want anything that sounds funny. Anything in a brown sauce is avoided. They’re just noodles drenched in soy sauce!

It’s also the place that I get my miso soup fix! I can’t find miso paste here. Come to think of it, I’ve never noticed any tofu at the grocery store either.

Well anyway, Thai Singha is a good place to eat for a quick lunch! I highly recommend.

Crossposted to Samantha Ling, Dreamwidth and Livejournal

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I was telling E that she should write a food blog. Not only does she try to visit all sorts of different restaurants, she’s also able to find BOGO deals. (BOGO means “Buy One Get One” free or half off or whatever the current deal was.) And she also studied journalism, so why not, right? And she’s hella funny. People would totally read that.

And as I was talking to her about it, I realized that I need to write in my much neglected bog. How sad it was that I could only write two entries a month lately. And it’s not like I didn’t have anything to write about. I’m just, well, lazy.

So what else should I write about besides food?

Several months ago, Jay Lake had come to Florida to teach a class. We took him to Mellow Mushroom near Winter Park. We had gone because E had recommended it and we couldn’t figure out where else to go. Since that visit, we’d gone to the one on Colonial several times.

The Mellow Mushroom in Winter Park isn’t much different than the Mellow Mushroom on Colonial. They both have outdoor seating areas and the insides are painted in a whimsical hippy feeling way. The only difference is that the the one on Colonial is newer and bigger.

The thing that you absolutely have to have are their ptretzels. It’s made out of their pizza dough and is delicious. But then it could be that it’s because the thing is drenched in butter and salt. It is one of my favorite things there. I usually get a Caesar salad and a meatball sandwich on wheat. It costs us about $17 for all of that and Chris and I share.

I wouldn’t suggest you order fany other sandwich though. I tried their jerk chicken sandwich and got a jerk onion sandwich. There was plenty of sauce, bit little bitty pieces of minced chicken. I think it’s what they throw onto their pizzas. I talked to others that have ordered their sandwiches and they said that they’ve never gotten a good one.

What they’re known for is pizza. I haven’t had them because I think they are a little expensive. But every time that we’ve gone, everyone has always ordered one.

Jay had ordered a calzone and that thing was big. There was more than enough to take home and make a whole other meal.

They also have various assortments of beer. They look like microbrews. I don’t drink beer, so I can’t tell you if they’re good at all. They also have trvia nights on Tuesdays. At least, that’s what the waitress told us.

The last time that we went, they did have lunch specials.

They look like a good deal if you’re not super hungry.

It’s a good restaurant that I is well worth trying. Let me know how you like it!

Crossposted to Samantha Ling, Dreamwidth and Livejournal

Wedding Day

Oct. 6th, 2008 12:18 pm
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Getting ready for the wedding was a long ordeal. Four bridesmaids and two moms, hair and make-up for all, including myself. Our day began about 9a.m. I didn't have anything planned for that morning. I was too tired to entertain and I think everyone else was also. I think having a full day before where you did all the really fun things really does sap the energy from you the day of the wedding. But we soldiered on and managed to finish with smiles on our faces.

Our make-up artist was Michele Hundley. She did an amazing job with all of us, making us all unique to ourselves and yet cohesive as well. The bridesmaids all wore the same color dresses, but they were able to pick out the one's they liked best. I can't recommend her enough. She's both professional and talented. Her make-up lasted throughout the whole day and through a couple of tears. She was able to put make-up on my eyes that didn't make me look like Mimi from that Drew Carey show. And I didn't feel like I was wearing a humongous layer of junk on my face. She's fabulous and I would sugest her as your make-up artist any day.

My hairstylist was a woman I found surfing the web. My usual hair stylist up and quit the salon 2 weeks before my wedding. I couldn't get in touch with her to see what was going on, so I hired someone else. The hair we had wasn't my dream hair. I would have prefered something else, but I don't think she could manage it. If you look through her portfolio, all her hairstyles are basically one kind with variations. Her work is decent, but if you want anything out of a magazine, she shouldn't be your first choice. She also didn't have a wrap to put around you when she did your hair, which meant that I had hairspray all along my neck and back. I had Katie help me wipe that all off before I put on my wedding dress. She also helped herself to some sandwiches without us offering any to her. She had told Chris and myself that she didn't want a break, she just wanted to work right through lunch and be done. But instead, she helped herself to the food we had and took a break anyway. Since I'm not giving her a glowing review, I'm not sure I should name her either. I think the hair came out decently well, but it's nothing that I'd had dreamed of when I originally came to her. I settled, but you sort of have to when you have less than 2 weeks to find a hair stylist who isn't booked.

