2004 started off in a strange way with the fun of my Leap Year birthday, the birds and my getting a larger bedroom apartment but--and there always seems to be a but--after 23 years of owning and really enjoying my 1974 Chevy Caprice convertible I had to sell it. There were a couple of things involved with the main one being that because of my bankruptcies my car insurance rates tripled! Yes folks your insurance rates take into consideration your financial ratings in spite of the fact that I had never been late with my payments or did I ever go without insurance! Also there was the fact that I didn't have the cash--see I was learning-- didn't use credit cards even though the companies were still sending me them!--to reupholster and repaint the car as I did every 3 years. Along with that it was starting to fall apart and I didn't have the money for repairs. I needed new window motors, it was either use the cigarette lighter (Iwas still smoking) or listen to the radio but I couldn't do both and the top frame was rusting out. I became a bus rider a couple of months before I finally was able to sell it. As much as I missed and wanted it I immediately felt the financial advantage of not having a car--the bus wasn't the perfect answer but it worked. The car wouldn't be sold until June 29 but I hadn't used it since February.
Without too much ado Anita became part of the movie, theatre, going out to it group which consisted mainly of Gino, Robert, James and me. Once in awhile Gino's brother would join us or when Robert Igizi came down from New Jersey or someone else we knew. From The Cheesecake Factory to Kilwin's across the street and, for the first time since I had retired two years previously, back to Big Louie's. We went to the Arts Center to see "The Full Monty" and to the 26th Street theatre to see "Iago" based on the Olivier, Leigh and Finch affair. Of course there were the movies like "Laws of Attraction", the long and boring "Touching the Void" not to forget "Connie and Carla" which I have forgotten!
We were still going to the Florida Stage Theatre, which would go out of business in a few years and reopen in 2012 as The Plaza theatre just in time for my Leap Year birthday with the opening attraction being 'my Cassie' Donna McKechnie in her one woman show. Yes I went and I met her and Allen took a picture of her and me together! In 2004 and 2012 I had dinner, with the group back then and Allen the last time , at the Key Lime Seafood House one of the oldest restaurants in Florida, plus being very good and still open !
In May I bought the 2 finches which I named Sugar and cream and on June 12 Jill bought me my first cockatiel. I was having a lot of fun with the birds. Sadly both finches died by the end of August. It wasn't until the end of October that I bought 3 finches and a mixed breed and before I knew it I had 21 finches!!!
Anita, Jill, Robert, James and I went to the Mosaic Theatre to see "Amadeus" and to Sweet Tomatoes afterwards and the next day I heard Byron had a stroke and I have never seen him since nor do I know if he is still alive. He had been at my Leap Year luncheon and had become a good friend of mine over the past few years. In November both Robert Igizi from New Jersey and Chuck from Memphis came down for a visit. We went gambling on the Sea Escape ship and out at the Hard Rock, went to the movies to see "Kinsey" and "The Polar Express" at the IMAX theatre. Chuck, Gino and I went to The Red Star Tavern where they served a huge slice of good carrot cake but they were out of it that evening plus adding injury to insult the food took so long in coming the manager picked up the check! Oh yes, that place is closed now replaced by Seasons 52 which is doing a good business!
Life was going good--at the end of 2004 I got 4 out of 6 numbers in Lotto (no big deal--I won $80 BUT I WON!) I, also, had my favorite book "The Free Prisoner" published. I was ready for 2005.