Beginnings of the Harvest to Come

April 12, 2011 at 22:18 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Gardening | 5 Comments
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It has been a challenge to get our garden going this year. Florida presents a different gardening experience for someone from New England and rich brown dirt. Valentino is from Italy where he too grew with a different soil and climate. We have always had small containers or tomatoes and herbs but this year we have gone full fledged backyard gardener. I won’t use the now hotly contested term but I will admit I am “one of those” homesteaders! Nothing is more special than a day in our yard enjoying what it is becoming for us!

We splurged on some baby chicks and are looking forward to fresh eggs in a few months. And we have planted one of the largest gardens ever for us as a married couple. Even our sons are enjoying the prospects of a garden harvest. They too spend most of their free time in the backyard with us planning and working and planning some more!

We have had koi ponds for about twenty years or so. We started with a basic one back at our previous home that was simply a square pond with wooden seating benches framing it. From there we have come to a simple pond near our back door, It is framed by my rubber tree plant that is more tree than plant . It is a peaceful place when I need somewhere to sit and meditate and pray. The sound of trickling waterfalls is like music!

The plants are beginning to blossom now, promises of harvests to come. It appears that we will have plenty of pumpkins by fall too.

My son’s iguana will be enjoying plenty of fresh collard greens in his diet too!

Comfrey is growing! So is the rest of the garden!

This then is what we are looking forward to…. A harvest of our garden, feeding our family, being nourished by all we have accomplished together. Today we sat out back and sipped Liquori di Zecca – mint liquor made from our fresh mint! Sipped over ice, it was refreshingly sweet knowing it was only the harbinger of our harvest yet to come!


Treasure Chest Rethink 9/17/09

September 17, 2009 at 00:02 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, family history, family research, genealogy, Hints and Tips, memories, Treasure Chest Thursday | 4 Comments
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It’s hurricane season here in Florida again. California is still suffering though wildfires. And of course overseas many of you also worry through tsunamis and earthquakes too. How many of you consider from time to time what you would save if you had only minutes or less to evacuate your home? What if you weren’t hone and unable to save anything? I used to tell my family to save as many photographs as possible – everything else could be replaced. But overtime my opinion has changed sharply. Our family research has consumed over ten years of my life now. Every bit of free time I could, I would spend searching online or reading the rolls of microfilm as the local FHL. I’ve finally written a family history book and have started more. There’s also the tree itself in book format filled with photographs and timeless bits of history and timelines. Then there are notebooks full of all my research, color coded and cross indexed to ease my research. And photographs! Wondrous old photographs! And crisp clear new ones! Thousands of photographs literally. So all of this has meant I needed to rethink my strategy. First, I have begun the long process of scanning and labeling with names, dates, and locations all of our photographs. Then they are grouped and saved to a CD as well as backed up to a portable hard drive. Each of our sons has been given copies of all that are finished so far. I figured they would enjoy the ones from their childhood so I also gave them the originals applicable to each of them. (Helped clean out a cabinet too!) I have already scanned and labeled all the original documents and certificates and backed those up in similar fashion. Each son has been given complete sets of all family history I have completed to date and the books as well as photographs. So everything is protected in quadruplicate by a set going to each son in addition to my own backups. But I still wanted to preserve my own notes of the unfinished research. So I purchased a large plastic tub that seals tightly against water. It is kept inside my room in an easily accessible place. If we are hit with flooding, I have a chance to save everything. Everyone in my family knows about this plastic tub. All my CDs of photographs and certificates as well as the notebooks are kept in here. So now my family has their orders clear: save mom’s plastic treasure chest! Grab the laptop and grab the chest! Our lives obviously come first because they are irreplaceable – but the laptop and plastic treasure tub come closely behind!

