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My new media home

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

I've got a little more room to stretch out in the local paper's daily "things to do" supplement, plus the luxury of photos. It's kinda like moving from an army cot to a king-size--with a view.

And a surprise of a welcome from my new editor, who is a dream to work with!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

68ANNE 7/15/2014 6:45PM


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    It looks like a really cool supplement. I wish we had one like that here!! It sounds like they are really glad to have you.

Comment edited on: 7/11/2014 1:49:33 PM

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NEW-CAZ 7/10/2014 3:27AM

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_LINDA 7/10/2014 12:32AM

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Wonderful all around!

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JOYINKY 7/9/2014 9:46PM

    Fantastic! Isn't it nice to be appreciated?! Love the photos; you're an impressive photographer. Already knew you were a great writer. Congratulations!

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CHOCOHIPPO 7/9/2014 8:30PM

    wonderful story, suzy.

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BETHGILLIGAN 7/9/2014 8:19PM

    Of course, your article was great, as usual! What a great welcome from your editor. Seems like this is a great move for you!! Congratulations!!!

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JANTHEBLONDE 7/9/2014 7:28PM

    Congratulations! That's awesome news! I'm so happy for you! Thanks for sharing! I hope you have a wonderful day! Hugs!
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GABY1948 7/9/2014 6:29PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon I am SO happy for you and thanks for always sharing with us!

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Pirates of the Caribbean

Friday, July 04, 2014

UPSTATE NY, CIRCA 1968: You tell the in-laws you‘re moving to St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, and you might as well announce you’re leaving for the moon. Barbara Farlow’s mom inquires, “You’re going WHERE?!”

The late Dave Farlow’s son Keith says the late sixties were the “renegade days” for his parents—as they were for many American expats. “Back then, there weren’t even grocery stores on St. Croix; they had to buy produce off a boat from Puerto Rico.”

The enterprising Farlows nonetheless established the island’s first movie theater, family-based swim team, and ice cream shops. “Selling ice cream to locals put me through private school and swim team,” laughs Keith.

Dave and Barbara had found paradise. They raised their family; saw their sons swim in the Olympics and Pan American Games. They were planning to retire there.

One September night in 1989, a monster storm changed everything. Hurricane Hugo flattened St. Croix with winds that islanders swear reached 200 mph, leaving behind postapocalyptic devastation and a panicked frenzy of looting. President Bush Senior dispatched the Airborne to restore order.

Keith Farlow had just left for senior year at college in Kentucky. For five days it was as if his parents, indeed the entire island, had vanished. The college’s dean finally got news through a ham radio operator, but crackly reports of his folks barricaded in their street amid a massive gunfight didn’t exactly set Keith’s mind at ease.

St. Croix never seemed the same again, and retirement in Orlando didn’t work for Dave Farlow, who felt lost that far from his ocean.

Then, says Keith, “One day he calls and tells us, ‘I’m opening a restaurant.’

‘Really, Dad? You’re supposed to be retired.’

‘Yup. Found this place called Engle Wood.’”

Rejuvenated by this little Gulf town that echoed the “good St. Croix,” Dave Farlow followed his dream, moved to Englewood, and opened the Country Hound Café. Before long, everybody in town knew the guy behind the counter at the Hound who told such great stories.

Keith and his Kentucky-born bride, Laurie, had a dream, too. They’d just started planning a Caribbean-themed restaurant in Louisville, incorporating Southern-style dishes.

Funny. If it weren’t for Hurricane Hugo, they never would have visited Englewood. Nor would Dave Farlow have been there to catch wind of Englewood’s Flying Bridge II restaurant for sale, right on the water among the mangroves. It was the perfect spot for the kids’ restaurant.

Laurie marvels, “Next thing we know, we’re looking at this restaurant for sale. Then in three months we’re here and Farlow’s opens a month later. We went, ‘What the heck just happened?’”

Dave told everyone at the Hound, “Go check out my son’s new restaurant up the street!” Farlow’s opened like gangbusters.

“I never thought I’d be doing this,” admits Laurie. She’d never even waitressed but had worked with people her whole career. So the first principle of Restaurant Ownership for Dummies, according to Laurie: Hire good people.

“She’s in charge, I’m just the owner,” smiles Keith. “Hey, Dad used to get produce off the boat. At least I don’t have to go meet a boat down the end of Dearborn!”

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TINKERBELL200 7/24/2014 7:50PM

    Very cool the way life unfolds sometimes! Love your writing!

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BROOKLYN_BORN 7/7/2014 8:26AM

    Nice to hear the back story behind a restaurant. I watch "Restaurant Impossible" Of course those stories usually begin badly, but end happily.

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68ANNE 7/6/2014 8:13PM

    First chapter of a great story!

