E-One Factory: Helping Heroes with the Right Stuff

Every kid wants to be a hero. One of the best things about being a hero is all the really cool gadgets a hero gets to use, the technology that is a part of their everyday existence. The E-One Factory makes vehicles for heroes. They engineer and build the complete vehicle - chassis, cab, body, tank and aerial devices. Every machine is built to precisely engineered specifications because there is no margin for error when heroes are at work.

The E-one Factory, right off Exit 350 of I-75 in Ocala, builds fire trucks and rescue vehicles. Ninety minute tours of the 42,000 square foot factory are given at 9 and 11 am on Tues and Thurs. Closed toed shoes are required for safety and comfortable clothing is recommended.

Founded in 1974, E-One turns out about ten new vehicles per week. They build everything from the most basic hook and ladder to the most sophisticated, specially equipped rescue unit, complete with exterior access to medical equipment, all suitable for use under the most adverse conditions. Their product line includes custom and commercial pumpers and tankers, aerial ladders and platforms, rescues vehicles of all sorts and sizes, quick attack units, industrial trucks, and aircraft rescue firefighting vehicles to meet the needs of fire departments, rescue/EMS squads, airports and Homeland Security agencies. They supply government, private and volunteer agencies across the country, including Hillsborough County, Florida.

Sheila Williams greets guests in the reception area, where disclaimers, protective wraparound goggles and earpieces are distributed. After hopping on the golf cart, Ben Davis drives past the trucks in front of the administrative building. One of the units is the Hybrid Energy Command Center, combining electric and diesel for power, built for Homeland Security, the FBI and other protective agencies. It was used by the Superbowl security team and ran 24 hours a day for eight days, but used only 38 gallons of fuel

What makes E-One vehicles unique is that they are made of extruded aluminum, which is much stronger than aluminum sheets which have been pounded into shape. Extrusion is a molding process. The molten aluminum is poured into specially made casts. After it solidifies, the molds are removed. The pieces are slotted together and all seams are welded for strength. E-One vehicles are so strong that they have files of accident reports, vehicles which have rolled down cliffs or off bridges into ravines or creeks, where the occupants are unhurt and sometimes, the vehicle can still be driven.

Imagine working in a mirror, but the reflected view is also upside down. That is how E-One vehicles are made. The interior chassis framework is built, then the electrical and plumbing is installed. As much as possible, the electrical/computer systems are modular based, neat snap together units, very sophisticated in their purpose, very simple in their execution. After the infrastructure is laid in, the exterior shell is attached. The chassis is sanded and painted. Vehicles can be ordered in any color determined by the municipality; there are over 350 shades of red alone. A total of one coat of primer, three coats of paint and two coats of clearcoat are applied.

The stairs and flat surfaces are prefinished with texturing. Swirls are pressed into the flat vertical surfaces to provide a slight amount of traction and reduce reflective glare. The swirls also hide minor scratches, keeping the vehicle looking good longer. The swirl press is the only fully automated machine in the factory. Horizontal surfaces may have multiple holes punched in them, looking like ground that a golf shoe has walked over, to induce skid resistance and help water [from rain or the pumps] flow away from the truck. This trademarked design is called “Gator Grip.” The hole puncher is a die, with the actual holes punched by a person. Interiors may be further finished with a faux concrete or faux granite look, strictly to be eye-pleasing in looks and comfort.

Tanks are made of polyurethane, which is weather, rot and mold resistant and light weight. These may hold water, but more often are used for chemical mixing to make the foam which smothers oil, car or chemical fires. Oil and chemical fires can spread if water is thrown on them.

After the vehicles are fully assembled, they are ‘third party tested.’ Independent inspectors test that the vehicles do what they are supposed to do. They test the pump rate (depending on the vehicle, 1280 to 2000 gallons per minute pumped), the balance of partly and fully extended ladders, the rotation ability of the ladders and cherry pickers, flexibility of the artifical arms. The balance of a hook and ladder is very precise because a fully extended ladder may extend 75 ft away from the truck and has to be counterbalanced by the truck chassis and front to prevent tipping.

After the working parts and mechanicals are tested, the vehicle is inspected again to make sure nothing got missed in the ‘trim-out.’ This also entails putting the truck through a high-pressure car wash, to make sure it is fully water-proof. If there is even an infinitesimal leak or seam open, it could short the electrical or computer systems, rendering the vehicle fully or partly inoperable.

At the end of the tour, we were allowed to sit in cabs, press buttons, blow sirens, make lights flash, climb through the various parts of the vehicle and have a blast.

E-One is a delight for children of all ages. Take I-75 North to Exit 350 (Hwy. 200 / College Rd.). Turn left on Hwy 200 and then right onto S.W. 38th Court. Proceed to the stop sign and turn right onto S.W. 38th Avenue. This road runs parallel to I-75, follow it to the light and turn right onto 20th Street. Go under I-75 and turn left on S.W. 37th Avenue. The phone number is (352) 861-3524. They can be reached on the web at http://www.e one.com/index.asp. Cost of the tour is $8 for adults, children ages 6 to 12 and senior citizens (over 55) are $6. Firefighters are admitted free. Children under six are not allowed as a safety precaution.

Florida State Championship 2008 Road Race: EAT MY DUST

Leaning against a tree by the side of the road, camera at ready, you notice the quiet. In the field across the way, a handful of horses nibble at the grass. It is a pastoral scene reminiscent of a 19th century painting.

The horses lift their heads, their ears flicking back and forth. Peering down the road, you hear a faint swoosh-swoosh. And then he is past, faster than the shutter speed of the camera, followed by a second and a third rider. These three lead riders, who have broken away from the pack earlier, are a half mile down the road before the lead car, a white pickup, appears, escorting the main group of road racers. Its lights flashing, the lead car maintains a steady pace followed by the twenty or so riders in their moisture wicking nylon/spandex shorts and jerseys.

Swoosh-swoosh-swoosh, the soft whistle made by the air passing over the racing wheels shifts to a higher pitch as the forty legs move in syncopation. As each rider passes you at 30, 35, perhaps even 40 miles per hour, the pitch drops again. While the riders are not huddled together, as they were at the start line, they are still close enough to touch. They know just how far apart they have to be for safety and how close together to minimize wind resistance.

The end car trails behind, with its cargo of spare tires, screws, clips, allen wrenches and other emergency accouterments which might be needed on an eighty minute, thirty-odd mile road race.

A few stragglers follow, those who are having an ‘off’ day, who are not as well trained or are just plain tired, but they too will find that small spot of pride which gives them the final push to finish, even under the most adverse conditions. The stragglers get caught full-on in the sudden Florida downpour the leads avoided and the huddle flew through.

It is the Florida State Championship Road Race 2008 (FSC) and it is beautiful. The combination of man (or woman) and machine coming together to achieve a level of speed and artistry, using the greatest muscle of them all, the brain, to plan strategy for a race against other road racers who are as well or better equipped and trained is impressive.

The FSC covers two days and includes races for individuals from the age of ten to seventy-plus. Races are segregated by age and sex; the teens are broken into four groups and the adults into five year age groupings for the men and ten year brackets for the women. There are two teens, two women and five men’s races on Saturday, some of the age brackets having been combined. On Sunday, only the adults race and they are divided by category and sex, category being determined by results of previous races. Most of the adult road races are 21 to 49 miles in length and run about 90 minutes. The espoirs, males ages 19 to 22, who presumably are at the peak of their youthful strength, have a 56 miles race and on Sunday, the category 1 and 2 racers, the professional contenders, will clock 75 miles.

They line up, on their carbon or titanium machines, thin racing wheels, jazzed up with the latest gear cassettes. The Cat 5s (minimal or no previously recorded racing experience) cast longing looks at the Cat 3s (some experience, having achieved reportable racing results) who, in turn look to the Cat 1s and 2s (professional level racers). Meanwhile the ‘Freds,’ those who think spending enough money on their gear will compensate for inadequate or desultory training, cannot figure out why they are not the leaders of the pack and remain bemused by their lack of success.

In some ways, a bike race is like any other race and in others, it is totally its own beast. There is a start and a finish line, a course to be run, rules to be followed, which will vary according to the type of race, timers to be collected and distributed. However, there are no cars crashing, no revving of engines, no ‘snaps’ called out to opponents. During road races, except for the announcements at the beginning and end, and the counting of laps, almost total quiet pervades, the concentration a palpable thing, not dissimilar to a chess match or surgical suite. As much as the bikers are racing each other, they are racing against themselves, striving to achieve whatever level of perfection they are capable of obtaining, taking something home from each race that they can use to improve their skills in the future.

Racing breaks down into three segments: road racing, time trials and criterium. Road racing is speed racing against other bikers, distance determined by the catagogy of racer. Time trials are run with a computerized chip, a kind of stop watch, tracking the rider’s individual time, irrespective of anyone else racing or the skill level of the other racers. Criterium races, which are street races and highly technical, are generally a set time and so many laps of courses that generally vary from .7 to 1.5 miles. The racers may have five or six closely spaced turns to handle and crashes are not infrequent. To the unintiated, crits look like bike messengers run amok. Racing requires dedication: training, time, money, love, ambition.

Practically anyone can ride and enjoy the experience, whether you plop yourself on an $80 special from a variety store or a specially made model, which can cost upwards of $10,000. Custom Serotta frames alone can cost $7,000. Add brakes, derailleurs, wheels, seats, computers and you're well into the double digits. Having a bike fitted properly, getting a helmet comfortable enough that you will wear it and cycling shoes suitable for riding (with or without clipless pedals) will enhance your ride. Devotion, training, enthusiasm, group rides will improve your skills and teach road safety as well.