West Melbourne, FL Home Saga Ongoing

August 14, 2009 at 17:13 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, citizens fighting city or towns, property values, taxpayers can you fight city hall, West Melbourne, FL | Leave a comment
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There is some hope for life returning to a degree of normalcy at our home. I had written a letter to a local TV station (I will not name until they make a decision) and posted several posts here on the conditions as a result of the sewer lift station construction. The amount of hits I have received is encouraging that word is out. I hope it helps anyone else facing such a mess and disruption to their lives in addition to the financial pain. I am also perfectly aware that much of the tracking is by the folks at City Hall wanting to see what exactly I am posting and therefore forcing them to prepare for the inevitable. I am not someone who wanted to be a political activist. I never was such a person but obviously I have been forced to become one. The photos show the landscaping and clean up of our yard. I have to state here that the gentlemen assigned to us to be responsible for getting the project done have gone out of their way to get it done. I realize that much of this big push is due to my speaking at the City Council meetings, posting here and on Twitter, as well as a letter of inquiry from the TV station to City Hall. The cypress trees were a more expensive alternative to what they intended to put there but it was acknowledged that maintaining hedges would be expensive over the long run – something I brought up. I suggested the trees would be less likely to have branches that might damage the antenna system also. I also admit that when the bulldozer broke a large section of our driveway, they poured a new one the same day without us having to mention or discuss it even with anyone. Again I attribute this to the new attitude of actually supervising the job — and again the two men assigned to do this have done their jobs well. For all of the folks who hate to see certain ethnic workers on a job site, I want to refute some of those issues here. These fellows were all legal and they were gentlemen. They were also very hard workers with no swearing, no raudy behavior, and they cleaned up after themselves daily! I believe in giving credit and Kudos where owed.

All of that said, the bottom line is a financial one to us. How the project was handled originally was a publicity nightmare, a lesson in rude, obnoxious city employee attitudes, and an elitist attitude also by a city mangement. None of that can be changed. What was done was done. And unfortunately no amount of landscaping will change that we now have the view from our front windows of a sewer lift station. Stand in the street and look at our house and you see a sewer lift station. Trees and hedges only go so far, curb appeal is now destroyed. Given a choice of the same house with a sewer station or without, obviously buyers will not choose the sewer lift station. The reality is that our finances are therefore impacted by the City’s decisions. We had no voice in the decision and now we are the ones whose future is impacted. Our home was like most Americans a big portion of our lives. After all, our governments claim home ownership is a major part of the American Dream. This is now our nightmare we get to live and relive every day.

Finished Landscaping of the Front Yard and Sewer Lift Station

Finished Landscaping of the Front Yard and Sewer Lift Station

VAngled iew of House

Angled View of House

West Melbourne, FL City Council August 4, 2009 Ongoing Saga of Our Home

August 4, 2009 at 22:51 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, citizens fighting city or towns, property values, taxpayers can you fight city hall, West Melbourne, FL | Leave a comment
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We again attended a City Council Meeting for the West Melbourne, Florida City Council. I was asked by one of the City Council members to keep them apprised of the situation at our home. At the last meeting, some photographs of our home were shown that did not clarify our position fairly or properly along with incorrect statements being put out there that we were inconveniencing others and costing delays with our complaints. So I felt it imperative to set the record straight on several issues and felt a few photographs of what transpired would say more than mere words. With that in mind I showed proof that equipment needed could not fit in between the two houses and that the tanks themselves would also not fit. More importantly I showed our house before and now. Remember this was a 2600+ square foot home that is now a mess no matter how many shrubs they try to plant. I don’t think a 20+ foot antenna on tripod stand will be covered by some flowers or hedges. And none of it helps the value of our home now. Watch the presentation for yourself – it was well received and most of the citizens came up to us after the meeting to agree with us.