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    No grocery store??? Now that is adventurous and I don't think I would pass the muster on this one. I love anyone who sells ice cream and provides movies though. LOL. Such a shame that it was all destroyed. I'm glad they found a new home they love.

I have an inkling that this is my kind of restaurant. I think I would like the Country Hound Cafe too.

I wish something would happen to move me to a paradise that quickly. Not devastation though. Maybe a bunch of money would do it.................hmmmmm. LOL.

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BETHGILLIGAN 7/5/2014 7:06AM

    Great story!! thanks for sharing!

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_LINDA 7/5/2014 2:02AM

    Another interesting story! Can't wait to read your expanded stories in your new assignment!

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JOYINKY 7/5/2014 1:19AM

    It is the people that make the business and you tell their stories so well! Thanks for sharing.

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_UMAMI_ 7/5/2014 12:55AM

    Nice story, but confusing if you're not a FL native (many Englewoods bogged my mind!).

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CHOCOHIPPO 7/4/2014 8:38PM

    Great story, Suzy. I just love the way you write!

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GABY1948 7/4/2014 6:07PM

    Oh! What a WONDERFUL story, Suzy! And HOW I love your writing! Have a truly blessed weekend!

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JANTHEBLONDE 7/4/2014 3:08PM

    Thanks for sharing! I hope you have a Happy 4th of July! Hugs!
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Not fired after all

Friday, July 04, 2014

Editor’s Note: Sue Wade is being promoted to Let’s Go! on Wednesdays and, starting next Friday, David Morris will move into this spot.

"Let's Go!" is a weekly arts and entertainment magazine blown into each copy of the paper, so although I won't be emblazoned on the front page every Friday, I'll have more space and photo opps in Let's Go!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TINKERBELL200 7/24/2014 7:46PM

    Congrats Suzy! It was just a matter of time before something happened! You are an awesome writer!

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MNNICE 7/10/2014 10:32AM

    Your retirement career is soaring! Way to go!

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BROOKLYN_BORN 7/7/2014 8:21AM

    Congratulations! You deserve it.

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BETHGILLIGAN 7/5/2014 7:13AM

    Congratulations!!! This sounds like a great fit for you!! You can expand your focus!

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JOYINKY 7/5/2014 1:25AM


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_LINDA 7/5/2014 1:20AM

    emoticon news

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_UMAMI_ 7/5/2014 12:52AM

    Good for you! Odd way to "promote" you, though, eh?


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    That is fantastic news!! Why didn't the turkey tell you before that you were being promoted??!!! LOL. I think this sounds even better - a more expansive theme. This should keep you really busy!!

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JANTHEBLONDE 7/4/2014 3:07PM

    That's okay if you're not emblazoned on the front page every Friday! That is awesome you will have more space and photo opps! Thanks for sharing! I hope you have a Happy 4th of July!
Hugs and love!
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Garage sitting

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

ga∙rage sit∙ting noun \gə-ˈräzh, -ˈräj ‘sit-ting : phenomenon in which people sit on lawn chairs in the shelter of a building or part of a building in which a car, truck, etc., is kept

There are front porches up north. People sit on them watching the world go by, smoking outside to keep their houses clean. If you walk around the neighborhood, you can bet these folks will be out. They count on passersby to keep life interesting, and they’re a fine source of neighborhood news.

“How’s it going, Don?”

“Can’t complain, hon! You’re the best thing I’ve seen all week. You hear Ed died?”

In Florida, many folks have a screen-porch lanai in back, where they can sit outside to smoke and keep their house clean. Even better, it might front on a canal. Unless they have neither lanai nor canal.

At some point when they began building homes in the South, they omitted the New England front porch, more’s the pity. This left southerners to their own devices, and garage sitting was born!

Just like porch sitters, garage sitters gaze out on the street to see the world go by.

I can bet on Joe being out in his garage every day. The garage door lifts around 8:30 a.m. and there he is, at a card table surrounded by four or five plastic lawn chairs. Sometimes Joe sits there alone, gazing out on the street. Sometimes a card game with his buddies is in full swing.

I asked Joe, “What’s this thing with sitting in your garage? I get the no-smoking-in-the-house deal, but what else?”

He goes, “Come in and I’ll show you.”

Turns out his house is laid out awkwardly. It has a lovely, but totally enclosed, lanai, in which there’s no way one can smoke while looking out on the canal.

The point is: We are drawn to that space in our homes where we feel the most comfortable.

In New Hampshire we had a homey sunken living room, with a fireplace, which convinced us to buy the house in the first place. We spent no time there. In the summer our comfort zone was the sun room off the back deck, in the piney woods, where skunks and wild turkeys and Amtrak passed by. In the winter, comfort was a rocker by the woodstove with a cat in your lap.