Group rides are useful training tools. In addition to the enjoyment of riding with others, they are an efficient way to improve your knowledge and skills. Road safety, how to ride in a huddle, maintaining safe distance, communication cues can all be learned during group rides. While traffic can be daunting to a solo rider, a group offers protection and community, keeping vehicular traffic at bay.

As gas prices soar, bike riding becomes more than a pleasant afternoon, more than a competitive sport; it becomes a viable alternative means of transportation. This two-wheel solution, in addition to not requiring the use of fossil fuels, promotes strong muscles, aerobic conditioning, weight loss and improves the temperament. The endorphins released during exercise and the increased metabolic activity last long after the cycling shoes are packed away.

Bicycle riding, at whatever level you choose to ride, can change your perception. Whether you are a dilettante clocking a few miles now and then, a critical mass biker parading down the avenue, a racer devoting every weekend to the sport, an avid cyclist pulling down 200 to 300 miles a week or a triathlete combining cycling with swimming and running, there is a level of equipment and group to support you in your quest for fitness, fun and fatigued satisfaction.

For more information on riding and racing, go to www.floridacycling.com, www.floridafreewheelers.com, http://floridawomencycling.blogspot.com, www.probicycle.com/mainnet.html, http://alansnel.blogspot.com, www.tbfreewheelers.com, http://oliverscycles.com, http://stpetecm.cjb.net. A calendar of upcoming races may be viewed at http://www.floridacycling.com/calendars/racing.asp

NB: If any readers catch “the bug,” the paper will deny any responsibility for that occurrence.

Disclaimer: Robyn rides an $80 junker four days a week. Every now and then, she is forced onto a Cannondale Six13 Feminine 6 (compact) in the hopes that she be infected and train for the “Bike MS150" to be held on September 20-21, 2008.

UPDATE: Robyn has recently upgraded to a 1994 Cannondale SuperV900 and joined an "urban assault" group.

Interview with a Vampire

For our readers who wondered about the prolonged absence of our “Day Trippin’” correspondent, Robyn Weinbaum, here’s the low down: not only was she swamped with tax work, but she and her friend, Gene Hodes, finished and released their mystery/thriller, Mastermind (available at www.52782.authorworld.com, barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com)

GN: So you’ve been a busy woman. Tell me about ‘Mastermind.’
Robyn: It’s a very nasty psychological thriller set in Boca Raton. Bête Noire, the murderer, leaves a bloody trail of fabricated evidence framing Michael Case, a billionaire genius/inventor who can’t manage to match his socks. Since some of the murders take place in New York City, Hannah Gold, an NYPD detective with a PhD in psychopathology, is brought in as a consultant. She and Michael unite to figure out who the murderer is and why he is killing both specific and random persons, what the killer really wants. Each murder is well-crafted both in commission of the murder and in the orchestration of the publicity. It’s like dominos or chess. Every move has a choice of possible countermoves. Watching the persons in the book make various choices, why they do what they do, is fascinating. And the secondary characters? Everyone is in love with Ying. Ying is the eccentric butler, hardware and software wizard or Michael’s brother. Or all three or none of the above. Chiefs Tittle and Getz are just all around good guys. The murderer, Bête Noire? He could be anyone, anyone at all: Michael, Van Dyck, Ying, Malone, Connors.. This is a guy who steals from the corner candy store after he kills the owners, who celebrates his high school graduation by burning down the family farm with Mom and Dad inside. Bete Noire’s twin sister, Emerald, is smarter and if possible, more evil than he is. When he burned down the farm, she wanted to make s'mores. These are some bad-ass dudes. Gene and I wrote this book and it scared us.

GN: A book collaboration is difficult. How did you meet Gene and work on ‘Mastermind’?
Robyn: Gene and I have known each other for a while, a few years now. We were introduced by some friends and hit it off. We knew there was something we were meant to do together. At first we thought we were destined to make the ultimate latke, but this is so much better. We get along great, we love each other, we love working together-as long as we are 200 miles apart. In fact we have three or four other book projects in various stages of completion right now.

GN: Wait a sec. Two hundred miles apart? How do you work two hundred miles apart?
Robyn: It’s easy with phone and Internet. We send things back and forth all day long. When we are in the same place, we get distracted by our different eating, sleeping and work patterns. I need quiet to work with long exercise breaks. Gene needs the TV with frequent cigarette breaks. Anyway, Gene wrote the first version of ‘Mastermind’ in two weeks or so and gave it to me to read. I told him exactly what I thought, that it needed editing and fact checking, but the plot was a real page turner. I’ve read hundreds of mysteries and I had to finish it, see how it turned out. So we sat down, I gave him a list of what I thought had to be changed. Next thing I know, twelve weeks, over 500 hours and 362 pages fly by and we have a book to release. At this point, we can’t tell who did what and we can’t wait to do it again.

GN: Well, it does seem to work for the two of you. Tell me about Gene.
Robyn: Gene is a semi-retired psychologist. The information on the psychopathological personality is based on his professional font of knowledge. He has worked with persons with very twisted, sick fantasies. Scary, isn’t it? Working with psychopathologically damaged individuals is not pleasant. The psychopathological personality REALLY does not give a hoot about anyone or anything except as it serves his/her purpose. You can work with them from now until doomsday, but they just don’t get it, they can’t get it. They are missing that piece of the soul which governs the super ego, the ability to put oneself in another’s place. Gene has practiced all over the United Sates, but mostly in New York and Florida. He specializes in high-risk intervention, substance abuse, sexual and psychological abuse. He prefers to work with the whole family because a person doesn’t exist in a vacuum nor were they created in a vacuum. If you get the whole family invested in treatment, the actual patient has support and reinforcement of new behavior patterns. It is a very tough field, very painful.

GN: This is very different from your usual work.
Robyn: Yes, it is. I like to create thought provoking pieces, romantic, wistful poems, and curious flash fiction and, I hope, add to the positive balance in the universe. Even a vicious murder mystery adds to the positive balance by giving the reader an escape and allowing the reader a catharsis, a release of tension and stress. You lose yourself in a good book-I hope it’s a good book, anyway! - and come away relaxed, and ready to slay another day’s dragons.

GN: How long have you been writing?
Robyn: I’ve been writing all my life, since before I could even write. When I was maybe four, I realized that I could put words together and make new stories or poems. I’d ask my mom to write them down for me, read them back, I’d make changes and then I’d draw pictures to go with the work. Lots of kids do that; only thing is I’ve never stopped doing it. As I’ve gotten older, my love of words and desire to paint with words has gotten stronger.

GN: Paint with words? That’s a lovely image. Can you explain that?
Robyn: If I could actually paint or sculpt or make music, create beauty in some other way, I’d never write. But I can’t. What I can do is put words together in ways that are lyrical, that pull an image from the reader’s being, recall an experience or emotion, open someone’s eyes, cause a frisson of desire, love, fear, recognition, make someone think. It is a great honor and responsibility to use words for good, for happy, to promote well-being. There is more than enough grief, anxiety and hurt out there. I want my words to heal. If that means ripping the scabs off my own wounds, fine. I do what I have to do. If one reader feels, then the work is a success.

GN: I know you do ‘open mic’ at least once a week. What is that?
Robyn: ‘Open mic’ is short for ‘open microphone.’ No reservations required no reservations about what you perform. You sign up and read or recite what excites you. I generally read a chapter from our book and a piece of flash fiction [short fiction, under 500 words] and a poem. When I’m on open mic and I get that pause at the end, that gasp of recognition which means my work ‘hit’ it is the best feeling because I’ve made something happen. Maybe, just maybe, someone will be inspired to go home and change his or her life. Or maybe try a new recipe for poached pears. Of course, sometimes, even though my work is edited and critiqued, I bomb. I fall flat on my face, which hurts. But I learn from it. I reread the work, consider my presentation, and most important, try to figure out where I was opaque instead of transparent, where I failed my words. I have a small poster that says, “Read it like a writer. Write it like a reader.” I try. I may not succeed all the time, but I try.

GN: Thank you, Robyn.
Robyn: Thank YOU, Gary.

‘Mastermind’ can be ordered at www.52782.authorworld.com. It will be available at barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com in a few weeks. To experience more of Robyn’s world, visit her at www.wingedunicorn0205.blogspot.com.

UPDATE: Mastermind can be ordered through all retail outlets

Sally Factory: Seeing the Light at the Great American Dark Ride Company

“Draw, podner.”

“Give me a quarter and I’ll tell you your fortune.”

“Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to stop the Intergalactic Confederacy of Ducks. Line them up and take them down!”

Interactive arcade-type rides and exhibits are the hallmark of Sally: The Great American Dark Ride Company. Located in downtown Jacksonville, about 3-1/2 hours to the north east, Sally has factory tours every Tues and Thurs, from 9 am to 1 pm, September through June. These tours are complimentary, although reservations are required. (http://www.sallycorp.com). This is not a closed, specially designed walk through where the highlight of the tour is a sticker and a candy bar at the end. This is an in-your-face, behind the scenes factory tour, where you can see abstracts, designs and working models of rides and arcade games, almost anything it is possible to conceive of, in all stages of development.