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West Melbourne, FL Never-Ending Saga

July 23, 2009 at 17:21 | Posted in citizens fighting city or towns, property values, taxpayers can you fight city hall, West Melbourne, FL | Leave a comment
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Yesterday I was awakened by a fellow from the City of West Melbourne, FL.  He is the Deputy City Manager assigned to assist the new City Manager of West Melbourne, Florida. I became his first assignment – such a lucky fellow! He has been present at the City Council meetings so he already knew a bit of the history but I gave him another earful. I refuse to allow all of the mis-statements and inaccuracies continue unchallenged. Anyway yesterday was the start of the job for our new City Manager – the previous one has been let go of course. (Not only because of me!) Supposedly the City of West Melbourne, Florida wants to get this job finished although FPL has yet to set the meter in the one panel box. They wanted to know if I would accept a test of the system on Monday using a generator. I told the fellow go ahead – maybe we will get lucky and it fails and blows itself apart. I am tired of the mess at this point but not the fight.

Late yesterday afternoon I received a phone call from our new City Manager himself. Seems I was the project that he got greeted with to start his job – of course, along with all the other messes he was left. He’ll be using the inheritance theme for awhile I am sure! I welcomed him to West Melbourne, Florida and he felt obligated to apologize to me on behalf of the city. He wanted me to understand he cannot change what has been done but wants to finish the job and at least give me back some semblance of a front yard. After that we will need to talk obviously. I went through what was in the past and explained to him that the missteps, inaccurate comments, and lack of honesty are all symptomatic of a bigger problem. With my construction background I could speak to the poor management and even misuse of trust and funds on this job. Every time a task needs to be redrawn, or redone, it costs more money. Wrong in this recession/depression. This is not being good stewards of the public trust! More importantly I warned him that employees who were responsible for managing this project didn’t do their job properly and were being disingenuous at best. That signals they will not be his best friends or good employees – beware! He laughed and said he was glad someone in the city was aware of that and would continue to remember that as projects are enacted in town. All in all, I will be honest and say I do not feel this new fellow is ‘out to get me’ – and I suspect he will be as fair as possible in finishing the job. At least he had the courtesy and class to apologize on behalf of the city for previous behavior – and that goes a long way in my estimation! Bottom line is that my home values are and will be down-valued. Some degree of landscaping will help but not change that fact. I still believe the City of West Melbourne, Florida owes me for that – and I do not owe anyone else because it is good for them. They don’t pay my bills and they will not give me a pension to make up for lost equity in my home. And that is one fight I will not back away from – hang it on principles – if something is right based on legal technicalities, that does not guarantee it is ethically or morally right. Would you want it done to you or someone you care about? Then don’t expect me to accept it either – I do not owe it to anyone!

City of West Melbourne, Florida – Democracy or What???

July 6, 2009 at 18:29 | Posted in Amore di Italia | 4 Comments
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This is one of the most difficult posts to write and as I write, I am in tears. I am shaken to the core to realize that my city government of West Melbourne, Florida could be as callous and undemocratic as it is. Unless one considers the needs of everyone else come before the needs of a homeowner and taxpayer, unless one considers the financial well being of one is unimportant in respect to what the city sees as fair to everyone else. I am making this post in hopes of sharing enough information that others can be forewarned and not face the heartache, disillusionment, and financial ruin that West Melbourne, Florida has “blessed” me with.

