This fall, my next book, Florida Spectacular, gets published.
There’s a lot of moving parts to traditional publishing, and one of the most boring is the part where you review the index and make sure it’s OK.
Today I had a bright moment in a boring slog through the index: Florida-splaining.
It’s a word I’ve made up and it refers to what my friends call my “Florida Facts.” You know what mansplaining is, right? Same idea.
And it’s in the index. This gave me a chuckle, because if it goes in the index, it must be a real word, right?
When my publisher, UPF, published Backroads of Paradise, someone involved in the process (I can’t remember who) told me my book marked the first time the Press printed the word “fuck” (I referenced one of my professors ordering a drink Miss Kitty’s, the Knock-Me-Down-and-Fuck-Me, a pink libation served in a hurricane glass).
Here I am, first again.
Now, as for the larger question: Should Florida-splaining have a hyphen? Should I spell it Floridasplaining?
One of the things I struggled with when I started visiting the Florida Keys regularly? Finding non-touristy things to do. Oh, yes, I swam with a sea lion (something I loved, but feel bad about now) and yes, I’ve eaten at Margaritaville. But… those things aren’t really the Florida Keys I love.
The Florida Keys really opened up to me after I met Brad Bertelli in 2015, when a stroke of serendipity sent me to the Florida Keys to get interviewed by a Canadian television station. At the time, Brad worked for a Florida Keys museum, I didn’t have this website, and my book was not-yet published. Brad, already a published author, was really nice to an unknown Florida writer. Throughout the years, we became friends as well as colleagues. (When my book, Florida Spectacular, comes out later this year, you’ll read one of my favorite Brad stories in the introduction.) During the pandemic, Brad and I had virtual cocktails for people playing the Florida Keys home game (which was everyone, really).
The show has gone through several iterations. Right now we hit a sweet spot. Rick Kilby (another amazing Florida author) co-hosts. Rick and I have a lot of fun taking listeners across Florida every week. We talk about history, environment, and, of course, things to do in each part of Florida.
While Rick spends a lot of time traveling the state, he doesn’t spend nearly as much time in the Florida Keys as I do. And, honestly, there’s a lot more to the Sunshine State than Key West, Florida Bay, and the upper and middle keys. It’s a different world, honestly.
Which is why it makes sense to have a different podcast. Every Thursday, Brad holds court at Robbie’s in Islamorada. Anyone who wants to talk Florida Keys history can hang out with him, ask history questions, or share memories. I found myself, as I so often do, in the Florida Keys recently, so I found Brad at Robbie’s, bought him a beer, and told him I had a proposition. Why not take his knowledge about the Florida Keys and create an off-shoot of the Florida Spectacular podcast? This one would be only for Keys fans, and we’d cover everything from where to buy sandwiches for a picnic lunch at Windley Key (Episode 1) to the original route of the Oversea Highway (Episode 2).
Brad was all in immediately. While I plowed my way through a piece of fish at the Hungry Tarpon, we planned. Back home, the planning continued. Brad taped a commercial. Brad drafted some scripts. We chose topics. And, finally, today, the Florida Keys Spectacular podcast goes live.
Subscribe to Florida Keys Spectacular today and support us!
Florida Keys Spectacular is bonus content, available to anyone who supports the podcast at the $5/month level. For that $5, you get two episodes a month. Each one will take a deep dive into the Florida Keys. We’ll give you Florida Keys history, suggestions on things to do, and the ability to see the Florida Keys like a local does. No podcast explores the Florida Keys like we do. Take a listen — you won’t be disappointed!
I’d love to do the Sally Struthers thing and say, “for the cost of a cup of coffee” but, well, inflation. Also, aside from Joffrey’s, some of my favorite coffee in Florida is Baby’s Coffee, and since it’s a bit of a drive to Baby’s, it costs me a whole lot more than $5 to get a cup (but so worth it!).
Last night we went to dinner at one of our favorite Gulfport restaurants, The Pearl. We’d initially planned to ring in 2024 at a campsite far from idiots shooting off fireworks and petrifying Banyan, but 2023 left me feeling like a limp dish rag. I didn’t need to get away; I needed to not do anything for a few days. That’s what we did.
After we ordered, my husband, known to you as either El Cap or Barry, said, “Well, how could 2024 be worse?”
I stared at him. He isn’t Italian, something Universe-tempting comments such as this illustrate.
“Well, let’s see,” I said. “The dog could become a serial killer. The house could get possessed by demons. Do we need a third possibility?”
He admitted he could see my point and we stopped any foolish talk of how 2024 could be “better.” I should have learned my lesson when I write that 2023 would at least be the “other side” because I was not wrong but also not specific enough in that desire.
So, bearing that in mind, here are my low-key 2024 Florida resolutions.
More Florida road trips.
The last time we camped was August, because everything went to hell after that for a few months. Two days ago an assignment sent me to Deltona for the day; this reminded me how much I enjoy seeing Florida’s back roads. (Shout out to SR 44 and the largest hawk I’ve ever seen not in captivity).
When we bought the camper in 2021, we unintentionally shifted from “a day trip can be fun” to “let’s only go if we can take the camper!” I want 2024 to have more road trips.
We buy the bulk of our produce from Little Pond Farm. They’re in the Central Florida area, organic, and irrigate with a pond on their own property, which is about as close as you can get to lower carbon footprint and keeping GMOs out of your food. They grow the tastiest tomatoes I have eaten in recent memory.
I started 2024 with a tomato sandwich using one such tomato. I want 2024 to have more tomato sandwiches.
That’s it. There’s no number three.
As I said, 2023 taught me a lesson about non-specific intentions.
Oh, wait. There’s a third one. I want to finish this damn puzzle my friend Nicole gave me as a birthday gift in 2022. At only 300 pieces, it sounded easy, but it lacks standard-shaped puzzle pieces and has no easily identifiable border pieces.
So, there you have it. I may be taking a road trip to visit my mom in prison and not have enough money to eat anything but tomato sandwiches, but, hey, the puzzle should get finished.