Giving Thanks for Pete’s

Today I had to stop by Pete’s Bar in Neptune Beach for their annual Thanksgiving Day “c0cktail party”. It starts at 10:00am and the crowds pour into the street, partying and drinking, and toasting the holiday (for those of us who are released from kitchen duty) under a lovely Florida sun with temps in the upper 60s.

This year, Neptune Beach closed off one block entirely for four hours so people could spill out of the bar, onto the sidewalk and into the street. People were milling about, hugging it out with friends – old and new – the way only people who’ve been…celebrating for a while can do.
It was like partying at a beer tent, back when we lived in Michigan (do they have beer tents in the south or is it a regional thing?). I’ve lived at the beach for ten years now and today was my first Thanksgiving Day at Pete’s.
A bit about Pete’s Bar. Established in 1933, it’s one of these beloved, neighborhood hole-in-the-wall bars, with a dark interior, several pool tables, a long bar with many tables, and smoking. It’s been featured in a John Grisham novel, and is one of many bars in the town center area of Atlantic and Neptune Beaches. But Pete’s is a bar’s bar; like the place I met my husband, The Post bar in Detroit, Michigan. It’s your basic, neighborhood joint where generations of beaches residents have to come to celebrate life’s moments, and probably cry about them too; to pick up guys or girls, or maybe just pass the time.
The Thanksgiving cocktail party tradition started over 20 years ago, when an employee volunteered to work for the owner who lived upstairs, so she could spend Thanksgiving with her family. People would stop in to keep him company, and over the years it just evolved into this Thanksgiving tradition, with Bloody Marys at 10am, beer and drinks, too; finally it became a big ole good time, a street party on Thanksgiving day. By the time we arrived today, the crowd was in high spirits and it was time for us to crack a beer.
At 2:00, the Neptune Beach law enforcement rolled in to clear the street to good-natured cheers and jeers, all in good fun.
(When the officer arrived to inform the crowd that the outside party was over for this Thanksgiving.)
After that, people either went home to continue with their personal Thanksgivings, or retreated inside the bar, to continue toasting, hollering, shooting pool, or hanging with friends.

And that’s how Thanksgiving is done at Pete’s.
(part two of the Palin book tour is coming.)

Going Rogue Myself

With Inside Edition’s Darren Kavinoky

Early this morning I fashioned a press ID; using a lanyard I actually found lying on the floor of my car (what luck), I attached an atlantic beachlife decal to the end of it, hung it around my neck and voila! My press ID. It was cheesy looking, but you know what? No one laughed out loud, and I accomplished what I set out to do today.
I got up at an ungodly hour after just a few hours of sleep and picked up my two young colleagues, high schoolers Nick Lulli and Megan Moser.
Nick formed the online news network 2News Now, and Megan often accompanies him on assignments. Nick had called Books a Million last week, gave our names/affiliations and was assured that we were “on the list” of those who were to be given press credentials for the Sarah Palin “Going Rogue” book tour, which rolled into Jacksonville this morning.
People who wanted their books signed by Palin were made to queue for wristbands yesterday; having procured the wristband meant that they’d be allowed to queue again today, for a chance to briefly meet Palin and have their book signed by her. I heard that people were forming the line by 8:00am Monday morning, and the coveted wristbands were to be handed out at 5:00pm.
Books a Million was telling people that only 500 or so should expect to make it through the line during the two hour signing on Palin’s schedule. Two thousand people showed up for wristbands, and about 600 did get their books signed by the end of the event. (Sarah Palin left signed book plates for the wristband holders who did not make it in. I managed to snag one one for me, Nick and Megan, being a member of the media and all. Angling for that was an ancillary goal of the day, too.)
But we were going in as part of the media. So no waiting for us, and prime access for camera and video shots for the media.
I couldn’t actually believe that they’d let me in, but you know? I walked the walk and no one doubted my authenticity. For the security that was evident all around – at least 30 members of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, rooftop lookouts, and private security – we amateurs arrived early, were the first of the media to climb onto the press riser and stake our spot. No one was there with an actual list, and no one questioned us. We were given the same access as the reporters from Entertainment Tonight and Inside Edition, and all the local print and electronic media outlets. This was big.

