Warm Greetings To All


Although not as magnificent as Dad’s recent sunset photo, here’s my best sunset on Sarasota Bay.

I hope everyone had as special a holiday as I was blessed with. Hard to believe it’s been about 3 weeks since I last posted here! At first I was impeded by Christmas prep, then busy travelling in Florida, then home and celebrating Christmas with family, then busy with the year-end routines of sorting out old toys and outgrown clothes to be donated so as to make room for the Christmas booty and new clothes that were threatening to overflow our miniscule storage space! Not to mention I’ve also been busy on the quilting front, completing one and already on to the next… AND I’ve been on a dolphin/whale documentary binge. Nevermind. At any rate, I have just been swamped with other stuff. Given the lack of much Armitage-related inspiRAtional material, I hope readers will settle for the highlights of the last few weeks as a sort of reunion. Although… I DID read a Hannibal DVD transcript (thanks, Richard Armitage Central!) and a spoof piece DID suggest itself… we’ll see! LOL

Florida Vacation!


My travel companion. With Ducky.

It was a ton of fun! The travel day wasn’t bad, though we did narrowly avoid a complete calamity when we irresponsibly allowed Little Sister to take charge of Ducky during our layover in Atlanta. As we were boarding the flight for Orlando, making our way down the airplane aisle, she suddenly panicked, and with good reason. You know that one stuffed animal (or blanket, or whatever it may happen to be) that is a small child’s most beloved possession? The one that gets tattered and filthy and hauled around everywhere and must be in the bed at night to achieve a restful and comforting sleep? Well, that’s Ducky. And she accidentally left him at the gate. With all the airport security, I knew they wouldn’t let us get off the plane to search for him, so I figured we were toast… but an astute stewardess immediately noticed the little girl with the tragic face and the tears rolling down her cheeks, and asked if she could help. Figuring it was worth a shot, we told her there was a profoundly important yellow stuffed duck somewhere in the airport (we weren’t sure where!) and she said she’d have them check the gate area. A phone call and a few minutes later, along came our savior with the treasured, ratty old thing! Saved our bacon, as the loss of Ducky would have put a severe damper on Little Sister’s entire vacation!



Dad and the kiddos, enjoying the underwater portion of the penguin exhibit.


Penguins! They’re pretty darn cute.

The first full day, Dad drove to Orlando and the five of us went to SeaWorld, where we enjoyed all the sights and had the opportunity to pet and interact with one of the dolphins, which is something I’ve always really wanted to do. The kids loved it, and we enjoyed ourselves, but if I’m honest, I have to say that the idea of dolphins and especially whales held in captivity for the entertainment and amusement of humans, does bother me. And that was BEFORE I got on my whale/dolphin documentary kick. Nevermind.





Their faces pretty much say it all! And they’re just the perfect age to believe in the magic of it! =)

On days 2 and 3, we hit Magic Kingdom. I was impressed with how incredibly clean the park was, and how amazingly high-tech it all is! They even have this “My Disney Experience” app that can tell you your location in the park, help you navigate, and has up-to-the-minute information on the wait times for every attraction, and even lets you change your fast-passes (each visitor gets three per person per day) on-the-go. So if you have fast passes for Pirates of the Caribbean, but see that there’s only a 15 minute wait time, you can switch your fast pass right there on your cell phone to something that has a longer wait time. I just thought that was the bee’s knees! LOL



Big Thunder Mountain! Wheeeeeeee!

My Young Love was my major partner for both days at Magic Kingdom… he and I both LOVE the roller coasters, while Little Sister and Hubby are both chickens aren’t big on anything too fast or scary. So the two of us hit Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain a ridiculous number of times together, while Hubby and Little Sister stuck to the Flying Dumbos and other boring gentler rides.



The whirling teacup ride was my favorite one with Little Sister. Hubby can’t tolerate the spinning, so that was our special ride together!