If you have ever been to a carnival, an amusement park or seen a parade, you’ve seen their work. Sally supplies rides and audio animatronics to almost all the major theme parks, movie studios, corporations and amusement parks. They built the sets for Disney on Ice: Aladdin and Disney on Ice: Hercules. Their clients include Universal Studios (the ET ride) Hershey Park in Pennsylvania, Ripley’s Believe it Or Not: USA, San Diego’s Legoland and Give Kids the World of Orlando, among others. Some of their more popular “shows” are the “Bubba Bear ‘s Badland Band” country-western bear band; “Magic Island’s” singing tropical birds; “Jungle Jamboree” a Broadway style musical with over twenty audio-animatronic animals. You may have seen these at the Florida State Fair in Tampa. They are also responsible for the terrifying Haunted House and the Great Pistelero Roundup at the Myrtle Beach, SC, the Olde Mill Ride at Rye Playland in New York. Jocco’s Mardi Gras Madness in Jazzland, NO, was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina

Sally was founded 30 years ago by an undergrad student looking to pad a speech requirement for a final exam and avoid having to present and argue it in public. He designed a talking head which he named Sally to do this. That robot was the genesis of this company, which now has about forty employees and commands a factory of over 40,000 square feet.

The staff includes artists, programmers, costumers, construction crew, electricians, engineers, and hydraulics and pneumatics specialists, among others. The factory is divided into areas and the tour goes through each area except the administrative. This is a good thing because no one wants to watch bean counters at work, not even their fellow bean counters. They are a full-service entertainment provider, from initial design concept to maquette (detailed, scaled model of finished product) to software design to finished product, whether that product is an interactive dark ride or a single robot used to greet guests at a corporate meeting or convention center.

A dark ride is a fully enclosed ride where surprises wait around each bend. Every aspect of the environment is controlled to heighten the experience, light, sound, even scents and perfumes are included in the design to intensify the experience for the guest. An interactive dark ride is an enclosed ride where the guest does something to impact the ride, perhaps laser target shooting, choosing between paths or spinning to avoid falling debris.

Julie Cornell, our tour guide, greets each group at the back entrance to the facility. Behind a glass wall, crew members are putting the finishing touches on a life size robot, testing the movements and fine-tuning the hydraulics (air pressure powered joints which allow the robot to bend and flex its body parts). In the auditorium, Julie explains the history of the Sally Corporation, tells us that there will be multiple exit points to the tour if anyone feels it is too intense and promises us that every one will have a chance to test an interactive device. After this short orientation, safety goggles are distributed and the tour begins.

The first area is the sketch and design area. The walls are covered with sketches, paintings, posters and the tables littered with maquettes. Artists work on the look and flow of the ride here, whether the mummies will be 8 or 10 feet tall, how far apart, how sharp the turns are, if the spiders drop down from the ceiling at the entrance to an area or in the middle of the room

From here, we go to the modeling room. For the detailed body parts (head, hands, feet or other exposed areas) clay sculptures are made. A mold is made of the sculpture. A silicone and latex mixture is poured into the mold to form a quarter inch thick skin. This skin goes over the robotics and creates the lifelike look of the model. While separate wigs are used for scalp hair, facial hair, eyebrows and exposed torso hair are individually pulled through the skin. Gluing hair in place looks…glued. The hair has to look rooted to maintain the illusion of reality. A beard can take a more than a day to pull through the skin.

The largest area of the factory is the construction area, where backdrops, supports and actual ride components are built. In the center of the room is a large ‘slush’ area, containing props, cornices, drapes, figures in boxes, doorways and other ride components. The work areas in the perimeter include a woodworking department, another pneumatic and hydraulic testing area, and a prop construction area littered with PVC and board lengths. Prominent in the slush area is a dog headed Egyptian prince, a set of talking birds and a life size T-rex head. Julie turns on the birds, which dance and sing. She makes the T-rex come out of its box and roar. It turns, fixing its beady eye on one of the children in our group, snaps at her. She giggles, knowing it is make-believe and that she is perfectly safe, here and now in the well-lit factory. The T-rex is one of Sally’s most popular figures and has been reproduced over fifteen times. It could be lurking anywhere…

In the backdrop room, artists paint scenery and sets for the large interactives and the smaller games. Many of the paintings are double layered. You may see a bucolic country setting, soft clouds and gamboling lambs, visible in daylight or under normal light. But if you flick the black lights on, the lambs are replaced by skeletons, the clouds by ghosts and ghouls. Julie turned the lights on and off a few times, then had us take photos with our digital cameras. No matter what was before us, what ghouls and nightmares were in the painting, the flash of the digital made the scene revert to its ‘nice’ version. It is an amazing technique to see the two paintings right on top of each other.

The final stop on the tour is a laser target gallery. Wheels spin, ducks pop-up, figures spin and peek out from behind each other. And yes, every person on the tour had a chance to ‘drive the bad guys out of Dodge City.’

The only complaint was that the tour was over too soon and when could we come back and do it again? Julie laughed, “Every Tuesday and Thursday from 9 to 1, except for July and August. Just call or email me.”

The tour is recommended for ages five and up. A few of the younger children were disturbed by some of the ghost sculptures in the outer area, while others giggled at the most horrific monsters. At each stop, you can leave the tour and rejoin the group later or in the laser target room. The tour is conducted under natural lighting conditions to control the shock factor.

Sally Corporation is located at745 Forsyth St. in Jacksonville (904-355-7100) Their web address is www.sally.com. Email reception@sally.com for tour reservations. To get to Sally, take I4 East to I95 North. I95 North to Acosta Bridge/Riverside (Exit 350A). Take Broad St ramp from Acosta, go one block, turn left onto Jefferson St. Go two blocks. The Sally parking lot will be on your right, just before the intersection of Jefferson and Forsyth. Estimated travel time from New Tampa is 3-1/2 hours.

Alternate: I75 North to US27/FL 500 South. Merge onto I10 East. I10 to I95 North. I95 to Forsyth St, Exit 352B. Right on Forsyth, right into parking lot. Estimated travel time is 3 hours, 10 minutes.

1st Cypress Creek Quilt Guild Quilt Show Covers the Garden in Colorful Beauty

Bright Beginnings from Our Garden, the 1st biennial Cypress Creek Quilt Guild (CCQG) Quilt Show and Charity Auction was held on Saturday, March 1st at the USF Botanical Gardens. If a better site or better day could have been found to host this event, CCQG would have been hard pressed to find it. It was a rare, perfect spring-like day, sunny but breezy, and the previous day’s rain did not revisit. Flowers very lightly scented the air as quilts hung between trees swayed in the breeze, their colors sharper than the surrounding growth making this a very different sort of quilt show.

The CCQG (www.cypresscreekquilters.com or call Joyce Bartholomew at 813-343-8197) meets on the first Tuesday of each month from 6:30 to 8:30 and encourages anyone interested in the quilting arts to attend. Their next meeting will be on April 1st at the Willow Bend Community Church, 2541 Henley Road in Lutz. Only four years old, they had the gumption to put on a full scale quilt show including a charity auction, outside vendors, gift shop and two book signings. This takes an amazing amount of womanpower and enthusiasm. What is even more amazing is that they managed to bring this event together in just over four months.
“We’re a young group and growing,” Diane Juranko, co-chair of the event said. “No one should feel intimidated or less than or better than anyone else. Everyone should feel welcome. There is always something new out there [to learn or do]. Our goal is to educate and improve. Quilting is becoming an art form. We have a lot of newbies [beginners] and a lot of more experienced quilters. We all have a good time.” This inclusive attitude carries over into everything the CCQG does. Members and potential members are encouraged to come and enjoy, pick each other’s brain, pick up new skills and work together towards common goals. Quilters of all levels are encouraged, from the newest beginners barely able to hold a needle and thread to the most sophisticated piecework or appliqué artist.

Although this was not a juried show, the level of expertise was high and the variety of techniques was vast. At a juried show, experts rank the quilts according to difficulty of design, aesthetics of color combination and quality of workmanship. The guild felt that a juried competition would be discouraging to its members at this time, although many of the works qualified. Pieced quilts are made by joining various sized bits of fabric, cut into squares, rectangles, triangles or circles, to produce geometric or pictorial designs. Double wedding rings, twinkling stars, nine-patch, mariner’s compass and flying geese were all in abundance. Appliquéd quilts, which are made by layering fabrics cut into shapes to produce designs, similar to collage, and enhanced by embroidery and beadwork were also in abundance.

There were a few trapunto and stitched quilts, solid pieces of fabric where the design is produced by careful stitching and some light stuffing of the design area. A “Statue of Liberty” by Alma Coston was a dramatic sample of this style.

“Light of my Life,” by Joyce Bartholomew, current president of CCQG, is a stunning combination of piecework and appliqué, enhanced by silk ribbon embroidery which was awarded 1st place both in the Viewers Choice and USF Botanical Gardens Award. Pat Yucantonis’ “New England Village” won 2nd place Viewers Choice. You could almost step into the work. 3rd place Viewers Choice was “Firefighters T-shirt Memory Quilt” by Crystal Freund, composed of commemorative t-shirts.

One of the more amusing areas was the “Our First Quilt” area. Members of the guild brought in the first quilt they’d ever made. Some of these were made when they were kids as young as eight and some as adults. It is fun seeing how skills develop with use, but it also encourages young and old to try something new.