Whenever someone would ask, “Who are you with?” I’d nonchalantly show my makeshift press ID and say, “Atlantic Beachlife; I’m a community blogger.” And after Palin arrived, made brief remarks to the very excited crowd and introduced her family, they went into the store and the signing began.
We weren’t sure what kind of access we’d have after that, but suddenly I was told, “Hurry on in, the press area is in the coffee shop,” and off I scurried with the rest of the pack, my cheap looking “press ID” obviously worked because now I really was one of them. Once I was in the thick of the action I was behaving like a member of the media on pure instinct: seeking my shot, finding my opening. I got the adorable Piper to tell me that yes, she did style her hair all by herself and that her favorite TV show is “Miley Cyrus.”
Sarah Palin’s Aunt Katie was delightful. We talked after the ET and Inside Edition interviewed her, and we connected, because she hugged me when we were finished.
And why not? It’s the theme of Palin’s book after all. If she can go rogue, so can I. And now that I’ve pulled it off, and successfully, too, I am officially considering myself and this blog a member of the media.
Props to Nick Lulli, who told me it’d be easy to do. I’m not above learning the ropes from a sixteen-year-old. Media’s changed, I know that. Community bloggers have a voice.
And this is mine.
more to follow

William Morgan’s Dune Home

The famed architect William Morgan designed many interesting homes very close to our own in Atlantic Beach, and also in Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra Beaches. There are two that I know of that are currently on the market, and available for lease in Atlantic Beach.
My husband and I called his office last summer, and asked if we could meet him to talk over the concrete construction technology ( my husband is developing for safe and sustainable homes. We’d met William Morgan casually at his book signing at The BookMark a few weeks earlier, and to my astonishment, he invited us to come to his home and meet him there. We live just two blocks away, so we eagerly accepted the chance to have a more intimate conversation with him, and to see another of his personal designs. His home is built into the side of a dune, too, and sits oceanfront.
He and his wife could not have been nicer or more welcoming to us. I brought a small bag of Peterbrooke chocolate covered popcorn as a small gift, and we settled in for chat. I petted their cat, who, as cats do, hopped up onto the table and approached me, sensing the cat lover that I am. We talked about architecture, and he gave us his thoughts on marketing the ‘safe and sustainable’ modular construction technology. We felt privileged to have had an audience with them both.
We’d bought, and he signed his beautiful coffee table book from The Master Architect Series VI “William Morgan – Selected and Current Works”. So, I can locate every William Morgan-designed home in all the beaches area, and across Florida, as well as many of his other outstanding projects for the private and public sectors throughout the United States.
The pictures here are the two homes that I am aware of that are currently being offered for sale and/or lease.

(the beach is just steps away from this cool, contemporary home)

If you’ve ever wanted to live in his famous Dune house, why not lease it? Here’s a view of it from the street (and not a very good one, sorry. Perhaps I’ll edit this tomorrow.) The Dune house viewed from the beach side is pictured at the top.
I am so embarrassed that I never sent a hand-written thank you note to the Morgans for inviting us into their home. My mother raised me better than that, and I know she’s chiding me from Heaven at this very moment. Although a blog post does not compensate for a personal note, I do want to publicly acknowledge how much we enjoyed visiting with them and how touched we felt that they invited us – just two folks – into their home, and gave his point of view on our modular concrete technology. Yes, a note is on my agenda tomorrow along with another, though not overdue, note of appreciation to someone else. My etiquette skills are still somewhat intact. But I’d rather be late than to let it go unsaid altogether.

Play to Win!

Last summer I did “My Midsummer Giveaway”, which was hosted by Nicholas Landon Jewelry. She was the person who donated the nautical-styled leather and pearl bracelet (that was featured in the pages of a summer 2009 issue of Food and Wine Magazine. Impressive!) Well, now you’ve got another chance to win, and this time she’s hosting it at her own site (just Google it, since, regrettably, Blogger is not allowing me to create live links).