That is, until Little Sister got really hot at the end of the day, and decided that Splash Mountain really sounded refreshing. She decided to brave it, and since Hubby’s main issue is with whirling and going fast in circles rather than going fast downhill, we all went as a family. Splash Mountain is one of those log rides, and it’s pretty tame all the way up through the “mountain” with a lot of fun animated characters to look at, which she totally loved, and then the big drop at the end, which she tolerated really well, and felt refreshed after the nice splash! However, once she had Splash Mountain under her belt, she now announced that she was ready for Big Thunder Mountain, which is a pretty zippy and wild roller-coaster, and unfortunately she was just tall enough to do so. Hubby and I had our doubts, and required her to watch the roller-coaster go by a few times, reminding her that it was really fast and pretty scary, but she decided to listen to her brother instead, who assured her it was AWESOME! Well, as one might well predict, it ended badly. Although Young Love and I fully enjoyed ourselves for the umpteenth time on Big Thunder Mountain, Hubby developed nausea and Little Sister was bawling by the end of it. She not only wanted to leave the ride…. not only wanted to leave Magic Kingdom… she insisted she was ready to return to Oklahoma! Oops! Kind of a Parental Fail! Lol. Plus, even though she had loved the Splash Mountain before her horrendous ride on the roller-coaster, once we talked her into staying in Florida with us, she never would go back to Splash Mountain, either!


The one… the only… ELSA!

For all the fun we had riding the many thrilling rides, at the end of the day, Little Sister reported that the best thing for her, in the entire theme park, was a jungle gym she played on while waiting in line for The Flying Dumbos. And that was not even the most surprising revelation. When I questioned my Young Love about his favorite thing in the entire theme park (certain he would shout “SPACE MOUNTAIN!!!”), he hesitated not at all before declaring it was the opportunity to meet Queen Elsa, of Frozen fame. And here we thought we’d joined that excessively long queue for Little Sister’s benefit! =)



It happened in two minutes!

The kids were so worn out by the end of the second day that they both zonked out in the car by the time we’d navigated out of the giant parking area at Disney! We had to carry them inside when we got to Dad’s condo in Sarasota, and this is what they woke up to the following morning!




Peace and quiet. Glorious!



We had a lovely time at the theme parks, but man, it was so nice to take it easy for a few days, enjoy glasses of wine, great food, and the beautiful scenery on Sarasota Bay. Best of all was the chance to spend time with Dad and my grandfather, Papa, who also lives nearby.




Enjoying our traditional holiday drink, milk punch, which is basically a frothy, icy concoction of milk, rum and creme de cacao… I celebrated my birthday with my beloved Papa!

Papa is 92 years old and still absolutely as sharp as ever. He has a hard time walking, but still lives on his own and manages to ride his bike 10 miles per day. How in the world Papa gets on the bike, I don’t know… but apparently once he’s on, it’s off to the races! And he knows more about wines than anyone I’ve ever met. =)


The next few days we went to Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island in the afternoons, which was a huge hit with the kids. It was blue skies, waves, white sand, and most importantly… baby clams. Actually I have no idea how old the clams were, but they were pretty tiny, and after every pass of the surf, we’d see them bury themselves in the sand, only to be disrupted by the next wave. The kids loved those clams, and made it their mission to “rescue” them in droves, returning them to deeper waters, endlessly and repeatedly for three days straight! They desperately wanted to bring a contingent of baby clams home to Oklahoma, but that might have been a bit stinky… LOL!

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Although it was a grave disappointment to both of them that I wouldn’t allow them to transport clams across state lines, we still managed to have a blast at the beach! We saw several dolphins while we were there, and in one of my photos… maybe… a shark! (Though it might have been another dolphin… I didn’t see it at the time… just taking a photo of the kids, and saw the fin in the photo that evening!)

Home For Christmas


There on the front end just under the “jaws” you can see the motor, which slides along a track that runs down the belly of the shark. Depending on the motor’s location, it will  tip the nose up or down, and the tail can be made to move in either direction with the remote control to propel the shark through the air… it’s pretty neat! So it “swims” up, down, can turn in either direction, or just drift on the warm air currents through the house!

We travelled home just in time for Christmas Eve, and had a pretty cool surprise planned for the kids from Santa. A couple of months ago, the kids had a school fundraiser in which they were asked to sell chocolate bars. The Grand Prize for any kid who sold some incredibly ridiculous number of bars (like, thousands) was this enormous, remote-controlled helium balloon shark. Our kids (and hundreds of others) went gaga over the prize, and they swore they’d sell the most bars, but because we (and they) are slackers they didn’t win the prize. Heartbreak, I tell you!