Photography was by Sterling Fine Art Photography. He was also the one that took our photos for our engagement. He was pleasant and professional, and made sure that we all smiled even though we were all tired. Everyone liked him quite a bit and I think he took some fabulous photos of us. Our officiant was from Vows Are Forever, which is a family run organization. I liked them because they had someone help with the actual ceremony, telling everyone when to get in line, when to go, etc. It was a great relief to have her there knowing that nobody would be confused as to what they were doing or supposed to do. Flowers, corsages, boutiniere's were made by DSR Designs. She was budget conscious and the flowers looked great. I got orchids for everyone. My bouquet had roses, orchids, freesias and some other things. She also provides a throwing bouquet, which we left at Lou Gardens. But since we only had all of three single women, I didn't think there was a point in throwing them. Nobody wanted to catch them anyway, so we didn't even bother. We hired a harpist, but she turned out to be a harpy, so I won't be mentioning her either. Limo was by Mears Transportation and we hired it on as a charter, which was somehow cheaper than I thought it would be. But hey, I'm not complaining!

After getting ready at the Royal Pacific Resort, we took some photos before getting in the limo to Leu Gardens. By this point, I was so tired, I wanted to take a nap, but of course, I couldn't. I'd mess up my hair and make-up!

We were supposed to have the wedding at the Rose Garden, but it started raining and everyone was getting soaked. So the decision was made to have it indoors. The staff sent a big golf cart for all of us to get back to the main house for the ceremony.

Ryan was especially helpful here because he called the boys (who were in the room next door waiting as well), and coordinated with them to figure out what was going on. This is the one and only photo of the Rose Garden that we have. I didn't mind going inside. It was air conditioned! So we traded heat and beauty for comfort and dryness. I thought it was still a beautiful hallway.

I kept from crying up until I started walking down the aisle and then my face scrunched up horribly as I tried to not cry, but I just gave up. Tears came down for a small portion of the ceremony, but I got it all under control before it became these sorry sobs. Lots of people cried after that.

Jenn took care of the Harpy, which I didn't hear about until much later. I have to say that my bridesmaids were totally awesome during this whole time. They helped me with everything that day so I didn't have anything to worry about. I don't know how many other people can say the same thing. I love them all dearly.

Dinner was at Ruth's Chris and I tell you, I can't remember much of that at all. We had cocktails in the bar where we had sangria, fruit, crackers and cheese platter as well as a salmon platter. We were afraid that people wouldn't eat it all up, but that's never the case. People eat everything at weddings. Then we went to the reception room where we started dinner. Salad, filet mignon/tuna stack/chicken (some vegetarians traded theirs for a portabello mushroom), and cake for dessert, which we got at Louie & Maria's (an italian restaurant near our house). Everyone had a slice of chocolate canole cake and a blueberry,raspberry cake. Those were all eaten up as well.

I don't particularly remember much of the dinner other than that I sat down, ate the salad, got up, talked to people, sat down, ate the filet, got up, talked to people, sat down, toast, cake, eat cake, talk some more. I think it went spectacularly smoothly if I say so myself. Ryan, my Man-Of-Honor, gave my toast and made me cry, made Chris' mom cry too. By 9:30, the dinner was pretty much over. Only a few stragglers remained. My family packed up the gifts into their car and brought them to our room while we started on our way home. And by 11:00, we were back in our room. It was a whirlwind day, and a happy one. Thanks for all of you who attended and shared the special day with us.

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So Chris and I went to the Clerk of the Courts today to get our marriage license. There was a hellacious drive, but that's neither here nor there. So here's the thing. Before you can get married, they make you read this pamphlet. So I was thinking it's a pamphlet on how sacred marriage is and how difficult it was and what you need to do to keep it going. So we got there, and there's this fancy kiosk. It's a touch screen, and you pick get a marriage license, pay ticket, or get passport. And then it spits out this fancy number with the time and date that you were there at. Anyway, that's not the most interesting part.

Ok, so we get this pamphlet that the nice security guard handed us to read while we were waiting our turn. And you know what was in the pamphlet?

Two pages of how hard marriage was and fifteen pages on how to get divorced. Oh yes, it was all about divorce. How property is divided, what happens to the children, alimony, child care, and how to file. Seriously. It's required reading before you can get a marriage license enacted into Florida law some years ago. It's expecting that you'll get divorced even before you get married. There's some absolutely wrong with that somehow.

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We're still experiencing tropical storm Fay. Apparantly, it was stationary for over 6 hours last night, which makes me think that some evil super scientist has found some way to keep the storm from moving. Why would someone do that? Maybe they wanted beach front property.

There was a lot of rain that battered the roof and was so loud that it woke me up. I didn't have a very restful sleep last night and I don't think I'll have a quiet one tonight.