I own two of her leather and pearl necklaces, each adorned with a different pewter charm. I wear one of them every day, either alone, or paired with differently-styled necklace and I just love the look for a beachlife esthetic. (But it works in any locale.)
The giveaway item is one of her new designs, featuring a stamped charm that will be inscribed with whatever you desire (providing it fits!). You can read about it over at her blog (
They’re shown as nautical markers, but I thought immediately of two things I should like inscribed on them if I win (which I certainly won’t because then it would seem rigged, no?!).
I’d do either atlantic beachlife or my favorite mile marker from some place I love in the Florida Keys. Can’t you just see that? Mile Marker 0 is Key West, but I’d pick the mile marker of my favorite snorkeling spot (MM 77).
All of her necklaces and bracelets are unique, hand-made by a wonderful person (not massed produced in China for Wal-Mart) who I’ve gotten to know through my blog. I can personally endorse her quality work and I hope you all will wander over to her place, take a look at her treasures, and enter her giveaway.
What do you have to lose? You could be the winner! (Or I could too, ’cause I’m playing to win.)

Surfboard Tricks

Can you do this?
He reluctantly allowed me to photograph his trick. I met him on the beach, and he spends a lot of time surfing. And chatting.

He was friendly, and a bit of an eccentric fellow who’s been around these parts a long time. He observed me photographing my friend and others, and chatted me up while I tried to keep my eyes on the water. I didn’t have much success with my pictures, but he was a rather unconventional dude and when he performed this trick, I had to snap it. He said I could post it on my blog (“the Internet”) but didn’t want his name used.
It was an changeable day; sunshine to the north and foreboding clouds to the south; great waves, a glistening sea, and an upbeat mood among the Wednesday surfers, mostly men and boys, hurriedly going into the water, probably expecting the storm that never did come.
I thought about how lovely it was to be on the beach on a mid-November day, barefoot, in shorts, and standing knee-deep in the water attempting to get some decent surfing pictures. After ten years here, I’m still so glad that I don’t have to face long, dark winter months ahead. We have sunshine and cooler weather coming, which equals perfect to me.

And surfing in November without a wetsuit. I love it.

Tropical Storm Ida’s…

My neighbor Ernest.

…surf blew through here yesterday and so I went to the beach to take pictures of the surfers and the waves.

The Veterans’ Day holiday: school’s out and surf’s up.

Ernest surfs every day that he can. Really enjoy his Facebook updates: what a life!


Not Ernest.

The surfers were flocking to the beach all day long. These pictures were taken from the 19th Street beach in Atlantic Beach. The water was still warm and I got fairly soaked while standing in the surf aiming for my money shot.
These are fun shots, but I didn’t get what I was trying for. But I’ll live to photograph another day, so enjoy them and keep checking back. I’m not planning to abandon my passion for spreading the word about our awesome community.
Want to visit, in real life? Let me know: I’ll hook you up to all the right places.
There’s something for everyone here at the beaches.

Jeannie Meets Pat Conroy!

Dear Pat,

Tonight, while standing in line to meet you amongst all the happy people milling about waiting to do the same, I learned something about you that made me love you even more.

I was told that during this major publicity tour for your new novel “South of Broad”, you chose just two, small, independent bookstores to make appearances at: and one of them was our own beloved The BookMark in Atlantic Beach, Florida. (No, I don’t own The BookMark, but just ask the owner: she knows that I wish I did.) And there you were, patiently meeting and talking and talking and talking with person after person while the line snaked its way around the small shop, out the door and down the street.

I was prepared for the long wait. I knew I’d be amused, chatting up my neighbors in the line, everyone who’d come out for you, too. It was festive and fun, each of us lugging our armload of Conroy books-to-be-signed as the line inched its way toward you. I kept glancing at you during the long wait. You showed no impatience, and you appeared to be genuinely listening to and interacting with each fan, when it was, finally, their turn for face time with the Pat Conroy.