An additional purpose of the CCQG is to give back to the community through charity outreach. This includes donating quilts to hospitals, putting on educational workshops and the auction of 48 quilts at the show. Ellen Schon, a local fiber artist and quilter for over 30 years, (www.schonart.com) was the auctioneer. The Guild members made quilts large and small, in a vast array of styles and colorations for the auction. Over 100 people gathered under the large tent to bid on these beautiful works and raise money for USF’s Hope House for Eating Disorders. The auction was very successful, raising $3950 for Hope House.

Dr. Pauline Powers, Director of Hope House, helped arrange for CCQG to use the garden for this event. Hope House provides free intervention, support and a variety of resources for people afflicted with eating disorders in the Tampa Bay area, including therapy groups, parent/caregiver training, education and drop-in services. For more information on Hope House, call 813-839-7341 or email Suzanne Eldridge, Managing Director at seldridge@health.usf.edu.

While quilt shows often have book signings, usually by quilt designers, to have a double book signing is very unusual. Ed West, a fiction writer, and Marcia Layton, a quilt designer, were the featured authors at the event.

West’s novel, Father’s Quilt, begins during the Civil War and follows the life of Sarah Parker, a teenager in rural New York State, for over 50 years. The quilt, made from scraps of her late father’s clothes, is a comfort and a symbol of small town camaraderie. Sarah endures many harsh years, turning to the quilt for solace, reflecting on what advice her father would have given her in difficult situations and using the quilt as a friend. As an added fillip, West includes recipes of the era. He is currently working on a sequel, a parallel story and a book of short stories about quilters. For more information, West can be reached at www.fathersquilt.com.

Layton, the author of Handprint Quilts and Calendar Kids, specializes in designing quilts that can be made with young children or in groups. Some of her projects are ideal for schools, grandparents or as memory projects, much like a scrapbook. Using handprints or footprints as a base, she shows how you can make everything from flamingos to squids to moose. Her imagination and levity make her books a pleasure to read. A resident of Tampa, she can be reached at www.handprintquilts.com.

If you would like to explore the world of quilting for yourself, the CCQG welcomes visitors and future quilters to its meetings. A quilt guild meeting is a great place to be introduced to that craft of quilting, pick up techniques and “schmooze’ with the experts. For directions to the April 1st meeting, go to www.willowbendcc.org. The CCQG’s website, www.cypresscreekquilters.com is a treasure trove of patterns, links and general information about quilting.

OMA: American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell

This exhibit, which will be open from March 1 until May 26, showcases the work of Norman Rockwell (1894 to 1978) that quintessential American Artist. The main gallery is filled with original oils, a film area, and a sub-gallery showing the development of a particular piece. The second gallery contains “tear sheets” from the Saturday Evening Post.

Rockwell, while depicting every day life in rural and small town America, took political stances and made controversial statements about human rights, racism, feminism and the economy. His gentle style softened the hammer he took to societal wrongs both here and abroad, while poignantly conveying his message.

The exhibit includes the original oils for “The Four Freedoms” which are “Freedom of Speech,” “Freedom of Worship,” “Freedom from Want” and “Freedom from Fear.” Portraits of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Dwight D. Eisenhower grace one wall, while depictions of Ichabod Crane and Abraham Lincoln face each other on another.

A separate area is dedicated to two works of art, “The Problem We All Live With” (1964, Look magazine) and “Murder in Mississippi.” “The Problem We All Live With,” an essay in creams and whites with the stark contrast of the little girl’s skin, the headless marshals’ spit-polished shoes and one tomato shames us. Are the marshals guarding Ruby Bridges or caging her? How could America be afraid of a five year old school girl?

A 35 foot wall shows the development of “Murder in Mississippi,” a painting Rockwell did for a book which was never published. Pencil sketches, photographs, rejected layouts and the newspaper clippings which inspired the work demonstrate some of the steps in the creative process. Smaller works on racism and letters to Rockwell are displayed on the other walls.

Rockwell had no patience with racism. In his autobiography, My Adventures as an Illustrator, he notes that he once was told to paint over an African-American person in a painting because the Saturday Evening Post had the ludicrous policy which dictated that African-Americans could only be depicted in service industry jobs.

The second gallery contains “tear sheets” of every cover he did for the Saturday Evening Post. There are 323 covers, from 1916 until 1963. You can trace Rockwell’s development as an artist, his increasing boldness and comments on American life, the economy, war, interpersonal relationships and, finally, his growing boredom with the genre as television supplanted magazines as a source of news, and his assignments shifted from situational art to celebrity portraits. In 1963, he left the Post for Look magazine, where he was encouraged to comment on civil rights, poverty and space exploration.


The Orlando Museum of Art (OMA), at 2416 North Mills Ave., Orlando, is another small fine arts museum. The permanent exhibition galleries are: the American Art Collection, art from the 18th, 19th and 20th century; the Art of Ancient Americans spans North and South American, from 2000 BCE to 1521 CE; the African Art Collection displays ceremonial objects, common artifacts, jewelry and elaborate beaded pieces. The three other galleries are used for temporary exhibits and special events.

During the year, the first Thursday of every month is a special event. From 6 to 9 p.m., adult admission is reduced to $5. Museums are normally quiet, sedate places but not on 1st Thursday. The rooms are filled with electricity as people mingle, questioning the artists about their techniques and inspiration, comparing and critiquing the works on display. The opportunity to actually discuss a work with its creator is a not-to-be-forgotten experience. Finding out why an artist takes a particular view of a situation, the specific medium was chosen, the shades of meaning the artist wants to convey, discovering an unusual historic perspective will all deepen your appreciation of the piece. The art is selected as much for its provocative nature as for its quality. And because the work is only on display for the one night, art lovers from all walks of life come out, sharing their opinions and insights freely.

Local restaurants have snacks, tapas and assorted finger foods for sale. Two beer and wine bars are set up for the adults, with soda and bottled water for those underage. Jazz bands or quartets set up in the Chihuly gallery in the shadow of the “Citron and Cobalt Tower.” Wandering minstrels add to your musical enjoyment. You can take a break in the Chihuly room to listen to some music or sip a glass of wine before you go on to the permanent exhibits, other temporary galleries or watch the performance pieces in the auditorium.

The February “1st Thursday” was dedicated to W.O.M.A.N.: Wisdom, Originality, Mystique, Ambition, Nurturing, all works by or about women. Pieces by local artists Julie Kessler (juliekesslerart@cfl.rr.com), Ellen Lindner, Marcy Lane Witmer (marcylane1@embarqmail.com) and Claudia Backes (cgbackes@aol.com), and over 40 other artists were included in the exhibit, which spilled over into the adjoining hallway. Oil, watercolor, ceramic, wood and metals were among the media used in this exhibition. The Fusion Dance Troupe and GO PURE Dance Troupe (www.pure-on.com) performed in the auditorium and paraded through the gallery.

Temporary exhibit Points of View: Exploring Identity, Commenting on Society and Comparing Visions, through October contains works normally in storage due to space constrictions. The corridor leading into the gallery holds Faces in the Crowd, photographic retrospectives of persons famous, infamous and unknown. The themes of self-knowledge, the individual’s place within society and how individual and societal needs converge and diverge worked very well with the 1st Thursday exploration of women’s changing roles.
Through July 6, as an enhancement to the permanent African Art Exhibit, Of Cloth and Culture: African Textiles from the Norman Canelas and William Roth Collection, displays kente cloths and beadwork, aprons and fine wovens, most made by women.

Previous 1st Thursday events have explored woodturning, illustrative art (posters and book art), the color red, photography and graffiti artists. Upcoming 1st Thursday themes are: March 6th will be “Beatniks and Bongos: Abstract Art,” art of or inspired by the 50's, with plenty of ‘snaps’ for local poets Frank Messina, Brad Kuhn and Darlyn Finch, former Kerouac House Artist in Residence, who will be reading selected pieces from their books. April 3rd is “Beyond Geppetto,” the history and evolution of puppetry and puppet performance, famous puppets in literature, stage, film and television. May 1st is “Rock, Paper, Scissors: Art of Assemblage & Collage,” art which is composed of other art. Think Alexander Calder, Eric Carle, Henri Matisse, all famous artists who work with bits of paper and glue. June 5th honors “Art<12: Small Works/Large Images,” powerful works in miniature, confirming that less CAN be more. All works will be less than 12" by 12" including mat, frame and base.

Every spring, the medium gallery hosts an exhibition of children’s book art. Artists previously honored include Clement Hurd, who illustrated Margaret Wise Brown’s classics, Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny, and his son Thacker Hurd, author/illustrator of ArtDog and Mama Don’t Allow, and Margaret and HA Rey of the Curious George books. Themes have included geographic alphabet books and optical illusion. “The World of William Joyce,” creator of the Dinosaur Bob books, opens May 18 until August 31. Special areas are set up for reading, acting out scenes in the works and where children can create their own renditions inspired by the artist or theme of the exhibition.

“American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell” opens March 1 until May 26, traces the artist’s career, cultural influences and the broad accessibility of his work. Paintings, original illustrations and the complete set of Saturday Evening Post cover tearsheets are just part of the exhibit.

In November, a ten day “Festival of the Trees” takes over the museum. Christmas trees, tableaus, wreaths and gingerbread houses decorated or sponsored by local businesses and families are displayed in every available space. All of the displayed items can either be purchased or are raffled off as part of the “Council of 101" fund-raising event. The main area also has a children’s craft area, letter writing to Santa via snail mail or email and of course, the Big Man himself, Santa, puts in an appearance each day. Jazz bands, pianists, and high school choirs perform throughout the day.

