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It is difficult to decide how to start writing to a few friends and hopefully many strangers who will become friends and, in turn, invite more friends. I suppose I should start by telling you a little about myself and why I am here.

My name is Gary and I live in Florida, with my wife Laura, not in Frogpatch. Frogpatch is a perfect place that exists in my mind where none of the species are endangered and there is no trace of pollution or humans for that matter. Frogpatch has a mayor named Goggles who is a frog and many other residents who we may meet along the way if we are lucky.

Getting back to my real world, I moved to this terrarium from New Jersey around four years ago to take a new job in the lighting industry where I gave worked most of my life. I had images of tiki bars, blue water and palm trees and a low cost of living. I was going to be living like Jimmy Buffet. I came here for an interview and saw nothing of Florida but my hotel room and the road to where I would be working. The only thing along the road to my interview was a racetrack called Tampa Bay Downs which is a vintage snapshot of the old south where well dressed folk would watch the thoroughbreds, with julep in hand, from along the rail. A little added bonus, I thought, as a drove past and spotted the horses in training.

I got the job and although the pay was not as good as the NYC metro area I was fine with it because everyone told me the cost of living was low. We found a nice apartment on upper Tampa Bay. The photo header above was taken from right outside of our place. We were happy with our choice. Then a few weeks later reality became increasingly evident. Our car insurance cost more than it did back home in New Jersey. The food prices were higher than NJ also and you had to go to 3 supermarkets, two drug chains and one Big Lots to make up the difference. My company soon merged and moved to the other side of Tampa making my commute an hour or more from Clearwater through what is known here as malfunction junction or the I4/I275 interchange. My fuel bill tripled. I left that place and took a job with Mr. Napoleanic Complex in nearby Dunedin. (pronounced dun-ee-din not doondin).  Then we found ourselves in the crosshairs of a category 5 hurricane. One of five that would hit the state that year. Should we evacuate and drive to Orlando? I measured the distance in elevation of our apartment to the water at high tide and determined that even if we had a fifteen foot storm surge we would be OK if we stayed in the closet to hide from the 150 MPH wind gusts. The storm took a turn and hit Punta Gorda. I felt lucky but upset for the people down there.  They did not expect it.  The storm continued and stuck guess where? Orlando.

As time went on we started going to garage and yard sales, as we had in the past, and sold some items on line to help make ends meet. I left the job with Napolean and took a better one in St. Petersburg.

I am a big believer in buying and using vintage items, not only for their decorative value but as a way to better the economy by saving money and also to help the environment by lessening the landfills and the pressure on natural resources. I will be offering for sale through here or links to other sites some nice vintage accessories. Also links to and articles about saving money, going green, green lighting and other eco friendly topics.

Meanwhile back in Frogpatch, the residents are digging through every corner and closet trying to find items to sell in the Frogpatch town wide yard sale coming up soon. Billy Bob Bobcat tells me he thinks he has some old fishing tackle and Abigull says she has some vintage cookbooks. Look for the signs.

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A New Week

The weekend is over and here I am on Monday at my notebook reflecting on why the weekend did not evolve as planned. Saturday was pretty mundane. We were excited about getting to the annual rummage sale at Top of the World which is a 55 plus mega community in Clearwater. The add in the Flyer turned out to be for a smaller sale however. I did find a brand new stainless steel bread knife however for only 1.00. Now I can get rid of the curved bladed one. From there we hit a local thrift store where my wife got lucky and pounced on a pink cubist covered candy dish to add to her collection of pink depresiion glass. I have a feeling that this one may be a reproduction but it is still pretty and at 6.99 it was a steal.pink-candy

Sunday was going to be far from ordinary and very trying to say the least. I realized that I had spent every cent I had in my pocket so I decided to head to the banks to use the ATM. I walked out of the apartment door onto the second floor open breezeway. I noticed that the single woman that lives next door had left a bag of trash just outside her door in stead of putting it in the storage closet about twenty feet away. I then noticed a gym bag that was open and a pair of black lace up boots in front of the storage door. The bag was open and there were two bottles of wine and a new kitchen knife set showing. The center knife was missing. Her keys were hanging on the doorknob of the closet. I started toward the stairs while trying to figure the scenario when I saw a broken wine glass on the steps. Stange I thought. I called my wife and had her come out. She advised me to knock on the neighbors door, which I did several times, with no answer. I decided to call the police because this seemed so out of character. To police cars arrived shortly thereafter. I explained what I could to the to young women officers and they peoceeded to her door. It was not locked. They drew their weapons and went cautiously inside calling her name. The place was empty. They stayed for a couple hours and determined that there was no evidnce of a crime even though their were no sheets on the bed and frozen chicken thawing on the counter.  I went to the ATM as originally planned and just as I inserted my card lightning made the power go and on and the machine ate my card. No beer tonight.

Later that day there was a knock at my door. It was the young womans parents. They said that they could not locate their daughter. The mother said she dropped her off after her car broke down at 4:00 PM the day before. The daughters cell phone was broken also. At 5:00 the same afternoon her daughter called and asked to be picked up but her mother was not in the area and could not come. The call came from an unknown number. When the number was called the following day a man answered and said he was never in the area and did not know what she was talking about. Their were other men laughing in the background. This morning I am waiting to see if she came home last night. Someone knocked on her door late last night and left and I saw an older man walk away from her door this morning. I pray that she is alright! I am off to the bank to get my card back. I will keep you all posted.

Meanwhile back in Frogpatch, Gwendolyn Gagglesquack and Abigull Van Bird are contemplating opening a vintage cookbook shop here and want to know what you think?

Ok I have returned from the bank and they gave me my card back. Two lessons learned here. Never use an ATM during a thunderstorm and always leave some cash at home .