I wondered what people could possibly be saying to you. I’d have loved to be loitering nearby, pretending not to listen. When it was finally my turn, I had nothing witty to offer; no questions, sought no advice. I really just wanted to meet you, and have my three books personally signed to me, by you. I had to express how deeply I appreciated your coming to our town, to our bookstore. You see, we have a special community here, the storefront bookseller in a unique pedestrian town by the sea, and it’s really enhanced because important writers like you do show up and meet your readers in events like this.

Thank you for posing with me. While I wasn’t going to monopolize your time (like some people were wont to do, and you were so gracious in receiving them all) especially since I didn’t have too much to say and the line was still out the door and folks were waiting in the rain; neither did I intend to let my moment pass without a photo to record it!

So, thank you for meeting me, Pat Conroy. I’ve loved your books, your writing is like poetry, and now I can see that you are a true gentleman, too.

Oh, and this? You were awesome.

Accidental Apostrophe

I judge you when you use poor grammar.

Have you seen this hilarious book? There is also a Facebook Fan Page, which I just had to join.

Disclaimer: I am not above making a grammatical or spelling error from time to time. I’ll know it’s ‘your’ and but I’ll type ‘you’re’ or ‘throw’ and type ‘through’. You know, things like that. When I catch it, it’s usually just after I’ve hit the send key, and I scramble immediately to write a follow-up, distancing myself from the error with much fervor. If I don’t catch the mistake until it’s far too late, I cringe inwardly, feel enormously embarrassed, and hope the reader just doesn’t notice it. Because when you’re audacious enough to out yourself as a grammar snob, you’d better have the goods to back it up, no?!

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, on to my punctuation pet peeve: the abuse of the apostrophe. People, who don’t know from plurals to possessives, and worse, have these errors printed on letters, business signs, and artwork.

It’s been a Shmina family joke for so many year’s* those possessives that aren’t. At this point in my life, my eyes immediately seem to spot the apostrophe that does not belong before I can even read the sentence. Seriously, it’s like an innate skill.

Or a burden.

Because over the years when letters from school have come home with the inappropriate possessive apostrophe, I’ve thought, “should I tell them it’s wrong?” It really is not about me feeling superior to the writer; it’s about quietly telling them so they can avoid making the same mistake again and again. If I could tell the writer in a kind way, it wouldn’t be as though I was hurting their feelings.

Or would it?

When I asked another parent who’d also gotten the mailings if she thought I should point it out (quietly! i would never want to intentionally embarrass anyone!) she didn’t think it was a good idea. Nor did the other member of my “trusted council” (a teacher, in fact), so…I exhaled and let it go. And watched those notes come home, year after year with apostrophe’s* all over the page where none were warranted.

And then there was the tee shirt that was printed…making what should have been simply a plural (a group), a singular possessive. It was in smaller print, but darned if my eye didn’t hone right in on that apostrophe like a heat-seeking missile.
Which brings me to my current dilemma: an acquaintance has been working on a project, her dream project, for about a year. She’d been telling me about it every time I’d see her, which was about every five weeks. Recently, she left her existing career to pursue the dream full time. The other day I saw a mutual acquaintance who told me that she’d completed her first project and had it accepted for sale by one of my favorite shops in Jacksonville Beach!

Awesome! I was (and am) so excited for her. I’m sure you can guess the rest of the story by now. I visited the shop on Saturday morning specifically to see her item and the shop owner was just placing it out, front and center, on the sidewalk! I walked up to it, camera in hand…and there it was. That darned apostrophe, hand-painted onto the object as part of several sentences of lovely sentiments…but making the word in question a singular possessive instead of simply the plural she intended.

No, I didn’t point it out to the shop owner; but I kept thinking, “Oh no, oh no. Because of that apostrophe, I could never buy the item.” I was still thinking about it when I went to The BookMark in Atlantic Beach, and spotted the “I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar” book next to the cash register.