My home originally before mess can be seen here – 

Front Yard Before This Started

Front Yard Before This Started

 As many of my loyal readers know, bonnieshusband is permanently disabled. We are not wealthy people. I have worked since he was disabled and like many folks, we planned on the equity in our home to be our retirement base. As with most others we have seen that value decrease due to the housing bubble but we had purchased twelve years ago and did enough improvements that we still felt safe and comfortable with the amount of equity we had realized. This home spanning almost 2700 sq. ft. with pool and originally nice landcaping was market value of over $200,000, a moderate but decent home for us and the area. When we purchased our home we did our research. I had been raised in the construction and real estate business and worked in the field also. The first rule of real estate is location, followed by rule #2 of location, closely followed by rule #3 of location. We knew an easement existed on our side and rear yards for drainage and utilities, something almost every subdivision in this area also has. To the very edge of the property line, clearly visible even in the current Google maps photos there shows a telephone pole with small electric panel box. This was to power a sewer pump underground in the road – visible as a small manhole cover in the road. There was also a small cover in-ground on neighbor’s easement, also visible in the photos. Grass for the most part hid that one. We were told before we agreed to purchase the house that the electric box and pole would be ‘going away’ when the city reworked the system – and all would go under-ground. This was something all of the neighbors then were also told. Based on that information we bought the house. The city for some reason did not use earmarked funds to do the project so it was delayed for several years. In March of this year the surveyors arrived and marked utility lines and well point marks (we were later told that was what the wood stakes were for). Note the photo of the wood stake up against our front window area – it is still there as of tonight and turned out to be where they planned on drilling a well-point. However as a building inspector pointed out, drawing water off so close to the foundation would probably compromise the foundation! Ya think???

Well Point Stake Against House

Well Point Stake Against House

    Next ensued a visit by myself to city hall of West Melbourne, FL to ‘invite’ city officials to actually visit their intended job site. We along with neighbors were informed that obviously they would need to ‘redesign’ the project but that we “were inconveniencing the rest of the neighborhood” and that we should realize how “unfair we were to not do this for the betterment” of our neighbors and the city. Gee – I’m so sorry! I guess if they had given us a Notice of Intent up front or knocked on the door when the pros visited the job site to work on the plans, we might have been able to show them the large cement structure that had been sitting there for thirty years! Well they did the redesign – except they forgot to note the driveways to the houses so they had to go back to the drawing boards again! Professionalism at its finest so far? Their ultimate solution was to now position all of the lift station in the right of way of the roadway. Of course it ended up also in front of my front windows.

My House Now

My House Now

 As the West Melbourne, Fl City Attorney explains it, that is their legal right to position anything such as this anywhere they have a right of way, i.e.: road or easement! So beware – you may be equally blessed, especially if you live in West Melbourne, Fl with one of these in the road directly in front of your front door or windows too! Worse yet, the constant refrain has been that none of them would have bought a house with a sewer in front of it either. Interestingly neither did I per se – but the City Attorney of West Melbourne had also stated it was the city’s prerogative to build this in any road way right of way. 

Hole In Side Front

Hole In Side Front New View Of Front Yard

I have reminded everyone that as a taxpayer I do not expect to be talked to condescendingly as they work for me, a taxpayer and citizen. No one else pays my mortgage or taxes, so this is more than merely inconvenient for me! They have robbed me of my financial security and peace of mind. My faith in our government being there to serve and protect is obviously destroyed! Most municipalities although having the same rights, do not abuse them in such a cavalier manner. Rather they work in an effort to bolster, not destroy property values. Our complaints are also a part of the City Council Records as we have been attending the West Melbourne, Fl meetings. 

Thanks West Melbourne Florida for the Beautification Project

Thanks West Melbourne Florida for the Beautification Project

Interestingly most of the Council went on record agreeing with us but it  means nothing but a “Gee, we’re sorry” and no recourse otherwise. This has been a rude awakening. I was raised to believe that one’s town government as well as the federal government were there to serve and protect its citizens. Obviously this is not the policy or general belief of the town of West Melbourne, Florida. I thought this was a great place to raise a family and retire – now I am sure it is not! Any company thinking of relocating here should do so cautiously or they will find corporate property values could be played with and certainly the employees would be taking a huge risk to purchase a home in a place that cares so little about them. No consideration was given to our family’s rights or needs. It may in fact mean my future is ruined, but I would never want to see anyone else go through this type of  heartbreak at the hands of another town the way West Melbourne, Florida has treated us! By the way – our yard is still dug up and a mud hole, our mailbox was relocated down the street, the road is also still dug up. We’ve been promised some flowers around the lift station and they’re going to paint the electric boxes, too. Aren’t we lucky??? 

West Melbourne, Florida at its Best???

West Melbourne, Florida at its Best???

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