Joe’s 6-year-old grandson has adorned a steel cabinet in the garage with “MAN CAVE” and various happy-face stickers. This is his comfort zone, just as it is Joe’s. Long-haired shag carpet crawls all over inside the house--of which Joe’s grandson says, somewhat fearfully, “If I drop something, it better be on the tiles, grampa, or I’ll never be able to find it again.”

Jim “Magic” Metz has a full workshop counter with overhead TV and swimsuit calendar in his garage, where he can both putz around and be available for conversation when the door is up. His dog, Grady, acts as greeter.

Earl and Sheila have a lovely whitewashed garden bench in the shade on their front lawn, and a red bucket bench with heart cutouts. They never use them. When their smoking sister-in-law shows up for a visit, they sit in lawn chairs in the garage, waving howdy to passersby.

Grace sits out in her garage in a green-webbed lawn chair squeezed between a stack of garage junk and her car. She doesn’t even have a tray table for her ashtray.

And one family in the neighborhood has raised garage sitting to new heights. When they’re open for business, the screened garage door affords a view of a fully furnished family room with exercise bike, leather couches, and a 72-inch wall-mounted TV playing Middle Eastern movies and news all day long.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GINIEMIE 7/3/2014 8:59AM

    My MIL and her friends do garage sitting when they are well. They even have a screen door for the garage to keep the bugs out.
Always enjoy your blogs Suzy, thanks.
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BETHGILLIGAN 7/2/2014 7:54PM

    I've seen this on rare occasions. I'm not sure I'd be a good garage sitter--I'm pretty sure I'd even prefer being a driveway sitter. Garages always smell funky. But, I guess it makes sense in Florida, cooler in the garage. I love how you always find angles and info on things I wouldn't even think of!!!

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CHOCOHIPPO 7/2/2014 7:15PM

    We have a lot of fully furnished garages in my neighborhood

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GABY1948 7/2/2014 8:15AM

    My folks lived down there and I remember the garage sitting....thanks for sharing! emoticon

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RD03875 7/2/2014 8:11AM

    I guess they don't make those HUGE southern verandas anymore. I love my huge deck, it also makes a great snow catcher.
Love the blog

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NEW-CAZ 7/2/2014 2:50AM

    WOW! How interesting!

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_LINDA 7/2/2014 12:39AM

    Wow! Never heard of this one! Our summers are far too short to spend time indoors in a shaded place. Very interesting slice of life though!

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JOYINKY 7/1/2014 11:31PM

    Love the blog! I don't think you've ever met a stranger! I marvel at the stories you get from people. I'm VERY familiar with GARAGE SALES, but garage sitting is new to me. I can see the appeal. Thanks for sharing. :)

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JANTHEBLONDE 7/1/2014 11:13PM

    Thanks for sharing! I hope you had a wonderful day! Hugs!
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SUZYMOBILE 7/1/2014 9:46PM

    OMG, I had no idea I was onto a REAL phenomenon!

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    LOL!!! My MIL and her best friend across the street were garage sitters. At her former old farm house my MIL had a nice porch to sit on but her new house was modern and the front porch was utilitarian - meant to keep you out of the pouring rain while you open the front door. My MIL had a beautiful sun room full of orchids in the back of her house and it was private and had nice rattan patio furniture but the garage got a lot more action. My MIL's best friend explained garage sitting to me. The garage door being up means - Come in, I'm available, let's visit. MIL's garage was decorated in an assortment of tacky stuff. A huge wall sized paper mural of a serene setting with stickers all over it. Other assorted "art", some devoted to a western theme. An unused antique decorative wood stove. A fan. Cheap lawn chairs. Gazing balls and stands. Tons of angel garden statues and decor. Clutter.

I'm not sure I could ever be a garage sitter but I could be a lanai sitter.

Comment edited on: 7/1/2014 9:16:14 PM

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    In my corner of the world 'Garage Sitting' is called a 'Polish Patio'. I have absolutely no idea why.

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Next-to-last column

Friday, June 27, 2014

So it was a good run for five months. My editor called to let me know that they're putting a consumer advice column in place of mine next month. I'm crushed, of course, but I'll lick my wounds and get over it one day. Meanwhile, here's today's story.


B.B. King has said a lot of things about the blues, like “The blues was that problem child that you may have had in the family … but you loved him.”

Luis Rivera Sr. had a problem child, who wouldn’t go to college like his dad wanted. Rivera was a star chef for 45 years--from the Empire State Building’s Riverboat, hangout of Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees, to tropical St. Croix and Puerto Rico, to Tampa’s Avila Country Club, Columbia, and Malio’s.

And if he could see his kid tackling his vocation today, he’d burst with pride. Still, there might be a few things he’d adjust. See, he was a perfectionist, just like his oldest boy.

Ask Luis Jr., of Punta Gorda’s Two Brothers, “Are you like your father?” and his face melts. Then he smiles, wide and warm, as he leans over the table. “I am. And it scares me sometimes. I’m cooking and my brother will say, ‘I see Dad.’ I gave the old man a hard time growing up. He tried to straighten me out. But I was unstraightenable,” he chortles.

