The Art of Shopping Locally

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I’d heard that Se7en Bites Bakery / Cafe / Caterer was opening this week, and I was so glad to have a free Saturday to go down to their shop at 207 North Primrose and surround myself with freshly-baked goods. It’s a charming shop- bright and airy and energetic- its counter loaded with colorful and tempting delicacies.

In the picture are one slice of chocolate chip pumpkin spice cheesecake (Kirk ate the other slice well before its photo opportunity), an orange chocolate chip scone, and a hazelnut coffee cake with brown butter glaze.

They were all excellent, and what struck me is that you can taste and experience INGREDIENTS, not globs of overly-sweetened mushiness. This is true baking! You can really tell that Trina and Kevin, who I met today, love what they’re accomplishing here. “A Sweet and Savory Bakeshop” is an apt tagline for their fledgling enterprise!

They’ll also be featuring a Cookies and Milk Happy Hour from 230-330, and a culinary enticement called “Name Your Cookie of the Day.” 

Their hours are Tuesdays through Fridays from 730-330, and Saturdays from 9 to3.   Yes- there are breakfast items, and beverages, making this a special little place to pause in before getting on the expressway. Find out all about them on Facebook at Se7en Bites, and you can phone them at 407-203-0727.

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At the Finds On Shine Parisian Flea at Maxine’s, I picked up an exquisite hanging ornament by Crawford, an artist whose work I have enjoyed for many years. Today’s purchase features Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara. My other pieces by Crawford feature Norma Shearer…

When I managed Urban Think! Bookstore in downtown Orlando Crawford was responsible for running our popular Canvas and Cocktails art nights,and helped give many local artists their initial exposure. And he’s still working hard as ever!

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Farmville Follies on Facebook

Farmville

You know how sometimes you just sit at the computer with a cup of lukewarm coffee at hand, idly clicking on your Favorites and checking eMail every three minutes? “Oh look! New mail! Somebody likes me !!” It’s a stream of consciousness sort of thing: you’re neither creating nor destroying– you’re simply THERE, at one with a buzzing pile of silicon and pixels which have somehow been recreated into something that we think is vital. (I mean, you STILL need a phone to dial 911.)

Facebook, as I’ve mentioned in these pages, is a sort of addictive medium in which you can spy on your friends’ doings, mainly because they’ve bothered to post minutely about what they’re actually doing: “I’m making toast … trouble… lasagna. I’m home now… sleeping now… awake now. I’m tired… sleepy… comatose with ennui.”

It doesn’t stop there, however; to keep you even more firmly lashed to its moorings, Facebook has contracted with Zynga.com, the makers of Farmville, to offer its pastoral charms to the masses. Now you can be a farmer without ever having to step in anything gushy, or even leaving your city apartment.

I’m still trying to figure out the point of it all, but basically you start out with a piece of property that you plant crops on. Then you harvest and sell them for more than you paid. Then you buy MORE crops, and the process repeats itself. You can gain more farm coins and credits by buying into the $$$ offers that Farmville partners with, but so far I haven’t had to go that route. (Has anybody? I’d like to know!)

Yes. I’ve managed to plant fields of wheat and squash and artichokes, and have then been able to sell them all at a profit. Right now I’m waiting for my wheat to ripen so that I can sell it all and then invest in even MORE cotton than I’ve already got planted. I’ve always wanted to be Ashley Wilkes! (Scarlett O’Hara was in lust with him, but he probably had sour stomach and sties– it WAS 1861, after all. Who was healthy then? I ask you.)

The thing with Farmville is that your Facebook friends who are also involved with the game begin to send you things: trees… cows… chickens… and the occasional black sheep. The cows and chickens give milk and lay eggs, respectively, helping you to accumulate points so that you can buy even MORE animals and crops. It’s like a Ponzi scheme for the Ma and Pa Kettle set.