The Orlando Museum of Art is located at 2416 North Mills Avenue (I4 East to Exit 85E, Princeton Street East. Go past the Orlando Science Center and make a left at North Mills into Loch Haven Park). Hours are Tues to Friday, 10 to 4; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 4 pm. 1st Thursday is the first Thursday of each month from 6 to 9 p.m. The phone number is (407) 896-4231 and the web address is www.omart.org. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for those 65 and over and college students with ID. Children 5 to 18 are $5, children under 5 are free at all times. 1st Thursday events, admission is reduced to $5 for adults, seniors and college student


Making words sing, feeling them hit is the goal of every writer. “I believe poetry begins right at the point where the limits of prose have been exhausted. Right on that line, poetry pops up and appears,” stated Billy Collins, former United States Poet Laureate (2001to 2003), New York State Poet Laureate (2004 to 2006) and featured reader at Valencia Community College’s Kerouac Celebration program on Feb 23, 2008.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of On the Road, Jack Kerouac’s seminal novelization of his cross-country misadventures, the program featured eight student readers, three faculty and three local authors in addition to Mr. Collins, all reading original works, showing us the extent of Kerouac’s influence on modern poetry and prose alike.

Novelist, poet, artist, Jack Kerouac (1922 to 1969), born in the mill town of Lowell, Mass., is the quintessential symbol of the 60’s “Beat Generation.” Berets, snapping fingers, bongo music in dark smoke-filled nightclubs have become cultural reference points for poets and wanna-be poets the world over. Whenever a comedian waves his arms and intones, “The sun, the moon, the stars,” and closes his eyes soulfully, he is picking up on the worst of that time period. The Kerouac Celebration was designed to show us the best of that reverberation.

For those of you who missed today's program, the next event honoring Kerouac’s life will be a free jazz concert performed by the David Amram Quartet, on Friday, March 28, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Crane’s Roost Park, Altamonte Springs. The David Amram Quartet recorded the soundtrack to “Pull My Daisy” with Kerouac narrating.

Kerouac lived in the College Park neighborhood of Orlando, 1957 to 1959, and wrote The Dharma Bums while there. The Kerouac Project (http://www.kerouacproject.org/) selects four writers per year to be an “artist in residence” at Kerouac House on Clouser Avenue, Orlando. For eleven weeks, the writer gets to live and write in a small cracker house on a lovely tree-lined block. Some of the writers co-teach at Valencia Community College, and all host an evening of poetry reading at the end of their tenure.

The star voice of the festival, Billy Collins (http://www.poemhunter.com/billy-collins ) is an accessible writer, using common vocabulary to convey seemingly simple ideas, but always with an insightful twist. He discussed literature, poetry and the creative process in between poems. The first work Collins read was “Hippos on Holiday,” speculating on whether hippos go on holiday and if so, why and where? He followed with “Bathtub Family,” a discourse on bathtub toys and their tendency to take over the bath, bathroom and life. As the laughter dies, Collins said, “When I finish a poem, a good poem … sometimes I feel as if the attendants will be coming in at any moment to take me, gently, for a walk around the grounds. Especially when I am in Newport, Rhode Island where things are… [Collins looks up at the ceiling for a few seconds] what they are.” He smiles at the audience’s rapt appreciation of the madness of the creative process. To quote E.L. Doctorow, author of Ragtime and Billy Bathgate, “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”

Collins followed with “Flock,” a poem about sheep and not how many sheep can dance on the head of a pin, but how many will be skinned for each edition of the Guttenberg Bible. “Adage” takes apart homilies and sayings, then puts them back together in a work of genius, just as he takes apart and remakes the rules of poetry.

Discussing Kerouac’s release of On the Road when Collins was 16, “Growing up in New York, I never knew just how big America is, how it has so much space. Kerouac’s honesty and sincerity keep the book flowing, greatly influenced me. He was looking for something, as we all are…People tend to romanticize that…it was mostly coffee. Just a lot of pots of coffee.”

At the end of the four hours of reading and listening to poetry and prose, Mr. Collins quipped, “Alright, it’s midnight, let’s go. Or at least it feels like midnight.” No, that is not an implication that the afternoon was tedious or boring, but rather that listening to excellent poetry and prose can be exhausting. Both the reader and the listener experience catharsis, an emotional drain during the process. “There is a contract between the reader and the writer. [I feel that] the writer is someone who talks to me, has something to say to me. And that is how I treat my readers,” Collins told the audience at one point during his hour on stage, as they leaned forward in their seats, ears turned to catch every word.

The event opened with student writers, current and recent Valencia attendees. Chadwick Sterling, Rochelle Davis, Emily Beardsley and Carmelo Spatazza read recent works on politics, hurricanes, love, music and crickets. Alex Copeland picked a few poems which were very concise and sharp, inspired by his father, as opposed to Amanda Leezer, who read a rambling discourse on family relationships, the style an effective parallel to the content. Natalie Rose Frith’s work shows the continuing influence of Hemingway but she adds a lyric quality all her own. Her writing on Florida life and travel are always thought provoking. Jared Christopher Silvia displayed his unique sense of humor and twisted outlook on life in the seemingly clueless ramblings of his character, Peter Gondewski, an everyman standing under a luckless cloud. A few years from now, while browsing the shelves at your local bookshop, remember you saw their names here first.

Faculty readers John Hughes, Ilyse Kusnetz and James Thomas were next on stage. Prof. Hughes, author of The Novels and Short Stories of Frederick Barthelme, related a short story from the viewpoint of a twelve year old boy whose parents recently separated. Prof. Thomas’, who received the first place award in the Best Emerging Writer category from the Florida Literary Arts Alliance in 1999, read a piece which takes place at a funeral and includes all the long-lost relatives you wish would stay lost. Prof. Kusnetz’s selected readings included “Frog in a Frying Pan,” “Ode to Pluto” and “Green Oranges.”

They were followed by Darlyn Finch, former Kerouac Artist in Residence and author of Red Wax Rose and Three Houses. Ms. Finch will be reading at the Orlando Museum of Art’s 1st Thursday on March 6th. She also maintains Sunscribbles, a website for the central Florida literary scene (http://www.sunscribbles.com/ ). Terry Godbrey, winner of the 2006 Slipstream award for her chapbook, Behind Every Door and Susan Lilley, winner of the Yellow Jacket Press Chapbook for Night Windows, also read. Slipstream (http://www.slipstreampress.org/) and Yellow Jacket Press (http://yellowjacketpress.org/ ), at the Blake School of Arts in Tampa, are publishers of new and established poets and writers.

The David Amram Quartet (http://davidamram.com/) will be performing on Friday, March 28, from 7 to 9 pm at Crane’s Roost Park in Altamonte Springs (http://www.uptownaltamonte.com/) (I4 east to Exit 92, route 436). There is no charge for this concert; however donations are graciously accepted by the Kerouac Project, a not-for-profit charitable organization (The Kerouac Project, PO Box 547477, Orlando, Fl, 32854-7477 or http://www.kerouacproject.org/ ). For more information on events at Valencia Community College, call 407-299-5000 or visit them on the web at http://valenciacc.edu/.

O’town’s Jewel Box Museums: Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art

You may think that to experience fine art, you have to go to New York or Boston or DC, but there are vibrant, exciting museums within a 75 minute ride of New Tampa. One example is the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art (CHM). It is eclectic, personal and small enough to be appreciated in an evening’s visit.

CHM is located at 445 North Park Avenue, Winter Park, just north of Orlando (I4 East to Exit 87East, Fairbanks Ave, to Park Ave. North). Home to the most complete collection of Tiffany art in the world, its galleries are devoted to stained glass, vases, lampshades, paintings and sketches, jewelry and a chapel by Louis Comfort Tiffany, the Tiffany Studios and a handful of other artists of the 1860’s to 1920’s.

Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) was an artist and designer of the Art Nouveau period, who is most well known today for his work in stained glass windows and lampshades. He was the founder of Tiffany Studios which, in addition to the aforementioned stained glass, produced other household decorative objects. Louis’ father, Charles Lewis Tiffany, owned a gift store on Fifth Avenue in New York City, which carried stationary, sterling and jewelry and is today known as Tiffany and Co. Yes, THAT Tiffany!

On Friday nights, in addition to visiting galleries, you can listen to ensembles, jazz bands, flute trios and other musical entertainment. They’ll perform on one side of the museum and then move to the other, so you can enjoy the music no matter which side you’re on. Even three rooms away, you can hear the flutes, violins or saxophones softly drawing you on, making a more complete creative experience by adding performance art to fine art.

In the McKean Pavilion, in back of CHM proper, artists demonstrate various techniques used by Tiffany. Stained glass panel productions (how the glass is selected, marked, cut and reassembled), glass fusing and mosaic (imbedding beads, medallions, metal bits or other pieces of glass within the glass, pleating or layering glass and tilework) and lampshade production (how glass is curved, cut, pieced and put together to form the famous Tiffany lamps) were recent demonstrations. The demonstrations are one and a half to two hours long, but you don’t have to arrive when they start or stay for the whole time. The demonstrations are NOT hands on because glasswork is dangerous, using sharp knives and high temperature blowtorches. The glass artists will answer any questions you may have and you are invited to come right up to the work area, where you can examine the different kinds of glass.

Current exhibits are “Orientalism-An Eye for the Exotic,” how Eastern art influenced European and American art. Not only Japanese, but also elements of Persian, Algerian, Turkish and Indian art were incorporated into art of the Victorian and Edwardian age. Side by side displays of the Eastern and Western piece show the direct influence. To see a painting of a magnolia by a Japanese artist duplicated in a glass panel is breathtaking.