Several counties are flooded, schools are cancelled, and stupid people have gone out into the ocean and are surprised when they're swept out by heavy currents.

We're fine though. It's just been non-stop rain since last night and it'll continue to rain tomorrow as well. On the news, it said 100% of rain, which I've never seen before, but I thought it was funny. There wasn't any 99%. They are totally sure that it's going to rain all day.

And what do you guys think of the new Project Runway cast? I'm finding them a little lacking. I think the last year had the most talent. I don't see anyone as a standout and I can't even say there's one designer in particular that I love. They're not wowing me. What do you guys think?

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The wind and rain has died down since last night. There wasn't anything except some banging that came from one of the trees by the house. It woke me up a couple of times during the night, but it wasn't anything that kept me awake the whole night.

The tropical storm is currently off the coast and will most likely gain strength. They're thinking that it'll hit land again, but it should swing up towards Jacksonville, so we won't be in the eye at all. We'll most likely get more rain and wind. It may or may not turn into a hurricane. It's hard to tell. I can see why people get complacent with tropical storms. There are so many that come through here without becoming a full blown hurricane that they don't really get to the store until it's too late and there aren't any more supplies left at the store.

The wedding plans are all set. The only thing that needs to be done is the Saturday before the wedding. We had planed on having things to do for the out of town guests. The problem we're running into is finding places to eat. We've got about 24 people between the family, bridal party and their guests. Unfortunately, the places that we've talked to all want us to set a menu and do the whole contract thing. We just want to be able to eat somewhere and have people choose what they want. The two places that we'd spoken to before suddenly want us to do that at $30-50 a person. So we're a little bit at a loss as to where to take people for lunch. I wanted to take them to places where they can't go elsewhere, but it doesn't seem like it's going to happen now. We'll probably end up at a chain that you could go anywhere. So we're still searching. Anybody have any suggestions?

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Tropical Storm Fay is on it's way here. Most everyone thinks it'll stay a tropical storm and won't make it to hurricane strength, so we should be safe in Orlando.

We may still have a few power outages, but they don't normally last more than an hour. Don't worry about me though. We have plenty of water. I made a batch of chicken vindaloo so we won't starve. A batch normally feeds us for four nights and the storm is supposed to pass orlando by Wednesday and be up by Jacksonville.

So don't worry about me. I will be fine.

I hope!

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Because it's Friday and I know you aren't working...

We have neighbors that we don't know, but we see often and say hello to.

A few doors down is the pot house guys. They're college students that drive cars twice as much as mine. One night, we found a stray cat that had run out of their garage, so we thought it belonged to them. Before I even got to the door, I could smell the stinkweed. And when the guy opened the door, it felt like a wave of smoke exploded in my face.

There's The Brood house, a family that seems to have eight children of various ages. The children, whose oldest can't be more than twelve, are allowed to play outside at all hours of the night. I understand that we live in a gated community with security cameras at the front gate and a security guard in the evenings, but still, that won't stop bad people from hurting your children. The kids are also playing in the street. At 11 pm, I'm sure it's not safe to do that even if I was watching them. They should seriously be in bed by that point anyway.

Then there's the bachelor. I have no idea what his name is, but I do know that he own's a boxer named Sadie who is very well behaved and adorable. The large dogs in my immediate area are well behaved. There's a rotweiler across the way that obeys her owner without challenging him. And she never barks. Now the little mini-dogs bark when They see me, which can get annoying.

So the bachelor used to let Sadie run around without a leash. Florida has a leash law. So he had to get a leash whenever he took Sadie out. Instead of letting her run around, he has to run around with her. And since we have a communal backyard, I see him out there every day. And the funny thing is, I think he's gotten skinnier from all that running around.

The bachelor used to have a girlfriend though, but that doesn't seem to have worked out. He's been single for a while now, but I do know he has a huge flat panel tv. I know because his back window, which spans the length of his condo faces my front door.

How well do you know your neighbors?

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Several days ago, hominysnark and I were discussing how in Florida you only have two sets of clothes: the set you wear in Florida and the set for visiting other states. Today, I have to take that back. It's 40 degrees, but with the windchill, it feels like 30! I had to bust out all my California winter clothes. I geared up in long-sleeved shirt, t-shirt, fleece, and wind-proof jacket just to go to the mailbox down the block. It's nice to know that the layering system works. The only things that were cold were my face, hands and feet. Oh yes, my feet. I'd decided to forgo wearing socks and sneakers and just tromp out in my sandals. My toes were so cold when I came back. But the crisp air was refreshing. It made it feel like it was really winter and reminded me a bit of California.

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Samantha Ling

August 2013

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