And there must be hidden tricks or something: my second cousin Lisa intimated something about harvesting crops even more quickly by having your Farmer character stand on a bale of hay. So far I have not been able to make that happen. Maybe I have to press Alt or something? Who knows? As it is, when it is time to harvest, my little farmer avatar runs up and down the furrows frantically, magically turning ripened crops into coins… which I can then use to till fields… which I can then plant with even MORE crops. It’s endless. I actually wake up at 6 AM wondering if my crops have turned to mush, which is what happens when you forget to harvest.

It must satisfy something in my city-bred brain, because the closest I ever got to farm life was when I came home from school one day, looking for our dog Bow Wow. “Oh, we took him to a farm,” I was told. “He’ll be happier there.” Hmm. He’d seemed perfectly happy peeing on fire hydrants and chasing waterbugs down the alley… but who was I to question? I was only seven years old. “We took him to a farm.” Yeah, right… you mean he BOUGHT the farm!

A word about the Farmville farmer avatars: you can design them to your liking, and I swear that each and every one of the 35 million– yes– players has manufactured an avatar in his or her wishful likeness: mine has a full shock of blond hair; a little pug nose; fetching ears; a puckered smile; and a wiggle in his walk. That’s on a good day. When I really have an attitude, and crops to get in before dark, my avatar has a beehive; Harlequin glasses; a mole; fishnet stockings; and a cigarette dangling from its mouth. “Get the damn chickens outta my way,” I snarl. “I got artichokes to bring in!”

And all so I can buy and sell more  artichokes.

Twitter, Facebook, and My New Friends

The comfort of an age !

The comfort of an age !

This technological age continues to amaze me, though what I most want the current epoch to do is leave me behind, preferably in a dark bedroom with a cool rag over my eyes. It’s not that I’m technologically challenged– it’s just that I’m the type of guy who was quite happy being one of the many consorts of Ma Bell and her limited options. Remember? You made a call, and the line was busy– you either breathed a sigh of relief or called back in ten minutes. Long distance calls were rare and only dialed so the caller could deliver news about important things like breech births, or that your neighbors were Communists or– even worse!– divorcing… period! And the one phone you had in your house was Bakelite, molded in a foreboding black color, further precluding its use.

Everything is different now– nobody even uses the word “telephone” anymore; I will leave it up to my readers to recall the current terms. And not only are we expected to burden ourselves with these new devices… we are also expected to use them to log online every three minutes in order to let the entire world know what we are doing.

Let’s examine that phrase a minute, and let’s be honest– isn’t “the world” limited to those people we have allowed into our Facebook and Twitter and AOL lives? And aren’t these simply walls to further hide behind while we try and fool ourselves into believing that we are being global? WHAT is so global about letting my 103 Facebook friends know that “it’s a beautiful day in downtown Orlando?” And what is so global about reading that one of my exclusive circle of friends is on her way to Publix to do a little shopping? And do I need artichokes, because they are on sale?

I think it’s all crazy, yet I’m just as guilty as everyone else in thinking that I am in constant reach of  “friends.” And THAT word has been hijacked by the online community to infuse ourselves with a false sense of popularity and belonging. When I really think about it, I have like a dozen true blue friends– and even a few of them are on probation (you know who you are). A friend is someone you can call and ask help to paint your garage door; a friend is someone who will drop everything in order to drive you to the airport; and a friend will donate a kidney to you.

And then there’s Twitter, which came along because Facebook and AOL were considered too damned slow. Twitter limits your posting to less than 150 characters, which means you had better be extremely skilled at letting your friends know what you’re up to. And now that we’ve gotten past the sniggering related to the past tense of the verb twitter,  it has turned into a very big business indeed. Remember when it first started a few minutes ago? Thousands of innocuous  messages related to beautiful days in downtown Orlando and artichokes clogged the ionosphere; now the application is riddled with 140-character commercials about aluminum siding and penis extensions.

I could end this essay with one of those typically unschooled closings:  “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must alert my readers to this blog update and, if I have a few seconds, I’ll Twitter about it as well.”

But I won’t. Instead, you’ll find me in a cool, dark room, patiently waiting for a black Bakelite phone to ring and let me know that my Communist neighbors are divorcing. Now that’s exciting !