A couple of years ago, if I went to a favorite restaurant and saw a line outside, I'd groan out loud.
"Aw, heck, we'll have to wait," I'd grouse.
Now, I cheer. A line of people waiting to get in indicates that the restaurant is probably doing well and may, unlike so many others, be around for a while.
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Every time I see one of those "My Kid Is An Honor Student at …" bumper stickers, I wish I had one about my buddy Snickers saying, "My Cat Knows How to Tell Time."
Each night I note the hour and minute when I turn off my bedside lamp and immediately fall into a deep sleep.
Exactly six minutes later (not five, not seven), Snickers darts from the lanai into the house through his little kitty door and strides down the hall doing one long apple-headed Siamese cat howl. He pauses by my door, then howls his way into the kitchen.
If I don't get up, fill his bowl with Fancy Feast Grilled Tender Liver and Chicken Feast in Gravy and tuck him into his own little velour-blanketed bed, he continues to march and howl every 20 minutes (not 19, not 21) until I do.
Of course, the obvious solution is to do this little ritual before I head to bed. But that would be logical. Besides, I feel a little guilty putting him to bed and closing the door, leaving him all alone in a room with only two night-lights.
Then I tell myself, "Hey, I used to put my own 2-year-old son to bed in a dark room, chirp 'good night,' close the door and never feel a qualm. Surely I can do the same thing to a cat. It's a cat, for heaven's sake.' "
Then I think how sweet it would be if dear Snickers hopped up on the foot of my bed and kept my feet warm through the night, and I hesitate about closing that door.
But wait. He's never done such a thing. If he jumps up on the bed, he tumbles his way along my torso up to my face, bumps my forehead with his four or five times, puts his wet nose next to mine for a few sniffs, then settles down to knead my neck with his sharp front claws and pulling threads from my new pillowcases.
Way back when my boy was my rosy infant, I was one tough mama when it came to bedtime. Perhaps I've mellowed in my dotage, or maybe I'm not as worried about building the cat's character as I was about building my son's, so I've let bedtime become a looser proposition now.
Two of the most popular shows ever at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre have been the Fabulous '50s and '60s Review in 2004 and a repeat in 2006. Despite four major hurricanes during its 2004 run, that first version set an attendance record for its time slot, only to see it topped by the sequel two years later.
A third installment is set for June 5 through July 26, but it's going to be an all-new version with a new title, This Magic Moment, a tribute to the mega-hit by the Drifters doo-wop/R&B group of that era.
Artistic director Matthew McGee and music director Michael Ursua are putting the new show together, still featuring hits from the '50s and '60s, but also having a little plot line about four "older people" (as McGee so diplomatically described my generation to me) reminiscing about the good old days. Ursua is also writing three new songs in the same vein as the golden oldies but with a modern twist.
"People loved that '50s and '60s show," McGee said of the shows conceived and directed by the late Joe Camper. "But we thought it was time to do a new version," with just enough of the songs and dances from the original shows to please people who loved them and just enough new stuff to make them want to come back.
England to Ethiopia
Longtime Times readers will remember reporter Kaylois Henry, who wrote for the Citrus, Hernando, Pasco and Pinellas Times in the 1990s.
Kaylois was granted a Rotary International Fellowship in 1993 and went to the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, to earn a master's degree in arts and humanities.
She came back to write for the Times for a while, then went back to England to host a BBC radio talk show, then do international reporting for BBC for a decade.
She resigned recently to accept a position with the United Nations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she had taught reporting skills to burgeoning journalists last year.
In her new position, she'll do some teaching and a lot of public relations work all over the country.
She returns to a lovely cottage she found in a compound near the city during her first sojourn there, which she blithely says "already has guards and maids, so I won't have to worry about finding them when I get there." Guards? Guards?
What an exciting life, what a brave young woman she is and what magnificent thing she is doing.