“The Quest for Beauty: Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Life and Art” is a retrospective of Tiffany’s life, including examples of his childhood drawings, watercolors he did on his “European Graduation Tour,” and the history of the Tiffany studios, all organized chronologically. This exhibit spotlights how he developed and grew as an artist. Extensive notes on his life and outside influences, on his family, colleagues, business and employees are also included in this exhibit.

There is an award for “Proficiency in Drawing, July 1, 1864,” next to a series of sketches and oils Tiffany did as a teenager that shows just want a fine artist he was. The delicacy of his work, the care translated into everything he did. You can compare the sketches of Arabs with the sketches he did for the chapel and see how his travels affected his later art.

Some of the stained glass is displayed in double sided cases, so you can examine the ‘right’ and the ‘wrong’ side. Since glass art is meant to be viewed with a light source behind it, usually in a window, the wrong side is generally on display. To see it up close, you have to wonder how it is possible that the same piece of glass on the right side is translucent, delicate, as thin as gossamer, and on the wrong side, wrinkled, opaque, rough looking. You can examine the leading strips, how they are wrapped so just a bit shows in the front but the back is full of blobs and solder.

The reinstallation of the “Tiffany Jewelry, Enamels and Metalworks Gallery” will be completed within the next few weeks, with the opening scheduled for March 4, 2008. This redesigned gallery will include new, more incisive notes and a ‘fresh look.’

The permanent exhibits include glassmaking techniques and the vases and lamp rooms. Make sure you look up. The tops of the ten foot high display cases are crowded with even more vases. Everywhere you turn is something different and beautiful. If you can’t find a piece in your favorite color, shape, sheen or texture, then you just have to look at the next display.

The Arts and Crafts Movement of 1860 to 1920 gallery contains furniture by Stickley, Burne-Jones, Tobey and others in addition to Tiffany. Ceramics, paintings and table displays of the era with sketchpads and quills complete the room. There is even a cuspidor (spittoon) in the corner, a necessity in and chewing tobacco-addicted household.

The jewel of the museum is the chapel interior designed for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. There is a “Madonna and Child” and a “Lamentation” in stained glass. The stages Tiffany used to in developing the face of Joseph are displayed outside the chapel. Behind the altar, there is a mosaic wall of peacocks with a crown hovering over them. In the sacristy, is a large baptismal font.

If you are a Tiffanyholic or glass fanatic, it’s easy to spend a whole day here. For most museum hoppers, a few hours will suffice. The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art is located at 445 North Park Avenue in Winter Park. It is reachable by phone (407-645-5311) or on the web at http://www.morsemuseum.org/. Open Tues-Sat, 9:30 to 4, Sunday from 1 to 4 and Fridays, November through April from 4 to 8 pm. Admission is $3 for adults, $1 for students; under 12 and Friday evenings are free.

Published in NTNN on Feb 22,2008. Vol 16, issue 4


A haven for books is a natural haven for writers. The Pasco/NPR branch of the Florida Writers Association will be holding its 2nd Annual Writers Conference on April 6 from 8:30 to 6 pm at the New Port Richey Library. For some persons, writing is a chore, for others a pleasure and for some it is a life need, as much as food, sleep or air.

The compulsion to write. The feeling that unless you have access to a pen and paper or keyboard, your brain is in danger of exploding. And the results? Sometimes good, sometimes drivel, but it doesn’t matter as long as the words have been traveled along the synaptic path, so the hornets in your brain can rest. This is the blessing or curse of hypergraphia.

Fiction writers, historians, poets, computer coders, attorneys, reporters, editors, screenwriters and others may have hypergraphia, but have all found ways to use it to their advantage. Meeting other writers can help you channel your compulsion and be a comfort. Even if you write only for the occasional pleasure of doing so, meeting other writers will help you improve your craft. The Florida Writers Association (FWA) is a great resource for wordsmiths and lives up to its motto: Writers Helping Writers.

The 2nd Annual Do It! Write Conference will be held at the New Port Richey Public Library, 5939 Main St., on April 6th from 8:30 to 6 p.m. Early Bird registration by Feb 28 is $39 for FWA members and $59 for non-members. Registration from March 1 to April 1 is $49 for FWA members and $69 for non-members. Refreshments and lunch are included, so you don’t have to worry about leaving and missing anything.

During the day long event, you can attend up four of the ten different seminars. You can also schedule a private interview with an agent or one of the seminar leaders. There is time to ‘schmooze’ with members of the FWA, browse in the bookstore and have your purchases signed by the authors, and enjoy time with others obsessed with the joy and angst of writing.

The keynote speaker for the Conference is John Strelecky, best selling author of The Why Café, The Big Five and the recently released Life Safari. He is a motivational speaker, author and world traveler, gathering inspiration which he shares with his audience.

Writing seminar topics include How to Write Thrillers, Editing Boot Camp, and From Manuscript to Masterpiece. Once you’ve gone through a few dozen edits on your work, you may want to obtain an agent or directly submit it for publication. Making Strengths and Weaknesses Work For You, An Agent and An Author: Marriage Made in Heaven or Hell? and How to Get Your Foot in the Door will be filled with pointers on the publication process. Of course once you are published, whether you are self-published or picked up by a traditional publishing house, you’ll want to drive sales. Marketing and publicity seminars include Blogging and Podcasting for Book Promotion, Driving Book Sales, Selling to the Lucrative Library Market, and The Four Principles of Networking. These are designed to help you in this latter stage of the process, the sell-through.

There will be a separate workshop on March 22 on Perfecting Your Pitch, led by Molli Nickell, a publishing coach and author. This will be hosted by the New Port Richey Library. For more information on this separate event, call 727-847-2023.

Having attended writers’ conferences in the past, the main drawback is always selecting which seminars to attend, as there is overlap in the scheduling. If you are interested in pursuing a career as a writer, if you want to improve your craft or if you just want to spend time with others who share your particular ‘craziness,’ this will be a very informative and fun day.

For more information or to register, visit the Pasco/NPR website at
http://mysite.verizon.net/resockeb/id79.html. The Florida Writers Association can be reached at http://www.floridawriters.net/dnn/. From this website, you can access local branches of the FWA, read about the statewide conference held on Nov. 9th through 11, 2007, find out about publishing contests, obtain information about upcoming events or read articles about writing, editing and publishing.


It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Yes, once again it is time to gather all your most intimate financial information, including a list of persons in your household, so you can file your personal income tax return and hope that, after remembering to cross your ‘i’s and dot your‘t’s, you’ll avoid the audit flags raised by falling outside the ‘usual and customary parameters’ as defined by our favorite branch of the government, the Internal Revenue Service.

New for tax year 2007, the IRS has made it perfectly clear that if you support someone who lives in your household for the whole year and who is NOT related to you by blood or marriage AND you support that person’s child, you can put BOTH your friend and the child on your tax return as a ‘Qualifying Relative Other’ for exemption purposes, reducing your taxable income and tax liability.

Every year the IRS changes, deletes and clarifies codes, definitions and rules. The classification of ‘Qualifying Relative’ (QR) has been modified and clarified since 2005 and you and your tax preparer may not be aware of how this affects you. It sounds much more intimidating than it is, but the IRS recently issued a ruling which makes logical sense. Mirabile dictu!

For income tax purposes, a Dependent is a person who is supported by you. The IRS has very exact rules to follow for the definition of Dependent which vary a bit when looking at (HOH) filling status. The definition of Dependent for Exemption purposes was refined in 2005, but the notes issued on the definition did not exactly match the actual intent of Congress, which the IRS enforces.

On Jan 14, 2008, the IRS released a notice correcting the notes previously issued. In IRS Publ. 17, pages 22 to 34, and again in Publ. 501, pages 9 to 14, the rules for Dependent: Qualifying Relative (QR) are redefined to be clearer and less ambiguous. A QR is related by blood or marriage, lives with you, is supported by you and is not claimed by any other taxpayer and may also qualify you for HOH filing status. However, a person can be a Qualifying Relative Other (QRO) for exemption purposes only if the person lives in your household for the entire year and is supported by you. So you could claim your boy/girlfriend. But if they had a child, you couldn’t claim the child. Prior to the IRS Notice of Jan 14, 2008, a child could not be claimed as a QRO if there was anyone else who could possibly legally claim the child even if they did not do so. The child’s exemption was lost.

John Wood, CPA, noted that, “the IRS has changed the wording in Pub. 17 Table 3-1 for 2007. [The test for] “Qualifying Relative” now reads “the person cannot be your qualifying child or the qualifying child of any other taxpayer”. [In prior years, it read] anyone else.”

“Many people, including tax professionals, may have incorrectly interpreted the law and may have overlooked or failed to properly claim a dependent exemption. The IRS issued Notice 2008-5 on January 14, 2008 in an attempt to clarify the meaning of a qualifying relative. Congress has not changed the law and the IRS notice does not reflect a change in its interpretation of the law. It is a “clarification”, and it is applicable to all tax years after 2004. [i.e. 2005, 2006, 2007 etc] This means that taxpayers, who were told, based on a widespread misinterpretation that they could not claim an unrelated person, may be able to file an amended return to claim the dependent exemption.”

