Thursday, February 26, 2009

Whatever. Derrick doesn't NEED the Bucs.

I can't believe the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired Derrick Brooks, along with four other "old" players: Warrick Dunn, Joey Galloway, Ike Hilliard and Cato June.

Derrick Brooks is arguably the best Buc ever, and inarguably one of the best. Guy's been to the Pro-Bowl eleven times. He's on the Florida State University board, for chrissakes! He's not only a fantastic football player, he's a nice guy to boot. Not that something like character matters in the NFL, but still. Damn.

Full disclosure: I went to FSU with Derrick Brooks, as in we had classes together. Not as in, he ever knew of my existence. But it was well-known that he was a good guy then, too. So I'm totally biased here.

Brooks has been a shining example of what a pro athlete should look like, and this is how he's treated. Booted out the door, no explanation, no warning.

"Right now, like all of you guys, I'm just trying to get a feel for it all, trying to come to grips with it," Brooks told ESPN by telephone. "I don't even know what to think."

I can't blame this on new head coach Raheem Morris (as much as I'd like to; who the hell is this guy? Oh, he's the former assistant coach); he's too new to have made this decision. It has to be the owners. Four of the five guys let go were over 30 and the other guy is 29 - they made it really clear that they're looking to give the younger players more field time. But at the team's expense?

Derrick Brooks has been with the Bucs since 1995 - since he left Florida State. Fourteen years, people. And let's not forget - two Super Bowls. TWO.

He founded Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High School, a charter school in Tampa, and created "Brooks Bunch," a group for disadvantaged kids that he takes on trips like Washington, D.C. and Atlanta. He's served on the FSU board since 2003.

Of course, fellow FSU alum Warrick Dunn also deserves some praise. This dude gives away houses! Dunn founded "Homes for the Holidays," where he helps single parents buy houses and donates furniture, food and accessories for the home.

These firings come on the heels of the Jacksonville Jaguars firing their cornerstone player "Fragile" Fred Taylor (a former Gator, thank you very much - I try to keep it balanced) after eleven years. He also made it clear he wanted to stay, but the Jags said "no thanks."

Say what you will, this is the end of an era for the NFL.

I, for one, will have a hard time getting fired up about either the Jags (my former hometown team) or the Bucs (I've loved b/c of all their Seminoles). I may be done with pro football for a while.

Of course, I've got a spring and summer to change my mind, but it will never be same without Derrick.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Here Comes the Sun . . .

Spring has arrived! Yes, I know it's probably a bit rude to rub this fact into the faces of anyone from up north - say, the 140,000 without power in Maine thanks to the snow storm, but I'm so excited and it's so pretty!

The azaleas are really starting to crank the blooms out now. This is our largest azalea, out back besides the porch:

Azalea bushAzalea blossoms
(Speaking of azaleas, I think the Florida Azalea Festival in Palatka is still going on March 7-8, even though I couldn't find a single mention of it on the Palatka Daily News web site. There is a web site for the festival, but unless you want to register for the parade or the Azalea Queen beauty pageant, there's not much there to look at.)

Right next to the azalea is a shrub that has little tiny buds that are starting to pop:

When it's fully leafed, it provides a great deal of privacy for our master bathroom - right now, anyone who really wanted to can see in.

One of the other trees in the back yard is also budding with leaves:

There's a few survivors in the vegetable garden planted by the home's previous owners, and most of them are doing pretty well. There's some sort of cabbage plant, rosemary and parsley:

The pineapple isn't doing so well:

I'm really hoping my plumbago comes back. It looks bad - Kyle thinks it's a goner.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair

We're going to California!

I booked our flight to San Francisco for our honeymoon! I'm getting pretty excited. I received my 2009 Official State Visitor's Guide and Travel Planner from and flipped through it last night. The highlights are the pull-out section on Yosemite and the big-ass map of California.

Kyle had already drawn up a draft agenda:

Redwood National Park

(Which is a 5 hour drive north from San Francisco. Hmmm....)

Two Days in SF:
  • Fishermans Wharf
  • Alcatraz (eh)
  • Giants game (eh)
  • cable cars

To which I'd add some awesome restuarants like The Stinking Rose and visiting historic Art Deco architecture.

Santa Cruz/Monterey

My biggest desire here is to drive US 1, down the California coast, specifically Big Sur. I've been looking at photos my whole life and I'm dying to see it for myself. I want to do the 17-mile drive down Pebble Beach. I've heard it's awesome; lots of mansions and dramatic coastline. Oh, and gated - costs $9.

Yosemite National Park

This is the other big deal. It's such a big park, it's hard to pick what we'll do - we'll probably only stay one night, two at the most. Going in May, it's still going to be chilly, but the falls are supposed to be awesome this time of year.

We were disappointed to find that the Ahwahnee Hotel was booked. We were hoping to make this one of our big splurges - although just a quick glance at reviews on TripAdvisor show it's rated horribly. Hmm. Maybe we dodged a bullet. Looking around, it looks like lodging is already filling up and expensive...

Wine Country

  • Sonoma/Napa Valley

I don't think we'll have time for this.

We really only have Tuesday-Sunday, which sounds like a lot until you add in driving time and the sheer amount of stuff. That's basically two days for San Fran, two for Yosemite and two for Big Sur country or wine country.

I wonder if we're trying to squeeze too much in?