A Buddhist monk once gave Luis a personal message that he took to heart: “You have tremendous energy and are going to do well in life. People will be drawn to you.”

So, Lu and younger brother Eddie were having lunch, and Lu started hashing out this restaurant plan, “Built by a Local for Locals,” on a Ruby Tuesday’s napkin. It’s hard to say no when Lu urges, “You wanna? No? Yes? Let’s go!”

Their location, across from the Charlotte County Justice Center, has been home to so many short-lived eateries that there’s talk of a curse.

It takes a determined guy to break a curse, but just to be thorough about things, Lu had a Buddhist-leaning buddy give the property his blessing. He and Eddie tore the whole place apart to boot.

Their goal? A micro version of Tampa’s Ybor City, with Latin food and a house of blues, right here in River City.

Is this going to be too much for them? Consider this.

Lu used to weigh 600 pounds. It’s no small feat to lose nearly half your body. Now “Papa Chubs” gets the pleasure he used to get from food out of taking care of others. No wonder he’s got plans for “Two Brothers Beatdown”—a vicarious 4-pound orgy of hamburger, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles on Cuban bread with fries and slaw, eat in 20 minutes and it’s free.

This man with the cigar also loves music. And if anything can break a curse besides his kind of determination, and a blessing, he knows it’s the blues. Friday nights they’ve had as many as 150 people here, bikers boogying with 75-year-old Punta Gorda gals to national blues recording artists.

Always full of ideas, he exclaims, “Two Brothers Gone Wild! How ‘bout a mechanical bull? Punta Gorda’s full-throttle saloon! A big show on the roof, $1 beers, radio stations doing live feeds!”

Then he settles down, sobered by his one, big, perfectionistic fear--Not failing as a restaurant, but not being as good as he wants to be.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

68ANNE 7/1/2014 5:18PM

    I'm sorry, I hope you keep up writing and find another outlet. I love your creativity and writing style

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CARTOONB 6/28/2014 9:58PM

    Dumb editor! I like the way you write and hope you find a new outlet for your talent.

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    Guess it is time for you to spread your wings and find another topic for a weekly column.. You are cleaver and you will find another creative outlet for your writing that will also give you a paycheck. You can do it!!

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JOYINKY 6/27/2014 9:25PM

    Your articles are such a fun read and make me want to go to these places you share! Can't help but feel it's a BIG editorial blunder. Gotta wonder where it comes from; but who knows what tomorrow will bring? You're on a roll of really fun, good experiences. Ready for the next chapter? I can't wait!

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_LINDA 6/27/2014 8:41PM

    Oh no! So very sorry to hear they are canceling your column!! So not fair!!
Such an interesting one, just like this story! We had a restaurant that had some giant burger that if you could get through it, it would be free, never mind the time limit lol.
Maybe foodies will unite and protest the cancelling of your column! Keeping fingers crossed!!!
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CHOCOHIPPO 6/27/2014 7:24PM

    Susie, so sad to hear about your column. I've really enjoyed it!

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GABY1948 6/27/2014 7:10PM

    I am SO emoticon and I know you will miss the enjoyment of it...but they may ask you back to guest every so often!

Don't forsake us though...go back to your regular blogs...I loved those too!


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BETHGILLIGAN 6/27/2014 5:47PM

    I love your columns!! I am so sad to hear consumer advice is taking over! Somehow, I don't think how to get your whites whiter is going to have the charm and unique flavor you bring to each of your articles.
Loved this one, too! This guy sounds great! That's what you do--make each guy/gal sound great. You find the good and uniqueness of each character. Your editor is an idiot!!

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NEW-CAZ 6/27/2014 5:26PM

    4 POUND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
R>I've enjoyed your pieces, your editor doesn't know a good thing when he sees it. Hope you get another shot at it, you obviously excel in it.
Fantastic reads!!!!

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JANTHEBLONDE 6/27/2014 4:50PM

    Wow! Love your blog! Thanks for sharing! Hope you have a wonderful day! Hugs!
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GINIEMIE 6/27/2014 3:01PM

    Wow, 4 oz is usually enough for me. Sorry Suzy, I've been enjoying your stories. Lu sounds like a character and your Editor a chump...
Not nice of me to call names but 5 months is not long enough to develop a good following. Take care, chin up dear friend.
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    A consumer advice column? Gag!! WTH!! It sounds like the editor is never satisfied. He doesn't know what he wants.

OMG!! A 4 pound hamburger????!!! Could anyone eat this in 20 minutes? I would be sick on a 1 pound hamburger. LOL.

I would like to get some words of advice from a Buddist monk but where is one when you need him. LOL.

Latin food sounds good as does the Blues.

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