The dang thing took over an hour to assemble! We were up until 1 am!

However, Hubby discovered the helium shark on Amazon for about $30, and ordered it for Christmas. I procured a tank of helium at the party store, and after the kids went to bed on Christmas Eve, we assembled and inflated the idiotic thing! We thought it would be a quick matter of attaching it to the helium tank and filling it up… but actually we had to assemble the motor and track and tail apparatus, then carefully add ballast to a little compartment… not what we’d really wanted to do after a long day of travel! Anyway, we were a bit slap-happy after we finally had the shark working, so we took a nice goofy selfie!


Showing off their Christmas Dinner attire… and their favorite present!

Needless to say, it was a huge hit with the kids the following morning. We set the alarm early so we wouldn’t miss the kids’ initial reactions when they discovered what Santa had brought them, and enjoyed some early morning quiet time with the shark. When the heater would kick on, creating warm air currents throughout the living room, the shark would go on the move. I’d wanted him to be hovering near the stockings, but he had his own ideas. When the kids finally emerged, they went bananas! It was definitely one of Santa’s better ideas! The shark hovered over the early morning Christmas festivities and occasionally nosed us, but nobody was bitten! =)

And… that’s probably long-winded enough! LOL

Here’s to the New Year! Looking forward to getting back “in touch” with the fandom! I have hopes that 2016 will be full of Armitage goodness for all of us! =)







  1. Guylty · January 6, 2016

    That sounds like a really wonderful holiday. And in the sun. I can hardly imagine Christmas in shorts and t-shirts. – Your grandpa is 92? He does not look it at all!
    Happy 2016 – and looking forward to the “spoof”!!!


    • jholland · January 6, 2016

      I’m still pondering the spoof! And yes, Papa is quite a youthful 92! He’s really a joy to be around. And a big part of why we wanted to get to Florida this year.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. CraMERRY · January 6, 2016

    What a nice report! And happy new year for you too. 🙂
    I know exactly what you mean about the stuff duck. My daughter had her terry cloth frog for over 11 years at her side. I had to mend him several times and over the years, his look changed. And then he disappeared while we stayed in NY in the Hotel! Big disaster! She left him in bed and maybe he was removed with the bedclothes by the roomservice. He was never found again. Lost in the laundry. It was tragic, although she was nearly 12 😀


    • jholland · January 6, 2016

      That is tragic! To have that dear, beloved frog just disappear while on vacation, and nothing you can really do, no real replacement is possible for such items! The level of our relief when Ducky reappeared can not be adequately described! LOL

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Helen · January 6, 2016

    Sounds like a great holiday! 😀 Those airline people deserve a medal for finding ducky!


    • jholland · January 6, 2016

      Yes, and I took down the name of the stewardess. I’m going to write to the airline and mention her kindness. It seems like a small act, but truly it spared Little Sister from very real heartbreak!


  4. KellyDS · January 6, 2016

    your post made me all nostalgic! my husband proposed to me on Anna Maria Island, and we’ve been to Disney World several times. I love The Magic Kingdom, especially It’s a Small World & the Carousel of Progress 🙂


    • jholland · January 6, 2016

      Aw, where did he propose? It’s a lovely island. Little Sister was entranced with It’s a Small World, and the joy and wonder on her face made it one of my favorite rides, too. Carousel of Progress was cool! I wasn’t sure whether the kids would really be interested, but our feet were tired and there was no wait, so we gave it a go… we ended up really liking it, and the kids were engaged, too. =)


  5. Esther · January 6, 2016

    Sounds like a greay holiday! Wow, lucky the duck was found! My kids still sleep with their stuffed… well, I can’t even explain what they are. 😉 And I’m with your husband and daughter on hating rollercoasters… Lucky my kids are old enough to go by themselves now! And that shark sounds like a genius move. 🙂 Nice to have you back and happy new year!