In 2005 and 2006, a taxpayer could claim a person who was NOT related by blood or marriage as a dependent for the personal exemption only. This meant if your boyfriend, girlfriend or other person lived with you for the whole year and was supported by you, then you could include him/her on your tax return as QRO and take the personal exemption. The stickiness was if your QRO had a child, many tax professionals and tax software packages would not allow you to claim the child even if you supported the child, because of the phrase “any other person,” erring on the side of caution. If this situation applies to you, as Mr. Wood states above you may want to file an amended return for tax years 2005 and/or 2006.

For filing year 2007, if you can claim the parent and no one else (i.e., former spouse, biological parent) claims the child, then you can use the child’s personal exemption. It makes perfect sense. If Richard Roe and his daughter, Rachel Roe, live with you all year and you provide all their support, then you can put both of them on your tax return as QRO and take both personal exemptions.

Each personal exemption reduces your taxable income by $3,400 for the 2007 tax year. Depending on your particular situation, this can result in a significant reduction in your actual tax liability. For example: Sally Smith makes $25,000 per year. She supported her boyfriend, Richard Roe and Richard’s minor daughter Rachel for the whole year. Her filing status is Single with 3 exemptions.

Her standard deduction of $5,350 and three exemptions total $10,200. This makes her taxable income $9,450, and her tax liability is $1,030. Before these changes went into effect, Sally would have been Single with 1 exemption, herself. Her taxable income would be $16,250 and the tax on that is $2,050. Being allowed to claim the exemptions for Richard and Rachel reduces her tax burden by $1,020.

Mr. Wood also pointed out that while that “a child who ‘ages out’ of Qualifying Child status may still be considered the taxpayer’s dependent, as long as he or she meets the requirements for a Qualifying Relative. Therefore, provided the individual meets the new requirements, a taxpayer’s 24 year-old child could be a dependent.”
NTNN would like to thank Mr. Wood for his valuable input, knowledge, research and the time he spent assisting in the preparation of this article.

For more information or clarification, contact John S. Wood, CPA, at www.jwoodcpa.com or your tax professional. The IRS can be reached on-line at www.irs.gov or call the 1-800-829-1040 helpline.

Published in NTNN on February 8, 2008. Vol 16, issue 3.


HOTT can mean sexy, cool, great, creative, different, inspiring. When describing Phoenix Studio founder, Susan Gott, it means all of those and so much more, as a typical day includes working with 2400 degree molten glass and 900 degree ovens.

Every year, Susan Gott, founder of Phoenix Studio, hosts a holiday glass show, artist open house and demonstration the weekend after Thanksgiving. She built, owns and operates Phoenix Studio, located in the Seminole Heights neighborhood of central Tampa. The studio sprawls through the building and out into the back yard. Ornaments hang from trees, sculptures stand in corners or in groups, contemplating the lizards as they race around the garden. Display cases holding vases, platters, paper weights and poured glass sculptures are lined up along the walls. Boxes are filled with blown glass globes. The jewel like colors glow. Guests carefully examine the delicate creations, deciding just where they would like to see it in their home or who would most appreciate it as a gift. This year, Susan was demonstrating her technique for casting a life-size sculpture.

“Okay, make sure you stay back. The molten glass is over 2400 degrees and you are going to feel it if you’re too close,” Susan Gott called out, as Team Phoenix poured the thick fluid into the mold

Susan had already placed some of the unique, precast inclusions (inset decorative pieces) into niches carved into the sides of the heavy mold. The first layer of glass was poured over these inclusions to anchor them into position. More inclusions, windows and images were set or pushed in and then another layer of molten glass was poured. So they continued, pouring and placing, blow torches at ready, filling the mold.

Taking the branding irons, she stamped designs into the layers. She artfully placed more colored pieces, leaves, globes and varied geometric or asymmetric shapes around the mold. This was no longer a tub of liquid glass The life-sized female statue now has a face and recognizable body parts. The body parts are, for the most part, veiled with leaves and gems, much as Eve draped herself when leaving Eden.

A vast amount of preparation work goes into each piece. Everything must be preplanned and choreographed. When working with molten glass, safety, accuracy and speed are vital concerns. There is no time to discuss or direct when holding a ladle of liquid glass. Protective body gear includes leather aprons, leather and Kevlar gloves, full face helmets, protective goggles and heavy work boots.

The room contains furnaces, metal tubes, work tables, large vats of water. There are curved spatulas, rollers, pincers, snippers, fine wiring in various areas. Metal trays pressed with various textural patterns are used to simulate checkerboard or other intricate designs in the glass. Friends, neighbors and interested strangers, soon to become friends, lined up around the room to watch the proceedings. A lucky few climbed the stairs to the balcony to get an overview of the proceedings. As heat rises, those on the balcony had an enhanced experience of what it means to be a glass artist.

“Susan, will we see it unmolded tonight? Will we get to see the finished work?”

Susan laughed as her assistant sifted silica powder over the almost completed work, using her blow torch to add the final gloss.

“Not tonight. Tonight, this goes back into the oven. We keep it at 800 to 900 degrees for two days and then it has to anneal [set] for 2-1/2 to 3 weeks. And we have to watch the temperature. If it drops too soon, the piece will shatter. It has to come down gradually. The internal heat of the statue will make the mold crack, further guaranteeing the uniqueness and exclusivity of each piece. After it’s annealed, it’ll be pressure washed and polished. A blacksmith will fabricate a stand and I’ll do whatever other finish work it needs: gold leaf, carving, gemstones. Every piece is one of a kind, as the inclusions are individually placed and each mold is destroyed,” Susan replied.

At the studio, Susan and Team Phoenix produce commissioned pieces and pieces for sale to the public. Commissioned pieces in the collections of the University of Central Florida, Port Tampa Library in Hillsborough County, the City of St Petersburg and HARTline’s University Area Transit Center can also be seen on her website, www.gottglass.com.

Cast pieces are available for purchase as are works produced by Phoenix Glass Studio. Smaller cast pieces for sale include ornaments, vases, globes, sea weights (pieces in the shape of shells and mollusks), oil lamps, bowls, platters, bookends and wall hangings. Prices range from $14 and up, depending on size and complexity of the piece. These unique glass objects would be a beautiful addition to any home or office. Whether you chose to hang an assortment of window globes and enjoy the play of colored light on your desk or counter top, enjoy fresh cut flowers in a multicolored vase or use one of the platters as a centerpiece for your dinner table or wall hanging, there is something here to excite the senses of the most jaded person.

Susan has worked in glass for over 25 years. She started with glass painting, moved on to traditional stained glass (individual pieces of cut glass soldered together with leading) and then to casting and blowing glass. She has always enjoyed working with heat and molten substances. “I’ve always worked with heat, been drawn to heat. And, as I developed as an artist, I chose to work with hotter and hotter substances,” Susan told the crowd.

“My sources of inspiration are endless. Archaeology, mythology, Jung, Indonesian and African masks, Celtic art, ancient Greece, the belief systems of the Native Americans all come into play in my work.”

Susan also studied bronze casting, jewelry making and raku. Raku is a method of Japanese ceramic firing which uses low temperatures and the immersion of the piece in a bed of combustible materials to develop a crackle glaze. She has a Master of Fine Arts from Kent State University and has received numerous awards and grants for her work. She is also the first place winner 2002 though 2006, Glass Division, at Disney’s Festival of the Masters, where she has a coveted spot outside Bongo’s each year Phoenix Studio, located at 811 East Knollwood St, Tampa is open weekdays from 9 to 5 and by appointment. The phone number is (813) 237-FIRE or visit them on the web at www.gottglass.com.

Published on December 7, 2007. Volume 15,issue 24.


For the 26th year, the Henry B. Plant Museum present its Annual Victorian Christmas Stroll. The museum, located at the University of Tampa in downtown Tampa, is festooned with decorations, garlands, wreathes, and of course, Victorian Christmas trees. From Dec. 1 through 23, you can step back into another era and enjoy the pageantry of America’s Gilded Age.

The Henry B. Plant Museum is housed in the former Tampa Bay Hotel. Built in 1891, the museum occupies one wing of the 511 guest room hotel, with the remainder housing the University of Tampa. Each room of the museum reflects a different aspect of Victorian life and is decorated in the same theme.

Before entering the museum, you climb the broad steps onto a deep shaded veranda. Small tables line the porch, where cookies and hot spiced cider are served, complimentary with your paid admission.

Through the double doors, the entry foyer contains a teddy bear tree, a tableau of bears, doll carts and other bear memorabilia. Theodore Roosevelt was a visitor to the hotel and this reflects his association with the teddy bear, that perennial favorite. Straight ahead, across the broad hallway, lies the train room, dedicated to Henry Plant himself.

You enter the broad hall. To the left, at the far end of the grand hallway is the 18 ft tall central tree. To the right, the entrance to the University of Tampa is visible. There are only a few rooms to the right, so let us commence our stroll that way and continue counterclockwise.

The first room is the long reading and writing room. This room contains books and writing tables. Letter writing was an important means of communication in the Victorian age, just as text and emailing are an integral part of ours. In many areas, mail was delivered three times a day, allowing almost instant communication. The tree is festooned with greeting cards and small books.

Across the hall is a room currently dedicated to the 1920's, the era of jazz, flappers and bathtub gin. Women had obtained the right to vote and crossword puzzles were the rage. Victorian corsets contrast with jazzbaby teddies. Fans, garters, pearl necklaces and other froufrou of that time hang from its branches.

Now entering the Henry B Plant room, the 14 ft tree is topped with a railroad crossing sign. Henry Plant owned more than 4000 miles of train track, covering Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Train schedules and small trains hang from the branches, while a large scale toy train sits at the base of the tree.

