Oh, how lovely it was to be in Florida this past weekend! My mother and I went with my brother-in-law, niece and nephew to LEGOLAND (for some reason, Blogger keeps capitalizing the entirety of the name and I can't get it to undo), which was thoroughly enjoyable, not least because they've wisely preserved the heart of the old Cypress Gardens as part of the park, and I got to see a banyan tree and a sausage tree among other beautifully-landscaped foliage. That was also Rita's favorite section (she was very sad about the loss of the greenhouse near the entrance), though she admitted the whole experience was a good one. Brad could have spent the whole day staring at the pirate ship model section, which was certainly pretty cool. In a huge contrast to Disneyworld (ptoo, I spit upon its grave), although the park was full, the stress level was low, and we and pretty much everyone else seemed to be having a good time. We never waited more than 20 minutes for a ride (I hope and pray I didn't damage my neck going on two rollercoasters with small relatives--one does things one normally wouldn't for beloved children!), and there were plenty of things to appeal to both small fry and adults, from live shows (good use of water--little kids love getting splashed) to real-world and fantasy Lego models. And the employees were all nice, and most seemed to be actually enjoying themselves (Brad was thrilled when one young man spotted him in his newly-purchased knightly getup--Rita went for a photo souvenir, while her brother wanted something more tangible--and bowed, saying "My liege!").
I escaped DC right before snow and sub-freezing temperatures descended, but there was not the remarkable warming as I drove south that I had anticipated. When I had gone north, every stop for gas or breaks was noticeably cooler, requiring more layers; when I got back to Augusta late last Thursday, it seemed to be almost the same temperature as the Bethesda I'd left that morning. It wasn't until Mums and I reached Orlando on Sunday that I was able to take off my coat and keep comfortable (there were people in shorts and t-shirts at LEGOLAND, but I was happy in long sleeves and jeans). Reading the weather forecasts for this week sent shivers down to my toes, and I felt sorry for my Massachusetts and Rhode Island family members--dealing with negative thermometer readings, before the wind chill is factored, is no joke. The photos from snow-buried New England are astounding, with accumulations preventing people from exiting through first-floor doors, and mountains of frozen water looming over increasingly-narrow roads. The tourism department's website for a town in upstate New York is redirecting its visitors to that of Key West (CNN noted there was no financial or other exchange made to prompt this--it's just so miserable in the northeast that everyone is dreaming of the beach). It's cold here in Georgia, but sunny and snowless, and I am grateful.
Last month was my best yet at the consignment store, but as of last Friday morning, my antique mall booth had yet to sell a single item. I'm disgusted. I hope things pick up--I've got a ton of lamps there, plus larger pieces and artwork, and I've no room or inclination to bring them back home again. I may go back up to DC this coming week to work more estate sales; so long as gas prices remain relatively low, I can make money doing this super-long-distance commute. A friend of mine who lives in Prague has suggested my coming there for several months to take a CELTA course--with the in-class component and the Cambridge connection, it carries more weight than my online experience. I am seriously considering it. Thus far, employment-wise, Augusta is a dead end, nor have I heard back from the software company which initially offered me a job (!) in Vinnytsia, Ukraine. That would have been cool--Pirogov's body is on display there, and I'd have a moral obligation to write what would have been my dissertation in my off-hours.
As of last night, my brother Bob is staying with me for five weeks, while he does an internship with a local primary-care physician in South Carolina. He said that much of the work seems to consist of trying in vain to refer patients to specialists, none of whom will take their insurance, and then sending them, as a last resort, to the ER. If anything, the American healthcare system seems more screwed up than it was a few years ago. He remarked that one of the nurses had gotten so fed up with the situation this morning that she asked the recalcitrant party on the other end of the phone if she should wait until after the patient had died to discuss the case. It was hilarious listening to him summarize his first day for my sister, who is having to commute an hour one-way along the icy RI roads. He said it's shocking how casual the mostly-diabetic clientele are about amputations--for many, getting another toe removed, or even having their leg taken off below the knee, is as matter of course as getting a rotten tooth pulled.