So I asked the owner: would you tell her about the apostrophe, so she didn’t continue to make the same mistake on her future products, which are all hand-painted? She and another woman, a customer in the shop, both agreed: No one likes a wise-ass, and telling her about the apostrophe would, in fact, be a wise-ass thing to do.


The customer proffered this thought: Would I be telling her to serve my own needs? As an older woman, she’s been on the receiving end of younger people who try to assist her when she is perfectly capable of doing it herself. Once, when she thanked a would-be helper and declined her offer, the woman was offended, stating that it had been her goal to do “acts of kindness for others” and she now felt rebuffed. So, this woman advised me, too, to basically keep my mouth shut and let my acquaintance carry on with her work without the “benefit” of my “advice”.

I get it; I really do. Still, I don’t feel as though I’d be “doing it for me.” I really would like to tell her simply because she is hand-painting all this on, and one of the words is simply not right.

I would want to know, if the information was given to me in a sensitive and loving way. I really don’t think this is about me wanting to show her that “I know better.”

Even though I did say I was a grammar snob who laughs about apostrophes.


So, I’m asking you for your thoughts. Please feel free to tell me truthfully what you think. Stay mum? I can do that. But would you want to know? See, I worry that it might cost her some sales, too. I personally wouldn’t knowingly buy something that had a spelling or punctuation error on it, and her product really is very nice.

This is obviously a common mistake that many people make. Heck, I might even make it, too, one of these day’s.

Thought’s? Comment’s?


*This is what I’m talking about! This is the error I see practically every day!

The Blue Angels: My Last Word

This Blue Angel made a lovely ‘Breast Cancer Awareness’ trail.
Interpretation: mine.

Quite possibly, these Blue Angels posts are getting to be a bit tedious for whoever happens to read them. So I thank you for indulging me as I post a few final photos and thoughts about this bi-annual event that grabs me by the heart and doesn’t let go till the last loud jet zooms off into the ether.
And then some little part of me goes, “Will I even be alive in 2011, to see this show again?
It just makes me wonder.

So, I didn’t bother fighting the traffic to the grandstand area; instead I wandered over to our beach, which is about four and a half miles north of the performance area. I wasn’t alone. Many people were on the beach, enjoying the breezy afternoon, socializing, spectating, fishing, and even swimming, while watching the Angels as they flew straight overtop us before looping back to do their stunts for the crowd.

It’s amazing how piercingly loud the jets are, and how they seemingly come out of nowhere and suddenly they are straight above you and about to break the sound barrier. I wasn’t the only person to drop her camera and clap her hands over her ears in utter reflexive reaction (thank God for sturdy camera straps).

(these jets were straight above me and oh, so loud! awesome.)


Sea and Sky Spectacular, Jacksonville Beach

If you haven’t made it to Jacksonville Beach to see all the amazing air show performers, it’s not too late. The show will start on Sunday, November 8 at 9:30 am at the oceanfront where Beach Boulevard meets the beach. Come early for good parking. You can poke around the side streets, especially south of Beach Boulevard to find some random free parking like I did this morning. You’ll just want to carry a beach chair, and you’ll walk a couple of blocks and cross over to the beach where you can watch the festivities if you don’t mind being exactly front and center of the action. You’ll still see plenty that’ll thrill you. The beach is beautiful; it was a luminous morning today.
I was watching from from the beach at about 17th Avenue South and saw the first performers of the day, The Red Devils.
These guys are stationed along the beachfront to prevent people from entering the water during the air show. But you are free to get comfy with your chair, camera, binoculars and a picnic!

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels Fat Albert will be the penultimate performer. The show ends at 3:30 pm after the U.S. Navy Blue Angels do their thing, and that will be it for us, here at the beach, until 2011.

(The videos below are compliments of the little Canon Elph and shows a couple of maneuvers of the Blue Angels’ practice show. The two jets in the last part of the first video below were flying very slowly – at 120 mph – in front of the crowd…thus the “soundtrack” Slow Ride being blasted from the speakers to the crowd. Props to the little Canon Elph, whose primary mission in photography is not videography, for taking several serviceable videos of the Blue Angels practice show.)