The adjacent room, containing perhaps a dozen decorated chairs, features a 14 minutes movie about Henry B Plant and the building of the museum, nee the Tampa Bay Hotel. A small Victorian bathroom is visible through the doorway complete with artificial bubble bath.

The next room is the dining room. The feather trees showcase beaded garland and are accompanied by a large statue of a swan. The tables are set for dinner, each place setting different. This reflects the Victorian multicourse dinner, with each course requiring a change of plate and flatwear. A menu completes the display, listing the nine courses offered, the classic soup to nuts.

Around the bend is the stairwell. Garland and stockings lead your eye upward to the second floor. The tree which stands in the crook of the stairwell is laden with Native American dolls. Small toys and treats are in piles on the floor to be given to those less fortunate.

The sports room tree is dedicated to the number one American pastime, the boys of summer: baseball. Souvenirs from Cooperstown, New York, now home to the Baseball Hall of Fame, cover the tree. The room also highlights fishing, croquet and hunting.

Another Victorian obsession was with all things Oriental. The tree is topped with a red parasol, red representing happiness and good luck. Small fans, chopsticks, paper lanterns complete the tree. Antique vases line the room.

Now reentering the grand hallway, you stand before the 18 ft tall central tree. Reflecting Victorian mores and its emphasis on family life, the tree has globes, lights, small toys, minature musical instruments and oddbits. Each family member would include a few items reflecting his or her interests or hobbies, often handmade.

The small private library’s tree has New Year’s postcards clipped to it. A bisque doll sits on a bench, quietly awaiting the return of her owner.

This room leads to the master bedroom, where two mannequins in formal evening wear represent Mr and Mrs Plant. Mr Plant already has his top hat on while Mrs Plant holds her dance card. The tree has small glass ornaments and purple ribbons.

The music room is the children’s haven. Toys, paper dolls and balls are strewn on the floor, while a bear plays the harp. This was considered one to the private room, where children could romp and not disturb the guests.

Entering the garden room is like entering a terrarium: stunning. Garlands of citrus fruits hang from the mantle. Vaguely disturbing garden statutes are on display. The Hotel was proud to be able to offer fresh fruit all year long.

The last display room is the Spanish-American War room. The hotel was the headquarters for the US Army during the war. The trees are covered with cigars, cigar boxes, dominoes and Cuban flags, celebrating nearby Ybor City and its history of rolling and packing cigars.

The gift shop is also enhanced by a white and blue tree. In addition to museum books and souvenirs, the shop sells ornaments, porcelain figurines, silver, candles, baby items, jewelry, beaded purses and maps.

There is musical entertainment each night. A capella singers, soloists and ensembles perform, encouraging sing-a-longs of traditional carols. Museum guests linger, enjoying the interludes, before stepping outside for cookies and cider.

The 26th Annual Victorian Christmas Stroll takes place each day from December 1 to 23, 10 am to 8 pm daily. Admission is $10 for adults, $4 for children under 12. Mondays and Tuesdays, adult admission is $6 and children’s price is $3. Located at 401 West Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, the phone number is (813) 254-1891, or visit them on the web at www.plantmuseum.com.

Published on December21, 2007. Volume 15, issue 25.


Did you know that Florida has over two dozen vineyards, many of which offer complimentary tours and tastings? While many vintners offer fruit-infused wine, a blending of grape and fruit wines (usually 80% grape, 20% fruit), Florida Orange Groves Inc and Winery in St. Petersburg is unique in that it manufactures and bottles fruit wines that are 100% non-grape, although they recently introduced a grape wine. These wines are very smooth, very appealing, with little of the tannic experience that some find sharp or displeasing.

Florida Orange Groves Inc and Winery (FOGW) is open 7 days a week (see hours below). The tasting bar is open and tours are conducted throughout the day. Because fruit is harvested and processed year round, you can see actual bottling year round. Unlike a grape winery, it isn’t limited to the small window of the picking season. A very informative video which explains the complete bottling process is shown before the tour. Here, art, science and technology combine into a delicious package. It was a very pleasing way to spend an afternoon. Educational, too!

The Shook family founded FOGW in the early 1970’s as a citrus packing and shipping operation. After a few years, they expanded the operation to include a gift store and juicing operation. In 1991, the Shooks’ began the long arduous process of obtaining all the necessary federal and state permits and certifications that are required for a commercial winery. The goal was to produce, bottle and sell wines made exclusively from locally grown fruit, including citrus, berry and tropical fruits. It was not until 1997 that the winery was able to open its doors. Since then, the line has been expanded to include Georgia peaches, Washington marrionberries and even locally grown muscadine grapes

The permitting process is so detailed and arduous that it mandates not just the basic label information, i.e. volume, weight, alcohol content, but even the font, color, size of the picture and the size and shape of the bottles. Of course, FOGW is in full compliance with all health and sanitary regulations.

Entering the gift store filled with wines, wine accessories, local jams,jellies, preserves and kitschy Florida souvenirs, there is a long tasting bar on the left hand side. Over thirty varieties of wines, including mango, hurricane (a blend of passion fruit, watermelon, mango and other sunny flavors), pineapple and hot sun, a tomato wine spiked with jalapeno, are available. Lists of the wines, pencils and glasses line the counter, and you are invited to sample whatever you like. Caveat: This is for adults over 21 only! It is illegal to serve alcohol to minors.

If you’re unsure, the friendly staff will make suggestions and remind you that there are no wrong decisions. They are all very knowledgeable and their enthusiasm is palpable. You can sample the wines until you fall in love with one. Or two. Or even three. In addition to wine, there are wine-based smoothie blends. Pouring about a tablespoon of wine into your glass, the staff suggests that you follow the “Six S’s” of wine tasting to get optimum flavor from your sample:

Sight: Look at the wine in the glass.
Swirl: Swirl the wine in your glass to release the aroma.
Sniff: Inhale the scent. Let the scent hit your palate.
Sip: Take a small sip of the wine.
Swish: Roll the wine around in your mouth so that all the taste buds can experience the flavor and texture of the wine.
Swallow: Finally, allow the wine to glide down your throat and enjoy the silk feel of it.

Repeat with the remaining wine in your glass. It is truly amazing how many different nuances you can detect in a tablespoon of wine. When you’ve finished one, you are encouraged to try another. The owners and staff do recommend you limit yourself to three to six wines, both to preserve the sensitivity of you palate and your ability to operate a motor vehicle.

Before or after (or even during-you can take a break from tasting and come back to it) there is an excellent 12 minute video on the history of FOGW and the fermenting and bottling process. It goes into great detail and it is highly recommended that you see it before going on the actual tour. Even if you chose to stay in the shop, tasting, the staff is happy to run the video for you, as many times as you want to see it.

Before the fermentation process can begin, the fruit is pressed and juiced off-site. The fruit juice is brought to the plant for fermentation (development of alcohol content in a liquid). Juice is poured into 1000 gallon, stainless steel tanks and yeast is added. Depending on the fruit, the fermentation process takes from one week to three months.

The next step is racking the tanks. As the juices ferment, lees (sediment-tiny solid particles of fruit) fall to the bottom of the barrel. A clear glass tube on the side of the tank allows the wine master to monitor the state of sedimentation and determine when it is time to rack the wine, usually when there is about a foot of sediment. The clear wine is siphoned off the top and the lees removed. This is repeated as many times as necessary until the wine is clear.

The third and fourth steps are bottling and labeling. The bottles are sterilized and filled with CO2 to prevent oxygenation, which would spoil the wine. As the wine is shot into the bottle, the CO2 is pushed out. An antibacterial, resin cork is inserted into the bottle, sealing it. Unlike natural cork, resin won’t shrink, doesn’t break apart, can be easily reinserted to preserve your wine and it comes in a variety of colors, which FOGW coordinates with the bottle labels.

After this, the bottles are ‘cap sealed’. A clear plastic seal is shrink wrapped around the neck of the bottle providing additional protection against oxygenation. The bottles are labeled, boxed and stored pending shipment. The fermenting and bottling rooms are kept at 58 degrees at all times. A 2 degree variance either way can ruin a batch of wine.

While this is a boutique winery, they just acquired a machine which will automate the bottling process. It’s about fifteen feet long, increases the bottling capacity eight fold and is fascinating. Metal fingers coax the bottles along the conveyor belt, swinging, spinning and finally rolling them into the waiting box in a ballet of glass and steel.

The tour also includes viewing the fermenting rooms, which are lined with 1000 and 1500 gallon tanks. The 1000 gallon tank is eight feet tall and six feet in diameter, the 1500 gallon ten feet tall and about seven feet in diameter. Walking along the rows of tanks in the cool room, you can look at the same glass tube the wine master uses to evaluate the wine and see the different stages of the fermentation process. Some tubes are viscose, some have falling particles and some are clear, ready for bottling.

Since 1997, FOGW has been awarded a total of 176 gold, silver and bronze ribbons, including seven “Best of Show” at the Florida and Indiana State Fairs and at the “Wines of the South” competition. Each autumn, it participates in EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival, the only Florida winery to do so.

Florida Orange Groves Inc and Winery is located at 1500 Pasadena Ave South in St Petersburg. The tasting bar and gift store are open Monday to Saturday from 9:00 to 5:30 and Sunday from 12:30 to 5pm. Tours are conducted throughout the day. The phone number is (727) 347-4025 and they can be reached on the web at www.floridawine.com.

Published on January 25, 2008. Volume 16, issue 2.