    • jholland · January 6, 2016

      Thanks, Esther! The shark was a fun one, and memorable, to be sure! However, the sad news is it didn’t last all that long. It started to deflate a couple days later, and although we couldn’t locate the leak, refilling it doesn’t work for long. I think Hubby has plans to get some run-of-the-mill helium balloons and attach the motor and fin components and see what happens, just for fun! And yes, the duck scare was very real! LOL

      Liked by 1 person

      • Esther · January 7, 2016

        Ugh, bummer about the shark! But I like the experimental sound of the new plan too. 🙂


  6. richardtreehouse · January 6, 2016

    It sounds like a wonderful holiday. Totally amazing that they found ducky!! Wow, a shark – that will be hard to top ;-D


    • jholland · January 6, 2016

      Oh, totally! The shark was quite inspired… it was really rewarding to see their astonished and delighted reactions!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Perry · January 6, 2016

    Really, JHolland – not one photo of a clam? What type were they? Were they like cockles? Next time bring an oyster knife to the beach. Oh – maybe you’re a nonclamatarian. I recall that there’s a giant clam you’re found of. (Hello out there – what’s a better word?)
    Glad to have you back. I love travelogues and it seems like the buddy system worked really well. I’m as surprised as you that your son liked Elsa best.


    • jholland · January 6, 2016

      Oh, I enjoy shellfish! Oysters Rockefeller is one of my favorite family recipes, though a lot of work to open the oysters, I’m told. (Thankfully I’ve never had that task!) Here’s a photo of the clams… they were about the size of pinky fingernails!

      If truth be told, while he named Elsa as his number one attraction, he acted pretty darned thrilled to meet Ariel, the Little Mermaid, as well!


      • Perry · January 7, 2016

        They look like coquinas, a cockle. The smallest clams I’ve had were periwinkles, shaped like a tiny conch. A pain in the neck to eat ( you need a pick), but I’ve had them in Maine, straight from tidal pools, and in Cannes. Thanks for the pic. I’m an oyster fan also. I used to love going to oyster bars and sampling specimens from both coasts. I’ve clammed for steamers and chowder clams right outside a friends house, and (mussels), enjoyed razor clams in Italy and at home, and snaffled a few Peconic bay scallops, (which we cooked) -one of my favorite foods in the world). I have passed on the geoduck – too ugly, even for me. Next year – bring the knife – but your children may weep.


        • jholland · January 7, 2016

          The beach is called Coquina Beach, so that’s a likely identification. I’ve never seen so many live clams on a beach. I don’t think the kids would approve of anyone eating the baby clams they worked so tirelessly to “save”! We really enjoyed all the fresh seafood. Oddly, the best scallops I’ve ever had were here in Oklahoma, though, at a restaurant called Vast. Pan-seared diver scallops with a tangy star fruit sauce. My mouth waters at the memory! =)


  8. suzy · January 7, 2016

    Happy new year for you! And thank you for the nice pics. You have a wonderful family.
    My son loved his little rabbit for many years. We bought 3 of the same rabbits because they did not last very long, He loved them so much 🙂


    • jholland · January 7, 2016

      Thanks, Suzy! I can’t count the number of times we wished we had a Ducky Clone (or 2!) She has a big collection of stuffed animals, but none can hold a candle to Ducky! We actually did buy her an alternate yellow stuffed animal duck one time, of similar size but just not the same. That’s her surrogate if she misplaces Ducky, but that “other duck” is totally a second-class citizen! =)


  9. Andrea Númellóte · January 7, 2016

    Lovely pics! Happy 2016 to you, too! 😀


  10. Gratiana Lovelace · January 7, 2016

    Sounds like you had loads of fun! Thanks for sharing! And kudos to your dad getting on his bike at 92 for 10 miles! I’ll have to tell my bike riding hubby that one. Cheers!


    • jholland · January 7, 2016

      Lol- yes, Papa makes me feel pretty sluggish. He’s my grandfather, and as far back as I can remember he’s valued fitness. When I was a kid Papa would ride his bike to and from work in mountainous Colorado, 35 miles round-trip! So by his own standards he’s out of shape… =)

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Servetus · January 7, 2016

    Glad that everyone survived intact and you had such a nice time!


    • jholland · January 7, 2016

      We totally enjoyed ourselves! And returning to work after vacation was unusually pleasant. It might have something to do with Thorin lurking about in my office. =)

      Liked by 1 person

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